Law/Gospel Outlines?

I preached an unusual sermon Sunday. It was the infamous Law/Gospel outline. You probably have heard thousands of these. I’ve preached my fair share. Here’s the way they usually go:

Here’s the Word of God. Oh, there’s law. God says you should be doing such and such. You don’t. You need Jesus to forgive you. Conclusion.

It’s not a horrible outline, but I think it should be generally avoided. While Lutherans are supposed to properly distinguish Law and Gospel, that doesn’t mean to use it as an outline. Rather, it means to distinguish between the works of the Law and Gospel, the work of law and law of love, the work of flesh versus the life of the spirit and all kinds of other things.

But this Sunday I saw the need to do use it as an outline, and it worked. Next week I’ll do something different.

What kinds of outlines do you use?

5 comments on “Law/Gospel Outlines?

  1. Plow through the text and then end with noting how and where the Word of God is living and active now – in worship, in the Baptism, in the Supper.

  2. Odd as it may sound, my usual outline is OT to Gospel to Epistle. Within this reflective structure many opportunities to speak law and gospel. I read once that a sermon should ruthlessly be about one thing; I agree – it should be about the readings for the day. πŸ™‚

    Amen on the original post too! As Piepkorn observed, Law/gospel is *A* Lutheran hermeneutic, not the only one…

  3. I’m a novice so my opinion isn’t worth much. I try to communicate the theme(s) of the propers effectively. I find the outline comes naturally from such speech. Sometimes deductive, sometimes inductive, sometimes OT/NT, and other times narrative or expository.

  4. I think your opinion is very good, Chris. And Bill…hmmm…not a fan of preaching multiple texts like that, but I know that you would do it well and with great care, as you do so many things. πŸ™‚

  5. My thoughts are to do as the text does, and let the text govern the outline. Some times it’s a deductive outline – Paul begins with a statement and expands upon it. Sometimes it’s inductive. Other times I do a homiletical plot (which is actually quite natural in preachers) as described by Eugene Lowry.

    Apparently, I’m saying the same comments as Chris Gillespie.

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