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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Kregel Academic (1 Jan. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0825438918
  • ISBN-13: 978-0825438912
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15.2 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 580,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Samuel J. Parkinson on 16 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Most Christians have some pretty big questions on the place of law in the Christian life. This book is very unusual in its treatment of so many of them. That alone gives it a place on my bookshelf. It is good, simple, clear help on thinking through many of these issues: what's the place of the sabbath? what's the law for? How were people saved in the old testament? What does Paul teach about the law, and how does that fit with what James says? or Jesus?

Despite the shortness of these chunks, it does help you think through the big picture.

I do have one great frustration with the book, though: two or three pages is simply not enough to deal with many of these questions. This is worst in the section that deals with questions posed by the New Perspective on Paul, which takes up a lot of the book. Most people who think about these questions want something a bit longer, more academic, and more thorough - and the person in the pew ususally doesn't want anything at all. So these chapters don't seem to fill either need.

If you disagree with some of his views (as I do, for instance on the sabbath) you will also find his approach frustrating at times. He doesn't engage seriously with opposing arguments - there simply isn't space to do much more than dismiss them with a quick point or two. That frustrates.

Since this is addresses so many difficult issues, it is valuable. But because they are so diffcult, it is a little shallow. We can't have everything!

This is the table of contents:
Part 1: The Law in the Old Testament
1. What Does the Word Law Mean in the Scriptures?
2. Was the Mosaic Covenant Legalistic?
3. Does the Old Testament Teach That Salvation Is by Works?

Part 2: The Law in Paul
Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
30 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Challenging, if slightly disappointing 8 Jan. 2011
By CMM - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Going into this book, I already knew what the "yes or no" answer to most of these questions was going to be. The normative evangelical view of the law is that it is completely done away with and has no direct influence on the Christian life. What I was interested in was the arguments Thomas Schreiner used to answer these questions, and as I expected, too many of the questions are answered with forgone conclusions rather than on a close study of the text.

But before I get to the book's negatives, I want to mention the positives. There are a handful of chapters where Schreiner gives an honest and consistent answer that challenges commonly held assumptions. Two chapters that come to mind are questions #28, about the antitheses in Matthew 5, and #38, about tithing. I was pleased to see that Schreiner supported the reading that in Matthew, Jesus is not teaching against or changing the law, but correcting misunderstandings and corruptions of the law. Regarding tithing, it was refreshing to see someone be honest and admit that a mandatory 10% tithe cannot be supported from the New Testament, and lacks any grounding now that the Levitical priesthood is not functional.

Another surprising conclusion (which I agreed with) is Schreiner's argument that perfect obedience to the law is necessary for salvation (#7). However, this point leads us into the first of several logical contradictions in the book. In answering question # 9, Does Paul Teach That the Old Testament Law Is Now Abolished?, Schreiner concludes that this is in fact Paul's teaching, and throughout the rest of the book the author repeats the claim that the law is abolished. The answer to question #9 then answers almost every other question in the book. But what's more problematic is the contradiction this presents. If perfect obedience to the law is necessary for salvation, then how can the law be abolished? Of course I understand, and agree with Schreiner, that this perfect obedience is only possible through Jesus Christ; it is his obedience to the law that saves us. But that doesn't invalidate my question. The law cannot be both without authority and necessary for salvation. How can we be judged sinners for disobedience to an abolished law?

While that conflict is, to me, the book's biggest weakness, there were several other points on which I found logical problems. Schreiner makes no distinction between the terms "fulfilled" and "abolished." He seems to use them interchangeably. This is problematic since those are the two terms that Jesus himself differentiated between with regard to the law in Matthew 5:17-20, a text that gets only a brief mention in the response to question #27. This short passage deserved a chapter of its own, and Schreiner's apparent unwillingness to properly engage it is telling.

In his examination of the law in the gospels, Schreiner repeatedly argues that we cannot view Jesus' own keeping of the law as an example of what we are supposed to do since, "Jesus and his family, after all, grew up during the old era of salvation history, at a time when the Old Testament law was still in effect" (179). He reiterates this in several ways throughout this section of the book. What he doesn't discuss is the necessity of Jesus' following the "Old Testament law." Our salvation is secured by Jesus' keeping of the law. He didn't just do it because of the time period in which he lived. If Jesus had broken the law, he would be a sinner just like us, and therefore an unfit sacrifice. There are bigger reasons for Jesus' actions than Schreiner discusses.

The last two problems I'll mention are a bit more broad. First, there is no mention whatsoever of apocalyptic Old Testament literature that suggests the law will be in force upon the return of Jesus (e.g., Isaiah 66, Zechariah 14, Malachi 4). Examination of such texts leads to very difficult questions that deserve to be examined. However, I think the reasons for this omission can be understood by the last problem I'll list.

