Too Long to Tweet

Scott Clark has also picked up the discussion about conservative Presbyterian influence. In what may amount to the comment of the day, he replied with the following:

Influence is mediated and the the media have fragmented. There was a time when one of us might have snuck into a position of influence, when the media were more centralized and controlled by a few elites (yes, I think that much of the mainstream political media is controlled by a relatively small number of elites but we’re talking religion and theology here) but those days are mostly behind us.

The SBC is something like 16 million people. The entire NAPARC world is 1/2 million at most. Even if we add the sidelines we still don’t get to a million people. Even if the real SBC constituency is only 6 million, as some say, we’re still only a tiny percentage. There are (or were when I last looked) 60 million American evangelicals, most of whom operate with Anabaptist assumptions. They don’t even know we exist and they aren’t looking for us.

I suppose that you and I assess the state of the NAPARC world rather differently. The 2K argument is really about Christ and culture and I think the C and c argument is a pressing issue facing the URCNA right now. For a variety of historical reasons some of our congregations are not outward looking, not because they are taken up with intramural theological fights, but because they make assumptions that are deeply rooted in various cultures and those assumptions are not subject to criticism. The 2K argument, which has been a sometimes ugly affair, is a symbol of a deeper problem.

You seem dismissive of the matter of intinction but I think it’s a significant issue because, like the 2K argument, it signals a more profound problem. If people can simply withdraw the cup from the laity largely on a pragmatic basis, what else can churches do? What are the limits of ecclesiastical authority? What are the limits of pragmatism? Who authorized sessions to remove the cup from the laity? Don’t those sessions realize the cost of recovering the cup for the laity in the Reformation? Do they care? Is the supper a means of grace or the way to close a sale? I worry about those sorts of things and so I’m happy to see people in the PCA pushing back against the practice of intinction.

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299 thoughts on “Too Long to Tweet

  1. Maybe this was axillary to the main argument of the comment, but this is definitely tweetable. I didn’t count the characters, so maybe after a little paring down:

    Don’t those sessions realize the cost of recovering the cup for the laity in the Reformation? Do they care? Is the supper a means of grace or the way to close a sale?

    Brilliant.

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  2. Isn’t the lack of wine in communion a bigger deal than intinction (with wine) in terms of “removing the cup” or communion in only one kind?

    It was my impression that intinctionists at the very least were using wine.

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  3. I’ll second (or even third) this axillary question; I keep hearing this word ‘Intinction’ being thrown around, that it’s a big issue in the PCA right now (along with deaconesses) but I can’t seem to figure out exactly what the question is, much less any of the proposed answers. Is it about communion without wine, or wine without cup? Is cup elemental or circumstantial to the sacrament? Seems to me the biblical focus is on bread&wine=body&blood, so I don’t see that dipping vs sipping is any more important than mode of baptism.

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  4. Rube, intinction is important because it cuts down on the length of the sacrament. You can go forward, receive one element that has been dunked, and cafeteria style you have the Lord’s Supper. Home ten minutes earlier for the Fox pregame show.

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  5. OK then, that just moves the question, is the number of distributions elemental or circumstantial? (How about duration?) And if there’s still wine involved, why is RSC focusing on “taking the cup away from the laity” and comparing the situation to Rome? Wasn’t Rome’s problem that everybody got bread, but only priests got wine?

    In any case, I’ve been told by some smart people that it is common historical practice for the Reformed to come forward and receive versus sitting in the pews and having two separate distributions and partakings. If you’re already coming forward and eating and sipping, changing that to coming forward and dipping and eating doesn’t seems like a time savings.

    How much of this has to do with the biblical datum that the only bread that Christ dipped was Judas’?

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  6. There’s also the possibility of distributing once trays that have a bowl of bread in the middle, and cups of variablyl-aged grape-derived liquids around the edges; after all have received, then all partake together — voila time savings with no dipping necessary! Is that too cafeteria-style?

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  7. Rube,

    A simple search of how the communion cup is used in 1 Corinthians is revealing:

    1 Corinthians 10:16 – The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?

    1 Corinthians 10:21 – You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.

    1 Corinthians 11:25 – In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

    1 Corinthians 11:26 – For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

    1 Corinthians 11:27 – Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.

    1 Corinthians 11:28 – Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

    It seems that these passages make a close connection between blood and cup, and that the act of drinking from it is important. Moreover, when the RCC denied the laity the cup in the middle ages, somewhat for practical reasons (obviously more complicated than simply this), they were subverting the whole sacramental value of the meal to these Christians. For Reformed today to be ignorant of how damaging the Reformers viewed this move, and the lengths to which they went to restore the biblical administration of the sacraments seems odd. Does the act of intinction blow up the sacramental value of the meal? I can’t say, but the biblical instructions seem to clearly indicate drinking from the cup – what reason could possibly move us to not simply carry out the biblical order?

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  8. Since the PCA aims to make things palatable to city-dwellers maybe they could package the elements up a la “lunchables” and people could get them to go. Perfect for the urban mom on the move.

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  9. Jed, thanks for expanding on this for me. If the cup is indeed elemental to the sacrament, then it seems to me a pretty short leap to one cup (you can’t spell communion without union!). I’m sure for at least 1800 years no Christian ever thought of pouring out and distributing individually portioned cuplets.

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  10. Following up on Rube’s comment on one cup vs. many cuplets… And, rather than a loaf of bread distributed from which each believer takes a portion, tiny pre-cut cubes of bread on a plate that can almost be swallowed whole.

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  11. Rube,

    The Passover context of the meal indicates that the disciples were likely each drinking from their own cup (the 3rd cup of Suffering), probably not from a single cup that Christ distributes. So, I don’t think either cuplets or multiple cups would be outside the scope of the NT instruction on communion. The bread does appear to be broken and distributed. In a larger congregation I am not sure how this could be accomplished without multiple loaves.

    Posting on an iPhone, I can elaborate later.

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  12. I haven’t been this mentally stimulated since we had the “do we make grape juice available?” discussion on consistory (mostly for the sake of the teetotalling Baptists in our midst). The decision was “yes” and I can’t remember how I voted.

    Now when I get the wine I always have to remind myself that the grape juice is in the middle.

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  13. Erik, here’s more food for stimulation: the content of the cup is important, but isn’t its frequency at least as vital? Calvin thought so.

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  14. Zrim, though I’m not making a case for intinction I do have a question. If intinction is “the doorway to paedocommunion” then why don’t we see that practice in, say, Anglican or Episcopal churches that have used intinction for years? Could it be that paedocommunion is more a doctrinal issue than a circumstance issue as with the EO?

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  15. Zrim: Rube, intinction is important because it’s the doorway to paedocommunion, as in the mirror error of credo-baptism.

    RS: But of course you might want to think through your position a bit more. Paedocommunion is the consistent position of infants being in the covenant. If they are in the covenant, then why can’t they have a covenant meal? Credo-baptists only baptize those with a profession of faith because only those who believe are in the covenant. So these two positions are not mirror errors, but in fact both believe that the sacraments are only for those who are in the covenant.

    It appears that your position wants to have infants in the covenant of works and the covenant of grace at the same time, which then says that they can have one sacrament and not the other. While I know you don’t really want to discuss it, I just thought I would set out a point or two in hopes?

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  16. I was attending a church in the late eighties that offered communion (real wine) to the heads of families (weekly) and they served their own families. Oddly enough, we didn’t baptize our babies, rather we dedicated them to God.

    Personally I think pedo baptists should allow their children to partake of communion. It seems consistent with being in the covenant, as Richard just pointed out. Plus, children were allowed to eat the Passover meal in Israel, which is analogous to the Lord’s table. If children could partake of Christ in the old testament in the Passover meal, why deprive them in the new?

    FWIW that argument caused G.I. Williamson to hold to pedo communion.

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  17. Jack, maybe it’s a matter of reading the particular context in which intinction is coming up. The PCA seems fairly taken up with the question of PC, and intinction makes sense if your larger project is about bringing infants to the table–if it isn’t then I doubt PCAers would being fooling with the question. (I’ve suggested before that the PCA seems now what the CRC was a few years ago. The CRC has recently affirmed PC.)

    Richard (and Doug), paedobaptism and credo-communionism are the most consistent pairing in Reformed orthodoxy. It’s a matter of sorting out the continuities and discontinuities between the old and new covenants. Baptism replaces circumcision (continuity) but goes from bloody ordeal to watery ritual and is applied to both male and female (discontinuity); Communion replaces the Passover meal (continuity) but is now restricted to those who have professed faith (discontinuity).

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  18. Doug,

    Now if we can only get you to be as equally dismissive of theonomy. Your journey in church history seems to run directly from ancient Israel to the “late eighties” with no stops (or Confessions) in between.

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  19. Part of being Confessional is a respect for the practices of our Presbyterian & Reformed forefathers and the realization that this isn’t “cafeteria Christianity”. Let’s leave that to the evangelicals.

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  20. Erik, ancient Israel to the late eighties!-Something like the Bangles

    “You seem dismissive of the matter of intinction but I think it’s a significant issue because, like the 2K argument, it signals a more profound problem. If people can simply withdraw the cup from the laity largely on a pragmatic basis, what else can churches do? What are the limits of ecclesiastical authority?”

    Yep.

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  21. Rube, I can’t recall the date but I saw a portable silver
    communion set with individual cups at the Museum of the Reformation in Geneva. I believe they were from the 17th or 18th century. I was surprised to see them. Will research.

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  22. First time commenter here, for full disclosure I am using a pseudonym.

    Here are a couple of references from Rick Phillips (2nd PCA, Greenville SC) on intinction. Pending the improbable “Reformed conversion” of the rest of my family, I’m in a non-denom church that in the past few months has practiced intinction (just once), had an Ash Wednesday service, and is observing what I’d call a “soft” Lenten season with a candle in front every week that is supposed to mean something that I can’t recall (our new pastor was called last year). I did share these resources with my elders but I don’t think they fully registered. If being fully honest they might have replied to me, “what planet are you from?!”. So in that regard, how can I not resonate with D.G.’s first comment above? Except that for us, the order of intinction and Lent were reversed.

    I refused to participate in Ash Wednesday and I will refuse any future celebrations of the Lord’s Supper via intinction. I suppose rosary beads would be a little too blatant, but Ash Wednesday has convinced me that I ought not to be surprised by anything I might see in the future. If I knew I would not lose my family, I would run and not walk to a nearby church in a NAPARC denom, where for all the warts that may be there that I’m not yet aware of, you generally know what the person next to you believes, and you have greater confidence that you’re in a true church.

    Blog
    http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2013/01/why-intinction-matters.php

    PCA General Assembly interview
    http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=7312842493

    I’ve also been reflecting on this entire online discussion and the influence of Boice and Sproul. If time permits I’ll add another comment later. Within the past five years Boice was posthumously the initial catalyst of my own fledgling Reformed pilgrimage, but since then I’ve also found my way to the confessions and a few of the contemporary Reformed diehards (why else would I be here, right?). I see the tension between being uncompromising in upholding biblical standards as well as the significance of the local church, with that of outreach and “influence” that seems to be the issue of the day. While I may not have any answers, it’s caused me to reflect upon Boice’s broader ministry even if I never had the advantage of keeping pace with him while he was still with us.

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  23. Erik, I just affirmed pedo communion! Because my (OPC) will not allow children to partake, I keep that opinion to myself, not wanting to cause discord. If I had children, I would have to think about finding a church that would allow them to partake.

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  24. Al,

    I would encourage you to explain to your family why you believe what you believe and make the necessary move. As I have done that I have seen members of my family come around. Even my parents have moved from Baptist churches to the point that they are ready to join an OPC Church. Older kids can be tough, but if they see you have Biblical reasons for doing what you are doing I think you will win their respect as they mature. Younger kids who grow up Reformed are easy. My boys will have known nothing else.

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  25. Doug,

    Do you keep silent on theonomy?

    As someone who is concerned about the law and the curses that result from disobedience are you not concerned about young, immature Christians eating & drinking judgment upon themselves?

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  26. Quoth Phillips:

    It has been curious to me that many who seem least concerned to be biblical about the Lord’s Supper are those who administer it most frequently. In fact, during the General Assembly, more than one minister who emphasizes weekly communion told me that intinction was necessary because the biblical procedure takes too long.

    Muscovites giving traditional high church Calvinists a black eye.

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  27. Dr Hart.

    What? I’m against intinction. I’m just trying to fit it into a hierarchy of errors. Why is the PCA all bothered about intinction when nobody seem bothered by grape juice? Why does nobody have a second prayer of thanksgiving over the cup as Jesus does (Mathew 26:27) and Paul instructs?

    BTW, your points on Lent have given me food for thought, though the snideness of the responses was a bit unpalatable.

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  28. Erik asks do you keep silent on theonomy?

    Absolutely! My Pastor does not hold to a theonomic perspective. The last thing my Pastor needs is me going on a polemic over something that couldn’t be implemented in our society at present. I save that for you’ll! Don’t you feel special?

    I try to be sensitive to keeping harmony in our local church, however this isn’t to suggest that certain members don’t talk theology, we do! But our group was already theonomic and post mill before I showed up! You know, “the smart bunch”.

    Most of the members in my church have no idea what theonomy means! Of course, neither does Zrim.

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  29. Erik asks As someone who is concerned about the law and the curses that result from disobedience are you not concerned about young, immature Christians eating & drinking judgment upon themselves?

    No more than I am with adults, plus young children are under their Fathers covering, they learn how to approach the Lord’s table by their example.

    Why was it okay for children to partake of Christ in the Passover meal, but not in the new testament? I agree with Richard, Reformed baptists like him, see a contradiction with our with holding communion, yet we baptize our children.

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  30. Paul,

    Do you think it is a problem to offer both grape juice and wine? Typically the reasons for this are to not put someone who might have an alcohol problem in a bad position. A workplace associate of mine who was Armenian (not Arminian) and had a history of substance abuse problems could not take communion if grape juice wasn’t offered – even a sip of alcohol would trigger cravings that he had a hard time dealing with. So I can understand his struggle – do you think that the light of nature might inform our practice somewhat in this respect?

    That isn’t to say we should have no limits to how we might accommodate some needs – I had some Calvary Chapel friends in high school who took way too much liberty with the elements, serving grape soda and tortilla chips at a student lead worship service. Yikes!

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  31. Probably not a problem. Some suggest dipping ones pinky in the cup and licking it, and moving on from there, but having grape juice as an interim seems ok. I wouldn’t use all my authority as a random dude on the internet to object.

    I surely can’t speak to your associates experience, but I wonder if the AA paradigm of needing to never even think about having wine again is flawed.

    We need gluten-free bread for people with celiac disease. But its still some kind of bread.

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  32. Erik,

    I appreciate your feedback, however to put things delicately and succinctly this is every bit as much a marriage issue as it is a church issue. “Reformation begins at home”, I think, serves as a helpful guide for me.

    Once in a while I do test the waters, but frankly, the “ordinary means of grace” are a tough sell, which frankly is validated by the numbers that Scott Clark offered – what is it, only 500K North Americans in NAPARC? Compared to probably at least 10 million of baptistic stripes? While Reformed theology can sharpen the mind to a razor’s edge, we somehow have to persuade others to think in different categories than the murky preference-driven evangelical drivel that overly focuses on visible or audible style (“revivalism”, in other words). Not only must we favorably contrast Reformed ecclesiology to the mindset and ethos of our local contemporary evangelical church, we also face the daunting task of distinguishing Reformed worship from the dead traditionalism of one’s ELCA past. To some, if they *look* the same, they must *be* the same. That’s a hurdle that is much easier to clear for some than for others.

    I do believe that if our family actually visited a Reformed church together, that would smooth the ground for further beneficial conversations. But based on my testing, that time has not yet come. At the same time, there are other things my wife does see in our church that she does not agree with, even if I’ve not convinced her on Lent or intinction, and some of them will eventually be unavoidable as they will affect our kids as well.

    I understand that the norm of our culture is politeness (“it’s all good!”). If we disagree with something we have to watch how we say it, unless we know that our audience isn’t easily offended (see Dr. Hart’s post from today on Challies/SGM). Personally, I’ve become aware that I have to monitor the quantity and the tone of my criticism of things I see; if I go too far, I only lose ground in that struggle for reformation at home, and it’s hard to make that back up. So while I love reading Old Life, and Trueman, I try not to make those my only diet of Reformed thinking!

    May the grace and peace of Christ be to you and to everyone here at OldLife!

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  33. Doug, instead of suggesting contradiction, Reformed Baptists like Richard should actually be happy to see that we make a place for the faith of the participant in relation to the sacraments. And those who claim the name Reformed like you should be able to understand that in baptism God initiates toward totally unable sinners and in communion those catechized sinners respond. In your misguided outlook, what role does catechism play? In the PB/CC system it is the means by which baptized children are nurtured to communion.

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  34. Zrim, you’r e missing the point, as per usual. Richard is saying, if children are in the covenant, (as we believe) then why not feed them covenant food? Didn’t Israel allow they’re children to partake of Christ in the Passover meal? Didn’t Israel also instruct there children in the law? How are you missing this obvious analogy?

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  35. Doug, I’ve explained why not. Per usual, you aren’t reading.

    PS, theonomy and paedocommunion? FV on line two, shall I patch you through?

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  36. Zrim you have failed to explain why children of Israel got eat Passover, but in the new covenant we with hold the meal from our children?

    BTW C.I. Williamson who wrote our WCF workbook, and who is not FV made this exact point! It’s why he had to take an exemption on communion.

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  37. “Paedo-passover” is an inventive fiction, not based in reality or the Scriptures.

    First of all, divine ordinances are not “optional,” so if the meal was given to every person, they all had a duty to participate. Worth mention as well, the fact that roast-meat meal is not especially suited to the toothless or the toddler.

    Secondly, the Scripture is absolutely unambiguous about who was summoned to the meal. Dt.16:16, “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which he shall choose.” These were adults, those who had attained the age of majority and could speak for himself (cf.Jn.9:23). Something to ponder: Why was Jesus brought to Passover at age 12, and remanded to the custody of the Temple for a few days?

    No unclean person was allowed to partake of any OT religious ordinance; thus self-examination was a vital component of such participation. And for anyone who thinks women partook as well: do recall about 1/4 of the whole female population were ritually excluded by the laws of biology at every observance. One thing for sure, they weren’t summoned to partake (nor are any ever mentioned explicitly as participants in the Bible).

    This is no misogynistic read. It’s easy to read modern egalitarian assumptions into the text. We adore our ladies, we believe they belong at the Lord’s Supper, so we assume they must have frequented the Passover as well. Why not see that the NT has opened a door for them to participate? It’s a conclusion that fits both the evidence, and the testimony: “there is… neither male nor female,” Gal.3:28.

    Thirdly, the question asked by the son, “What mean YE by this service?” (Ex.12:26) is most plainly read as one asked by an observer, not asked by someone who already has his mouth full. Note he doesn’t ask, “What do WE mean…?” It’s exactly the kind of question appropriate to a confirmand.

    Did children eat the Passover? Maybe the inaugural (though that’s debatable, and the evidence ambiguous); but where can it be shown that the memorial meal was a family affair? At best, one tries to infer it from a variety of factors in texts that mention the feast (or feasts). But the plainest witnesses of Scripture are actually against it. Neither women nor children were invited/summoned, and the men were.

    Instead of reading Reformed and Covenant theology looking for “consistencies,” we should simply look for the teaching that is both explicit and deducible (good and necessary consequence). It’s entirely possible that a quest for “consistency” leads down a primrose path, and not to the truth. There may be (there certainly is!) a good reason why the inducting sign/seal of the covenant is appropriate for a more inclusive body, than the confirming and renewing sign/seal. Self-examination was inescapable re. Passover. And Paul makes it explicit concerning the Lord’s Supper.

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  38. Dough Sowers: Its a little bit more that G I Williamson said “I had many fine arguments for paedocommunion, but I couldn’t get the majority to agree with me, so through force of will I will not believe them anymore.

    I don’t think he actually took an exception.

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  39. Thanks for setting the record straight Paul, I was going off memory, which is obviously hazy 😉

    But my point still stands. I have never heard an anti pedocommunion man explain why children could eat the Passover meal, yet be cut off from communion.

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  40. Paul, I also remember Williamson saying he does think pedocommunion is biblical but that since he’s in the minority he will remain silent. That’s what I do in church as well.

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  41. Bruce, so children only got to partake once? Wow, that’s pretty far out there.

    Bruce says: “And for anyone who thinks women partook as well: do recall about 1/4 of the whole female population were ritually excluded by the laws of biology at every observance.”

    How could you make such a bold proclamation? Are you saying God isn’t Sovereign over a women’s cycle? That God’s hand would be forced by biology to cut off 1/4 of every adult women’s observance? Can you show that in Scripture?

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  42. Bruce: Did children eat the Passover? Maybe the inaugural (though that’s debatable, and the evidence ambiguous); but where can it be shown that the memorial meal was a family affair? At best, one tries to infer it from a variety of factors in texts that mention the feast (or feasts). But the plainest witnesses of Scripture are actually against it. Neither women nor children were invited/summoned, and the men were.

    RS: But in the NT when it is said that Jesus fed five thousand men, that does not mean that there were not women and children. They were simply viewed as in the same household.

    Bruce: Instead of reading Reformed and Covenant theology looking for “consistencies,” we should simply look for the teaching that is both explicit and deducible (good and necessary consequence).

    RS: At times “consistent” is simply another way or putting logic which has to do with what is explicit and deducible.

    Bruce: It’s entirely possible that a quest for “consistency” leads down a primrose path, and not to the truth.

    RS: But it is certain that if one does not desire to be consistent with the teachings of Scripture, then that person can believe anything.

    Bruce: There may be (there certainly is!) a good reason why the inducting sign/seal of the covenant is appropriate for a more inclusive body, than the confirming and renewing sign/seal. Self-examination was inescapable re. Passover. And Paul makes it explicit concerning the Lord’s Supper.

    RS: The passages of Scripture in the OT that seem to be clear on families eating the Passover meal seem to sure lead us to the belief that children at it at times. Then when the Scriptures speak of men eating the Passover and being called to eat it, the clearer passages would lead us to deduce that the men stood for their households.

    Exodus 10:8 So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh, and he said to them, “Go, serve the LORD your God! Who are the ones that are going?” 9 Moses said, “We shall go with our young and our old; with our sons and our daughters, with our flocks and our herds we shall go, for we must hold a feast to the LORD.”

    RS: The sons and daughters had to go so that they could be part of the feast to the LORD.

    Exodus 12:3 “Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household.
    4 ‘Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb.
    5 ‘Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats.
    6 ‘You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight.

    RS: Some of the households were too small for some lambs. This certainly seems to lead to the deduction that members of the household (women and children) were part of eating that lamb.

    II Chr 35:4 “Prepare yourselves by your fathers’ households in your divisions, according to the writing of David king of Israel and according to the writing of his son Solomon.
    5 “Moreover, stand in the holy place according to the sections of the fathers’ households of your brethren the lay people, and according to the Levites, by division of a father’s household.
    6 “Now slaughter the Passover animals, sanctify yourselves and prepare for your brethren to do according to the word of the LORD by Moses.”
    7 Josiah contributed to the lay people, to all who were present, flocks of lambs and young goats, all for the Passover offerings, numbering 30,000 plus 3,000 bulls; these were from the king’s possessions.

    RS: I would argue that the evidence is quite clear that women and children did eat of the Passover. I would also argue that we have no evidence of a female being baptized as far as a clear command or example. While Venema argues that young people did not eat it, I would argue based on the Scriptures given here and others that the Scriptures do give us evidence that they did.

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  43. Doug, I have explained it and it involves the aspect of faith. You can quote as many stalwarts as you like in defense of PC, but the HC reflects how the greater balance of the Reformed have understood this issue:

    Question 81. For whom is the Lord’s supper instituted?

    Answer: For those who are truly sorrowful for their sins, and yet trust that these are forgiven them for the sake of Christ; and that their remaining infirmities are covered by his passion and death; and who also earnestly desire to have their faith more and more strengthened, and their lives more holy; but hypocrites, and such as turn not to God with sincere hearts, eat and drink judgment to themselves.

    As long as a person has not indicated this knowledge and earnest desire, he is considered ignorant and thus fenced, whether he is within the covenant or not. This is not at all to say that covenant children by virtue of being children cannot credibly indicate these things, but they must be credibly indicated.

    There are three approaches to the Supper: open, fenced, and closed. The Reformed have historically followed the fenced, Rome closed and evangelicals open. PC aligns with open. What you haven’t indicated is any sensitivity to the reality of heaping judgment upon a sinner (theonomist that you are). It is typical for PCers to suggest that all they want to do is show love by including children and that CCers are unloving exclusivists. But rarely do they demonstrate any understanding that it may more loving to show patience, restraint and caution lest they help a sinner rush headlong into judgment.

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  44. Al,

    One approach you might take is to get a Westminster Shorter Catechism or Heidelberg Catechism with Scripture references and spend a few minutes each night doing a question, an answer, and looking at one of the Scripture references. If the reference is only a few verses maybe add a few before or after for some context. If a Q&A has four references you’ll spend four nights on it. When you’re done, pray together. We do this each night and it only takes about 10 minutes. As you build a Reformed framework piece-by-piece people start to notice things in evangelicalism that don’t match up to the framework. This way you are doing positive things, not being negative and your family members will start to notice the deficiencies themselves without you appearing to be a nit-picker or having an agenda.

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  45. Erik, I appreciate your constructive approach here. I’ve actually considered Heidelberg and WSC, and as the dad, I know that the ball’s in my court. Thanks again.

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  46. Al, I don’t know if my story might be interesting to you. When I first started attending an OPC church my wife really didn’t like it. She was used to happy clappy songs, so the Trinity Hymnal seemed boring. Then there were sermons with doctrine and a smallish church that really didn’t care about being like a big evangelical church. Really, it was quite a change for her and she wanted to leave. But I was convinced it was my job to lead the family and I thought about “25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her.” So I told her we were staying and that was that. It took her a while, but after a while she “got it,” and, if I get run over by a truck tomorrow I’m confident she would stay.

    You really want your children in a good church.

    Now I’ve said all that, but I realize there’s a learning curve for your family. If you can find a basic book to walk through with your wife that might be helpful. But start the conversation. Share your convictions. And lead.

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  47. Thanks Richard, for the biblical evidence of children partaking of Passover, it’s overwhelming!

    Zrim, I understand the fear: but it’s just that, FEAR! Why not echo Paul warning, and let God judge his people? He’s slow to anger, and his mercy triumphs over his justice. Our children our under our covering, they watch their parents and learn how to approach the table. Didn’t Jesus rebuke his disciples and say, “let the little children come to me”!?

    If covenant children could partake of Christ in the Passover meal, I think we should let them partake of Christ in the new covenant meal as well. I don’t see a good argument, unless we’re going to say our children are not in the covenant. Then we might as well by Reformed baptists, God forbid! (Just kidding Richard lol) Let’s stay consistent my reformed brothers!

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  48. “If covenant children could partake of Christ in the Passover meal, I think we should let them partake of Christ in the new covenant meal as well.”

    Doug,

    The means of grace is not in the ability to chew and swallow food. To suggest that Israeli children who partook of the meal automatically partook of Christ is, well, not Protestant. Passover was a means of grace to those who understood why Israel partook of the Passover and who also believed in the God of Israel. And we do not do theology from anti-type to type. In other words, though Passover and other OC meals were shadows of the Lord’s Supper, we do not allow the type to interpret the fulfillment for us. There is enough clear evidence in the NT on the Supper itself to demonstrate the need for explicit faith and repentance in order for the Supper to be a means of grace.

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  49. Doug, sorry, but that’s an amazingly cavalier attitude about God’s judgment (not to mention sentimentalist). But here is the irony of the theonomic mind: the law needs to be pressed with vigor upon the unbelieving peoples of the earth via coercive legislation, but when it comes to the sacraments and God’s covenant people you rely on the Spirit to restrain sin.

    You ask, “Why not echo Paul warning, and let God judge his people?” Because in 1 Cor 5 it’s the reverse. God’s people are to watch out for each other and let God judge those outside.

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  50. Al, maybe I can kill two birds with one stone: beware counsel from Reformed who haven’t shaken off the eeeevangelical enthusiasm. Conversion to Reformation Christianity for situated human beings is like repentance–life long and less glory than cross.

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  51. Doug Sowers: If covenant children could partake of Christ in the Passover meal, I think we should let them partake of Christ in the new covenant meal as well. I don’t see a good argument, unless we’re going to say our children are not in the covenant. Then we might as well by Reformed baptists, God forbid! (Just kidding Richard lol) Let’s stay consistent my reformed brothers!

    RS: But of course, Doug, there are a few other issues at hand. If all the children of believers are in the New Covenant, then the promises of the New Covenant (Heb 8:8-13) are theirs and they are certainly saved. But if they are not in the New Covenant, then what covenant are they under? Wouldn’t it be the Old Covenant? So unless you are willing to say that all the children of all believers are converted and in the New Covenant, your position has some problems as well. One is either in the New Covenant or one is under the covenant of works. So one branch of Padeobaptists seem to want their children in the New Covenant by ordinary birth and yet not give them the covenant meal. Other Paedobaptists want to give their covenant children the meal too and still want to think of them as being able to fall away. Those who are “Reformed” and Baptist simply say that only those who are in the New Covenant should receive either sacrament. Doug, your call for consistency has been heard and it is biblical. It is the Calvinistic Baptist position that is consistent and biblical.

