10 May 2010

Forde: Our Perennial Discomfort with 'Faith Alone'

Just got in the mail Gerhard Forde's 1982 Justification by Faith: A Matter of Death and Life, the thesis of which is that the reason justification by faith has experienced such historical turmoil is the failure of its adherents to incorporate the notion of dying and rising with Christ into explications of what is otherwise a 'merely' legal doctrine. Looks like it will be fascinating. Forde taught systematic theology at Luther Seminary in St. Paul from the 60s to the 90s; he passed away in 2005.

This early statement rang true--

'But, don't we have to
do something?'--the question always bubbles to the surface out of deep moral and self-protective undercurrents. . . .

Even when we attempt to stick with
faith alone we are usually driven to define, qualify, and hedge about the faith of which we speak so that no one will get the 'wrong idea.' Of course we don't mean just any old faith, we mean really believing; we mean a really sincere, heartfelt trust, we mean a living, active faith, a faith which comes after deep and despairing repentance--all that 'adverbial' theology. Before we are through we have so qualified and modified faith as to make it even less obtainable than the justice we failed to reach by the law!

--Gerhard Forde, Justification by Faith: A Matter of Death and Life (Fortress 1982), 9-10; italics original


Drew Hunter said...

Hi Dane,

Sheer curiosity. What prompted you to get this book? Where did you hear of Forde?

- Drew

Dane Ortlund said...

Drew! Hope you are well fellow graduate. You and Christina are such a treasure and I can't wait to see how the Lord leads in the days ahead. Trying to remember where I got on to this volume. I was reading something recently that gave an intriguing passing description and for the life of me I can't remember where! I was familiar with Forde's name as a representative Lutheran theologian from other writings of his that I've seen cited.

Anonymous said...

Forde is my all time favourite! Keep reading him. Try "Theologian of the Cross"

Drew Hunter said...

Thank you, sir. I had never heard of him. I picked up Hulme's counseling book a couple weeks ago in light of your posts. I've just spent a short amount of time in there, but it looks like it will be very helpful.

Christina was excited to see your wife on Saturday. We're also excited for whatever God's has for the Ortlunds.