The fifth point summarizing my longer explanation of the new ELS doctrinal statement is rather simple. Yet it’s a much-needed clarification, to ensure a consistent understanding of what is meant.
When the statement uses the term â€œkeys,â€ it means the application of God’s mercy or judgment to a sinner.
Please note that “keys” refers particularly to the application of God’s mercy or judgment, to a sinner. God’s mercy or judgment may well exist in the abstract, without application to any sinners, but these things only become the Keys in their application to a sinner.
Sometimes we speak of the Keys as though this is synonymous with Law and Gospel. That can work, to a point. But it breaks down inasmuch as Law and Gospel may be abstracted from their application to sinners. In other words, the Gospel as a message is not the loosing key until it becomes absolution, or until it is proclaimed to the hearers of a sermon, etc. Likewise with the Law.