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  52. Todd: The means of grace is not in the ability to chew and swallow food. To suggest that Israeli children who partook of the meal automatically partook of Christ is, well, not Protestant. Passover was a means of grace to those who understood why Israel partook of the Passover and who also believed in the God of Israel. And we do not do theology from anti-type to type. In other words, though Passover and other OC meals were shadows of the Lord’s Supper, we do not allow the type to interpret the fulfillment for us. There is enough clear evidence in the NT on the Supper itself to demonstrate the need for explicit faith and repentance in order for the Supper to be a means of grace.

    RS: Todd, it appears that the hermeneutic you are using is that we are to use clear evidence from the NT to demonstrate what the OT shadows and types really meant. In other words, the New Testament should be allowed to set forth all it says about the New Covenant and those in it. I would simply say that is a great hermeneutic. Now when you apply that same hermeneutic to baptism…

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  53. Todd states: To suggest that Israeli children who partook of the meal automatically partook of Christ is, well, not Protestant.

    Hold on Todd, Scripture contradicts that view: 1 Cor 10:1

    “For I want you to know brothers that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.”

    According to Paul, *everyone* including the children ate spiritual food and drink, as the Rock was Christ. Is Paul against us Protestants? And since God saw fit to allow *all* his covenant people to partake of him in spiritual food and drink, why not now?

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  54. Doug,

    Was Jesus caviler allowing Judas to partake of the first communion meal?

    Obviously the answer is no. However, all we can adduce from Jesus’ motives is what the text tells us, and in the narrative the fact that Judas partakes of the meal – indicating communion and intimate fellowship with their Lord – serves only to highlight the audacity of his betrayal. As Jesus makes clear, the son of perdition plays an important role in salvation history, as his destruction had been foretold.

    So, using Jesus’ inclusion of Judas in the Supper doesn’t prove or disprove anything you have argued here. I would point to Paul, who in 1 Corinthians argues:

    Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. (1 Corinthians 11:27-31 ESV)

    The kind of self-examination that Paul is calling partakers of the bread and the cup seems to eliminate those who have not made a credible profession of faith – including small children. The scriptures are clear that children lack the ability to discern good and evil (Deut. 1:39), so how would they be able to discern the body and blood of Christ, or their relation to him by faith? This is not to say that they do not belong to him by any means, they are children of the covenant. It seems absolutely clear that part of the prerequisite that Paul clearly lays out in partaking of the meal is the ability at a fundamental level to discern it’s significance.

    Why put children in danger spiritually if they are unable to discern the significance of the meal, or their own spiritual state. This is why paedocommunion runs such a great risk in my opinion – it is asking those who lack, simply by virtue of age and life experience the ability to understand even in a basic way that scripture requires, to partake of a meal that poses a real spiritual, and even physical danger to those who partake improperly. Why on earth would I subject my kids to this?

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  55. Richard, you are forgetting the branch of PBs/CCs who hold that there are two ways of being in the NC, namely outwardly and inwardly. Ordinarily, covenant children are in the NC as outward members and so receive the sign of baptism to mark them accordingly–which whatever else it does, it guards against sacerdotalism that collapses the outward and inward and out pops baptismal regeneration. They are then nurtured in catechism until it is naturally evidenced that they are also inward members, at which time they come to the table.

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  56. “Bruce, so children only got to partake once? Wow, that’s pretty far out there. Bruce says: “And for anyone who thinks women partook as well: do recall about 1/4 of the whole female population were ritually excluded by the laws of biology at every observance.” How could you make such a bold proclamation? Are you saying God isn’t Sovereign over a women’s cycle? That God’s hand would be forced by biology to cut off 1/4 of every adult women’s observance? Can you show that in Scripture?”

    Doug,
    The internet is not geared for efficient instruction, so I’m not going to conduct in-depth exegesis here.

    What is “far out” is the fringe element that thinks paedo-communion should be mainstreamed.

    As for my “bold proclamation,” Israelite women were unclean during their cycle, Lev.15. Ritually unclean people were not permitted to partake of the formal religious life of the nation. The entire law speaks to this thing with one voice; consider Lev.7:20 as a single example: “but the person who eats of the flesh of the sacrifice of the LORD’s peace offerings while an uncleanness is on him, that person shall be cut off from his people.” Consider Jn.18:28, “They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover.”

    How about this flat statement concerning Passover from Holy Scripture: “No uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.” Obviously the Gentiles are excluded. Pray tell, what Israelite woman could meet this criteria?

    Num.9 even tells us about some unclean (men) for whose sake Moses instituted the “second-month” do-over-Passover. Cleanness was super-important. Hezekiah’s Passover (2Chr.30:16-20) included a special dispensation to pardon those who had failed the ritual purity requirement. I’m not even sure why this is the slightest bit controversial.

    Women have a monthly period. This is nature, and so it was in the OT. The length is variable, but anywhere from 4-7 days is typical for the absolute unclean condition. Then, the affected women had to count off SEVEN more days from the last of the blood, and finally they were considered purified from that condition.

    I’m not sure what appeal to “God’s sovereignty” has to do with this question. God isn’t forced into anything. The relevant question is whether or ANY but the clean, adult, Israelite male was a proper, ordinary participant in the memorial Passover. Surely, if you want to make an argument for women’s participation, you need at least to show that they could when they were clean; and without appealing to a miracle wherever needed to make the argument fine.

    But even so, hand-waving and mockery does nothing to upset the text-driven argument against women-and-children Passover. An appeal to socio-religious covenant solidarity begs the question. What is at issue is whether C-T can be leveraged on the fulcrum of Passover to support paedo-communion. 99% of the modern p-c movement are former Baptists who have simply switched sides on the question of self-profession for inclusion, “all in” or “all out.” P-C only makes sense on the basis of this inversion; it isn’t organic to Reformed hermeneutics.

    Seems to me, what has happened is that far more assumptions are made about the propriety of women’s (and by extension, children’) inclusion in Passover, than a patient examination of the actual evidence. Followed by a further application of those unsubstantiated conclusions for the purpose of defending paedo-communion. Not convincing.

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  57. Richard,

    “RS: But in the NT when it is said that Jesus fed five thousand men, that does not mean that there were not women and children. They were simply viewed as in the same household.”

    This is an unsubstantiated claim. The point made in the text is that the size of the crowd was about 5000 MEN, χωρις γυναικων και παιδιων, an aside found only in Mt.14 and none of the other three Gospels. Why does Matthew (alone) so declare? The word χωρις can also mean “away from;” so, is his intent to clarify that this (and again in Mt.15) was a male-only crowd?

    In any case, χωρις is an indication that one might have seen a smattering of the others present; but the purpose of the words is manifestly not in order that the reader or listener should conclude that there was 2X, 3X, or 10X the counted number of people who were fed. That is simply overreading the text. If any additional persons had added significantly to the total, the miracle would have been that much more impressive.

    And besides, what are you (a Baptist) doing making a “household” argument for anything?!?!

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  58. “RS: The passages of Scripture in the OT that seem to be clear on families eating the Passover meal seem to sure lead us to the belief that children at it at times. Then when the Scriptures speak of men eating the Passover and being called to eat it, the clearer passages would lead us to deduce that the men stood for their households.”

    Once again, we have to try to separate what we EXPECT the text to teach us from a patient listening to it. We can never escape the fact that we bring assumptions with us, but we should work to distinguish an inference from a proposition or a deduction. I also see your reasoning is inverted. What is “clearer:” an explicit statement about who is partaking, or passages that “imply” (allegedly) a wide inclusion?

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  59. “Exodus 10:8 So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh, and he said to them, “Go, serve the LORD your God! Who are the ones that are going?” 9 Moses said, “We shall go with our young and our old; with our sons and our daughters, with our flocks and our herds we shall go, for we must hold a feast to the LORD.” RS: The sons and daughters had to go so that they could be part of the feast to the LORD.”

    I judge this text to be singularly irrelevant, because the support asked from it is many steps removed from both it’s intent and plain statements.
    —NO reference to Passover here. In fact, there were multiple annual feasts ordained when Israel had departed into the wilderness. And there were many informal feasts to the Lord, including the daily feeding on the manna.
    —There is no unambiguous implication the sons and daughters are expected to do whatever adults do; no more than the flocks and herds are expected to. God was deliberately vague with Pharaoh anyway, and Pharaoh resented this rival claim to possession of this people.
    —There are no comments whatever about other expectations that should accrue to whomsoever was called to participation. Perhaps the sons and daughters have to grow up a little! This is not a text that teaches the nature of the feast, qualifications for engagement, the manner of that engagement, or a host of other details.
    —The point of the text is an appeal to Pharaoh to release his grip entirely, so that the whole people-and-property may evacuate. On the other hand, it certainly operates on a head-of-household mentality.
    —The feast is utterly without specificity, nor could there be any specificity since none had yet been ordained; and neither were there any laws concerning cleanliness (other than circumcision). Multiple feasts and specifics are ordained later.

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  60. “Exodus 12:3 “Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household. 4 ‘Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb. 5 ‘Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 ‘You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight.” RS: Some of the households were too small for some lambs. This certainly seems to lead to the deduction that members of the household (women and children) were part of eating that lamb.”

    The thrust of the text is the expectation that a lamb should ordinarily suffice per discrete family unit. The prevalence of the condition that houses were too small for the meat of a small animal argues equally as well in favor of the idea that the number of participants was limited, thus justifying sharing the meal according to the number of “souls”–Moses’ exact term. Once again, when we investigate the text itself for the stipulated participants, we look in vain for inclusions other than mandatory circumcision, and later on all having all other ceremonial cleanness–a requirement that assumes the capacity for self-examination; which also the term “soul” implied.

    I have to say, I’m amazed, Richard the Baptist, at your willingness to grant on the flimsiest of grounds the broadest “household” reading of the text. What? in the OT, “household” means any-and-every inclusivity you can think of; and in the NT it must exclude the baptism of children? The Reformed try to avoid bringing to the text unwarranted categorical thinking, hoping to find the text forming our categories.

    Another problem here is not distinguishing between the instructions for Passover at the head of Ex.12, and the separate words of institution respecting the memorial meal and feast, at the end of Ex.12/beg. of Ex.13. We mayn’t assume that whatever the inaugural Passover included, the memorial Passover must as well. It’s apparent the memorial meal was NOT eaten in haste, with clothes tied up, staff in hand, and sandals on. The memorial meal has a deliberate, interpretive, ritual cast assigned to it.

    Covenant-theology isn’t a simplistic view of socio-religious solidarity, from which starting point we then read various texts for permissions to do this and that. Above all, we’re interested in what the text actually says. We don’t want to read biblical narrative or didactics with a heavy overlay of existential expectations. We don’t baptize infants because we are covenant-theologians, but because the didactics of Gen.17 still carry normative force with us, modified by NT rescriptions. We don’t feed the Lord’s Supper to our children, and we do feed it to Christian women, because the NT didactics are that explicit and OC didactics demanded the same self-examination; and not because we can find any clear example of women eating the OT Passover.

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  61. “II Chr 35:4 “Prepare yourselves by your fathers’ households in your divisions, according to the writing of David king of Israel and according to the writing of his son Solomon. 5 “Moreover, stand in the holy place according to the sections of the fathers’ households of your brethren the lay people, and according to the Levites, by division of a father’s household. 6 “Now slaughter the Passover animals, sanctify yourselves and prepare for your brethren to do according to the word of the LORD by Moses.” 7 Josiah contributed to the lay people, to all who were present, flocks of lambs and young goats, all for the Passover offerings, numbering 30,000 plus 3,000 bulls; these were from the king’s possessions.” RS: I would argue that the evidence is quite clear that women and children did eat of the Passover. I would also argue that we have no evidence of a female being baptized as far as a clear command or example. While Venema argues that young people did not eat it, I would argue based on the Scriptures given here and others that the Scriptures do give us evidence that they did.”

    What is in the passage teaching what you’ve just claimed for it? I am seriously curious to know your manner of thought. There is literally NOTHING at all that I can see in this text that says one thing about women and children. And your comment about the Bible lacking female baptism is without the slightest merit. Acts 16:15 reads, “she was baptized!”

    I understand that Baptists believe Presbyterians read-into the text of the NT sanction for baptizing their infants. But at least we have concrete examples of infants being treated with by the Covenant of Grace in the OT, together with our Lord’s express inclusion of them in the NT, Lk.18:15-17. The argument for women and children eating the Passover has even less support in the actual text of Scripture. It is pure inference regarding the text of the OT, to say nothing of the NT.

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  62. RS: But of course, Doug, there are a few other issues at hand. If all the children of believers are in the New Covenant, then the promises of the New Covenant (Heb 8:8-13) are theirs and they are certainly saved.

    Me: They are, if they apprehend the promises by faith!

    Richard, classic reformed theology sees the time of the law, and the time of grace; as the same covenant of grace; just a different administration. The law promised salvation, and Christ delivered. We now rest in his completed work, rather than looking ahead to the promise. But both administrations are the same covenant in substance, and both have members that fall away, see Judas. Both administrations have people who partake of the Holy Spirit, for a time, but then fall away denying the Lord, they once claimed saved them. Neither group were ever born of God; see Hebrews 6

    And as you should know by now, I don’t believe the Mosaic covenant was a republication of the covenant of works! That is a minority view within a tiny segment of the reformed community, soundly refuted by the WCF. This is one big reason why I lock horns with DGH who holds to that specious view, as does my brother Todd; sorry Todd but I still love you bro!

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  63. I love Richard Smith’s honesty! I may not agree with all his takes, but he has a principled biblical reason why he believes what he believes.

    Keep pressing on!

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  64. Jed, why worry about harsh sanctions that are against God’s nature? Where in God’s word, did God judge a child and damn him for anything? God understand’s covenant protection better than we do. Children are both called holy and clean (by God) under the covering of *one* believing parent. The warning from Paul on the Lord’s table was to adults who should know better, not to little children. That alone should make us think twice, before depriving our young from their rightful meal. Are they in, or are they out of the covenant? If there in, I say let them eat!

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  65. Todd, David said “you made me trust you on my mothers breasts,” Psalms 22:9

    There is such a thing as seed faith, David affirms that he trusted God before he could fully understand the plan of salvation. (you know, the ordo and stuff) John the Baptist leaped for joy in his mother’s tummy. It’s common among reformed scholars to think regeneration normally happens at baptism, but not always. Regardless, Scripture is clear that God can save even before birth imho.

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  66. Doug,

    I realize that God is not likely to damn a child for partaking, generally because they only do so at their parents behest – making the parent the responsible charge. Improper use of the sacraments is not an unpardonable sin, but it is a sin nonetheless. Given the importance of the sacraments, I think we need a little more caution than you seem to portray here, especially since the warning concerning misuse of the sacraments are attached uniquely to the meal, and not to baptism. We should have an affirmative case as to why the instructions for discernment and caution in 1 Corinthians 11 does not extend to covenant children, before we presume upon the meal in such a way.

    But, the supposed link between paedocomunion that Richard is alleging, while having some prima facie appeal, simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. By baptizing our children, we are merely acknowledging that they are members of the covenant community, and that the relation between the sign and the thing signified (salvation, cleansing from sin), ordinarily accompanies salvation, to which the child is accountable to respond in faith.However, in administering paedocommunion, the covenant parents and the permitting minister are guilty of presuming too much. The meal is for those like Paul says, is for those who can discern the meal, who essentially by virtue of their faith have a right to the table, and a duty to partake as Scripture prescribes. What it appears like to me is that in administering communion to children who are not of sufficient age to make a credible profession, is an assumption – in the absence of profession – that the child is regenerate, and possesses the faith that can then be strengthened by the body and blood. In a very real way, the meal is a token of assurance that we belong to Christ, and he to us because his body and blood are offered to us, signifying all of the saving benefits he accomplished. Can those who have not professed reasonably be considered to have assurance.

    While as a parent, I can understand the motivation, to me paedocommunion is nothing more than wishful thinking and presumption where the parents attempt to appropriate the sign and seal of redemption upon their children. Why not instead trust the Lord’s work, and the promises of baptism to yield the fruit of faith in due time – since this is at the core of what we believe baptism to be as confessing Reformed Christians.

    Doesn’t Scripture tell us, But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13 ESV)

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  67. Zrim: Richard, you are forgetting the branch of PBs/CCs who hold that there are two ways of being in the NC, namely outwardly and inwardly. Ordinarily, covenant children are in the NC as outward members and so receive the sign of baptism to mark them accordingly–which whatever else it does, it guards against sacerdotalism that collapses the outward and inward and out pops baptismal regeneration. They are then nurtured in catechism until it is naturally evidenced that they are also inward members, at which time they come to the table.

    RS: While many may teach that there are inward members and outward members, Scripture does not know of any outward members in the New Covenant. All those in the New Covenant are forgiven of their sin and have the law in their inward being (Hebrews 8).

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  68. Bruce quoting “RS: But in the NT when it is said that Jesus fed five thousand men, that does not mean that there were not women and children. They were simply viewed as in the same household.”

    Bruce: This is an unsubstantiated claim. The point made in the text is that the size of the crowd was about 5000 MEN, χωρις γυναικων και παιδιων, an aside found only in Mt.14 and none of the other three Gospels. Why does Matthew (alone) so declare? The word χωρις can also mean “away from;” so, is his intent to clarify that this (and again in Mt.15) was a male-only crowd?

    RS: I don’t think that my claim is completely unsubstantiated. It is clear in Matthew 14 that there were 5,000 men who ate separate from the women and children. The language sure indicates that the women and children ate food as well. The alternative (your position seems to imply) is that Jesus felt compassion on the men only but not the women and children and fed the men and left the women and the children hungry. I suppose one could also argue that the other passages that speak of men only would tell us that only the men were seeking to hear from Christ.

    Bruce: In any case, χωρις is an indication that one might have seen a smattering of the others present; but the purpose of the words is manifestly not in order that the reader or listener should conclude that there was 2X, 3X, or 10X the counted number of people who were fed. That is simply overreading the text. If any additional persons had added significantly to the total, the miracle would have been that much more impressive.

    RS: But again, did only the men follow Jesus and did Jesus only have compassion on the males?

    Bruce: And besides, what are you (a Baptist) doing making a “household” argument for anything?!?!

    RS: When it is helpful to make a position I use it. But remember, I am not arguing that Jesus baptized all the household and that infants and unbelievers are holy because of one of the spouses that is a believer, but that He simply fed them. I don’t argue in the household baptisms listed in Scritpure that Paul only fed the adult males either. : – )

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  69. Thanks for your irenic response, I need to take heed of your example.

    Jed, quick question: Are you willing to admit that children in the Mosaic administration partook of Christ in Passover? If yes, then what is the fundamental difference between difference between the two sacraments? Are they both partaking of the Christ?

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  70. Bruce quoting “RS: The passages of Scripture in the OT that seem to be clear on families eating the Passover meal seem to sure lead us to the belief that children at it at times. Then when the Scriptures speak of men eating the Passover and being called to eat it, the clearer passages would lead us to deduce that the men stood for their households.”

    Bruce: Once again, we have to try to separate what we EXPECT the text to teach us from a patient listening to it. We can never escape the fact that we bring assumptions with us, but we should work to distinguish an inference from a proposition or a deduction. I also see your reasoning is inverted. What is “clearer:” an explicit statement about who is partaking, or passages that “imply” (allegedly) a wide inclusion?

    RS: I would argue that the explicit passages do teach that the infants are partaking. I would also argue that one can expect to find something and one can also expect not to find something. Nevertheless, a teaching of Scripture should include the context and a context gives the passage more explanatory power rather than just one sentence that is explicit.

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  71. Bruce: “Exodus 10:8 So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh, and he said to them, “Go, serve the LORD your God! Who are the ones that are going?” 9 Moses said, “We shall go with our young and our old; with our sons and our daughters, with our flocks and our herds we shall go, for we must hold a feast to the LORD.” RS: The sons and daughters had to go so that they could be part of the feast to the LORD.”

    Bruce: I judge this text to be singularly irrelevant, because the support asked from it is many steps removed from both it’s intent and plain statements.

    RS: “You shall not judge” something to be irrelevant because you think it is too far removed from plain statements. They wanted to take the animals to have a sacrifice and they took the children to partake of the feast with them. Take a few steps back and look again.

    Bruce: —NO reference to Passover here. In fact, there were multiple annual feasts ordained when Israel had departed into the wilderness. And there were many informal feasts to the Lord, including the daily feeding on the manna.

    RS: True enough that there is no explicit reference to Passover here. However, it seems the most likely feast that they would celebrate after they had been delivered.

    Bruce: —There is no unambiguous implication the sons and daughters are expected to do whatever adults do; no more than the flocks and herds are expected to. God was deliberately vague with Pharaoh anyway, and Pharaoh resented this rival claim to possession of this people.

    RS: Okay, but apply this to baptism when you get there as well.

    Bruce: —There are no comments whatever about other expectations that should accrue to whomsoever was called to participation. Perhaps the sons and daughters have to grow up a little! This is not a text that teaches the nature of the feast, qualifications for engagement, the manner of that engagement, or a host of other details.

    RS: But the details about the Passover were given later and they were commanded to keep that feast as a remembrance. They were commanded to keep this when they entered the land that the Lord had given them. True enough this could point only to the Promised Land, but they were commanded to do this in the future. Then you have the celebration of the Israelites after they went over. I would think that the preponderance of the evidence is that they did have a feast that in some way was a celebration of the Passover.

    Bruce: —The point of the text is an appeal to Pharaoh to release his grip entirely, so that the whole people-and-property may evacuate. On the other hand, it certainly operates on a head-of-household mentality.
    —The feast is utterly without specificity, nor could there be any specificity since none had yet been ordained; and neither were there any laws concerning cleanliness (other than circumcision). Multiple feasts and specifics are ordained later.

    RS: So the only feast that was commanded at the time was the Passover feast and they were commanded to do this as a remembrance.

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  72. Doug: According to Paul, *everyone* including the children ate spiritual food and drink, as the Rock was Christ. Is Paul against us Protestants? And since God saw fit to allow *all* his covenant people to partake of him in spiritual food and drink, why not now?

    Todd: Again, the point is not who ate manna and drank from the river in the OC. The point is, who was able to receive spiritual benefit from discerning past the symbols of the manna and water to the spiritual realities? Were the babies who drank the water? And if you are arguing that infants who ate a bit of manna were receiving the spiritual benefits of the covenant of grace, well that’s what RC’s believe about infant baptism. The frightening aspect of paedo-communion is not that a one-year old is allowed to eat a piece of bread, it is that through this ritual eating PC’s think their children are receiving Christ himself, which is sacerdotalism.

    Doug: There is such a thing as seed faith, David affirms that he trusted God before he could fully understand the plan of salvation. (you know, the ordo and stuff) John the Baptist leaped for joy in his mother’s tummy. It’s common among reformed scholars to think regeneration normally happens at baptism, but not always. Regardless, Scripture is clear that God can save even before birth imho.

    Todd: Again, the question is not “when does God regenerate people?” Just because a baby may be regenerated doesn’t give that baby the rights to every privilege in the church (Do your covenant babies vote for a new pastor?) The question is, what does the NT teach about how the Supper confirms faith, the requirements for taking Communion, and warnings against taking it wrongly?

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  73. Jed, can’t the child’s believing parent cover him until he is able to discern the Lord’s body? Isn’t the child *clean* because of their belief? And if clean and holy, shouldn’t he be fed Spiritual food? Isn’t that what took place during the time of the law? Didn’t all of Israel partake of Christ?

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  74. Todd, I don’t want to be glib, but I didn’t think eating was a privilege. And no, I wouldn’t care to hear your little two year old preach a sermon ;). But I was under the impression that we are to *presume* our children are regenerate until proven otherwise. Being in the covenant means they partake of Christ, covenantally, for blessings or for curses regardless, and not just in communion. When we (the local church) praise God corporately he inhabits the praises of his people. (Even our children) Everyone who is in the church partakes of Christ in some ways, even the reprobate-see Hebrews 6.

    This is why Paul tells us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, knowing it’s Christ who is working in and through us, for his good pleasure.

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  75. Doug,

    Whether or not children partook of the covenant meal under the old administration doesn’t settle the matter at all. The reason why is that while there are certainly continuities between the Old and New Covenants, there are also discontinuities. For instance, circumcision, the sign of the Old was for males only, yet we baptize both male and female. And, even though there is a sense in which the children who ate manna and partook of the Passover partook of Christ, this does not change the fact that NT instruction on the Lord’s Supper is pretty clear – clearer in terms of direct instruction than even baptism. So I think that however much you want to draw this discussion into the OT, which is warranted, our understanding of communion has to account for how it is discussed in NT teaching.

    I am beginning to observe some contours in your thinking here that I might not have seen before. But I think you, and correct me if I am wrong, are seeing almost total continuity between the covenants, so much so that the sacraments for both aren’t rough, but close to exact equivalents. Maybe this is owing to your theonomic tendencies, maybe not. From where I sit, I think you are running the exegetical risk of collapsing the biblical covenants, and in doing so tend to smooth out the distinctives of each. But, I think that we need to allow the NT to demonstrate how the New Covenant is new, and while founded upon the Old and demonstrating major strands of continuity with it. The New is also engaging in eschatological innovation that is setting out to establish the foundation upon which the church comprised of both Jew and Gentiles will be built up in the interadvental age. This is different than the purpose of the OC, which is instructing Israel on how to live godly lives in the Promised Land.

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  76. Doug,

    Jed, can’t the child’s believing parent cover him until he is able to discern the Lord’s body? Isn’t the child *clean* because of their belief? And if clean and holy, shouldn’t he be fed Spiritual food? Isn’t that what took place during the time of the law? Didn’t all of Israel partake of Christ?

    This all depends on inferences you are making outside 1 Cor. 11 that basically exempt the child from doing the very thing Paul is calling the Corinthians to regarding communion: discern the body and blood. It seems to me you are making all of your arguments for paedocommunion outside the most clear passage in the NT on the practice of communion. What you are arguing is, in some sense plausible, but I think it is all too inferentially based, lacks exegetical necessity, which I think you are going to need to introduce some form of exemption clause to the clearest teaching (1 Cor 11) on the matter.

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  77. Far from being soundly refuted, the WCF 19.2 explicitly affirms Sinai as a republication of the COW. Charles Hodge in his 1 Corinthians commentary lays it out as a given without a single hint of there ever having been a controversy over it. And besides what does being a “minority view within a tiny segment of the reformed community” have to do with it? Aside from being a fallacious argument, it seems odd for this “weapon” to be used by a theonomist.

    And I have yet to see any convincing exegetical proof that the Passover meal and the Lord’s Supper belong in the same discussion. For starters, what covenant was inaugurated at Passover?

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  78. My point above about Charles Hodge is apposite because he makes a habit in his commentaries of bringing forth competing views whenever they press on his own. And on “republication” he mentions none.

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  79. “Exodus 12:3 “Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household. 4 ‘Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb. 5 ‘Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 ‘You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight.”
    RS: Some of the households were too small for some lambs. This certainly seems to lead to the deduction that members of the household (women and children) were part of eating that lamb.”

    Bruce: The thrust of the text is the expectation that a lamb should ordinarily suffice per discrete family unit. The prevalence of the condition that houses were too small for the meat of a small animal argues equally as well in favor of the idea that the number of participants was limited, thus justifying sharing the meal according to the number of “souls”–Moses’ exact term. Once again, when we investigate the text itself for the stipulated participants, we look in vain for inclusions other than mandatory circumcision, and later on all having all other ceremonial cleanness–a requirement that assumes the capacity for self-examination; which also the term “soul” implied.

    I have to say, I’m amazed, Richard the Baptist, at your willingness to grant on the flimsiest of grounds the broadest “household” reading of the text. What? in the OT, “household” means any-and-every inclusivity you can think of; and in the NT it must exclude the baptism of children? The Reformed try to avoid bringing to the text unwarranted categorical thinking, hoping to find the text forming our categories.

    RS: It would appear that you are coming to the text looking for an explicit statement rather than what the Scripture actually gives, so I would argue that you are looking for something that Scripture does not always give. We must look to Scripture to give us what it gives in the manner it gives it. If we place the demand that an explicit teaching must be there, then we are putting a demand on the text that the text does not always obey. In other words, you may be bringing your own unwarranted categorical thinking to the text with your expectations. God speaks as He has spoken.

    I am simply unsure why you think that I am using the flimsiest of grounds when the text in its own context is not flimsy at all. It may not provide you with the absolute certainty that you hunger for, but that hunger for certainty from each text does not mean that God is not speaking in that text. As for the NT household texts, surely you would agree that there is a New Covenant now and that we should allow the New Testament texts define the ones in the New Covenant. I am saying that the Old Testament texts when read in an Old Testament setting are indeed different than the New Testament setting and involve other situations. For example, if you keep reading in the New Testament about baptisms you will find that the context will fill you in on the people in the household. The Old Testament text in question here also tells us that there were children and they were to be included and you say they were not, but the New Testament does not mention children and you say that they were. I guess I am amazed at your position at this point.

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  80. Bruce: Covenant-theology isn’t a simplistic view of socio-religious solidarity, from which starting point we then read various texts for permissions to do this and that. Above all, we’re interested in what the text actually says.

    RS: Which, of course, is what I am trying to get you to see. However, a text has its context and it is within that context that the meaning is seen. Your are imposing your view of a need for a text to be explicit, which in the ends will lead you to very little information.

    Bruce: We don’t want to read biblical narrative or didactics with a heavy overlay of existential expectations.

    RS: Fine, but what if the text gives existential expectations? Aside from what you want to read or not want to read, we must bow before the text we actually have.

    Bruce: We don’t baptize infants because we are covenant-theologians, but because the didactics of Gen.17 still carry normative force with us, modified by NT rescriptions.

    RS: But you have asserted that you must have explicit teachings to do so. Why not let the New Covenant teaching about the New Covenant inform you of the subjects of baptism? You don’t have one explicit text that teaches you that you should baptize children and you don’t have one explicit text giving you an example of a baptism of children. So it appears that you want something to be explicit when you want it to be explicit and then you fail to apply that in other areas.

