Hiding Behind Kilts

The release of the new book Merit and Moses, a critique of the republication doctrine (that the Mosaic covenant was “in some sense” a republication typologically of the covenant of works) got me thinking about a certain anomaly in contemporary Reformed circles regarding a certain Mr. Murray (his given name was John and he did not have the extra one of Courtney). The endorsements of this book show an arresting feature of the Westminster Seminary tradition and reception of Geerhardus Vos.

After Vos, his successors broke into two camps, one represented by Murray, the other by Meredith Kline, who took markedly different views of covenant theology. After Murray and Kline, came Norman Shepherd, Richard Gaffin, and Bob Strimple. They pretty much all sided with Murray against Kline on matters of moment. And then came VanDrunen, Horton, and Fesko. They followed Kline and have been taking their lumps ever since.

Generally speaking, the anti-republicationists are anti-Kline and pro-Murray. Here’s a sampling:

For the past thirty years, a shift in Reformed covenant theology has been percolating under the hot Southern California sun in Escondido. Atop the bluff of a former orange grove, a quiet redefinition of the Sinaitic covenant administration as a typological covenant of works, complete with meritorious obedience and meritorious reward has been ripening. The architect of this paradigm shift was the late Meredith G. Kline, who taught at Westminster Escondido (WSCal) for more than 20 years. Many of Kline’s colleagues, former students (several now teaching in Escondido) and admirers (Mark Karlberg, T. David Gordon, etc.) have canonized his novel reconstruction of the Mosaic covenant—it is “not of faith”, but of works and meritorious works at that, albeit ‘typological’. What may now be labeled the “Escondido Hermeneutic” or “Kline Works-Merit Paradigm” has succeeded in cornering an increasing share of the Reformed covenant market in spite of its revisionism and heterodoxy. This newfangled paradigm has managed to fly beneath the radar of most Reformed observers, in part because of the aggressively militant demeanor and rhetoric of its advocates and defenders. Especially vitriolic have been attacks by the Kline acolytes upon Norman Shepherd and Richard Gaffin. . . . (1)

While it is certainly true that Murray clearly and self-consciously broke with the majority of the Reformed tradition on several points of doctrine, his teaching on the nature of the obedience required in the Mosaic covenant was not one of them. In fact, a strong case can be made that his position on the essential nature of the obedience required in the Mosaic covenant represented the mainstream consensus of Reformed theologians. Furthermore, some of Murray’s key exegetical observations (which, incidentally, these authors simply pass over rather than critically engage) lend his thesis strong support. (63)

Now the endorsements for the anti-republicationist book:

“The doctrine of Republication has a Reformed pedigree. But in what sense? Recent understandings of Republication sometimes depart significantly from what one finds among Reformed theologians in the Post-Reformation periods. It is to the merit of these authors for dealing with this thorny issue by offering some important insights into the precise nature of the debate, such as discussions on merit and justice and the nature of typology. I hope all involved in the debate will give this book a careful and sympathetic reading—at least more careful and sympathetic than those who have publicly opposed Professor John Murray on this issue.”
—Mark Jones, Senior Minister, Faith Vancouver Presbyterian Church (PCA), Vancouver, BC

“I strongly recommend that everyone interested in the notion of Republication read the important book, Merit and Moses. By focusing on the guilt of every child of Adam and the only merit recognized by a holy God, the authors cut to the heart of Republication’s error. They show that to be the case by an insightful study of the Scriptures, of our most revered theologians—for example, John Murray, too often misunderstood and maligned by Republicationists—and of the Reformed confessions, showing that the doctrine of Republication cannot be harmonized with the teaching of the Westminster Standards.”
—Robert B. Strimple, President emeritus and Professor emeritus of Systematic Theology, Westminster Seminary California, Escondido, CA

“In recent years, a number of Reformed writers have advanced the claim that the Mosaic covenant or economy was in some sense a republication of the covenant of works. According to these writers, the Republication doctrine was a common emphasis in the history of Reformed theology, and even forms an important part of the basis for the biblical doctrine of justification. The authors of this volume present a clear and compelling case against this claim. Rather than a reaffirmation of a forgotten, integral feature of Reformed theology, the authors argue that the modern republication doctrine seems inconsistent with the historic Reformed understanding of the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. A helpful contribution.”
—Cornelis P. Venema, President and Professor of Doctrinal Studies, Mid-America Reformed Seminary, Dyer, IN

“This volume addresses a relatively recent appearance of the view that the Mosaic covenant embodies a republication of the covenant of works, a view that in its distinctive emphasis is arguably without precedent in the history of Reformed theology—namely, that during the Mosaic era of the covenant of grace, in pointed antithesis to grace and saving faith in the promised Messiah, the law given to Israel at Sinai was to function pedagogically as a typological overlay of the covenant of works made with Adam, by which Israel’s retention of the land and temporal blessings were made dependent on maintaining a level of meritorious obedience (works), reduced in its demand to accommodate their sinfulness. A particular strength in my judgment is their showing that the abiding demands of God’s holiness preclude meritorious obedience that is anything less than perfect, and so the impossibility of a well-meant offer to sinners of the covenant of works in any sense.”
—Richard B. Gaffin Jr., Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology emeritus, Westminster Theological Seminary, Glenside, PA

Let the reader decide.

But also consider this. Mr. Murray was a strong proponent of exclusive psalmody, arguably the lone holdout of prominence in the OPC. And yet those who follow Murray on covenant theology are willing to argue quite decidedly against singing psalms only or even singing the imprecatory psalms (about which Murray had no qualms). Dick Gaffin recently wrote:

Among my continuing reservations about the Psalter-Hymnal project (March issue), here I’m only able to raise one concern about its commitment to total psalmody. The imprecations in Psalm 137, among others, have in view the Old Testament situation, when God’s covenant people were one nation, a single geopolitical entity (Israel), and their enemies were likewise ethnically and geopolitically defined (Babylon and Edom here). But now, after Christ’s finished work, that spiritual enmity, inseparably national, has ceased. Now the realization of God’s eternal saving purpose, anticipated throughout the Old Testament, is universal. His elect are no longer found only within Israel, but within every nation. Under the new covenant, the church is “in Babylon” (1 Peter 5:13) in a way it was not under the old: no longer are Jews in holy hostility towards non-Jews; now, in Christ, they are reconciled to each other (Eph. 2:11–22).

I recognize that the ethnic references like those in Psalm 137 are not only literal but also typological. Akin to the symbolic references to Babylon in Revelation, they point forward to the final destruction of the enemies of God’s people. Still, singing explicitly genocidal curses in public worship, without a whole lot of preparatory explanation (and perhaps even with that), risks leaving the impression that the congregation is calling on God for the large-scale destruction of people with Gentile ethnicity like most of us in the New Testament church. (20-21)

(Could there be some kind of ambivalence at work here with typological readings of the OT?)

So what I am wondering is what would happen to this argument against total psalmody if Orthodoxy Presbyterians knew it departed from Mr. Murray. I mean, if it is fair game to raise concerns about views that do not follow Murray’s reading of creation or the Mosaic covenant, why is that okay when it comes to Murray’s singing of David? Maybe the OPC needs to kick away the crutches, prepare for sacred cows to be wounded, and through delegated assemblies let word and Spirit do their work.

Advertisements

425 thoughts on “Hiding Behind Kilts

  1. Psalms question aside, I am not sure myself why the discussion seems to be so centered on Murray. It seems like Vos should have come much more into the fore. He’s someone both sides agree on as much more solid than Murray on all these questions. Not to mention his systematic theology has finally been translated and released on logos (http://feedingonchrist.com/geerhardus-vos-mosaic-covenant-covenant-grace/). Not that the question should settle on any person (except maybe Moses!). I don’t think I get the “gold star” for trying to be vossian but he is much better on the covenant of works than Murray and much better on the covenant of redemption than O. Palmer Robertson and much better and nuanced on Moses than Kline. Don’t get me wrong I like Kline and thoroughly enjoy reading him, but I just I don’t his view on Moses because he critiques Murray or his students are meany-heads, I disagree because I think his interpretation is wrong. And why all this talk and complaining about how Murray has been handled, I have heard much more straight-up slander against Kline than Murray, and much nastier names. I once heard a reformed professor refer to Dr.Kline as “the manure from which two kingdoms theology grows.” But that’s beside the point and it doesn’t ruffle my feathers and still quoted kline in my appears to that professor regardless. Let’s just talk about the issues and wait for this OPC study committee report to come out and evaluate the merits 😉 of its arguments.

    Like

  2. “Come forward and state your name for the record”. “Oh, that’s too bad. We do have a nice parting gift for you, an all expense paid trip to Marfa, Texas. Thanks for playing.” “You know that annuity you’ve been protecting for 30 years? Not so much”

    Like

  3. Wait, it gets worse.
    If Murray and Young’s OPC Minority Report on Worship Song is fair game, what of Young’s OPC Minority Report on (Murray’s version of) the Free Offer? Both are here.

    Supposedly God has an archetypal desire for the salvation of the reprobate.
    But if archetypal theology is unknowable, what gives?
    Only that modern moderate calvinism is confused and given to taking refuge in paradoxes rather than entering into the previous labors of reformed theologians.

    At the very least, Murray’s exegesis, beginning with 2 Pet. 3:9, does not seem to be quite in line with the reformed trajectory (Muller’s term) vis a vis the FOG proof texts.

    Nobody, other than the hyper cals, denies that God freely offers salvation to all who repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Full stop. The archetypal, if not amyrauldian speculation is uncalled for.

    But for all the talk of Calvin and calvinism, how many reformed churches these days would affirm Calvin on eternal predestination or the secret providence of God?

    He says re. Ezek. 18:32, 32:11 “But if these two members of the sentence be read in conjunction, as they ever ought to be– ” I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked;” and, ” But that the wicked turn from his way and live “– read these two propositions in connection with each other, and the calumny is washed off at once (pp.99,100)”.

    As well maybe the unfulfilled desires of God in the the Free Offer Maj. Report; that apart from the repentance of the wicked, God has no archetypal desire for their salvation.

    Republication? Always thought Turretin put it well. The Mosaic covenant was a legal administration of the covenant of grace, while the WCF says the ten commandments is a republication of the moral law given Adam in the garden.
    Kline, dunno.
    But Shepard? Nyet.
    Strimple? Beats me, but his sermon on 2 Pet. 3:9 at a Sunday evening Reformation Day service for the larger Seattle metropolitan area in the late ’80’s, did not follow Murray.

    Sacred cows, golden calves and stalking horses? Yup, the reformed church – that’s us, folks – has got plenty.

    Like

  4. Call me naive but this sounds a hell of a lot better than angry screeds from theonomists and FV sympathizers and John Frame. Venema’s endorsement of both books is also classy.

    Like

  5. Interestingly enough I believe it was Mark Jones (and he seems to allude to it in his endorsement) that said that “some form” of Republication was held almost unanimously by the Westminster Divines. I can’t find the precise quote again, but it was in right around the publication of the Puritan Theology that he mentioned it, maybe in the CtC podcast. Certainly Perkins and the Marrow Men held to a “some form” republication. I think you can certainly make the case that what Kline did had some novelty to it, but it’s pretty difficult to argue that republication doesn’t have a long, storied history in Reformed thought.

    Like

  6. Chris,
    Mark did say that, and yes “some form” of republication of the CoW in the Mosaic covenant was nearly unanimous. But it is the “some form” that this debate is about. The debate is about not whether it is but in what SENSE is it a republication of the covenant of work. Vos certainly believed it was a republication of the covenant of works but it was a republishing of the content (moral law) which recollected its demands but Vos was clear that retention of the land for Israel was not based off of meritorious works of the law but the same type of covenantal response required of Abraham (Gen 1:1-3). He said in no less words that for Israel “law observing is not the meritorious ground of blessedness.” Not that Vos said it so that settles it, but his exegesis is a bit better than Klines at this point.

    So to Bob’s point yes Turretin did teach a form of republication and yes the WCF does say the moral law delivered at Sinai recalls the CoW, but that’s just it, all it says is a republication of content. it was “revived” materially not covenantally. As someone who has read a lot of Kline (everything but a couple articles) he definitively taught the latter, that there were was a meritorious works principle at play different in substance from that required of Abraham, or anyone in the cov. of grace, even if typological. As much as I love Kline and love reading Horton I don’t think “in by grace stay in works” is what was happening with Israel and I think Vos and and many of the older divines who believed in republication in some sense would agree.

    Like

  7. o yikes that reference for abrahams obedience was supposed to be Gen 17:1-3.

    and for what its worth Bavinck (who also held to a form of repiblication):
    “Just as Abraham, when God allied himself with, was obligated to “walk before his face,” so Israel as a people was similarly admonished by God’s covenant to a new obedience…it is an explication of the one statement to Abraham: Walk before me and be blameless’ (gen 17:1) and therefore no more a cancellation of the covenant of works than this word spoken to Abraham.” (vol III p. 222)

    I know major shock, Vos and Bavinck agreeing…

    Like

  8. Brian:

    I agree that the sense is up for debate. I’ve never even read Kline on the subject so I can’t speak beyond what I’ve heard second hand on his distinctive views. Vos and the Westminster Divines are good enough for me. However, some of those on the “Murray” side, including some of those above, in their invective speak often as if republication in any form is a novelty. I know they can’t be so estranged from the history of Reformed theology to actually believe that, but they do seem to talk that way a lot in their zeal to paint Kline’s disciples as outside the pale of the Reformed tradition.

    Like

  9. Don’t give up on reading Kline! As much as I disagree on that point he is still very much worth reading. I agree with you though like I said on my first post I wish they wouldn’t get hung up on Murray, frankly he just isnt that great on covenant theology, and even most anti-klinians would largely agree on that. I wish they would stick to Vos (not because he is the be all end all) but Kline always claimed to be a follower of his and i think here he departed. Plus who doesnt like Vos!!!!! These are probably the same people who think Two Kingdoms is a novelty in the reformed world. Personally I know Mark Jones is a historical theologian but I wish those who disagreed instead whos the reformedester games would just say and show biblically its wrong. None of this Murray this and Lutherans that stuff. Plenty of people thought weird stuff about the mosaic covenant, perhaps the only person more confusing on Moses than Kline is Owen!

    Like

  10. I mean, if it is fair game to raise concerns about views that do not follow Murray’s reading of creation or the Mosaic covenant, why is that okay when it comes to Murray’s singing of David? Maybe the OPC needs to kick away the crutches, prepare for sacred cows to be wounded, and through delegated assemblies let word and Spirit do their work.

    Let the games begin…

    Like

  11. I’m looking forward to reading the Van Kooten/Berquist/Elam volume – especially since the word on the street is that they say that the Klineans may have the exegetical argument, but the Murray/Gaffinites have the Confessional argument.

    I am particularly amused by Gaffin’s (uncharacteristically vitriolic and hyperbolic) comment that Kline’s view of the Mosaic economy is “a view that in its distinctive emphasis is arguably without precedent in the history of Reformed theology” – especially when Mark Jones sounds so soft and gentle in comparison.

    Consider this from pages 224-229ff. of John Owen’s “A Continuation of the Exposition of St. Paul to the Hebrews” (1680):
    “These things being observed [about what the Scripture says about the Old and New covenants], we may consider that the Scripture doth plainly and expressly make mention of two Testaments or Covenants, and distinguish between them in such a way, as what is spoken can hardly be accommodated unto a twofold Administration of the same Covenant. …Wherefore we must grant two distinct Covenants, rather than a twofold Administration of the same Covenant merely to be intended.”

    Anyone who reads the unabridged version of Owen’s commentary will see that in these pages, he unequivocally describes the Mosaic covenant as a covenant of works – not just “in some sense,” but in typological, meritorious terms (“Now this is no other than the Covenant of Works revived.” p. 229).

    This is going to be fun. Owen (and others) will be excommunicated posthumously, the same hermeneutic which owes more to Kline than to Murray will be used to argue against exclusive psalmody, and while Klineans will be excoriated for being unconfessional at some point, Murray will be given a free pass for completely snipping WCF 7.2, 19.1, 19.6, WSC 12, WLC 20, 30, and 97 out of the Westminster Standards.

