Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Another Wesley Quote: "Works of Law"

Very busy... thanks for thoughts on yesterday's quote. Here's another quote I found striking from the same sermon, "Means of Grace."

"What is seeking salvation by works? In the writings of St. Paul, it means, either seeking to be saved by observing the ritual works of the Mosaic law; or expecting salvation for the sake of our own works, by the merit of our own righteousness" (Vol. 5, p. 196, italics mine).

I'm not sure exactly what Wesley was thinking here, but this is exactly the way I interpret the phrase "works of Law" in Romans and Galatians--primarily a reference to the Jew-specific parts of the Law but also secondarily a reference to the question of whether any human could deserve God's favor purely on the basis of their right actions.


Angie Van De Merwe said...

See my blog site for "Justice, Just is".
Law can be viewed in a positive or negative way.
A positive view would uphold defining specific standards of "lsw".
A negative view would not be definitive, as to works, but would be a more "inner" self-governance view.
The negative view was seen in the Old Testament, where the "thou shalt nots" ruled.
The New Testament viewed the 'law' as written on the heart. It was not a matter of outward performance, but an inner desire of service.
One views life as "forbidden territory", while the other views life as graced itself.

Marc said...

The interpretation "ritual works" fits well with what Paul wrote esp. as he always mentions circumcision. It's not clear to me how interpreters get to "good works" from there unless one thinks, as presumably Luther did, that circumcision was just an example of good works (self-righteousness). Indeed I don't think Paul ever condemns or minimised the role of "good works" in salvation as evangelicals do.