    Bruce: We don’t feed the Lord’s Supper to our children, and we do feed it to Christian women, because the NT didactics are that explicit and OC didactics demanded the same self-examination; and not because we can find any clear example of women eating the OT Passover.

    RS: But the command to baptize is the command to baptize disciples. Now there is the explicit command. But of course I don’t think that the Supper should be given to unbelieving children, but I am not sure how you can avoid that conclusion. The real self-examination of the Passover was whether you were Jewish as opposed to an uncircumcised person. All those who were brought out of Egypt were brought out whether they were believers or not and so they could have a remembrance of being brought out. Women and infants were brought out and so they had a remembrance of the Exodus. In the New Covenant all those who are brought out of the slavery to sin have a remembrance as well, but it is only those who have been brought out. Again, though you appear allergic to the idea of consistency, I would simply say that God is consistent and writes His Word to us in a consistent manner.

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  81. “II Chr 35:4 “Prepare yourselves by your fathers’ households in your divisions, according to the writing of David king of Israel and according to the writing of his son Solomon. 5 “Moreover, stand in the holy place according to the sections of the fathers’ households of your brethren the lay people, and according to the Levites, by division of a father’s household. 6 “Now slaughter the Passover animals, sanctify yourselves and prepare for your brethren to do according to the word of the LORD by Moses.” 7 Josiah contributed to the lay people, to all who were present, flocks of lambs and young goats, all for the Passover offerings, numbering 30,000 plus 3,000 bulls; these were from the king’s possessions.”
    RS: I would argue that the evidence is quite clear that women and children did eat of the Passover. I would also argue that we have no evidence of a female being baptized as far as a clear command or example. While Venema argues that young people did not eat it, I would argue based on the Scriptures given here and others that the Scriptures do give us evidence that they did.”

    Bruce: What is in the passage teaching what you’ve just claimed for it? I am seriously curious to know your manner of thought. There is literally NOTHING at all that I can see in this text that says one thing about women and children.

    RS: I am again just a bit amazed myself at your comments here (I don’t mean that in a mean way). If you are looking for the meaning of a text and can see beyong the need for an explicit statement, it appears so clear. The people were to stand in the divisions of their father’s households. If no one but the men were there, then was there a real need to speak of the households? Then we see that it was given to ALL who were present.

    Bruce: And your comment about the Bible lacking female baptism is without the slightest merit. Acts 16:15 reads, “she was baptized!”

    RS: Yes, you are correct there. Too much water on the brain? I think I would be correct in saying that there is no direct command or example of a female at the Table. In other words, if you must have explicit teaching, you would fail at that poing.

    Bruce: I understand that Baptists believe Presbyterians read-into the text of the NT sanction for baptizing their infants.

    RS: Yes, that is partially correct. But more than just read into the text, bring things into the text.

    Bruce: But at least we have concrete examples of infants being treated with by the Covenant of Grace in the OT, together with our Lord’s express inclusion of them in the NT, Lk.18:15-17.

    RS: Speaking of an explicit teaching, where is the explicit teaching in that text that the children were baptized? Speaking of reading into the text, here is one example. Notice that in the Luke text people “were even bringing their babies to Him.” But they did not bring the babies to Him so that He would baptize them, but so that He would touch them. Then, as I am sure you know, the Greek word changes from “infants” to “children.” Now what is it in this text that justifies the baptism of infants? The kingdom of God belongs to those who enter it “like a child” and not as a child.

    As for infants in the Covenant of Grace in the OT, what we do see is that in the OT there is a New Covenant in the future. What we do see in the OT is that children were part of the nation of Israel.

    Luke 18:15 And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them. 16 But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”

    Bruce: The argument for women and children eating the Passover has even less support in the actual text of Scripture. It is pure inference regarding the text of the OT, to say nothing of the NT.

    RS: What you are saying, then, is that there are no explicit statements in the OT that convince you that women and children ate the Passover. But you really don’t want to follow that hermeneutic too far, or at least you don’t when you get into the New Covenant. But we should simply read the texts in their contexts and read them as they are given rather than expecting them to say or not say what we want or not want in the language we want.

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  82. Jed Paschall: But, the supposed link between paedocomunion that Richard is alleging, while having some prima facie appeal, simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. By baptizing our children, we are merely acknowledging that they are members of the covenant community, and that the relation between the sign and the thing signified (salvation, cleansing from sin), ordinarily accompanies salvation, to which the child is accountable to respond in faith.

    RS: So the infants and children who were actually brought out of the slavery of Egypt were not allowed to have the meal that celebrated and remembered that and yet children who are baptized as a sign of the promise to be brought out of the bondage of sin may not actually be brought out of the bondage of sin? What do you mean that the child is accountable to respond in faith? Has God done all He can do and now it is all left up to the child to respond in faith?

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  83. RS: So the infants and children who were actually brought out of the slavery of Egypt were not allowed to have the meal that celebrated and remembered that and yet children who are baptized as a sign of the promise to be brought out of the bondage of sin may not actually be brought out of the bondage of sin? What do you mean that the child is accountable to respond in faith? Has God done all He can do and now it is all left up to the child to respond in faith?

    Good point Richard! This just goes to show we should be giving our children the covenant meal, if they are really in the covenant. I think this is a pretty big deal, and if Paul wanted children to wait, then he would have said so! You guys are having to make an inference off of an assumption! If Paul really felt that children should wait, then he wouldn’t have had to go about it in such a complex way. What is the anti-type of Passover? Why the Lord’s table! If children were allowed in one, unless there is explicit instruction, then let’s feed the young lambs. I don’t like making a binding inference off of an assumption predicated on fear. Not a good combo.

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  84. Bruce, touché on my minority crack; guilty as charged lol!

    .What I meant by republication is that *some* teach the Mosaic covenant was a republication of the covenant of works, and by that they mean it was not the same covenant in substance as the new, God forbid! That view is a repudiation of the WCF which explicitly calls them, the same covenant in substance just different administrations.

    Some teach that the Mosaic Covenant was a works righteousness arrangement. I believe Meredith Kline may have finally fallen in the category, (although I’m not sure) when he walked away from our Confession. In his later years he views the law was a fundamentally different covenant than the new. The men who penned the WCF believed both the Mosaic and new covenants were the same in substance, both administrations of grace.

    What happened on Sinai was an administration of grace; it’s the same covenant in substance as the new. Yes God did republish his law, the same law he wrote on our hearts when he created Adam. But because of sin we often don’t see the law aright. So God gave us blessed specificity, how gracious! It was not a mixed covenant according to the WCF.

    So the Mosaic covenant was a gracious administration at its core that presented the gospel in promise, types, and shadows all pointing to Christ. The Law presupposed that no one could keep the law perfectly, and gave sacraments and sacrifices which were types of Christ that covered their sins, when appropriated by faith! A faithful Israeli could walk in God’s commandments, blamelessly! See John the Baptists parents. The Law was fundamentally gracious in that it was not against the promise! No conflict allowed! It showed salvation was by grace though faith. It exhibited Christ, when seen through eyes of faith.

    When Christ came in the flesh and accomplished redemption, the shadows had to be set aside, (ceremonial law) also because Christ created one new man in place of the two! No longer are men to be divided by Jew and Gentile, now all believers are one in Christ.

    We rest in his completed work, and press on to the higher calling found in Christ Jesus. But we have the same moral standard as Israel did. Our ethics have not changed one iota! And if we refuse to walk by faith, Jesus will confront us to our face!! See Revelations chapter’s two and three!

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  85. mikelmann:

    “But I was convinced it was my job to lead the family and I thought about “25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her.” So I told her we were staying and that was that. It took her a while, but after a while she “got it,” and, if I get run over by a truck tomorrow I’m confident she would stay.”

    Thank you for an example of real life application of leadership in the home.

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  86. What do you mean that the child is accountable to respond in faith? Has God done all He can do and now it is all left up to the child to respond in faith?

    Richard, instead of implying latent Arminianism, I would think that as a Baptist you’d be happy for the Reformed to show that we recognize a place for personal faith on the part of the covenantal child. But, no, grace is indeed the efficacious power to both create that faith and the power that affirms that faith in the sacraments.

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  87. Todd opines: In other words, though Passover and other OC meals were shadows of the Lord’s Supper, we do not allow the type to interpret the fulfillment for us.

    I’ve thought about this proposition, but is it true? How would we understand the Lord Jesus work at Calvary without the book of Leviticus? Doesn’t Leviticus give us the meaning of Christ’s saving work? Take away the law, and how would we understand what Christ accomplished? Moreover when Paul explains Christ’s saving work, doesn’t he use old testament imagery to instruct us?

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  88. 1) When and how did Meredith Kline “walk away” from our confession?
    2) According to WCF 19, it’s the ceremonial law that prefigures Christ. How on earth are you construing Sinai to do so?
    3) Why are you using “grace” and “gracious” as if they are univocal? Isn’t that just sloppy?

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  89. Doug, the way you argue for the law, I’d have thought you’d be a fan of republication. It’s not just that the Sinaitic Covenant for you is another indication, along with the covenant of works, of the importance of the law. But you also think the law continues to be binding in the new covenant. In fact, you’re whole view of the law as gracious republishes the covenant of works in all periods of redemptive history.

    After all, you said that the way the kingdom advances is by covenant faithfulness and obedience. That was true for Adam, Moses, and now for us. And you’re opposed to republication? Why? It gets you out of bed.

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  90. DGH, because I believe both the Mosaic, and New covenant are one covenant of grace, the same in substance. I believe that the Mosaic Law was to be apprehended by faith just like the Gospel is today. I’ll be the first to admit there have been marvelous advancements in progress of salvation, and we are no longer under the yoke of the Mosaic administration, but our ethical standard is the same, and the moral law is still our rule of life.

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  91. Doug: I’ve thought about this proposition, but is it true? How would we understand the Lord Jesus work at Calvary without the book of Leviticus? Doesn’t Leviticus give us the meaning of Christ’s saving work? Take away the law, and how would we understand what Christ accomplished? Moreover when Paul explains Christ’s saving work, doesn’t he use old testament imagery to instruct us?

    Todd: Doug, I wasn’t suggesting we ignore the Old Testament or that the OT is not instructive in helping us understand theology. Sorry of that’s how it came across. I am saying that we do not interpret the NT through the grid of the OT, but the other way around. The OT is a mystery, the NT reveals how to understand the mystery. So in our case, we do not interpret the understanding of the Lord’s Supper through the grid of how Israel observed the Passover. While we glean insights into the theology of the NC meal though studying OC meals, we look to the clear NT instructions of how to understand and partake of the Supper for our instructions, and it will not always correspond to the way OC meals were observed.

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  92. Thanks Todd, I would be a lot more convinced if Paul mentioned children; he didn’t! Can we agree that children partaking of the Lord’s table is a big deal? Then why didn’t Paul see fit to mention children if they were to wait? It seems to me, *we* (the reformed community) are making a rule off an inference based on a assumption, that is dubious. Making children wait sounds like the same rational that Richard Smith uses in withholding the table from those, who might not be walking in faith. Based on the fear, that they will be eating in an unworthy manner. Yet Paul never once asked the Elders to withhold the table from anyone!

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  93. Bruce Settergren
    Posted March 3, 2013 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    1) When and how did Meredith Kline “walk away” from our confession?
    2) According to WCF 19, it’s the ceremonial law that prefigures Christ. How on earth are you construing Sinai to do so?
    3) Why are you using “grace” and “gracious” as if they are univocal? Isn’t that just sloppy?

    Who knows, I’ve skipped over 1,000,000 words on threads regarding these matters. All answers are the same and endlessly repeated, going nowhere.

    I guess some people make a living (or don’t have to make a living) going over and over and over the same things endlessly, not even caring to find an answer.

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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  94. Richard,
    That (those) may be the wordiest response ever, that yet managed to be content-free.

    I’m definitely not going to respond to every windy point you made above. Just point out:
    —No exegesis.
    —No counter-exegesis (a general reframing of YOUR chosen passages along the lines you chose).
    —No refutation of any pillar of my argument.

    Among your many errors:
    The Exodus (inaugural) Passover was manifestly NOT eaten in the wilderness; and there is no legit. way to retrofit its observance into the general call of God (Ex.5:1, 7:16, 10:9, etc.) to let his people go out in order to feast/celebrate with him. The demand escalates further (if possible) in 10:26, “…not a hoof.” The Passover and its stipulations isn’t even contemplated by the text until the deliverance requires the death of the firstborns in all Egypt, and a ransom for Israel’s life. Sorry, your read of 10:9 as a reference to Passover is eisegetical wishful thinking.

    Bottom line is: I don’t even have to deny that the “house” you point at in 2Chr.35 could have had women standing there, as it were in the ranks of the holy army. Their physical presence on that occasion does not undercut the points on which I rest my case. Mary habitually accompanied her husband to Jerusalem, Lk.2:41. Husbands, wives, and children were among Jesus’ entourage on his way to Jerusalem, Mk.10:1-16, and the final Passover.

    You still haven’t placed them at the table.

    The uncontested facts of Scripture are these:
    1) The ordinances of God are not optional, Lev.23:29; Num.9:13, etc.
    2) No woman–NONE–were commanded to be present for the three annual Israelite feasts, and the men were–explicitly.
    3) Divine provision was made for a 1X do-over opportunity (2nd mo.) Passover, in order to overcome ritual impurity, so this feast might not be missed by a few stragglers. Special needs of women were never considered.
    4) Women stayed home–frequently–at pilgrimage season, 1Sam.1:22, whether for taking care of the kids and the homestead, or because of ritual impurity.
    5) Participants in the Passover were required to be circumcised.
    5) Jesus does not appear to have accompanied his parents at Passover season until he was 12yrs.
    6) The most minutely-attested Passover-event in Scripture–the Last One–had no women in evidence.

    I’m afraid the best you can say is that ritually pure Old Covenant women and children conceivably might have been admitted to join their fathers and brothers-of-age at Passover; which permission you get by imagining a social-theory, and fitting them in around all the requirements and exclusions that are actually in the text.

    By the way, this process is not the way C-T justifies infant baptism. And each time you assert that it does, you only show how you force your own hermeneutical grid upon others, and seem surprised at their incongruous conclusions.

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  95. Bruce wants to know;

    1) When and how did Meredith Kline “walk away” from our confession?

    https://sites.google.com/site/themosaiccovenant/Home/meredith-g-kline

    You will see Kline says the Mosaic covenant is against faith and grace! God forbid! That is out of bounds from our Confession!

    2) According to WCF 19, it’s the ceremonial law that prefigures Christ. How on earth are you construing Sinai to do so?

    I was referring to the Mosaic covenant in general, which is an administration of the covenant of grace.

    3) Why are you using “grace” and “gracious” as if they are univocal? Isn’t that just sloppy?

    I was emphasizing that the instruction, you know, all the minute detail found in the Law was gracious. All too often I hear, “all that picky, picky law, like it was a pain in the (you know what) I was not confusing saving grace, with God graciously giving instruction in his law, sorry if I came off that way.

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  96. Regarding republication, does anyone have any comments on the CPJ 2012 article exchange? I enjoyed Fesko’s historical treatments of justification, baptism, and interpreting Genesis, and my understanding of the last two topics are influenced heavily by his work. Still, Venema’s response to his historical treatment of republication appeared devastating.

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  97. “You shall therefore keep the whole commandment that I command you today, that you may be strong, and go in and take possession of the land that you are going over to possess, and that you may live long in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give to them and to their offspring, a land flowing with milk and honey. For the land that you are entering to take possession of it is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and irrigated it, like a garden of vegetables. But the land that you are going over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain from heaven, a land that the LORD your God cares for. The eyes of the LORD your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.
    “And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil. And he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full. Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain, and the land will yield no fruit, and you will perish quickly off the good land that the LORD is giving you.

    (Deuteronomy 11:8-17 ESV)

    Sounds to me like staying in the land was conditional on obedience.

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  98. Can we not conceive of Jews who were kicked out of the land for (national) disobedience but who will nonetheless be in Heaven because they had true faith in Yahweh? Daniel was in exile but I expect to meet him in heaven.

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  99. Bruce: Richard, That (those) may be the wordiest response ever, that yet managed to be content-free.

    RS: Interesting reply, but your own argument (last part) is applied to your own position.

    Bruce: I’m definitely not going to respond to every windy point you made above. Just point out:
    —No exegesis.
    —No counter-exegesis (a general reframing of YOUR chosen passages along the lines you chose).
    —No refutation of any pillar of my argument.

    RS: So far I have not seen any real pillar of an argument. By the way, this is not a good place to do exegesis as such. I might also ask you if Jesus and Paul practiced the same form of exegesis that you do. Could it be that your version of what is proper exegesis is really a system that is placed on Scripture rather than derived from Scripture? Would that be bowing before exegesis over bowing to the teaching of Scripture? At least it is something you might think about.

    Bruce: Among your many errors:
    The Exodus (inaugural) Passover was manifestly NOT eaten in the wilderness; and there is no legit. way to retrofit its observance into the general call of God (Ex.5:1, 7:16, 10:9, etc.) to let his people go out in order to feast/celebrate with him. The demand escalates further (if possible) in 10:26, “…not a hoof.” The Passover and its stipulations isn’t even contemplated by the text until the deliverance requires the death of the firstborns in all Egypt, and a ransom for Israel’s life. Sorry, your read of 10:9 as a reference to Passover is eisegetical wishful thinking.

    RS: Wishful thinking? Now there is a real argument

    Bruce: Bottom line is: I don’t even have to deny that the “house” you point at in 2Chr.35 could have had women standing there, as it were in the ranks of the holy army. Their physical presence on that occasion does not undercut the points on which I rest my case. Mary habitually accompanied her husband to Jerusalem, Lk.2:41. Husbands, wives, and children were among Jesus’ entourage on his way to Jerusalem, Mk.10:1-16, and the final Passover.

    You still haven’t placed them at the table.

    RS: They have been placed at the table and your reponse has not shown otherwise. If you are looking for explicit statements according to your standards, then you will not be able to demonstrate that Christ died for you or for anyone else not specifically mentioned in Scripture. But again, read each text in its own context and ask yourself what the author is saying.

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  100. Bruce: The uncontested facts of Scripture are these:
    1) The ordinances of God are not optional, Lev.23:29; Num.9:13, etc.
    2) No woman–NONE–were commanded to be present for the three annual Israelite feasts, and the men were–explicitly.

    RS: Exodus 12:47 “All the congregation of Israel are to celebrate this.

    RS: But was the Passover included in the three annual feasts?
    2 Chronicles 8:13 and did so according to the daily rule, offering them up according to the commandment of Moses, for the sabbaths, the new moons and the three annual feasts– the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Booths.

    Exodus 12:47 “All the congregation of Israel are to celebrate this.

    Bruce: 3) Divine provision was made for a 1X do-over opportunity (2nd mo.) Passover, in order to overcome ritual impurity, so this feast might not be missed by a few stragglers. Special needs of women were never considered.

    RS: How inconsiderate. Exodus 12:47 “All the congregation of Israel are to celebrate this.

    Bruce: 4) Women stayed home–frequently–at pilgrimage season, 1Sam.1:22, whether for taking care of the kids and the homestead, or because of ritual impurity.

    RS: Exodus 12:47 “All the congregation of Israel are to celebrate this.

    5) Participants in the Passover were required to be circumcised.
    RS: Interesting, but Exodus 12:47 “All the congregation of Israel are to celebrate this.

    6) Jesus does not appear to have accompanied his parents at Passover season until he was 12yrs.
    RS: And we know this for certain how?
    Exodus 12:47 “All the congregation of Israel are to celebrate this.

    7) The most minutely-attested Passover-event in Scripture–the Last One–had no women in evidence.

    RS: So you are making the deduction that because you are certain that no woment were in attendance at the last one that this means that there were none all through the OT?

    Exodus 12:47 “All the congregation of Israel are to celebrate this.

    Bruce: I’m afraid the best you can say is that ritually pure Old Covenant women and children conceivably might have been admitted to join their fathers and brothers-of-age at Passover; which permission you get by imagining a social-theory, and fitting them in around all the requirements and exclusions that are actually in the text.

    RS: No, just noting the use of household as the Old Testament uses it in its own context.

    Bruce: By the way, this process is not the way C-T justifies infant baptism. And each time you assert that it does, you only show how you force your own hermeneutical grid upon others, and seem surprised at their incongruous conclusions.

    RS: I have been noting your inconsistent hermeneutic in this. You require very, very explicit statements of me when I am trying to show something from a context and yet you want to base your practice on something that has no explicit commands or examples. Be careful of judging the hermeneutical grid of others as it might judge you as well.

    Exodus 12:3 “Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household. 4 ‘Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb.
    5 ‘Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats.
    6 ‘You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight.
    7 ‘Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.
    8 ‘They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.
    9 ‘Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails.
    10 ‘And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire.
    11 ‘Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste– it is the LORD’S Passover.

    41 And at the end of four hundred and thirty years, to the very day, all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.
    42 It is a night to be observed for the LORD for having brought them out from the land of Egypt; this night is for the LORD, to be observed by all the sons of Israel throughout their generations.
    43 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the Passover: no foreigner is to eat of it;
    44 but every man’s slave purchased with money, after you have circumcised him, then he may eat of it.
    45 “A sojourner or a hired servant shall not eat of it.
    46 “It is to be eaten in a single house; you are not to bring forth any of the flesh outside of the house, nor are you to break any bone of it.
    47 “All the congregation of Israel are to celebrate this.

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  101. Erik observes “Sounds to me like staying in the land was conditional on obedience.”

    Very true Erik, precisely like it is today! Listen to the Lord Jesus warning the church of Ephesus:

    “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; and repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have, you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”

    Sounds like Jesus is getting ready to take his Spirit out the church of Ephesus! They were being warned by the Lord Jesus that they could lose there position in Ephesus for disobedience!

    Sound familiar? Do I hear an echo?

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  102. Erik summarizes, “If Israel had been more obedient to the Law would they have been able to stay in the promised land?”

    If Ephesus had been obedient to the gospel, (they lost their first love) they would have remained Jesus lampstand.

    Do I hear another echo? Can you see a parallel?

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  103. Erik expounds; “Can we not conceive of Jews who were kicked out of the land for (national) disobedience but who will nonetheless be in Heaven because they had true faith in Yahweh? Daniel was in exile but I expect to meet him in heaven.”

    I agree!

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  104. Doug, thanks.

    I have no problem affirming that the Old Covenant was one in substance with the New. What I specifically deny, together with most of the rest of the Reformed world, is that the judicial sanctions of the Old Covenant are present in the New, or should be desired as the laws of nations.

    If we’re going to cite Calvin in favor of “substantial unity of the covenants”, then we should also cite him on civil government. And he most definitely does not believe that OT civil penalties should carry over to the nations today.

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  105. Richard,
    By my count, you drop this reference: “Ex.12.47” a total of 7X into your response, and call it an argument. Is this a “trump” card?

    Apparently, you think that these words, “All the congregation of Israel are to celebrate this,” simply overturns any prima facie reading of several texts I’ve presented that make discrete and measurable propositional truth-claims.

    Here is the main issue that you do not address:
    According to ISBE, entry on “Congregation,” “These two words [ (קהל, ḳāhāl, עדה, ‛ēdhāh)] rendered by “congregation” or “assembly” are used apparently without any difference of sense. They appear to include an assembly of the whole people or any section that might be present on a given occasion.” According to Fausset’s Dictionary, the term “Congregation” may refer to the assembled leadership, its most likely meaning in Ex.12.3; cf. Num.10.3.

    Congregation is a collective term which is applied widely or narrowly in the biblical context; but whomever the subjects are, they are regarded under the religious, rather than a strictly political cast. To be admitted to or excluded from the congregation, was not synonymous with Israelite identity, see Dt.23:1ff. A man might be a full-blooded, circumcised Israelite (and devout, see Is.56:3), and be excluded from the congregation. Recognized members of a “congregation” (which varied in size) had to be religiously eligible. And that is not criteria that is determinable from the words “all the congregation.”

    In other words, a simple terminological assertion of control in this debate, that rests on a phrase (all the congregation) susceptible of a variety of interpretations (at least two in the same chapter!) is a bogus argument.

    If I’ve read you correctly, you make the claim that “all the congregation” in 12:47 is radically inclusive. You would even deny that it restricts participation to the clean Israelite! Amazing. There is no nuance to your judgment of the meaning of this one text, no possible limitations that either the context, or fuller statements elsewhere provide. This is your “trump” text.

    If we pause to actually examine the Passover regulations that stand in a whole from v43-v49, the purpose for the phrase “all the congregation” becomes clear, and recognizing the purpose for the phrase helps to clarify the precise meaning or nuance of the phrase in this context.

    First, list of people who may or may not eat this meal (though lesser personages than heads-of household are mentioned, no womenfolk are mentioned). Second, repeat of the one-roof gathering, indoor nature of the meal. Third, treatment of the sacrificial body. Fourth, mandatory participation expected from the whole religiously eligible body. Fifth, how to become religiously eligible, with repeated emphasis on the circumcision requirement. Sixth, an emphasis on equality before the law.

    In other words, the v47 on which you fixated has for it’s intent the non-negotiable aspect of this particular feast. Of special relevance is the passage in Num.9, concerning the second-month Passover, and v13 “But the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people.” The point of this later passage is to give a dispensation so that persons otherwise responsible to be present who were unavoidably prevented from the mandatory gathering, might be accommodated.

    It is just an irresponsible abuse of v47 to try to force it to accommodate the unclean, which you shamelessly do above, and the uncircumcised, which you shamelessly do above. If it won’t accommodate them, it might not accommodate women and children either, and you just can’t have that.

    You are making a ham-handed application of one-of-several possible meanings of a single phrase, in a way that is adventitious to your position, in the process overthrowing multiple references that contradict your preference. They must not be relevant, because they challenge your darling conviction.

    About the rest of what you say, including your insulting insinuations that Jesus wouldn’t recognize my treatment of the text as close, careful, and respectful reading of His word, isn’t worth responding to. I’m not the one parading my ignorance.

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  106. Bruce: Richard, By my count, you drop this reference: “Ex.12.47″ a total of 7X into your response, and call it an argument. Is this a “trump” card?

    RS: I was not and am not playing cards or playing at all. I was, however, trying to get you to see Exodus 12:47 for what it says in its own context.

    Bruce: Apparently, you think that these words, “All the congregation of Israel are to celebrate this,” simply overturns any prima facie reading of several texts I’ve presented that make discrete and measurable propositional truth-claims.

    RS: No, I was trying to get you to take a serious look at that verse IN ITS OWN CONTEXT.

    Bruce: Here is the main issue that you do not address:
    According to ISBE, entry on “Congregation,” “These two words [ (קהל, ḳāhāl, עדה, ‛ēdhāh)] rendered by “congregation” or “assembly” are used apparently without any difference of sense. They appear to include an assembly of the whole people or any section that might be present on a given occasion.” According to Fausset’s Dictionary, the term “Congregation” may refer to the assembled leadership, its most likely meaning in Ex.12.3; cf. Num.10.3.

    RS: Bruce, your “may refer” does not control what the words actually mean IN THEIR OWN CONTEXT. One cannot find the meaning of a word from a dictionary without taking serious regard for how it is being used in ITS OWN CONTEXT.

    Bruce: Congregation is a collective term which is applied widely or narrowly in the biblical context; but whomever the subjects are, they are regarded under the religious, rather than a strictly political cast. To be admitted to or excluded from the congregation, was not synonymous with Israelite identity, see Dt.23:1ff. A man might be a full-blooded, circumcised Israelite (and devout, see Is.56:3), and be excluded from the congregation. Recognized members of a “congregation” (which varied in size) had to be religiously eligible. And that is not criteria that is determinable from the words “all the congregation.”

    RS: The criteria, however, has to be examined from all the “mights” and “may means” FROM THE CONTEXT.

    Bruce: In other words, a simple terminological assertion of control in this debate, that rests on a phrase (all the congregation) susceptible of a variety of interpretations (at least two in the same chapter!) is a bogus argument.

    RS: It is not a bogus argument to look at one verse and the words in that verse and allow THE CONTEXT to determine what it means. What is bogus is trying to use a dictionary that gives a variety of things that a word may mean and then try to force the words to mean what you want while ignoring the context.

    Bruce: If I’ve read you correctly, you make the claim that “all the congregation” in 12:47 is radically inclusive. You would even deny that it restricts participation to the clean Israelite! Amazing. There is no nuance to your judgment of the meaning of this one text, no possible limitations that either the context, or fuller statements elsewhere provide. This is your “trump” text.

    RS: You can call it a trump text, but you are simply ignoring the inclusive statements of the context of the passage.

    Bruce: If we pause to actually examine the Passover regulations that stand in a whole from v43-v49, the purpose for the phrase “all the congregation” becomes clear, and recognizing the purpose for the phrase helps to clarify the precise meaning or nuance of the phrase in this context.

    First, list of people who may or may not eat this meal (though lesser personages than heads-of household are mentioned, no womenfolk are mentioned). Second, repeat of the one-roof gathering, indoor nature of the meal. Third, treatment of the sacrificial body. Fourth, mandatory participation expected from the whole religiously eligible body. Fifth, how to become religiously eligible, with repeated emphasis on the circumcision requirement. Sixth, an emphasis on equality before the law.

    In other words, the v47 on which you fixated has for it’s intent the non-negotiable aspect of this particular feast. Of special relevance is the passage in Num.9, concerning the second-month Passover, and v13 “But the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people.” The point of this later passage is to give a dispensation so that persons otherwise responsible to be present who were unavoidably prevented from the mandatory gathering, might be accommodated.

