Outline - William Hordern - Living by Grace (PDF)


Reformation folk are often charged with "having no doctrine of sanctification." To answer this charge, Lutheran theologian William Hordern writes his masterful little Living by Grace.

Much of the book is analysis of why so many of us Christians "measure Christianity" this way. It is to be expected of the non-Christian, because our behavior is all he or she notices (if he or she evaluated by doctrine, he or she would likely become a Christian!) But a lot of the charge traces back to Rome and to Wesley, so the issue is all too often within the circle of Christianity more than it is an issue to the non-Christian (with the exception of the theme that "...the church is filled with hypocrites.")

Dr. Hordern doesn't have a Biblical view of Scripture's inspiration and inerrancy, but you can just "read over" such paragraphs. On what the Reformers called "the material principle [the Gospel]," he is extremely insightful.

One of the basic themes of the book is the behavior of Christians in the congregation (We preach justification by grace alone through faith alone on the basis of Christ's blood and merits alone - and then weekly make distinctions within the congregation that virtually deny the doctrine!) First and formost, Hordern is not making a moral charge so much as he is pointing out the depth of the dissonance between our "church words" and our "church behaviors."

To give just one example, how exactly do we square our insistence on the sinner's justification by grace alone through faith alone with the fact that virtually all parishes distinguish between "active members" and "inactive members?"

This book refuses to isolate "sanctification" from "justification" - a very sound move. And more than another of those useless attacks on our "weak commitment" or "lack of commitment," he explicates the Reformers' doctrine in order than Christians would be encouraged to see how really grasping the depth of the grace of God in justifying us by a Christ who bled and died for us outside of us, we are enabled to actually enlivened to see more clearly what sanctification is - perhaps even enlivened to more actively pursue a God-pleasing life.

And, ironically, because "...while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" and, by doing this, prevented us from anti-Christic fretting over "the state of our souls" - as if there we were not justified in Christ's death and set free to live!

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