    Like

  12. The debate is about not whether it is but in what SENSE is it a republication of the covenant of work.

    Agreed Brian, but that’s not always the way it comes across from the anti-Klineans as below:

    However, some of those on the “Murray” side, including some of those above, in their invective speak often as if republication in any form is a novelty. I know they can’t be so estranged from the history of Reformed theology to actually believe that, but they do seem to talk that way a lot in their zeal to paint Kline’s disciples as outside the pale of the Reformed tradition.

    Well, I don’t know, Chris. IOW nothing would surprise me at this point. Think Frame on the Second Commandment. Never mind the RPW, pictures? Really. What is Frame doing? Channeling John of Damascus?
    Or Frame’s doctrine of God. Murray might have his problems, but at least he was a lot more sober than Frame’s biblicist enthusiasm.

    Owen? That’s another can of worms.

    Like

  13. Chris, ding ding on the “contrast” between the Gaffin and Jones blurbs. Makes you wonder how the Murray/Gaffin tribe can have the confessional argument. Even if they do, though, is Westminster our pope? Murray?

    Like

  14. Jones: “Recent understandings of Republication sometimes depart significantly from what one finds among Reformed theologians in the Post-Reformation periods.”

    Gaffin: “This volume addresses a relatively recent appearance of the view…a view that in its distinctive emphasis is arguably without precedent in the history of Reformed theology.”

    Recent understandings (Jones) = relatively recent…a view in its distinctive emphasis (Gaffin)

    Depart significantly (Jones) = arguably without precedent (Gaffin)

    Gaffin and Jones seem to be saying the same thing.

    Like

  15. Reformed folk often treat historical theology the same way they treat divine revelation: We study it, but we also believe that it ended. Thus the canon was closed at such and such a time and theology was closed at such and such time (c. 1650–the rest is commentary). But covenant theology did not have the lengthy pedigree in the mid-17th century that, say, Christology had. And as all sides acknowledge, there were varying theologies of the OC among the Westminster divines. One wonders: Why did a committee vote at the assembly close the matter of the function of the OC once and for all?

    Like

  16. Patrick, come on. Don’t be selective. Does Gaffin say anything close to this? “The doctrine of Republication has a Reformed pedigree.”

    Does Gaffin say this? I don’t think so: “a view that in its distinctive emphasis is arguably without precedent in the history of Reformed theology.”

    I wonder if this same affliction affects the way we read Paul?

    Like

  17. Daryl,

    Don’t read something that is not there.

    Gaffin writes, “This volume addresses a relatively recent appearance of the view that the Mosaic covenant embodies a republication of the covenant of works, a view that in its distinctive emphasis is arguably without precedent in the history of Reformed theology…”

    Notice that he refers to a “recent appearance of the view…” This in no way denies that the view that the MC embodies a republication of the CW is new. If anything it implies it. A recent appearance of the view implies that the view is old. Gaffin is saying the the “distinctive emphasis” of the recent appearance of this view is new. And that is what Jones is saying.

    Gaffin’s statement is careful and nuanced.

    What affliction is causing people here to misread Gaffin?

    Like

  18. Patrick, Shepherd and lingering justified suspicions. Reordering the ordo around Union. Effectively having the ontological eclipse the forensic. Not comfortable with L/G distinctions. Endorsing the Call of Grace and then signing off on OPC Justification study. That’s just off the top of my head

    Like

  19. Patrick, why is Gaffin a sacred cow but not VanDrunen?

    Nuanced? This?

    that during the Mosaic era of the covenant of grace, in pointed antithesis to grace and saving faith in the promised Messiah, the law given to Israel at Sinai was to function pedagogically as a typological overlay of the covenant of works made with Adam, by which Israel’s retention of the land and temporal blessings were made dependent on maintaining a level of meritorious obedience (works), reduced in its demand to accommodate their sinfulness.

    This was a view held during the Mosaic era?

    A view that is in fact trying to preserve “grace and saving faith in the promised Messiah” even when the law is threatening with curses that lead either to banishment from the garden or exile from the land (along with destruction of the temple)?

    Or this?

    A particular strength in my judgment is their showing that the abiding demands of God’s holiness preclude meritorious obedience that is anything less than perfect, and so the impossibility of a well-meant offer to sinners of the covenant of works in any sense.

    The critics of republication show that God demands holiness that is not meritorious but is “anything less than perfect”? Or does the holiness demanded always “anything less than perfect.”

    And the critics of Republication show that republicationists are arguing for a “well-meant offer to sinners of the covenant of works” when the republicationists are the ones arguing not for the simultaneity of justification and sanctification but for the priority of justification to sanctification?

    Huh?

    Like

  20. Again a relevant quote from Vos on the “impossibility of a well-meant offer to sinners of the covenant of works in any sense.” (Gaffin)

    Even after the fall, the law retains something of its covenantal form. The law was not included in the federal relationship without having been affected by it. Even today the call of the law sounds in our ears: such a life I would give you, if only you could fulfill me! God could have wholly eradicated that relation and have taken away the last traces of it from our minds, after the covenant of works was broken….However, He kept its memory alive in us. He has repeated that promise hypothetically and consequently has held up before us constantly the ideal of eternal life to be obtained by keeping the law, a lost ideal though it be.”

    Vos, Geerhardus. The Doctrine of the Covenant in Reformed Theology

    Again, why this talk about Murray? Why Gaffin (who is New testament not Old)? Much more helpful to consider Vos and just consider the exegetical evidence which opponents of the merit principle of republication (even though they agree with repub) have been woefully slow to print BT and exegetical arguments against it besides half argument here, half a verse here, a comment in a book review here.

    Like

  21. Patrick:

    Gaffin is not being careful and nuanced. A careful and nuanced statement is one that aims at avoiding any potential misunderstanding (Turretin’s writings, for instance). Gaffin, rather, is speaking somewhat vaguely to score rhetorical points. As I said above, I have to believe he understands that “some sort” republicationism is extensively witnessed to in the historical corpus of Reformed theology. Historical theology isn’t Gaffin’s strong suit (and I don’t mean that prejoratively, I wish he’d spend a little more time with the tradition but it’s not his chosen field), but, if nothing else, I’m sure he’s heard it from Jones.

    His statement leaves enough wiggle room that if you work at it you can make room for Jones’ admission, but the thrust is still to paint republicationism per se as a novelty. His very first phrase makes it clear: “This volume addresses a relatively recent appearance of the view that the Mosaic covenant embodies a republication of the covenant of works,”. He narrows his emphasis towards the Klinean distinctives as he writes, but here he starts in a very general tone (note especially the definite “the view” rather than an indefinite). Obviously interacting with Kline’s view as a variation of a view that has a long and storied Reformed history is a much less rhetorically effective way to discredit it than to treat it as an ex nihilo novelty, but it seems to me to be much more charitable and allow for more open dialog if we’re clear about that from the start.

    I can’t fathom how someone could claim that “the recent appearance” implies something is old (i.e. not recent). If he had said “reappearance”, sure, but the way he did it doesn’t imply that anymore than speaking of the recent appearance of D.G. Hart’s “Calvinism: A History” on shelves means it had been there since 1563.

    Like

  22. Actually, Chris, I think Patrick might be right on this point. Gaffin says “a relatively recent appearance” rather than “the relatively recent appearance”. The use of “a” implies other appearances; the use of “the” would imply this is the only one.

    Like

  23. Alexander: You may be right there. Even so, there is still a definite “the” before the view which leaves things a bit muddled. Let’s assume “a relatively recent appearance” of “the view” implies preexistance. If “the view” has preexisted and appeared once again, then how could that view in “it’s distinctive emphasis” (i.e. characterizing “the view”) be even arguably without historical precedent.

    Regardless, if Gaffin was being careful and nuanced there wouldn’t be the question over what he was saying. Mark Jones said what Patrick would have Gaffin to have said and yet there is no disagreement about his meaning.

    Like

  24. thanks, Bob S, for raising the concern about the shibboleth/sacred cow which is “God’s desire to save the non-elect”. Is God’s law “God desire that nobody sin so that God is then disappointed when sin God has foreordained happens”. The confusion of command and gospel promise has been by now built into the the exegesis of texts like II Peter 3:9 and also other texts which really have nothing to do with the topic (rains on both the just and unjust…)
    But how many opc folks have read the minority report on the “offer” or even know it exists? The “amyraldian” (Marrow, dead for you) approach seems to have triumphed for all practical purposes. The very word “offer” by now seems inherently related to the notion that God wishes to happen what God has not foreordained to happen. And the newer use of “offer” gets read back into Calvin and into Dordt and other confessions…

    Posted July 18, 2014 at 6:21 pm | Permalink
    Wait, it gets worse. If Murray and Young’s OPC Minority Report on Worship Song is fair game, what of Young’s OPC Minority Report . http://opc.org/GA/free_offer.html/

    Bob S—Supposedly God has an archetypal desire for the salvation of the reprobate. But if archetypal theology is unknowable, what gives? Only that modern moderate calvinism is confused and given to taking refuge in paradoxes rather than entering into the previous labors of reformed theologians. At the very least, Murray’s exegesis, beginning with 2 Pet. 3:9, does not seem to be quite in line with the reformed trajectory (Muller’s term) vis a vis the FOG proof texts…. The archetypal, if not amyrauldian speculation is uncalled for. But for all the talk of Calvin and calvinism, how many reformed churches these days would affirm Calvin on eternal predestination or the secret providence of God?

    He says re. Ezek. 18:32, 32:11 “But if these two members of the sentence be read in conjunction, as they ever ought to be– ” I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked;” and, ” But that the wicked turn from his way and live “– read these two propositions in connection with each other, and the calumny is washed off at once (pp.99,100)”.

    Like

  25. Mark-

    You’re perhaps thinking about this too abstractly. The minister preaching the sermon doesn’t know who the elect and the reprobate are. What he does know is that there are commands in Scripture for all men to obey the Gospel. The Bible also tells us to make our calling then our election sure, not the other way around. So the minister can offer the salvation of the gospel freely- without respect to person, status, morality &c.- and leave it to God to work out who will be effectually called and who won’t. And, also, it’s not the people in the street who are being offered the gospel but those in the church, under the preaching.

    Like

  26. Alex, while the ProtRefChurches may deny the confessional version of the free offer at the same time they deny John Murray’s hijack of it, I don’t know that McM is doing that or even denying the public promiscuous preaching of the gospel in the park or on the sidewalk outside of a church.

    Like

  27. I think it’s a mistake to categorize this debate as one between Klineans and Murrayites (and thus the issue of psalmody is irrelevant). My impression rather is that those opposed to Klinean covenant theology and its analysis of Moses are so because they believe it entails a reformulation of historic covenant theology that is less than helpful. The reason for their concern (ironically enough) is that they think the Klinean language about merit in the old covenant blurs the historic Reformed distinction between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace (i.e., the distinction between law and gospel, which in spite of some of the rhetoric is agreed on by all parties) rather than clarifying it. In their view, strict merit is impossible due to the Creator/creature divide, but God condescended and pactum merit became a reality in the state of innocence. But after the fall? In the state of sin, no creature can merit anything before God (except condemnation), not in any sense, and if you think the Bible teaches otherwise, you’d better blink and look again, because there is a better explanation.

    On the other hand, the “Klinean side” believes that some of the old categories need some tweaking in the interests of more accurately reflecting Scripture and better preserving law and gospel. They hold that Kline is more than compatible with historic Reformed orthodoxy and that the diverse explanations given by Reformed stalwarts for precisely how the covenant of works was “renewed” or “revived” or “promulgated” or “delivered” proves their case. And since Turretin even spoke of the Mosaic covenant as “clothed with the form of the covenant of works, so how can anyone say that their view is outside the pale? But for them, Kline has come up with the best understanding of Moses thus far, and they see no problem with following him on this particular issue rather than Turretin, Bavinck or Vos.

    A big problem that prevents the debate from being fruitful is that the two sides have not been able to agree on common categories for the sake of discussion. In the seventeenth century, when diverse views of Moses were discussed, all parties agreed about merit before God, they all agreed on what constituted the substance and accidents of covenants, they all defined covenants in terms of parties, promises and conditions, and they all spoke in terms of form, matter and essence. I don’t know if we need to be locked into scholastic categories, but it does help when everyone speaks the same language and it may be better to speak the old one if there isn’t a new one to replace it. So the “anti-Kline side” of the debate (I think) would like it if their opponents would explain their view using language that both sides can clearly understand. The “pro-Kline side” is reluctant to do so however because they feel (I think) that we’ve moved beyond those old scholastic debates and frankly, they don’t really see the point. From their perspective, Kline is really not so difficult, and since we all agree that salvation is by grace alone, why do people get so miffed when they insist that an upper typological stratum of the old covenant operated according to a principle of works (especially when the old theologians also connected the covenant of works to Moses)? After all, this is what “classic covenant theology” teaches and it is only due to Murray’s influence that contemporary Reformed theologians have become blind to it.

    But the anti-Kline side thinks they see problems, and specifically they think that a works principle in the old covenant is incoherent and incompatible with historic Reformed (and Scriptural) ways of speaking. And so we’re at an impasse….

    Like

  28. David R, unfortunately, this is going to amount to little more than yet another unfounded, unjustified fear of antinomianism. Which, for some of these participants, is little more than yet another way to push shepherdian constructions consistent with Murray’s monocovenantalism. There isn’t the consensus on L/G that you might think there is. This is the Galatians 3 fight, again.

    Like

  29. Bob S- Who mentioned the ProtRefChurches? Mark’s post seemed to suggest that it was Amyraldian to believe that the Gospel is sincerely offered to all people and that God has a love for the Reprobate.

    Like

  30. David R., if the pro-Kline side has moved beyond the old categories, why are they the ones defending the priority of justification while the anti-Kline side is more new-fangled?

    Like

  31. Dr. Hart, “priority of justification” is an opinion, not a category. The categories would be “priority” and “justification,” which are pretty well agreed on….

    Like

  32. thx David R, I found that helpful.

    So “strict merit” v “pactum merit” is that a distinction between whether certain works have intrinsic (essential?) value, vs contingent value “because God said so”? If so, I think that is a critical category that is often missed. I was just recently reading in Vos about the “arbitrary” nature of God’s probationary command to Adam; is it not the same with Israel and the land? God said “if you disobey, I will kick you out”; Israel disobeyed; Israel was (therefore, right?) kicked out. If Israel had not disobeyed, God would not have kicked them out. Thus, because God set up the rules of the game that way, the cash value (merit) of obedience is staying in the land. Yes?

    If there is not a principle of works in operation in Moses, on what basis did God evict Israel from the land?

    It is interesting though, that while Kline is being accused (by Gaffin) of diminishing God’s requirement of perfection for Israel’s land-keeping (and most emphatically NOT for justification), what about FV (Lusk et al) and their diminishing of God’s requirement of perfection for our final justification, based on our “entire life lived”?

    Like

  33. DGH,

    Another relationship question vs. content:

    Would it follow that if the OPC agrees with Murray in one instance, but not another instance, that the OPC is not following Murray at all but seeking to follow the Word of God?

    I may have been misreading the post, but my sense was that the concern of sacred cows was null by the reference to Murray’s view on exclusive Psalmody vs. the OPC’s position today.

    Thank you again for your time,

    B

    Like

  34. David, well, I think you’re missing what’s going on. This is a debate among Vossians — which includes both Murray and his defenders and Kline and his. There’s not a lot of Protestant scholasticism going on there, especially not one in the bunch (except for Horton in a way) has attempted a systematic, let alone dogmatic, theology. You think that one side is actually following 17th century scholastics? No one in PTS or WTS circles did that once Hodge published his ST.

    Like

  35. RubeRad,

    Thanks. You’re right about strict merit entailing intrinsic worth. Turretin has a helpful discussion of merit in volume 3, p. 712. He gives five conditions for a strictly meritorious work: (1) It must be undue, (2) ours, (3) perfect, (4) proportioned to the reward, and (5) the reward must be due from justice. Hence, no strict merit is possible for the creature (since already by nature he owes God obedience), but in the covenant of works God condescends and provides a way for innocent Adam to merit by virtue of God’s promise. By contrast, Christ’s merit (in accomplishing redemption) is strict, as it meets all the above conditions of intrinsic worth.

    I am not sure what you are getting at in comparing the probation command to the Mosaic stipulations. Regarding your question, “If there is not a principle of works in operation in Moses, on what basis did God evict Israel from the land?” I don’t share your assumption that there must be a works principle to explain Israel getting kicked out. Since you are reading Vos (I am too, btw), why don’t you check out his discussion of this question beginning on page 126? I’d be interested in your thoughts. As for Lusk, I haven’t read him, but that does sound problematic….

    Like

  36. David, sure it would. But you claim that one side is scholastic and the other isn’t. No one has been scholastic in Protestant circles since Descartes.

    Like

  37. Thx for more info about strict merit. The point about proportionality is also interesting; i have seen anti-Klineans argue that meritorious-COW doesn’t make sense because the reward is not proportionate to the obedience. I say so what, God set up the rules, and the fact that God held forth reward X for obedience Y means (declares, defines) the “worth” of the obedience. Which sounds like another application of “pactum merit”. I wish I had that term in my vocab 5 years ago.

    Wrt probation vs Moses; my point is mostly that “pactum merit” seems similar to Vos’ use of “arbitrary” to describe the probation command. And it makes sense to me to call Israel’s land situation one of pactum merit, and pactum merit defacto equivalent to a COW. I don’t know if it’s an “assumption” as much as a use of words. God kicked Israel out of the land because… If we agree God didn’t kick Israel out for no reason at all, then “because” fits there, and whatever that because leads to implies a covenant of works; an if-then that God set up, and Israel triggered the “if”, thus God enacted the “then”.

    Thx for the ref into later Vos; I don’t know if I’ll make time to look it up, I’m really enjoying the snail’s pace of Reformed Forum’s “Vos Group” study. Probably get to p 126 by mid 2016.

    As for Lusk, if you want, here is a critique which starts off with a link to the original, so twofer.

    Like

  38. From the Van Tillian thread:

    David R.,
    Hello again. Help me with understanding something because I’m a little confused by this statement. You wrote above: The distinction between the Creator and creature is such that the creature can’t merit anything from God unless God first promises him something. This does not seem so debatable to me.

    You have said elsewhere that the problem with TLNF and Kline is that they claim Israel can ‘merit’ temporal blessings. At least that’s what I understand you to be saying. Why wouldn’t the qualification for the creature’s merit before God likewise apply to the land promises that God made to the nation of Israel? Theirs isn’t a merit intrinsically worth the land tenure, but a merit defined by the land promise held out by God base upon his conditional covenant arrangement with corporate Israel. Isn’t this then a merit defined by the promise that God gave the nation to attain to through obedience to the Mosaic covenant?

    thanks…

    Like

  39. B, most of those championing Murray in the OPC either don’t know they are not following Murray on psalms or don’t want to know.

    Like

  40. Theirs isn’t a merit intrinsically worth the land tenure, but a merit defined by the land promise held out by God…

    Yes, that’s what I’m saying too, using this new vocab David R gave me “not strict merit, but pactum merit”

    Like

  41. David R—The reason for their concern (ironically enough) is that they think the Klinean language about merit in the old covenant blurs the historic Reformed distinction between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace (i.e., the distinction between law and gospel, which in spite of some of the rhetoric is agreed on by all parties) rather than clarifying it.

    mcmark—as usual, David, I find your points illuminating. But who is the “they”?. While Gaffin may be politically astute enough not to deny “covenant of works” in the way that Norman Shepherd and John Murray did, does the ‘they” against Kline affirm either “the covenant of works” or the law-gospel antithesis? I am not thinking only of Gaffin teaching that the law gospel divide disappears after we become Christians. I am asking if Mark Jones agrees with the idea of a “covenant of works”. I am not asking about those who self-identify as “federal visionists” but those –like Jones–who insist that sanctification is given to us “on conditions” because justification was given to Christ “on conditions”. If the conditional language avoids “merit”, what is left of the distinction between law and gospel?

    In Antinomianism, P and R, 2013, Jones keeps hinting that those who disagree with him have not read the historical documents in question. The most irritating claim he makes is that he’s correct because of a better Christology. p 21—”If Christ is our mediator, our union with him means not only that we must be holy (i.e., necessity), but also that we will be able to be like him (i.e., motive)…”

    .Jones, p 24–”There was a perfect synergy involved in Jesus’ human obedience and the Holy Spirit’s influence…Following this pattern, although man is completely passive at the moment of regeneration, he cooperates with God in sanctification.”

    Denying the idea of a “covenant of works” in which Christ obeyed law to earn merits, Jones also denies the idea of substitution so that our works are not necessary for the not yet aspect of justification. Like the Galatian false teachers, Jones equates “living by faith’ with obeying the law, and argues along with Gaffin and Shepherd that our living by faith means our obeying the law.
    Instead of talking about the merits of Christ, Jones speaks of Christ’s living by faith, which was obeying the law, to get to the idea of our also living by faith, which then comes to mean our obeying the law.

    On p 24, Jones argues from the fact that Christ “was not left to His own abilities but was enabled by the Spirit” to not only question the language of “covenant of works” but to say that we Christians are enabled by the Spirit “to cooperate with God in sanctification. Except for the emphasis on sanctification instead of justification, the conclusion is no different from that of NT Wright—don’t be so Christocentric, because the work of the Spirit in us is also Christ’s work for our final justification.

    Like

  42. RubeRad,

    I think you’re taking the idea of an arbitrary probation command and running with it to places where it shouldn’t go. The reason why it had to be arbitrary is that it was in addition to the moral/natural law already written in Adam’s heart by nature. But now that he had this new command, he was still obligated to render perfect obedience. How can anything analogous be imported into the post-fall situation? Which of the laws that God gave to Israel are arbitrary?

    Like

  43. David R., well, scholastic categories aren’t very Vossian — I mean, Keruxian.

    Can we get a little intellectual honesty here? None of the contestants studied with Witsius or Owen.

    Like

  44. My son Kevin got marred this past Saturday, and I am just now able to try to catch up with this thread….

    i am told —The minister preaching the sermon doesn’t know who the elect and the reprobate are

    mark–of course, and neither do the rest of us servants, but what does that have to do with an “offer” that tells everybody that God loves them and desires to save them? Not one thing! Not knowing who is elect are is no excuse for not telling the good news about election, and especially the good news that all for whom Christ died are elect and that all the elect will be saved. This is indeed God-honoring news, and can and should be taught to everybody, and everybody commanded to believe this gospel.

    The idea that Christ died for other people besides the elect is not only not true but it’s a falsehood that replaces the truth of the gospel. I won’t repeat the anathemas of Dordt here, but simply comment that knowing about election is not a secret not-revealed thing and is not to be equated with identifying the elect. As many as believe the gospel is not the condition of election but the result of election.

    You can have a “covenant” in which you include everybody or everybody who is one-generation-removed related to others in that “covenant”, but there is no assurance of an individual person being elect apart from the resulting faith in the gospel. If you think you have to give the water to somebody before you can give them the gospel, then go ahead and give the water to everybody but the water gives no assurance to anybody of future faith or past election.

    I am also told: So the minister can offer the salvation of the gospel freely- without respect to person, status, morality &c.- and leave it to God to work out who will be effectually called and who won’t. And, also, it’s not the people in the street who are being offered the gospel but those in the church, under the preaching.

    mark: I do not object to the word “offer” if it means the promise of the gospel, but since the Marrow (and since John Murray) the word “offer” has come to be associated with the false notion that God loves everybody and that God desires to save the non-elect. If you tell people something false about God (that God wants to save everybody), then you have not “left it to God” but have instead perverted the truth of the gospel.

    I really wish that you had taken the time to at least read the opc minority report on the “offer”. As for the comment above, it seems not to be able to make up its mind–On the hand, the gospel command is for everybody and I agree. But then on the other hand, the comment above says–no worries, it’s only in the church and in preaching. So what–if we agree that the sincere call to obey the gospel is to be proclaimed to everybody, who cares if the listeners have been watered or if they are “in the covenant” or even “in church”?

    Bob –while the ProtRefChurches may deny the confessional version of the free offer at the same time they deny John Murray’s hijack of it, I don’t know that McM is doing that or even denying the public promiscuous preaching of the gospel in the park or on the sidewalk outside of a church.

    mark: The Protestant Reformed accept all three confessions, and I do not see how what they say denies the universal duty of all sinners to believe the gospel. Certainly I don’t think the gospel must only be preached “in church” and I don’t see how the PRC thinks that either. Mostly I see a lot of false labeling and slander which gets repeated by one uninformed person after another. Getting the content of the supralapsarian/ infralapsarian debate wrong can be a relatively “minor” problem, but it’s a major problem when “offer” gets used to promote the Amyraldian notion that Christ died to make a proposal of love to every sinner. That idea–to say the least—is something less than the love of God which gives the Son as propitiation for all the sins of all the elect.

    Like

  45. it’s not a matter of “proportionate” or even “infinite”. Christ’s death is about Christ bearing away by propitiatory death the specific sins of the elect. Christ was “made sin” by God’s imputation
    Christ’s death saves not only because of God’s sovereign plan but also because of God’s justice.

    This justice is now often caricatured. As in, if I had committed one more or less sin, and if there had been one or less elect person, then Christ would have suffered more or less. The truth is that Christ died only one death, and it not a certain amount of suffering but that one (and only one) death which shall take away all the sins of the elect

    But we must be careful in dismissing a “commercial view” of the propitiation, not only because Christ can and does do things by measure (healing some but not others) but because the Bible does talk about being bought by blood so that we belong to Christ. One of the better discussion on this topic this by Tom Nettles in By His Grace and For His glory.

    Nettles first quotes the opposite view, that of Andrew Fuller: “We could say that a certain number of Christ’s acts of obedience becomes ours as that certain number of sins becomes his. In the former case his one undivided obedience affords a ground of justification to any number of believers; in the latter, his one atonement is sufficient for the pardon of any number of sins or sinners.

    Nettles explains that Fuller “misconceives the biblical relation of imputation. The imputation of Christ’s righteousness should not be considered as analogous to God’s imputation of the sin of the elect to Christ but rather to the imputation of Adam’s sin”.

    Nettles— one: it’s tantamount to identifying the doctrine of effectual calling with atonement. What the Amyraldian really means by definite atonement is that the difference is not in the atonement but in the Spirit’s work of calling….A second error is subtle in nature and involves a shift in the understanding of the sacrificial death. Although the concepts of reconciliation and propitiation are defined as activities accomplished in the Father’s setting forth God the Son–when the “sufficiency to make an offer” view arises, the emphasis shifts from the Son’s passive obedience to what Christ continues to actively accomplish by His Spirit and His infinite divine nature.”

    Abraham Booth, Divine Justice Essential to the Divine Character, 3:60
    “While cheerfully admitting the sufficiency of Immanual’s death to have redeemed all mankind, had all the sins of the whole human species been equally imputed to Him, we cannot perceive any solid reason to conclude that his propitiatory sufferings are sufficient for the expiation of sins which He did not bear, or for the redemption of sinners whom He did not represent. For the substitution of Christ, and the imputation of sin to him, are essential to the scriptural doctrine of redemption by our adorable Jesus…

    Dagg (Manual of Theology,330): “Some have maintained that, if the atonement of Christ is not general, no sinner can be under obligation to believe in Christ, until he is assured that he is one of the elect. This implies that no sinner is bound to believe what God says, unless he knows that God designs to save him…

    Like

  46. Hey Jack,

    The difference is pre-fall versus post-fall. Suppose Adam pre-fall, able to render perfect obedience. Is it meritorious if he does so? No, because this is what he owes. Yet God puts Himself in man’s debt, as it were. But in order to merit the blessing, Adam needs to render perfect obedience. Now, fast forward to after the fall. Man, now sinful and deserving of condemnation, still owes perfect obedience, though he has forfeit the possibility of ever rendering it. What exactly are you proposing, that God lowers the standard in the Mosaic covenant to something that sinful Israel can achieve? If so, then no thanks, I’ll stick with Reformed theology. But if you are simply saying that the condition of the Mosaic covenant is perfect obedience, then I may be able to agree, though of course this wouldn’t have to be “defined by the land promise” since it was already given in the covenant of works.

    Like

  47. Are there any anabaptists left? Anabaptists rejected Roman water and human killing. Now, the conservative Mennonites wave the flag for George Bush (but not Obama) along with their Lutheran and Reformed neighbors, and the liberal Mennonites welcome Romanists to come help them turn their table into “the sacrament”.

    As far as I know, my 28 year old son has of yet not been watered by anybody. Surely that’s an environmental result of being raised by some kind of “anabaptist” dad. I would tell you that he has heard a thing or two about Christ’s romance (even to redemption by His death) with His elect. Thank you and I would ask for your prayers for him and his new bride. And for all those, not only in my own family, who have not yet obeyed the gospel.

    Like

  48. Even though merit is not a biblical word, and nobody can make us say merit, I would still say “our permanent redemption obtained by Christ’s finished WORK”. All the blessings of our salvation are not only by grace but also by justice. Romans 4:4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift by as his due. The salvation of the elect is what God’s justice owes to Christ. It is not grace to Christ that the Triune God gives Christ the salvation of His people.

    This does not mean we can say without qualification that the elect are entitled to salvation. Salvation is by grace to the elect. But this salvation is by justice, not only to the Son, but also because of the holy character of the Triune God. We need to avoid a nominalism in which God is only sovereign and not to be glorified for His justice, as to His character and acts. God is both just and justifier of the ungodly.

    The priestly death of Jesus Christ was not merely one way (among many) God could have saved the elect. (See Abraham Booth’s Justice Essential to the Divine Character). Socinians say that we deny God’s sovereignty to have the option of forgiving apart from Christ’s death’s satisfying justice. But God cannot lie. And God cannot save sinners apart from the death of Son.

    After Christ has died, God cannot in justice not save all those for whom Christ died. This is not about the infinity of Christ’s person (both divine and human) This is about Christ our surety having obtained something by a WORK. And this is what the scholastic “merits” is getting to. Christ’s death gets us off from God’s wrath, but also that Christ has justly earned all future blessings for the elect (access, adoption, resurrection).

    The “federal visionists” are for the most part in fact opposed to the federal merits of Christ. And those who claim to be most jealous for the gracious character of the Mosaic covenant in fact tend to confuse the justice and grace categories for the sake of their mono-covenantalism.

    Like

  49. Dr. Hart,

    Can we get a little intellectual honesty here? None of the contestants studied with Witsius or Owen.

    But some of them are working at catching up. (Funny that this is a debate between “Vossians,” but none of them ever appeals to Vos.)

    Like

  50. Mark, the PRC’s accept the WS? Covenant of works for one? Best of my knowledge they are very dicey about “offer”. Yeah, the WS talk about it “but”.

    In 1953 DeWulf was suspended for saying “God promises everyone of you that if you believe you will be saved” (as well as “Our act of conversion is a prerequisite to enter the kingdom”).

    Dunno. Acts 16:31  sounds like a promise to me.

    “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

    True, thankfully God does more than just offer salvation, because then none of us would have believed, but regardless. God’s free offer to save sinners on account of the price Christ paid on the cross is what it is.

    Like

  51. David, could you be conflating the promise as to individual election (requires a perfect righteousness by grace) and the national election of Israel based on the works principle. One has to do with one’s standing before the law as to salvation base on grace through faith in Christ. The other has to do with tenure in the land through covenant keeping (works principle).

    Kline:
    “What he [Paul] recognizes is that the promise has to do with individual election, and the works principal has to do with Israel’s national election. So they’re not dealing with the same thing. If the works were dealing with the same thing as the promise than the works would annul the promise. But the works principle is not dealing with individual election, it’s dealing with the corporate thing. Corporate Israel was involved in the covenant arrangement involving the typological kingdom, which could be and was broken. But the Abrahamic promises of salvation in Christ that was by grace and that could not be broken.”

    One requires the perfect obedience/ merit of Christ before the Law for the individual. The other requires an obedience or merit as defined by the Lord of the covenant for the nation. One has to do with eternal standing before God. The other has to do with the temporal blessing of dwelling in the land of Canaan.

    Like

  52. Dr. Hart, probably not but perhaps they should. I agree with your linked post, but I think this particular debate actually is more about the system of doctrine than it is about Murray vs. Kline (and Vos doesn’t figure in either).

    Like

  53. Kline:
    “It is precisely in connection with that then that we can then suggest that this second layer up here on top of the ground foundational grace level. Here is this typological kingdom, and the national election of Israel to be distinguished from the individual election of people to heaven. The national election of Israel is that they may enjoy this typological kingdom and then the third ingredient that goes along with the national election and the typological kingdom is the principle of works. So it is by works then that the corporate Israel, the national election, will be able to enjoy, and to have tenure within that land. So it was like Adam under his covenant of works that’s sort of is recapitulated here in the experience of Israel. They too are in their paradise land, but to stay there, they, like Adam, if he’s going to stay in his paradise land, has to fulfill his Covenant of Works. Israel if they’re going to stay in their paradise land must fulfill a works arrangement too. That’s our contention.”

    Like

  54. Jack,

    David, could you be conflating the promise as to individual election (requires a perfect righteousness by grace) and the national election of Israel based on the works principle.

    I don’t believe that there is one covenant for the elect and another for Israel, so I don’t think I’m conflating things. I think that the Mosaic covenant is an administration of the covenant of grace, which means that what was given to Israel was essentially the covenant of grace (though it was given to them in a form that presented the demands and sanctions of the covenant of works). And by the way, “national election of Israel based on the works principle” is kind of hard to square with Deuteronomy 7:6-8 isn’t it?

    One requires the perfect obedience/ merit of Christ before the Law for the individual. The other requires an obedience or merit as defined by the Lord of the covenant for the nation. One has to do with eternal standing before God. The other has to do with the temporal blessing of dwelling in the land of Canaan.

    Is it fair to say that you distinguish the Mosaic covenant from the covenant of grace (as a specifically distinct covenant)? If so, can you please clarify what you mean by “an obedience or merit as defined by the Lord of the covenant for the nation”? Is this a measure of obedience that sinners are able to attain to? Or is it perfect obedience (as in the covenant of works) held out to them hypothetically?

    Like

  55. David, I think (as do many) that the MC was a mixed covenant containing the eternal covenant of grace for the elect individual who trusted in the promise and a temporal covenant of land tenure for the nation based on a works principle. Two distinct levels in the MC. The biblical record seems to bear this out.

    Notice that the WCF when talking about the administration of the covenant of grace under the Law, doesn’t mention the Law but rather “it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all foresignifying Christ to come…” The covenant of grace wasn’t administered by the Law. The Law is not of Faith. What purpose the law as to Israel as a corporate nation? Certainly for elect Israelites it drove them to Christ. But for a nation there is no category of salvation. Israel wasn’t the OT invisible church. Salvation relates to individuals. Can God not have a temporal purpose for Israel apart from salvation under the MC requiring obedience for land tenure and which exacts exile for covenant breaking?

    Like

  56. Jack,

    David, I think (as do many) that the MC was a mixed covenant containing the eternal covenant of grace for the elect individual who trusted in the promise and a temporal covenant of land tenure for the nation based on a works principle. Two distinct levels in the MC. The biblical record seems to bear this out..

    This is still not clear to me. It appears that you are actually talking about two different covenants. Covenants are defined in terms of their stipulations and sanctions. What were the stipulations and sanctions of the Mosaic covenant, in your view? Were they different than those of the covenant of grace? (If so, you’ve got two covenants.)

    Notice that the WCF when talking about the administration of the covenant of grace under the Law, doesn’t mention the Law but rather “it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all foresignifying Christ to come…” The covenant of grace wasn’t administered by the Law. The Law is not of Faith.

    I agree with you that the covenant of grace during the Mosaic period was not administered by the law (assuming you mean the moral law). The law was administered by the law. I also agree that the covenant of grace was administered by the “types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all foresignifying Christ to come …”

    What purpose the law as to Israel as a corporate nation? Certainly for elect Israelites it drove them to Christ. But for a nation there is no category of salvation. Israel wasn’t the OT invisible church. Salvation relates to individuals. Can God not have a temporal purpose for Israel apart from salvation under the MC requiring obedience for land tenure and which exacts exile for covenant breaking?

    Again, it appears you are speaking of two separate covenants, one for individuals and one for the nation. But I see (as do many) in Scripture only one covenant of grace, which during the Mosaic period was administered legally.

    Like

  57. David, I’m no theologian but my quick back of the envelope explanation… The covenant of grace ran through the MC though not inaugurated by the MC. The promise existed for 430 years prior and yet continued (was not annulled by the MC law as per Galatians which in of itself is interesting) through the post Ex. 20 era. So what was the MC? – something different – regarding purpose it was in harmony with the CoG as to individuals marked for salvation and as a nation under a conditional covenant in order to remain a people separated under God that the Christ might be identified when he appeared. It’s a hybrid. Can the CoG be broken? No, because it is Christ who secures it through his obedience and death. Yet the MC was broken by Israel as a nation. And as the writer to the Hebrews says, it was set aside for something better. The MC as a national covenant (which ended) plays a central role both through a nation in which the seed, Christ, is preserved through a separated recognizable people under the law conditions and through the CoG promises, types, and sacrifices in the CoG administered to the individual Israeli elect. But itself isn’t the CoG. It is something other (an administration under the Law covenant) and yet the CoG continues in and through it. And more than a few reformed theologians have understood it as such.

    Like

  58. David R.
    Posted July 21, 2014 at 10:45 pm | Permalink
    Jack,

    David, could you be conflating the promise as to individual election (requires a perfect righteousness by grace) and the national election of Israel based on the works principle.

    —I don’t believe that there is one covenant for the elect and another for Israel, so I don’t think I’m conflating things. I think that the Mosaic covenant is an administration of the covenant of grace, which means that what was given to Israel was essentially the covenant of grace (though it was given to them in a form that presented the demands and sanctions of the covenant of works). And by the way, “national election of Israel based on the works principle” is kind of hard to square with Deuteronomy 7:6-8 isn’t it?

    One requires the perfect obedience/ merit of Christ before the Law for the individual. The other requires an obedience or merit as defined by the Lord of the covenant for the nation. One has to do with eternal standing before God. The other has to do with the temporal blessing of dwelling in the land of Canaan.

    Is it fair to say that you distinguish the Mosaic covenant from the covenant of grace (as a specifically distinct covenant)? If so, can you please clarify what you mean by “an obedience or merit as defined by the Lord of the covenant for the nation”? Is this a measure of obedience that sinners are able to attain to? Or is it perfect obedience (as in the covenant of works) held out to them hypothetically?

    Dude. Now that’s some serious theological society theologinizationizing. Plus it’ll help keep the blog author from playing in traffic, to the benefit of both theological pedestrians and motorists.

    D. G. Hart
    Posted July 21, 2014 at 10:09 pm | Permalink
    David, which authors are you reading? As I say, honesty. You really think Owen and Witsius have more influence than Vos or Van Til?

    As Darryl always says, honesty. But what “influence” means I do not know. That [God’s?] truth is democratized–up for a vote, and since for the greater mass of men peer pressure is the rule, a question of influence–is exactly why some of us ask

    Whose Calvinism is it anyway? Owen’s, Van Til’s? The PCUSA’s? The least of us sit back and mark our scorecards, as best we can since there is no Official Scorer.

    Like

  59. David Gordon—John Murray’s resistance to describing the Adamic administration in covenantal terms was more than lexical; it was more than the simple matter that the term “covenant” was not used to describe the Edenic administration.

    http://www.tdgordon.net/theology/abraham_and_sinai_contraste.pdf

    Gordon: If Murray’s definition of “covenant” as a “sovereign administration of grace and promise” is permitted to stand, it would be impossible to describe the Adamic administration properly, since Adam’s mortality is conditional. Murray therefore preferred to speak of it as the “Adamic administration.” Yet even here, his construal of the matter displayed the same implicit monocovenantalism revealed in his discussion of the Sinai covenant.

    Gordon: Once the term “covenant” is defined in such a manner as to include grace and promise as part of the definition, then the historic, two-covenant structure of covenant theology is no longer possible; and, as Murray desired, it would be necessary to construct a “re-casting” of the covenant theology, one that removes from any covenant any true sense of conditionality on the part of the human party thereto. Once this conditionality is removed, faith inevitably blends with works, since each is merely the human response to grace.

    Gordon–And so, Murray’s disciples inevitably move in a monocovenantal direction; all covenants become essentially the same: Norman Shephard cannot easily distinguish Abrahamic faith from Sinaitic works; Greg Bahnsen could not distinguish Israel’s laws from the laws of non-theocratic nations;… the so-called Federal Vision cannot easily distinguish the visible (the “outward Jew” of Romans 2) from the invisible (the “inward Jew” of Romans 2) church. Though John Murray himself committed none of these errors, his monocovenantal tendency would inevitably have the effects it has had in each of these areas.

    Gordon—Murray (and his followers) implicitly believe that the only relation God sustains to people is that of Redeemer . I would argue, by contrast, that God was just as surely Israel’s God when He cursed the nation as when He blessed it. His pledge to be Israel’s God, via the terms of the Sinai administration, committed Him to curse Israel for disobedience just as much as to bless her for obedience. In being Israel’s “God,” He sustained the relation of covenant Suzerain to her; He did not bless-or-curse any other nation for its covenant fidelity or infidelity. In this sense, He was not the God of other nations as He was the God of Israel.

    Gordon– Murray’s (unargued and unarguable) assumption that “I shall be their God” implies gracious redemption, election, or union with Christ, is entirely unmerited (should I say “unwarranted?”) by the biblical evidence. The first generation of those to whom the Sinai covenant was given died in the wilderness, in a situation that they perceived as being worse than their situation in Egypt. Why? Because Yahweh was not their God? No; because Yahweh was their God (i.e. Covenant Lord); and because, as such, He was committed to imposing the sanctions of the Sinai covenant upon them. I suppose one could strain language here, and say that it was “gracious” of Yahweh to impose curse-sanctions upon the Israelites (but not upon the nations); but I certainly would take no comfort in God’s “grace,” if it entailed such.

    Like

  60. Jack,

    Thanks. You began this conversation by asking me to clear up your confusion as to how it is that innocent Adam could merit life according to the terms of the covenant of works but sinful Israel could not, by the same token, merit life according to the terms of the MC. I don’t think I’ve succeeded but one thing that will help me know for sure is if you answer my question as to your view of the nature of Israel’s meritorious obedience (i.e., perfect or tainted with sin). If you say “perfect” (i.e., as was demanded in the covenant of works), then it’s true, the view you would be propounding is not unknown in covenant theology. I think all parties agree that the offer of life for perfect obedience still stands (though rendered hypothetical by the fall). But if you think the standard was lowered so that Israel could actually attain to it (not to mention Noah, Abraham and David), then in spite of your claim, there is little (if any) precedent for it until Kline. (Go back and look at Bolton’s taxonomy and you won’t fnd it.) And please don’t quote Hodge and Buchanan as there is no way to demonstrate they thought sinners could merit (even temporal) life by pactum. And as you know, Hodge took pride in Princeton’s eschewing of theological novelty.

    Like

  61. David, thanks. Shaw, as are the positions un TLNF, is an acceptable view. Where do you read that this view believes that God lowered the standard of his law? Can he not have a period of time in which he doesn’t recompense Israel for their violations and then in his own time bring the curses (exile) upon the nation’s for their lack of faithfulness to the covenant (temporal blessings/curses based on temporal promises based on conditions of national covenant keeping)?

    How do you explain that Israel broke the covenant and they were all exiled, believers included were exiled? In what way did they break the covenant, which covenant? The seems to be God, not “lowering” his standards but, no longer forbearing their national covenant violations.

    Jer. 11: 6 And the LORD said to me, “Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: Hear the words of this covenant and do them.
    7 For I solemnly warned your fathers when I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, warning them persistently, even to this day, saying, Obey my voice.
    8 Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone walked in the stubbornness of his evil heart. Therefore I brought upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but they did not.”
    9 Again the LORD said to me, “A conspiracy exists among the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
    10 They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, who refused to hear my words. They have gone after other gods to serve them. The house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant that I made with their fathers.
    11 Therefore, thus says the LORD, Behold, I am bringing disaster upon them that they cannot escape. Though they cry to me, I will not listen to them.

    Like

  62. Isnt’ that what I said?

    “If there is not a principle of works in operation in Moses, on what basis did God evict Israel from the land?”

    Anyways, in 12 hours I’ve lost a handle on this thread, so I’ll tag out and maybe try to skim along as others vie for blog points.

    Like

  63. The point has been made by others elsewhere but it bears repeating here. If the sacrifice of Christ could be typified through bulls and goats and not be the reality of Christ’s sacrifice, what’s the beef with the OT holding forth types of the active obedience of Christ?

    Like

  64. Sean, I’ve heard that a lot recently and the answer is that there is absolutely no beef with the OT holding forth types of Christ’s active obedience.

    Like

  65. Jack,

    To clarify about Shaw, I suggested you stick with him because it is indeed a standard Reformed view. Regarding Kline, his view is that the standard of judgment is “typological legibility,” i.e., a lowered standard. I am glad to hear that you disagree (but then you are not advocating the view in TLNF).

    Kline:

    The covenant of grant given to Noah is one of several such divine dispensations in the premessianic era of redemptive history. Wherever we encounter such a bestowal of the kingdom and its honors on the basis of the good works of the grantee, the question naturally arises as to the consistency of this with redemptive covenant’s promises of grace. In all such cases the key point to observe is that the opposing principles of works and grace are operating in different spheres or at different levels from one another. For these works-arrangements all involve a situation where there is a typological representation of the messianic king and kingdom, superimposed as a second distinct level over a fundamental level that has to do with the eschatological kingdom reality itself. Now at that basic underlying level, where it is a matter of the individual’s gaining entrance into the eternal heavenly kingdom, not just a symbolic prototype thereof, sovereign saving grace is ever and only the principle that governs the inheritance of kingdom blessings. It is at the other level, the level of the superimposed typological stratum, that the Lord has been pleased on occasion to make the attainment of the rewards of the kingdom dependent on man’s obedient performance of his covenantal duty.

    Estelle:

    There is a real connection that exists between the obedience/disobedience of Israel and tenure in the land. Indeed, according to Deuteronomy, ‘its [Israel’s] right of occupation is therefore contingent on its actions [quote from Frymer-Kensky, ‘Pollution,’ according to the footnote]. On this former point, the biblical evidence is incontrovertible. Of course, law-keeping never provided–this side of the fall of Adam into sin–the meritorious grounds of life in the eternal sense. Since the fall of mankind, no mere man could obtain that goal.

    How do you explain that Israel broke the covenant and they were all exiled, believers included were exiled? In what way did they break the covenant, which covenant? The seems to be God, not “lowering” his standards but, no longer forbearing their national covenant violations.

    You guys keep asking this and I keep wondering if you ever consider the fact that Reformed theologians have pretty universally settled on a different answer to your question.

    Vos:

    43. How is the covenant at Sinai to be assessed?

    On this question, the most diverse opinions are prevalent. We first give the correct view. The Sinaitic covenant is not a new covenant as concerns the essence of the matter, but the old covenant of grace established with Abraham in somewhat changed form. The thesis that it must be a new covenant is usually derived from the fact that Paul so strongly accents the law over against the promises as different from them (e.g., Gal 3:17ff.). But thereby one thing is forgotten. Paul nowhere sets the Sinaitic covenant in its entirety over against the Abrahamic covenant, but always the law insofar as it came to function in the Sinaitic covenant.

    Vos again:

    44. Is this covenant that God established with Israel capable of being broken or not?

    It is not only capable of being broken, but also has been broken repeatedly. Then a covenant renewal is necessary, as comes out in Exod 34:10ff. and 2 Kgs 23:3. Actually, all sin is covenant breaking, but still this covenant is such that God Himself has ordained a means to preserve the covenant in spite of those sins. This means are the sacrifices. They are applicable to sins that are not committed with uplifted hands; that is, sins through error, unintentional sins. But, also, even when an intentional sin is committed, God still does not forsake His covenant. Where the appointed means of propitiation is lacking, God comes with extraordinary seeking grace, remembers His covenant, maintains it in spite of Israel’s unfaithfulness (Exod 32; Psa 106:23; Num 16:45–50). Finally, it is expressed clearly that the covenant with Israel is eternal (1 Chr 16:17; Isa 54:10; Psa 89:1–5), a covenant to which God has pledged the honor of His name (Isa 48:8–11; Num 14:16).

    Like

  66. Sean,

    I see no problem with the idea that Israel’s obedience typifies Christ’s (anymore than there’s a problem with Noah’s and Abraham’s obedience typifying Christ’s). However, I think we can (and should) say these things w/o also saying that they fulfilled a covenant of works.

    But for more on types of Christ’s active obedience, see Vos’s BT, page 169. I think it puts an end to the recently oft-repeated claim about a lack of types of Christ’s active obedience in the sacrificial system.

    Like

  67. this covenant is such that God Himself has ordained a means to preserve the covenant in spite of those sins. This means are the sacrifices.

    OK, so keeping the covenant “perfectly” involves sin and sacrifice. If Israel keeps the covenant by maintaining sacrifice for their sins (a.k.a. faithfully worship God in the manner he prescribed), then they stay in the land. If they break the covenant by failing to sacrifice for their sins (a.k.a. turn to other gods) then they lose the land. (Also, if Israel just flat-out doesn’t sin, they can stay in the land). Sounds like a works principle to me. And Israel has to keep it “perfectly” in one sense that they must continue to sacrifice for their sins. But in another sense, that is not “perfect” because there are sins. The covenant is eternal because Christ is the true Israel and has perfectly, actively fulfilled all righteousness, thus securing the benefits of the covenant for all who have faith in him.

    Like

  68. David, you are way better read than I am so I won’t deal directly with the quote from Vos, who I haven’t read. But I don’t think it’s accurate to say his quote represents that which Reformed theologians have pretty universally settled on. One concern is that he seems to be saying that the the MC is essentially the covenant of grace which can be and is continually being broken? That seems to be what Vos is saying. Yet Christ is the surety, the guarantor of the CoG. He alone is the one who “appeared and passed between the pieces.” He took up the CoW and fulfilled it once for all (his elect). It is unbreakable.

    Also the WCF 7.5 puts it this way (with what I think is the meaning in brackets) – “This covenant [CoG] was differently administered in the time of the law [the Mosaic covenant], and in the time of the gospel [fulfilled CoG]: under the law [the Mosaic covenant], it was administered…” This would be consistent with Paul’s teaching in Galatians.

    As an elect believer my sin doesn’t and can’t break the CoG anymore than King David’s. Yet Israel as a nation broke God’s covenant and paid the price that God told them that as a nation they would pay if they did so. Two levels going on. CoG on one level, CoW on the other. One as relates to the individual believer. The other as relates to the nation of Israel for typological purposes. Believers, citizens of the nation, were also exiled and certainly were not breakers of the CoG. Something else was going on than a violation of the CoG.

    I don’t have any problem with the Kline or Estelle quotes. As to Kline – the performance of duties has to do with national duties bearing temporal/national rewards or punishments with typological significance, not eternal/individual blessedness. It is not about the standard of meriting eternal life as individuals. On the individual level Christ has met that high standard. No standard of God’s law is being lowered as to meriting eternal life. And I agree that Estelles point, as the quote states, is based on biblical evidence [which] is incontrovertible.

    But I think we’re just going round and round, so I’ll stop here unless you have something specific you want me to address. Take care…

    Like

  69. I’m curious whether we have any evidence of Vos’ assessment of Kline. Wikipedia says Vos died when MGK was just 27, so maybe there just wasn’t enough overlap.

    Like

  70. Jack,

    One concern is that he seems to be saying that the the MC is essentially the covenant of grace which can be and is continually being broken?

    The short answer is that there is a distinction between those who are merely externally (administratively) in the covenant of grace and those who are truly united to Christ. This is true in the OT and the NT. “Not all who are of Israel are Israel.” The broken off branches can be said to have broken the covenant.

    Like

  71. David, I’ll have to read Vos to get all the nuance you want to make. If this is a fight over being Vossian or not, I’m not sure I care a whole lot but certainly it’s worth knowing. I think the republication disagreement is more rooted and of greater concern, to me, as it engages formulations of Sola Fide, L/G considerations, Union reordering of the ordo, and ontological orientations of soteriology. Ever since I’ve been in reformed circles, Murray’s mono-covenantalism has been an issue. It’s not simply of matter of looking for a fight. You’re forced to weed through all the different bastard children that that move has generated. And it doesn’t look like it’s gonna go away on it’s own or that it can co-exist with what I consider faithful understanding of protestant/biblical expressions of salvation.

    Like

  72. Jack,

    Believers, citizens of the nation, were also exiled and certainly were not breakers of the CoG.

    Indeed. And elect believers today continue in exile, do we not (1 Peter 1:1)? Daniel was no more under God’s curse than we are.

    Like

  73. Sean,

    I think the republication disagreement is more rooted and of greater concern, to me, as it engages formulations of Sola Fide, L/G considerations, Union reordering of the ordo, and ontological orientations of soteriology. Ever since I’ve been in reformed circles, Murray’s mono-covenantalism has been an issue.

    Believe me, I understand. Fairly recently I completely agreed with you. Now I think you’ve bought into a narrative. If you can make the time, read some old stuff on covenant theology, Turretin, Roberts, Ball, etc. Take a rest from Kline, Gordon and Scott Clark.

    Like

  74. Believers, citizens of the nation, were also exiled and certainly were not breakers of the CoG.

    Indeed. And elect believers today continue in exile, do we not (1 Peter 1:1)? Daniel was no more under God’s curse than we are.

    David, apples and oranges I would say. The Nation if Israel under the MC was exiled, including believers, due to covenant breaking. There is no exiling of the visible church under the gospel today due to covenant breaking. Daniel was under the curse of being exiled as a citizen of covenant-breaking Israel though as an individual believer not under the curse of damnation because of Christ’s covenant keeping. Two levels…

    Like

  75. David, I don’t know about thinking for me. That’s some scary territory. It could be I’ve been blinded, I doubt it, but I’m not threatened by reading others and have. I’d be interested in your take beyond merely historical constructions and how you navigate Gal. 3 or Heb 4, Rom 5, the usual suspects. Maybe you’ve recently bought into a narrative?

    Like

  76. Jack (and Rube),

    Before I go, I leave you with a passage from a Brakel’s A Christian’s Reasonable Service, volume 1. Even if you disagree, at least you’ll see how Reformed theologians generally deal with this question.

    Did God, either in the Old or New Testament, establish a different, external covenant in addition to the covenant of grace?

    Before he responds, he describes what is meant by such an “external covenant,” including the following points (among others):

    (3) The promises of such a covenant merely relate to physical blessings, be it the land of Canaan, or in addition to that, food and clothing, money, delicacies, and the delights of this world.

    (4) The condition is external obedience, merely consisting in external observance of the law of the ten commandments and the ceremonies, church attendance, making profession of faith, and using the sacraments, participation being external and without the heart.

    (6) In the Old Testament this would be the national covenant established only with the seed of Abraham. This covenant would have been an exemplary covenant to typify the spiritual service in the days of the New Testament. In the New Testament it would be a covenant to establish the external church. All of this would constitute an external covenant, it being essentially different in nature than the covenant of works and the covenant of grace.

    Upon closer examination of such an external covenant (even though proponents of such a covenant do not perhaps appreciate such a close examination), the question is whether there is such an external covenant? Some deny that such is the case in the New Testament, but claim it existed in the Old Testament. Others maintain that such a covenant also exists in the New Testament. We, however, make a distinction between external admission into the covenant of grace, and an external covenant. We maintain that there have always been those who externally have entered into the covenant of grace, and who, without faith and conversion but without giving offense, mingle among the true partakers of the covenant. Their external behavior, however, does not constitute an external covenant. God is not satisfied with such an external walk but will punish those in an extraordinary measure who flatter Him with their mouths and lie to Him with their tongue. Thus, there is an external entrance into the covenant of grace, but not an external covenant. This we shall now demonstrate.

    Here’s an objection that a Brakel deals with (essentially your objection):

    Objection #1: In the Old Testament the entire nation, head for head, the godly and the ungodly, had to enter into the covenant. They were all required to partake of the sacraments, were all in this covenant and used the sacraments, and many broke the covenant. There was thus an external covenant which in its essential nature was entirely different from the covenant of grace. For this covenant has been established with believers only and thus cannot be broken.

    Answer: (1) The covenant of grace is an incomprehensible manifestation of the grace and mercy of God. When God offers this covenant to someone, it is an act of utmost wickedness to despise it, and to refuse to enter into it. Therefore everyone to whom the gospel is proclaimed is obligated to accept this offer with great desire and with all his heart, and thus to enter into this covenant. This fact is certain and irrefutable. Thus, the obligation to enter the covenant does not prove it to be an external covenant.

    (2) The ungodly, being under obligation to enter into the covenant of grace, were not permitted to remain ungodly, for the promise of this covenant also pertains to sanctification. They were to be desirous for sanctification, and this desire was to motivate them to enter into the covenant. Therefore, if someone remained ungodly, it would prove that his dealings with God were not in truth—as ought to have been the case. It would confirm that he had entered into the covenant in an external sense, as a show before men, and that he was not a true partaker of the covenant.

    (3) They were required to use the sacraments in faith. If they did not use them in this way, they would provoke the Lord. Neither in the Old nor New Testament do the ungodly have a right to the use of the sacraments. Unto such God says, “What hast thou to do to declare My statutes, that thou shouldest take My covenant in thy mouth?” (Ps 50:16).

    (4) Just as the ungodly merely enter the covenant under pretext, so they likewise break it again and their faith suffers shipwreck. Thus they manifest by their deeds that they have neither part nor lot in the word of promise. Their breach of covenant was not relative to an external covenant but relative to the covenant of grace into which they entered externally. The manner whereby they entered into this covenant was thus consistent with the breach of this covenant. With all that was within them they destroyed the covenant of grace by changing it into a covenant of works.

    (5) In a general sense God established this covenant with the entire nation, but not with every individual. Everyone was to truly enter into this covenant by faith.

    Like

  77. It is probably helpful to keep the seminary wars in mind when assessing this controversy. Is it any coincidence that folks from MARS, WTS, and Northwest have something else to gain by misrepresenting WSC faculty’s teachings? Apparently, negative recruiting ain’t just for SEC football.

    Like

  78. Jack (I’m still here, sigh),

    David, apples and oranges I would say. The Nation if Israel under the MC was exiled, including believers, due to covenant breaking. There is no exiling of the visible church under the gospel today due to covenant breaking.

    But where would the visible church be exiled to? However, see Hebrews 10:26-31.

    Like

  79. “apples and oranges I would say”

    And I would say as well. Hebrews makes clear that we are in exile as Abraham was in exile, which was not because of disobedience of ourselves or our forefathers (unless you go back to Adam, who broke a covenant of works).

    Like

  80. RubeRad,

    C’mon, did you read Hebrews 10:26-31? Who is being addressed in that passage, and who is being threatened with “exile”?

    Like

  81. David,

    Earlier you wrote “And elect believers today continue in exile, do we not (1 Peter 1:1)” then you wrote that the visible church who apostatize (Heb 10) are the ones in exile. You are not being consistent.

    Like

  82. David R, I was of course talking about Heb 11. Heb 10 is not talking about being in exile right now, it is talking about potentially being exiled to hell in final judgment. And of course you know it is debatable how that passage relates to elect members of the invisible church.

    Like

  83. Sean,

    David, I don’t know about thinking for me. That’s some scary territory. It could be I’ve been blinded, I doubt it, but I’m not threatened by reading others and have. I’d be interested in your take beyond merely historical constructions and how you navigate Gal. 3 or Heb 4, Rom 5, the usual suspects. Maybe you’ve recently bought into a narrative?

    What’s good for the goose…. Sure, it could be I’ve bought into a narrative. One thing for sure is that I’ve set aside a narrative. I decided I want to test the various narratives so I read some older Reformed theology, which is what I’ve come to find trustworthy.

    Regarding those texts, I’d be happy to discuss them but you may have to help me to understand where you think traditional Reformed views (and I don’t mean Murray!) fall short. But since the standard objection from Gal 3 is pretty obvious, I’ll give it a shot.

    In a nutshell, here’s how I understand the Mosaic covenant. I stole this from Turretin (you know, the guy who retained vestiges of Medieval errors in his theology….) The Old Testament administration of the covenant of grace during the time of Moses was distinctive in that it was “clothed with the form of the covenant of works.” That is to say, there really was an outer shell, as it were, the most conspicuous feature of the MC, that presented the stipulations and sanctions of the covenant of works, “Do this and you will live” (i.e., eternal life contingent upon perfect obedience). The purpose of this external legal “clothing” sheathing the covenant of grace during the Mosaic period was not to put the Israelites under a renewed covenant of works such that they should endeavor to merit life by their obedience, but rather to cause them to flee to Christ and His mediation in the covenant of grace. IOW, the “external economy” of law was subservient to the “internal economy” of types and shadows designed to reveal the gospel and covenant of grace. The substance of the Mosaic covenant was the covenant of grace revealed in the types; whereas the legal covering, though the most conspicuous part of it was accidental/administrative. (Yes, in a specific sense, this entails a republication of the covenant of works.) However, the vast majority of Jews mistook the legal “clothing” for an actual covenant of works for salvation (this is standard Reformed theology, not a “misinterpretation theory” concocted by Murray), and failed to believe the gospel revealed in the types.

    I think this understanding of the MC is sufficient to account for Paul’s negative assessment of the law in Galatians 3, etc. You would do better to read Turretin of course, but I’ve given it a stab…. Does this help at all?

    Like

  84. Todd,

    Earlier you wrote “And elect believers today continue in exile, do we not (1 Peter 1:1)” then you wrote that the visible church who apostatize (Heb 10) are the ones in exile. You are not being consistent.

    Elect believers live in the hope of the heavenly inheritance. In the meantime, we live our lives in the present age “in exile,” as it were. OTOH, visible church members who apostatize (Heb 10) are threatened with permanent exile from the heavenly inheritance. Where is the inconsistency?

    Like

  85. RubeRad,

    And of course you know it is debatable how that passage relates to elect members of the invisible church.

    But I was not relating it to elect members of the invisible church. I was relating it to apostatizing members of the visible church (as does the writer to the Hebrews). They are the only ones who face the threat of permanent exile from the kingdom of God (both in the OT and the NT).

    Like

  86. David,

    You were comparing the OT exile of Daniel with exile in the NT, and suggested that Daniel’s exile was not a penalty of the covenant of works between God and Israel but common for believers under grace in both testaments, but then gave opposing comparisons between exile then and now. So which is the equivalent of Daniel’s exile, the elect’s or apostate’s, and how are believers in the NC under the same covenant as Deut. 28:15?

    Like

  87. Todd,

    How would you compare Daniel’s exile with that of believers now? One is penal and the other isn’t? Could be, I’ll have to ponder that some more….

    So which is the equivalent of Daniel’s exile, the elect’s or apostate’s, and how are believers in the NC under the same covenant as Deut. 28:15?

    I would say Daniel’s exile (along with the rest of the nation) is a type of the apostates’ future exile. Regarding Deuteronomy 28, I understand the sanctions to typify eternal sanctions. I gave a nutshell version of my understanding of the Mosaic covenant to Sean (a few comments up) so perhaps that will help too. I’d be interested in your thoughts.

    Like

  88. David,

    I’m not clear what your view is, even with the Turretin quote. If the law is of grace, why the threat for not obeying all of it?

    Like

  89. The beauty of covenantal threats….sounds like Kline in By Oath Consigned. It also sounds like John Piper in Future Grace. The assumption is that “the covenant” is conditional, and also that “covenant” is not governed by the doctrine of election. Are they gospel threats or law threats, or is there no difference between gospel and law? And is that difference only the difference between the invisible and the visible?

    The Fatal Flaw, by Jeffrey Johnson, Free Grace Press, 2010— “The covenant of works that Christ was obligated to fulfill could not have been the covenant of creation. Why? Because this covenant had already been broken and its death penalty issued upon Adam’s fallen race. Thus Christ had to be born outside the broken covenant of creation…He could not be born under the federal headship of Adam. Wisius explains, ‘That the surety was not from Adam’s covenant, not born under the law of nature, and consequently not born under the imputation of Adam’s sin.’

    Johnson continues: “The law justifies but before the law men could not merit salvation by works, because there was no covenant….If all this is true, then the Mosaic covenant had to be a covenant of works; If not, there would be no covenant to reward the man Christ Jesus for His obedience.”

    mcmark—I do not agree with Johnson, on several levels. But I thought it worth reporting.

    Like

  90. Michael Corleone – Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in!

    David: But I was not relating it to elect members of the invisible church. I was relating it to apostatizing members of the visible church (as does the writer to the Hebrews). They are the only ones who face the threat of permanent exile from the kingdom of God (both in the OT and the NT).

    Yes, as was the case with only the professing yet apostatizing members of the theocracy of Israel concerning eternal salvation or damnation. The same in both testaments. The difference lies in the fact that it is only under the Mosaic covenant that the entire church (of Israel) is given temporal punishment, i.e. exiled out of the land that they had been given through the Abrahamic promise and were to keep according to the MC conditions. But even the elect Israelites suffered this exile. There is no similar conditional NT visible church covenant keeping upon which temporal blessings or curses are placed upon the entire church. And certainly nothing like that in the Standards pertaining the the visible church as a whole. The covenant structures under the Mosaic Law and the Gospel are not parallel. Heb 8:6-9,

    But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.
    For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second.

    “For finding fault with them, He says,
    “Behold, days are coming, says the Lord,
    When I will effect a new covenant
    With the house of Israel and with the house of Judah;

    Not like the covenant which I made with their fathers
    On the day when I took them by the hand
    To lead them out of the land of Egypt;
    For they did not continue in My covenant,
    And I did not care for them
    , says the Lord.

    Like

  91. McMark- I think we’re talking past each other here.

    1) My point about not knowing who the elect are was to say that too many people get caught up in whether or not they’re elect before they even consider whether they have been called. They say “I’ll profess when I know I’m elect” or “professing Christ is only for the elect” and so they sit and wait…and wait. Rather they should be striving to close in with Christ, to discern whether they are being called to Christ and then they should be about making their election sure. Election is a glorious and comforting doctrine, but it’s God’s business: who the elect are.

    2) I certainly agree that Christ died for the elect and only the elect. I don’t believe I said anything to the contrary. And I absolutely agree that we cannot say to the sinner: Christ loves you and died for you. But we can say to the sinner: Christ dies for sinners, your are a sinner, therefore flee to Christ from the wrath which is to come; repent and believe. That is what I mean by an indiscriminate offer: the Gospel should be preached to all, for all are commanded to believe, with sinners being told of the good news that Christ came to save sinners.

    3) My point about “in the church” is that the Gospel is preached to the covenant community. Surely this is appropriate: to preach the salvation to be found in Christ within covenant community. The offer of the gospel is to all without distinction- i.e. it does not matter whether one is rich, poor, a harlot or the most “moral” man in the village the gospel is offered to them all the same. But throughout historyit is clear that there are those peoples who were blessed with the gospel light and those which weren’t. And even within those blessed nations there are those who have sat under the gospel proclamation all their lives and those who have never heard one sermon. Where the gospel is offered is important. It’s part of God’s outworking of salvation: ordinarily within the visible church.

    4) As to God’s love for the reprobate: I do tent to find this discussion a bit confusing. Pink seemed pretty adamant that God does not love the reprobate- but then apparently he’s a supralapsarian. But Scripture does tell us that God desires all to repent, and that he does not delight in the death of the wicked. It is the saints’ deaths in which He delights. Yes there are contexts to these passages- I’m certainly not advocating universalism. However, it’s also true that they are expressions of God’s mercy. He has given time for all men to repent. Whether they take the chance to do so is another matter. God is merciful as well as just. All these things have to be reconciled.

    5) Hyper-calvinism, in denying the free offer (and that is the proper definition of Hyper-calvinism) does not offer good news to sinners. I’ve read the literature, I’ve heard accounts of those who grew up in those churches: there is not offer of the gospel in their preaching, all the emphasis is on personal experience, people actively discouraged from sitting at the Lord’s table. That is the environment where the Gospel is not offered as freely as Scripture commands: to sinners as sinners, to all men without distinction.

    Like

  92. Todd,

    I’m not clear what your view is, even with the Turretin quote. If the law is of grace, why the threat for not obeying all of it?

    It’s not a quote; it’s my attempt at a synopsis of Turretin (and obviously not as clear as I had hoped). Where did I ever say the law is of grace (not that there aren’t senses in which it is)? Todd, I realize you’re committed to the view that the Mosaic covenant is substantially distinct from the covenant of grace and we can spend all day going back and forth and neither of us will convince the other. (As I’ve mentioned, I spent a number of years attempting to persuade others of your view.) But in my opinion (now), the vast majority of Reformed theologians correctly understood the MC as an administration of the covenant of grace, and in doing so they did not confound the law and the gospel, but clarified them both.

    Like

  93. David, it helps in that I understand what you are communicating. I don’t think it does justice to the text as regards the antagonism between faith and works because of the substance of a working principle in the MC which is at variance with the NC. Btw, I understand and try to practice the idea of surrendering to a position in order to understand it. I’ve had to do more than just parrot someone else’s religious views in my own life, though I do take advantage of other’s insights and callings to inform my own understandings as should we all. Still, I’m gonna continue to read on.

    Like

  94. David,

    I’m glad that wasn’t a quote, but just to be clear, we all affirm the Mosaic covenant is an administration of the covenant of grace, there is simply disagreement how the various aspects of the law point to Christ, whether there was a temporary substructure of blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience that is not of grace, but works, that was meant to fail and drive them to Christ. Some have said yes, some no. Personally, if we end up in the same place, I’m not sure why some want to raise this to the level they have.

    Like

  95. Jack,

    But even the elect Israelites suffered this exile. There is no similar conditional NT visible church covenant keeping upon which temporal blessings or curses are placed upon the entire church.

    I’m not sure that exile ever ended (unless you want to say it ended in principle with the ascension of Christ). But we (believers today) are still living in exile as we await our final possession of the promised inheritance. I think Todd wants to say that it’s different in that Israel’s was penal and ours isn’t but I dunno, seems to me exile is exile….

    Like

  96. “clothed with the form of the covenant of works.” is ok, but CoW overlay above the substratum CoG is so wrong?

    “However, the vast majority of Jews mistook the legal “clothing” for an actual covenant of works for salvation”

    I totally agree! but that’s because you’re all of a sudden sounding to me exactly like Kline. The Jews mistook the CoW for staying in the land, with the CoG by which they could be saved by faith!

    Like

  97. Todd,

    I’m glad that wasn’t a quote, but just to be clear, we all affirm the Mosaic covenant is an administration of the covenant of grace …

    No, that’s simply not true. As you know, there are at least some in your camp who would claim to embrace something like the “subservient covenant” or “third covenant view,” which makes a point of distinguishing the MC from the covenant of grace. (So what you say does anything but clarify!)

    Like

  98. How would you compare Daniel’s exile with that of believers now? One is penal and the other isn’t? Could be, I’ll have to ponder that some more….

    Daniel’s exile was penalty for Israel violating their republished covenant of works.

    Our exile is the same as Abraham’s exile, a penalty for Adam violating the original covenant of works.

    Like

  99. As you know, there are at least some in your camp who would claim to embrace something like the “subservient covenant” or “third covenant view,”…

    I have never heard that. I am familiar with Kline’s formulation of the CoG “substratum” with a CoW “overlay”.

    Like

  100. RubeRad,

    “clothed with the form of the covenant of works.” is ok, but CoW overlay above the substratum CoG is so wrong?

    One difference is that the old view posits a material republication of the original covenant of works (i.e., the same condition of perfect obedience, and the same promise of eternal life); not a modified works covenant in which less-than-perfect (“typologically legible”) obedience constitutes the meritorious ground for inheriting merely temporal blessings. Also, the old view denies that OT saints merited (even temporal) stuff.

    Like

  101. David,

    Distinguishing the typological covenant between God and Israel to remain in the Holy Land, which was a works arrangement, from grace, does not deny that it was ordained to administer the covenant of grace. If it did we would have a history of trials in the reformed camp against all who held that view. You have yet to demonstrate what is so dangerous with Kline’s view, beside the fact you have your own view of the matter which is not every clear in itself.

    Like

  102. It’s not clear to me how much Kline came to disagree with what he had written earlier in By Oath Consigned. Kline wrote about “the proper purpose of the covenant, the salvation of the elect.” p 34. But he also cautioned that “we are not to reduce the redemptive covenant to that proper purpose.” Those who don’t continue to believe the gospel are condemned. (John 3:18).

    The condemnation for those who do not believe is true, but to me that is no argument for thinking of “the covenant” on two levels, one of which is “non-redemptive”. . Despite inability,all have a duty to believe the gospel. All have a duty to come into the new covenant in which “all know the Lord “. But this is something different from saying that the non-elect are in the new covenant, and will be cursed by the new covenant if they don’t continue to believe..

    When we receive other Christians merely by their profession of faith, this does not mean that we think their faith is in God giving them the ability to keep a conditional covenant. To the contrary, faith in the gospel comes with a confession of our bankruptcy which rules out any future covenant keeping as a basis for God blessing us.

    Kline resisted the “bent toward such a reduction of covenant to election. To do so is to substitute a logical abstraction for the historical reality…”The historical reality for Kline is “actual divine vengeance against disobedience as covenantal”. I agree about divine vengeance but I question if this wrath is “covenantal”. Which covenant? Is “the covenant of grace” also a “covenant of law and threats”?

    Do those who are never initiated into the new covenant experience wrath? I am sure Kline would agree with me that they do. But this is something different from saying that those who experience the wrath of God were once members of the new covenant. Those who hear the gospel and reject it face greater condemnation but this does not prove that they EVER knew the Lord covenantally. Matthew 7 teaches us that there are those who never knew the Lord.

    I agree that the blessing of the new covenant comes through covenant curse on Jesus Christ. But since Christ has satisfied the covenant for all those in the new covenant, how can Kline speak of “dual sanctions” for those in the new covenant?

    Like

  103. Todd,

    Distinguishing the typological covenant between God and Israel to remain in the Holy Land, which was a works arrangement, from grace, does not deny that it was ordained to administer the covenant of grace.

    Those who held to the subservient covenant view of the MC (formulated by John Cameron I believe) held that the MC ran alongside the covenant of grace and subserved it. But they denied that the MC itself administered grace (rather, they viewed it as administering only law), and hence they refrained from referring to it as “an administration of the covenant of grace.” Instead, they understood it to be a specifically distinct, “third covenant” (i.e., in addition to the covenant of works and covenant of grace).

    With all due respect, the language you are using is confusing because you are not using the term “administration” in the same sense it was originally used, that is, as antithetical to “substance.” (Your language here is a good example of why I opined in my original comment in this thread that a return to scholastic language would be helpful.)

    Like

  104. Todd—“we ALL affirm the Mosaic covenant is an administration of the covenant of grace, there is simply disagreement how the various aspects of the law point to Christ”

    mcmark–no, not all of us agree, and I am not talking about Tonto and me. I am talking David Gordon, “John Murray’s Mono-Covenantalism” in By Faith Alone, edited by Gary Johnson and Guy Waters (Crossway,2006, p 121

    Gordon—I am perfectly happy with retaining the covenant of works, by any label, because it was a historic covenant; what I am less happy with is the language of the covenant of grace, because this is a genuinely unbiblical use of biblical language.

    Gordon—Biblically, covenant is always a historic arrangement, inaugurated in space and time. Once covenant refers to an over-arching divine decree or purpose to redeem the elect in Christ, confusion Is sure to follow.

    Gordon— Murray jettisoned was the notion of distinctions of kind between the covenants. He wrote that was not “any reason for construing the Mosaic covenant in terms different from those of the Abrahamic.” Murray believed that the only relation God sustains to people is that of Redeemer. I would argue, by contrast, that God was just as surely Israel’s God when He cursed the nation as when He blessed it.

    Gordon–The first generation of the magisterial Reformers would have emphasized discontinuity; they believed that Rome retained too much continuity with the levitical aspects of the Sinai administration
    When Paul and the other NT writers use the word covenant, there is almost always an immediate contextual clue to which biblical covenant is being referred to, such as “the covenant of circumcision” (Acts 7:8) The New Testament writers were not mono-covenantal regarding the Old Testament (see Rom 9:4, Eph 2:12; Gal 4:24).

    Like

  105. David R—You are not using the term “administration” in the same sense it was originally used, that is, as antithetical to “substance.”

    mark—yes, and we don’t have to be “scholastic” to ask for definitions. It’s quite modern to deconstruct the differences assumed but never defined. Being “confessional” is not the same as “begging the question”. Or “ignoring the questions”.

    Like

  106. Mark,

    Thank you for your clarity on this issue (and also for your compliment to me on my original comment).

    Like

  107. I’m not sure that exile ever ended (unless you want to say it ended in principle with the ascension of Christ). But we (believers today) are still living in exile as we await our final possession of the promised inheritance.

    David, I’ll concede that, but not that believers today are in exile because of covenant breaking. There’s the rub. It’s just the normal sojourner/pilgrim lot in life for God’s people be it Abraham or you. But neither you nor Abraham have been exiled for breaking God’s covenant. Rather you are in exile (waiting for that heavenly city), as it were, because you are a chosen recipient of the grace and blessings of the fulfilled New Covenant. And you are not part of a visible church that is under threat of covenant curses to be exacted upon the whole if a covenant were to be broken by the church. That category no longer exists. It did exist under the Mosaic covenant and one could say that was one of its weaknesses or faults. And that is one reason (along with an earthly mortal priesthood and sacrifices that could not cleanse from sin) why a better covenant was enacted.

    Like

  108. Sean,

    David, it helps in that I understand what you are communicating. I don’t think it does justice to the text as regards the antagonism between faith and works because of the substance of a working principle in the MC which is at variance with the NC.

    Thanks for reading and also for affirming that I successfully communicated.

    Btw, I understand and try to practice the idea of surrendering to a position in order to understand it.

    I try to do the same, though I confess I find it very difficult to do so successfully. It takes a radical paradigm shift for my stubborn mind to change….

    I’ve had to do more than just parrot someone else’s religious views in my own life, though I do take advantage of other’s insights and callings to inform my own understandings as should we all.

    I understand that you’ve had to cut your own swath, as have I (having been raised by liberal Jewish parents).

    Like

  109. David,

    I was referring to Bolton’s view, which was acceptable, but I do think we are using the term administer differently. The Puritans who held to a republication of the cov. of works in Moses were not accused and tried for denying the Confession on the one covenant of grace for individuals throughout both testaments. All would say the Mos. cov. administered grace through the sacrifices, promises, but they separated the law as bare command and the law in total, and the law as bare command administered law to drive them to Christ. The fact that this is difficult to explain succinctly, for you or me, demonstrates the difficulty of the question.

    Mark, I don’t think Gordon is denying the Confession in those quotes, though he might quibble with wording and titles, as did Murray in the opposite direction.

    Like

  110. Todd, I think you’re right:
    I don’t think Gordon is denying the Confession in those quotes, though he might quibble with wording and titles, as did Murray in the opposite direction.

    I asked Dr. Gordon about this and he replied that his “concern is only lexical; it is not substantial.”

    Like

  111. Todd,

    I was referring to Bolton’s view, which was acceptable …

    Yes, he held to Cameron’s view, though “modestly” he says. So he would have been inclined to deny that the MC was an administration of the covenant of grace.

    The Puritans who held to a republication of the cov. of works in Moses were not accused and tried for denying the Confession on the one covenant of grace for individuals throughout both testaments.

    It’s interesting to read Turretin’s discussion of this question. In his opinion, those who held the MC to be the covenant of works (not a “third covenant,” mind you) were not substantially different from the majority who held it to be the covenant of grace. Rather, the difference was merely in the use of terms, the former speaking of the MC “strictly considered” (i.e., bare precepts of the moral law) and the latter speaking of it “broadly considered” (i.e., the whole teaching of Moses).

    The only position Turretin wants to refute as heterodox is the “third covenant” (Cameronian) position. I wonder what he would have said about the idea that Noah and Abraham merited temporal blessings for their descendants.

    All would say the Mos. cov. administered grace ….

    No, I don’t think they “all” would have said that (for the reasons I tried to give above), as they strove for precision.

    The fact that this is difficult to explain succinctly, for you or me, demonstrates the difficulty of the question.

    I’ll agree with you there.

    Like

  112. David,

    Yes, “all” was a generality, as befits blog discussions. I still would like to hear why you believe Kline’s view is dangerous. What does it threaten?

    Like

  113. Is this an administration of “the covenant of grace”? or is it some kind of legal ordeal/intrusion?

    Exodus 32: 25 And when Moses saw that the people had broken loose (for Aaron had let them break loose, to the derision of their enemies), 26 then Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said, “Who is on the Lord’s side? Come to me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered around him. 27 And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Put your sword on your side each of you, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill his brother and his companion and his neighbor.’”

    28 And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And that day about three thousand men of the people fell. 29 And Moses said, “Today you have been ordained for the service of the Lord, each one at the cost of his son and of his brother, SO THAT GOD WILL bestow a blessing upon you this day.”

    Like

  114. I am itching to deconstruct the difference in the Brakel between “had to enter the covenant” and “obligated to accept this offer and enter into the covenant.” Also Jack’s distinction between substantil and legal….But instead I want to ask you, David R, about another “difference”;

    I copy you—The substance of the Mosaic covenant was the covenant of grace revealed in the types; whereas the legal covering, though the most conspicuous part of it was accidental/administrative…. However, the vast majority of Jews mistook the legal “clothing” for an actual covenant of works for salvation (this is standard Reformed theology, not a “misinterpretation theory” concocted by Murray),

    mark–Here’s my question. What is the difference between the “standard view” of Jews mistaking the Mosaic “adminstration” for a covenant of works and the “misinterpretation theory” of John Murray ?(and Dan Fuller, and Oscar Cullman, the list goes on). Surely you meant more than the connotations of “concoct”, did you not? Murray concots, the standard view did not? Was it law that increased sin, or was it a misunderstanding of law which increased sin? We know that, in either case, what happened with the Mosaic covenant was ordained by God?

    But how is “the standard” (question-begging term usually) understanding of “misunderstanding” different from that of John Murray? This is the old question everybody used to ask Mark Karlberg—did the Mosaic law-covenant announce clearly that it was a “killing instrument” and not the gospel? If it did not, who could blame any Jew for using the law wrong , and attempting to be justified before God by keeping its conditions?

    The central text discussed in this connection is Romans 9:32–”They did not seek if by faith, as if it were by works of law.” Some who focus only on redemptive history say that there is no difference between law and gospel, but only a right way and a wrong way of pursuing the law, and that the gospel is the right way of pursuing the law. One good rebuttal to that idea is an essay by David Gordon in WTJ (Spring 1992): “Why Israel did not obtain Torah Righteousness; A note on Romans 9:32.”

    Gordon writes that the verse should be translated not “as if it were”, but “because the law is not of faith” in line with Gal 3:12. “The qualification works-and-not faith in Gal 3:10-13 is parallel to the qualification works and not faith in Romans 9:32.”

    “If one group attained what the other did not, the difference between them might lie in the manner in which they pursued it. This is now what Paul says however. The two groups did not pursue the same thing (the gentiles pursued nothing). Paul’s point therefore is NOT that the Gentiles pursued righteousness in a better manner (by faith) than the Jews. Rather, God’s mercy gives what is not even pursued….When Paul asks why the Jews did not attain unto the Torah, his answer addressed the NATURE of the law- covenant (Torah demands perfect obedience), not the nature of the PURSUIT of the law-covenant.”

    Like

  115. Todd,

    Yes, “all” was a generality, as befits blog discussions.

    Well, you said that “All would say the Mos. cov. administered grace ….” But as I’d said, those who held the third covenant view would deny that the MC administered grace.

    I still would like to hear why you believe Kline’s view is dangerous. What does it threaten?

    Honestly? I have read Kingdom Prologue cover-to-cover and spent a good deal of time studying portions of it (as well as reading a good deal of Kline’s other stuff) and I STILL am not exactly sure how to relate his discussion of the MC to the traditional views.

    One potential problem though, it seems to me, is that he appears to bring a “works principle” and “merit” into the covenant of grace that doesn’t belong there. But then again, he also seems to redefine merit, so things are confusing….

    While I have this opportunity though, perhaps you can help clarify something for me (but bear with me first for some background prior to my question):

    A covenant is defined by its conditions and sanctions. The CoW requires perfect obedience as the condition for eternal life (as you know!). Whereas the CoG graciously promises life and salvation in Christ received by faith, which is also a gift of grace. The majority Reformed view is that the MC is substantially the CoG (i.e., it possesses the identical promises and conditions). Those who preferred to speak of it as “a renewal of the covenant of works” were viewing it in the “strict sense” of the moral law holding out eternal life on the condition of perfect obedience. But both these groups held that there were only two substantially distinct covenants, the CoW and the CoG.

    Those who spoke of the MC as a “third covenant” thought that it held out the promise of temporal blessings in Canaan on the condition of perfect obedience. (Interestingly, they thought that the covenant of works promised a happy life in Eden, not heaven. But since this promise is different from blessings in Canaan, in their view there were a total of three substantially distinct covenants rather than just two.)

    So please help: With respect to what you refer to as “Kline’s view” of the MC above, a few questions (and please try to avoid talk of two layers of strata in your answer, unless you are willing to concede that you are speaking of two substantially distinct covenants)….

    1. What precisely is the condition of the Mosaic covenant? (For example, is it perfect obedience, like in the covenant of works, or something less than that?)

    2. What is the promise? (Eternal life? Temporal blessings?)

    3. Is it a third substantially distinct (not just administratively distinct) covenant, that is, in addition to the CoW and CoG (which it appears to be)?

    Thanks!

    Like

  116. David,

    Again, I think you are mistaken when you say those who held the third view think the MC did not administer grace. In the way you are using the term administer, the MC as bare law administered law – the MC as promise and type administered grace. Moses administering law opposed to grace was a common puritan view, as Bunyan shows in Pilgrim’s Progress:

    “So soon as the man overtook me, it was but a word and a blow; for down he knocked me, and laid me for dead. But when I was a little come to myself again I asked him wherefore he served me so. He said because of my secret inclining to Adam the First. And with that he struck me another deadly blow on the breast, and beat me down backward; so I lay at his foot as dead as before. So when I came to myself again I cried him mercy: but he said, I know not how to show mercy; and with that he knocked me down again. He had doubtless made an end of me, but that one came by and bid him forbear…`That man that overtook you was Moses,” says Christian, and he `spareth none, neither knoweth he how to show mercy to those that transgress his law.'”

    I’ll answer your other questions in a bit. Thanks for asking.

    Like

  117. Mark,

    mark–Here’s my question. What is the difference between the “standard view” of Jews mistaking the Mosaic “adminstration” for a covenant of works and the “misinterpretation theory” of John Murray ?

    Good question. I’ve only read a few things by Murray, and not much on this issue, but I have read his comments on Leviticus 18:5. As I understand it, Murray thinks that text presents an “interpretive problem” because it occurs in a redemptive context in its original setting and therefore he thinks it shouldn’t, in that original setting, be understood in a legal sense. Hence he says that Paul must be quoting it in terms of how the Jews misunderstood it. Whereas most of the older writers I’ve encountered (not that I’ve read more than a few, but Calvin, Turretin, Witsius, Roberts) understood Lev 18:5 to objectively present the demands and promises of the covenant of works in order to drive the Israelites to Christ. I hope I have this close to correct….

    Like

  118. Todd,

    Again, I think you are mistaken when you say those who held the third view think the MC did not administer grace.

    Yes, it’s possible I’m mistaken on this but I don’t think so. They held that the covenant of grace administered grace. The subservient covenant (i.e., the MC) administered only law).

    That’s a great Bunyan passage. As a Baptist, I suspect he would have distinguished the MC from the CoG in a way that the Reformed in general would not (correct me if I’m wrong, McMark), but that’s certainly a wonderful portrayal of the pedagogical use of the law.

    Like

  119. David,

    Bunyan’s view was not only baptist, but common Puritan, as in Reformed Puritan. I’ll try this one last time. When considering the Mosaic covenant, theologians distinguished the Mosaic law as bare law, or bare command, and the Law as through it’s symbols and promises pictured free grace, thus Calvin:

    “Moreover, inasmuch as this is the only true preparation for Christ, the statements, though made in different words, perfectly agree with each other. But because he had to dispute with perverse teachers, who pretended that men merited justification by the works of the Law, he was sometimes obliged, in refuting their error, to speak of the Law in a more restricted sense, merely as law, though, in other respects, the covenant of free adoption is comprehended under it.” (Institutes 2.7.2)

    1. What precisely is the condition of the Mosaic covenant? (For example, is it perfect obedience, like in the covenant of works, or something less than that?)

    The nation must obey the law to receive it’s blessings – Deut 28

    2. What is the promise? (Eternal life? Temporal blessings?) The covenant stipulated that if Israel obeyed the law they would inherit the blessings of Deut 28. and remain in God’s presence – the Holy Land. Though Jesus applied the typological conditionality that bound the nation to the ind. in a hypothetical, eternal sense – Rich Young Ruler – If you would obey all the commandments you would inherit everlasting life, just as if Israel had obeyed the stipulations of the covenant she would have inherited the blessings of the Holy Land.

    3. Is it a third substantially distinct (not just administratively distinct) covenant, that is, in addition to the CoW and CoG (which it appears to be)?

    It is a reappearance of the covenant of works in a typological situation that was only hypothetical in that God said from the beginning they would not be able to keep it (Deut 31) and therefore be exiled (like Adam). And yet even as the covenant sanctions/curses were administered for breaking the covenant, the law through it’s promises, types and sacrificial system, as well as the covenant to Abraham, which was all grace, held out hope for a better covenant that could not be broken. So it (MC) served the interests of the covenant of grace but was not in its formula of obedience to attain life a covenant of grace.

    Like

  120. Todd,

    Thanks. Regarding the Bunyan quote, I agree with you that it is compatible with the Reformed understanding of the law, but I doubt that all Reformed would have been entirely comfortable with the very last sentence, “‘That man that overtook you was Moses,’ says Christian, and he `spareth none, neither knoweth he how to show mercy to those that transgress his law,’” since they would have rejected the premise that Moses didn’t administer grace. But maybe I’m nitpicking….

    Thanks very much for humoring me and taking the time to answer my questions. If you still have the patience, I would be grateful for a few follow-up clarifications in order to be sure I understand.

    1. What precisely is the condition of the Mosaic covenant? (For example, is it perfect obedience, like in the covenant of works, or something less than that?)

    The nation must obey the law to receive it’s blessings – Deut 28

    Okay. But to be clear, you’re saying the condition is perfect obedience, as it was for Adam in the covenant of works?

    2. What is the promise? (Eternal life? Temporal blessings?)

    The covenant stipulated that if Israel obeyed the law they would inherit the blessings of Deut 28. and remain in God’s presence – the Holy Land. Though Jesus applied the typological conditionality that bound the nation to the ind. in a hypothetical, eternal sense – Rich Young Ruler – If you would obey all the commandments you would inherit everlasting life, just as if Israel had obeyed the stipulations of the covenant she would have inherited the blessings of the Holy Land.

    So you are saying that what the MC promised was temporal blessings in the holy land, right? (Or are you saying that it promised everlasting life? I think the former but I’m not quite sure….)

    3. Is it a third substantially distinct (not just administratively distinct) covenant, that is, in addition to the CoW and CoG (which it appears to be)?

    It is a reappearance of the covenant of works in a typological situation that was only hypothetical in that God said from the beginning they would not be able to keep it (Deut 31) and therefore be exiled (like Adam).

    Okay, by “the covenant of works,” I understand you to mean a “reappearance” of the covenant God made with Adam, promising eternal life on condition of perfect and personal obedience, correct? But above you said (I thought) that the promise was temporal blessings in the Holy Land. If that’s what you meant, then you would actually be speaking of a substantially distinct third covenant and not actually “the covenant of works,” which promises eternal life. Can you clarify this?

    So it (MC) served the interests of the covenant of grace but was not in its formula of obedience to attain life a covenant of grace.

    This seems to clarify that for you, the MC is distinct from the covenant of grace, which seems consistent with what you’ve said above. Now I understand that you either hold the MC to be the covenant of works or a third covenant, but I would need your answers to those last few questions to be clear.

    Like

  121. David R., “Take a rest from Kline, Gordon and Scott Clark.”

    How about Paul? Why doesn’t he talk about Moses, or identify the law with Hagar?

    Maybe you need to read less Dennison.

    Like

  122. David, you wrote,

    In a nutshell, here’s how I understand the Mosaic covenant. I stole this from Turretin (you know, the guy who retained vestiges of Medieval errors in his theology….) The Old Testament administration of the covenant of grace during the time of Moses was distinctive in that it was “clothed with the form of the covenant of works.” That is to say, there really was an outer shell, as it were, the most conspicuous feature of the MC, that presented the stipulations and sanctions of the covenant of works, “Do this and you will live” (i.e., eternal life contingent upon perfect obedience). The purpose of this external legal “clothing” sheathing the covenant of grace during the Mosaic period was not to put the Israelites under a renewed covenant of works such that they should endeavor to merit life by their obedience, but rather to cause them to flee to Christ and His mediation in the covenant of grace. IOW, the “external economy” of law was subservient to the “internal economy” of types and shadows designed to reveal the gospel and covenant of grace. The substance of the Mosaic covenant was the covenant of grace revealed in the types; whereas the legal covering, though the most conspicuous part of it was accidental/administrative. (Yes, in a specific sense, this entails a republication of the covenant of works.) However, the vast majority of Jews mistook the legal “clothing” for an actual covenant of works for salvation (this is standard Reformed theology, not a “misinterpretation theory” concocted by Murray), and failed to believe the gospel revealed in the types.

    That’s what she Clark said.

    Like

  123. David R., can’t speak for Todd but a republicationist like Scott Clark — whom you disregard — does not say that the Mosaic Covenant is substantially distinct from the covenant of grace.

    That is simply wrong.

    Like

  124. David R., “there are at least some in your camp who would claim to embrace something like the “subservient covenant” or “third covenant view,” which makes a point of distinguishing the MC from the covenant of grace.”

    Who?

    Not the people in TLNF.

    Don’t bring straw men around here.

    Like

  125. 1. What precisely is the condition of the Mosaic covenant? (For example, is it perfect obedience, like in the covenant of works, or something less than that?)