    RS: Perhaps you are reading a different chapter in Exodus than I am.
    Exodus 12:3 “Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household. 4 ‘Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb.

    RS: In the context “the congregation” refers to each household. I am not sure how you can avoid that.

    5 ‘Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 ‘You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight.

    RS: “The whole assembly of the congregation of Israel” surely refers to all of the people that were to kill the lambs.

    7 ‘Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.

    RS: The pronoun refers to the congregation of Israel. Only the ones that lived put blood on the doorpost. My ignorance in this matter is to assume that this was at the least all of the Israelites that lived.

    Bruce: It is just an irresponsible abuse of v47 to try to force it to accommodate the unclean, which you shamelessly do above, and the uncircumcised, which you shamelessly do above. If it won’t accommodate them, it might not accommodate women and children either, and you just can’t have that.

    RS: I suppose it is shameless to read the text and note how the text uses the words and simply say it meant all the households that lived. Perhaps some of the unclean did not.

    Bruce: You are making a ham-handed application of one-of-several possible meanings of a single phrase, in a way that is adventitious to your position, in the process overthrowing multiple references that contradict your preference. They must not be relevant, because they challenge your darling conviction.

    RS: And here I thought you were ignoring the obvious because it challenges your position. You might want to consider that regardless of how you interpret the later text this was the initial way the Passover was to be observed and this was the pattern that they were to follow.

    Bruce: About the rest of what you say, including your insulting insinuations that Jesus wouldn’t recognize my treatment of the text as close, careful, and respectful reading of His word, isn’t worth responding to. I’m not the one parading my ignorance.

    RS: That was not my insinuation, but now that you bring it up I would argue that Jesus would not use a dictionary definition of a word to run roughshod over the obvious meaning of the context.

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  107. Bruce: It is just an irresponsible abuse of v47 to try to force it to accommodate the unclean, which you shamelessly do above, and the uncircumcised, which you shamelessly do above. If it won’t accommodate them, it might not accommodate women and children either, and you just can’t have that.

    RS: I had to leave a few things unsaid previously due to time. First, I did not try to force the text to accomodate the unclean and uncircumcised. I am not sure why you think I said that or inferred that. But indeed what I said I did say without shame. Second, and once again, the context determines how a word is used rather than one word being forced from several meanings to determine the context. The people who were delivered from the avenging angel were the ones that put blood on their doorposts. If you want to argue that God did not deliver the unclean and the uncircumcised, then fine. But are there explicit references in the text that God killed them? My argument is simply that the whole congregation of Israel in that context has to refer to more than just the males since more than just the males were delivered out of Egypt. If you wish to make your position rest on the explicit, the text does not say that women and children could not eat. So once again we are both left to the meaning of the context.

    Bruce: You are making a ham-handed application of one-of-several possible meanings of a single phrase, in a way that is adventitious to your position, in the process overthrowing multiple references that contradict your preference. They must not be relevant, because they challenge your darling conviction.

    RS: But your position is that you can take a dictionary and force a word that “may” mean one thing and then you can take that one meaning and force the whole context to fit that meaning. My position, as I have said repeatedly, takes the context into consideration. In fact, it is the context that determines the meaning in my interpretation of the text. Indeed the word has several possible meanings, which is why I find your approach in using it unacceptable since it does not take the context into account.

    Bruce: About the rest of what you say, including your insulting insinuations that Jesus wouldn’t recognize my treatment of the text as close, careful, and respectful reading of His word, isn’t worth responding to. I’m not the one parading my ignorance.

    RS: I wish your method of exegeis would be as careful with my words as you say you are with a text. I did not say that Jesus wouldn’t recognize your treatment of the text as close, careful, and respectful. But then again, the scribes in the day of Jesus might have had the same thing said of them. Matthew 12:29 says this to very learned men: “But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God.”

    Here, let me give you my exact words once again: “I might also ask you if Jesus and Paul practiced the same form of exegesis that you do. Could it be that your version of what is proper exegesis is really a system that is placed on Scripture rather than derived from Scripture? Would that be bowing before exegesis over bowing to the teaching of Scripture? At least it is something you might think about.”

    My point (what I really meant in the context) is that a form of exegesis can be used that is not necessarily drawn from Scripture. In other words, a method of exegsis may indeed be careful and all of that but it is not the way Scripture interprets Scripture. Is it a valid method? Perhaps, but simply saying that because one is doing exegesis following a prescribed method of exegesis does not guarantee inerrant results. In fact, then, I was not saying anything like what you inferred from my statement. I would also argue that perhaps some basic logic would be helpful as well so that you could see that your deduction from my words are not proper. I did find it ironic, however, that in a discussion about interpretation you totally misinterpreted my words and then basically said I was parading my igorance. Like they say, when one has no real argument one can just resort to calling names.

    Exodus 12:1 Now the LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you. 3 “Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they [antecedent of they?] are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households [antecedent of their?], a lamb for each household. 4 ‘Now if the household is too small for a lamb [how can one lamb be too small for a household if just the man ate it?], then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them [notice the plural people in each household]; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb. 5 ‘Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 ‘You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight [what does the whole assemble of the congregation of Israel mean in this context? Households and all in the households is the information the text gives us].
    7 ‘Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.

    RS: I think I am looking at this text very carefully and in its own context. I am allowing the text to determine what it means rather than forcing a meaning upon it based upon what a word may mean in other contexts.

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  108. Doug,

    So why exactly do you object to Kline saying that the covenant at Sinai is in some sense a republication of the covenant of works?

    On what grounds do you equate the church at Ephesus with the Nation of Israel?

    You sometimes seem to take both sides of an argument.

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  109. Erik, the Mosaic covenant was to be appropriated by faith, (just like us) if they were to be pleasing to God! Israel had blessings for obedience and sanctions for disobedience just like the 7 churches in Asia Minor, because it’s the same covenant “in substance” albeit major advancements in redemptive history which we all agree took place.

    The law was never a works/righteousness proposition, although God has always demanded that his people to “trust and obey” Him. God knew they couldn’t obey his law perfectly, but they could obey him blamelessly as John the Baptist parents did, by grace through faith. It was true with David, it was true with Zechariah, and it’s true for both of us today. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom!

    So my beef is that (some people) need to quit ridiculing the law as a different standard of pleasing God. God never expected perfect obedience in Israel, since he graciously gave them provisions for when they sinned! God wanted his people to be covenantally faithful to him, just like today! He wants us to put him first, or else! Just look at what God said to the church at Ephesus, over losing their first love! The same thing he said to Israel when they went whoring after other gods. Can we fall into the same sins Israel fell into? YES! A thousand times yes! That’s why they are an example to us!

    This is why Paul instructed us; to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, knowing it’s God who is working in and through us for his own good pleasure.

    Press on brother!

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  110. Erik asks On what grounds do you equate the church at Ephesus with the Nation of Israel?

    Same covenant, same Lord, same terms, trust and obey, which is to say faith is the only thing that will please God during the law and the gospel. Same way of salvation, (Christ’s vicarious substitution) same life style, same warnings for disobedience.

    There are some great discontinuities as well, but those are the basic continuities.

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  111. Keep up the good work Richard! May God continue to strengthen your right arm!

    Bruce, why do you kick against the goads? You’re fighting an obvious truth taught clearly in Scripture, and I’m wondering why? Scripture is so against you, that even your credo communion pals can only sit and watch you squirm under the bright light of God’s Word. You need to throw up the white flag.

    Children were commanded to eat the Passover meal!

    Case closed!

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  112. Doug: So my beef is that (some people) need to quit ridiculing the law as a different standard of pleasing God. God never expected perfect obedience in Israel, since he graciously gave them provisions for when they sinned!

    Who are these “some people?” What credible proponent of republication is ridiculing the law? Reading that characterization causes me to wonder if you truly understand it. Have you read the book “The Law is Not of Faith?” I’d be curious as to what your objections are to the arguments for, and the historical background of, republication as presented in the essays in this book.

    Reading your words that “God never expected perfect obedience in Israel” might cause one to wonder if your definition of the law is somewhat weaker than that of Paul: for it is written, Cursed is every one who continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them. It was because of God’s “expectation” of perfect obedience by Israel that He indeed “graciously gave them provisions for when they sinned.” The standard is the same in the Old and the New which standard is that of perfect obedience and we all fall short of it. I wonder whether you understand the law as possessing some power or grace to communicate to the believer what it directs or demands of that believer? I’m not trying to puts words in your mouth, but am sincerely asking.

    The law guides, directs, commands, all things that are against the interest and rule of sin. It judgeth and condemneth both the things that promote it and the persons that do them; it frightens and terrifies the consciences of those who are under its dominion. But if you shall say unto it [the law], “What then shall we do? this tyrant [sin], this enemy, is too hard for us. What aid and assistance against it [sin] will you [the law] afford unto us? What power will you communicate unto its [sin’s] destruction?” Here the law is utterly silent, or says that nothing of this nature is committed unto it of God: nay, the strength it hath it gives unto sin for the condemnation of the sinner: “The strength of sin is the law.” But the gospel, or the grace of it, is the means and instrument of God for the communication of internal spiritual strength unto believers. By it [the gospel] do they receive supplies of the Spirit or aids of grace for the subduing of sin and the destruction of its dominion… (John Owen, A Treatise of the Dominion of Sin and Grace)

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  113. Doug: The law was never a works/righteousness proposition, although God has always demanded that his people to “trust and obey” Him…

    Calvin: If it is true, that a perfect righteousness is set before us in the Law, it follows, that the complete observance of it is perfect righteousness in the sight of God; that is, a righteousness by which a man may be deemed and pronounced righteous at the divine tribunal. Wherefore Moses, after promulgating the Law, hesitates not to call heaven and earth to witness, that he had set life and death, good and evil, before the people. Nor can it be denied, that the reward of eternal salvation, as promised by the Lord, awaits the perfect obedience of the Law (Deut. 30:19). Again, however, it is of importance to understand in what way we perform that obedience for which we justly entertain the hope of that reward. For of what use is it to see that the reward of eternal life depends on the observance of the Law, unless it moreover appears whether it be in our power in that way to attain to eternal life? Herein, then, the weakness of the Law is manifested; for, in none of us is that righteousness of the Law manifested, and, therefore, being excluded from the promises of life, we again fall under the curse. — Calv Inst 2.7.3

    We need to be careful not to so emphasize the failure of men to keep the law, that we fail to acknolwedge that Jesus *did* keep the Law, and that His obedience becomes our righteousness.

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  114. Doug – “God wanted his people to be covenantally faithful to him, just like today!”

    Erik – Where is the line between covenant faithfulness and covenant unfaithfulness? Just how much better did Israel have to be to stay in the land?

    Were they kicked out because they lacked faith or because they broke the law?

    When you sin are you lacking faith or are you being disobedient?

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  115. The law was never a works/righteousness proposition, although God has always demanded that his people to “trust and obey” Him…

    And add to Calvin WCF 19.1.2:

    “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.”

    Doug, what is it about a plain reading of any part of WCF 19 that causes the theonomic mind so much trouble?

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  116. 10. The second office of the Law is, by means of its fearful denunciations and the consequent dread of punishment, to curb those who, unless forced, have no regard for rectitude and justice. Such persons are curbed not because their mind is inwardly moved and affected, but because, as if a bridle were laid upon them, they refrain their hands from external acts, and internally check the depravity which would otherwise petulantly burst forth. It is true, they are not on this account either better or more righteous in the sight of God. For although restrained by terror or shame, they dare not proceed to what their mind has conceived, nor give full license to their raging lust, their heart is by no means trained to fear and obedience. Nay, the more they restrain themselves, the more they are inflamed, the more they rage and boil, prepared for any act or outbreak whatsoever were it not for the terror of the law. And not only so, but they thoroughly detest the law itself, and execrate the Lawgiver; so that if they could, they would most willingly annihilate him, because they cannot bear either his ordering what is right, or his avenging the despisers of his Majesty. The feeling of all who are not yet regenerate, though in some more, in others less lively, is, that in regard to the observance of the law, they are not led by voluntary submission, but dragged by the force of fear. Nevertheless, this forced and extorted righteousness is necessary for the good of society, its peace being secured by a provision but for which all things would be thrown into tumult and confusion. Nay, this tuition is not without its use, even to the children of God, who, previous to their effectual calling, being destitute of the Spirit of holiness, freely indulge the lusts of the flesh. When, by the fear of Divine vengeance, they are deterred from open outbreakings, though, from not being subdued in mind, they profit little at present, still they are in some measure trained to bear the yoke of righteousness, so that when they are called, they are not like mere novices, studying a discipline of which previously they had no knowledge. This office seems to be especially in the view of the Apostle, when he says, “That the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for men-stealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine,” (1 Tim. 1:9, 10). He thus indicates that it is a restraint on unruly lusts that would otherwise burst all bonds…Of this we have so many proofs, that there is not the least need of an example. For all who have remained for some time in ignorance of God will confess, as the result of their own experience, that the law had the effect of keeping them in some degree in the fear and reverence of God, till, being regenerated by his Spirit, they began to love him from the heart.

    — Calv Inst 2.7.10-11

    Notice the contrast between being under the law in the second use sense and loving God from the heart (in the third use sense, which follows).

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  117. Richard,
    Another (two!) long posts by you, sound and fury, signifying nothing. You sound like the Arminian who just rants, “All means all, and that’s all all means!” Hey, he’s just sticking to the ONLY possible meaning to that word it must have in his darling verse!

    I’m the one who has been letting the text do the talking: near context, further context, whole Bible context. You use the word “context,” but you obviously have no idea what you are talking about.

    When I use a phrase like “can mean,” I’m pointing out (using a widely available standard reference tool) that the term you have picked and assigned a specific meaning–without actually arguing for that choice of meaning–has multiple, contextually variable options for meaning. You have an exegetical DUTY to argue for your preferred meaning, by demonstration from the text and dealing with simple objections. Diligence is an espistemic virtue.

    I’m not the one arguing my case from texts whose meaning has been challenged. I’m not the one pinning his argument on words with variable sense. I don’t merely think your choice of meaning could be wrong in the texts you’ve chosen to support your argument; I’ve argued from those texts (and used the analogia fide) to argue that you ARE wrong.

    I haven’t run from a single text you’ve rested any weight of your argument on. I have dealt with the beginning of ch.12, and the end. What I have objected to in your argument–over and over–is dropping a verse on an argument, as if there’s no way to read it other than an open/shut and “trump” cover for your play. “How could you overlook this verse! Yo ho! I win! Again! And again!” Please.

    You take a similarly wooden approach to the word “house” (the irony of which amuses me every time). You assume one of the following meanings for the word “house” in Ex.12:3-4; “assume,” I say, because it’s fairly clear that no alternative has ever entered your consciousness.

    —Physical building (e.g. Ex.12:7, Gen.19:4)
    —Dwelling place (e.g. Gen.28:17)
    —Place or condition (e.g. Ex.13:14)
    —Personal affairs/possessions (e.g. 2Sam.17:23; 1Ki.13:8; 2Ki.20:1)

    —Clan, generic reference (e.g. Gen.12:1; 24:38; Num.25:14)
    —Tribe, generic reference (e.g. Ex.2:1)
    —Nation, generic reference (Ex.16:31)
    —Kingdom, specific possession (e.g. Gen.41:40; 45:8; 2Sam.12:17; 2Ki.15:5)
    —Family, general reference (e.g. Gen.46:31; Ex.1:21; Jos.7:14)
    —Family, inclusive of all its members, of either sex, married/biological and adopted, and servants (e.g Gen.14:14; 39:9)

    —Family, subset, exclusive of all but the blood (e.g Ex.12:30)
    —Family, subset minus excluded members (e.g. Num.16:32; compare with Num.26:10-11)
    —Kingly line, subset (1Ki.18:18; 2Ki.13:6; 17:21)
    —Harem, subset (e.g Gen.12:15)
    —Treasury, subset (e.g. Gen.47:14)
    —Councilors, subset (e.g. Gen.50:4)
    —Sons/brethren, subset (e.g. Jdg.9:16; 11:2; 1Sam2:36;1Ki.16:11-12; 2Ki.9:7-8,11)
    —Faction, subset (e.g. 2Sam.3:1; 21:1)
    —Army, male subset (e.g. 1Ki.12:21,23; 2Chr.25:5)
    —Levites/priests, male subset (e.g. 2Chr.35:5)

    Given the range of possibilities, there is nothing unreasonable about recognizing the need to determine whether “house” in Ex.12:3-4 is to be read with the widest possible inclusivity, or under a narrower one. Scripture uses the term in synechdocal manner, so the responsible exegete has to determine whether that kind of interpretation is justified in a particular instance.

    For my part, I spent a whole paragraph above actually arguing for a specific meaning of the phrase “all the congregation” in the section vv43-49. You did nothing similar, just hand waving and objecting to the proper use of a standard reference help, designed to assist the Bible student in his work. You also didn’t point out where you think my analysis of the text broke down, and failed to meet it’s burden.

    All you do is say I’m wrong because you’re right. That’s brilliant. It’s just all so obvious to you, and to all “intelligent” readers; so people who don’t agree with your ipse dixit are lazy and unvirtuous.

    Sorry, but v47 doesn’t do the work you assigned it. One of those highly cogent objections arises right out of the following verse! Pretty close contextual guard. And then there are the many others that come out of that very section, out of that chapter, the Pentateuch, and the rest of the OT, and the NT.

    I’m content to let our two presentations stand as witnesses to our competing competencies.

    Bye bye, Richard.

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  118. Cornelis P. Venema wrote the critique and he is right on point. Jack please make sure you don’t miss page 77 on his treatment of Paul’s use of Leviticus 18:5. He literally takes Dr Estelle premise apart piece by piece, in a good way.

    Press on!

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  119. Doug, I’m not looking for a review on “The Law is Not of Faith.” My questions are “What credible proponent of republication is ridiculing the law?” and “what are your objections to the arguments for, and the historical background of, republication as presented in the essays in this book? After all, you are the one saying you disagree with those mean-old law-ridiculing Republicationers.

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  120. Doug, you say the law was never a works-righteousness proposition, WCF says it was. WCF says the judicial laws have expired not obligating any now, you say they haven’t and they still do. Clearly one of you is wrong, so why am I so muddled to point it out?

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  121. Jack, I may be out of my element, whatever that means, but I think you should take Dr Cornelis P. Venema seriously and consider his critique.

    Oh, and “works righteousness” has always meant earning your salvation. That was clearly not the gospel the Mosaic covenant offered, the law pointed to Christ, seen through eyes of faith. Read page 77 and Dr Venema straighten you out. He’s very good!

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  122. T. David Gordon from TLNF:

    “Promise” does not differ from “law”? Is not promise, by definition, unconditional? “Blessing” is not different from “cursing”? “Those of faith” are not different from “those of works of the law”? A covenant that justifies is not different from a covenant that does not? (253). And Gordon asks, “If Paul says ‘these are two covenants,’ (Gal. 4:24), how can there be only one?”

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  123. Bruce: I’m content to let our two presentations stand as witnesses to our competing competencies.

    Bye bye, Richard.

    RS: Bruce, that may be where the real problem is. I am quite unconcerned about witnesses and competing competencies while apparently that is what you are concerned about. I want to know that the text really means regardless of which side it falls on. You can list a thousand meanings from a dictionary and it proves nothing but that the dictionary gives a thousand meanings. Giving the meaning from the context when the context gives its meaning (as it does in this case) is simply standing to the side and listening to the text speak. I am sorry that you cannot see that all of your hard work in laborious exegesis is simply standing in the way of the text itself. The TEXT must be the center (in this sense) and not the method of exegesis.

    I have heard many preachers that were proud of their exegetical skills (not saying this describes your precisely, but more of an analogy) and could not preach the glory of the Gospel in Christ for nothing. I would simply say that perhaps you should deny your concern about your exegetical competency before men and seek the face of God for a sight of His glory in Christ. But then again, that is just an incompetent and shameless person speaking who evidently does not trust your method of exegesis over all else. However, just remember that the apostles were looked down on as uneducated men (lesser competency according to the methods of some) though they spoke the foolishness of the Gospel which is the wisdom and power of God.

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  124. Brian Lee in an essay on TLNF at Ordained Servant offers:

    Estelle manages to capture precisely how the two opposing principles of works and grace coexist in the Mosaic economy… The monocovenantal error is to fail to allow the two principles to stand alone and distinct, instead reconciling and conflating them at every turn.

    and,

    As Estelle puts it (quoting Sprinkle), “Habakkuk 2:4 and Leviticus 18:5 are ‘two mutually exclusive soteriological statements.’ ” Note, again, the recurring theme of this volume: the republication thesis is about explaining a covenantal contrast that exists within the pages of the Old Testament… The strength of Estelle’s exegesis (and Kline’s before him) is in finding the law/gospel distinction in the Old Testament text on its own terms, the same law/gospel distinction that Paul will describe in his epistles.

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  125. Doug,

    I’m actually taking a second wade through the anti-republication materials: Ramsey, Venema, Dennison, and eventually Murray again.

    The issues are more subtle than simply “there was a works principle! No there wasn’t!”

    For one thing: If the Law contained no works principle, then Jesus cannot have fulfilled the Law on our behalf. And all (Reformed folk) admit that Jesus fulfilled the covenant of works, and that was obviously not by going back into the Garden.

    And for another, there was self-evidently a works principle expressed in Deuteronomy. Obey and be blessed; disobey and be cursed. And it is clear from the text that that works principle was leveled at temporal issues.

    So the question is not whether or not there was any works principle whatsoever, but rather what *was* the nature of that works-principle. Venema wants to stress that the works-principle was not salvific. I agree. But I’m not sure that the authors of TLNF would disagree.

    For my part, I think Venema may be over-reading the language of “republication”, but I also think that Gordon and van Drunen may be overstating the case a bit. That’s just a preliminary hypothesis until I have a chance to read/re-read it all.

    Here’s where the rubber meets the road.

    For you, the denial of the works principle in Israel leads to a paradoxical result. You actually flatten out the discontinuity between Old and New Covenants (following Bahnsen’s lead) so that the judicial codes of the Old Covenant are carried over into the New.

    This is the paradox: You deny a works principle in the Old Covenant, so you unwittingly drag the works principle that is there (blessings and cursings through faithful lawkeeping) into the New.

    On a large scale, this fight betwixt Venema et al and WSC is being played out in congregations that are struggling over sanctification: Will we seek to be sanctified by focusing on the law and its obligations, or by focusing on Christ and His merits?

    One’s answer to that question is essentially colored or driven by one’s view of the relationship between the covenants.

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  126. Bruce: You take a similarly wooden approach to the word “house” (the irony of which amuses me every time). You assume one of the following meanings for the word “house” in Ex.12:3-4; “assume,” I say, because it’s fairly clear that no alternative has ever entered your consciousness.

    —Physical building (e.g. Ex.12:7, Gen.19:4)
    —Dwelling place (e.g. Gen.28:17)
    —Place or condition (e.g. Ex.13:14)
    —Personal affairs/possessions (e.g. 2Sam.17:23; 1Ki.13:8; 2Ki.20:1)

    —Clan, generic reference (e.g. Gen.12:1; 24:38; Num.25:14)
    —Tribe, generic reference (e.g. Ex.2:1)
    —Nation, generic reference (Ex.16:31)
    —Kingdom, specific possession (e.g. Gen.41:40; 45:8; 2Sam.12:17; 2Ki.15:5)
    —Family, general reference (e.g. Gen.46:31; Ex.1:21; Jos.7:14)
    —Family, inclusive of all its members, of either sex, married/biological and adopted, and servants (e.g Gen.14:14; 39:9)

    —Family, subset, exclusive of all but the blood (e.g Ex.12:30)
    —Family, subset minus excluded members (e.g. Num.16:32; compare with Num.26:10-11)
    —Kingly line, subset (1Ki.18:18; 2Ki.13:6; 17:21)
    —Harem, subset (e.g Gen.12:15)
    —Treasury, subset (e.g. Gen.47:14)
    —Councilors, subset (e.g. Gen.50:4)
    —Sons/brethren, subset (e.g. Jdg.9:16; 11:2; 1Sam2:36;1Ki.16:11-12; 2Ki.9:7-8,11)
    —Faction, subset (e.g. 2Sam.3:1; 21:1)
    —Army, male subset (e.g. 1Ki.12:21,23; 2Chr.25:5)
    —Levites/priests, male subset (e.g. 2Chr.35:5)

    Given the range of possibilities, there is nothing unreasonable about recognizing the need to determine whether “house” in Ex.12:3-4 is to be read with the widest possible inclusivity, or under a narrower one. Scripture uses the term in synechdocal manner, so the responsible exegete has to determine whether that kind of interpretation is justified in a particular instance.

    RS: A word can mean a thousand things in differing contexts, which is fine. The concern is the present context, however. The text itself tells us what is included in the phrase “congregation of Israel.” The text itself tells us that there are plural people in some of the households. The text itself does not say it is men only, but it is directed to the congregation of Israel and to the households. The congregation of Israel and the households were delivered from the angel and not just the men. It is not that no other definition has entered my head, as you spat out in your distaste, but the text itself gives us its own parameters. We are to be driven to understand the text itself as the text itself sets out rather than some exegetical method that keeps us deaf to what the text is saying. While there is benefit to reading your dictionary, that is only a very, very small part of understanding the text. By the way, I have dictionaries as well and I even use them. But the text is quite clear as to what it means and so it should be allowed to state that.

    Exodus 12:1 Now the LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you. 3 “Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they [antecedent of they?] are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households [antecedent of their?], a lamb for each household. 4 ‘Now if the household is too small for a lamb [how can one lamb be too small for a household if just the man ate it?], then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them [notice the plural people in each household]; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb. 5 ‘Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 ‘You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight [what does the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel mean in this context? Households and all in the households is the information the text gives us].
    7 ‘Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.

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  127. Jack, DGH has ridiculed the notion of the law being our rule of life, for years! Plus Darryl poo poo’s God’s penal sanctions for sins like adultery, as preposterous and absurd. I call that ridiculing God’s opinion on crime and punishment. It’s one thing to say Doug; I don’t see God teaching that in the Bible. But Darryl ridicules the very thought of God’s penal sanctions by rolling his eyes calling them ‘out there”.

    I think we should love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, but we can only do this, in His strength “when God enlarges my heart! (That’s in the Psalms!) When I point out that David loved the law and it was his meditation all day and night, Darryl responds with, “you’ve got David, I’ve got Paul, and he says the law is not of faith.” Almost as if he sees an antithesis between law and grace. Hey! He does! That is exactly what Kline said, the law was against grace and faith!

    But is the law against the promise? God forbid!

    The heart of our disagreement is what Paul meant by “the law is not of faith”. I’m saying it was the Judiazing miss-using of the law, using the ceremonial rituals and boundary markers, as a means of self merit before God, and unlawfully separating Jewish believers from their brothers in Christ who were uncircumscised.

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  128. Jeff Cagle poses the question:

    “Will we seek to be sanctified by focusing on the law and its obligations, or by focusing on Christ and His merits?”

    John Owen answers:

    “What aid and assistance against it [sin] will you [the law] afford unto us? What power will you communicate unto its [sin’s] destruction?” Here the law is utterly silent, or says that nothing of this nature is committed unto it of God… But the gospel, or the grace of it, is the means and instrument of God for the communication of internal spiritual strength unto believers. By it [the gospel] do they receive supplies of the Spirit or aids of grace for the subduing of sin and the destruction of its dominion…” (A Treatise of the Dominion of Sin and Grace)

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  129. Bruce: When I use a phrase like “can mean,” I’m pointing out (using a widely available standard reference tool) that the term you have picked and assigned a specific meaning–without actually arguing for that choice of meaning–has multiple, contextually variable options for meaning. You have an exegetical DUTY to argue for your preferred meaning, by demonstration from the text and dealing with simple objections. Diligence is an espistemic virtue.

    RS: But I have stated multiple times from the text why I think that is the meaning of the word. It is because it is in the text. We are to be diligent to spend time with the text itself rather than being diligent to make sure our methods of exegesis are acceptable to witnesses about a standard of competence. It would appear that you are more concerned that men will turn from your method of exegesis (even on the www) than turn from the Scriptures themselves. The text below tells us that the time will come when men will not endure sound doctrine, yet you seem to be concerned that men will not endure you methods of exegesis. Does that sound familiar to you?

    2 Timothy 4:1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

    Bruce: I’m not the one arguing my case from texts whose meaning has been challenged. I’m not the one pinning his argument on words with variable sense. I don’t merely think your choice of meaning could be wrong in the texts you’ve chosen to support your argument; I’ve argued from those texts (and used the analogia fide) to argue that you ARE wrong.

    RS: Yes, you give lists of things but you have not argued from the text itself (as far as I can tell) that the text itself is not giving us the meaning of the word within its own context. I am using the text itself for the meaning and you are running to all other places with your methods to find some other meaning and then slamming me for not using your methods of exegesis.

    Bruce: You take a similarly wooden approach to the word “house” (the irony of which amuses me every time). You assume one of the following meanings for the word “house” in Ex.12:3-4; “assume,” I say, because it’s fairly clear that no alternative has ever entered your consciousness.

    RS: But of course other alternatives have entered my consciousness, but when the text gives us a meaning then that is the meaning regardless of what the word means in other contexts. I am glad you are amused and see irony when I use the word “household” in the text. But your problem is that you are the one that cannot see beyond your own methods. When I go to the New Testament I look at the word household there in its own context.

    Acts 16:31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
    32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house.
    33 And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. 34 And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.

    RS: Who were the ones baptized in that household? Instead of looking all over the place in various dictionaries about what the word means, we can see from the context (vv. 33-34) that he and all his household were baptized but that his whole household believed in God. So there is no real irony in my use of the term as I am being quite consistent. Whether it is the OT or NT I simply want the context to determine the meaning of the word. It is a very good exegetical practice that has epistemic value.

