Here's a brief summary of my current thinking about church and its relationship to theology as stated many times here previously. This also touches importantly on the distinctions that exist between denominations (as posted on Pontifications). I thought a discussion (should you so desire) might be in order on my blog as well:
"Fitz Allison once remarked: “You know you are preaching the Gospel when people start calling you ‘antinomian’.” What Lutherans call ‘the offense of the Gospel’ is found predominantly in the fact that the Gospel denies our ability to do anything “good” or “righteous” apart from God’s gracious intervention. Calvinists believe that, post-conversion, Christians exist in a new relationship to the Law in that they can now, at least at points, respond positively to the Law (they posit the 3rd Use of the Law to be primary to the Christian life, i.e., as it exhorts/instructs the hearer, rather than, say, convicts, which is the 2nd Use), thereby in some sense co-operating with the Will of God. Lutherans dispute the matter. Melancthon and most Lutherans confess a 3rd use of the Law, though most still deny its primacy. Some Lutherans though, such as Elert, deny its practical reality altogether. This is the ground where the NP’s understanding of Grace and the more “hard-core” Lutheran one part ways (i.e., this is not covenantal nomism, the thing which the New Perspective on Paul suggests to be good Protestant Christianity). It lines up better with Calvin than Luther definitely, not to mention the end of Article IX of the 39 Articles that refers to “sin perpetuate in the regenerate”. I’m an Anglican who holds the Lutheran position on this issue (as it relates to the reception of the Gospel by human beings), though I part ways with the LCMS (and Luther) on other issues (e.g., sacraments, etc.). This produces a view that suggests the message of God for people is identical for both Christians and non-Christians alike. For this reason, no matter what any Lutheran believes, because they deny the 3rd Use’s primacy, Calvinists always think me/us anti-nomian. It is true that, in Luther’s famous commentary on Galatians, he speaks only of “The Two-fold Use of the Law” (I.e., not “The Three-Fold Use of the Law”). The distinction plays out significantly in a Sunday service. Both start with the Law (in its 2nd Use), but one service concludes with the Gospel (Lutheran), the other reasserts the Law in the sense that it can (supposedly) now be received post-Gospel (Calvin). It seems to me that this difference is not so glaring between the Roman Catholic understanding of the Christian life, and Calvin’s, though not Luther’s. Am I wrong in thinking there to be less tension where Calvin and Rome are concerned?"