Schreiner seems to interpret the whole Bible in light of Paul's writing, rather than understanding Paul in light of the rest of the Scriptures. Of course Paul has to be discussed, but Schreiner reads Paul outside the larger context of the Bible, and then applies the conclusions he's reached through Paul to the rest of Scripture. Personally, I think that a better way to read Paul's apparent anti-law position (note that I said "apparent") is in the context of other New Testament writings that advocate obedience to the law (e.g., the Gospels, James, 1 John, Revelation, and even Paul's own two letters to the Corinthians).

Schreiner devotes more than 100 pages (out of a total of only 230) exclusively to Paul's letters, and spends a sizeable portion of that space discussing justification in Paul, something that could have been handled in one or two chapters. He uses these chapters on justification to set up the straw man argument that if we are saved by grace through faith (which we are), then obedience to the law is moot, and will almost always lead one away from the grace found in Jesus. Only toward the end of the book does he explain that obedience is to be done out of love and not to earn favor. But by the time he gets to this admission, one is left wondering, "Obedience to what?"

Again, I was not surprised by most of Schreiner's conclusions, only disappointed with his arguments. I enjoyed reading the book because it challenged me to look more closely at these issues, and for that reason I would recommend it. However, I would challenge the reader to come to his own conclusions about these questions based on what Scripture teaches.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Important Book on a Difficult Subject 20 Nov. 2011
By Rebecca Stark - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is another book in the excellent 40 Question Series edited by Benjamin Merkle and published by Kregel Academic & Professional. This time round, the subject is biblical law--a tricky subject, if you ask me.

According to Tom Schreiner, it's also an important one, because the way we put the whole Bible together depends on our understanding of the law. What's more,those who study the law can better evaluate the theological systems. In addition, the law relates to justification, so how we understand the law affects how we understand salvation. And last, those who want to please God need to understand how the law relates to them as believers.

To work through these issues Schreiner answers questions about:

--The Law in the Old Testament
--The Law in Paul (This section makes up over half the book, because "Paul's theology of the law is the most crucial in determining one's view of the law canonically....")
--The Law in the Gospels and Acts
--The Law in the General Epistles
--The Law and Contemporary Issues

Schreiner is not a typical Covenant Theologian when it comes to his view of the law. He argues that while the categories of civil, ceremonial and moral law may be useful in some ways, the scripture doesn't divide the law this way, and sometimes exact distinctions are difficult to make. He disagrees with the common view that the ceremonial and civil law have been done away with in Christ while the moral law remains binding, teaching instead that the whole Mosaic law is no longer in force since the coming of Christ. Some will probably disagree with Schreiner on this point, but you'll still want to read his careful scriptural reasoning and consider it. He's spent a long time building a theology of the law and it shows.

While it's true that, as the preface says, this is not a technical book, it's not exactly an easy read either. Difficult subjects take work and it took work for me to make my way through 40 Questions About Christians and Biblical Law. Unlike 40 Questions About Interpreting Scripture, which I recommended for almost any believer including teens with questions, this book was written with "pastors, students, and laypeople who have an interest in biblical theology and the Scriptures" in mind.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Concise and Thorough 26 Jan. 2011
By Matt D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Schreiner has done a good job of asking the right questions and providing helpful answers.

The 40 questions are broken into sections. One of the most helpful was "Questions Related to the New Perspective." Schreiner provided some great background information and a good analysis of the issues. Another section worth mention was "The Law in the Gospels and Acts," where he shows how each author viewed the relationship between the old/new covenants.

This book is great if you want to figure out the role of the Old Covenant in the Christian life. He has a nice concluding application section, as well.

It will be most beneficial to read this book with an open Bible, as Schreiner often just provides references rather than quoting the text.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Good introduction 22 Jun. 2013
By Josué Manriquez - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book provides a good introduction to the relationship between Christians and biblical law. I wish I could give this 3.5 stars, but it won't let me. Nevertheless, this was a good read. Each of the 40 questions can easily take many pages--if not books--to adequately answer, but Schreiner keeps his answers short and concise. Some of his answers left me wanting more, yet he was kind enough to recommend other resources for further study.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Great Read 21 Mar. 2014
By Joshua Greiner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book handles a question that many have wrestled with for year, "Do the OT and NT contradict?" Schreiner, who has spent his life working on this topic answers the question in an easy to understand, yet fulfilling way. Whether you have knowledge of the original languages, or are starting to study the bible for the first time; this book will work for you.
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