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  130. Jeff, the good works that Israel accomplished were by grace though faith, just as in the new covenant. David says;

    I will run in the way of your commandments, “when you enlarge my heart”!

    In that respect there is perfect harmony in both testaments. After all, “we *know* the law is good, if one uses it lawfully.” So what could be an unlawful use of God’s good law? Hmmm?

    See Judiazers in Galatians!

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  131. Jack asks, Is not promise, by definition, unconditional? Only when apprehended by faith, which is a gift from God lest anyone should boast.

    See Jack? You need to lay off Gordon and read Venema’s critique if you dare! He takes Gordon apart and crushes his whole specious theory.

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  132. Doug: Jack asks, Is not promise, by definition, unconditional? Only when apprehended by faith, which is a gift from God lest anyone should boast.

    me: If that is some kinda “gotcha” then it’s clear you’re muddled on this topic. Where does Gordon or any of those in TLNF disagree with the premise that faith is the alone instrument by which we receive the unconditional promise? And that that faith is indeed a gift of the Spirit to those God justifies in Christ? In fact, the authors explicitly affirm that at the end of the book.

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  133. Praise God for Mike K. !!!

    He has the honesty and guts to read Venema’s and to tell the truth to all of us at Old Life. It sure doesn’t make TLNF look pretty bad.

    Erik, you need to read it too, make sure you read page 77!

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  134. Okay Jack, I’ll take you at your word, BUT the Mosaic law presented the gospel (in figures, types and shadows) the main difference being the old testament saint’s faith looked ahead to the promise while ours rests in His completed work securing redemption for his people once for all, but faith was the key to walking in his blessings in both administrations. Without faith it is impossible to please God, that was just as true in Israel as it is today! In fact today as I speak, anything that is not of faith, is sin!

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  135. Doug,

    Mail it to me and I’ll read it.

    You’re onto that Hart fellow. He’s a bad guy who worships cats and turns puppies into ladies’ handbags. Thanks for tipping us off.

    Is it not somehat ironic, however, that he allows you to “sound the alarm” here day after day while most of your intemperate theonomistic allies would have found something to ban you for months if not years ago?

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  136. Doug: the Mosaic law presented the gospel (in figures, types and shadows) the main difference being the old testament saint’s faith looked ahead to the promise while ours rests in His completed work securing redemption for his people once for all, but faith was the key to walking in his blessings in both administrations. Without faith it is impossible to please God, that was just as true in Israel as it is today! In fact today as I speak, anything that is not of faith, is sin!

    me: Nothing there with which TLNF disagrees, nor I. So, could it possibly be you don’t understand republication as explained in that book? Your last two gotchas are anything but that…

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  137. Jack snaps back: If that is some kinda “gotcha” then it’s clear you’re muddled on this topic.

    Me: Jack I’m looking at the broader picture, when Paul says “is the law against the promise? God forbid!” he’s implying that the Mosaic administration prior to the incarnation of Christ, was of the same substance as the new covenant; Christ was the promise that the law pointed too.

    So there is no contradiction with the Mosaic Law and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. The law never taught if you do such and such you can earn salvation, NO! That would be works/righteousness, the law taught you to put your trust in Christ, who was the promise! That’s what a good school master teaches you, when your looking through eyes of faith.

    “Let your steadfast love come to me, O LORD, your salvation according to your promise!”

    The law taught King David, that salvation was to come by the promise. And David apprehended that promise by faith!!!

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  138. Erik, I don’t think Hart is an evil man, just mistaken on few fairly large points. I hope to be friends with Darryl for many years to come, and I really mean that. I yes, I really admire that he lets me voice my alarm. He should to be commended for that. You do your due dilligence and see what you think of this critique.

    http://www.puritanboard.com/blogs/

    Once you click on puritanboard, look for the critiques, Venama’s

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  139. No. I avoid that site like I avoid things that make me itch in bad places. This is pretty much the only place I hang out online. You can cut & paste something if you would like, though.

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  140. Doug: the law taught you to put your trust in Christ…

    Me: Really? Part of what can confuse in this discussion is the use of the term “law.” The moral law as summed up in the 10 Commandments, i.e. the moral law… Is that the law you refer to? If so, where does that law teach you to “put your trust in Christ?” Indeed, it is a tutor that leads us to Christ in that as the law shuts up every mouth because of sin one’s only hope is God’s gratuitous grace. Apart from the mercy of God found in the free promise of the gospel there is no comfort nor salvation, certainly not in the Law given at Sinai. The law demands, the gospel gives. Both are of God, working together to bring sinners to Christ.

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  141. So there is no contradiction with the Mosaic Law and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. The law never taught if you do such and such you can earn salvation, NO! That would be works/righteousness, the law taught you to put your trust in Christ, who was the promise! That’s what a good school master teaches you, when your looking through eyes of faith.

    Doug, you’re pushing what is commonly known as “golawspol,” a terrible confusion of law and gospel that is behind the Roman denial of sola fide. But the Reformed have always taught a strict distinction between law and gospel.

    John Murray (1898-1975) …the purity and integrity of the gospel stands or falls with the absoluteness of the antithesis between the function and potency of law, one the one hand, and the function and potency of grace, on the other (Principles of Conduct: Aspects of Biblical Ethics [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957], 186).

    Edward Fisher (c.1601-1655). Now, the law is a doctrine partly known by nature, teaching us that there is a God, and what God is, and what he requires us to do, binding all reasonable creatures to perfect obedience, both internal and external, promising the favour of God, and everlasting life to all those who yield perfect obedience thereunto, and denouncing the curse of God and everlasting damnation to all those who are not perfectly correspondent thereunto. But the gospel is a doctrine revealed from heaven by the Son of God, presently after the fall of mankind into sin and death, and afterwards manifested more clearly and fully to the patriarchs and prophets, to the evangelists and apostles, and by them spread abroad to others; wherein freedom from sin, from the curse of the law, the wrath of God, death, and hell, is freely promised for Christ’s sake unto all who truly believe on his name (The Marrow of Modern Divinity; 1645, repr. 1978, 337-38).

    William Twisse (1578-1646). How many ways does the Word of God teach us to come to the Kingdom of heaven? Two. Which are they? The Law and the Gospel. What says the Law? Do this and live. What says the Gospel? Believe in Jesus Christ and you shall be saved. Can we come to the Kingdom of God by the way of God’s Law? No.Why so? Because we cannot do it. Why can we not do it? Because we are all born in sin. What is it to be none in sin? To be naturally prone to evil and …that that which is good. How did it come to pass that we are all borne in sin? By reason of our first father Adam. Which way then do you hope to come tot he Kingdom of Heaven? By the Gospel? What is the Gospel? The glad tidings of salvation by Jesus Christ. To whom is the glad tidings brought: to the righteousness? No. Why so? For two reasons. What is the first? Because there is none that is righteous and sin not. What is the other reason? Because if we were righteous, i.e., without sin we should have no need of Christ Jesus. To whom then is this glad tiding brought? To sinners. What, to all sinners? To whom then? To such as believe and repent. This is the first lesson, to know the right way to the Kingdom of Heaven.: and this consists in knowing the difference between the Law and the Gospel. What does the Law require? That we should be without sin. What does the Gospel require? That we should confess our sins, amend our lives, and then through faith in Christ we shall be saved. The Law requires what? Perfect obedience. The Gospel what? Faith and true repentance. (A Brief Catechetical Exposition of Christian Doctrine, 1633).

    J.C. Ryle (1816-1900). To be unable to see any difference between law and gospel, truth an error, Protestantism and Popery, the doctrine of Christ and the doctrine of man, is a sure proof that we are yet dead in heart, and need conversion. (Expository Thoughts on John, 2:198-199).

    J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937). A new and more powerful proclamation of law is perhaps the most pressing need of the hour; men would have little difficulty with the gospel if they had only learned the lesson of the law. As it is, they are turning aside from the Christian pathway; they are turning to the village of Morality, and to the house of Mr. Legality, who is reported to be very skillful in relieving men of their burdens… ‘Making Christ Master’ in the life, putting into practice ‘the principles of Christ’ by one’s own efforts-these are merely new ways of earning salvation by one’s obedience to God’s commands (What Is Faith?, 1925).

    Louis Berkhof (1873-1957). The Churches of the Reformation from the very beginning distinguished between the law and the gospel as the two parts of the Word of God as a means of grace. This distinction was not understood to be identical with that between the Old and the New Testament, but was regarded as a distinction that applies to both Testaments. There is law and gospel in the Old Testament, and there is law and gospel in the New. The law comprises everything in Scripture which is a revelation of God’s will in the form of command or prohibition, while the gospel embraces everything, whether it be in the Old Testament or in the New, that pertains to the work of reconciliation and that proclaims the seeking and redeeming love o God in Christ Jesus (Systematic Theology, [Grand Rapids, 4th edn. 1941], 612).

    Second Helvetic Confession XIII: THE ANCIENTS HAD EVANGELICAL PROMISES. The Gospel is, indeed, opposed to the law. For the law works wrath and announces a curse, whereas the Gospel preaches grace and blessing. John says: “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Yet notwithstanding it is most certain that those who were before the law and under the law, were not altogether destitute of the Gospel. For they had extraordinary evangelical promises such as these are: “The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head” (Gen. 3:15). “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 22:18). “The scepter shall not depart from Judah…until he comes” (Gen. 49:10). “The Lord will raise up a prophet from among his own brethren” (Deut. 18:15; Acts 3:22), etc.

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  142. Here is a few key pages from Venama’s critique.

    However, the reason Paul’s appeal to Leviticus 18:5 raises a
    57 As noted earlier (fn 41), Estelle’s position on the nature and significance of the “works principle”
    in the Mosaic economy is difficult to interpret, since he seems to contradict himself. In the statement
    of the purpose of the “works principle,” he sometimes speaks of it as though it required “meritorious”
    works that would be the basis for Israel’s tenure in the land, as in this passage. But at other times,
    he describes the Mosaic economy’s obligation of obedience as an obligation for “grateful” or “sincere
    obedience,” an obedience that would serve as a witness to the nations (137).78 Mid-America Journal of Theology
    number of difficult exegetical questions derives precisely from this difference.
    In its original setting within the Mosaic economy, Leviticus 18:5 can scarcely
    be understood apart from other essential elements of the covenant of grace.
    For example, the obligations of obedience stipulated in Leviticus 18:5 assume
    the truth of Israel’s redemption from bondage by God’s outstretched arm, and
    are placed within this context in a manner that is similar to the promulgation
    of the law at Sinai. When the Lord calls his people to holiness, he does so
    as one who is holy, but also as one who graciously makes provision for the
    justification and sanctification of his people.
    It is especially noteworthy that the statutes of the Mosaic covenant to
    which Leviticus 18:5 requires compliance include all the provisions in the
    Levitical legislation that concern the offering of sacrifices for the cleansing
    away of the guilt and pollution of sin. Indeed, all of the ceremonies of the law
    to which Israel is subject constitute a typological prefigurement of the person
    and work of Christ as Mediator and Savior. Furthermore, the Lord, who makes
    provision for the removal of the guilt and uncleanness of the people through the
    Levitical legislation, also promises the people that he will sanctify them (see,
    e.g., Leviticus 22:32–33). In this context, Leviticus 18:5 can hardly be read to
    be a republication of the covenant of works, which obliges Israel to a perfect
    obedience as a basis for her blessing in the land of promise. This would not
    only wrest Leviticus 18:5 from its setting within the Mosaic economy and the
    Levitical legislation, but it would also suggest that this economy was no longer
    undergirded by the promises first made to Abraham, who was justified before
    God through faith alone and in no other wise than believers are justified in the
    New Testament economy. When Estelle and Gordon maintain that Leviticus
    18:5 republished the covenant of works, they offer little or no explanation of
    how this comports with these fundamental features of the Mosaic covenant as
    an administration of the covenant of grace.
    More important than their failure to explain how Leviticus 18:5 fits
    within the framework of a covenant administration that was substantively a
    covenant of grace, Estelle and (especially) Gordon dismiss a common Reformed
    interpretation of Paul’s use of this text in Romans and Galatians. As we have
    seen in our consideration of the view of the Mosaic administration in Calvin,
    Turretin, and Witsius, these formative writers in the history of Reformed
    theology consistently interpret Paul to be addressing a “legalistic” abuse or
    misappropriation of the teaching of Leviticus 18:5. Remarkably, Gordon, in
    the course of his rather dismissive treatment of John Murray’s view of the
    obligations of obedience under the Mosaic covenant, writes as though Paul’s
    argument cannot possibly be read in any other way than the one he presents.58
    In offering his criticism of Murray, Gordon actually criticizes a rather standard
    58 Gordon’s attack upon John Murray in his chapter seems to exceed the bounds of propriety for
    an academic essay in biblical theology. For example, he asserts that Murray not only could not have
    made any sense of Paul’s argument in Galatians, but also that whatever he would have written would
    be “obfuscatory in the highest degree” (253). And, as if that were not enough, he adds, “I like to think
    that he [i.e. Murray] was aware that he was entirely flummoxed by Paul’s reasoning, and that he
    therefore determined not to write anything about the matter until he could make some sense of it.”
    In actual fact, Murray does address the matter directly in his commentary on the book of Romans,
    which includes an appendix on Paul’s appeal to Leviticus 18:5, that we will consider in what follows.
    Furthermore, Gordon neglects to note that Murray addresses the interpretation of Galatians 3 in his
    Redemption Accomplished and Applied (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955 [44–45]), and that his lectures on Galatians at Westminster Theological Seminary are available to the public (see http://sites.
    google.com/site/themosaiccovenant/john-murray). The Mosaic Covenant: A “Republication” of the Covenant of Works? 79
    view in the history of Reformed interpretation of Paul’s argument in Galatians.
    Even were Gordon able to prove that Murray could have made “no sense”
    out of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, as he alleges, he would still have to
    acknowledge that the interpretation of Paul’s argument that he dismisses was
    fairly common, and probably predominant, among the principal exegetes of
    the tradition.
    Me: This interpretation happens to the one I favor, and have attempted to explain to DG for some time.

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  143. Zrim, try to focus read the above critique hopefully you will see that you are all wet. That report is from MARS, it’s well documented, and well written. I give it two thumbs up!

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  144. Jack asks Really? Part of what can confuse in this discussion is the use of the term “law.” The moral law as summed up in the 10 Commandments, i.e. the moral law… Is that the law you refer to?

    No, and thanks for the question, I was using law to mean the ceremonial law being the school master pointing to Christ through promise, type, and ordinances all prefiguring the Christ to come. That’s the sense Paul is using law in Galatians 2, 3 and 4 imho.

    It was the ceremonial law that taught the people of God the many aspects of Christ’s saving work, it taught the people of God they needed a savior, something outside of themselves if they were to get right with God. If they approached the law in faith, they looked ahead to the promise and were forgiven retroactively. There was no conflict with the ceremonial law and the grace of Christ. It’s just that once Christ accomplished salvation, and created one new man in his own flesh in place of the two, the older order had to be set aside. It was not of faith to hang on to a Jew/Gentile distinction after Christ abolished the hostility and made peace.

    Christ’s church needed to be one body!

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  145. Doug,

    Thanks, though the article I was talking about was a response to another article specifically in the same journal, not to TNLF. Despite his disagreements, Venema endorsed TNLF. I think your reading of the respective positions is missing his nuance. (He also wrote a book against paedocommunion that’s worth checking out.)

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  146. Doug, Yes, the ceremonial law pointed to Christ, shadowing the promise. And the moral law as summarized in the 10 Commandments exclaimed the unyielding demand of God’s righteousness upon all mankind including Israel (be ye perfect even as your Father in heaven…).

    “Estelle manages to capture precisely how the two opposing principles of works and grace coexist in the Mosaic economy… The monocovenantal error is to fail to allow the two principles to stand alone and distinct, instead reconciling and conflating them at every turn.” – Brian Lee

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  147. Here is the critique of Gordon~

    2.2.2 Galatians 3:6–14 and the Mosaic Administration
    Perhaps the most provocative exposition of the republication thesis in The
    Law is Not of Faith is the chapter by Gordon that offers an interpretation of
    the contrast between the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants in Galatians 3:6–
    14. Upon the basis of his reading of this passage, Gordon argues that these
    covenants are “characteristically” different. Whereas the Abrahamic covenant
    was unconditional and gracious, the Mosaic covenant was conditional and
    legal. Contrary to the Abrahamic covenant, which promised life and blessing
    through Christ, the Mosaic covenant enunciated a “works principle” that could
    only condemn and curse the people of God. In Gordon’s interpretation, Paul’s
    appeal to this contrast was not skewed by a legalistic misuse of the law of
    Moses by his opponents. Rather, Paul was appealing to the radical contrast
    between two principles of inheritance that characterized the Abrahamic and
    Mosaic covenants—the one a gracious, the other a works principle—in order
    to confirm the gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone.
    In my assessment of Gordon’s interpretation of Paul’s argument in
    Galatians 3, I will follow the same procedure as in the previous section. I
    will begin with a summary of Calvin’s interpretation of Paul’s argument in
    Galatians 3, and then consider as well the interpretation of the argument by
    a more recent Reformed biblical theologian, Herman Ridderbos. My purpose
    in doing so will not be so much to refute Gordon’s interpretation as such, but
    to establish the point that there are other, more common interpretations of
    Galatians 3 in the Reformed exegetical tradition, past and present.
    I have already noted that Calvin interprets Paul’s appeal to Leviticus 18:5
    in Galatians 3:12 to illustrate the contrast between the law and gospel on
    the issue of justification before God. Since no one is able to obey perfectly
    what the law requires, no one is able to be justified by the works of the law.
    With respect to the basis for the justification of believers before God, the law,
    narrowly considered, is opposed to the gospel. There is an antithesis between
    the righteousness of the works of the law and the righteousness of faith.
    However, in the course of his exposition of Paul’s contrast between the
    Abrahamic and Mosaic economies in Galatians 3, Calvin is at some pains
    to defend their full harmony and coherence. Calvin does not conclude
    from Paul’s argument that the Abrahamic and Mosaic administrations are
    “characteristically” different, to use Gordon’s language. In his interpretation of
    Paul’s argument, especially the contrast the apostle draws between the promise
    given to Abraham and the law mediated through Moses, Calvin observes that
    the law of Moses was never intended to nullify or state a principle that opposes
    73 For another example of this explanation by a Reformed exegete, see William Hendriksen, Exposition of Galatians (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1968), 127–31.84 Mid-America Journal of Theology the promise. In order to sort out the complex argument of the apostle Paul,
    Calvin insists that we need to distinguish the different ways in which the
    apostle speaks of the law. Though there is a contrast between the law and the
    gospel on the question of justification, the law of Moses ultimately serves the
    ministry of the gospel promise. “I again repeat that if you do not understand
    that the promise is free, this statement will be quite empty, for the law and the
    Gospel are not at variance except that, in regard to justification, either the law
    justifies a man by the merit of works or the promise bestows righteousness
    freely.”74 The law was not given through Moses as a means or instrument of
    justification, for that, according to Calvin, would “make the promise of none
    effect.”
    According to Calvin, when Paul contrasts the law and the Gospel in
    Galatians 3, he emphasizes only one of the uses of the law, namely, the
    pedagogical use whereby the law directs its recipients to Christ as the only
    Mediator. But Calvin hastens to warn against a possible misunderstanding
    of Paul’s comments about the law. “Readers must be put on their guard on
    this matter; for I see many make the mistake of acknowledging no other use
    of the law than what is expressed here. But elsewhere Paul himself applies
    the precepts of the law to teaching and exhortation (2 Tim. 3.16). There this
    definition of the use of the law is not complete and those who acknowledge
    nothing else in the law are wrong.”75 In addition to the pedagogical use of the
    law as a teacher of sin and a schoolmaster that directs its recipients to Christ
    the Mediator, the law of Moses was given to Israel as a comprehensive rule
    of life. On the one hand, the law of Moses directs the people of Israel to look
    to Christ, who is the end or fulfillment of the law. Now that Christ has come,
    this peculiar function of the law is finished. In this way, the law of Moses was
    preparatory to the coming of Christ in the fullness of time. On the other hand,
    the law of Moses was given as a comprehensive rule of life, which reveals to the
    redeemed people of God the manner of life and grateful devotion that pleases
    the Lord. As a rule of conduct, the law of Moses is given within the context of
    God’s gracious promise, not as an instrument for obtaining life and acceptance
    with God, but as an instrument for regulating Israel’s sincere obedience to
    him.
    [Paul] affirms that under the reign of Christ there is no longer a childhood
    which needs to be ruled by a schoolmaster, and that consequently the law
    has finished its task. This is another application of the comparison. He had
    undertaken to prove two things: that the law is a preparation for Christ, and
    that it is temporary. But here again it may be asked whether the law is so
    abolished that it has nothing to do with us. I reply that the law, so far as it
    is a rule of life, is a bridle which keeps us in the fear of the Lord, a spur to
    correct the slackness of our flesh, in short, so far as it is profitable for teaching,
    correcting, reproving, that believers may be instructed in every good work, is as
    much in force as ever, and remains intact.76
    For Calvin, Paul’s argument does not warrant the conclusion that the Mosaic
    administration is opposed in any substantial way to the gospel promise. Rather
    74 Comm. Gal. 3:17, CNTC 11:59 (CO 50.213).
    75Comm. Gal. 3:19, CNTC 11:61 (CO 50.215).
    76 Comm Gal. 3:25, CNTC 11:67 (CO 50.221).The Mosaic Covenant: A “Republication” of the Covenant of Works? 85

    than being at odds with the gospel promise, the Mosaic economy has only
    “ended in so far as it differs in outward aspect from the covenant of grace.”77
    Though it would be instructive to review how other Reformed theologians
    in the orthodox period treat Paul’s argument in Galatians 3, it is interesting to
    observe that a more recent Reformed biblical theologian, Herman Ridderbos,
    offers a strikingly similar interpretation to that of Calvin. In his magisterial
    work, Paul: An Outline of His Theology. 78 Ridderbos’ interpretation of Paul’s
    argument in Galatians 3 differs markedly from that of Gordon and follows
    closely Calvin’s view of the Mosaic economy.
    In his interpretation of the apostle Paul’s view of the law of Moses,
    Ridderbos acknowledges that there is an apparent inconsistency between the
    way Paul treats the redemptive-historical function of the law in passages like
    Galatians 3 and 4, as well as Romans 10, and the “positive purpose” of the law
    in the Old Testament economy.79 In the Old Testament economy, the law was
    given within the framework of redemption and served to regulate the conduct
    of the people of God in the land of promise. Within this framework, the law
    was not intended to serve as the basis for Israel’s justification and life before
    God. The law was intended to set forth a positive rule of conduct for the people
    of God. However, in Paul’s references to the law of Moses in Galatians 3 and
    4, he speaks negatively of the law as a covenant “that brings forth children
    of slavery” and sharply contrasts the law with the righteousness of faith.
    According to Ridderbos, Paul’s characterization of the law’s function in these
    passages poses “an exceedingly complex problem” that can be put in the form
    of the question:
    [C]an the redemptive-historical significance Paul ascribes to the law be thought
    to be in harmony with the foundation on which the law was given in the Old
    Testament (Exod. 20:2), and on which its demand is intended to function, as
    appears from the whole Old Testament revelation of God?80
    Since the law was never given to Israel as an instrument for obtaining
    justification and life, Paul’s contrast between the law and the promise in
    Galatians 3 seems inconsistent with the purpose and function of the law in the
    Old Testament economy. In his treatment of this complex problem, Ridderbos
    offers several general observations that correspond at a number of points with
    emphases we have already witnessed in the writings of Reformed theologians,
    including Calvin, of the orthodox period.
    First, Ridderbos notes that a resolution of the problem of Paul’s negative
    appraisal of the law of Moses must be consistent with the apostle’s teaching
    that the Mosaic administration also taught the righteousness of faith. “It
    should be maintained first that, for Paul the advent of Christ does not mean
    the great redemptive-historical incision in the sense that it was only with
    Christ that the possibility of faith had come, and that prior to it righteousness
    by the law was the only way of salvation assigned to Israel.”81 Ridderbos notes
    that the apostle Paul taught that “the way of faith … constituted the essence
    77 Comm. Gal. 3:25, CNTC 11:67 (CO 50.221).
    78 Paul: An Outline of His Theology, trans. John R. De Witt (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975).
    79 Paul: An Outline of His Theology, 153.
    80 Paul: An Outline of His Theology, 153.
    81 Paul: An Outline of His Theology, 154.86 Mid-America Journal of Theology
    of the Old Testament economy of redemption,” and that Abraham was justified
    by faith and not by works (Rom. 4). Remarkably, the apostle Paul even appeals
    to pronouncements in the law of Moses to confirm the gospel of righteousness
    by faith (Rom. 10:6ff; Gal. 3:11; 4:21). Unless the apostle Paul contradicts
    himself, we must assume that his negative assessment of the law of Moses in
    Galatians 3 does not include a negative assessment of the Mosaic economy
    as a whole. For Ridderbos, it would be a mistake to conclude from Paul’s
    argument in Galatians 3 that the apostle regarded the Mosaic economy to be at
    variance with the gospel promise previously revealed through the Abrahamic
    covenant. Such a conclusion would imply that the apostle Paul’s view of the
    Mosaic economy was inconsistent and contradictory at key points.
    Second, Ridderbos further argues that, when Paul appeals to the law of
    Moses in a positive manner to confirm the gospel of salvation by grace through
    faith, he refers to the law in “the larger sense,” and not the law ‘consisting in
    commandments and ordinances.’”
    82 In the course of his polemic against the
    Judaizers, Paul opposes not the Mosaic administration in its entirety, but the
    failure of his opponents to “see the law in the proper light.” When the law is
    abstracted from its place within the broader framework of the Old Testament
    economy, it can be viewed, as was true in the case of Paul’s opponents, “as a
    means for setting up their own righteousness” before God. By isolating the law
    from its setting within the broader framework of the Mosaic administration,
    Paul’s opponents were wresting the law to an inappropriate purpose, namely,
    as a means for obtaining righteousness and life before God.
    Third, Ridderbos maintains that the apostle Paul engages his opponents
    by proceeding from their standpoint, namely, from the law “as it functioned in
    the synagogue’s doctrine of redemption.” The negative manner in which Paul
    describes the righteousness of the law can only be understood in terms of the
    position of his opponents, whose view of the law was opposed to the gospel of
    the righteousness of faith through Christ.
    Now, it is from this law, as it functioned in the synagogue’s doctrine of
    redemption opposed by him, that Paul again and again proceeds, the law as he
    saw it before him in the life of the Jews, the law as he himself had also lived
    from it (Phil. 3:6), that is, the law before Christ and the law without Christ.
    That he is able to see the function of the law in another way as well, in the light
    of grace and of faith, as the rule for the new life, is apparent from the manner
    in which presently he will again connect the life that is from the Spirit with the
    law (Rom. 8:4, et al.). But in the antithesis with Judaism this function of the
    law does not arise, but the ultimate consequence is drawn from what takes
    place when the sequence of salvation and law is reversed, and the law itself
    is made a means of salvation. One can say, therefore, that in combating the
    Jewish doctrine of the law Paul starts from the Jewish standpoint and from
    thence makes plain what happens to the law and to man and what from God’s
    side must happen when righteousness and life are anticipated from the law
    and not from the promise, from human volition and endeavor and not from the
    power of the Spirit.83
    For Ridderbos, Paul’s negative appraisal of the law represents a kind of
    argumentum ad hominem, an argument that proceeds from the mistaken
    82 Paul: An Outline of His Theolog, 154.
    83 Paul: An Outline of His Theology, 154–55.The Mosaic Covenant: A “Republication” of the Covenant of Works? 87
    standpoint of his opponents in order to prove the impossibility of any attempt
    to seize upon the law as an instrument of self-justification before God.
    Fourth, after these preliminary observations about Paul’s argument,
    Ridderbos identifies the most difficult question regarding Paul’s negative
    evaluation of the law in a passage like Galatians 3. If Paul’s argument proceeds
    from the false standpoint of his opponents, who sought to use the law as an
    instrument for self-justification, then the apostle “would in essence have taken
    his point of departure in a false position.”84 Moreover, if the apostle proceeds
    from the false standpoint of opponents, who seized upon the law as a means
    of self-justification before God, how can we explain Paul’s appeal to Leviticus
    18:5? To put the question in the sharpest terms, “[w]ould Paul … have cited
    Leviticus 18:5 in support of a false prophecy?”85 On the surface, Paul’s appeal
    to this passage seems to assume that the law not only requires obedience,
    but also that such obedience is in some sense the proper basis for obtaining
    life and salvation. Rather than opposing the standpoint of the Judaizers, this
    passage appears to argue that Moses taught the principle that life may be
    obtained on the basis of works.
    In his response to this difficult question, Ridderbos identifies two possible
    explanations of what Paul is doing, each of which poses insuperable problems.
    The first explanation is that Paul does attribute the view of his opponents to
    Moses, and in doing so implies that Moses taught a view regarding the way
    of justification and life before God that was based upon works. According to
    this explanation, Paul’s appeal to Leviticus 18:5 means that he understood
    Moses to teach the propriety of pursuing a legal righteousness as a means of
    self-justification before God. In Ridderbos’ judgment, this explanation cannot
    be correct, since Paul appeals elsewhere to Moses precisely to refute such a
    legalistic pursuit (e.g. Rom. 10:6).
    The second explanation that Ridderbos identifies is especially significant,
    since it resembles closely the explanation offered by Gordon in The Law is Not
    of Faith. In this explanation, Moses is understood by Paul to have “posited two
    possibilities, of which the first (righteousness by the law) was intended by him
    as a way impossible for the sinner.”86 According to Ridderbos, there are two
    difficulties with this interpretation of Paul’s argument and appeal to Leviticus
    18:5. In the first place, Leviticus 18:5 in its original setting and in accordance
    with “the intention of Moses” communicates a “rule of the covenant,” namely,
    that life and blessing within the covenant require obedience to God’s statutes.
    The point of this text in its original setting is not to invite Israel to obtain life
    on the basis of her obedience, and to show thereby that such obedience is
    impossible. The point of the text, as is true of the giving of the law of Moses
    in general, is to summon Israel to grateful and sincere obedience. In his own
    understanding of the Christian life as a life of “faith working through love”
    (Gal. 5:6), the apostle Paul also affirms the positive place of obedience in the
    life of God’s redeemed people. And in the second place, when Paul appeals to
    Leviticus 18:5 against those who seek to establish their own righteousness
    before God based upon obedience to the law, he properly reminds his
    opponents “that he who strives after the righteousness that is by the law is
    84 Paul: An Outline of His Theology, 155.
    85 Paul: An Outline of His Theology, 155.
    86 Paul: An Outline of His Theology, 156.88 Mid-America Journal of Theology
    then bound to the word of Moses, that is, to do what the law demands.” In
    Ridderbos’ understanding of what Paul is doing, “[t]his is not an appeal to
    Moses in support of ‘a false position,’ but a binding of this position to its own
    point of departure: he who seeks righteousness in the law faces, as appears
    from the law itself, the requirement of doing (cf. Gal. 3:10, 12).”87
    What Paul means to say is this, that he who strives after the righteousness that
    is by the law is then bound to the word of Moses, that is, to do what the law
    demands. Likewise the wrong use of the law, to be zealous for the law without
    understanding, finds in the law itself the standard to which, if it is to have a
    chance of success, it must measure up. In that sense it can be said that Moses
    (or the law itself) “defines” the righteousness that is of the law.88
    Ridderbos’ explanation of Paul’s argument conforms in all important respects
    with the one we have seen in Calvin and other Reformed covenant theologians.
    When Paul appeals to Leviticus 18:5, he is not offering a complete account of the
    nature of the Mosaic administration. Rather, Paul is showing to his opponents
    the futility of any attempt to make the law an instrument of justification before
    God. For, if the law is seized upon as an instrument of justification, then it
    places its recipients under the burden of doing all that the law requires.
    2.2.3.

