“God and the scriptures are two different things, as different as Creator and creature,” wrote Luther in his response to Erasmus. Luther dared to stress the distance: two different things—like Creator and creature. This assertion distinguishes Luther from the biblicism of his day and ours. The implications of this assertion are developed in Luther’s thesis on the clarity of scripture.
Seventeenth century Lutheran orthodoxy mistook this thesis as a claim to scriptural inerrancy. The twentieth century Luther renaissance rediscovered the proper understanding of this thesis. Forde’s theology, what he called post-liberal Lutheranism, is representative of this rediscovery and its importance. He held that there could be no compromise between inerrancy and the law/gospel method. The stakes could not be higher: “We are fighting for the restoration of the gospel.”
The new book, The Essential Forde, is silent about Forde’s lifelong battles against inerrancy. Yet his Lutheran Quarterly editors, Steven Paulson and Mark Mattes, imply that they share with Forde a common view of the clarity and proper use of scripture, even as they promote inerrancy, law as an eternal moral order, and a third use of the law, as the following chart shows: