Right Chronology, Wrong Westminster Professor

Plain as nose
The controversial Kerux review of The Law Is Not of Faith is now available on line. I cannot get past the first sentence: “For the past thirty years, a shift in Reformed covenant theology has been percolating under the hot Southern California sun in Escondido.”

This is an amazing opening because for thirty years the sideline Reformed world has experienced a controversy over the refashioning of covenant theology and the doctrines that flow from it. But Westminster California was not the place where the controverted doctrines came from. Did the reviewers for Kerux notice anything about Federal Vision, or Evangelicals and Catholics Together, or Norman Shepherd? Of course, not. These are real controversies conveniently ignored to go after the alleged real culprit: WSC and its part-time professor, Meredith G. Kline.

Atop the bluff of a former orange grove, a quiet redefinition of the Sinaitic covenant administration as a typological covenant of works, complete with meritorious obedience and meritorious reward has been ripening. The architect of this paradigm shift was the late Meredith G. Kline.

Again, this is truly dumbfounding. The doctrine of justification has been up for grabs in the heart of conservative Reformed and Presbyterian communions such as the OPC, PCA, and URC. The doctrine has received further questions and revisions in the broader Protestant world thanks to the already mentioned Evangelicals and Catholics Together, the Federal Vision, and the New Perspective on Paul. And yet, Kerux decides to lower the boom on Kline and WSC.

It should be noted that Kline, as a professor at Gordon-Conwell, was one of those who thirty years ago supported the Westminster faculty who were opposed to Shepherd’s teaching – among them, W. Robert Godfrey, Palmer Robertson, Robert Knudsen, and Arthur Kuschke. And since then it has been Klineans who have been clearest on justification, its centrality to the Reformed doctrine of salvation, and its priority to sanctification. At the same time, it has been those who have either defended or been silent about Shepherd who have been some of the biggest critics of Westminster California.

Consequently, it is an odd historical judgment that Kerux offers, and one that draws attention away from the real source of controversy in Reformed circles.

But the problems of historical analysis only get worse for the authors of the review. Not only was Kline an important critic of Shepherd but his students have been at least partly responsible for bringing a measure of calm to that controversy within the OPC thanks to the leadership of WSC faculty on the study committee on justification. That report was clear regarding the defects of Shepherd’s views and their ties and affinities to the Federal Vision and the New Perspective on Paul.

And in case anyone actually thought WSC was ambiguous about justification, the seminary has issued a statement on the doctrine, “Our Testimony on Justification,” which counters the Shepherdian claim that justification needs to be set free from its Lutheran bondage. It declares:

. . . some who claim to be Reformed suggest that too many Reformed people have a Lutheran view of justification and need to develop a distinctively Reformed view of justification. These critics usually claim that they accept the Reformed confessions, yet at the same time claim that Reformed theology needs to be changed and clarified to be distinctive. Such critics, called neonomians in the seventeenth century, today are perhaps better labeled covenant moralists.

Our testimony is directed primarily to this third group who claim to be genuinely Reformed. These covenant moralists teach, contrary to the Reformed confessions and/or historic Reformed conviction, some or all of the following:

that the Reformation doctrine of justification is not fully biblical;

that the Lutherans and Calvinists have different doctrines of justification;

that the Reformation misunderstood Paul on justification;

that justification is not by faith alone, but by faithfulness, i.e. trust in Christ and obedience;

that the idea of merit as a way of explaining the work of Christ for us is unbiblical;

that Christ died for our sins but he did not keep the law perfectly in our place (his active obedience);

that Christ does not impute his active obedience to us;

that obedience or good works is not only the fruit or evidence of faith, but is also part of the ground or instrument of justification;

that our justification is in some way dependent on the final judgment of our works.

As the faculty of Westminster Seminary California we believe that we must issue this testimony especially in relation to those who claim to be Reformed in their attack on the Reformation doctrine of justification and who claim to uphold the teaching of the Reformed confessions.

So for the last thirty years, Westminster California has through its faculty, both in the courts of the church and individual authors, during debates about Shepherd, ECT, Federal Vision, and the New Perspective, been on the right side of the doctrines of grace. Now along comes Kerux to re-write history and say that not Shepherd, Richard John Neuhaus, Chuck Colson, nor N. T. Wright was the problem but Meredith G. Kline and his students. To borrow a line from Harry Emerson Fosdick, “what incredible folly!”

204 thoughts on “Right Chronology, Wrong Westminster Professor

  1. The really disturbing thing about this kind of revisionist nonsense is the degree to which the Federal Visionsts cucumber field will resort to making this one of the centerpieces in their Goebbels style propaganda.

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  2. Jealousy is both reasonable and belongs to reasonable men, while envy is base and belongs to the base, for the one makes himself get good things by jealousy, while the other does not allow his neighbor to have them through envy. -Aristotle

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  3. Darryl

    I’m very thankful for the WSC statement on justification. What I have read of it is clear and faithful. Three related questions:

    Do you think, that while there is a clear equation between the Reformed and Lutheran perspectives on justification, there is a difference in how Lutherans prioritise justification and make it the lens through which they see, not just soteriology, but all of Scripture? I suppose what I’m asking is that while there seems to be a “front end” agreement on the mechanics of justification between Reformed and Lutheran, there seems to be a different use of it as it relates to other aspects of theology. I’m sure you’ve answered this before and I hope you don’t mind answering it again.

    Second, surely there can have been more than one “shift” in covenant theology in the last thirty years? Your point concerning the whole Shepherd controversy is well made and taken, and as far as I’m concerned I Shepherd is fair game. But surely there have been other shifts – the shift from interpreting covenant theology on its own biblical merits, to interpreting it through the lens of the writings of the ancient near east? The shift that Kerux mentions is undeniable in that Dr Kline, has to some extent, reshaped the way some “do” covenant theology. Whether the idea of a Sinaitic “republication of the covenant of works” has merit or not (and historically there have been good reformed men on each side of the divide) one would have to admit that the manner in which Kline and others arrive at such a conclusion, is substantially different to forefathers of the same stripe. That to me is the crux of the paradigm shift.

    Third the “works principle” being discussed is related to the the Covenant of Works, is it not? By definition this has to be a “one strike and you’re out” deal – thus Israel’s failure under this works principle was, more or less, immediate? To your mind, is that the WSC understanding of the “works principle” at Sinai

    I ask these questions not as a combatant but in an attempt to understand more of the WSC position.

    Blessings

    Matt

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  4. Matt,

    The way you asked the question is prejudiced in favor of the “review” published by Kerux, i.e. the “WSC position”. I want simply to point that out. There is no WSC position. The book which was “reviewed” wasn’t even a faculty publication: Out of 11 authors five of them (six at the time of its writing and publication) don’t even work for WSC, and about half of the WSC faculty didn’t write for it. That the “review” shot at WSC (and all associated with them) when the book never attempted to speak for the faculty is a huge violation of the 9th commandment, but then so was almost every paragraph in Kerux’s “review”. My point is simply to say that the question you asked can’t be answered in fairness to WSC, nor in keeping with the 9th commandment, because WSC doesn’t have an official position–no matter what Kerux believes.

    Matt

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  5. The only “incredible folly” I am reading here is the attempt to suggest that the Kerux group should “in some sense” linked to or counted as supporters of Shepherd (or as “silent” in the controversy).

    Indeed, it seems a rather “revisionistic” approach to history the whole justification controversy to forget that back in 2003 while the controversy was still brewing, one of the authors of the review drew a direct connection between Shepherd’s rejection of the AOC in justification and the heterodox and un-confessional views of Johannes Piscator. I just found out that the article is available online here: http://www.reformedfellowship.net/outlook/2003decemberoutlook.pdf

    The review in question also explicitly affirms (no less than three times) the ability of Adam and Christ to merit (on the legal basis of their works) the reward of eternal life).

    And Dr. Hart: surely the WSC men are to be commended for their critique of the FV
    But just because attack an error, doesn’t make them orthodox on all points.

    I’d like to see Eutyches make that argument to the Council of Chalcedon!

    Your post is simply to distract attention from the question at hand right now: can post-fall sinners merit anything? Kline says yes (along with many at WSCAL), but KERUX says no.

    The FV has been (in principle) dealt with in most conservative NAPARC churches. All that is left is the consistent (and loving) exercise of discipline against offending ministers and elders.

    But is the FV the only error in the church?

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  6. They’re being connected with Shepherd because their “review” mentioned him favorably in the first paragraph–in connection with Richard Gaffin no less!

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  7. Matt,

    You wrote: That the “review” shot at WSC (and all associated with them) when the book never attempted to speak for the faculty is a huge violation of the 9th commandment, but then so was almost every paragraph in Kerux’s “review”.

    Do you care to substantiate that a little, i.e, the “every paragraph” part? Because, from what I’ve read, and I have read both the book and the review, you are the one guilty of breaking the 9th commandment.

    Bob

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  8. I learned a great deal from Jim at WSC, and appreciate the time we spent together. I’m very saddened by reports about goings on in WA, and now this review. While we were all at WSC, Jim counted Meredith a friend and ally, and even admonished me for being late to Prophets class one day.

    I simply do not understand why Jim has gone in this direction. Unless he wants to repent for publishing Kline in Kerux, the public record seems to be against him.

    To “Eutyches’ Bane”: Can post-fall sinners merit anything? To begin with a methodological point, we should ask the question of the biblical text, to ascertain what the concrete terms and sanctions of the covenant were. A major methodological blunder in Shepherd’s, then the FV, and now Jim’s argument is to engage in autonomous and abstract speculation. For clarity’s sake, I’ll remind you that Kline’s (and the better part of the Reformed tradition’s) understanding of what Israel stood to merit was the land of Canaan (with its earthly blessings) and ONLY that. Paul gives us the divine rationale for making such a covenant with Israel in Galatians 3:15-29 (esp. v. 24). In other words, Israel SHOULD have immediately begged God to send the Messiah to keep the Law for them in light of their sinful inability. But alas, sin is self-aggrandizing that way.

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  9. … can post-fall sinners merit anything? Kline says yes (along with many at WSCAL), but KERUX says no.

    Third the “works principle” being discussed is related to the the Covenant of Works, is it not? By definition this has to be a “one strike and you’re out” deal – thus Israel’s failure under this works principle was, more or less, immediate? To your mind, is that the WSC understanding of the “works principle” at Sinai?

    I’m pretty sure that neither of these two commenters understands Kline, or WSC, on this point.

    No one has ever said that anyone can merit anything, strictly speaking, after the fall. What IS being said is that Israel in Canaan was placed in a situation similar to that of Adam in that both were given a land and told to retain blessing in it through their obedience to certain laws. Now for Israel, what was asked of them was not perfect, “one-strike-and-you’re-out” obedience, for if that were the case they would have marched straight across the Jordan into exile. No, what was asked of them was a relative, national obedience to the terms of the covenant.

    In other words, in order for God to retell the Adamic story he had to adjust it to take into account the fall of man.

    Now if you don’t agree with this, fine. But at least understand it before disagreeing with it.

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  10. Bob,

    Oops. I thought I pasted in a different version that I posted. After realizing that wouldn’t be funny I switched that phrase out to “as are quite a few of the paragraphs” (a phrase I will absolutely stand by). After doing so, though, I forgot to copy the updated one and paste that in instead. My fault and my apologies.

    My larger point remains, however, despite my failed copy and paste attempt. There is no WSC position (or Escondido hermeneutic for that matter). No overstatement of mine will change that fact.

    Matt

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  11. Jason,

    Re-read TLNF. They speak about merit in several places. The covenant of works speaks of perfect obedience. The covenant of grace speaks of sincere obedience, at least, according to our Confession. So, if Sinai required sincere obedience why use CoW and not CoG language?

    I’m surprised you missed Estelle’s language of merit. That’s what the whole review from KERUX is about, a departure from classic Augustinian/Reformed theology regarding merit.

    At least understand it before writing on it!

    Bob

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  12. You wrote: “No one has ever said that anyone can merit anything, strictly speaking, after the fall.”

    But Kline DOES say that Abraham (and Israel, and others) merited blessings (in some sense!) after the fall:

    Genesis 22 records another episode in which an outstanding act of obedience on Abraham’s part is said to be the BASIS for the Lord’s bestowing on him the blessings of the covenant: `By myself have I sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, that I will surely bless you . . . because you have obeyed my voice’ (vv. 16-18). From the perspective of Abraham’s personal experience of justification by faith, this act of obedience validated his faith (Jas 2:21ff.; cf. Gen 15:6). But from the redemptive-historical/eschatological perspective, Abraham’s obedience had typological import. The Lord constituted it a prophetic sign of the obedience of Christ, which merits the heavenly kingdom for his people. That Abraham’s obedience functioned NOT ONLY as the authentication of his faith for his personal justification BUT AS A MERITORIOUS PERFORMANCE THAT EARNED A REWARD FOR OTHERS (and thus as a type of Christ’s obedience) is confirmed in the Lord’s later revelation of the covenant promises to Isaac (Gen 26:2ff.). The Lord declared that he would bestow these blessings on Isaac and his descendants `because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws’ (v. 5; cf. v. 24). Abraham’s obedience was not, of course, the ground for anyone’s inheritance of heaven, but it was the GROUND for Israel’s inheritance of Canaan, the prototypal heaven, under the terms of the Mosaic covenant of works. Eternal salvation would come because of Christ’s obedience, but because of Abraham’s obedience Christ would come as to the flesh from Israel (Rom 9:5) and thus salvation would come from the Abrahamites, the Jews (John 4:22)” (God, Heaven, Har-Magedon,102-3).

    As a side note, that last point seems particularly bizarre to me. Abraham merited that “Christ would come as to the flesh from Israel?”

    Elsewhere Kline describes this works-principle under Moses (and presumabely Abraham) as “the opposite of grace faith,” and argues that “WORKS, NOT GRACE, as the controlling administrative principle”:

    Also contradicting the contention that no divine covenants have ever been governed by the works principle is the irrefutable biblical evidence that the Mosaic economy, while an administration of grace on its fundamental level of concern with the eternal salvation of the individual, was at the same time on its temporary, typological kingdom level informed by the principle of works. Thus, for example, the apostle Paul in Romans 10:4ff. and Galatians 3:10ff. (cf. Rom 9:32) contrasts the old order of the law with the gospel order of grace and faith, identifying the old covenant as one of bondage, condemnation, and death (cf. 2 Cor 3:6-9; Gal 4:24-26). The old covenant was law, the OPPOSITE of grace-faith, and in the postlapsarian world that meant it would turn out to be an administration of condemnation as a consequence of sinful Israel’s failure to maintain the necessary meritorious obedience. Had the old typological kingdom been secured by sovereign grace in Christ, Israel would not have lost her national election. A satisfactory explanation of Israel’s fall demands WORKS, NOT GRACE, as the controlling administrative principle. (Kingdom Prologue, electronic edition).

    You may disagree with Kline (or reinterpret him) on that point (many Klineans have) but it doesn’t change the fact that that is what he taught.

    And it is not just in this one place, I can give you lots of quotes from WSCAL professors (Horton, Johnson, Estelle) who argue this same point.

    Kline is clear: works, not grace, is the controlling principle here.

    Besides, the idea that imperfect obedience can in any sense be counted as “meritorious” (in the way described above) is the height of irrationality. Only perfect obedience can be meritoriuos.

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  13. Mr. Barker:

    Pointing out that somehow has been (at times) viciously and unfairly attacked is different from being their supporter. One can disagree strongly with another’s theological position, and at the same time recognize that they are not always being treated fairly. That, (at least it seems to me) was the point of the comment about Shepherd and Gaffin.

    Besides, do you have any evidence that they SUBSTANTIVELY (at the present time) agree or are in any way sympathetic to Shepherd or FV? What do you say about the Piscator article?

    EB

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  14. Matt:

    The three editors are all faculty members at WSC. The intro to the book explicitly thanks WSC for the “institutional support we recieved” (ix). It gives no qualifications to that support.

    So, when three faculty members of an institution edit a book (and write an introduction), and include several other faculty members within its pages, it is at least safe “in some sense” (!) to conclude that it represents an institutional consensus, does it not?

    Besides, from my conversations, it seems like most of the graduates from WSC come out teaching and believing this position.

    I put these things together, and I say this is the WSCAL position

    Who, on the faculty, at present, disagrees with this in any kind of vociferous way?

    EB

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  15. Earthly merit, heavenly merit, it doesn’t matter. Our Reformed confessions exclude both:

    Question 193: What do we pray for in the fourth petition?

    Answer: In the fourth petition (which is, Give us this day our daily bread), acknowledging, that in Adam, and by our own sin, WE HAVE FORFEITED OUR RIGHT TO ALL THE OUTWARD BLESSINGS of this life, and deserve to be wholly deprived of them by God, and to have them cursed to us in the use of them; and that neither they of themselves are able to sustain us, NOR WE TO MERIT, or by our own industry to procure them; but prone to desire, get, and use them unlawfully: we pray for ourselves and others, that both they and we, waiting upon the providence of God from day to day in the use of lawful means, may, of his free gift, and as to his fatherly wisdom shall seem best, enjoy a competent portion of them; and have the same continued and blessed unto us in our holy and comfortable use of them, and contentment in them; and be kept from all things that are contrary to our temporal support and comfort.

    Chapter 19:6 is also very clear that belivers that all the blessings the law promises are no longer due to them as a covenant of works:

    “VI. Although true believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified, or condemned…The promises of it, in like manner, show them God’s approbation of obedience,and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof:[18] although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works. So as, a man’s doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourages to the one and deters from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law: and not under grace.”

    Is this not what Kline (and many at WSCAL) teach regarding ISrael’s earthly blessings under the old covenant? Does he not teach that they would be due them from the law as a covenant of works?

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  16. Christ:

    You write: “For clarity’s sake, I’ll remind you that Kline’s (and the better part of the Reformed tradition’s) understanding of what Israel stood to merit was the land of Canaan (with its earthly blessings) and ONLY that.”

    Also, who in the Reformed tradition EVER argued that Israel (or any other OT figure) merited earthly blessings?

    Again, it doesn’t matter what stands to be merited. If the worker is a sinner, it ain’t merit (in any reasonable sense of the term)! It must be grace. And if it is of grace, it is NO MORE OF WORKS, otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

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  17. Also, would the supporters of the WSCAL-post-fall-merit-paradigm please stop using R Scott Clark’s talking points?

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  18. Kline and Vos were careful to distinguish legal “merit” from typological appropriateness. Vos and Kline did not apply merit to Israel’s general obediecne since it had typological significance that points to belivers’ eschatalogial heavenly perfect state. Israel’s obedience did not apply to the legal sphere of merit, but to the symbolicao-typical sphere of “appropriateness of expression.” That is, accordingto Vos and Kline, the obedience of Israel that was required by the Mosaic covenant was refracted in light of the Fall to require only sufficient obedience to express the typological symbolism. Kline stated that the Mosaic covenant required not perfect legal merit, but “a measure of religious loyalty that need not be complete as to all Israel nor perfect in those who were the true Israel.” Kline and Vos were careful to distinguish the typological appropriateness required by the Mosaic covenant to the merit that could only be achieved by the first Adam (hypotheticallyA) and the Last Adam (actually).

    In short, I believe we need to follow their example and not use “merit” as a category belonging to the Mosaic economy, but reserve it to the covenant of works with Adam. The works principle Kline described thus operated typologically and was not conceived by him as merit strictly speaking.

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  19. Sullivan:

    I am glad that you see some problems with applying the term “merit” to post-fall sinners and their obedience.

    But it is not true that both Kline and Vos distinguish legal merit and typological appropriateness of expression. Vos does, but it seems to me that Kline departs from Vos on this point.

    As the review points out (109ff) Estelle clearly takes issue with Vos’s distinction between legal merit and typological “appropriateness of expression” (LNF, 136, n. 114).

    You conflate Vos and Kline where his followers clearly distinguish them. I wish Kline had just said what Vos said. But he didn’t (if Estelle’s word is to be taken as representative of Kline).

    No less than Jeong Koo Jeon (rather sympathetic to Kline) pointed this out years ago:

    “[For Vos] The obedience of Israel was not meritorious because it was applied to the continuation of symbolico-typical national blessings and curses. Meanwhile, Kline locates the corporate obedience of Israel to the covenant of law under the Old Covenant, applied to the typological theocratic kingdom blessing and curse as meritorious. This is the difference between Vos and Kline.” (http://www.kerux.com/documents/keruxv16n1a1.htm)

    Although the two names are almost synonymous in the minds of many, Vos is not Kline, and Kline is not Vos (at least on this point).

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  20. Mr. Bane, I agree that there are differences between Vos and Kline, but I don’t recall any Klinean statement to the effect that the “works principle” he identified required of Israel merit strictly speaking on the order of Adam. I’ll stand corrected if Kline said it, but I recall him arguing for a works principle that was a republicaiton of the covenant of works at a typlogical level, and that what was required was in effect relative obedience in the nature of merit but not merit strictly speaking. The Mosaic Covenant, I believe Kline taught, was typological and pedagogical, not strictly meritorious. If Kline in fact argued for an identity between the nature and quality of obedience that Adam was required to merit and that that Israel was required to observe, I’ll stand corrected and would have to dissent from that point.

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  21. Funny, the only Shepherd that a pdf search of the December issue turns up is Dave VanDrunen’s review of Shepherd, which is indexed in this number of the magazine.

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  22. Reed,

    No need to police. Or are things are Greenbaggins slow?

    I think Bane has a point. I’ve seen nothing on this blog to show that critics of the KERUX review have any idea what they are talking about. A lot of the rhetoric here sounds strikingly similar to that of the Heidelblog.

    I really wonder how many of those who pipe up on these issues have actually read TLNF and the KERUX review.

    Bob

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  23. Been through this over and over and over on the lesser blog level (lesser than the journal level or book writing level that is). In this matter of the pious criticism of the republication of the Covenant of Works on Sinai you are dealing with people have something in their teeth and will never let it go. No matter how often and how clearly you explain to them the subject they will pretend to not hear you and continue their disingenuous pious crusade against all things of a ‘works righteousness’ blasphemous nature.

    Ask them what the second Adam was supposed to be born under and to fulfill (that the first Adam failed to fulfill), and I bet they won’t tell you Jesus had to ‘not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.’ Beyond that they won’t go either because then they’d have to admit they don’t cotton to a Covenant of Works to begin with; because then with that they’ll have to admit they don’t see much in justification by faith alone either.

    These are people who generally are *for* works righteousness, keep in mind. They *hate* any notion of the imputation of the active obedience of Christ. Just as in the Federal Vision playbook they are attacking justification by faith alone by pretending to champion or protect against works righteousness (while vitiating justification by faith alone in their overall goal and once they tempt their prey deep enough into their den). Once they’ve set up this hall of mirrors they’ve learned that it can have several lives of its own. I.e. they don’t have to be Federal Vision or anything else that has been exposed to keep up the game.

    This Kerux group, it seems to me, though I’m no expert on them, may have just decided they were in the wrong ‘biblical theology’ line. They started out in the Vos line, but then they realized there was another line of biblical theology, a line that didn’t even like to recognize that Vos ever existed. This other line is able to make of systematic theology via biblical theology anything their desires and demands want it to be, sort of a warrant for ‘say anything’ and back it up with biblical theology, the mush that we must never attempt to force into straight lines (mixed metaphor, but still). So the Kerux group started thinking they ‘threw in too early’ and apparently ignorantly and have been missing out on all the fun the other biblical theology line, or group, has been having. So now they’re publicly throwing in with the other group.

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  24. SULLIVAN:

    Sorry for responding to my own post, but I couldn’t respond to yours (I don’t know why the “reply” button wasn’t there).

    You say that there are differences between Vos and Kline. Okay, your first post sounded like you thought they were saying the same thing on the merit/typolgoical appropriateness issue.

    As for the similarities and differences between Adam’s merit and Israel’s merit, I don’t know anywhere where Kline directly tackles that issue. What he does say (see quote above) is that this principle functioned/operated in a way that was opposite to grace-faith. The only other difference I can think of is that Adam could merit heaven, whereas ISrael could only merit retention of Canaan. But, as I pointed out above, I (and others) are not satisfied with that distinction.

    Paul (and the Reformed tradition) say very plainly that no sinner can merit reward from God (Rom. 11 – “Who has ever given to God, that it might be repaid him?”) That is a foundational, constitutive principle for ALL of God’s relations with fallen man. He makes no distinction between typological or eternal merit. But Kline says that Israel (and Abraham!) merited either for themselves or for others, temporal blessings in Canaan. That, it seems to me, is a fairly straightforward contradiction of the verse in Romans 11.

    So here is the issue: how does a sinner merit ANYTHING on the basis of a works-merit principle that is opposite grace faith? I have shown that Kline does, in fact, teach that. Can anyone explain to me how God can relate to a sinner on the basis or ground of his works?

    I’m sorry. I really like a lot of Kline’s stuff – it is very stimulating and exciting, and I want to build on the good in his work. But on this point, I must go with Scripture, and not Kline:

    “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and ALL our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” (Is. 64:6)

    THAT is the cry of every true Israelite when its to their works before God!

    Or should we gloss the text and have it say: “All of our (non-typological) righteous acts are like filthy rags?”

    Do you really think that Israel, or Abraham would pray: “Oh God, I thank you for my merits! Now send me the typological blessings you have promised me!”

    Better the cry of Jacob: “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast showed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands” (Gen. 32:10).

    Here is a good test for any theological point: try to pray it, and see how it sounds!

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  25. DGH:

    Try reading from about page 8 on. Sounds like a pretty clear critique of Shepherd’s reading of Calvin, and his anti-confessional position on justification.

    I would suggest you do the same for the Kerux review (instead of just responding to the first sentence).

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  26. Doesn’t a son merit an ice cream cone from his father for raking the leaves? Is this not a blessing, something for which the son would thank God? Isn’t it earned? The point is that it is a merit principle, not a grace principle.

    Merit also works for a pay check. Doesn’t a worker earn his pay? So what would be so hard with Israel earning the land in a non-eschatological sense. The 5th commandment implies as much — obey your parents so your days may be long in the land. And if you don’t, your days will be short.

    How is this so threatening? And how can Kline’s advocacy of it possibly be read to imply he is moving in Pelagian directions when he precisely opposed Shepherd for conflating faith and faithfulness? Was he stupid and didn’t see any connection between what he said about Shepherd and what he say about Israel? That’s rhetorical.

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  27. DGH,

    You clearly are someone who holds very dearly to the Reformed tradition. So, why can’t you accept that the KERUX review makes a valid point when they critique Kline’s view of merit?

    I hold to the Westminsterian view of justification, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have reservations about how Kline and some of his followers have spoken about Sinai.

    Let’s forget about Shepherd for now, and focus on the present issue: where do our Reformed confessions speak of merit on a typological level for a works-inheritance? Where is that view before the 20th century?

    Answer that question and I’ll send you a Cuban.

    Bob

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  28. Did your parents name you Eutyches Bane? If so, that’s a pretty sweet name!

    So: Wherever two or three scholars are gathered there stands a faculty publication in their midst?

    Matt

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  29. DGH:

    I would hate to think that I deal with my children on a works-merit principle! No! I give my children ice cream in return for their obedience because I want them to learn both of the Heavenly father’s benevolence for forgiven sinners who sincerely serve him. He graciously grants rewards to imperfect sinners for their imperfect obedience. I humbly suggest you reread WCF 16:5-6, as well as Calvin’s Geneva Catechism:

    Master. – But are ALL the works of men so vile and valueless that they cannot merit favour with God?

    Scholar. – First, ALL the works which proceed from us, so as properly to be called our own, are vicious, and therefore they can do NOTHING but displease God, and be REJECTED by him…

    …Master. – We are not therefore to think that the good works of believers are useless?

    Scholar. – Certainly not. For not in vain does God promise them reward both in this life and in the future. But this reward springs from the free love of God as its source; for he first embraces us as sons, and then burying the remembrance of the vices which proceed from us, he visits us with his favour.

    Yes, when God deals with us as a Father to a Son, he does so in GRACE. And I am not afraid to call it “Sweet, preciuos Grace,” notwithstanding the accusations that I am therefore a “Revivalist.”

    Last I checked, my children rarely do anything perfectly. If I did what you suggested, we wouldn’t be having ice cream very much, and knowing their love for sweets, they would be pretty upset with me!

    Yes, merit sometimes prevails between men and men. But not between sinners and God.

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  30. DGH:

    And if what you said about the fifth commandment is true, it seems that Paul was putting the Ephesians under the meritorious works-principle as well:

    τα τεκνα υπακουετε τοις γονευσιν υμων [εν κυριω] τουτο γαρ εστιν δικαιον
    τιμα τον πατερα σου και την μητερα ητις εστιν εντολη πρωτη εν επαγγελια
    ινα ευ σοι γενηται και εση μακροχρονιος επι της γης

    charis umin kai eirene!

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  31. Matt Barker
    Some valid points but you seemed to read too much into my post. No prejudice, I was simply taking up some of Darryl’s contention that the paradigm shift has taken place outside WSC – which point I conceded. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a different paradigm shift at WSC. I don’t think that there is any need to raise 9th commandment issues either – I wasn’t going there. I think There is a position coming out of WSC and I’m simpy asking questions of it. It seems the first response given after your post covers most of what I would want to say.

    Darryl:
    I think the Pelagian-angle in the Kerux review was unfortunate to say the least, especially given WSC’s or the individual contributors’ stand against Shepherd etc.

    But following up on Bob’s comments re: grace-obedience and works-obedience, I would ask of you my initial question again, about what kind of principle is at work in Sinai. Is it a Covenant of Works principle, or another kind of works principle? Do those arguing for a CoW republication at Sinai acknowledge that it is a “one strike and you’re out” principle? You argue from the positive examples of ice cream and a pay check. The problem with this is that the failure to rake the leaves, or the failure to turn up for work results in the “wage” being witheld. If the father/employer offers the same deal again (which happens time after time to Israel in the OT), then grace is part of the bargain! The one strike and out principle is not in place and therefore there can be no CoW principle at Sinai.

    I’m trying to see the point – good people including some of my friends hold this postion – but I can’t get past this mis-definition of a works principle. The definition of a works principle in TLNF
    seems to me to be a definition of law in the covenant of grace.

    Many thanks

    Matt

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  32. Mr. Bane: I meant there are differences between Vos and Kline at other points, but I believe their differences here are semantic. More to the point, it’s not clear why you see a threat to salvation by grace in Kline’s principle of a works-inheritance as an administrative element in the Mosaic Covenant so long as it is limited to the sphere of the symbolic-typical. You may disagree and say it’s not there at all, but let’s be clear that Kline and WSC never asserted salvation in the Mosaic era was anything but a matter of sovereign, saving grace. In principle, sovereign grace in the saving sphere can exist side by side with the pedagogical function of the law of Moses in the typical sphere. The earthly, physical blessings point to the antitypical reality. The works-law-principle, which is admittedly antithetical to the faith-grace-principle, in the Mosaic Covenant applies to a restricted pedagogical sphere of covenant life, primarily the land promise. This works-principle is always subservient to God’s ultimate purposes of salvation for his people Israel.

    The operation of Kline’s and WSC’s works principle does not detract from the Reformed teaching that salvaton is by grace alone. Nevertheless, under the Mosaic Covenant works are judged in the sphere of typology (typical inheritance) apart from the substitutionary mediation of Christ (the principle of grace). The guaranteed, antitypical blessings for the elect are based only on the merits of Christ. The Old Covenant prophets’ call to repentance and obedience is not a call to self-righteousness, but rather to covenant faithfulness. The way of the covenant is the way of obedience, regardless of the fact that such obedience, in specific instances appropriate to the symbolic-typical picture in the old economy, is the ground of temporal judgment (blessing or curse). The pedagogical function of the Mosaic economy is tied to the principle of works-inheritance.

    Grace and promise are still evident at every point in God’s encounter with his people Israel side by side with the typical, pedagogical function of the works-inheritance principle. This Old Covenant typlogy teaches Israel about redemptive grace, convicting Israel of sin and leading her to Christ. Just as the ceremonial laws of Moses typify the work of Christ, so does the reward of temporal blessing for Israel’s obedience typify Christ’s meritorious fulfillment of the covenant of works. Christ’s work, in conjunction with the law-principle of inheritance, is depicted in the typological system of Old Testament revelation. At the same time, the law-principle has served as Israel’s pedagogue pointing her to Christ and training her in the way of faith, which is unto eternal life (antitypical). I simply fail to see the threat to sola fide or grace in any of this.

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  33. I’ve read more of the entries now and several have hilighted an understanding of merit / works principle which clears up some issues and raises others for me. If Kline (or whoever else) teaches that Israel’s merit was not according to a requirement of perfect obedience (Jason Stellman’s and Sullivan’s comments) then why is Darryl arguing for it (ice cream post), and why is this principe being termed a republication of the Covenant of Works?

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  34. Why is it that people who raise these questions are accused of either:

    1. Being Shepherdites
    2. Not understanding how clear the Reformed tradition is
    3. Former trouble-makers at WSCal with an axe to grind (“Consider the Source”)
    4. Being stupid

    Does anyone else notice how you have to reject grace in the covenant of works to make this whole Kline republication thing work, which is what Kline does? The majority of Reformed theologians have, however, argued for the presence of grace in the garden. If Sinai is a republication of the CoW, does that mean land-retention was gracious? If so, how was it also meritorious? Maybe it was “gracious” and “meritorious” “in some sense”? Of course, “in some sense” almost everything is true, but who would ever use such language?

    Bob

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  35. Bob:
    Sinai is a TYPOLOGICAL republication of the Adamic Covenant of Works. Adam’s probation in the garden is re-enacted on a larger scale in Israel’s probation in the land. For example, the Sabbath was originally declared to Adam before the fall (Gen. 2:2-3), and the Sabbath reappears in the law of Moses. The Sabbath principle is the sign of the principle of works-based probation (man must work, and only then may he enter into God’s rest). The republication of the creation covenant of works is typological only. It is not a genuine re-enactment of a covenant of works, as if God were offering eternal life to Israel on the basis of meritorious law keeping. The typological covenant of works with Israel pertains only to the temporal blessings and temporal curses which operated in connection with the land.

    I agree that Kline rejects grace in the covenant of works, and indeed insistst that there was no pre-fall grace. I think he’s correct here. Notably, the WCF uses the word “condescension”, not grace, in referring to the pre-fall Adam. I don’t know that the “majority of Reformed theologians” have argued for pre-fall grace. I suppose it depends and when and whose noses you count. Kline, and WSC, insists that there was no pre-fall grace in the garden to avoid flatening out the covenant of works and the covenant of grace into a single covenant, which destroys the idea of Christ, the antitype, meritoriously fulfilling the covenant of works as our Mediator.

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  36. Bob, you say the majority of Reformed theologians have argued for the presence of grace in the garden. Can you name names? Graciousness maybe, but grace? I don’t think so. In fact the idea of grace in Eden is a Federal Vision error.

    Personally, I don’t hold to a republication idea, as if the whole of the law was present in Eden. The Edenic command was merely a food law (i.e. purely nominal) and did not reflect God’s unchanging character (as do moral laws). I suspect this whole republication theory (complemented by creation ordinance theory) is motivated by sabbatarianism.

    Nevertheless, even though I don’t agree with a republication idea, the New Reformed theologians are correct to see the Mosaic covenant as conditional — as was the Adamic covenant.

    One need not subscribe to all of Kline’s speculations about Hittite treaties or typological impositions or whatnot to realize that the Mosaic covenant was made with the NATION of Israel, while individuals were still under the Abrahamic covenant with regard to individual salvation (they needed to be of the faith of Abraham).

    Vern

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  37. Sullivan:

    I hope you don’t feel you are being ganged up on. The words may be to the point, but the spirit is one of a brother.

    Re: Kline on prelapsarian grace. No less than the much-vaunted (rightfully so) OPC report on justification has stated:

    “Meredith Kline’s view, for instance, that one ought not to speak of grace at all in the pre-lapsarian context, arguing that grace should be defined exclusively as de-merited
    favor and thus applicable only in a fallen context (whether as common or special grace), is not the view of mainstream federal theology.” http://www.opc.org/GA/justification.pdf

    Further, 17th century theologians did not always distinguish between condesencion and grace the way you do. For many (though perhaps not all) the two ideas were correlative.

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  38. Sullivan,

    I know its typological. See my comments above. Do you guys think that critics of Klinean republication really think you argue for salvation by works?

    I can assure you that almost all of the divines spoke of grace in the garden. The list is too long to count. David Pareus is the only theologian I know of who only wanted to reserve “grace” for the post-Fall context.

    What really annoys me about your rhetoric, the type that comes from out West, is this idea that if we don’t conceive of the covenant of works in the way Kline did, i.e, no grace, then we are jeopardizing the doctrine of justification. This is plain nonsense. Isn’t it funny that WSCal are always claiming to carry on in the Reformed tradition, but then they reject language of grace in the covenant of works, and somehow that is okay? I guess our Reformed forefathers were monocovenantalists …

    Bob

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  39. I agree. We only have two options: grace or merit, imperfect or perfect obedience. There is no tertium quid between these two. To say the obedience is imperfect and at the same time meritorious is very confusing.

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  40. Mr. Bane, thank you for reminding me of the OPC report, which in many ways is an exemplary report on justificaiton. I do believe, however, that the authors of the report erred in condemning Kline’s view of no pre-fall grace as aberational. They fail to account for differences in nomenclature between the older theologians and modern with respect to grace. Respectfully, I believe strongly that, nose counts aside, Kline is correct that when one flattens out the covenants, there is in principle no room for Christ’s fulfilling the covenant of works and earning merit that can be imputed. I do not at all accuse you or others who reject Kline as abandoning justification by faith alone or attacking the merits of Christ. I’m glad you and other brothers affirm it. I simply believe that you have misread Romans 5:12-21 and reject the biblical basis for Christ’s meritorious law keeping as covenant mediator fulfilling our covenantal obligations under the covenant of works. I am familiar with the arguments contra, but not persuaded.

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  41. Bob, sorry to annoy you. I stressed “typologial” republication of the covenant of works to distinguish it from a strict republication. The usual argument against the Kline and WSC position is that republication of the covenant of works necessarily imports all aspcts of the Adamic covenant of works, which must include salvation. From this it is usually asserted that, since we agree salvation is by grace alone, we’re being inconsistent, or some similar argument. I want to argue that a typological republication of the covenant of works can exist side by side with sola gratia and sola fide. If you don’t make that argument, fine.

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  42. Bob, please provide the citations. Federal Visionists always claim everybody is within them, too. Context, and word meaning, are very important when quoting from previous authors.

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  43. The name that immediately springs to mind is John Murray.

    See e.g. here or here.

    Murray: The Adamic administration is, therefore, construed as an administration in which God, by a special act of providence, established for man the provision whereby he might pass from the status of contingency to one of confirmed and indefectible holiness and blessedness, that is, from posse peccare and posse non peccare to non posse peccare. The way instituted was that of ‘an intensified and concentrated probation’, the alternative issues being dependent upon the issues of obedience or disobedience (cf. G. Vos: Biblical Theology, 22f).

    This administration has often been denoted ‘The Covenant of Works’. There are two observations. (1) The term is not felicitous, for the reason that the elements of grace entering into the administration are not properly provided for by the term ‘works’ (2) It is not designated a covenant in Scripture. Hosea 6:7 may be interpreted otherwise and does not provide the basis for such a construction of the Adamic economy. Besides, Scripture always uses the term covenant, when applied to God’s administration to men, in reference to a provision that is redemptive or closely related to redemptive design. Covenant in Scripture denotes the oath-bound confirmation of promise and involves a security which the Adamic economy did not bestow.

    Without seeking to defend Murray’s comments, I will certain defend Murray as standing within the circle of orthodoxy. That said, he and Kline diverged quite sharply on this issue, with Kline viewing Murray as tending into monocovenantalism, and Murray viewing Kline’s view as tending toward antinomianism. I would say that the Shepherd controversy was the child of their conflict, and the FV controversy its grandchild; with perhaps more than one grandchild to come.

    O. Palmer Robertson have strikes a middle ground between the two, finding more continuity between Moses and Abraham than Kline does, but more sharply distinguishing the Covenant of Works under Adam from the other covenants (“Christ of the Covenants”, ch. 3). He would argue that the COW/COG distinction is sound and necessary, but that the COW did nevertheless contain elements of grace (ibid, ch. 4).

    I hope that answers your question?

    (and you *know* I’m no FVary)

    JRC

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  44. If I follow, you’re saying that “grace” is equivocated to mean “undeserved favor” on the one hand and “favor in the face of demerit” on the other? Distinguish the two and the argument about grace in the Garden goes away?

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  45. Maybe its not so valid if the point — when conceded — means I’m a Pelagian.

    As for the republication language, why isn’t the fifth commandment an instance of “do this and live,” or “don’t do this and die”? The shorter catechism says that the reason attached to the fifth commandment is “a promise of long life and prosperity” to everyone who keeps it. No mention of eternal life for keeping it.

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  46. So mr. Bane, if you only give your children ice cream on the basis of grace, do you turn down your pay check when your employer pays you for inferior work? Also, were you quite so concerned about the imperfection of good works in the case of Shepherd’s views on obedient faith? You might be interested in https://oldlife.org/2009/09/09/easy-obeyism/

    I do find it odd that you are taking a view of good works and merit that tilts the deck decidely to the priority of the forensic over moral renovation in salvation, and this is preciely the point that Klineans have been making against Shepherd and neo-nomians.

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  47. My understanding is that it is the principle of “do this and live” where obedience merits favor and disobedience merits punishment. How else do you explain Israel going into exile? Though I think it was more than three strikes.

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  48. Yes, the WCF puts grace all over, around and through the CoW: “The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam; and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect perpetual obedience.”

    Feel the grace!

    So have you read T. David Gordon’s piece in TLNF? Do you see no connection between Murray’s monocoventalism and Shepherd? Or is Shepherd merely saying what the Reformed forefathers said?

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  49. Vern:

    Just do a search for “Kline” and it will pop up. I cited from the old edition (pre-book form), which is available at the address cited above.

    If you only have the print edition, try page 118.

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  50. T. David Gordon promulgates the exact position as the Lutherans. He argues the Sinaitic covenant is different in kind. That is Lutheran, not the classical Reformed position, though some Reformed theologians did join the Lutherans.

    If you read the writings of the Westminster divines you’ll quickly see that they all, as they fleshed out the CoW, acknowledge God’s grace towards Adam. Hence, “life was promised”. God assisted Adam in his obedience and provided the Holy Spirit for that assistance. This is just plain ol’ Reformed orthodoxy.

    What is a monocovenantalist? I’ve been waiting for some time now for someone to give me a definition.

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  51. DGH:

    You are ignoring my previous points, and the statements made therein. I will say it again: merit sometimes obtains between men, but not between sinners and God.

    Funny, I cite the WCF and Calvin’s catechism, and you paint them as Shepherdite!

    Your historical taxonomy is far too simplistic, Dr. Hart. You seem to suggest that if you are either a Klinean or a Shepherdite! Let me be very clear that for a great many in the Reformed church, a growing consensus is saying “pox on BOTH your houses” (FV-Shepherd, and Radical Klinean/WSCal).

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  52. There’s only one way to be saved: works. Either your own (good luck with that) or Jesus Christ’s, appropriated via faith.

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  53. When God republished the Covenant of Works on Sinai, in obviously elaborated form, it was *to* the type for the coming second Adam. National Israel was a type for Jesus Christ, the second Adam.

    National Israel is a unique player in God’s plan of redemption for this reason. Regarding salvation individual Israelites were like us, fallen human beings only saved by faith in the coming Messiah, just as we are saved by faith in the already come Messiah; but as national Israel their role in God’s plan was very different from any other fallen people. They were the very bloodline of King Jesus (and they had to keep that line alive and pure until the incarnation). They were the very substance of the history contained in the Word of God. They’re history in fact mirrored the history of Jesus Christ. Paul gets at this in Romans when he is telling us, perhaps clumsily, that national Israel is the same as us *yet different*, and that we need to recognize this.

    We learn of the law and the futility of relying on law-keeping from national Israel’s example (using the land as a type for salvation), and in this we are directed toward the Messiah just as they were. In God’s plan *this is a necessary part of the mechanics of the Covenant of Grace.*

    National Israel is as unique a player in God’s plan of redemption as pre-fall Adam is unique. Or even as the second Adam is unique.

    Jesus, though, *could* fulfill the demands of the law. He was born under the law (and for the world to know that it was republished on Sinai in elaborated form) and kept that law, accomplishing what the first Adam failed to accomplish.

    The Covenant of Works was never nullified. It exists even now as a curse. We are saved only *one way*: by works. Either our own (gook luck with that) or Jesus Christ’s, appropriated by faith.

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  54. Bob, our good friend Jason Stellman provides a handy definition (as if Gordon hadn’t done so already — I thought you read TLNF) at http://deregnisduobus.blogspot.com/2006/09/danger-of-monocovenantalism.html.

    But to your point, the promise of life is on the condition of perfect obedience. The covenant of grace requires faith and has no such language of conditionality.

    I’m glad you’ve read the Westminster Divines, but I don’t confess each and everyone of their theologies. I confess the confession of the OPC. It doesn’t talk about grace in the covenant of works. Voluntary condescension yes. But didn’t God have to engage in a lot of voluntary condescension to keep Israel in the land?

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  55. If there is a pox on both houses, why were the Klineans so prominent in writing the OPC report on Justification that finally identified formally the errors of Shepherd? And where were the criticisms of Shepherd before that except among the Klineans? (speaking of not answering questions, you didn’t answer mine about the alleged reference in Dennison’s article to Shepherd.)

    But actually, sinners do merit God’s blessing, through the merits of Christ. The merit principle is pretty darned important for keeping straight the covenant of works and the covenant of grace, which is the ball that monocovenatalists fumble.

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  56. Darryl et al

    The Kerux reference to Shepherd is puzzling indeed, and I’m not Klinean. I am as suprised by it as you are. Regretable.

    But still we are floundering: which is it at Sinai? A works principle a la CoW (one strike) which you seem to suggest “the promise of life is on the condition of perfect obedience” or the “more than three strikes” (DGH) / “relative, national obedience” (Stellman). There seems to be discord in your own camp on the issue.

    I don’t see why this is so hard? Which one is it? I’m not trying to be rude at all, and I’ll concede I’m not the brightest star in the sky, but this does not make sense. Either Israel was put under a CoW at Sinai (albeit for the temporal land, and NOT for salvation as some are incorrectly suggesting) or it was a different kind of principle, one founded on grace that produces works?

    Furthermore, if you want “voluntary condescension” as the context of the CoW and the very same needed for Israel to remain in the land (but not grace), then you must surely carry that forward into the fulfillment of CoW by Christ and the fulfillment of the type Israel by Christ as he merited the blessing Israel failed to. So where is the “voluntary condescension” in Christ’s work?

    And to say there is no other conditionality to the CoG is simply incorrect: “Walk before me and be blameless” – “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved” etc etc. To relelgate the Biblical evidence on the conditionality of the GoG is not “pettifogging” one bit (a charge leveled at some of us by T David Gordon which was as rediculous as labeling Klineans Pelagian!) Furthermore the conditions of the CoG involve holiness and the pursuit thereof. There are plenty of conditions in the CoG, and that idea is not novel (and indeed as you state, merit is the means by which Christ secures for us the blessing of the CoG). So the insistance that the CoG is devoid of conditions is at the heart of the issue – the wedge that is being driven between Abraham and Sinai, and Sinai and the New Covenant (if you want evidence of that, just read T David Gordon’s article in TLNF).

    Matt

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  57. Covenant of grace does not have conditions? Wow. That’s all I can say. Wow. I know this will sound rude, but you have no idea what you are talking about. That is straight up Antinomianism.

    Murray plainly says that condition of the covenant of works is our obedience. There’s just no way you can accuse John Murray of monocovenantalism if you read him carefully. He’s no different that the majority of the 17thC divines.

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  58. Perhaps the poxes have two different innoculi.

    Granted: Klineans have been sensitive to the errors of Shepherd. Good. They are innoculated against works-salvation. Does this make them above reproach in every other way? Unable to possibly distort in another direction?

    Don’t get me wrong. When I read Kline, I am thoroughly impressed with the way he coordinates ideas as a master chess player coordinates moves. And I believe that he’s onto something with the notion of typological republication.

    However, I don’t see anything in him that responds to O. Palmer Robertson’s point: that the promise of land under the Mosaic covenant was a fulfillment and administration of the Abrahamic. There is a unity of the covenant of grace, and the Mosaic administration was a part of the covenant, as the Confession takes pains to point out.

    It may be that I haven’t read the right sources, or that I haven’t fully grasped Kline, but at this point, it appears that Kline may separate Abraham and Moses too widely.

    A similar observation may be made about the republication hypothesis. Curiously, the Confession connects the law under the Covenant of Works (19.1) with the Law given as the 10 Commandments at Sinai (19.2). Republication looks good so far. But then, that same law is called the Moral Law (19.3) and is said to continue to this day as the perfect rule of righteousness to which we are still bound (19.5), yet not as under a covenant of works (19.6). (And certainly, while Jesus fulfills all of the Law on the cross, it is primarily the moral that is primary. The “curse of the Law” is not God’s wrath against eating shellfish)

    Certainly, we would not say that our obedience to the Law as Christians falls under a republication of works scheme! And yet, the closest the Confession comes to speaking of republication (in 19.2) refers to the Moral Law, not the ceremonial or civil (treated separately in 19.3,4) which has passed away. So the separation of Abraham and Moses leaves us asking, “What’s up with the moral law?”

    So while Kline’s case is compelling, it leaves loose ends on the cutting-room floor.

    Now: let’s grant that the merit principle is important (full agreement here, at least). Still, could it be that the pox on Klineans is that they are unable or less able to distinguish between causative conditions (which violate the merit principle) and logical conditions (which do not)?

    The best way to start a fight at a Presbyterian bar is to say, “Repentance is necessary for salvation.” Despite the fact that such a statement is straight out of the Confession, it is read by some Klineans as making repentance a work that merits salvation … which of course, it is not.

    Repentance is a logically necessary condition for salvation (in formal logic terms:

    S –> R ; therefore R is “necessary” for S)

    Repentance is not a causative condition for salvation.

    IMHO, if the two sides would simply agree to distinguish these, the controversy would diminish greatly. (Just like Reed’s point about the equivocation on grace)

    And here’s how the three points tie together: Could it be that Kline’s republication hypothesis, while containing much that is true, separates Moses too far from Abraham so that orthodox folk who speak of the third use of the Law are sometimes wrongly viewed as advocating works salvation? In other words, perhaps the Pox of Kline is to myopically view everyone as the next Norm Shepherd.

    JRC

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  59. Jeff,

    Kline argues that the geo-political land of Canaan was given to Israel by grace, according to God’s promise to Abraham. But their tenure in the land depended on their obedience to the Sinai covenant. I don’t know how else to read Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28.

    Eutyches Bane, et al,

    I have yet to see anyone address my methodological point about the concrete terms and sanctions of the Sinai covenant. Even if you won the day in the debate over what the Reformed tradition and the Reformed confessions teach (and you have not), you have not rebutted the argument from the concrete terms and sanctions of the covenant. I think WCF Chapter 1 is pretty clear about which wins in a contest between Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28, Galatians 3 and the tally of any given head count.

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  60. People want to continually move the goal posts into confusion. “Too many loose ends. Too much left on the cutting room floor.” God’s plan is remarkably simple. The basics of biblical doctrine are elegantly simple.

    Saying there is continued confusion because the 10 commandments still exist to be followed even after Jesus accomplished His work in fulfilling them to a ‘t’ gets into the subject of antinomianism vs. legalism and striking the necessary balance. Paul goes into it all. There is no confusion.

    Think of it this way: Adam chose the word of the devil over the Word of God; Jesus said to the devil: “It is written.” It doesn’t therefore follow that holding to and following the Word of God over anything else is no longer necessary.

    There is also an unspoken element here among fallen man that still sees the moral law of God as constrictive and not feeling much like freedom. This is an illusion of the devil’s kingdom. It’s also an illusion of your vanity, worldly pride, and self-will. When you recover the image of God it is your *nature* to follow the laws of God. Those laws are no longer a chain about your neck but something that emanates from your very heart. They are what you are.

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  61. When you speak of “Klineans,” don’t assume they are a monolith and speak like a Greek chorus. Not all who embrace part of Kline embrace every sentence he wrote. Even at WSC, where many of the professors are more or less sympathetic to Kline, not all buy into everything. I don’t know many persons who are pure “Klineans,” though I know one former OPC pastsor who blogs on Kline and appears to be the one pure Klinean I know.

    I think most who are sympathetic with Kline would say that the Ten Commandments, for example, were a republication of the moral law given in the Adamic covenant of works, but in the context of the Mosaic covenant. A review of the specific commandments reveals that many are specific to Israel, but nonetheless the moral law can be abstracted from them and retains enduring application to New Covenant believers. That at least is how many of us intepret the WCF. Thus, the moral law enshrined in the Ten Commandments is a republication of the COW, and yes it endures today though not as a covenant of works but as the moral law of righteouensss to which we are still bound (WCF 19.5) and not as a continuation of the Old Covenant (the promise that we will live long in the land if we honor our fathers and mothers and the command not to covet livestock must be abstracted from the Mosaic context). And yes the Mosaic Covenant is an administration of the covenant of grace but with a works principle overlay for typological and pedagogical reasons. That seems to me, at least, to make the most sense of the biblical data. Not all agree, and you may disagree, but I don’t see “loose ends” or incoherence in the position.

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  62. @ Bob, Dr. T. David Gordon’s chapter “Abraham and Sinai Contrasted in Galatians 3:6-14” from The Law is Not of Faith: Essays on Works and Grace in the Mosaic Covenant, ed. Bryan Estelle, J. V. Fesko, and David VanDrunen (P&R, 2009), pp. 240-58 is available here: and John Murray’s work, The Covenant of Grace: A Biblico-Theological Study. London: The Tyndale Press, 1954, can be found here.

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  63. Nice to know that someone besides me struggles to get the threading right. :)

    To be clear, I’m not accusing Kline of incoherence; far from it. His work is quite coherent, if densely presented. I just wonder whether it accounts for all the data. That’s what I mean by “loose ends.”

    You said two things that seemed important and right here:

    (1) Kline is not followed verbatim by even WSC profs, and
    (2) There is not a unanimity of views.

    It seems important to remember that we don’t rally around individual personalities. That was one feature that disturbed me about the 36 pages that I read of the Kerux review: it unites around opposition to Kline.

    I would much rather have seen direct contact with the ideas instead of a connection of ideas to personalities (Kline, Irons).

    Here’s a loose end that I had in mind, and perhaps you can clarify for me since I admit that I haven’t read the entire Klinean corpus.

    On pp. 320ff. of KP, Kline discusses the Works Principle. He is clear to differentiate it from the Abrahamic Covenant in terms of salvation, while stressing unity with it in terms of temporal blessings (giving several examples of Abraham’s faithfulness that secured the land, pp. 333-338). He concludes that “Abraham’s obedience was the ground for Israel’s inheritance of Canaan.”

    This proposal got me all excited: Abraham as a federal head of Israel.

    And he extends this to Israel: “What we have found then is that once the typological kingdom was inaugurated under the Mosaic Covenant, Israel’s retention of it was governed by a principle of works applied on a national scale.” (323).

    He of course argues this from passages such as the ones Chris cited, Deut. 28 and Lev. 26.

    Here’s the thing: it does seem clearly obvious that Israel was given a works-principle in Deut. 28 to obey as a condition for keeping the land.

    But the works-principle was not enforced!

    Not once (AFAIK) does God ever say to Israel, “As a result of your obedience, I will allow you to continue in the land.”

    Instead, the works-principle appears to be suspended, or administered by gradual, cumulative demerit only until the fall of the Northern and Southern kingdoms.

    When the question of the retention of the land comes up, *surprise!* God allows Israel to remain “for the sake of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” (for example, 2 Kings 13.23).

    So this is a really odd kind of works principle at play in possession of the land. According to the stipulations of the covenant, it is strict merit. In terms of its functioning, Israel’s merit never actually accomplishes anything; instead of pulling the trigger on the stipulations, God softens them and raises up deliverer after deliverer; and it is all done for the sake of Abraham.

    So really, the stipulation that Israel earns the right to stay in the land by merit is hypothetical. Not once does Israel ever actually earn that right.

    Instead, in spite of Deut. 28 (although hinted at in Lev 26), Israel remains in the land on a different principle: because of grace shown for the sake of Abraham.

    That’s the loose end I have in mind. Thoughts?

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  64. Ceremonial sacrifice? Until they got to a point where they were all worshiping Baal, or Molech, or Astarte, or what have you?

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  65. I disagree that Israel’s tenure in the land by merit is hypothetical. The blessings associated with the land are tied to Israel’s obedience explicitly in Deuteronomy 28:3, 8, 11 and 12 (and implicitly in other verses). Besides what else do verses 25, 29, 32, 33 — especially verses 36 – 37 and 48 – 58 — 41, 63 – 68 mean except that if Israel had obeyed, they would have remained in the land? That sounds like merit to me. The concrete terms and sanctions of the Mosaic covenant were that God declared Israel’s obedience worthy of being able to stay in Canaan and enjoy a variety of blessings there. He also declared that Israel’s disobedience was worthy of being carried off into captivity by her enemies and watching the land become cursed in the mirror opposite ways of the blessings. If that is not merit, I don’t know what is.

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  66. Chris:

    Your comments are staggering to me. Are you really saying that Israel merited the land by obedience, and that is not just a hypothetical situation, but actually occured?

    As for Deut. 28, listen to Calvin:

    “Now herewithal we have to mark, that seeing God promises nothing, but vnto them that have obeyed all the law, it were too doltish follie to suppose that we can merit or deserve by doing this thing or that thing: we must first of all haue kept all the law, which is impossible.” (pg. 942, on Deut. 28:1-2)

    “And as it is he [God] that doth uphold us: so must we assure ourselues that it is not for us to imagine any merit in ourselves, but that he accepts us of his own only infinite goodness; and therefore that we for our part, must seek nothing but to vow and dedicate ourselves wholly unto him. (pg. 962 – On Deut. 28:15)

    If you think Calvin is wrong, I remind of what Moses said earlier:

    Do not say in your heart when the LORD your God has driven them out before you, ‘Because of my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,’ but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is dispossessing them before you.

    5″It isnot for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

    6″Know, then, it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stubborn people.

    And let there be no abstract appeals to a distinction between obtaining and retaining the land. The grace principle abides for Israel’s blessings long after they have been in the land:

    Deut. 8:10: “When (I)you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you.

    11″Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today;

    12otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them,

    13and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies,

    14then your heart will become proud and you will (L)forget the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery…

    17″Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’

    18″But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

    If that is not GRACE, I don’t know what is!

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  67. Jeff, it’s important to keep uppermost in mind, I believe, the purpose of the law in the theocracy that was Israel under Moses. The law was not intended, as the Pharisees asserted, to enable Israel to earn, on the principle of merit, the blessedness of the world to come. The law’s purpose at this stage was to typify, to picture, the blessed state by approximation, what Vos calls “typological appropriateness.” Israel typified th eheavenly, perfected state of God’s people, but that did not require absolute conformity to God’s law in the spiritual, individual sense by every member of Israel. It required that the nation as a whole present a sufficiently appropraite picture of the ideal perfected state. When they “disqualified themselves from typifying the state of holiness, they disqualified themselves for typifying the state of blessedness, and had to go into captivity.” (Vos) God dealt primarily with the nation and through the nation with the individual. For a time the legal demands of the law were imperfectly complied with by national Israel, and nonetheless they stayed in the land, as you note, for a time.
    Vos attributes this to grace. Even after the nation as a whole was apostate and exiled, the people were not destroyed; the covenant was not allowed to fail. After due chastisement and repentnat, God took the nation back into favor. That was on the principle of free grace (Vos.)

    With that said, the works principle that overlay the Mosaic covenant demanded relative obedience, blessings and curses, but it operated at the level of typology and for the purpose of picturing the heavenly state, by approximation, and for the purpose of teaching Israel the need for a Messiah to come. Thus there was a type of merit at work, a relative merit, but not in the realm of salvation, rather in the realm of symbol and type, for the purposes of typlogy and pedagogy. The law taughte, and Israel’s failure proved, that there needed to be One who could keep the law perfectly and earn genuine merit.

    You may not be convinced of this, but this is the Vossian picture, and I don’t know of anything in Kline that would differ. Kline also stressed the the merit on display in the works principle was a relative merit that Israel never achieved.

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  68. Sullivan:

    It seems to me that you are conflating Vos and Kline, or at least are not making the difference between them clear enough. Vos denied that Israel’s obedience was meritorious, Kline stanuncly affirmed that it was (a works merit principle, opposite grace-faith). Vos taught that such a construction was Pharisaical: “It is plain, then, that law-keeping did not figure at that juncture as the meritrious ground of life-inheritance. The latter is based on grace alone, no less emphatically than Paul himself places salvation on that ground. But while this is so, it might be objected, that law-observance, if not the ground for recieving, is yet made the ground for retention of the priveleges inherited. Here it cannot, of course, be denied that a real connection exists. But the JUDAIZERS WENT WRONG IN INFERRING THAT THE CONNECTION MUST BE MERITORIOUS, that, if Israel keeps the cherished gifts of Jehovah through observance of his law, this must be so, because in strict justice they had earned them. The connection is of a TOTALLY DIFFERENT kind. It belongs not to the legal sphere of merit, but the symbolical-typical sphere of appropriateness of expression.” (Biblical Theology, Banner of Truth, 127).

    Besides, Vos sees this connection between obedience/holiness and life-inheritance continuing in the new covenant: “And in Paul’s teaching the strand that corresponds to this OT doctrine of holiness as the indispensable (though not meritorious) condition of receiving the inheritance is distinctly tracable.” (128)

    In terms of the specific point of the meritorious character of Israel’s obedience, Vos is not Kline, and Kline is not Vos.

    Relative/imperfect merit is an oxymoron. If it isn’t perfect obedience, it can’t be meritorious in any sense. The term “merit” thus loses any significant (clear) theological value. The only time imperfect obedience can be rewarded is in terms of pure, sovereign grace. To say that imperfect obedience can be meritorious is a confusing and contradictory notion.

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  69. Chris, I’d like to speak with some precision here if possible, because I agree with you Deut. 28 express a works-merit principle.

    The question is, having set up the merit principle in Deuteronomy, did God in fact operate according to a merit principle in the centuries that followed?

    And the answer appears to be, Not strictly. Do you agree so far?

    If so, then the question is, Why not strictly?

    Sullivan presents an answer — Vos’s answer, Kline’s answer — that “The law was not intended, as the Pharisees asserted, to enable Israel to earn, on the principle of merit, the blessedness of the world to come. The law’s purpose at this stage was to typify, to picture, the blessed state by approximation, what Vos calls “typological appropriateness.””

    EB has pointed out that Vos and Kline are not speaking univocally here, but the basic answer for both men remains that the reason for the lack of strictness is that the law was a type or shadow of the blessed state.

    This answer appears to be true, but incomplete. That is: Kline presents a compelling case that the old Zion is a type of the city to come, and that the Law provided an obvious demonstration of the need for the One to come.

    But his answer is incomplete in that when we look at how God treats Israel’s obedience and disobedience, He does not once, ever (to my knowledge) say that their relative obedience was the reason that they remained in the land from Joshua through Bablyon. Nor does He carry out to the strict letter the curses provided in Deuteronomy (keeping in mind that He required strict letter observation of the Israelites…). So in neither a positive sense of remaining in the land nor in the negative sense of expelling them, does God actually operate strictly according to the merit principle He enunciates in Deut. 28.

    Instead, the reason given for their staying in the land was “because of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

    In other words, at the level of the typological land possession, there was *grace* in operation that blunted the force of the merit principle. God was patient with them and provided numerous judges and a second chance out of Babylon because He was gracious for the sake of Abraham.

    Or put another way: if the merit principle operated on a relative level, then it did so because of grace.

    Agree? Disagree?

    JRC

    (I agree with EB that “relative merit” is something other merit; it could be described as a merit/grace hybrid, but it does not fit well in a paradigm like Kline’s that sharply divides merit from grace.)

    (To forestall an objection: I am *not* arguing that merit and grace are always mingled. For instance, I don’t see “grace” (as in forgiveness) in operation in the garden. Nor would I countenance for one second the idea of smuggling Law into the Christian life as a principle of works, merit, or anything remotely similar. I’m just arguing that Kline’s bifurcation of “land typology – Law – merit / salvation – Abraham – grace” doesn’t work cleanly against the Biblical data)

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  70. Eutyches’ Bane:
    I am saying that the concrete terms and sanctions of the typological covenant made at Sinai and confirmed/renewed in Deuteronomy were based on simple justice such that Israel could either merit tenure in the land or demerit foreign captivity. Again, the land was granted to Israel by grace as a result of God’s promise to Abraham. But Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 seem crystal clear to me. I find it interesting that you did not deal substantively with my point.

    Yes, I disagree with Calvin here. It is not the first time, and it won’t be the last. For example, I note (with some irony) that John Murray was absolutely right to take issue with Calvin’s interpretation of Romans 5:12ff. in his book “The Imputation of Adam’s Sin.”

    I don’t deny that grace was also operative during the Mosaic economy, and neither did Kline. The continuity of the covenant of grace from the Abrahamic covenant through the Mosaic covenant is seen in the sacrificial system. But that system was eschatological in orientation, whereas the Sinai covenant was typological. So pointing to Old Covenant texts that prove grace does not rebut republication at all.

    But let’s set aside the argument from the concrete terms of the covenant for a moment. You wanted to appeal to the Confessions earlier. What do you make of the fact that Scripture proofs for statements about the covenant of works are Scriptures that deal with the Mosaic covenant (see WCF VII.ii)?

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  71. Mr. Bane, I believe you’re misreading both Vos and Kline at this point. Vos wants to protect salvation by grace alone. The Vos passage you quote rightly stresses God’s free grace to Israel, he has is view spiritual blessedness and salvation, “life inheritance.” On p. 126 Vos writes: “This Pharisaic philosophy [referenced by Paul] asserted that the law was intended, on the principle of merit, to enable Israel to earn the blessedness of the world to come. It was an eschatalogical and therefore most comprehensive interpretation. But .. it could not fail being comprehensively wrong.” Kline would agree with this and does. Law keeping by national Israel was never intended to merit eternal life. But law keeping by national Israel was correlated with temporal, typological blessings, as both Vos and Kline agree. You are collapsing the distinction between the level of symbol/typology and the level of spiritual blessing. Vos asserts that the connection between Israel’s law keeping and retention of the land is not “strict justice.” Kline agrees. Vos admittedly so want to protect free grace that he doesn’t use the word merit, he uses “typological appropriatness.” But no less than Kline, Vos asserts that relative law keeping by national Israel was connected to their retention of the land and their failure is connected to their ejection. He does not want to use the word “merit” to describe this. This seems to me semantic. Both agree that law keeping is not the “meritorious ground” of eternal blessedness. And both agree that law keeping is connected to land retention. Vos recognizes tshe works principle in the Mosaic covenant, though he doesn’t want to use the term “merit.” Vos: “The conneciton is of a totally different kind. It belogns not to the legal sphere of merit, but to the symbolico-typical sphere of appropriateness of expression.” Kline agrees that the works principle is at work in the Mosaic covenant at the level of typology. Kline doesn’t mind calling that a kind of merit because he accepts the notion of relative merit. Israel did not need straight A’s to stay in the land, as long as they earned a B or a C they stayed in the land. Relative merit. Vos would reserve “merit” to straight A’s, and call the rest “typological appropriatness.” As long as we’re clear that Kline’s notion of “merit” in the works principle is at the level of typology and relative merit, I’m ok with his terminology. He nowhere, nowhere, suggests that relative merit earns any ultimate spiritual blessings or eternal felicity.

    To the degree that your project is to rule out all human “merit” of any kind, you should take no comfort from Vos, and you will take no comfort from Rom. 5:12ff, where one Human did merit eternal felicity, for us.

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  72. Maybe I missed something… well, that’s quite possible, as I only read the first dozen pages of the review. The issue Kerux seems to be driving at is the WSCAL overemphasis on the Mosaic covenant as a recapitulation of the Covenant of Works (CoW) along with the rigorous analogical linking of Adam and the nation of Israel under Moses. The overemphasis on recapitulation is identified as covenantal regression, and the analogy is thought to lead to predicating some ability to fallen humanity that is not there.

    No justification. No FV. So, what’s all this talk from Dr. Clark about justification? Even more, what’s Dr. Johnson doing talking about FV revisionism? I feel like someone just started speaking Chinese all of a sudden!

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  73. Sullivan:

    I have not once, on this thread, ever ruled out human merit of any kind. My point is simple: sinners cannot merit at all. Only Adam (pre-fall) and Christ could do that, because they were sinless. The suggestion that my project is to “rule out” all human merit is absurd.

    Again, you are dodging Vos’s clear statements. The context makes clear that when he is discussing “life-inheritance” he is referring not only to eternal life/salvation, but also to “the enjoyment of many blessings of the berith” (127) and their “possession of the promised land” (ibid.). The life-inheritance in view is explicitly distinguished from Pauline, soteric salvation: “It is plain, then, that law-keeping did not figure at this juncture as the meritorious ground of life-inheritance. The latter is based on grace alone, no less emphatically THAN PAUL PLACES SALVATION ON THAT GROUND.” (ibid). The context as a whole makes very clear that he is dealing not simply with eternal life/salvation, but also the typological blessings of the land.

    Again, as I stated earlier in our interaction, No less than Jeong Koo Jeon (rather sympathetic to Kline) pointed this difference between Vos and Kline years ago:

    “[For Vos] The obedience of Israel was not meritorious because it was applied to the continuation of symbolico-typical national blessings and curses. Meanwhile, Kline locates the corporate obedience of Israel to the covenant of law under the Old Covenant, applied to the typological theocratic kingdom blessing and curse as meritorious. This is the difference between Vos and Kline.” (http://www.kerux.com/documents/keruxv16n1a1.htm)

    That is not a critic of Kline, but a generally sympathetic supporter of Kline. If Jeon can see the difference, why can’t you? Where am I missing it?

    Again, the idea of relative merit is an oxymoron. If the obedience isn’t perfect it can’t be, in any intelligible sense, meritorious.

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  74. Mr. Bane:
    I don’t agree with your interpretation of Vos. The language you quote is in the context of Israel enjoying the benefits of the berith before the inaguration of the Mosaic covenant, and thus they were all by grace. I agree, and I think Kline would. But when he refers to “life inheritance” it is in the context of Paul’s rebutting the Pharisees’ argument that eternal blessings are secured by human works/merit. The fact remains that Vos agrees with Kline that Israel’s retention of the land was connected with its law keeping, albeit imperfect lawkeeping, at the level of typology.

    That aside, I’m not sure what significance you attach to the argument that Kline erred in asserting human merit other than Adam and Christ. Assuming arguendo that you’re right and Kline was wrong, what do you see as the implications? I did not say that you denied all merit but rather inferred that you were advocating certain Kerux or FV positions. If I assumed incorrectly I take it back.

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  75. By the way, what is the basis for your denial of the possibility of relative merit. My children sometimes merit an A, sometimes a B, sometimes an F. We certainly use the word “merit” in English usage to refer to mertis on a graded scale. The WCF certainly makes clear that only perfect, personal obedience satisfies the covenant of works, as indeed Christ’s perfect merits satisfied the law on our behalf. That is not in dispute, I take it. And you may argue that Kline’s exegesis of OT passges errs in asserting that the works principle operated in the legal sphere. But for the sake of argument, I’m not clear on why in principle the concept of relative merit is an oxymoron, or why one must accept your definition of “merit” to encompass only perfection since our English usage is to the contrary.

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  76. EB can answer for himself, but I joined him for this reason and I’ll give my answer.

    It starts with a question: “relative” to what?

    To “merit” something means that there was a standard; the standard was met; the reward was given on the basis of the met standard.

    Let’s say that the standard for an “A” is a 90% or above. If your child gets an A for only 85%, then the standard has not been met; the A was unmerited. It was received on some principle other than merit.

    Now, we could talk about ‘relative merit’ in terms of grading on a curve. This is still a merit principle, but the standard has changed. A teacher could say, “This student was two standard deviations above the mean, so he gets an A.” In that case, the merit is evaluated relative to other performers.

    In the case of Israel, the standard is laid out very clearly in Deut. 28. There is no provision given for grading on the curve (nor is Israel ever given any favorable comparison to other nations). Given that God delayed and softened the promised sanctions, we have to conclude that either another standard of merit was being used, or else that another principle — that of grace — was also in play.

    If we take the first option, where is this other standard to be found? I can’t recall the Law being softened. So this option seems eliminated, and we are left with grace. Patience. Forbearance.

    And in fact, this is what the Scripture says happened. Compare the language of 2 Chron 21.4 – 10 with the language of Deut. 28.15ff. Notice that Jehoram broke the first two commandments flagrantly, yet “for the sake of the covenant with David”, God did not pull the trigger yet. “All” of the curses (Deut. 28.15) did not come down on him or Israel under him.

    So what do you mean by relative merit? Do you think that Israel could properly be said to have obeyed some relative standard? And where is this standard to be found?

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  77. Missed a thought:

    Sullivan: And you may argue that Kline’s exegesis of OT passges errs in asserting that the works principle operated in the legal sphere.

    No, I agree that there was some kind of works principle operating. After all, when Israel is deported, it is on the basis of demerit.

    I’m just saying that there was a grace principle operating at the same time. This doesn’t overthrow all of Kline or anything like that; it just complicates his proposal to split out

    Land – type – works
    Salvation – antitype – grace

    JRC

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  78. Kerux or FV positions? Where does the former group reject merit altogether? Have you read their review, or just RS Clark’s “analysis?”

    Relative is an oxymoron on Kline’s own definition. He says that the works-principle in the Mosaic covenant was “opposite faith grace” and that “works not grace was the controlling administrative principle.” Yet he also says that in terms of that principle, God accepted imperfect obedience as meritorious.

    “Also contradicting the contention that no divine covenants have ever been governed by the works principle is the irrefutable biblical evidence that the Mosaic economy, while an administration of grace on its fundamental level of concern with the eternal salvation of the individual, was at the same time on its temporary, typological kingdom level informed by the principle of works. Thus, for example, the apostle Paul in Romans 10:4ff. and Galatians 3:10ff. (cf. Rom 9:32) contrasts the old order of the law with the gospel order of grace and faith, identifying the old covenant as one of bondage, condemnation, and death (cf. 2 Cor 3:6-9; Gal 4:24-26). The old covenant was law, the opposite of grace-faith, and in the postlapsarian world that meant it would turn out to be an administration of condemnation as a consequence of sinful Israel’s failure to maintain the necessary meritorious obedience. Had the old typological kingdom been secured by sovereign grace in Christ, Israel would not have lost her national election. A satisfactory explanation of Israel’s fall demands WORKS, NOT GRACE, as the controlling administrative principle. (Kingdom Prologue, electronic edition)

    Again, in his article “The Exaltation of Christ” he says:

    “And according to the covenantal constitution for that old order, corporate Israel must earn the continuing enjoyment of the typological kingdom inheritance by their obedience. This works principle is a conspicuous feature of the sanctions section of the Mosaic treaties.42 Expressing things in old covenant terms, Zechariah therefore says that God’s kingdom of glory is the reward for the probationary obedience of the elect corporately.

    Footnote 42: “Cf., e. g., Lev. 18:5; Deut. 28:1, 9, 13, 15; 30:15-20. As Paul’s appeal to Lev. 18:5 shows (Rom. 10:5; Gal. 3:12), a legal principle of meritorious works was operating in the Torah covenant opposite to the gospel principle of grace.”

    My basis for the rejection of the idea of relative merit is the complete and total Pauline antithesis between the two concepts: “If it is of grace, it is no more of works, otherwise grace would no more be grace.” Don’t you see: if there are sinners involved, there is only one way God can relate to them in terms of positive reward: grace! If there is special, redemptive grace, it can’t be by works.

    Now to the one who works, his wages are not credited as a GIFT but as his DUE. But to the one who does not work, but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness (Rom. 4:4-5)

    Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by GRACE (Rom. 4:16)

    What do you have that you did not recieve, and if you recieved it, why do you boast as if you did not recieve it?

    Paul knows of no middle ground here: it is either by faith, or works; it is either by grace, or by merit. To speak of relative merit is to introduce a category foreign to Paul’s theology, and is to impose upon him a system and a distinction that has no concrete exegetical basis in his theology. Where does he ever distinguish between Israel’s earthly blessings (gained/retained through relative merits) and eternal salvation (obtained by faith grace). Nowhere. It is an invented distinction imposed upon Paul (and apparently, for many, on the Reformed tradition).

    This isn’t rocket science, folks! If their obedience was imperfect, it can only be accpeted by grace, and not on any legal-meritorious basis! To speak of imperfect obedience and functioning meritoriously is the height of irrationality…unless that is, we redefine merit to really mean grace. And that is a confusing situation indeed.

    And, by that way, lest anyone be tempted to tar me as FV, that applies only to fallen sinners, not to Adam and Christ.

    But if you won’t listen to me, listen to Bullinger (Second Helvetic Confession, chapter 16):

    THERE ARE NO MERITS OF MEN. Therefore, although we teach that God rewards our good deeds, yet at the same time we teach, with Augustine, that God does not crown in us our merits but his gifts. Accordingly we say that whatever reward we receive is also grace, and is more grace than reward, because the good we do, we do more through God than through ourselves, and because Paul says: “What have you that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (I Cor. 4:7). And this is what the blessed martyr Cyprian concluded from this verse: We are not to glory in anything in us, since nothing is our own. We therefore condemn those who defend the merits of men in such a way that they invalidate the grace of God.”

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  79. I’ve been reading this through making an attempt at getting familiar what’s at stake. Initially a scripture had came to my rememberance and I let it alone til having read further. Maybe someone could comment if this scripture has anything to add to this discussion.
    “Luk 17:9 But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and {properly} clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’?
    Luk 17:9 “He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he?
    Luk 17:10 “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done {only} that which we ought to have done.’

    Unless I’m completely misunderstanding Jesus’ comment, He’s eliminating any talk of merit when it comes to obedience.

    Thanks ahead of time for replies.

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  80. Mr Bane,

    Very helpful stuff. I am a beginner on this stuff, but you’ve convinced me to abandon the idea of embracing this typological merit stuff.

    As a ruling elder in a small town I will simply stick with the plain reading of the Westminster Confession.

    Sincerely,
    Bob

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  81. Jeff Cagle:
    I need to think some more about this, but here are some initial thoughts.

    1) While I agree that the OT describes a history in which Israel persisted in parabasis over a period of time, during which God delayed the covenant curses listed in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28, I don’t read any specifications about the time frame in which the curse-sentence would be executed. I don’t mean this to be a cop-out. But I think that the office and function of prophet indicates that “swiftness” is not a necessary condition for “strict” justice. If God intended to send prophets as covenant attorneys to prosecute his “rib,” then the length of time makes sense in light of the phases (charges and specifications, warning, etc.) of that “rib.”

    2) I think Kline’s analysis of grace is helpful here, too. Grace is not “unmerited” favor; it is “demerited” favor. In other words, grace means that we get blessings in spite of the curses that we have demerited. But taking a long time to bring about the substance of the Levitical and Deuteronomic curses doesn’t strike me as a blessing (eschatological or typological). Perhaps we can say that God demonstrated mercy in not bringing about the curses the nanosecond that Israel committed parabasis. But I don’t understand that as grace.

    I will think more about this.

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  82. Jeff,

    Thank you and EB for your thoughtful comments. When time permits, I would like to read them closer and comment. For now, let me say that I agree with your chart:
    Land – type – works
    Salvation – antitype – grace
    Kline can be opaque, to say the least. It seems to me that too much weight can be put on the English word “merit” which some are assuming is equivalent to “works.” The Scriptures use the word “works” but not “merit,” and I’m not sure we mean the same by both. Standard for salvation is perfect works; the standard for temporal blessings like retention in the land was some kind of imperfect works. Now whether we want to call that merit or typological appropriateness or works is noegotiable, but it seems indisputable that works or their absence were related to retention of the land. I also agree that grace was much involved in the OC and in fact I would say the OC was an adminsitraiton of the coveneant of works with a works principle overlay. Given that all sinners deserve condemnation, that Israel had any blessings at all was due to God’s grace. What was the standard for retention of the land? Typological appropriatenes, Vos said. Relative merit, Kline said. I could live with either, but I get that some want to reserve “merit” for perfect merit, and I respect the effort to safeguard sola gratia and Christ’s perfect merits. I’m glad we agree (I think we agree)that Christ’s merits earned our righteousness.

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  83. Typo: I meant to say that the OC was an administraiton of the covenant of grace with a works principle overlay.

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  84. Sullivan:

    Yes, we agree that Christ merited eternal life for us (praise his name!).

    One more thought for your to consider. Scripture says there are only two “Adams”: Adam and Christ. They are called by Paul the first Adam and the second Adam, as well as the first Adam and the last Adam (Rom. 5, 1 Cor. 15).

    If that is the case, there no “Adam” before the first “Adam,” and there is not “Adam” after the “second Adam.” Likewise, between the first and second Adam, there can be no other Adam (unless you think redemptive history develops like computer software with versions 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, etc:) ).

    This is my basic problem with viewing Israel as a “new Adam,” capable of some kind of analogical-typological (whatever you want to call it) “merit.” It detracts from the utter uniqueness of both the (potential) merit of Adam, and more importantly from the merit of Christ. He ALONE is able now to earn rewards (earthly or heavenly!) on behalf of his people. Abraham couldn’t do it (contra Kline), David couldn’t do it (contra Kline), and Israel couldn’t do it (contra Kline). Christ ALONE can do it. I know you agree with that last part (praise God for his grace in you and through you!).

    I know Kline and his followers want to focus on the sole-sufficient merit of Christ: good! But in my opinion, they go about this completely the wrong way when they attribute “merit” (of whatever kind) to sinful humans. Christ and Adam are utterly unique figures – there is no one like them.

    Furthermore, I am of the opinion that if we begin to compromise the soverign grace of God to SINNERS (note, I am not talking here about Adam and Christ, so quit with the FV accusations for once!), we are on a dangerous road. The minute we open the door even a little bit to the merits of men (and I don’t care if you call them relative, typological, etc), we are down a road that will lead to greater errors. I know we may not be there yet, but I for one don’t want to linger as the water trickles it. I am going to slam to door on all sinful-human-merit before it even begins to seep in. Please note: I am not talking about the merit of Adam or Christ. Christ’s merit is absolutely essential to the Gospel.

    Simply put, Kline’s post-fall-merit paradigm (contrary to its stated intention) detracts from the unique and sole-sufficient merits of Christ. It attributes (in some sense!) to fallen sinners what belongs (since the fall) to Christ alone. And his glory he will not give to another.

    In the face of the glory of Christ, where are the merits of Abraham or of Israel? Such theological speculation is utter nonsense before this great and awesome savior!

    Who has ever given to God, that it might be repaid to him [Answer: no fallen sinner!]? For from him, and to him, and through him are all things, to him be the glory forever! Amen (Rom. 11:36).

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  85. Mr Bane,

    You’ve inspired me to further studies. I shall begin my trek, starting at the beginning, and who knows where I’ll end up? Maybe even writing a book on this subject? One can dream.

    Bob

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  86. Jeff:

    No, not in principle. But I would emphasize that the controlling principle governing Israel’s tenure in the land was faith, now works-merit. Yes, they must be obedient, but this is rather the outward evidence of the genuiness of their faith, not ameritorious ground in contrast to grace-faith.

    Apostate, unbelieving Israel “merits” God’s just punishment because all sinful, reprobate persons merit eternal and temporal death. Israel (and all sinners) can negatively merit punishment, though they cannot postively merit reward/blessing.

    In terms of the faith-principle governing Israel’s tenure in the land, consider the following texts. I am not asking you to respond to all of them. Just read them in context, meditate on it, and see what you think:

    Exodus 14:31 (ESV)
    31 Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.

    Numbers 14:11 (ESV)
    11 And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them?

    Numbers 20:11-12 (ESV)
    11 And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. 12 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.”

    Deuteronomy 1:31-33 (ESV)
    31 and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.’ 32 Yet in spite of this word you did not believe the Lord your God, 33 who went before you in the way to seek you out a place to pitch your tents, in fire by night and in the cloud by day, to show you by what way you should go.

    Deuteronomy 9:23-34 (ESV)
    23 And when the Lord sent you from Kadesh-barnea, saying, ‘Go up and take possession of the land that I have given you,’ then you rebelled against the commandment of the Lord your God and did not believe him or obey his voice. 24 You have been rebellious against the Lord from the day that I knew you. 25 “So I lay prostrate before the Lord for these forty days and forty nights, because the Lord had said he would destroy you. 26 And I prayed to the Lord, ‘O Lord God, destroy not your people and your heritage, whom you have redeemed through your greatness, whom you have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 27 Remember your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Do not regard the stubbornness of this people, or their wickedness or their sin, 28 lest the land from which you brought us say, “Because the Lord was not able to bring them into the land that he promised them, and because he hated them, he has brought them out to put them to death in the wilderness.” 29 For they are your people and your heritage, whom you brought out by your great power and by your outstretched arm.’

    2 Kings 17:14, 18
    14 But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God…18 Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only.

    Psalm 106:12 (ESV)
    12 Then they believed his words; they sang his praise.

    Psalm 106:24 (ESV)
    24 Then they despised the pleasant land, having no faith in his promise.

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  87. I posted this message today and it somehow got inserted into the discussion on Jan.20th’s postings. I would appreciate any comment so I’m attempting to post it again where it’s not buried in old postings.

    I’ve been reading this through making an attempt at getting familiar what’s at stake. Initially a scripture had came to my rememberance and I let it alone til having read further. Maybe someone could comment if this scripture has anything to add to this discussion.
    “Luk 17:9 But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and {properly} clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’?
    Luk 17:9 “He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he?
    Luk 17:10 “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done {only} that which we ought to have done.’

    Unless I’m completely misunderstanding Jesus’ comment, He’s eliminating any talk of merit when it comes to obedience.

    Thanks ahead of time for replies.

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  88. Just so you know, most reformed divines used this passage as proof that the covenant of works was gracious. Some even called the covenant of works a “covenant of grace” … Merit was ruled out, and only later (1670s) did some divines talk of “pactum merit.” If you guys don’t believe me, you could read Richard Muller (who makes the same points) – but he probably loves Norman Shepherd like the rest of us who have qualms about Kline. blah, blah, blah…

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  89. The very fact a person uses Kline in a critique of republication (really, a non-admitted denial of Federal Theology) shows ulterior motive. These same people use to *never* reference Vos until it began to expose them. Whenever you see this degree of brick wall non-comprehension be assured it is the usual ‘disingenuous bewilderment’ practiced – as they’ve been taught to practice it -by secular post-modern liberal academia. The assault and the target is the same, it never changes: justification by faith alone. They know that to keep you in the darkness and bondage of the kingdom of satan they need to put the burden of your salvation back on you. To keep it on you. Their pious championing of grace is as real as a three dollar bill.

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  90. [The threading on this forum is strange. I posted a comment and it appears fifteen comments above.]

    The very fact a person uses Kline in a critique of republication (really, a non-admitted denial of Federal Theology) shows ulterior motive. These same people use to *never* reference Vos until it began to expose them. They don’t value orthodox Reformed Theology to begin with. Whenever you see this degree of brick wall non-comprehension be assured it is the usual ‘disingenuous bewilderment’ practiced – as they’ve been taught to practice it -by secular post-modern liberal academia. The assault and the target is the same, it never changes: justification by faith alone. They know that to keep you in the darkness and bondage of the kingdom of satan they need to put the burden of your salvation back on you. To keep it on you. Their pious championing of grace is as real as a three dollar bill.

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  91. Mr. Bane: Thank you for your thorough post. In my view, you haven’t sustained the burden of your argument against relative law keeping in the Mosaic Covenant in connection with national Israel. After carefully considering your posts, I believe that underlying your concern is failure to distinguish the typological works principle (a typological republication of the COW for pedagogical and typological purposes) that overlay the Mosaic Covenant from the soteric COW with Adam. There is Pharisaical works righteousness inherent in Kline’s position since he makes clear that the works principle of merit has no bearing on salvation.

    Accordinginly, your attacks on the notion of post-fall “merit” fall short of the mark, and in fact are a red herring since Kline and WSC have never argued for works righteousness. Your citations are to passages addressing strict merit in the context of salvation. Kline, with the rest of the Reformed tradition, agree that strict merit, perfect law keeping are of the essence of the soteric COW.

    If you don’t accept a typological, temporary, pedagogical republication of the COW in the Mosaic Covenant, it seems to me you would do better to focus your argument on trying to argue against that conception rather than arguing against the idea of post-fall “merit.” You make it appear as if Kline believes post-fall Israel was capable of strict merit when he argued nothing of the kind. It would make your argument appear more fair minded, and less a red herring, since neither Kline, nor WSC, nor I argue argue for a soteric works principle in the Mosaic Covenant. There is no works righteousness in view in Kline’s position since he locates the works principle (the republication of the COW) solely in the typological sphere and not the soteric sphere.

    I respect the vigor of your convictions, but I respectfully disagree. Thanks for the exchange.

    Now perhaps you would do better to say that you

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  92. I may be ignorant, but do you have an idea of where your insistence on conditions leads?

    Also, why does the Confession, as opposed to the individual authors to whom you appeal, speak only of faith as a condition of the covenant of grace in 7.3 — “requiring of them faith in him”?

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  93. Jeff, your point about condition may be the way to go. But I do think the republication idea is bound up with the fifth commandment and I don’t see any language in the Shorter or Larger Catechism on the 5th commandment that suggests a works principle is not in view with regard to earthly and temporal rewards.

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  94. And if the divines spoke of the covenant of works as a covenant of grace — talk about A being B — why does the confession distinguish the two the way it does without refering to the CoW as one of grace? If so many talked that way, why not write the confession that way?

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  95. Isn’t it odd that Kline is being discussed here so much when Kline did not contribute to TLNF? Could it be that the book clarifies views that may have sometimes been unclear in Kline? But since the Kerux review was a review of authors different from Kline, why not talk about the book?

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  96. So you admit faith as a condition, which is a healthy change in your thinking from what you said above. The debate is whether faith is an antecedent or consequent condition. Even the Antinomians held that it was a consequent condition (they even agreed holiness was a consequent condition). But the Reformed viewed faith as an antecedent condition, and holiness a consequent condition (but a condition, nevertheless). Plus, John Owen said that faith and new obedience are the conditions of the new covenant. Do I have any idea where conditions leads me? Yes, to Reformed orthodoxy. Evidently, Reformed orthodoxy only suits you when you happen to agree with the tradition, which, as far as I can tell, isn’t as often as you would like to think.

    Bob

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  97. There’s no change here. The Reformed creeds are clear that faith is the instrument by which we obtain the righteousness of Christ. And this faith is not a form of righteousness or a good work that makes us good enough to obtain Christ’s righteousness. WCF 11.1.

    The debate is about faith vs. works. It was in Galatia, it was in Wittenberg, and it still is. Or do you think that the Law IS of Faith?

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  98. Actually, didn’t you quote such a thing earlier from WCoF 16.6? It is not the merit of the action that pleases God, but rather that the action is performed “in His Son.”

    So I would argue that this is not a works principle, but rather something else: the obedience of faith.

    (I’ve been chewing a lot on E.Bane’s thought-provoking question. Warning: a long post is
    forthcoming…and I promise to interact with T.David Gordon’s article)

    The obedience of faith is different from the works principle of the Law — but is easily mistaken for it, since both appeal to the same Moral Law for norms. The former is pleasing to God; the latter can never be, since it operates on strict merit.

    Meanwhile, a question: would the authors of TLNF (including yourself, though you seemed to have been snubbed by Kerux as beyond the scope of their criticism) hold that WLC 133 is valid for today?

    JRC

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  99. (duplicate … I posted it below by accident. The Pox of Oldlife is to mangle the threading system)

    Actually, didn’t you quote such a thing earlier from WCoF 16.6? It is not the merit of the action that pleases God, but rather that the action is performed “in His Son.”

    So I would argue that this is not a works principle, but rather something else: the obedience of faith.

    (I’ve been chewing a lot on E.Bane’s thought-provoking question. Warning: a long post is
    forthcoming…and I promise to interact with T.David Gordon’s article)

    The obedience of faith is different from the works principle of the Law — but is easily mistaken for it, since both appeal to the same Moral Law for norms. The former is pleasing to God; the latter can never be, since it operates on strict merit.

    Meanwhile, a question: would the authors of TLNF (including yourself, though you seemed to have been snubbed by Kerux as beyond the scope of their criticism) hold that WLC 133 is valid for today?

    JRC

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  100. OK, once more with Feeling and Four-Part Harmony….

    DGH: But I do think the republication idea is bound up with the fifth commandment and I don’t see any language in the Shorter or Larger Catechism on the 5th commandment that suggests a works principle is not in view with regard to earthly and temporal rewards.

    And then the reply above makes sense.

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  101. OK, the threading issue is Not My Fault this time. I saw myself hit “reply.”

    DGH, you said above, “But I do think the republication idea is bound up with the fifth commandment and I don’t see any language in the Shorter or Larger Catechism on the 5th commandment that suggests a works principle is not in view with regard to earthly and temporal rewards.”

    And I replied, “The obedience of faith is different from the works principle of the Law — but is easily mistaken for it, since both appeal to the same Moral Law for norms. The former is pleasing to God; the latter can never be, since it operates on strict merit.

    Meanwhile, a question: would the authors of TLNF (including yourself, though you seemed to have been snubbed by Kerux as beyond the scope of their criticism) hold that WLC 133 is valid for today?”

    Hopefully it will make sense.

    JRC

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  102. Above, E. Bane asked a very provocative question that led me back to Hebrews, Romans, and Galatians. All in all, it was a good place to be.

    Mr. Bane: Apostate, unbelieving Israel “merits” God’s just punishment because all sinful, reprobate persons merit eternal and temporal death. Israel (and all sinners) can negatively merit punishment, though they cannot postively merit reward/blessing.

    In terms of the faith-principle governing Israel’s tenure in the land, consider the following texts.[Exodus 14:31, Numbers 14:11, Numbers 20:11-12, Deuteronomy 1:31-33, Deuteronomy 9:23-34, 2 Kings 17:14, 18, Psalm 106:12, Psalm 106:24]

    I would say this: I agree with you that there is a faith-principle (better: a covenant principle) governing Israel’s tenure in the land. I would also agree with Kline (in part) that there is a works principle governing Israel’s tenure in the land. And I would suggest that perhaps the fundamental conflict between the diverse set of “Klineans” and the diverse set of “Murrayites” could be resolved if we recognize that these two principles are accomplishing different things at the same time.

    Lest you think that I’ve simply tried to split the difference, let me make my case.

    Israel as a Type

    It is widely recognized that the land of Israel is a type of heaven to come, with Jerusalem as the particular center (Is 2/Mic 4, Heb 11.10-15, Rev. 21.10). Less discussed is that Israel the nation serves as a type of Christ.

    First, Israel is the servant who serves himself, in contrast with Christ, the servant who obeys the will of the Father. This is brought out in Is. 42 – 54, in which Israel is called to be a light to the Gentiles, but instead is blind and dumb; he ultimately must be saved himself by the true servant by whose stripes Israel is healed. (Note Matthew’s application of Is. 42 to Jesus in Matt 12).

    Second, Israel is the son brought out of Egypt who is nevertheless unfaithful (Hos 11.1-2) in contrast to Jesus, the Son brought out of Egypt who is faithful (Matt 2).

    It is fitting, therefore, that Jesus the faithful servant and son obeys the Law that Israel disobeys.

    It is in this sense that the Law is given to Israel typologically. Israel fails to obey and loses the land, the picture of heaven; Jesus obeys the law and gains both heaven and earth.

    Republication of the Covenant of Works

    It seems unquestionable that the Law given on Sinai is a republication of the works principle. Kline speaks of it as a “Typological Republication”, but this obscures some of the function of the 10 Commandments. Here, I take it as basic what the Confession says, “God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works …This law, after his fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness; and, as such, was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in ten commandments … Besides this law, commonly called moral, God was pleased to give to the people of Israel, as a church under age, ceremonial laws …To them also, as a body politic, He gave sundry judicial laws…”

    Importantly, it is the Moral Law that is republished at Sinai. For this reason, I would depart from Kline’s terminology of “typological republication”, not because it is wrong but because it is incomplete.

    As Sullivan has pointed out, the Law at Sinai is delivered with a merit (works) principle attached: “Do this and live; disobey and die” (Deut 28, echoing in content the command in the Garden).

    For Israel as a nation, this works principle only operated demeritively. 2 Chr. 36.15-21 sums up the situation: Israel failed. In this sense, Israel fulfilled its role as a type and also illustrated the 2nd Use of the Law: to expose sin. To this extent, and only to this extent, I can agree with Kline that the Law was republished typologically. Never did it function to provide positive merit, because of Israel’s inability (Josh 24.19-20).

    For Israelites as individuals, this works principle operated again demeritively to provide condemnation (Rom 3.20, 5.20; Gal 3.21-22). To this extent, I would agree with T. David Gordon that “those of the Law are under a curse.” (However, I will disagree with him below).

    Did the Republicated Covenant of Works ever operate positively? Yes. It is basic to our salvation that Jesus, the successful Son, servant, and Adam, fulfilled the Covenant of Works for his people. We should properly call this the “Zeroth Use of the Law”, not that man uses it for merit, but that the Son of Man used the Law to fulfill it.

    Other than that, the republished works principle at Sinai is always, always negative in operation — because of man’s inability. Never (contra Kline) was the works principle was it relativized or softened so as to count Israel’s partial obedience as meritorious.

    The Obedience of Faith

    Hebrews, Romans, and James make clear that there is, apart from the works principle, an “obedience of faith.” (Rom 1.5). This is expressed in Hebrews quite clearly in two contrapositive theses:

    To disobey is to disbelieve — Heb. 2-3, 6, 10)
    To believe is to obey — Heb. 11

    This obedience of faith cuts across the dispensation of the Law, being seen in Noah, Abraham, the few good kings of Israel (e.g., 2 Chr. 34), and in our current age to those who are obedient to the Gospel.

    The obedience of faith is pleasing to God. It is not under Law, for it is contrasted to the Law (Gal. 3, 5). Nor is it under any principle of merit (Luke 17.10). Instead, as WCoF 16 notes, the obedience of faith is pleasing to God because of its source: the Holy Spirit (cf. Eph 2.10).

    In Abraham’s time, the obedience of faith obeyed direct revelation. In our time, the revelation of God is His word (both Law and Gospel) so that the obedience of faith obeys the Law because the Law reflects God’s character.

    At this point, it should be clear that the obedience of faith is none other than the 3rd use of the Law.

    And at this point, I must take issue with T. David Gordon for not making the distinction clearer between “being under the Law as a merit principle” and “being subject to the moral Law as a rule of life” (WCoF 19.6). This is not to say that he disagrees with the 3rd use of the Law! But does fail to recognize that Murray is talking about the 3rd use of the Law in his opening citation; and as a result, he sunders Murray needlessly from himself. Granted: Murray is unclear. But in the end, the two simply talk past one another.

    Importantly, the obedience of faith is a work of the Spirit. As such, it is an outcome, not a cause, of being born again. Thus, while we can say that “the obedience of faith is a necessary result of being saved”, it would be strongly advised that we not say “the obedience of faith is necessary for salvation”, lest it be confused with a causative statement.

    At the same time, those who hear phrases like “the obedience of faith is necessary for salvation” should not assume that the speaker means something more than WCoF 27. As James makes clear, “Faith without works is dead.”

    Genesis 26

    Kline argues that Abraham merits the land by his obedience, citing Genesis 26.3 – 5. It should be clear at this point that this is a mistake. Abraham received the land through faith (Gen 15). Romans 4.13 is emphatic on this point: “It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.”

    Abraham’s works were not measured by the principle of merit. The narrative of Abraham’s sojourns takes us away from this interpretation. Instead, Abraham’s works were an outcome of his faith. He was “justified” by them only in the same sense that he was “justified” by his near-sacrifice of Isaac, a work committed some 15 years after he was in fact justified by faith.

    That is to say, his works (such as in Gen 22) were “justifying” only in the sense of being the follow-through of the already-accomplished justification in Gen 15.

    Likewise in Israel, we find various people and kings who demonstrate the obedience of faith, such as David. But it is clear that their obedience is not meritorious, either in terms of outcome or in terms of measurement against the Law.

    Instead, Israel as a nation remains in the land as an outward benefit of belonging to Abraham’s covenant. To beat the drum once more: every time that God wants to remove Israel, he relents “for the sake of Abraham” or “the covenant” or “the covenant with David.”

    The Black Box

    I believe that the major reason that Klineans and Murrayites (in all their diversity) remain apart is that they take different ends of the faith-works stick. (detailed discussion here)

    Murrayites, generally speaking, look at faith and works much as Hebrews and James do. In this view, faith is a “black box” that produces works inevitably. Thus, statements like “to obey is to believe” are natural for them.

    Klineans look inside the box and ask “How?” And the answer is, that the Holy Spirit produces these works as a result of the reception of the promises of God (slogan: “the indicative precedes the imperative”). This is, roughly speaking, a Romans / Galatians view of faith.

    If only … if only … they could grab both ends of the stick, we might have an end to the debate?

    Hoping and praying for it.

    Anyways, I’ve tried to make clear that there is a wide, wide separation between the 2nd use and 3rd use of the Law in the OT. The 2nd use is absolute merit, and condemns; the 3rd use proceeds out of faith, and receives the covenant.

    Contra Kline, both uses are in view with regard to the land; Abraham’s obedience of faith helps soften the demeritorious works principle proclaimed in Deut. 28.

    JRC

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  103. These doctrinal debates always make me want to post this passage from John Owen for anybody who sees the debate and thinks it’s silly or shallow or just ‘words’ or what have you:

    “When the heart is cast indeed into the mould of the doctrine that the mind embraceth – when the evidence and necessity of the truth abides in us – when not the sense of the words only is in our heads, but the sense of the thing abides in our hearts – when we have communion with God in the doctrine we contend for – then shall we be garrisoned by the grace of God against all the assaults of men.”
    – John Owen

    Justification by faith alone is not just words. Holding to it, knowing the truth of it, is not just opinion. Attacks on it, subtle (as is the case in the denial of republication) or not, are attacks from the Kingdom of Satan itself. Standing for on-the-mark doctrine is spiritual warfare just as dealing with the temptations and assaults of the flesh, the world, and the devil are spiritual warfare.

    Deny there was a Covenant of Works. Deny the imputation of the active obedience of Christ. Deny republication because with it the work of the second Adam has to be recognized. Ultimately deny justification by faith alone. It’s all in the same bag of false teaching and demands coming from the kingdom of this world, the kingdom of darkness.

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  104. Christian:

    Your post here is WAY over the line. Are you arguing that if you don’t believe in republication, you can’t believe in justificaiton by faith alone? Are the many men in good standing in the OPC, PCA, URC, and several other NAPARC churches all heretics and false teachers because they don’t agree with (your view) of republication? Are they really members of the kingdom of Satan?

    And people are arguing that the rhetoric of the Kerux review was over the line!

    I call on you publicly to retract that statement.

    EB

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  105. They would all have understood condescension to be synonymous with grace. The promise of life was gracious. Even if Adam had obeyed he would have been an unprofitable servant. God’s grace to Adam was the promise of life and the assistance he gave him to attain life. The modern reaction to grace in the CoW has little pedigree in Reformed orthodoxy. But you’re in good company with a Salmurian theologian, which isn’t bad because they are also Reformed, but not probably Reformed in the way you would like them to be!

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  106. Comments like his are the reason I employ a pseudonymn on blogs.

    No: I am not sure who “Christian” is. As it stands, we are both in the same pseudonymous boat. If he were using his own full name, I would have not said anything.

    If anyone thinks I have said anything over the line here, namely, accusing my opponents of being part of the kingdom of Satan, let me no and I will retract it.

    As it is, I have made it very clear (see above) that though I have very strong opinions on the matter, I regard those who differ with me on this point as brothers.

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  107. EB:

    I appreciate and applaud your attempt to be irenic and gracious, though I disagree as strongly with your arguments as you do with Kline’s and WSC. The reality is that, though you are a brother and intend well, the unintended consequence of your views is to attack vital doctrines that are essential to sola gratia and sola fide. Our vituperation is — or should be — directed at your views, not at you.

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  108. EB,

    I am not endorsing Christian’s comments at all, just noting the irony. It’s hard to make anything public if the public doesn’t know who you are. All of the folks who use their real names when they comment have to stand behind their statements in a way that pseudonyms do not. Here I end my sidebar.

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  109. Sullivan,

    Here again is that WSCal fundamentalism where they call people gospel deniers because they don’t hold to a Klinean view of the CoW and Sinai. What ends up happening is that almost everyone in the Reformed tradition “attacks vital doctrines that are essential to sola gratia and sola fide” because they don’t quite agree with you. You guys are becoming so predictable. By the way, don’t quote Latin unless you know Latin. It’s poor form!

    Oportet me abire,

    Bob

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  110. The republication of the Covenant of Works on Sinai is not a subject a person is passionate against unless they have an ulterior motive or target. Because otherwise the subject is innocuous. It’s called basic Federal Theology.

    The attack on Kline, whether from Theonomists of past decades, or Federal Visionists of this decade, or any who walk, vaguely or not, in their same paths is never about the subject itself (republication, Framework Hypothesis, introducing worldly treaties into biblical understanding, etc.), it is about classical Covenant – Federal – Theology and the fact that Kline, as was Vos (and I’ll throw in the less charismatic though solidly sound Louis Berkhof) is a continuation of the orthodox line of Federal Theology from the Reformation (via the apostles) through the 20th century and on into the 21st.

    False teachers attack justification by faith alone always, in every era, for a reason. It’s the central doctrine that separates darkness and light, bondage and liberty. They attack it in myriad ways and from myriad angles. They attack it while speaking out of two and more sides of their mouth (whatever they can manage or need to do). They’ll attack it while pretending to champion it (which is a particularly desperate strategy and unsuccessful, amounting to throwing dust in the air for as long as they can, but they’re all unsuccessful in the long run because they can’t fool God’s elect, they can only annoy God’s plan and play for time and confuse innocents and those currently not fully aware of the doctrines involved and their importance and relevance to one’s inner state and standing with God.

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  111. >Here again is that WSCal fundamentalism where they call people gospel deniers because they don’t hold to a Klinean view of the CoW and Sinai. What ends up happening is that almost everyone in the Reformed tradition “attacks vital doctrines that are essential to sola gratia and sola fide” because they don’t quite agree with you. You guys are becoming so predictable. By the way, don’t quote Latin unless you know Latin. It’s poor form!

    I’m a total outsider to the seminary culture and real or perceived conflicts between this or that school or whatever. As a plain Christian who makes an effort to engage works of doctrine and get understanding of doctrine I can discern on-the-mark biblical doctrine and I’m not surprised it matches up rather well with classical Reformation understanding such as the five solas, doctrines of grace, i.e. Federal Theology (which is classical Covenant Theology systematized).

    One doesn’t have to have had Meredith Kline as one’s shop teacher in high school to defend him. I defend him based on the fact that he is on-the-mark with Federal Theology, and I also defend him because it’s transparent that most all of his critics attack him for his Federal Theology rather than what they claim to be attacking him for. Obviously Kline got into it with theonomists back in the day which got him on their black list, and since theonomy flamed out and modulated into Federal Vision he is still being used to attack Federal Theology overall. It’s difficult for them to go after Vos. They don’t even like to mention Vos because Vos makes their own attempts at biblical theology look a bit amateurish (Kline does this to them as well). It’s easy to brush off or mock a textbook writer like Berkhof. Of course there are many other sources for sound Reformed Theology they have to discount or cherry-pick quotes from to present out-of-context in their war against Reformed Theology. They do the latter usually with the older Reformed theologians (i.e. going back to the 16th century) playing on the fact that terminology was not a mature as it is now or subjects were not as pressing in their day hence the language not as careful, etc. It’s all not difficult to see once you know the field.

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  112. [Again, the thread mode defeated me…]

    >Here again is that WSCal fundamentalism where they call people gospel deniers because they don’t hold to a Klinean view of the CoW and Sinai. What ends up happening is that almost everyone in the Reformed tradition “attacks vital doctrines that are essential to sola gratia and sola fide” because they don’t quite agree with you. You guys are becoming so predictable. By the way, don’t quote Latin unless you know Latin. It’s poor form!

    I’m a total outsider to the seminary culture and real or perceived conflicts between this or that school or whatever. As a plain Christian who makes an effort to engage works of doctrine and get understanding of doctrine I can discern on-the-mark biblical doctrine and I’m not surprised it matches up rather well with classical Reformation understanding such as the five solas, doctrines of grace, i.e. Federal Theology (which is classical Covenant Theology systematized).

    One doesn’t have to have had Meredith Kline as one’s shop teacher in high school to defend him. I defend him based on the fact that he is on-the-mark with Federal Theology, and I also defend him because it’s transparent that most all of his critics attack him for his Federal Theology rather than what they claim to be attacking him for. Obviously Kline got into it with theonomists back in the day which got him on their black list, and since theonomy flamed out and modulated into Federal Vision he is still being used to attack Federal Theology overall. It’s difficult for them to go after Vos. They don’t even like to mention Vos because Vos makes their own attempts at biblical theology look a bit amateurish (Kline does this to them as well). It’s easy to brush off or mock a textbook writer like Berkhof. Of course there are many other sources for sound Reformed Theology they have to discount or cherry-pick quotes from to present out-of-context in their war against Reformed Theology. They do the latter usually with the older Reformed theologians (i.e. going back to the 16th century) playing on the fact that terminology was not a mature as it is now or subjects were not as pressing in their day hence the language not as careful, etc. It’s all not difficult to see once you know the field.

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  113. Last comment from me (because I know I’m an oppressive, annoying, uninvited, unwashed presence…).

    My connection to doctrine is practical. I mean, it’s not just intellectual or devotional. It is about spiritual warfare. The battlefield. Knowing the truth. Knowing the foundation you stand on.

    That really is, or should be, the connection all Christians have to biblical doctrine. It cuts through the intellectual vanity and the shallow bickering and gets to what is most real and important. It also enables you to see through all the nonsense, either from the false teachers or from those who see these as mere ideas to be played with.

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  114. Christian,

    Your zeal for doctrine is commendable. It’s just that you’re too quick to pull the trigger on charges of “ulterior motive” , “false teacher”, and so on.

    In the case of Eutyches’ Bane, he wants to guard against something specific: he wants to make it clear that Israel was incapable of following the Law, even at the national-typological level. You know, Joshua 24 and all that?

    So to preserve this idea, he takes aim at the Kline hypothesis that the Law was republished typologically at Sinai as a means for Israel to stay in the land by merit.

    You’ve read him as denying WCoF 19.2.

    But those aren’t the same thing.

    Now maybe he does deny it. Let’s ask: Mr. Bane, do you or do you not affirm that

    “God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works, by which He bound him and all his posterity, to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience, promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it, and endued him with power and ability to keep it.

    This law, after his fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness; and, as such, was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in ten commandments, and written in two tables: the first four commandments containing our duty towards God; and the other six, our duty to man. ”

    Christian, it’s possible, especially over the ‘Net, to make unguarded statements that can be misinterpreted. You yourself spoke above of “striking a balance between legalism and antinomianism” — even though both of those are works of the flesh, and no balance can be struck between them.

    But I wouldn’t take your statement as the basis for denying WCoF 26.3, even though your statement “might lead that way.” And I sure wouldn’t go rooting around for ulterior motives.

    Folks, the standard is this: if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t type it. And since many here are elders, if you wouldn’t say it on the floor of Presbytery, or to your elder (1 Tim 5.19) don’t type it.

    JRC

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  115. Meanwhile: I posted something that (naturally) ended up halfway up. It addresses some of Sullivan and EB’s concerns and (finally) interacts a bit with TLNF.

    The post is here.

    Sullivan, Chris, EB, DGH, Christian, anyone else: I would like to know if it satisfies your concerns.

    JRC

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  116. Meanwhile: I posted something that (naturally) ended up halfway up. It addresses some of Sullivan and EB’s concerns and (finally) interacts a bit with TLNF.

    The post is here.

    Sullivan, Chris, EB, DGH, Christian, anyone else: I would like to know if it satisfies your concerns.

    JRC

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  117. Here’s a question for those who don’t like republication:

    I’ve known many an adherent to dispensationalism or new covenant theology or some similar brand of theology to insist that Christ’s fulfilling the law was good news only to the Jew because, they would say, no Gentile was ever under the terms of the Sinai covenant (exceptions excepted, of course).

    Republication solves that problem beautifully. If Sinai is a recap of Eden, then that means we’re all born under Sinai “in some sense.” When Christ fulfilled Sinai, he was also fulfilling Eden, and not simply by the coincidence that both had the same moral law.

    What do you who deny republication do with that issue? If Gentiles originally had no place under Sinai, and never lay under its curse, then how is it good news to Gentiles that Christ was born under the Law? Isn’t it only good news that he came as Second Adam (separate from his fufilling “the Law”)?

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  118. Here’s a question for those who don’t like republication:

    I’ve known many an adherent to dispensationalism or new covenant theology or some similar brand of theology to insist that Christ’s fulfilling the law was good news only to the Jew because, they would say, no Gentile was ever under the terms of the Sinai covenant (exceptions excepted, of course).

    Republication solves that problem beautifully. If Sinai is a recap of Eden, then that means we’re all born under Sinai “in some sense.” When Christ fulfilled Sinai, he was also fulfilling Eden, and not simply by the coincidence that both had the same moral law.

    What do you who deny republication do with that issue? If Gentiles originally had no place under Sinai, and never lay under its curse, then how is it good news to Gentiles that Christ was born under the Law? Isn’t it only good news that he came as Second Adam (separate from his fufilling “the Law”)?

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  119. Jeff:

    Let me try to respond briefly to each section to give you my thoughts. I know this is going to get a little long and involved, but since you took time to type out your thoughts, I thought it would be fair to give you mine on what you wrote.

    ISRAEL AS A TYPE
    I agree that there are many sense in which Israel is a type of Christ. I do not agree with Kline that she was called to typify Christ’s obedience in any meritorious sense. I also remain unconvinced that her tenure in the land was an aspect of the typology connected with Christ’s obedience–where does the Bible say that? I find it to be stimulating and interesting speculation, but I don’t see that anywhere in SCripture. Yes, I know, there is Jesus’s temptation. But the issue there has to do with overcoming the devil, not meritorious obedience, per se (though I affirm that all of JEsus’s obedience was meritorious. Israel had the land by faith. Israel stayed in the land by faith. She had to trust God and his promises (see Scripture references I cited earlier). She had to show the genuineness of that trust/faith by her obedience.

    Yes, the land is typological by heaven. We receive/retain the latter by grace through faith alone (apart from works!), though we must show the genuineness of our faith by our works. That is what God was trying to teach Israel (ultimately) in her tenure in the land. She was sinful, and thus could only have the land by grace, through faith.

    REBUPBLICATION OF THE COVENANT OF WORKS
    I think I agree with your critique of Kline re: republication. But when you say that this works principle “only operated demeritively,” I fail to see how you are saying anything essentially unique about the Mosaic administration. In all eras of covenant history, unbelieving people (even if they are members of the visible church) are demeritively under a works principle. As Hodge notes, the Mosaic covenant contained, AS DOES THE NT a renewed proclamation of the original covenant of works. Paul (Rom. 1-3) and Jesus (see rich young ruler) also make use of the proclamation of the works principle to drive them to christ. I will admit that this proclamation of the “strict works-principle” came in a redemptive-historically unique FORM to Israel. But it is not some essentially unique to that era. As Hodge said, Jesus and Paul use it to—as do evangelistic preachers when they seek to convict people of sin to convince them to embrace Christ. The reference to Hodge is his Systematic Theology where he is discussing the different dispensations of the covenant of grace.

    Yes, Jesus fulfilled the covenant of works through his perfect (active and passive) obedience.

    OBEDIENCE OF FAITH
    I am in basic agreement with your discussion here.

    GENESIS 26
    I am in basic agreement with your discussion here. But I remind you that Kline did say that Abraham merited more than just the land for Israel:

    “That Abraham’s obedience functioned NOT ONLY as the authentication of his faith for his personal justification BUT AS A MERITORIOUS PERFORMANCE THAT EARNED A REWARD FOR OTHERS (and thus as a type of Christ’s obedience) is confirmed in the Lord’s later revelation of the covenant promises to Isaac (Gen 26:2ff.). The Lord declared that he would bestow these blessings on Isaac and his descendants `because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws’ (v. 5; cf. v. 24). Abraham’s obedience was not, of course, the ground for anyone’s inheritance of heaven, but it was the GROUND for Israel’s inheritance of Canaan, the prototypal heaven, under the terms of the Mosaic covenant of works. Eternal salvation would come because of Christ’s obedience, BUT BECAUSE OF ABRAHAM’S OBEDIENCE CHRIST WOULD COULD AS TO THE FLESH FROM ISRAEL (Rom 9:5) and thus salvation would come from the Abrahamites, the Jews (John 4:22)” (God, Heaven, Har-Magedon,102-3).

    That last line is dangerously close to very serious error. I like to think that Kline just misspoke there, but his words are his words. I may misunderstand him, but it seems pretty clear to me: Abraham’s obedience merited (?) Christ’s coming according to the flesh from Israel. I know it isn’t nice, but I can’t help but say with Calvin (cited above) that such a way of speaking is “doltish folly.” If anyone thinks that is over the line, correct me and I will reconsider it.

    THE BLACK BOX
    I am not very hopeful that resolution will come to this debate. Especially when there are those who think that if you disagree with Kline you are a member of the kingdom of Satan, or that if you agree with Murray you might as well go all the way to Rome (I have heard both!).

    I would not say “to obey is to believe.” I would say: obeying is the fruit of believing. Yet if you have no good fruit, you are a bad tree (i.e. you have no faith) and are apostate, and are thus going to be cut off.

    One final thought: let us remember that God didn’t just send Israel out of that land because she externally failed to live up to the typological demands of the law. She was sent into exile because as a nation (though a remnant of elect remained) she became utterly apostate. She prostituted herself before the gods of the nations, spit in his face, and trampled underfoot his many blessings. She even sacrificed his beloved covenant-lambs into the fires of Molech! Whose wrath and fury would not burn at such blatant and naked depravity! It makes Sodom and Gommorrah look civil! Read the prophets, and you will see that the issue is much deeper than external conformity to typological standards. The issue was their utter apostacy. They did not trust his saving work (albeit in typological form), and they showed it in how they prostituted themselves before the gods of the nations.

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  120. I do, but I fear where you are leading me. I do believe that the world is so constituted that those who obey its laws — the created order — will live (generally speaking) more comfortably than those who don’t. The tv series — The Wire — is a great testimony to this. Though it also shows quite well how even the law abiders have all sorts of nefarious motives and “work” the system.

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  121. The Kerux review need not accused WSC folks or Kline of belonging to the Kingdom of Satan to be over the line. We do have standards — both professionally and ecclesiastically — for being civil and charitable, not to mention the implications of the 9th commandment. This doesn’t mean that negative reviews are out of line. It does mean that you cannot try to misrepresent your opponent, as in calling them Pelagian.

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  122. So, Bob, those who confess Protestant orthodoxy are at once antinomian and fundamentalist? Calvinists are traditionally pretty good at living with the tensions of two realities that seem anatgonistic without trying to solve them (e.g. already/not yet, divine sovereignty/human responsibility, very good/totally depraved, simil justus et peccator). But how can one at once have no use for law yet be law-laden? Or maybe by using the f-word you mean those who stick to the plain meaning of the confessional formulations because that is what the church has determined the Bible reveals? In that case, I think it’s probably better to say that Kline simply taught what the Reformed have always confessed. If a man also taught Nicene christology would you call those who defended him (and his teaching) against those who plainly undermined it fundies as well?

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  123. Jeff,

    I think this is reasonably good, but I’d need to read it again more carefully.

    The problem, in my estimation, is Shepherd and whether the idea of the obedience of faith leads to the construction of “obedient faith” in a way that confuses the Protestant distinction between works and faith.

    But maybe Bob thinks this is simply the ignorance of someone who hasn’t read ALL of the Divines.

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  124. Zrim,

    How can one have no use for the law yet be law-laden? Try reading the Bible, esp. the part about the pharisees … “you neglect the weightier matters of the law”

    That you think Kline is simply teaching what the Reformed have always confessed is hilarious, but I suspect you believe that, not because you have done serious reading in the primary documents, nor because you have ever published a thing on this debate, but because you sit at a computer most of the day and patrol blogs joining in the chorus of your friends who love the Reformed tradition only insofar as it suits them.

    I happen to love the WCF. What I don’t necessarily love are the WSCal fundy’s who can’t handle someone suggesting that Kline may have got things wrong, and so they hurl the classic: “you’re a Shepherdite”. That’s the “fundamentalist” rhetoric that seems to come from the top and trickle down. In other words: Dux belli hortatus est ut milites quam fortissime pugnarent!

    Bob

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  125. Zrim,

    How can one have no use for the law yet be law-laden? Try reading the Bible, esp. the part about the pharisees … “you neglect the weightier matters of the law”

    That you think Kline is simply teaching what the Reformed have always confessed is hilarious, but I suspect you believe that, not because you have done serious reading in the primary documents, nor because you have ever published a thing on this debate, but because you sit at a computer most of the day and patrol blogs joining in the chorus of your friends who love the Reformed tradition only insofar as it suits them.

    I happen to love the WCF. What I don’t necessarily love are the WSCal fundy’s who can’t handle someone suggesting that Kline may have got things wrong, and so they hurl the classic: “you’re a Shepherdite”. That’s the “fundamentalist” rhetoric that seems to come from the top and trickle down. In other words: Dux belli hortatus est ut milites quam fortissime pugnarent!

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  126. Bob:

    Neither I nor anyone called you a gospel denier. It’s not all about you. I said: “the unintended consequence of your views is to attack vital doctrines that are essential to sola gratia and sola fide. Our vituperation is — or should be — directed at your views, not at you.” This is not personal. It’s about the positions being expressed. Let’s leave to one side for the moment the posters on this site (so no one takes offense.) As Mike Horton demonstrated in an impotant paper, it’s inherent in the view that denies the soteric covenant of works that that view leaves no room for Christ to fulfill the covenant perfectly as our covenant mediator and surety, hence no room for his perfect righteousness to be imputed to us by faith, hence no gospel. Now those like John Murray who regrettably denied the covenant of works, in its classical sense, did not intend to deny the gospel; and to his credit Murray did not follow his view to its logical conclusions the way some do. But it’s fair game to force people to see the logical consequenses of their positions. I would not call Murray a gospel denier even though his denial of the covenant of works led ultimately to that conclusion.

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  127. DGH: I think you make a good point saying the world is consituted in such a way that generally those who obey the law receive benefit — even though their law keeping is imperfect (at a minimum, it’s not from the heart, it’s not from faith). Yet they receive benefit even in the 21st century. Because God ordained a world that is put together this way. If God decreed to accept imperfect, external obedience of a nation as sufficient to deserve temporal blessing, doesn’t he have the sovereign right to set the standard that will please him for his (typological) purposes? Who are we to say that he has to accept only perfect obedience on the order of pre-Fall Adam when his purposes were typology and pedagogy and not salvation? Why? Because our English word “merit” is defined that way? That’s a category mistake.

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  128. Who here denies the covenant of works? Not me. I affirm it 100%. What I affirm, as well, along with almost everyone in the 17thC, is that the covenant of works was gracious. You guys use monocovenatalism to describe that position, but then we have a whole load of monocovenatal Reformed theologians, and not just Murray, but stretching back to the 16thC. Just read Richard Muller.

    Murray affirms the substance of the covenant of works. He has qualms with the terminology. And, he’s not alone in the history of Reformed theology. The cow didn’t exactly jump off the pages of Scripture, hence, it didn’t become a commonplace till the 17thC.

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  129. JJ:

    The Gospel that Jesus was “born of a woman, born under the law” is good news to both Jews and Gentiles for two reasons:

    1. For Jews and Gentiles, because Jesus was born as the second Adam, from who all men descend and inherit the corruption and guilt of his first sin.

    2. For Jews, because he was born under the administrative bondage of the Mosaic covenant, which consisted in the burden of ceremonies, and its legal administration (not substance). Thus he inagurates an era of relatively greater freedom for them (cf. WCF 20:1)

    I don’t need a Klinean-works-merit form of republication to maintain that.

    EB

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  130. Sullivan:

    You write:

    “If God decreed to accept imperfect, external obedience of a nation as sufficient to deserve temporal blessing, doesn’t he have the sovereign right to set the standard that will please him for his (typological) purposes? Who are we to say that he has to accept only perfect obedience on the order of pre-Fall Adam when his purposes were typology and pedagogy and not salvation?”

    God cannot decree an absolute, logical contradiction. Nor can he, by his omnipotent power, execute something that implies a contradiction. For example, he cannot decree that he would make a circle a square. He cannot decree that a man would have a body and not have a body at the same time in the same sense. He cannot decree that man would be a sinner and that he would also be sinless in the same sense at the same time.

    Likewise, he cannot decree that imperfect obedience can be accepted as meritorious (or “sufficient to deserve temporal blessing” as you put it). Perfection is a necessary condition for merit. If you want to define merit to encompass the imperfect obedience which God accepts and rewards in grace, then I guess we can talk about merit for Israel. But then it seems to me you would have to say that NT saints also “merit” when God accepts the good works of believers in Christ and “is pleased to reward that which is sincere, although accompanied by with many weaknesses and imperfections” (WCF, 16:6).

    I said “I guess” we can do that. But it seems to me to be a rather sloppy way of describing the nature of obedience and reward to fallen sinners. In fact, it would take a word that strictly and properly refers to perfect obedience to refer to the exact opposite (imperfect obedience). I guess we could also decide to define the word “woman” as “man” and “man” as “woman”; or the word “yes” as “no” and “no” as “yes.” We could do that, but it would utterly confuse most of the people who would listen to us talk. And that, it strikes me, is something far more confusing that what Shepherd and the FV argue about faith and works in justification (who are wrong).

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  131. EB:

    You are engaging in category mistakes, both linguistic and logical. Kline’s word “merit” has so troubled you that you are blinded by it. The word “merit” is not found in the Hebrew Scriptures. Nor is God limited by Webster’s English Dictionary’s definition of that word. There would be a contradiction if God had decreed perfect, perpetual, personal obedience as the hinge and sine qua non [apologies to the Latin police] of all human blessing, and then also decreed that Isrsael could have fat cows if they generally, nationally, achieved a sufficient level of obedience that the eschatalogial imagery was retained to a sufficent decree. There would be a contradiction if he decreed an A was necessary to pass all classes in seminary, but then also decreed that a C was sufficient to pass Hebrew. But there is no contradiction if he decreed that an A was necessary to pass Pentateuch but a C was sufficient to pass Latin (in recognition of its relatively useless state anyway). There is no contradiction if God decreed that an A was necessary to received the reward of eternal life, but a C was enough to receive the reward of fat cows.

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  132. A thing cannot be A and non-A at the same time and in the same relationship. But obedience for eternal life is a differenct category/relationship than obedience to receive rain for your crops or to avoid a three-day notice to vacate the land. No contradiction, unless you assume a single, unitary standard of obedience for all purposes and all blessings for all people in all covenants in all periods for all time. I don’t see that in Scripture.

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  133. Sullivan:

    I see we are getting nowhere with this discussion. If I have contributed to the impasse through a lack of clarity, I apologize.

    The contradiction lies in the fact that God’s standard of justice is perfection. All imperfections, howesoever small, nullify that standard of justice. Therefore, it is at best confusing to describe imperfect obedience as meriting a reward on a principle of works-merit that is “opposite to faith grace” as Kline says (see quote above). That is the way Kline himself defines the works principle: it is “opposite grace-faith.”

    Surely, God is not bound by his dictionary! But when Kline says the merit-principle was opposite grace, and then argues that the merit involved the gracious acceptance of imperfect obedience, he has fallen into a contradiction. How can it be “opposite grace faith” and involved “grace” at the same time?

    The word “merit” is found in the Hebrew Scriptures. The Hebrew term is “SACAR,” and it means “wages.” However, like many words in Hebrew (or English), it does not always carry its strict signification, but is sometimes used to denote rewards God gives in grace to his servants. The Greek term is “μισθός,” which can also be used broadly or strictly in the way I have just described. But Paul does contrast it sharply with grace-faith in Romans 4:1ff.

    My point is not to talk about the flexibility of language, but to point to what I regard as a contradictory (or at least confusing) conflation of a “works-merit principle opposite grace” with a degree of grace. Please Sullivan, tell me: how can something be “opposite faith grace,” and still involve grace? You have to admit that that is at least a confusing and unclear way of speaking? Those are Kline’s words, not mine.

    Again, I agree that God can accept imperfect obedience and reward it (in Christ). But this happens only in the covenant of grace.

    The word “merit” (when applied to sinners, not when applied to Christ or Adam) also troubles Augustine, Calvin, Luther, the WCF and a whole host of other Reformed theologians and confessions. I am still amazed that it fails to trouble many of you.

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  134. Sullivan:

    I don’t see (as you say) a “assume a single, unitary standard of obedience for all purposes and all blessings for all people in all covenants in all periods for all time.”

    As I have argued, there are only two ways our good works can be acceptable to God: through the covenant of works (which requires pefect obedience in order to receive a reward) or through the covenant of grace (which accepts imperfect obedience through Christ’s work and graciously promises it a reward.

    These are the only two covenants (or “categories” as you put it) I read about in Scripture and in the Reformed Confessions. There is no tertium quid between them. Where in Scripture do you read about a third?

    If the Mosaic covenant rewards imperfect obedience, it is a covenant of grace, not a covenant of works, nor a third covenant.

    Okay, we have beat this one to death. Let the readers (who are certainly numerous) think about what we have said and decide which one (perhaps neither!) makes more sense.

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  135. I wouldn’t phrase it as Kline did, but I don’t see the contradiction. (Kline was a genius, and I learned a great deal from him, but he would have done better with an editor and someone to disable the hyphen function on his word processor.) agree with you that the Mosaic Covenant was an administration of the covenant of grace. Thus grace was the basis upon which Israelites were saved, and common grace or saving grace are the only bases upon which finally any human being receives anything other than hell. But it’s no contradiction to see that, under the principle of periodicity, God can use different economies at different times, and have different administrations of the covenant of grace, as indeed he did before the New Covenant. And to have a works-principle overlaid upon the gracious Mosaic Covenant is not a contradiction. The principle operates by works only at the typological level, only at the national level. God decreed to be satisfied with national, human works of the nation at the level of typology, temporarily, in his theocracy, for purposes of illustration and teaching, as was his sovereign right. That he did so is blindlingly obvious, and rather than insist that God must have only one standard for all purposes, outside of the soteric, because Miriam Webster says so is something I’m not willing to say. Scripture doesn’t say that, and you have cited no passage that sustains your proposition. Rom. 4 is in the context of justificaiton. Paul insists works must be perfect to yield justification, and Christ is the only perfect lawkeeper who earned our justification.That’s not in dispute. You can’t import that standard into a different context such as the works principle of the Mosaic covenant.

    I very much appreciate your thoughtfulness and careful attempt to defend your view. I encourage others to read Kline and Vos for themselves before making up their mind. Thanks for the exchange.

    Your idea of strict “merit” is a proxy for perfect obedience, but the Hebrew sacar does not carry that meaning. It has a broad semantic range, and can mean “reward” or “recompense,” including degrees of reward.

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  136. EB, you need a little dose of two kingdom theology to straighten this out. Magistrates are ordained by God to punish evil and reward good. Magistrates are a type of eschatological judgment, but they are not the real thing. Those whom the magistrate condemns could be vindicated on the day of Christ’s judgment. So there is a paradoxical relationship between the earthly shadow of divine justice and heavenly reality.

    If you can understand this, I don’t see why it’s so hard to see this going on with Israel. Of course, Israel has another dimension going on as descendants of Abraham and that covenant. But despite that gracious background, in its earthly existence Israel is not correlating with heavenly realities. They were supposed to be waiting for a heavenly city. What they did here, did not necessarily usher in there.

    I see a similar paradoxical relationship for church and culture after Israel. The cross was folly to the Greeks. That doesn’t mean that the Greeks were foolish. They were wise in the wisdom of the world. But their wisdom could not take them beyond this world to the truths of the world to come. Paul doesn’t call the Greeks foolish. He says that the gospel is foolish to them because the gospel does not conform to the realities of this world. Which is exactly what is true of the Covenant of Grace. It does not conform to the Covenant of Works. If it did, we’d all be dead men walking.

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  137. Just to clear up one point: I said (following the language of Hebrews) that “to believe is to obey” — which means that obedience is the fruit of belief.

    You read it as, “to obey is to believe”, which is logically opposite and *not* an orthodox expression.

    You can see the subtlety, and you can understand that when Murrayites say “to believe is to obey”, it can be read by Klineans as “to obey is to believe.”

    JRC

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  138. Sullivan: I wouldn’t phrase it as Kline did, but I don’t see the contradiction … The principle operates by works only at the typological level, only at the national level. God decreed to be satisfied with national, human works of the nation at the level of typology, temporarily, in his theocracy, for purposes of illustration and teaching, as was his sovereign right.

    I’ll give it one more round and then leave it here.

    First point: You appeal, quite rightly, to Deut. 28 for the articulation of the works principle. However, the works principle in Deut. 28 does not allow for acceptance of a less-than-perfect obedience. Instead, the standard given is “If you fully obey…if you obey all the commands…However, if you do not obey … if you do not carefully follow all of the commands…”

    It really, truly is an absolute merit principle expressed here.

    Ah, you say, but Israel didn’t obey perfectly and God still left them in the land. So, you reason, it must be that God was evaluating their merit on a relative scale. It’s a reasonable inference, but it flatly contradicts the “all” and “every” language of Deut. 28. That’s the contradiction: The very passage that establishes the merit principle also rules out relative merit.

    Further, the relative merit inference ignores the fact that God gives a completely different principle for their possession and retention of the land: “For the sake of Abraham.” Significantly, you have not yet addressed this in considering the functioning of the merit principle.

    He never, ever says “You have obeyed so imperfectly, yet because of your feeble-but-sincere obedience, I’ll let you stay.” The closest you might get to that is something like Chron. 27, “Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord.” Or 2 Chr 34.27-28, where God delays judgment because of the obedience of Josiah. But this statement is not precise enough to determine whether we’re talking about satisfying Deut. 28 or whether we are seeing the “obedience of faith”; and therefore, it is not precise enough to see whether we’re talking about merit or something else.

    And even those statements are few and far between. The Northern Kingdom had zero good kings — zero! — and yet they stayed in the land some 300 or 400 years beyond David. Almost twice the lifespan of our country.

    What accounts for the radical disconnect between the actual works of Israel and the promises and threats in Deut. 28? It cannot be that God accepted their imperfect obedience, because He does not characterize it as imperfect obedience. He characterizes it as failure.

    Second point: There is a theological term for what you describe, an imperfect obedience accepted as “good enough.” It is called, in Catholic theology, congruous merit (see Summa Q114 Art. 3). It is this notion of merit that was rejected by the Reformers as being semi-Pelagian: man contributes his part, and then God graciously accepts it as “good enough.”

    I believe that EB is arguing that your picture of the typological republication, functioning positively according to what looks like congruous merit, is semi-Pelagian. Perhaps you don’t mean to go there? Certainly, Kline did not — but his treatment of Gen 26 is unfortunate.

    [Sub-point — you say that Rom 4 is about justification, not the land. Rom 4.13 appears however to be talking about the land promise; and it is commonplace in Reformed theology (over against Dispensational theology) that the covenant, which was received by faith, is a unit, not separable into different promises that applied to different groups of people. The land promise goes with the justification goes with “I will be your God.”, which is why Paul calls the whole package, “the promise.”]

    Third point:

    You speak of a works-principle overlaying a covenant of grace. This is, I think, exactly right. Deut. 28 is a works-principle that adds on to and administers, but does not nullify (Gal.) the gracious covenant with Abraham.

    I’m just arguing, let’s not try to merge the works-principle into the covenant of grace, so that works are graciously accepted as if meritorious. That is the Catholic confusion. Instead, wouldn’t it make more sense to say that grace functioned at the same time as the works principle, softening it and delaying the inevitable curse of the Law?

    Anyways, I hope this makes sense. I appreciate your spirit of interaction.

    Jeff Cagle

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  139. DGH: Which is exactly what is true of the Covenant of Grace. It does not conform to the Covenant of Works.

    Precisely. Which is why we ought not (IMO) say that Israel kept the land because of obedience to a works-principle, however relative. The land was a part of the covenant of grace; keeping it because of obedience would conflate the covenants. No?

    Carry this to its logical conclusion. Suppose Israel had kept the Law — what then? Ah, you say, but they didn’t; they couldn’t; because of their depravity.

    And I say, “Exactly.” Just as with individuals, so also the Law functioned nationally to expose the depravity of Israel. It was demeritive only.

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  140. DGH: I do believe that the world is so constituted that those who obey its laws — the created order — will live (generally speaking) more comfortably than those who don’t.

    Right, this is the “Proverbs point” — wisdom is its own reward because God has set the world up that way (credit: Mark Futato).

    But this is yet something different from either merit or typological republication. It applies even in China. On Wall Street, even.

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  141. Did I, a Gentile who was never under the terms of the Mosaic covenant, need Christ’s active obedience of that covenant imputed to me?

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  142. JJ:

    You write: “Did I, a Gentile who was never under the terms of the Mosaic covenant, need Christ’s active obedience of that covenant imputed to me?”

    You and I, as Gentiles (sons of Adam) need a new/second/last Adam to obey where our first father Adam disobeyed (Rom. 5:12ff). Adam had to obey God perfectly (active obedience). Thus Christ had to obey the law actively, and impute that active obedience to our account to free us from sin, condemnation, and death (praise be his name!). In addition, he had to suffer the penalty that was due us for our sins. He did this on the cross (passive obedience) which is also imputed to our account.

    These two, taken together constitute the full “merits of Christ” imputed to our account in justification (which recieved by faith alone).

    Why do I need a Kline-typological-works-merit doctrine of republication to get this? I get it all from my standard, orthodox, confessional contrast between the prelapsarian covenant of works with the first Adam, and the postlapsarian covenant of grace in the second Adam. Why is my denial of Kline-works-merit typological republication paradigm tantamount to being a member of the kingdom of Satan (as some here have suggested–a statement that very few have actually denounced, including you Dr. Hart).

    If we operate with Pauline categories, and only acknowledge TWO Adams (Adam and Christ), we are left with a pristinely orthodox doctrine of justification by faith alone, and we don’t have to try to sort out the confusing, contradictory, and sloppy messes that are created when we try to argue that Israel is a kind of “third Adam” or Adam version 1.1 that comes in between that is capable of some kind of merit-grace hybrid.

    Paul is clear: there are only two Adams. The first Adam and the second/last Adam. Between these two, there is no other Adam.

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  143. Jeff:

    Thank you for this post. I think you hit the nail on the head, especially the part about Deut 28. Thank you for that: I think it puts things clearer than I had before.

    But (in my opinion) Kline’s take on Genesis 26 was more than “unfortunate.”

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  144. >Christian, could you expand on how a denial of “republication” leads to a denial of justification by faith alone.

    In our time it’s usually part and parcel.

    ——-

    >Christian, your zeal for doctrine is commendable. It’s just that you’re too quick to pull the trigger on charges of “ulterior motive” , “false teacher”, and so on.

    I am directing such comments to the false teachers and their followers. False teachers have followers, some unwitting, some not. If I catch the unwitting followers in the drag net then that is also not so bad because they at least get a good shock that what they have been taught is not exactly universally held truth.

    ———–

    >In the case of Eutyches’ Bane, he wants to guard against something specific: he wants to make it clear that Israel was incapable of following the Law, even at the national-typological level. You know, Joshua 24 and all that?

    I think the Bible makes that clear enough for us. And it is not any part of classical Covenant – Federal – Theology that Israel is able to follow the law to a ‘t’ in any context. Again, harping piously against such ‘dangerous flirting’ with ‘works righteousness’ is a tactic of the false teachers (in our day think Federal Visionists) when their whole program is to deny justification by faith alone. They are like communists who called themselves ‘people’s republic’ and said they were for ‘democracy’ until they attained enough power to show their true colors.

    ———

    >So to preserve this idea, he takes aim at the Kline hypothesis that the Law was republished typologically at Sinai as a means for Israel to stay in the land by merit.

    And he and any other person with his ‘concern’ has had it explained to them over and over and had the ABCs of Federal Theology explained to them over and over to the point where we can only conclude they are persisting in their confusion because they want to. It’s called disingenuous bewilderment, and it’s a necessary tactic when attacking biblical doctrine from inside the tent.

    ———

    >Christian: your post here is WAY over the line. Are you arguing that if you don’t believe in republication, you can’t believe in justificaiton by faith alone? Are the many men in good standing in the OPC, PCA, URC, and several other NAPARC churches all heretics and false teachers because they don’t agree with (your view) of republication? Are they really members of the kingdom of Satan?

    As I said before: attacking republication is a sign of ulterior motive and taking an oblique angle towards another target simply because republication is so innocuous. It’s called basic Federal Theology. Federal Theology says there is one way to be saved: works. Either your own (good luck with that) or Jesus Christ’s, appropriated by faith (by the grace of God).

    ———-

    >Christian,your zeal for doctrine is commendable. It’s just that you’re too quick to pull the trigger on charges of “ulterior motive” , “false teacher”, and so on.

    Explained above. Also, this doctrine is foundational to a Christian on the battlefield engaged in the spiritual warfare that confronts any who are regenerated by the Word and the Spirit. If you are being unwitting wrong you are just as lethal as if you are being consciously mischievous. So if you are innocent in your approach the shock to your system by anything I’ve written is still good for you.

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  145. The works principle re Israel and the land was included in a package of ceremonial sacrifice for sin (again, Israel is unique as a fallen people in this area as well). It was also their falling away from the latter (and worshiping and sacrificing to all the various gods of the peoples surrounding them) that led to their losing the land.

    The ‘time frame’ for God’s justice to come down on them was obviously ‘hedged’ by the ceremonial sacrifice for sin.

    To quibble that God didn’t evacuate them out of the land the moment the first Israelite told a lie is an example of the petulant desire to always find ‘loose ends’ and confusion in this subject when the Bible itself makes it rather clear.

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  146. “At Sinai it was not the ‘bare’ law that was given, but a reflection of the covenant of works revived, as it were, in the interests of the covenant of grace continued at Sinai.”

    – G. Vos, p. 255 in selected shorter writings

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  147. Law is law for the Israelites, whether moral, civil, or ceremonial. Doing the ceremonial law was not an act of faith. Faith towards what? ritual? God makes it clear in Isaiah the smoke from those sacrifices was nothing He needed from them. They were not faith, they were works. God told them to sacrifice various things to pay for their sins during this time and to do it as a work. Obviously God made this real blood of animals effectual for putting off judgment for this part of the history of His overall plan. And the Israelites not only didn’t follow the moral law but they stopped following the ceremonial law as well. They sacrificed to Baal, or what have you. It’s less clear how delinquent they were in keeping the civil laws (but actually since the pure kingly bloodline from Adam to Christ just barely was maintained they obviously tried to be as delinquent there as they could be as well, i.e. ignoring the laws regarding marriage and so on), but for fallen man inflicting penalties on other people is much easier to do than holding yourself to the ten commandments or doing ritual.

    So when Jesus incarnated He *was* the ceremonial law, the priest and the sacrifice. He followed the moral law (to a ‘t’); even to the very end while hanging on the cross, making sure his mother would be taken care of, i.e. 5th commandment. The civil laws were fulfilled by his very birth (hence His ability to say he who is without sin cast the first stone).

    I write the above lest anyone would say following the ceremonial law was an act of faith rather than works. Faith for the Israelites was towards the coming Messiah, what the ceremonial laws as types pointed to, obviously vaguely for the Israelites, but we don’t know what other help they had to recognize the coming Messiah as the necessary object of their faith: prophets, other teachings still in existence from the time of the patriarchs, etc. See John Owen’s Biblical Theology for this subject…

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  148. Jeff:

    In brief: I believe you underestimate the extent to which the Lord is pleased to use typology to point to Christ and his fulfillment of a covenant of works and securing of kingdom blessings, and often it involves temporal blessings and curses. You might not like that, but God does reward imperfect obedience at the typologial level, and it’s not confined to national Israel.

    First, re Dt. 28, recall it’s part of a covenant treaty with Israel. Gen. 28 is part of the sanctions portion of the suzerainty treaty. You’re right that the stipulations can’t be kept perfectly, which is the pedagogical point of the OC law — to lead Israel to their Messiah. Recall also that the theocracy is a re-enactment of the Edenic theocracy, of humanity’s primal probation and fall, with Israel cast as God’s son, Adam, a type of the Last Adam. The connections between Adam-Israel-Christ are too numberous to mention here — to take just one example, the temptation of Christ recapitulates both Adam and Christ (the temptation, the wilderness, 40 days/40 years). It was as the true Israel, born under law, that Christ was the last Adam. To be a re-enactment, to be true to the typology, the Mosaic covenant had to be works based.