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  148. Doug,

    Venema is well-regarded as a careful scholar. But here, he seems to over-reach when he says that “As we have seen in our consideration of the view of the Mosaic administration in Calvin,
    Turretin, and Witsius, these formative writers in the history of Reformed
    theology consistently interpret Paul to be addressing a “legalistic” abuse or
    misappropriation of the teaching of Leviticus 18:5.”

    :ater in that same article, he writes

    However, when the apostle Paul draws a contrast or speaks
    of an antithesis between the “law” and the “gospel,” he is not teaching that
    the Mosaic administration in some sense republished the covenant of works
    and is, in this respect, contrary to the gospel. Rather, the apostle is opposing
    a kind of “legalism” that appeals to the “law” as an instrument for pursuing
    righteousness and justification before God upon the basis of works of the law.

    In at least one case, this is clearly and demonstrably false. Take a look at Calvin’s commentary on 2 Cor 3. I won’t cite it in full here because it is very lengthy.

    But put it in one window and OldLife in another and observe with me the following things:

    (1) Paul is addressing the law/gospel distinction.

    He now follows out the comparison between the law and the gospel…

    (2) NOT because of Judaizing tendencies but because of an inherent contrast between law and gospel

    For my part, as I see no evidence that the false apostles had there confounded the law and the gospel, I am rather of opinion, that, as he had to do with lifeless declaimers, who endeavored to obtain applause through mere prating, and as he saw, that the ears of the Corinthians were captivated with such glitter, he was desirous to show them what was the chief excellence of the gospel, and what was the chief praise of its ministers. Now this he makes to consist in the efficacy of the Spirit. A comparison between the law and the gospel was fitted in no ordinary degree to show this. This appears to me to be the reason why he came to enter upon it.

    So already, Venema’s comment on Calvin is shown to be not entirely accurate. Calvin sees Paul as drawing a distinction between Law and Gospel inherently, and not only in cases of misuse of the law.

    What was that distinction?

    (3) That the Law was a ministry of death, but the Gospel, a ministry of life.

    From this, too, it follows, that the law was the ministry of condemnation and of death; for when men are instructed as to their duty, and hear it declared, that all who do not render satisfaction to the justice of God are cursed, (Deuteronomy 27:26,) they are convicted, as under sentence of sin and death. From the law, therefore, they derive nothing but a condemnation of this nature, because God there demands what is due to him, and at the same time confers no power to perform it. The gospel, on the other hand, by which men are regenerated, and are reconciled to God, through the free remission of their sins, is the ministry of righteousness, and, consequently, of life also.

    Notice how Calvin affirms that the law required satisfaction to the justice of God, and without that, men are under the condemnation of death. This is the spiritual side of the works principle.

    (4) But does not the Gospel also bring condemnation to those without faith? So how is that different from the Law? Can’t we say that the blessings and cursings are greater under the New Covenant than the Old?

    My answer is this — that there is, notwithstanding of this, a great difference between them; for although the gospel is an occasion of condemnation to many, it is nevertheless, on good grounds, reckoned the doctrine of life, because it is the instrument of regeneration, and offers to us a free reconciliation with God. The law, on the other hand, as it simply prescribes the rule of a good life, does not renew men’s hearts to the obedience of righteousness, and denounces everlasting death upon transgressors, can do nothing but condemn. Or if you prefer it in another way, the office of the law is to show us the disease, in such a way as to show us, at the same time, no hope of cure: the office of the gospel is, to bring a remedy to those that were past hope. For as the law leaves man to himself, it condemns him, of necessity, to death; while the gospel, bringing him to Christ, opens the gate of life. Thus, in one word, we find that it is an accidental property of the law, that is perpetual and inseparable, that it killeth; for as the Apostle says elsewhere, (Galatians 3:10,)

    All that remain under the law are subject to the curse.

    It does, not, on the other hand, invariably happen to the gospel, that it kills, for in it is revealed the righteousness of God from faith to faith, and therefore it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.

    (5) And finally, is the passing away of the Law in reference to the ceremonies only?

    There are various reasons why the ministry of Moses is pronounced transient, for it was necessary that the shadows should vanish at the coming of Christ, and that statement —

    The law and the Prophets were until John —
    (Matthew 11:13)

    — applies to more than the mere shadows. For it intimates, that Christ has put an end to the ministry of Moses, which was peculiar to him, and is distinguished from the gospel. Finally, the Lord declares by Jeremiah, that the weakness of the Old Testament arose from this — that it was not engraven on men’s hearts. (Jeremiah 31:32,33.) For my part, I understand that abolition of the law, of which mention is here made, as referring to the whole of the Old Testament, in so far as it is opposed to the gospel, so that it corresponds with the statement — The law and the Prophets were until John. For the context requires this. For Paul is not reasoning here as to mere ceremonies, but shows how much more powerfully the Spirit of God exercises his power in the gospel, than of old under the law.

    I invite you to chew carefully on the entire chapter of this commentary, because it does not fit well with either Venema’s thesis, that Calvin speaks only of law/gospel distinction in cases of misuses of the Law; nor does it fit well at all with yours, that the passing away of the law is in reference to the ceremonies only.

    What is open to question, in my mind, is whether the term “republication” is the proper term to describe the state of affairs between law and gospel.

    What is not open to question, in my mind, is whether the law had an aspect of its ministry that was in contrast to the gospel. Paul is very clear: the law kills, the Spirit gives life.

    Like

  149. This critique is scathing! VanDrunen chills me to the bone!

    the covenant people of God. In one of the few instances where this function
    is addressed, Gordon takes strong exception to John Murray’s claim that the
    covenant obligation of Israel to obey the law of Moses was substantially similar
    in nature to the obligations of obedience in the new covenant. And in the case
    of the argument of VanDrunen, it is not even clear whether the moral law, as
    it is summarized in the Decalogue of Moses, may be viewed as an abiding rule
    of conduct for the people of God within the spiritual kingdom of the church.
    In historic Reformed reflection upon the moral law of God, a far more vigorous
    and positive conception of the role of the law as a rule of gratitude is evident
    than that found in this volume.

    In my estimation the failure of the authors of The Law is Not of Faith to
    affirm vigorously the positive function of the law as a rule of gratitude in the
    Mosaic economy is not accidental. Because the authors of The Law is Not of
    Faith view the moral law of God to express necessarily the “works principle” of
    the covenant of works, they do not have a stable theological basis for affirming
    the abiding validity of the moral law as a rule of gratitude. The argument
    of the authors seems to be something like the following: because the moral
    law of God, rooted as it is in God’s holy and righteous character, always
    requires perfect obedience, and because God’s moral government requires
    that obedience be rewarded and disobedience be punished—the moral law is
    essentially a covenant of works. For this reason, VanDrunen seems compelled
    to conclude that the moral law of God is no longer the rule of conduct for
    believers in relationship to each other within the “spiritual kingdom” of the
    church of Jesus Christ. VanDrunen even goes so far as to suggest that the
    law that is “written upon the heart” of the new covenant people of God is
    not substantially the same moral law that was promulgated in the Decalogue
    through Moses. Even though the other authors of the volume do not explicitly
    make this claim, the implication of their arguments, which equate the law with
    its demands and consequences with the works principle of the covenant of
    works, seems to lead in the same direction.

    For the same reason, the authors
    assume that Chapter 19 of the Westminster Confession of Faith supports the
    republication thesis. However, when Chapter 19 affirms the abiding validity of
    the moral law, it does so to emphasize the positive role of the law as a rule of
    conduct for the covenant people of God, and not to suggest something like the
    republication of the covenant of works through Moses.

    Me: What a bad review! You guys need to lay off of Kline, Gordon, and Vandrunen!

    Like

  150. Jack, I read the 70 page review, among others, but I haven’t read the book, but the arguments we’re debating over, are near and dear to me. I have been debating Zrim and DG for years so I might as well have read the book front and backwards. I examined the scriptural evidence and they’re rational they have employed for TLNF and found it wanting. My opinion? Kline the bur under the blanket, or the gum on the shoe. It’s his aberrant unscriptural view of typology that’s caused a slew of good men to miss-interpret key passages throughout the Bible.

    Like

  151. Doug,

    The reason I asked is that it would help advance the discussion to place key claims of TNLF side-by-side with Venema and Ramsey for comparison.

    In discussions like these (that is, between the principals, not us) it is sometimes the case that the two sides talk past each other, like this:

    Repub: “The Mosaic Law contains a typological works-principle in which the land was kept on the basis of obedience.”

    Anti-Repub: “There was never a salvific works-principle in the Old Covenant!”

    And of course, these two claims are not actually in conflict.

    What I see in Venema is some good criticism and also some talking past the authors.

    Good Criticism: “Republication in some sense” is vague language.

    This is absolutely true, and it leaves the authors open to misunderstanding at best or charges of slipperiness at worst. It was the same problem with the Federal Vision: “Justification in some sense.” Although I would argue that TLNF tries to put some definition on the “in some sense.”

    Still and all, it would be helpful for Fesko to tighten up “Republication in some sense” to something more clear and snappy. “Typological republication” works for me.

    Talking past: Venema says this,

    However, Fesko maintains that Calvin also distinguished “two separate
    covenants” within the Mosaic administration: a “legal covenant” (foedus legale)
    and an “evangelical covenant” (foedus evangelicum) (30). On the one hand, the
    Mosaic administration “set forth a covenant governed by a works principle,
    namely, eternal life through obedience.” On the other hand, the Mosaic
    administration set forth antithetically a gracious covenant, which promised
    eternal life to Israel, not through obedience to the requirements of the law
    but through faith in Christ.

    Venema is clearly reading Fesko as putting forward the Mosaic Covenant as two separate covenants, which view was rejected. When he gets to criticizing Fesko, he says

    There are two significant problems at this point with Fesko’s interpretation
    of Calvin’s view of the Mosaic administration. In the first place, Fesko misreads
    Calvin’s language regarding a “legal” and an “evangelical” covenant. When
    Calvin uses this language, he is not referring to two covenants, which allegedly
    set forth different principles for obtaining life, but he is referring to two distinct
    administrations of the one (in substance) covenant of grace.

    Let us then set forth the covenant that he once established as eternal and
    never-perishing. Its fulfillment, by which it is finally confirmed and ratified,
    is Christ. While such confirmation was awaited, the Lord appointed, through
    Moses, ceremonies that were, so to speak, solemn symbols of that confirmation.
    A controversy arose over whether or not the ceremonies that had been ordained
    in the law ought to give way to Christ. Now these were only the accidental
    properties of the covenant, or additions and appendages, and in common
    parlance, accessories of it. Yet because they were means of administering
    it, they bear the name “covenant,” just as is customary in the case of other
    sacraments. To sum up, then, in this passage “Old Testament” means the
    solemn manner of confirming the covenant, comprised in ceremonies and
    sacrifices.

    In this passage, which follows shortly after Calvin’s use of the language of a
    “legal” and an “evangelical” covenant, Calvin clearly affirms that the “legal”
    or Mosaic covenant was an administration of the covenant of grace. He does
    not mean to designate two covenants by this language, but, as is customary
    in his writings, he uses the terminology of “law” or a “legal covenant” in the
    comprehensive sense to refer to the Mosaic administration (or “the whole
    religion of Moses”) of the one covenant of grace.

    Well, we have Calvin on the one hand speaking of “legal” and “evangelical” covenants, but meaning one covenant/two administrations. But if Fesko speaks of “two covenants”, he must mean two covenants?

    That’s probably not the best way to read Fesko. If he meant that, then he would be a straight-up dispensationalist.

    No, it makes more sense to read Fesko as speaking of two different administrations and imitating Calvin’s language. I think Venema is probably over-reading Fesko’s “two covenant language” and failing to realize that Fesko’s structure is substantially the same as Turretin’s option (4): still others, with whom Turretin concurs, viewed the Mosaic administration as in substance a covenant of grace, though promulgating the law as a means to teach human inability and sinfulness and the need for the Mediator, Jesus Christ.

    Now the obvious question: Is my reading of Fesko correct? And for that, we need to hit the copy of TLNF. Tomorrow, not tonight. But I would ask you to grab a copy from somewhere so that you can engage the substance of it. I am not an unqualified supporter of Kline (as you know!), but I do think that there’s a fair amount in the Republication Hypothesis that needs to be wrestled with and not dismissed.

    Like

  152. In the meantime, True or False?

    1. The Law put forward a hypothetical obedience principle: If one could keep the Law (by love), then one would be just before God.

    2. The Law’s “killing function” (per 2 Cor 3) is in reference to the moral law.

    3. The Law’s judicial sanctions are a type of God’s judgement of sin.

    4. Jesus fulfilled the Law on our behalf.

    5. Jesus’ obedience to the Father is imputed to us by faith.

    6. Obedience to the Law out of fear of consequences is disobedience.

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  153. Doug: “I read the 70 page review, among others, but I haven’t read the book, but the arguments we’re debating over, are near and dear to me. I have been debating Zrim and DG for years so I might as well have read the book front and backwards.”

    me: really really lame.

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  154. Hi Doug,

    I was so struck by this that I had to post this AM. I pulled TLNF off the shelf and was giving it a once over when my eye fell on this review:

    This provocative volume makes the historical and biblical theological case for understanding the Mosaic administration in the covenant of grace as in some sense a ‘republished’ covenant of works, which teaches that only perfect obedience to the requirements of the law is sufficient to secure the covenant promise of life in communion with God. The authors ably refute recent attacks upon the classic Reformed understanding of the grace of free justification on the basis of the entire obedience and sacrifice of Christ alone. Though I am not persuaded by every formulation here, this volume deserves the careful attention of anyone who prizes the biblical teaching that the believer’s justification rests not on any works of his own, but solely on the full obedience of Christ.

    — Cornelius Venema, President… MARS.

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  155. Doug, Jeff beat me to it. But you read Venema the way you read WCF 19. You say, “The law was never a works/righteousness proposition…The law never taught if you do such and such you can earn salvation, NO! That would be works/righteousness, the law taught you to put your trust in Christ.” You then invoke Venema who says “…this volume deserves the careful attention of anyone who prizes the biblical teaching that the believer’s justification rests not on any works of his own, but solely on the full obedience of Christ.” Which sounds an awful lot like: “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.”

    Instead of more blustering and chest thumping, how about you try and show how either Venema or WCF agree with you that the law was never intended to earn eternal life. That sure seems to be the plain reading.

    Like

  156. Doug, if DVD chills you to the bone, this might make you faint dead away. In TLNF, after cataloguing the various instances of law in the surrounding pagan lands, DVD goes on to conclude:

    In the original covenant of works, God demanded of Adam his whole self and whole devotion, and upon his failure to render this the lex talionis demanded of him his whole self as an exact and just punishment. In the civil setting, where the relationship is not per se between God and a human person but between two human people, and therefore in which one party does not owe her entire self and devotion to any other, the same absolute execution of the lex talionis is not appropriate. But insofar as obligations are owed to one another, an analogous talionic principle of Mosaic jurisprudence as well as of many other legal systems because it is, in a nutshell, the works principle-proclaiming natural law striving to find expression in the civil law of a fallen world.

    …For present purposes, I suggest for now only this: because Moses, under divine inspiration, could incorporate concepts and even concrete regulations from the legal systems of surrounding cultures, there must have been, for all their imperfections, considerable justice and equity in these neighboring legal systems. This points to the conclusion that these pagan cultures accurately derived many of their laws from the natural law and therefore also adds more evidence to the Reformed idea that the Mosaic law, even in its civil aspect, is itself an application of the natural law designed for the particular situation of Old testament Israel.

    …One might note the irony of the conclusions I am drawing in this section in light of the claims of the so-called theonomy school of thought popular in some circles of contemporary Reformed Christianity. Ironically, my conclusions suggest that there is a very important insight that theonomy contributes to theological discussion of the Mosaic law, but that in this very insight theonomy get things backwards. Their insight is that there is a universal relevance to the civil law of Moses. But whereas theonomy understands this universal relevance to prescribe that the Mosaic civil law should be a model for the civil law of other nations, my conclusions suggests that the civil law of other nations was, in a certain sense, a model for the Mosaic law. The Mosaic law is universally relevant in its being like the laws of other nations, not in other nations’ laws being like Moses’. This claim may provoke the objection that this is somehow demeaning to God in making him a copycat of the pagan nations. But this would be, I suggest, an overly hasty and simplistic objection that fails to account for the larger purposes of God in redemptive history. It was God himself who wrote the natural law on human hearts and preserved its testimony among the pagan peoples. Furthermore, as explored in the next section, God had beautiful and wise redemptive purposes in mind when he established Israel as his Old Testament covenant people in such a way that preserved their significant resemblances to and commonality with the sea of humanity around them.

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  157. 1. The Law put forward a hypothetical obedience principle: If one could keep the Law (by love), then one would be just before God. (false)

    2. The Law’s “killing function” (per 2 Cor 3) is in reference to the moral law. (False)

    3. The Law’s judicial sanctions are a type of God’s judgement of sin .(False)

    4. Jesus fulfilled the Law on our behalf. (true)

    5. Jesus’ obedience to the Father is imputed to us by faith.(true)

    6. Obedience to the Law out of fear of consequences is disobedience.(false question!)

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  158. Zrim bellows, Instead of more blustering and chest thumping, how about you try and show how either Venema or WCF agree with you that the law was never intended to earn eternal life.

    Zrim, you need to pay attention! I was talking about the Mosaic Law, or the Mosaic covenant, which was not a works/righteousness arrangement; it was a covenant of grace. Kline said the Mosaic Covenant was against faith and grace! May it never be!

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  159. Doug, what use is Jesus’ obedience being imputed to us (5) if it’s not true that by his obedience he is just before God (1)?

    Re the law, what are you talking about? WCF 19.2 makes it clear that the law and the Mosaic covenant were one and the same: “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.”

    re the paying of attention, chest thumper, berate thyself.

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  160. Doug, The law given to Adam was a covenant of works by which God bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience. This same law (which was a covenant of works) continued after the fall in the same manner, i.e. man was still bound by that moral law or covenant of works. And that same law (which is a covenant of works) God delivered (republished) upon Mt. Sinai in 10 Commandments. And that coexisted with the covenant of grace prefigured in Gen. 3 and given more explicitly as the promise to Abraham, which promise pointed to Christ.
    _________________

    WCF 19:
    I. 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.

    II. 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.

    III. Besides this law, commonly called moral, God was pleased to give to the people of Israel, as a church under age, ceremonial laws, containing several typical ordinances, partly of worship, prefiguring Christ, His graces, actions, sufferings, and benefits; and partly, holding forth divers instructions of moral duties. All which ceremonial laws are now abrogated, under the New Testament.
    ____________________

    “Estelle manages to capture precisely how the two opposing principles of works and grace coexist in the Mosaic economy… The monocovenantal error is to fail to allow the two principles to stand alone and distinct, instead reconciling and conflating them at every turn.” – Brian Lee

    No, Kline doesn’t get it wrong, nor do the writers in TLNF. Try reading it and the WCF in light of the biblical data.

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  161. Zrim, everybody in the reformed world *knows* that God republished (if you will) his law which he gave to Adam, but not as a way to earn salvation.

    The (moral) law is still our rule of life today! This is the main point Van Drunen misses! (I really think he hates the law!) He can’t choke out the words, “Oh how I love your law!”

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  162. Doug, the O.T. worship prefigured, or pointed to, Christ who would personally, entirely, exactly, and and forever obey God, thereby earning eternal life which Adam (and all his posterity) failed to do. The worship of Israel fits perfectly as pointing to the mercy of God, the covenant of grace, offered to his people in light of the righteous and exacting demands of the covenantal law which no Jew (or human) could keep. Christ , the second Adam and our federal head, fulfills the demands of God’s law, the covenant of works, and in exchange, by his sacrifice, gives his people the free pardon of their sins and, by his resurrection, a righteous standing before the law which he earned for them.

    Christ came to fulfill all righteousness. And he exclaimed on the cross, “It is finished!”
    He fulfilled the covenant of works and he is the fulfillment of the promise, the covenant of grace.

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  163. Doug, in reference to Qn #1, you say:

    Could you explain your answer in terms of Romans 2.13?

    ” For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. ”

    And Calvin’s commentary on the same, and WLC 93

    Question 93: What is the moral law?

    Answer: The moral law is the declaration of the will of God to mankind, directing and binding everyone to personal, perfect, and perpetual conformity and obedience thereunto, in the frame and disposition of the whole man, soul and body, and in performance of all those duties of holiness and righteousness which he owes to God and man: promising life upon the fulfilling, and threatening death upon the breach of it.

    Are you saying in your answer, then, that the moral law has been abrogated?

    While you are thinking about that, consider

    WLC 97:Question 97: What special use is there of the moral law to the regenerate?

    Answer: Although they that are regenerate, and believe in Christ, be delivered from the moral law as a covenant of works…

    How are the regenerate delivered from the moral law as a covenant of works, if there is no element of the covenant of works in that same moral law?

    I hope the question is clear.

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  164. Doug, clearly you aren’t grasping exactly what Lee/Estelle are saying (thanks, Jack). But now in your legalism’s inability to grasp how two opposing principles of works and grace can coexist in the Mosaic economy, you are going further and suggesting a form of antinomianism. Would you also suggest the same of Paul who was able to at once recognize the inherent goodness and weakness of the law?

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  165. Zrim,

    Thanks for the quote from DVD.. “But whereas theonomy understands this universal relevance to prescribe that the Mosaic civil law should be a model for the civil law of other nations, my conclusions suggests that the civil law of other nations was, in a certain sense, a model for the Mosaic law. The Mosaic law is universally relevant in its being like the laws of other nations, not in other nations’ laws being like Moses’.”

    It’s terribly reminiscent of Kline’s use of the ANE treaty form for understanding the Pentateuch.
    It’s interesting how distinct this is from biblicism, and also gives greater apologetic force and legibility than just a mere scholastic treatment. Not knocking scholastic treatments btw.

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  166. Saying that the Law is good without qualification is kind of like saying a lion is good. True, a lion is an amazing creature, but it can also tear you to pieces. The Law is good, but it is not in and of itself good news to us because we are sinful. I think those who saw the law is good in an unqualified way often overestimate their ability to keep it.

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  167. Erik,

    Good point on the goodness of the law. It reminds me of the same thing regarding those who would sum up the gospel as “Jesus is Lord.” That isn’t good news for sinners. That he is both Lord and Savior, now that is good news.

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  168. I didn’t just see the PuritanBoard recommended as a source for anything remotely useful….

    April Fools isn’t for another month.

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  169. Jack quotes: The law given to Adam was a covenant of works by which God bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience.

    Jack are you aware that John Murray wanted to remove the term (covenant of works) from the WCF as unhelpful, if not outright miss-leading? Murray as well as Van Til thought the notion of merit was unwarranted and unbiblical!

    I side with Van Til and Murray. Moreover, I’ve searched to see where the concept of merit is taught in the Garden of Eden, and guess what? It’s not there! Where does God tell Adam that he can earn eternal life? It’s not there! Adam could already freely eat from the tree of life and stand in the glory of God’s presence and not be ashamed!

    Moreover, I (like Murray) don’t see Adam’s probation in the garden promising him anything upon obedience. He already had everything, because he had Christ! He could freely eat from the tree of life, and stand in the presence of God naked and not be ashamed. So I have a hard time seeing Genesis teaching us that Adam was to earn eternal life.

    As much as I admire the WCF and I really do, if a doctrine is not taught in Scripture then we must look at it with distrust. Murray did! Please show me in Scripture where I’m off. By the way, the WCF did not teach that Adam was to earn eternal life, but it has been twisted by sinful man, even well meaning men like Kline, to there own detriment. And to the detriment of those who listen to them!

    And finally, since Adam wasn’t to earn a thing, (as is the large consensus in the reformed community) then Kline, Van Drunen, and Gordon’s, brand of merit theology comes crashing to the ground like a house of cards! And what an unholy mess!!!

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  170. Doug,

    You say, “And finally, since Adam wasn’t to earn a thing, (as is the large consensus in the reformed community…”

    What consensus do you refer to?

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  171. Witsius, Economy of the Covenant Between God and Man:

    It is a bad practice which the celebrated Cocceius everywhere justly condemns in the Socinians, so to put so low and mean fence on them. And is this not done, when the divine sentence, ‘Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law’ is brought so low: He freed us from the yoke of the ceremonies. This, certainly, is among the very least of the blessings, which accrue to believers from the redemption of Christ

    — Witsius, Economy, 4.75

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  172. The prohibition to touch the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a trial of obedience, that Adam, by observing it, might prove his willing submission to the command of God. For the very term shows the end of the precept to have been to keep him contented with his lot, and not allow him arrogantly to aspire beyond it. The promise, which gave him hope of eternal life as long as he should eat of the tree of life, and, on the other hand, the fearful denunciation of death the moment he should taste of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, were meant to prove and exercise his faith.

    — Calv Inst 2.1.4.

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  173. Jack quotes: The law given to Adam was a covenant of works by which God bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience.

    Jack are you aware that John Murray wanted to remove the term (covenant of works) from the WCF as unhelpful, if not outright miss-leading? Murray as well as Van Til thought the notion of merit in the garden was unwarranted and unbiblical!

    I side with Van Til and Murray. Moreover, I’ve searched to see where the concept of merit is taught in the Garden of Eden, and guess what? It’s not there! Where does God tell Adam that he can earn eternal life? It’s not there! Adam could already freely eat from the tree of life and stand in the glory of God’s presence and not be ashamed!

    Moreover, I (like Murray) don’t see Adam’s probation in the garden promising him anything upon obedience. He already had everything, because he had Christ! He could eat freely from the tree of life, and stand in the presence of God naked and not be ashamed. So I have a hard time seeing Genesis teaching us that Adam was to earn eternal life.

    As much as I admire the WCF and I really do, if a doctrine is not taught in Scripture then we must look at it with distrust. Murray did! Please show me in Scripture where I’m off. By the way, the WCF did not teach that Adam was to earn eternal life, but it has been twisted by sinful man, even well meaning men like Kline, to his own detriment and to the detriment of those who listen to him!

    And finally, since Adam wasn’t to earn a thing, (as is the consensus in the reformed community) then Kline, Van Drunen, and Gordon’s, brand of merit theology comes crashing to the ground like a house of cards! And what a loud crash!!!

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  174. Doug,

    What do you make of Romans 4:4?

    Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.
    (Romans 4:4 ESV)

    Did Christ not do his work on the cross to earn our salvation?

    Working? Earning? I see a theme here.

    If Christ is the second Adam does it not make sense that Adam was called to work as well?

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  175. Doug: Jack are you aware that John Murray wanted to remove the term (covenant of works) from the WCF as unhelpful, if not outright miss-leading?

    Me: Yeah, those one hundred-plus Westminster Divines all got it wrong.

    Doug: Please show me in Scripture where I’m off.

    Me: Erik just pointed to a Scripture reference(s). Jeff has done so, as have I. Zrim, Jeff, and I have all pointed to various reformed theologians (primarily Calvin) that lend support. You have not interacted with any of that. You simply keep declaring you are right and that all right-thinking reformed people/theologians agree with you (without offering proof of that consensus).

