An Adventist Reply To Walter Martin On ‘The Law God’

Edward E. Heppenstall, a leading Adventist Bible scholar and theologian addressed the issue of the Law of God with the apologist, Walter Martin. From the content of Heppenstall’s article it appears Walter Martin would come under the concerns expressed by those in a previous post. It doesn’t seem to be online but I’ll try and pick up on Walter Martin’s article on the law to which Heppenstall is replying in a future post. But here is one theologian engaging with another from an opposite camp. Says Heppenstall,

“There is not the slightest hint of any change in the law, in its operation, and its claim upon the individual. But that there is a change somewhere no one can doubt; that change is in the believer. The believer dies with Christ and rises to live with Christ. Certainly there is a change in the believer’s relation to the law. What is this change? Does he now disregard the law? Does he now dispense with it? Does he make the law void? Does Paul support Martin’s contention that the law of God is no longer binding upon the believer? No! Where hitherto he had found himself with “enmity against the law of God,” under its power and condemnation, he now finds himself in harmony with it. And in this new life in Christ he exclaims: “I delight in the law of God after the inward man.”

“Paul is very emphatic in maintaining the integrity of the law of God. Every time there is the slightest possibility that his hearers might conclude there is any change in the law he cries out, “God forbid.” “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Rom. 3:31; 7:7; Gal. 3:21).

“Paul’s concern regarding the law of God makes him cry out not against the law, but against that part of himself that is not subject to the law of God—the old sinful nature (Rom. 7:24). Unfortunately, we find Martin crying out against the law of God. The difference is decisive. To fail to understand the simple difference between “law” as the revelation of God’s will and “under law” as man’s life situation in the flesh when brought under its dominion, is tragic. It seems incredible that a man who claims to be a serious student of the Bible should be guilty of such gross misinterpretation. But the worst tragedy is that many who will read his book will probably believe it.”

It seems to me that Heppenstall finds support for his position in previous posts, summed up by John Stott when he says: “the legalist fears the law and is in bondage to it; the antinomian hates the law and repudiates it; the law-abiding believer loves the law and obeys it.”

So has Adventism shifted out of the Christian mainstream on the Law of God or have its critics?

To read Heppenstall’s full reply to Walter Martin on the Law of God click here:

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