    While the Mosaic economy was an administraiton of the covenant of grace at the basic level, it was also had a works component, I think we have to keep the law and the gospel separated, as Kline does, and not smutz them together like “congruent merit” works cooperating with grace. Ex: Paul in Rom. 10:4ff and Gal. 3:10ff sets up a contrast between the older order of the law and works wiwth the NC order of grace and faith. In fact he characterizes the Mosaic covenant as one of “bondage, condemnation, and death.” That doesn’t sound like grace. That’s law. (See also 2 Cor. 3:6-9 and Gal. 4:24-26). The OC had as its dominant character, law. That’s Paul’s whole point. For sinners, you’re right; they can’t keep it. That was Paul’s point. For post-fall man, it was a covenant of condemnation due to Israel’s sinful failures. There is no grace in that.

    Paul saw that works and grace operated simultaneously in the Mosaic covenant, but withou conflict. He saw the works principle in the Mosaic economy and insisted there nevertheless was no failure of the promises to Abrham, Isaac, and Jacob (Gal. 3:17) BECAUSE sthe works pprinciple applied only to the typological kingdom of Canaan, not to the eschatalogical eternal city promised to Abrham and his seed through faith.

    It also bears mentioning that the overlay of typlogy over the various administrations of the covenant of grace are not confined to Israel as a whole. The Lord was pleased to take the exemplary, albeit imperfect, obedience of some of his servants and make it a typological sign of how the obedience of the coming true Servant of the Lord would secure the true kingeom and its royal blessings for himself and his people. Ex: Abraham and David received covenants of grant as rewards for their faithfulness. Also Phinehas (Numb. 25:11-13). Many of these servants, who are types of Christ, are described as “faithful” and receiving temporal rewards. Joseph, Noah, Abraham, David. Of course these servants throughout the OT were saved by grace alone through faith alone, but the faithfulness of their lives in general, or the special acts of exemplary service, was invested by God with typologial meaning so they pointed to the true Servant of the Lord, Christ, as the One who was also under a COW and who would receive the kingdom for himself and his people.

    In short, throughout Scripture God accepts, at the level of typology, imperfect faithfulness.

    Now for those who want to say it was all of grace, and don’t want to admit any republication of the COW, I would ask, what are the covenant stipulations and sanctions about? As Kline states, if the old typological kingdom had been secured by sovereign grace in Christ rather than a works principle, Israel would not have lost her national election. That Israel fell and received the covenant curses — finally fulfilled in the first century — shows that the works principle, not grace, was the driving administrative principle of the Old Covenant. The works principle, that Kline so astutely saw, is present in much of the typology of Scripture, and results in purely typological blessings and curses, that are related to the eschatalogical blessings and curses.

    I know you won’t agree, but I felt compelled to at least make the case.

    Thanks for your admirable tone of charity and grace!!! Blessings to you.

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  149. JJ: Here’s a question for those who don’t like republication:

    I’ve known many an adherent to dispensationalism or new covenant theology or some similar brand of theology to insist that Christ’s fulfilling the law was good news only to the Jew because, they would say, no Gentile was ever under the terms of the Sinai covenant (exceptions excepted, of course).

    Republication solves that problem beautifully. If Sinai is a recap of Eden, then that means we’re all born under Sinai “in some sense.” When Christ fulfilled Sinai, he was also fulfilling Eden, and not simply by the coincidence that both had the same moral law.

    What do you who deny republication do with that issue?

    Two thoughts:

    First, just because an idea solves your problem doesn’t mean it’s entirely correct. I’ve argued above that the Moral Law was indeed republished at Sinai; but that Kline’s notion of typological republication needs correction to remove the idea that Israel or Abraham did in fact merit anything, even typologically.

    So as you think about “those who deny republication”, keep in mind that it may not be every aspect of republication that’s denied, but perhaps a particular aspect of one theory of republication.

    Second, I think Rom 3.21ff. solves the problem cleanly: the Law bound all men, Jew and Gentile; Jesus is the sacrifice of atonement for all.

    (I’ve known a number of dispensationalists and never heard that one, BTW. Wonders never cease)

    JRC

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  150. I left a reply to Jeff, but it got threaded in the middle above. I think these get imbedded in some random order ……

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  151. DGH: I do believe that the world is so constituted that those who obey its laws — the created order — will live (generally speaking) more comfortably than those who don’t.

    JRC: Right, this is the “Proverbs point” — wisdom is its own reward because God has set the world up that way.

    But this is yet something different from either merit or typological republication. It applies even in China. On Wall Street, even.

    DGH: It is not something different if Adam was representative of all men in the CoW, and Israel was a type of Adam along with the Mosaic Covenant as republication.

    Explain more, please? How does China relate to Israel in terms of the Mosaic Covenant? Isn’t Adam’s (dis)obedience a foregone conclusion, so that we cannot look to the COW for blessings?

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  152. >Christian, could you expand on how a denial of “republication” leads to a denial of justification by faith alone.

    In our time it’s usually part and parcel
    ——————————————————-

    Christian, I take it then that you don’t have a reason for it other than that some JBFA deniers also deny republication. I’d still like to see a logical connection though, since it’s easy enough to affirm JBFA and deny republication.

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  153. Don’t know how these threads get switched around, but here goes again…

    >Christian, could you expand on how a denial of “republication” leads to a denial of justification by faith alone.

    In our time it’s usually part and parcel
    ——————————————————-

    Christian, I take it then that you don’t have a reason for it other than that some JBFA deniers also deny republication. I’d still like to see a logical connection though, since it’s easy enough to affirm JBFA and deny republication.

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  154. >Christian, I take it then that you don’t have a reason for it other than that some JBFA deniers also deny republication. I’d still like to see a logical connection though, since it’s easy enough to affirm JBFA and deny republication.

    Yes, you can deny the mechanics of God’s plan of redemption (two Adams, second Adam fulfilling what the first Adam failed to fulfill, imputation of the active obedience of Christ by faith in Christ) and still hold to justification by faith alone. You’ll be naked if you have to defend it before false teachers or the devil himself.

    Again, and again, and again: republication is innocuous. It is basic Federal Theology. The second Adam (Jesus) had to be *born under the law.* The *same law* Adam failed to fulfill. That law was given in elaborated form for all the world to know – via God’s Word ultimately – on Sinai. The false teachers of all eras who attack justification by faith alone in all eras *have* to deny Jesus did anything that is imputed to anybody. They also deny the Covenant of Works exists. They have to go back up river and deny all these doctrines so that they can present their usual justification by faith and works poison. They have to redirect the stream. That includes the pernicious – to them – doctrine of republication, which to any who understand and value classical Federal Theology is not a controversial issue.

    I.e. there is nothing lost in seeing republication; there is everything lost in denying it.

    Because it tends to confuse beginners in Reformed soteriology (What? we’re saved by works? Heresy!!!! I stand here to confront you, sir, and will confront you until stars fall and the mountains crumble and the tides refuse to ebb and, and so on!!! I will not abide any notion of works righteousness, sir!!! I will defend the faith as God has given me to defend it until His glorious return, sir!!!) So then you calmly point out that it is Jesus’ work that saves, after the fall. But they are too wrought up at that point to be able to think straight and they go away thinking they’ve defended the Kingdom against heresy.

    One way to be saved: works. Either your own (good luck with that) or Jesus’, appropriated by faith (by the grace of God).

    Then there are the false teachers who play on this easy confusion. Over and over and over.

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  155. It’s the false teachers like Federal Visionists who have ginned up republication to be ‘controversial.’

    A good analogy in Reformed Theology as to why some Reformed theologians have written on it (republication) and some not is this: some Reformed theologians going back to the 16th century have chosen not to see a Covenant of Redemption, or to use that terminology. But they *assume it* in how they see the Covenant of Grace. It’s not controversial. Personally, I see a Covenant of Redemption and see it as important in understanding God’s plan overall especially against the onslaught of the usual angles of attack of the false teachers. Yet I see we’re on the same page anyway. Some don’t like the Covenant of Redemption and prefer to fold it into the Covenant of Grace and talk of it all as being the Covenant of Grace, fine.

    Same with republication. Probably many well-known Reformed theologians never even thought about the issue.

    Remember too: Federal Theology is covenant theology systematized. And some people have a prejudice against systematizing biblical theology (which is the realm covenant theology tends to reside in until systematized) to anything resembling a terminal point. It takes away their fun.

    Always learning, never coming to understanding, the apostle says.

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  156. Hi Christian, I thought republication had to do with the idea that the whole of the Mosaic law was present (somehow) in the food law given to Adam. Scott Clark summarized it as “the giving of the Law at Sinai was a ‘re-publication’ of the Law given in the garden to Adam as part of the covenant of works.” (Heidelblog site.)

    Clark goes on: “They thought this way because they had a doctrine of natural or creational law, i.e., there is a moral law that was given in the garden that is reflected in the law given at Sinai.”

    This is the point anti-repubs deny. A food law is a food law. It is not creational law, nor the Mosaic code, nor even the 10 commandments. It’s just a food law, tout court.

    Republicationists have replaced the nominal food law of Eden with a full-blow “creational law” theory. As I said, I think this is motivated by sabbatarianism, and really has nothing to do with JBFA.

    I think Clark is right that the republication idea is taught in the WCF, but that does not mean the WCF is right. As Samuel Rutherford said, the Mosaic covenant is not a covenant of works because it’s made with sinners, whereas the COW was made with a perfect man, and required perfect fulfillment.

    Clark’s position is to change the idea of what a covenant of works is — he makes it less exacting when applied to land. I don’t think that’s really necessary, and it is only a consequence of the republication idea — that the Mosaic covenant is a repub of the COW

    The Mosaic covenant is like the Adamic covenant only in the sense that it was conditional. But that only makes it a POLITICAL covenant, not a covenant of works (requiring exact obedience). The conditionality in the Mosaic covenant shows that it is not a covenant of grace either.

    IOW, the Mosaic covenant was unique.

    None of this has anything to do with imputation, or JBFA. Or at least you haven’t shown that it does.

    Vern

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  157. I don’t understand what’s happening to the threading here. Is there no way to fix this?

    Hi Christian, I thought republication had to do with the idea that the whole of the Mosaic law was present (somehow) in the food law given to Adam. Scott Clark summarized it as “the giving of the Law at Sinai was a ‘re-publication’ of the Law given in the garden to Adam as part of the covenant of works.” (Heidelblog site.)

    Clark goes on: “They thought this way because they had a doctrine of natural or creational law, i.e., there is a moral law that was given in the garden that is reflected in the law given at Sinai.”

    This is the point anti-repubs deny. A food law is a food law. It is not creational law, nor the Mosaic code, nor even the 10 commandments. It’s just a food law, tout court.

    Republicationists have replaced the nominal food law of Eden with a full-blow “creational law” theory. As I said, I think this is motivated by sabbatarianism, and really has nothing to do with JBFA.

    I think Clark is right that the republication idea is taught in the WCF, but that does not mean the WCF is right. As Samuel Rutherford said, the Mosaic covenant is not a covenant of works because it’s made with sinners, whereas the COW was made with a perfect man, and required perfect fulfillment.

    Clark’s position is to change the idea of what a covenant of works is — he makes it less exacting when applied to land. I don’t think that’s really necessary, and it is only a consequence of the republication idea — that the Mosaic covenant is a repub of the COW

    The Mosaic covenant is like the Adamic covenant only in the sense that it was conditional. But that only makes it a POLITICAL covenant, not a covenant of works (requiring exact obedience). The conditionality in the Mosaic covenant shows that it is not a covenant of grace either.

    IOW, the Mosaic covenant was unique.

    None of this has anything to do with imputation, or JBFA. Or at least you haven’t shown that it does.

    Vern

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  158. I’m no expert here and I recommend the VanDrunen chapter in TLNF, but my limited understanding is that Israel is a light to the nations in her experience as well as teaching. So, her inability to keep the law is a testimony to the need for an Adam who can keep the law. If you look at Sinai as republication, and have a natural law perspective on this, then the Mosaic law has a universal significance akin to the law given to Adam. VanDrunen argues that you can see this form of argument in Paul’s discusion of the law for Jews and Gentiles in Romans.

    Israel’s relevance to China then is a type of Adam’s relationship to all those born of ordinary generation from him.

    But don’t hold me to this because, as Bob knows, I don’t know what I’m talking about.

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  159. The phrase ‘food law’ is flippant and not serious. The command had to do with valuing the Word of God or the word of the devil. The Bible tells us Jesus fulfilled what Adam failed to fulfill. Jesus didn’t fulfill a mere ‘food law.’ Think about that. (No, really, think about that.)

    >As Samuel Rutherford said, the Mosaic covenant is not a covenant of works because it’s made with sinners, whereas the COW was made with a perfect man, and required perfect fulfillment.

    As usual your side forgets a certain Person called the second Adam, Jesus Christ. Jesus was able to fulfill the Covenant of Works.

    Here is what is happening: one needs to have the ability to see the parts in relation to the whole. To have the whole one needs to have the entire Word of God in understanding. At least engage it whole. You’re wrestling with parts and can’t yet see the whole. Federal Theology requires parts in relation to the whole understanding. Not that that is some big attainment. It’s rather simple and elegant, as one would suspect biblical doctrine to be.

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  160. [again]

    The phrase ‘food law’ is flippant and not serious. The command had to do with valuing the Word of God or the word of the devil. The Bible tells us Jesus fulfilled what Adam failed to fulfill. Jesus didn’t fulfill a mere ‘food law.’ Think about that. (No, really, think about that.)

    >As Samuel Rutherford said, the Mosaic covenant is not a covenant of works because it’s made with sinners, whereas the COW was made with a perfect man, and required perfect fulfillment.

    As usual your side forgets a certain Person called the second Adam, Jesus Christ. Jesus was able to fulfill the Covenant of Works.

    Here is what is happening: one needs to have the ability to see the parts in relation to the whole. To have the whole one needs to have the entire Word of God in understanding. At least engage it whole. You’re wrestling with parts and can’t yet see the whole. Federal Theology requires parts in relation to the whole understanding. Not that that is some big attainment. It’s rather simple and elegant, as one would suspect biblical doctrine to be.

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  161. DGH: If you look at Sinai as republication, and have a natural law perspective on this, then the Mosaic law has a universal significance akin to the law given to Adam. VanDrunen argues that you can see this form of argument in Paul’s discusion of the law for Jews and Gentiles in Romans.

    I’ll keep thinking on it. I had a good conversation with my pastor earlier today on this very topic — we’re starting a sermon series through Joshua. When Joshua is told individually to not let this book of the Law depart from his mouth, and be careful to do all that is in it, and he will have success — how does this fit in with merit over against the obedience of faith?

    There are several issues to think through:

    (1) Does it make sense to think of Israel as a type of Adam (the first Adam), since the antitype has already come and gone? That’s an odd and unique kind of typology, that skips out on all the “fulfillment” aspect.

    (2) We’re thinking about Law in terms of its functions here. The Second Use is as a tutor, leading to Christ. That’s the sense that I get from Paul in Romans. What you’re suggesting is the Law as means of blessings and cursings, in a quasi-typological function. And I think that would be a different, fourth use of the Law (assuming I understand correctly … not guaranteed).

    (3) What *is* the proper relationship of wisdom to the Law? As I understand you,

    wisdom : natural law :: obedience : law.

    But there’s at least one way in which they differ. To break the Law of God at one point is to break the whole thing. But to break natural law at one point is to substantially leave the rest intact. That is: we can have a skilled mathematician who nevertheless cheats on his taxes. Or an honest citizen who can’t do math. But the failures in one endeavor don’t take away from successes in another … which is why Tiger Woods still has corporate sponsorship from Nike and Electronic Arts.

    So I don’t know. More thought needed.

    Have a great Sunday,
    JRC

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  162. Well, there’s a couple of things to split out.

    First, was the command given in the garden a nominal food law, or was it in fact the moral law given in concise form? The Confession appears to say the latter (see 19.1-2).

    Second, was the republication at Sinai a merit principle (yes — Deut. 28) that was in fact positively, if imperfectly obeyed? The anti-repubs argue, No, it was not obeyed, even imperfectly (except of course by Christ).

    JRC

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  163. Christian said, The phrase ‘food law’ is flippant and not serious. The command had to do with valuing the Word of God or the word of the devil. The Bible tells us Jesus fulfilled what Adam failed to fulfill. Jesus didn’t fulfill a mere ‘food law.’ Think about that. (No, really, think about that.)
    ——

    The term “food law” is an apt description. The command was not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. No other command is in view. Adam & Eve would not have understood “creational law” or anything like that, for they did not have the knowledge of good and evil prior to their Fall. They only realized it afterward, after eating from the tree, after violating the food law — a simple law, easy to obey. Since it was a nominal law, it did not require any knowledge of good and evil. (That they were ashamed afterward shows that they had no knowledge of sin or evil prior to eating; i.e., the tree wasn’t just about wisdom or intellectual attainment).

    >As Samuel Rutherford said, the Mosaic covenant is not a covenant of works because it’s made with sinners, whereas the COW was made with a perfect man, and required perfect fulfillment.

    As usual your side forgets a certain Person called the second Adam, Jesus Christ. Jesus was able to fulfill the Covenant of Works.
    ————-

    The Mosaic covenant could be a covenant of works for Jesus. This doesn’t mean it was a covenant of works for Israel (as per Rutherford’s point). For Israel it was a conditional political covenant.

    Here is what is happening: one needs to have the ability to see the parts in relation to the whole. To have the whole one needs to have the entire Word of God in understanding. At least engage it whole. You’re wrestling with parts and can’t yet see the whole. Federal Theology requires parts in relation to the whole understanding. Not that that is some big attainment. It’s rather simple and elegant, as one would suspect biblical doctrine to be.
    ——

    It appears to me you are using covenant or federal theology as a mantra, but are not acknowledging difficulties in its formulation or application.

    Vern

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  164. On p. 236ff of Kline’s Kingdom Prologue we see that regarding the sort of typological works-principle grants to sinners such as Noah (and Abraham, etc) because the Lord considered him to be righteous (Gen 7:1), there is a clear refutation of any heretical idea that such arrangements are an ultimate result of anything other than sola gratia.

    ” It is, of course, the gospel truth that God’s dealings with Noah found their ultimate explanation in the principle of God’s sovereign grace. This covenant grant to Noah came under the Covenant of Grace whose administration to fallen men deserving only the curse of the broken creational covenant [of works] (and Noah too was one of these fallen sons of Adam) was an act of God’s pure mercy in Christ. ”

    This applies to God’s dealing with Abraham and Israel too. This shows clearly that Kerux is simply wrong about Kline. If, perhaps, some Klineans have not been as precise in every case, that remains to be seen.

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  165. Interestingly this passage from the Marrow of Modern Divinity, Edward Fisher, appeared on the PuritanForum recently, on the subject of Adam breaking all of the Ten Commandments in eating of the fruit

    __________
    Nom. But, sir, methinks it is a strange thing that so small an offence, as eating of the forbidden fruit seems to be, should plunge the whole of mankind into such a gulf of misery.

    Evan. Though at first glance it seems to be a small offence, yet, if we look more wistfully 5 upon the matter it will appear to be an exceeding great offence; for thereby intolerable injury was done unto God; as, first, His dominion and authority in his holy command was violated. Secondly, His justice, truth, and power, in his most righteous threatenings, were despised. Thirdly, His most pure and perfect image, wherein man was created in righteousness and true holiness, was utterly defaced. Fourthly, His glory, which, by an active service, the creature should have brought to him, was lost and despoiled. Nay, how could there be a greater sin committed than that, when Adam, at that one clap, broke all the ten commandments?

    Nom. Did he break all the ten commandments, say you? Sir, I beseech you show me wherein.

    Evan. 1. He chose himself another God when he followed the devil.

    2. He idolized and deified his own belly; 6 as the apostle’s phrase is, “He made his belly his God.”

    3. He took the name of God in vain, when he believed him not.

    4. He kept not the rest and estate wherein God had set him.

    5. He dishonoured his Father who was in heaven; and therefore his days were not prolonged in that land which the Lord his God had given him.

    6. He massacred himself and all his posterity.

    7. From Eve he was a virgin, but in eyes and mind he committed spiritual fornication.

    8. He stole, like Achan, that which God had set aside not to be meddled with; and this his stealth is that which troubles all Israel,—the whole world.

    9. He bare witness against God, when he believed the witness of the devil before him.

    10. He coveted an evil covetousness, like Amnon, which cost him his life, (2 Sam 13), and all his progeny. Now, whosoever considers what a nest of evils here were committed at one blow, must needs, with Musculus, see our case to be such, that we are compelled every way to commend the justice of God, 7 and to condemn the sin of our first parents, saying, concerning all mankind, as the prophet Hosea does concerning Israel, “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself,” (Hosea 3:9).

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