    To top it off you argue against a book (TLNF) that you have never read!! Relying solely on the arguments of the critics to come to what you think is a reasoned opinion. Now there is a judicious approach, not! But even more, if you’re not going to interact with at least some of the many citations Jeff has posted, then I see no point continuing.

    I’m reminded that “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

    Jeff, thanks for allthat you found and posted in this thread. Very helpful. And also convey my thanks also to your research staff! 😉

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  176. Doug,

    I am aware That John Murray did not like the term covenant of works. He had really earned the right to question this term because of his demonstrated commitment to reformed theology And because of his demonstrated skill at exegesis.

    Still and all, he limited his criticism of the covenant of works language to an insistence that there was Grace present in the garden. Even at the time, this proposal was not universally received at Westminster. And the second generation of those who have followed him, Such as O. Palmer Robertson, Have been more nuanced, and it followed a bi-covenantal structure.

    The exception, of course, Is Norm Shepherd. And at this point, he does not represent anything like a reformed consensus. Rather, he is an outlier. Even those among the federal vision who remained in the PCA, Such as Jeff Myers, have affirmed the bi-covenantal structure.

    The key point here is that the notion of Grace in the garden can be reconciled with the covenant of works by following Turretin’s suggestion That Adams merit was not strict Merit, but merit pactum: Merit according to the terms of the covenant and nothing more. There is nothing Pelagian whatsoever about this solution, which really has been the Reformed consensus (to the best of my knowledge) since at least Turretin. Indeed, this is probably the sense in which the WCOF intends in ch. 7.

    Sent from the paragon oF Random cApitalization, the smrt fown.

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  177. Zrim condescends; Doug, clearly you aren’t grasping exactly what Lee/Estelle are saying (thanks, Jack). But now in your legalism’s inability to grasp how two opposing principles of works and grace can coexist in the Mosaic economy, you are going further and suggesting a form of antinomianism. Would you also suggest the same of Paul who was able to at once recognize the inherent goodness and weakness of the law?

    That’s because you and Lee/Estelle are trapped in a conceptual contradiction. To put it bluntly, you’re *ethically retarded*. You have put your mind in a trick bag, and told yourself, the law was both for and against grace. Huh? Red flag! Penalty for not making sense!

    Why not just go all the way with Kline and say: The Mosaic Law was against faith and grace? You can’t have two opposing principles in one covenant of grace! Don’t you know a house divided can’t stand? Are you calling God’s internally divided? Do you know how disrespectful to God this line of reasoning is?

    Zrim, not even Dr Venema could grasp this works/grace principle, talk about a contradiction in terms! He thought it was incoherent, and so do I. Earth to Zrim, it is!

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  178. Jeff, I believe in two covenants as well. The first covenant made with Adam before the fall, and all the post fall covenant are essenscially one covenant of grace, different administrations but the same in substance. Paul calls them the covenants of promise in Ephesians 2. Notice all the post fall covenants were of the single promise. Showing unity! So what was Israel’s problem? Was the law sending a mixed message like Zrim and Company thinks?? Listen to Paul in Romans 9:31

    “But that Israel, who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness, did not succeed in reaching the law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written,”

    What a devastating verse for Van Drunen!

    This verse destroys TLNF’s whole premise! (Yes that includes you Zrim) Paul doesn’t talk about an inner conflict within the law; he says Israel got it all wrong! The law was never presented as a works/righteousness package! It never was presented as something you could do in your own strength! It was always by grace through faith! Israel’s problem was that they thought it was by works, when it really was by grace though faith. Proving that natural man lacks the ability to apprehend the promises of God. You must be born again, before you can *see* the kingdom of God. The same true for obeying the gospel today. God must first do a work in our heart, before we can respond with faith.

    Apostate Israel looked at the ceremonial ordinances and missed Christ, who was the aim of the law!

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  179. Jeff, one of the things I really appreciate about conversing with you, is that you use biblical terms as much as possible, and your very polite 🙂

    Keep pressing on!

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  180. Doug – “The same true for obeying the gospel today”

    How does one “obey” the gospel?

    Are you suggesting that if Israel would have conducted itself like, say, Colorado Springs or Grand Rapids today (places where lots of evangelicals live), they would have been alright? You know, lived like “people of faith”?

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  181. As an aside to Paul’s rebuttal to one of TLNF’s main premise. When I provided Romans 9:31 to “young” Sean, he claimed, either (Gordon or Van Drunen) “thought” the ESV had miss-translated that verse. If that’s the case, then so did the ASV and NASB, KJV, as did most our translations.

    If our translations are correct, then TLNF is proven false, by Paul! So to believe TLNF one must believe that our English translations translated Romans 9:32 incorrectly.

    Me? I”m sticking with our Bible translators!

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  182. Doug: Jeff, I believe in two covenants as well

    OK. So in your view, what are the differences between those two covenants?

    Doug: So what was Israel’s problem? Was the law sending a mixed message like Zrim and Company thinks??

    I haven’t seen Zrim or anyone else (including TNLF) arguing that the Law was “sending a mixed message.” What two messages do you have in mind?

    Doug: Listen to Paul in Romans 9:31

    “But that Israel, who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness, did not succeed in reaching the law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written,”

    Sure. Nobody in the room denies that Israel — especially 1st century Pharisees — pursued righteousness as if by works. So we both can produce passages in spades showing that this is so.

    Now ask a separate question: Why could righteousness not be obtained by the Law?

    And we both know the answer: Because the Law was given “because of transgressions”, to bring consciousness of sin.

    How does it do this? By putting forward God’s commands. And as Romans 2 says, “the doers of the Law will be justified.” If this is so, then were the Pharisees correct? No, because all are under sin and therefore no-one will be justified by the Law.

    The inability to be justified by obedience follows directly from the inability to obey.

    How are we so far?

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  183. Doug: Erik, all men are commanded to repent and embrace Christ in faith and call him Lord. When they do, is that not obedience?

    No.

    Obviously, I don’t mean that belief is *disobedience*!

    Instead, I am considering the concept of *ground*. When people obey the command to repent and embrace Christ, they receive eternal life on the ground of Christ’s merit imputed to them.

    (Notice that in the Catholic scheme, faith is counted as righteousness — eternal life is received on the ground of obedience to the command to believe)

    The Confession makes a big deal of this in the section on faith.

    On the other hand, when people in the OT obeyed God’s commands, of course out of faith and through the power of the Spirit, they received rewards on the ground of their obedience, imperfect though it may have been. E.g., Gen 26, Ex 19.5: “Because you have obeyed my commands…”

    So while it *is* true that obeying the command to believe is “obedience” in the normal English sense of the word, it *is not* true that faith is obedience in the Biblical sense of the word.

    The difference is the ground for what is received. Faith itself receives, but is not a ground. Obedience is a ground. Disobedience is a ground.

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  184. Doug – Erik, all men are commanded to repent and embrace Christ in faith and call him Lord. When they do, is that not obedience?

    Erik – How is receiving a gift “obedience”?

    And if faith is a gift of God, how are those who have faith being “obedient” and how are those who do not have faith being “disobedient”?

    I understand the notion of obedience/disobedience when it comes to the Law (“thou shalt not kill”), but not when it comes to the gospel.

    In other words, those who go to hell go there because they have broken the law, not because they lack faith in Christ. Those who do not go to hell have also broken the law, but they are spared because of Christ’s work which is imputed to them through faith.

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  185. Anthony Burgess

    The following is taken from Anthony Burgess’s Vindication of the Law and the Covenants (1647). Burgess was a prominent member of the Westminster Assembly. These lectures were internationally hailed as a solid defense of consensus Calvinism over against the more extreme views of the Calvinistic antinomians of the period, as well as those of the Papists, Socinians, and Arminians.

    Burgess argues for the consensus position articulated in the Westminster Standards, that the Mosaic Law is a covenant of grace (cf. WCF 7:5-6; 19:1-2; LC #101). Over against this, he refutes three other aberrant minority views, who maintain that the Mosaic covenant was a covenant of works, a mixed covenant, or a subservient covenant. Note especially his insightful exegesis of the Ten Commandments towards the end: even the very form of the commandments presupposes that they are given in the context of a covenant of grace.

    Burgess utilizes the precision of the scholastic method by distinguishing between the “whole doctrine delivered on Mount Sinai, with the preface and promises adjoined, and all things that may be reduced to it,” and in a more strict sense, the law “as it is an abstracted rule of righteousness, holding forth life upon no terms, but perfect obedience.” In other words, if we take the substance of the commands out of the Decalogue, and consider it merely in terms of these legal imperatives, abstracting it from its administration under Moses, we have a covenant of works. This can be affirmed in an orthodox sense only because the substance of the Mosaic Law (consider simply as the commandments abstracted from the preface and the promises) is the same as the law of the covenant of works, not because God actually made a covenant of works with Israel (for either earthly or heavenly life and blessedness)

    This is very important for understanding the mainstream Reformed view, especially because Burgess reflects the Calvinistic consensus represented at the Westminster Assembly.

    I have again updated some of the spelling to be more pleasing to the modern eye. In a few instances I have changed the word order in the interests of readability. I have in no way knowingly changed the sense or substance of Burgess’s arguments

    Vindication of the Law and the Covenants (1647)

    Having proved it [the Mosaic Law] is a Covenant, all the difficulty remains in declaring what Covenant it is; for here is much difference of judgments, even with the Learned and Orthodox: and this [pg. 232] arises from the different places of the Scripture, which, although they are not contrary one to another, yet the weakness of our understandings is many times overmastered by some places: Some (as you have heard) make it a Covenant of works, others a mixed Covenant, some a subservient Covenant; but I am persuaded to go with those who hold it to be a Covenant of grace: and indeed, it is very easy to bring strong arguments for the affirmative; but then there will be some difficulty to answer such places as are brought for the negative; and if the affirmative prove true, the dignity and excellence of the Law will appear the more. Now, before I come to the arguments, which induce me hereunto, consider in what sense it may be explained, that it is a Covenant of grace.

    Some explain it thus, that it was indeed a Covenant of grace, but the Jews, by their corrupt understanding, made it a Covenant of works, and so opposed it unto Christ: and therefore, say they, the Apostle argues against the Law, as making it to oppose the promises and grace: not that it did so, but only in regard of the Jews corrupt minds, who made an opposition where there was none. This has some truth in it, but it is not full.

    Some make the Law to be a Covenant of grace, but very obscurely; and therefore they hold the Gospel and the Law to be the same, differing only as the acorn while it is in the husk, and the oak when it’s branched out into a tall tree. Now if this should be understood in a Popish sense, as if the righteousness of the Law and the Gospel were all one, in which sense the Papists speak of the old Law and the new, it would be very dangerous and directly thwarting the Scripture.

    Some explain it thus: God (say they) had a primary or antecedent will in giving of the Law, or a secondary and consequent: His primary will was to hold out perfect and exact righteousness, against which the Apostle argues, and proves no man can be justified thereby: but then God knowing man’s impotency and inability, did secondarily command repentance, and promises a gracious acceptance through Christ; and this may be very well received, if it be not vexed with ill interpretations.

    [pg. 233] But, lastly, this way I shall go: The Law (as to this purpose) may be considered more largely, as that whole doctrine delivered on Mount Sinai, with the preface and promises adjoined, and all things that may be reduced to it; or more strictly, as it is an abstracted rule of righteousness, holding forth life upon no terms, but perfect obedience. Now take it in the former sense, it was a Covenant of grace; take it in the later sense, as abstracted from Moses’s administration of it, and so it was not of grace, but works.

    This distinction will overthrow all the objections against the negative. Nor may it be any wonder that the Apostle should consider the Law so differently, seeing there is nothing more ordinary with Paul in his Epistle, and that in these very controversies, then to do so: as for example, take this instance, Rom. 10:5-6, where Paul describes the righteousness of the Law from those words, “Do this and live,” which is said to have reference to Lev. 18:5. But we find this in effect, Deut 30:16. Yet from this very Chapter the Apostle describes the righteousness which is by faith: And Beza does acknowledge, that that which Moses speaks of the Law, Paul does apply to the Gospel: Now how can this be reconciled, unless we distinguish between the general doctrine of Moses which was delivered unto the people in the circumstantial administrations of it, and the particular doctrine about the Law, taken in a limited and abstracted consideration? Only take notice of this, that although the Law was a Covenant of grace, yet the righteousness of works and faith differ as much as heaven and earth. But the Papists, they make this difference: “The righteousness of the Law” (says Stapleton, Antid. in hunc locum) “is that which we of our own power have and doe by the knowledge and understanding of the Law”; but the righteousness of faith, they make the righteousness of the Law, to which we are enabled by grace through Christ: So that they compare not these two together, as two contraries, (in which sense Paul does) but as an imperfect righteousness with a perfect. But we know, that the Apostle excludes the work of David & Abraham, that they did in obedience to the Law, to which they were enabled by grace; so necessary is it in matter of justification and pardon to exclude all [pg. 234] works, anything that is ours; Tolle te a te, impedis te, said Augustine well. Nor does it avail us, that this grace in us is from God, because the Apostle makes the opposition wholly between anything that is ours, howsoever we come by it, and that of faith in Christ. Having thus explained the state of the Question, I come to the arguments to prove the affirmative: And thus I shall order them;

    The first shall be taken from the relation of the Covenanters; God on one part, and the Israelites on the other: God did not deal at this time, as absolutely considered, but as their God and Father. Hence God said “he is their God”; and when Christ quotes the commanders, he brings the preface, Hear O Israel, the Lord thy God is one. And, Rom. 9:4: “To the Israelites belong adoption, and the glory, and the covenants and the giving of the Law, and the promises.” Now, unless this were a covenant of grace, how could God be their God, who were sinners? Thus also if you consider the people of Israel into what relation they are taken, this will much confirm the point. Exod. 19:5- 6. “If you will obey my voice, you shall be a peculiar treasure unto me, and you shall be unto me a kingdom of Priests, and an holy Nation”: which is applied by Peter to the people of God under the Gospel. If therefore the Law had been a Covenant of works, how could such an agreement come between them?

    2. If we consider the good things annexed unto this Covenant, it must needs be a Covenant of grace: for there we have remission and pardon of sin, whereas in the Covenant of works, there is no way for repentance or pardon. In the second Commandment, God is described to be “one showing mercy unto thousands”: and by “showing mercy” is meant “pardon,” as appears by the contrary, “visiting iniquity.” Now does the Law, strictly taken, receive any humbling & debasing of themselves? No, but curses every one that does not continue in all the things commanded, and that with a full and perfect obedience. Hence, Exod. 34:6-7. God proclaims himself in manifold attributes of “being gracious,” and “long-suffering, keeping mercy for thousands, and forgiving iniquity”; and this he does upon the renewing of the two Tables: whereas, if the people of Israel had been strictly held up [pg. 235] to the Law, as it required universal perfect obedience, without any failing, they must also necessarily have despaired, and perished without any hope at all.

    3. If we consider the duties commanded in the Law so generally taken, it must needs be a Covenant of grace: for what is the meaning of the first Commandment, but to have one God in Christ our God by faith? For if faith had not been on such terms commanded, it had been impossible for them to love God, or to pray unto God. Must not the meaning then be, to love, and delight in God, and to trust in him? But how can this be without faith through Christ? Hence some urge, that the end of the commandment is love from faith unfeigned; but because Scultetus does very probably, by commandment, understand there, “The Apostles preaching and exhortation,” (it being in the Greek paraggelia, and not nomoV, or entolh, and the Apostle using the word in that Epistle in the same sense) I leave it. It’s true there is no mention made of Christ, or faith in the first Commandment, but that is nothing, for love also is not mentioned: yet our Savior discovers it there, and so must faith and Christ be supposed there by necessary consequence. And can we think, that the people of Israel, though indeed they were too confident in themselves, yet when they took upon themselves to keep and observe the Law, that the meaning was, they would do it without any spot or blemish by sin, or without the grace of God for pardon, if they should at any time break the Law.

    4. From the Ceremonial Law. All Divines say, that this is reduced to the Moral Law, so that Sacrifices were commanded by virtue of the second Commandment. Now we all know, that the Sacrifices were evangelical, and did hold forth remission of sins through the blood of Christ: If therefore these were commanded by the Moral Law, there must necessarily be grace included, although indeed it was very obscure and dark. And it is to be observed, that the Apostle does as much argue against circumcision, and even all the Ceremonial Law, as the Moral; yea the first rise of the controversy was from that: Now all must confess, that circumcision and the sacrifices did not oppose Christ, or grace, but rather included them. [pg. 236] And this has always been a very strong argument to persuade me for the affirmative. It is true, the Jews they rested upon these, and did not look to Christ; but so do our Christians in these times upon the Sacraments, and other duties.

    5. This will appear from the visible seal to ratify this Covenant which you heard, was by sacrifices, and sprinkling the people with blood:And this did signify Christ, for Christ he also was the Mediator of this Covenant, seeing that reconciliation cannot possibly be made with a sinner, through the Mediation of any mortal man. When thereforeMoses is called the Mediator, it is to be understood typically, even as the sacrifices did wash away sin typically. And, indeed, if it had been a Covenant of works, there needed no Mediator, either typical, or real; some think Christ likewise was the Angel spoke of (Acts 7) with whom Moses was in the wilderness; and it is probable. Now if Christ was the Mediator of the Law as a Covenant, the Antinomian distinction must fall to the ground, that makes the Law as in the hand of Moses, and not in the hand of Christ; whereas on Mount Sinai, the Law was in the hand of Christ.

    6. If the Law were the same Covenant with that oath, which God made to Isaac, then it must needs be a Covenant of grace: But we shall find that God, when he gave this Law to them; makes it an argument of his love and grace to them; and therefore remembers what he had promised to Abraham, Deut. 7:12. “Wherefore it shall come to pass, if you hearken to these judgments, and do them, that the Lord your God shall keep with you the Covenant, & the mercy which he swore unto your fathers.” And, certainly, if the Law had been a Covenant of works, God had fully abrogated and broken his Covenant and Promise of grace which he made with Abraham and his seed. Therefore, when the Apostle (Gal. 3:18). opposes the Law and the promise together, making the inheritance by one, & not the other; it is to be understood according to the distinction before mentioned of the Law taken in a most strict and limited sense: for it is plain, that Moses in the administration of this Law, had regard to the Covenant and Promise, yea made it the same with it. Now to all this, there are strong objections made from those [pg. 237] places of Scripture, where the Law and faith, or the promise, are so directly opposed, as Rom. 10 before quoted, so Gal. 3:18, Rom 4:14; so likewise from those places, where the Law is said to be “the ministry of death, and to work wrath.” Now to these places, I answer these things:

    First, that if they should be rigidly, and universally true, then that doctrine of the Socinians would plainly prevail, who from these places of Scripture do urge, that there was no grace, or faith, nor nothing of Christ, vouchsafed unto the Jews; whereas they read they had the Adoption, though the state was a state of bondage.

    In the second place consider that as it is said of the Law, “it works death,” so the Gospel is said to be the “savor of death,” and men are said “to have no sin, if Christ had not come”; yea they are said “to partake of more grievous judgments, who despised Christ, then those that despised the Law of Moses”: so that this effect of the Law was merely accidental through our corruption: only here is the difference, God does not vouchsafe any such grace, as whereby we can have justification in a strict legal way: but he doth whereby we may obtain it in an Evangelical way.

    Thirdly, consider that the Apostle speaks these derogatory passages (as they may seem to be) as well of the Ceremonial Law; yet all do acknowledge here was Christ and grace held forth.

    Fourthly, much of these places is true in a respective sense, according to the interpretation of the Jew, who taking these without Christ, make it a killing letter, even as if we should the doctrine of the Gospel, without the grace of Christ. And, certainly, if any Jew, had stood up and said to Moses, Why do you say, you give us the doctrine of life; it’s nothing but a killing letter, and the ministry of death, would he not have been judged a blasphemer against the Law of Moses? The Apostle therefore must understand it, as separated, yea and opposed to Christ and his grace.

    And lastly, we are still to retain that distinction of the Law in a more large sense, as delivered by Moses; and a more strict sense, as it consists in precepts, threatenings and promises upon a condition impossible to us, which is, the fulfilling of the Law in a perfect manner.

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  186. Doug, OK, so what is the difference between this:

    But, lastly, this way I shall go: The Law (as to this purpose) may be considered more largely, as that whole doctrine delivered on Mount Sinai, with the preface and promises adjoined, and all things that may be reduced to it; or more strictly, as it is an abstracted rule of righteousness, holding forth life upon no terms, but perfect obedience. Now take it in the former sense, it was a Covenant of grace; take it in the later sense, as abstracted from Moses’s administration of it, and so it was not of grace, but works.

    and Fesko?

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  187. Doug, sorry, but the more you speak the more you sound like a visionary of the federal coalition–theocratic and Christian America pinings, paedocommunionism, and most of all this latest round of denials re the LGD, etc. It’s a program clearly denounced by the larger balance of NAPARC. The question is: Do you have the chutzpah to admit it and consider yourself unReformed if Reformed means the opposite of all these traits the way Kuyper was ready to do when it came to the question of the civil magistrate contra Calvin, the confessions and our Reformed theologians?

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  188. Doug,

    Point taken, but I think “obey”, meaning in this context, “to give heed or attention to what is said”, has to be read in light of the verses that come before.

    “Obeying” the gospel is trusting in Christ. Obeying the commandment to not murder is doing more than trusting that murder is wrong — you actually have to refrain from murdering someone.

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  189. Erik: What do you guys (both sides) think the practical implications are for the church of this debate?

    In a word, the clarity of the Law and the Gospel. Why? Because there exists inherent in man an underestimation of the absolute righteous demands of God’s law (be ye perfect even as My Father is perfect) upon all mankind, and the logical, unbridgeable chasm between our most righteous works (filthy rags all before God’s holy law) and the unblemished holiness required in order to stand justified before God in the glare of that law. Where can we stand without condemnation? Only upon the solid rock of Christ Jesus’ finished work on our behalf. All other ground is sinking sand. The Mosaic covenant contains these two words, these two covenants if you would, without conflating them – Law and Gospel – as the New Testament makes clear.

    And so then every movement of our sanctification as believers rests upon the ground of our justification as explained in those two words of God in Scripture, law and gospel.

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  190. Jack, I honestly don’t know what you mean by “two words* law and gospel* without conflating them.” Huh? Are you reading that from a Gordon book? I read Dr Venema’s critique of this law gospel principle and he couldn’t understand how two warring principles law and grace could be in God’s covenant without conflation. Can you walk us all through that?

    I’d be willing to bet a dollar to a donut you have no idea what that means.

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  191. Jack, I am in agreement with you on salvation, I believe we’re saved by grace through faith, nevertheless, we still need to read God’s word, amen?

    . I like the first Psalm,

    Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; (but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

    Question Jack, do you think the first Psalm is still relevant for our lives today? And if yes, do you delight in the law of the LORD? Do you meditate on it day and night?

    Should we meditate on God’s law, or was that just for old testament Saints?

    Think and pray about it, you don’t need to answer if you don’t want too.

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  192. Doug, check out the Larger Catechism: faith is not a work.

    Q. 73. How doth faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?
    A. Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it, nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification; but only as it is an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness.

    Faith is trust not obedience, unless you want to follow Bryan Cross into Rome.

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  193. Doug, who says you still don’t read the Word? The question is how to interpret the Bible. Do you interpret through Paul (“the law is not of faith”) or through Moses?

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  194. Doug,

    Sorry to have been unclear. I meant, What is the difference between the paragraph I quoted and what Fesko says?

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  195. DGH:

    Just listened to your podcast on Heidelblog from May 2010 on Union with Christ, one of the better discussions over recent years.

    I now see this site as a solid parading ground for a few earnestly seeking to be named Reformed-er and Reformed-est.

    And any chance of influencing Scott to archive this a little quicker, a lot would be interested in hearing it again, either for brickbatting or edification purposes…

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  196. So Darryl, are you implying the first Psalm was only for the Jew in the old testament? Was delighting in the law, just for old testament Saints? Did Paul teach you, that we should no longer love and meditate on God’s law?

    Hmmmm, then why did Paul say: “We *know* the law is good, if one uses it lawfully?”

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  197. Darryl honestly asks: Do you interpret through Paul (“the law is not of faith”) or through Moses?

    I don’t know Darryl, are you saying they contradict each other? Moses preached the gospel according to Hebrews, did he teach salvation by works? Are you serious?

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  198. Darryl states “Faith is trust not obedience”

    Oh really? Does God command all men to repent and embrace him in faith? When they do, is that obedience or disobedience?

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  199. Master Doug: “Jack, I honestly don’t know what you mean by “two words* law and gospel* without conflating them.” Huh?… ”

    Me: Your lack of familiarity with the writings of Luther, Calvin, Ursinus, and the other “old guys” of the Reformation is showing. The two words of Scripture, Law and Gospel, were very familiar to the 16th and 17th century reformed writers. But unfortunately not familiar to some who today profess orthodoxy when it comes in all things reformed.

    William Tyndale (from his prologue to his English translation of the Bible, approx. 1525):

    Nevertheless, seeing that it hath pleased God to send unto our Englishmen…the scripture in their mother tongue, considering that there be in every place false teachers and blind leaders; that ye should be deceived of no man, I supposed it very necessary to prepare this Pathway into the scripture for you, that ye might walk surely, and ever know the true from the false: and, above all, to put you in remembrance of certain points, which are, that ye well understand what these words mean; the Old Testament; the New Testament; the law, the gospel; Moses, Christ; nature, grace; working and believing; deeds and faith; lest we ascribe to the one that which belongeth to the other, and make of Christ Moses; of the gospel, the law; despise grace, and rob faith.

    Ursinus (from the Introduction to his Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism):

    I. What Is The Doctrine Of The Church?
    The doctrine of the church is the entire and uncorrupted doctrine of the law and gospel concerning the true God, together with his will, works, and worship; divinely revealed, and comprehended in the writings of the prophets and apostles, and confirmed by many miracles and divine testimonies; through which the Holy Spirit works effectually in the hearts of the elect, and gathers from the whole human race an everlasting church, in which God is glorified, both in this, and in the life to come….

    What Are the Parts Of The Doctrine Of The Church, And In WHAT DO THEY DIFFER FROM EACH OTHER?
    The doctrine of the church consists of two parts: the Law, and the Gospel; in which we have comprehended the sum and substance of the sacred Scriptures. The law is called the Decalogue, and the gospel is the doctrine concerning Christ the mediator, and the free remission of sins, through faith. This division of the doctrine of the church is established by these plain and forcible arguments. 1. The whole doctrine comprised in the sacred writings, is either concerning the nature of God, his will, his works, or sin, which is the proper work of men and devils. But all these subjects are fully set forth and taught, either in the law, or in the gospel, or in both. Therefore, the law and gospel are the chief and general divisions of the holy scriptures, and comprise the entire doctrine comprehended therein.

    Me: Read the whole thing: http://tinyurl.com/ajak5w7

    Master Doug: “I’d be willing to bet a dollar to a donut you have no idea what that means.”

    Me: You shouldn’t make a blind assumption and then wager money on it. Not only can it cause some embarrassment but you’ll impoverish yourself.

    Seriously, Doug, delve into the older sources. Read the original writings of the Reformers, not just modern writings about what they wrote. And while you’re at it, read “The Law is Not of Faith.” It would, at least, give some weight to your criticisms of that book.

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  200. Are the two words of Law and Gospel some new unorthodox teaching??

    Excerpts from The Law & The Gospel by Michael S. Horton:

    At the heart of the reformation’s hermeneutics was the distinction between “Law” and “Gospel.” For the Reformers, this was not equivalent to “Old Testament” and “New Testament;” rather, it meant, in the words of Theodore Beza, “We divide this Word into two principal parts or kinds: the one is called the ‘Law,’ the other the ‘Gospel.’ For all the rest can be gathered under the one or other of these two headings.” The Law “is written by nature in our hearts,” while “What we call the Gospel (Good News) is a doctrine which is not at all in us by nature, but which is revealed from Heaven (Mt. 16:17; John 1:13).” The Law leads us to Christ in the Gospel by condemning us and causing us to despair of our own “righteousness.” “Ignorance of this distinction between Law and Gospel,” Beza wrote, “is one of the principal sources of the abuses which corrupted and still corrupt Christianity…”

    “… The Reformers saw Rome as teaching that the Gospel was simply an easier “law” than that of the Old Testament. Instead of following a lot of rules, God expects only love and heartfelt surrender. Calvin replied, “As if we could think of anything more difficult than to love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength! Compared with this law, everything could be considered easy…[For] the law cannot do anything else than to accuse and blame all to a man, to convict, and, as it were, apprehend them; in fine, to condemn them in God’s judgment: that God alone may justify, that all flesh may keep silence before him…”

    “… Calvin defended this evangelical distinction between Law and Gospel: All this will readily be understood by describing the Law and describing the Gospel and then comparing them. Therefore, the Gospel is the message, the salvation-bringing proclamation concerning Christ that he was sent by God the Father…to procure eternal life. The Law is contained in precepts, it threatens, it burdens, it promises no goodwill. The Gospel acts without threats, it does not drive one on by precepts, but rather teaches us about the supreme goodwill of God towards us. Let whoever therefore is desirous of having a plain and honest understanding of the Gospel, test everything by the above descriptions of the Law and the Gospel. Those who do not follow this method of treatment will never be adequately versed in the Philosophy of Christ.”

    Read the whole thing: http://tinyurl.com/a36lsfk

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  201. Doug, I get it. Everywhere you look you see law. The gospel becomes a command. But the Reformers said the gospel is a promise. Unless you distinguish between promise and command, you get no distinction between law and gospel (and that’s why you sound like Federal Visionaries).

    Try some Calvin who goes out of his way to distinguish faith (trust in promise) from works (obedience to commands):

    Master. – This then is your meaning-that as righteousness is offered to us by the gospel, so we receive it by faith?
    Scholar. – It is so.
    Master. – But after we have once been embraced by God, are not the works which we do under the direction of his Holy Spirit accepted by him?
    Scholar. – They please him, not however in virtue of their own worthiness, but as he liberally honours them with his favour.
    Master. – But seeing they proceed from the Holy Spirit, do they not merit favour?
    Scholar. – They are always mixed up with some defilement from the weakness of the flesh, and thereby vitiated.
    Master. – Whence then or how can it be that they please God?
    Scholar. – It is faith alone which procures favour for them, as we rest with assured confidence on this-that God wills not to try them by his strict rule, but covering their defects and impurities as buried in the purity of Christ, he regards them in the same light as if they were absolutely perfect.
    Master. – But can we infer from this that a Christian man is justified by works after he has been called by God, or that by the merit of works he makes himself loved by God, whose love is eternal life to us?
    Scholar. – By no means. We rather hold what is written-that no man can be justified in his sight, and we therefore pray, Enter not into judgment with us.” (Ps. cxliii. 2.)

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  202. Doug’s making faith a command also raises the issue of the well meant offer of the gospel, does it not? Is God commanding people to do something (receive the gospel by faith) at the same time he tells us that many people are unable to do it, because they have not been given the gift of faith? Anyone can refrain from murder, but can anyone have faith?

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  203. Doug, have you ever read Galatians? He tells the Judaizers, the ones who wanted the law even less than you, that they were descendants of Hagar and that the Christians were the descendants of Abraham. If you differentiate promise from law, you can figure it out. Fat chance, since you turn promises into commands.

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  204. I think Doug twists law & gospel together and is o.k. with it because he concludes that as long as you are giving obedience a good try that’s good enough for God. Others twist them together and find that their consciences are tormented, however, because they realize that God’s standard is perfection, and they don’t honestly measre up. There are only two ways to deal with this problem. One is to make law and gospel distinct and realize that Christ is the solution to our lawkeeping problem. The other is to lower God’s standards and tell ourselves that our best efforts are somehow good enough. Usually the latter solution involves finding a church that is happy to help us believe this — thus the Federal Vision that equates “faith” and “faithfulness” or Rome which is happy to help us work the steps.

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  205. While we’re in Romans 10:

    2 For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. 3 For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the [a]end of the law (τέλος γὰρ νόμου Χριστὸς) for righteousness to everyone who believes.

    5 For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is [b]based on law shall live [c]by that righteousness. (Μωϋσῆς γὰρ γράφει [d]ὅτι τὴν δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐκ [e]τοῦ νόμου ὁ [f]ποιήσας ἄνθρωπος ζήσεται ἐν [g]αὐτῇ.) 6 But the righteousness [d]based on faith speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), 7 or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9 [e]that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, [f]resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, [g]resulting in salvation. (στόματι δὲ ὁμολογεῖται εἰς σωτηρίαν)

    — Rom 10.2 – 10.

    I’d like to offer a couple of considerations.

    (1) Paul draws here a contrast between the righteousness of the law and the righteousness of faith.
    (2) That contrast consists of this: The one doing the Law shall live in/by it. On the other hand, the one believing in his heart and confessing with his mouth that Jesus is Lord, resulting in righteousness.

    The key point of dissent between you, Doug, and the rest of us here, is whether “the righteousness of the Law” refers to a misappropriation of the Law, or to a works principle within the Law. From Venema’s review, you take Venema to be on your side, and I can see why — but I’m not entirely sure that he’s a good ally for you given what else I’ve read from him contra the Federal Vision.

    In any event, here is Calvin commenting on Romans 10.5 – 10.

    But as evangelic promises are only found scattered in the writings of Moses, and these also somewhat obscure, and as the precepts and rewards, allotted to the observers of the law, frequently occur, it rightly appertained to Moses as his own and peculiar office, to teach what is the real righteousness of works, and then to show what remuneration awaits the observance of it, and what punishment awaits those who come short of it. For this reason Moses is by John compared with Christ, when it is said,

    “That the law was given by Moses, but that grace
    and truth came by Christ.” (John 1:17.)

    And whenever the word law is thus strictly taken, Moses is by implication opposed to Christ: and then we must consider what the law contains, as separate from the gospel. Hence what is said here of the righteousness of the law, must be applied, not to the whole office of Moses, but to that part which was in a manner peculiarly committed to him. I come now to the words.

    For Moses describes, etc. Paul has γράφει writes; which is used for a verb which means to describe, by taking away a part of it [ἐπιγράφει.] The passage is taken from Leviticus 18:5, where the Lord promises eternal life to those who would keep his law; for in this sense, as you see, Paul has taken the passage, and not only of temporal life, as some think. Paul indeed thus reasons, — “Since no man can attain the righteousness prescribed in the law, except he fulfills strictly every part of it, and since of this perfection all men have always come far short, it is in vain for any one to strive in this way for salvation: Israel then were very foolish, who expected to attain the righteousness of the law, from which we are all excluded.”

    — Calv Comm Rom 10.5-10

    Notice that Calvin affirms that there was a hypothetical works principle given in the Law: “the Lord promises eternal life to those who would keep his law.”

    Notice that Calvin calls Lev 18.5 as witness to this reading of the Law.

    Notice that Calvin says that when the Law is “thus strictly taken”, it is opposed to the gospel.

    Notice that Calvin says that the righteousness of the Law was impossible, NOT because the Law did not promise life upon fulfillment, BUT because no-one could fulfill it.

    (3) Christ is the ‘end of the law’ (τέλος γὰρ νόμου Χριστὸς).

    This is extraordinarily important. Christ is the end, the goal, the maturity, of the Law (I’m not advocating multiple meanings here, but providing synonyms to flesh out the sense of ‘goal.’). In what way? We agreed above that Christ fulfilled the Law for believers. In what sense fulfilled? He obtained righteousness for us by being obedient to the demands of the Law.

    Stop and consider what you have agreed to. If Christ obtained righteousness by obedience, it follows that righteousness was obtainable by obedience!!!

    There was a works principle in the Law. It was hypothetical for Israel because of inability, but real for Christ because of ability. This is not “Westminster West”, but Reformed and even Augustinian theology.

    To deny this is to deny a key tenet of Reformed theology and perhaps the Christian faith.

    That’s pretty strong, but I ask you to consider what I’m saying.

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  206. Doug, I’ll tell you what. I need to put attention elsewhere, but it would make sense for me to read Murray’s Redemption Accomplished and Applied, which has been on my list for some time.

    While I do that, why don’t you read TNLF, and we can hash things out after that. Does that work?

    Jeff

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  207. Jeff,

    Wouldn’t the more appropriate read be Murray’s; ‘The Covenant of Grace’? And wouldn’t Murray’s self-acknowledgement that he was ‘recasting’ covenant theology, i.e. deviating from the tradition on this issue, be a reliable marker of at least how he viewed what he was doing?

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  208. I think the hurdle that Doug has to get over is being able to see the law as good in one sense (because it reveals God’s holiness and character) and bad (for us) in another sense because it shows us to be sinners and condemns us to hell apart from Christ. He always wants to point to Psalms in which David is saying how much he loves the law. The Psalms also point to Christ, however. We have to order and harmonize Scripture and interpret the Old Testament in light of the New.

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  209. Just think how much work Hart will have restoring our timeless exchanges if the Neocalvinist hackers in Grand Rapids ever succeed in bringing the Old Life site down…

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  210. Jack says: Doug the O.T. worship prefigured, or pointed to, Christ who would personally, entirely, exactly, and forever obey God, thereby earning eternal life which Adam (and all his posterity) failed to do.

    Jesus didn’t earn anything; he came to be the Servant of man, and the Servant of God, both. He paid with his life for his sheep, learning obedience by the things he suffered. His life had infinite value to be sure. But he didn’t come down to earn, he came down to serve, and in doing so, he came to save as well.

    Jesus was king in humiliation at birth, and was led like a lamb to the slaughter. Jesus kept all the demands of the law, but he fulfilled the ceremonial law which prefigured his saving work. Not the penal sanctions or the moral commands. What would it mean to fulfill thou shall not kill? How could he fulfill the sanctions on bestiality? It makes no sense! Since Jesus didn’t kill, I can? God forbid! Yet that’s what I keep hearing from the likes of Zrim and Co. Jesus kept the law, so I don’t have too!

    So I would say Jesus didn’t fulfill the moral law, (but I could be wrong) as much as he kept its demands of righteousness living in perfect conformity to the full extent of what the laws required.

    Moreover, he’s our example on how we’re to live, amen? How did Jesus live? He emptied himself, did nothing of his own initiative, and was led by the father. He lived by every word that proceeded from the mouth of God. That’s how we are supposed to walk as well. Seek first his kingdom, and his righteousness, God takes care of the rest.

    What’s God require from us? EVREYTHING! We rest in his completed work, and press on to the higher calling in Christ Jesus. We joyfully sing with the Saints, Oh, how I love your law! It’s my meditation all through the day and night.” If our heart is right before the Lord, we will see the law like David, and with gratitude and praise welling up inside our inner being we praise him for all his righteous rules, for every one of them are true!

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  211. Darryl queries, Doug, have you ever read Galatians?

    Yes I have Darryl, have you read Romans? Paul makes the definitive statement on why Israel’s failed to follow the law to righteousness.

    “What shall we say, then? The Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it that is, a righteousness that is by faith, but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law

    Why Darryl why? Why did Israel miss it? Was the law not of faith lol?

    BECAUSE THEY DID NOT PURSUE IT BY FAITH, BUT AS IF IT WERE BASED ON WORKS.

    Please notice Darryl, Paul doesn’t say, they missed it because the law wasn’t of faith. Nor does Paul infer they were tricked by an inward principle within the law itself, NO!

    Quite the opposite, instead Paul says (contra your misconception) they missed it because they didn’t pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. This is what I have been saying all along! Are you really this dense? Are you blind? Paul doesn’t say there was one thing wrong with the law! He says the law is good, if one uses it lawfully! They got it backwards, just like you keep doing, which should give you reason to pause, repent, and confess your folly. It’s not the first time you’ve been wrong, and it won’t be the last. FWIW, I’ve been wrong more times than I care to remember, just take it like a man of God, repent and move on!

    Rest in his completed work,

    Doug

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  212. Erik asks, if Adam was not able to keep the law, how can it be said that God created him good?

    First off, Adam *could* have remained upright but he did not. He wasn’t born with a drag towards sin. So instead of saying Adam wasn’t able to keep the law, I prefer to say he didn’t. I know it may sound picky, but I see a difference. Did God create Adam so he had an excuse to sin? Nope. Then why did he sin? The Bible calls this the “mystery of iniquity”, meaning its way beyond our ability to fathom.

    God called Adam good, so that settles it for me, yet God also foreordained that man would fall into sin for the purpose of displaying the glory of God in ways that would have been impossible otherwise. Think of it this way, God is revealing his mercy and justice in ways that would not have been possible were it not for the fall.

    God ways are higher than ours, and the foolishness of God is wiser than man.

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  213. Doug, you actually picked a passage that contradicts your point. The Gentiles obtained righteousness APART from the law. They did so by faith in Christ, that is, the received the righteousness of Christ.

    I do trust in Christ’s completed work. What I hear from you is that I don’t trust enough in the law.

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  214. This quote from Urisinus is interesting

    Zacharias Ursinus, Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, p. 105.
    Objection: There is no precept, or commandment belonging to the gospel, but to the law. The preaching of repentance is a precept. Therefore the preaching of repentance does not belong to the gospel. but to the law.
    Answer: We deny the major, if it is taken generally; for this precept is peculiar to the gospel, which commands us to believe, to embrace the benefits of Christ, and to commence new obedience, or that righteousness which the law requires. If it be objected that the law also commands us to believe in God, we reply that it does this only in general, by requiring us to give credit to all the divine promises, precepts and denunciations, and that with a threatening of punishment, unless we do it. But the gospel commands us expressly and particularly to embrace, by faith, the promise of grace; and also exhorts us by the Holy Spirit, and by the Word, to walk worthy of our heavenly calling. This however it does only in general, not specifying any duty in particular, saying thou shalt do this, or that, but it leaves this to the law; as, on the contrary, it does not say in general, believe all the promises of God, leaving this to the law; but it says in particular, Believe this promise; fly to Christ, and thy sins shall be forgiven thee

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  215. Doug: Are you really this dense? Are you blind?

    Cool it, brother.

    If we are dense, shouting won’t help. When I have students who can’t understand the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, they don’t get magically smarter if I yell at them.

    From this side of the table, you are missing an important Biblical point.

    Is it true that the unbelieving Jews pursued the Law as if by works instead of faith? Yes.
    Is it true that their quest misled them? Yes.
    So why was their quest misleading? Because of man’s inability to keep the Law.

    This is the point you’re missing. You infer

    Not by faith ==> no righteousness (true, Rom 9.30-32)
    THEREFORE
    No works principle in the Law (false).

    But the correct inference should be

    Not by faith ==> no righteousness (true)
    BECAUSE
    works principle + inability ==> condemnation (also true)

    This is the clear teaching of Romans 2.13+3.9 and 10.5. If you want to persuade me (or others) that there is no works principle in the Law, you will necessarily have to provide an argument showing that Rom 2.13 and 10.5 are not articulating a works principle.

    There is a profound connection between 10.4 and 10.5. The reason that “Christ is the telos of the Law” is that “The person who does these things will live by them.” We didn’t and don’t. He did, and does. He is the goal of the Law. He is the One who does these things.

    And, BTW, He is also the One in Ps 1 whose delight is in the Law of the Lord — and we are blessed in Him.

    “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me.” — John 5.

    We should be looking to the Law and asking primarily, How does this point to Christ? The question, What should I do? is subordinate to this question.

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  216. Doug – “God called Adam good, so that settles it for me, yet God also foreordained that man would fall into sin for the purpose of displaying the glory of God in ways that would have been impossible otherwise.”

    Any Biblical evidence for this notion — that God foreordained Adam’s fall?

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  217. Paul, so is this (pp. 104-105):

    The gospel and the law agree in this, that they are both from God, and that there is something revealed in each concerning the nature, will, and
    works of God. There is, however, a very great difference between them:

    1. In the revelations which they contain; or, as it respects the manner in which the revelation peculiar to each is made known. The law was engraven upon the heart of man in his creation, and is therefore known to all naturally, although no other revelation were given. “The Gentiles have the work of the law written in their hearts.” (Rom. 2: 15.) The gospel is not known naturally, but is divinely revealed to the Church alone through Christ, the Mediator. For no creature could have seen or hoped for that mitigation of the law concerning satisfaction for our sins through another, if the Son of God had not revealed it. “No man knoweth the Father, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.” “Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee.” “The Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” (Matt. 11 : 27 ; 16: 17.)

    2. In the kind of doctrine, or subject peculiar to each. The law teaches us what we ought to be, and what God requires of us, but it does not give us the ability to perform it, nor does it point out the way by which we may avoid what is forbidden. But the gospel teaches us in what manner we may be made such as the law requires : for it offers unto us the promise of grace, by having the righteousness of Christ imputed to us through faith, and that in such a way as if it were properly ours, teaching us that we are just before God, through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. The law says, “Pay what thou owest.” “Do this, and live.” (Matt. 18 : 28. Luke 10 : 28.) The gospel says, “Only believe.”(Mark 5: 36.)

    3. In the promises. The law promises life to those who are righteous in themselves, or on the condition of righteousness, and perfect obedience.
    “He that doeth them, shall live in them.” “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Lev. 18 : 5. Matt. 19 : 17.) The gospel, on the other hand, promises life to those who are justified by faith in Christ, or on the condition of the righteousness of Christ, applied unto us by faith. The law and gospel are, however, not opposed to each other in these respects: for although the law requires us to keep the commandments if we would enter into life, yet it does not exclude us from life if another perform these things for us. It does indeed propose a way of satisfaction, which is through ourselves, but it does not forbid the other, as has been shown.

    4. They differ in their effects. The law, without the gospel, is the letter which killeth, and is the ministration of death: “For by the law is the knowledge of sin.” “The law worketh wrath ; and the letter killeth.” (Rom. 3: 20; 4: 15. 2 Cor. 3: 6.) The outward preaching, and simple knowledge of what ought to be done, is known through the letter: for it declares our duty, and that righteousness which God requires; and, whilst it neither gives us the ability to perform it, nor points out the way through which it may be attained, it finds fault with, and condemns our
    righteousness. But the gospel is the ministration of life, and of the Spirit, that is, it has the operations of the Spirit united with it, and quickens those that are dead in sin, because it is through the gospel that the Holy Spirit works faith and life in the elect. “The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.” (Rom. 1: 10.)

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  218. Doug – “God called Adam good, so that settles it for me, yet God also foreordained that man would fall into sin for the purpose of displaying the glory of God in ways that would have been impossible otherwise.”

    WCF: Chapter III Of God’s Eternal Decree
    I. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass;[1] yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin,[2] nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.[3]

    II. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions;[4] yet has He not decreed anything because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.[5]

    III. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels[6] are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death.[7]

    EPH 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.

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  219. Heidelberg Catechism:

    Question 6. Did God then create man so wicked and perverse?

    Answer: By no means; but God created man good, (a) and after his own image, (b) in true righteousness and holiness, that he might rightly know God his Creator, heartily love him and live with him in eternal happiness to glorify and praise him. (c)

    Question 9. Does not God then do injustice to man, by requiring from him in his law, that which he cannot perform?

    Answer: Not at all; (a) for God made man capable of performing it; but man, by the instigation of the devil, (b) and his own wilful disobedience, (c) deprived himself and all his posterity of those divine gifts.

    I think Adam is a unique man in human history. If God preordained his fall it seems like we could say the game was rigged from the beginning. We also could not say that he had the ability to gain eternal life through keeping the law, which is the question that I think started this whole debate. I don’t think we have free will because we inherited Adam’s sin, but I think the Bible teaches that Adam did have free will (as did the second Adam, Jesus Christ).

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  220. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.
    (Ephesians 1:11-12 ESV)

    How is “we” interpreted as Adam? How is that passage on point?

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  221. Both Heidelberg 6 & 9 seem to draw on Genesis 1:31 –

    And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
    (Genesis 1:31 ESV)

    How could God call someone he knew to be a vile sinner deserving of death “very good”. Are you calling God a liar, Doug? (I’m kidding — but aping your rhetoric).

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  222. Darryl, I *know* the law is not Christ. It would be evil for us to put our trust in the law! David surely loved the law, but his faith was in God! The law reflects the character of God, so we should gaze at and meditate on the law, not as a means of salvation, but because the law is good, if one uses it lawfully.

    We know that Jesus said, if you love me you will obey my commandments; amen? Well what commandments are we to obey? Don’t you love Jesus? If yes, then why not meditate on his commandments found in the law? No one is saying we are saved through law keeping, but it’s our love for God, that compels us to know what is required of us to be pleasing to our Lord and Savior.

    The law can be of great help to our walk, IF we appropriate it by faith. The law can become something wicked when it’s used unlawfully. So the problem with the law, is the sinful heart of man, not anything internally found in God’s good law. Only God is good, amen? Yet Paul calls the law good! Go and do likewise!

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  223. Erik,

    What Richard said. The debate over the relationship between God’s decree for the Fall and God’s decree to save is called the “supralapsarian/infralapsarian” debate, which has ultimately settled on the opinions of Beza and Turretin respectively.

    No-one questions the decree, though.

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  224. Jeff,

    So if God decreed the fall, how was Adam any less able to keep the law and obtain the deserved reward than Israel under the Mosaic law? Your argument for the difference is based on inability, is it not?

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  225. Erik wonders how could God call someone he knew to be a vile sinner deserving of death “very good”. Are you calling God a liar, Doug? (I’m kidding — but aping your rhetoric).

    Hey! That stung me bro! Ha ah, not really. Adam *was* good, but then he listened to the devil and lost his faith in God. How could Adam eat the fruit, when God told him the day you eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil; you will surely die. This is called the mystery of iniquity. I confess I don’t comprehend how Adam lost his faith, but he did.

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  226. Erik, I should say; I understand how Adam sinned, because I still war with the flesh. What I can’t comprehend is the state Adam was in prior to the fall. That’s the tuffy.

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  227. Doug,

    If Adam had the ability to keep the law and did it, his salvation would have been justly earned. The law would not be of faith.

    If, however, Adam did not have the ability to keep the law he would not have been able to earn salvation, and the law would be purely of faith (i.e. God intended to justify Adam based on faith from the beginning in spite of the fall).

    The second option seems to correspond with what you peddle.

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  228. Think about God’s work in terms of (hidden) decrees, carried out by secondary causes, direct miraculous interventions, and formal decrees found in Scripture. The first two cause “what is”; the third demands “what ought.”

    In terms of post-fall man, our inability lies in the sin nature — our wills are corrupted and unable to choose that which is good. God can bring about good through our sin (cf. Joseph), but at the level of choice of the will, we are unable.

    But in terms of changing or besting God’s decrees, as if God were a Greek deity, no-one can do that whatsoever. That has nothing to do with sin nature. It has to do with God using all secondary causes to bring about His will.

    And that’s where Adam was. He had a will capable of resisting temptation. Notwithstanding, he could not do an end-run around God’s decrees.

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  229. It is legitimate to say that Adam had faith in the garden, but it was not the same kind of faith that Paul is talking about.

    Adam had faith (prior to the fall) in the senses that (a) he believed God’s word: “In the day you eat of it, you shall surely die”, (b) he was faithful.

    He did not have faith in the sense of resting in the righteousness of Christ alone for forgiveness of sins.

    This is a crucial distinction. Without it, we would have to argue that the second Adam, Jesus, was justified by faith — and that’s nonsense.

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  230. Doug wrote: …but then he listened to the devil and lost his faith in God… I confess I don’t comprehend how Adam lost his faith, but he did.
    Question: Where is that found in Scripture?

    Romans 5: 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the likeness of Adam’s transgression [not loss of faith], who is a figure of him that was to come. For if by the trespass [not loss of faith] of the one the many died… 17 For if, by the trespass [not loss of faith] of the one, death reigned through the one…

    18 So then as through one trespass [not loss of faith] the judgment came unto all men to condemnation; even so through one act of righteousness [i.e. no trespass] the free gift came unto all men to justification of life.

    Trespass: 1. To commit an offense or a sin; transgress or err.

    Rather than “trespassing” after the likeness of Adam, Jesus fully lived without any “trespass”, i.e. he lived a righteous life, the only Man to do so.

    1 Tim. 3: 16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; He who was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the spirit, Seen of angels, Preached among the nations, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.

    Rom. 4: 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification.

    Question: How is it that Christ was “justified” in the Spirit? Was he justified by faith or by works in the spirit? And then, in what sense was he raised for sinners’ justification? Sinners are justified through faith in Christ alone. Are sinners justified because of Jesus’ “faith” imputed to them or because of his “perfect obedience” or works imputed to them? If the answer is “his perfect obedience”, then how does that justify sinners before God?

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  231. It can also be argued that the only reason Adam could stand in the Garden was because he was upheld by God each and every moment. God was not under obligation to uphold Him in his condition.

    God knew all things and all things were part of His divine plan from all eternity. His ordaining something to happen is not the same thing as His working sin in the hearts of people for them to carry out what He has ordained. If a person is to do the good He has ordained He has to work that in them, but for a person to do the evil He has ordained He simply has to let them go the way of their sinful hearts. If the fall happened apart from His decree then it took Him by surprise and He had to quickly come up with plan B. No, Christ is the Lamb that was crucified (by decree and so was certain) from all eternity and as such the fall had to have been ordained from all eternity as well. There never was anything other than plan A in the plans of God.

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  232. Jeff, just to add to your point about the crucial distinction between Adam and his posterity with regard to faith, I believe it was Machen who reminded those disinclined to the imputation the active obedience of Christ in favor of simply his passive obedience covering sin of this: were it true that Christ had only come to pay for our sins on the cross then that would have placed us back into the probationary position in which Adam found himself. But unlike Adam who had the ability to obey in full, we would still be addled with dual reality of God’s demand for perfect obedience but the exact inability for it.

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  233. Richard: It can also be argued that the only reason Adam could stand in the Garden was because he was upheld by God each and every moment. God was not under obligation to uphold Him in his condition.

    This is very true, and is not in conflict with what I wrote above. God’s moment-by-moment upholding of all things stands below and supports all secondary causes, whether impersonal (atom-meets-atom) or personal (choices of the will).

    Whereas the inability of the sinful will to obey is one of those secondary causes.

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  234. WCF 5.4:

    The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in His providence, that it extends itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, but such as has joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering, and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to His own holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceeds only from the creature, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.

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  235. Maybe I need to read something by Bryan Cross. He can usually make those nasty conundrums go away. Have you heard how reasonable the motives of credibility are?

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  236. Erik, salvation presupposes the fall. Therefore, before Adam sinned, he was not in need of salvation. He was created good and could fellowship with God in a way we can’t conceive. So it follows, that once Adam fell and died, then he was in need of salvation. As Jeff pointed out, Adam was created to trust in
    God in Spirit and truth, so the nature of Adam’s faith was not what we call “saving” faith.

    T

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  237. Jack, I agree with most of what you quoted, and amen! I believe we are both very close in our basic understanding of the Bible. Ours is a difference is primarily one of emphasis imho.

    Where is it taught in Scripture that Adam lost his faith? It’s implied. I presume Adam didn’t wish to die or lose fellowship with God. If Adam had trusted or had faith in God’s probation, he never could have disobeyed. So at a heart level, Adam lacked faith in God’s Word. Evidently Adam didn’t really believe he would die.

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  238. Zrim offers; were it true that Christ had only come to pay for our sins on the cross then that would have placed us back into the probationary position in which Adam found himself.

    That’s not true Zrim! If all God did was forgive our sins, that would not have changed our nature back to Adam’s original state. Our problem runs deeper than just having sin on our record, we were also slaves to sin. So your example isn’t very helpful. Moreover, even imputing his record to ours (justification) doesn’t help change our heart. Let’s face it, Christ’s saving work, is comprehensive, awesome, and unspeakable!

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  239. Doug,

    Zrim’s point is on the legal side of things. I trust that you agree that the change of heart that God makes in us is not the ground of our forgiveness, right? God doesn’t justify on the basis of sanctification.

    But on the legal side of things: Suppose that our forensic union with Christ as our federal head conferred only the benefits of his suffering without also making us adopted as sons. Then we would be only forgiven, but on probation.

    That state of affairs correlates to Zrim’s point. Christ’s suffering, his passive obedience, suffices to forgive sins, but His active obedience as a Son makes us sons as well. (cf. Heb 2.10 – 11).

    Without imputation of obedience, we have probationary justification. And that’s pretty much the Weslayan take on justification…

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  240. Jeff Cagle quoting RS: It can also be argued that the only reason Adam could stand in the Garden was because he was upheld by God each and every moment. God was not under obligation to uphold Him in his condition.

    Jeff Cagle: This is very true, and is not in conflict with what I wrote above. God’s moment-by-moment upholding of all things stands below and supports all secondary causes, whether impersonal (atom-meets-atom) or personal (choices of the will).

    Whereas the inability of the sinful will to obey is one of those secondary causes.

    RS: I was not trying to set out anything in conflict, but trying to look at it from a little different angle. I would also argue that part of the problem in trying to look at these things is that instead of looking at holiness and sin from a God-centered viewpoint we tend to look at it from a man-centered viewpoint. For example, what is an unholy thing for a man to do is not always an unholy thing for God to do. One aspect of sin is to try to be like God in certain ways whereas one aspect of holiness is to be like God in another way. While God can kill all human beings and be just in doing so (like killing all but eight during the flood) and demonstrate His holiness in doing so, we cannot commit murder and still be holy. The right to take a human life is that of God’s and man is trying to be like God when he takes a life. So man cannot imagine that God can ordain sin and be perfectly holy in doing so, but in fact even the great evil of sinful hands putting Christ to death was ordained by God from all eternity. The sinful hands of men were wicked and evil in what they did and yet our thrice holy God who predestined the event was holy in all of His planning and upholding the evil men as they carried out their deed.

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  241. Doug: we are both very close in our basic understanding of the Bible

    Me: So, you agree that Adam fell, not because he lost his faith, but because he sinned? I am wondering how you are defining “faith”, as well as how you are defining that Adam “lost his faith.” If you simply mean that he replaced God’s prohibition to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (thus rejecting God’s word or not trusting in that word) with his own flawed judgment, then in that sense I would agree he lost his faith. Even after his sin Adam submitted himself to God and his providence exhibiting faith. And one could say he now had a more specific faith in the proto-evangelium. But the actual “cause” of his fall was, as James writes:

    14 but each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed.
    15 Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin: and the sin, when it is full grown, bringeth forth death. (chapter 1)

    Was the cause of Adam’s disobedience that he didn’t believe he would die? Indeed the serpent lied, telling Eve she wouldn’t die if she ate. But Gen. 3:6 plays out Eve’s deliberation of her decision in a way almost identical to James words above. So Adam (and Eve) was drawn away by his own lust, and once that lust was conceived ate of the tree, thus sinning. That is, Adam disobeyed God’s command which he was fully capable of keeping. I think implying that the cause of their disobedience was due to a lack or loss of faith confuses the doctrine of sin.

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  242. Me: So, you agree that Adam fell, not because he lost his faith, but because he sinned?

    Jack, to put it simply Adam did not trust God’s word that he would die, if he ate of the tree. If he really “trusted” God, he wouldn’t have partaken.

    My personal feeling is that Adam was standing right next to Eve, to see if anything happened to her first, and then the coward took a bite as well. I can’t prove it, but if you read the text carefully, I think you can see how I draw that conclusion.

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