    Since we are dealing in typology, and we are dealing with a nation as a whole, it cannot be perfect individual obedience to remain in the land, but a general obedience that worships Jehovah and not other gods. Deut. 29: 24-27 “the nations will ask: “Why has the LORD done this to this land? Why this fierce, burning anger?” And the answer will be: “It is because this people abandoned the covenant of the LORD, the God of their fathers, the covenant he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt. They went off and worshiped other gods and bowed down to them, gods they did not know, gods he had not given them. Therefore the LORD’s anger burned against this land, so that he brought on it all the curses written in this book.”

    Kline writes: “The explanation for this is that the old covenant order was composed of two strata and the works principle enunciated in Leviticus 18:5, and elsewhere in the law, applied only to one of these, a secondary stratum. There was a foundational stratum having to do with the personal attainment of the eternal kingdom of salvation and this underlying stratum, continuous with all preceding and succeeding administrations of the Lord’s Covenant of Grace with the church, was informed by the principle of grace (cf., e.g., Rom 4:16). Because the Abrahamic covenant of promise found continuity in the Mosaic order at this underlying level, it was not abrogated by the latter. The works principle in the Mosaic order was confined to the typological sphere of the provision an earthly kingdom which was superimposed as a secondary overlay on the foundational stratum … The Israelite people corporately could maintain their continuing tenure as the theocratic kingdom in the promised land only as they maintained the appropriate measure of national fidelity to their heavenly King.”

    2. What is the promise? (Eternal life? Temporal blessings?)

    The blessings of Deut 28 are earthly, thus temporary

    The covenant stipulated that if Israel obeyed the law they would inherit the blessings of Deut 28. and remain in God’s presence – the Holy Land. It is a reappearance of the covenant of works in a typological situation that was only hypothetical in that God said from the beginning they would not be able to keep it (Deut 31) and therefore be exiled (like Adam).Jesus applied the typological conditionality that bound the nation to the ind. in a hypothetical, eternal sense to the Rich Young Ruler – If you could obey all the commandments you would inherit everlasting life, just as if Israel had obeyed the stipulations of the covenant she would have inherited the blessings of Deut 28. So it (MC) served the interests of the covenant of grace but was not in its formula of obedience to attain blessings in the Land a covenant of grace.

    I think where people get confused is that it seems God did not strictly enforce the covenant curses when they first worshiped other gods, so it seems like grace instead of works was the operating principle. While it is certainly gracious for God to hold off punishment until the last second, his punishment arrived when the nation as a whole, from leaders on down, rejected Yahweh for other gods – so God did exactly as he said he would do when Israel broke the covenant. The new covenant cannot be broken, it is unlike the MC, because Christ fulfilled it for us.

    3. Is it a third substantially distinct (not just administratively distinct) covenant, that is, in addition to the CoW and CoG (which it appears to be)?

    I would call the MC as bare law a subservient works covenant of typology pointing to Christ the true Israel who would merit all the blessings in the eternal Promised Land that the Deut 28 blessings pictured.

    Like

  126. David R., “A covenant is defined by its conditions and sanctions. The CoW requires perfect obedience as the condition for eternal life (as you know!). Whereas the CoG graciously promises life and salvation in Christ received by faith, which is also a gift of grace.”

    The Covenant of Grace only exists because Christ fulfilled the works principle of the Covenant of Works. The Covenant of Grace is not a mulligan on the Covenant of Works. It took our Lord to the cross.

    Like

  127. Todd,

    Thank you, I think it is pretty crystal clear now that you hold the MC to be a substantially distinct third covenant that promises the nation (corporately) temporal blessings on the condition of general (corporate) obedience. So it is actually not a republication of the covenant of works (because it has a different promise and different condition), but another legal, works covenant. Again, thanks, I will ponder this….

    Like

  128. D.G.,

    That’s what she Clark said.

    Really? You mean the guy who speaks of “congruent merit” operative in the Mosaic covenant? (I’m still not quite clear whether he holds to this himself, or whether he merely thinks it’s an acceptable Reformed view.)

    Like

  129. D.G.,

    David R., can’t speak for Todd but a republicationist like Scott Clark — whom you disregard — does not say that the Mosaic Covenant is substantially distinct from the covenant of grace.

    I agree with you that it’s wrong. But when I asked him that question a few months back he didn’t answer (though admittedly we did have a long back and forth and he took a decent amount of time with me), and my reception at his place is now increasingly chilly. I certainly do not disregard him. In fact, I’ve listened very closely to him over the last ten years or so and benefited from him greatly but I happen to think he’s quite mistaken on this issue, and I suspect he is perhaps unable to clarify what his view of the nature of the Mosaic covenant actually is (and he is not alone in this). So the advice I gave to Sean is just the advice I decided to take myself recently.

    Like

  130. D.G.,

    David R., “there are at least some in your camp who would claim to embrace something like the “subservient covenant” or “third covenant view,” which makes a point of distinguishing the MC from the covenant of grace.”

    Who?

    Not the people in TLNF.

    Don’t bring straw men around here.

    I’m referring to this.

    Like

  131. D.G.,

    The Covenant of Grace only exists because Christ fulfilled the works principle of the Covenant of Works.

    Amen!

    Like

  132. Todd,

    I much appreciate the time you’ve spent with me and I have no right to ask for any more of your time now, but I have a final thought (actually two):

    1. I know we’ve just been through this and you no doubt still disagree, but in my opinion, you would be truer to your actual position if you did not claim to hold that the Mosaic covenant is “an administration of the covenant of grace” or that it “administers grace,” because that is not what you believe (according to your above explanation). I realize you think you believe it, but a legal works-based covenant does not administer grace. (To say it does mixes law and gospel.) If you do want to say that it administers grace, then you will have to change your position.

    2. You would be clearer and truer to your actual position if you did not claim to hold that the Mosaic Covenant “republishes the covenant of works,” since that is not what you believe (according to your explanation). What you actually believe is that the MC is a substantially distinct legal third covenant (in addition to the CoW and CoG). If you want to (honestly) say that you hold that the MC is a republication of the covenant of works, then again, you will have to change your position.

    Like

  133. @ David R:

    Your explication of Turretin is what I understand the Republication teaching to mean.

    Why are you so sure that people hold a three-covenant notion? That’s not the usual explanation. It seems a little like you have odd-shaped boxes that you bid people to sit in…

    Like

  134. Jeff,

    I’m sure lots of people would agree with you about Turretin, but the fact of the matter is that it is Klne’s view, and only Kline’s view, that’s being opposed. Turretin’s position is entirely noncontroversial. But part of the problem is that the debate is muddied by the popular claim of “in some sense.” I’m sorry that you find my boxes uncomfortable, but they are not actually mine (I didn’t make them up). As to your question, I don’t know what to tell you but Todd (quite patiently) explained a third covenant position just now in his response to my questions. (Do you disagree that covenants are defined by their parties, promises and conditions?) Have you read the paper I linked to in my response to Dr. Hart a few comments up?

    Like

  135. D.G.,

    Also, if I’m not mistaken, T.D. Gordon has expressed his affinity for the “third covenant” view. (As I recall, he says in his essay in the book that the MC is substantially distinct from the Abrahamic covenant, which would seem to support this.) So no straw men….

    Like

  136. David Gordon—Paul thus understood the Sinai covenant to be both subservient to the purpose of the
    earlier Abrahamic covenant (by preserving the integrity of Abraham’s “seed” and the promises
    made thereto) and an obstacle to the fulfilment of that covenant. Ironically, Sinai was necessary
    (to preserve the “seed” and the promise) but Sinai was also a barrier (by excluding Gentiles, they
    could not be blessed).

    Gordon—For Paul, this means that the Sinai administration must have been temporary; instituted as a vehicle to carry both the Abrahamic promise and the Abrahamic “seed” until that moment when the “Seed” would come through whom the promise would be fulfilled and the nations would be blessed (3:19)….Paul’s objections to “nomos,” throughout Galatians, are NOT due to any MISUNDERSTANDING of it. His objection is to the members of one covenant (the New Covenant) implicitly or explicitly identifying themselves by the rites of another covenant (the SinaiCovenant). Paul objects to Christians observing the Sinai covenant per se; he does not object to their mis-observing it.

    http://www.tdgordon.net/theology/abraham_and_sinai_contraste.pdf

    Like

  137. David Gordon—How many long years of blessedness did Moses and Aaron enjoy in the so called “promised land”? Zero. And why was this so? Because the people disobeyed. While the land was eventually given to the Israelites, the terms of the Sinai covenant delayed their inheritance by forty years, and diminished the actual blessedness of the land during the generations of their tenure there. And even the inheritance of the land was due not to the stipulations of Sinai, but due to the promises made to the patriarchs, as Moses interceded for the Israelites in those terms:

    “Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’ And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people” (Ex. 32:13-14).

    Like

  138. Christ satisfied the law in order to give the blessings of the new covenant. We do not have to say that the Mosaic covenant is “a covenant of works” in order to tell the gospel truth about Christ. But then again, neither do we need to deny that the Mosaic covenant is a legal covenant in order to tell the gospel truth about the grace which comes because of the doing and dying of Christ (and not by our doing)

    Charles Hodge:—-Besides this evangelical character which unquestionably belongs to the Mosaic
    covenant, it is presented in two other aspects in the Word of God. First, it was a national covenant with the Hebrew people. In this view the parties were God and the people of Israel; the promise was national security and prosperity; the condition was the obedience of the people as a nation to the Mosaic law; and the mediator was Moses. In this aspect it was a legal covenant. It said, “Do this and live.”

    Systematic Theology, vol. II, p. 375.

    Like

  139. “I know we’ve just been through this and you no doubt still disagree, but in my opinion, you would be truer to your actual position if you did not claim to hold that the Mosaic covenant is “an administration of the covenant of grace” or that it “administers grace,” because that is not what you believe (according to your above explanation). I realize you think you believe it, but a legal works-based covenant does not administer grace.”

    David,

    I’m starting to wonder if you are actually reading what I write or trying to lay a trap. I wrote that the MC as it displays types, sacrifices, promises administers grace, the MC as bare command for blessings and curses for disobedience administers law. This is the last time I am going to state this.

    “You would be clearer and truer to your actual position if you did not claim to hold that the Mosaic Covenant “republishes the covenant of works,” since that is not what you believe (according to your explanation).”

    In typology there is an analogous relationship between archetype, type and antitype, not an identical one. To republish the cov. of works into a typological situation would not entail a one-to-one correspondence with the original. The correlations are not difficult to see:

    Adam placed in Garden – Israel placed in Holy Land
    Adam given a law he must obey to attain blessings – Israel given a law to obey to attain blessings
    Adam exiled from God’s presence if he broke the covenant – Israel exiled from God’s presence if she broke the covenant.

    There will be as many differences between the original and type as there is between a lamb and Jesus, but that doesn’t negate the typological arrangement.

    Again, see Hodge above for my view.

    Like

  140. Jeff,

    Sorry, perhaps I should attempt a bit more explanation (forgive me if this gets too pedantic). The problem has to do with sloppy use of language.

    When Reformed theologians discuss the divine covenants, they commonly invoke the scholastic distinction between substance and accidents (or at least they used to). As you know, the substance of something is what the thing actually is, and the accidents are features that don’t affect what it is. By way of illustration, a man dressed for the gym looks quite different dressed for a business meeting and even more different dressed as Santa Claus; nonetheless he is substantially the same man and the differences in appearance, vast as they may be, are merely accidental.

    It was generally held by Reformed theologians that there are only two substantially distinct divine covenants, the covenant of works and the covenant of grace (we can add the pactum salutis, which would make it three). What determines the substance of a covenant is its parties, promises and conditions (especially the latter two).

    It was also generally held by covenant theologians that the covenant of grace has only two distinct administrations, that is, the OT administration (by “promises, prophecies, sacrifices … foresignifying Christ to come”), which begins after the fall and continues to the time of Christ, and the NT administration (by “the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the sacraments”). It is important to note that these differences in administration are considered accidental, not substantial.

    Therefore, when a Reformed theologian said that a particular covenant is “an administration of the covenant of grace,” what they were saying is that that covenant substantially IS the covenant of grace, that is, that its parties, promises and conditions are identical with those of the covenant of grace, and that however different it may look from the covenant of grace or any other administration of the covenant of grace, the differences are merely accidental.

    The majority of Reformed theologians held that the Mosaic covenant period belonged to the same OT administration of the covenant of grace as the Abrahamic covenant period, that is, the Mosaic covenant was thought not only to be substantially in the same category as the Abrahamic; it was also administratively in the same category (“promises, prophecies, sacrifices, etc….), in spite of the differences in appearance.

    A few Reformed theologians (I’m not sure of the proportion) held that the MC was different in substance from the covenant of grace (and the covenant of works) and so spoke of it as a “third covenant” that promised temporal blessings in Canaan on the condition of perfect and personal obedience. Therefore, they were compelled to deny (and happily did so) that the MC was “an administration of the covenant of grace.” They also denied that the MC was a republication of the covenant of works (though the condition was the same, the promise different).

    So what’s the point? Lots of Reformed guys today say they hold the MC to be “an administration of the covenant of grace,” but then they proceed to define it in terms of a substantially (not just administratively) distinct covenant. The same guys also say they hold the MC to be a republication of the covenant of works, but then they define it in terms that reflect a substantial difference (e.g., a promise of temporal blessings instead of eternal and a condition of relative instead of perfect obedience).

    Does this help?

    Like

  141. David R, given the variety of ways that Reformed theologians have held to republication, I’m not sure anyone — yourself included — can be particularly picky about the way that Clark formulates it. It’s all over the place.

    But what is surprising is that the infusion of biblical theology in our circles has cut us off from a point that was so widely held even in various ways. And that puts a lie to your notion that the opponents of repub are really doing scholastic theology. Most of the opponents of repub deny the pactum salutis.

    Like

  142. David R., it’s only Kline being opposed? Not Gordon, Estelle, VanDrunen, Fesko? They are merely Kline?

    And why such hostility to Kline. Even Jim Dennison doesn’t agree with Van Til on apologetics (which is part of the OPC’s training for all ministers).

    Why the selectivity?

    Like

  143. @ David R:

    That does help, thanks. The issue then is what counts as “substantial” v “accidental.”

    As your interchanges with Todd show, those terms are not well-defined, so that you two cannot even agree on the content of his view. I think that his point is that typological is not substantive.

    For my part, the Deuteronomic curses and blessings would count as administrative, republicative, and accidental.

    Like

  144. Todd,

    I’m starting to wonder if you are actually reading what I write or trying to lay a trap. I wrote that the MC as it displays types, sacrifices, promises administers grace, the MC as bare command for blessings and curses for disobedience administers law. This is the last time I am going to state this.

    The only thing I’m trying to trap you into is clarity. I am reading what you write but it seems to me that you are saying things that are incompatible with each other. Not to belabor this, but we’re agreed that a covenant is defined by its promises and conditions. If it’s a works covenant, it promises life conditioned on obedience. If it’s a grace covenant, it offers life and salvation by Jesus Christ. If you want to say that it does both of those things, then you are actually speaking of two different covenants, not one.

    In your explanation yesterday, you were pretty clear that you believe the MC to be a legal covenant that offers temporal blessings on the condition of general obedience. That’s fine, but once you’ve committed yourself to that, you’ve closed the door on saying that the “MC … administers grace” because then you would be saying that the MC offers life and salvation in Jesus Christ, which would contradict what you said earlier, i.e., that it offers temporal blessings on condition of general obedience. It’s got to be one or the other but it can’t be both. You see the problem?

    Now what you said above is that “the MC as it displays types, sacrifices, promises administers grace, the MC as bare command for blessings and curses for disobedience administers law.”

    That doesn’t really make sense because you have one covenant acting like two covenants. If you want to make sense, you need to amend either the first or the second clause of that sentence. For example, following are two possible adjustments:

    1. “The covenant of grace as it displays types, sacrifices, promises administers grace, the MC as bare command for blessings and curses for disobedience administers law.”

    (The above seems consistent with your explanation yesterday.)

    2. The MC as it displays types, sacrifices, promises administers grace, the MC considered as abstracted from its promise of grace, as bare command for blessings and curses for disobedience administers law.”

    (The above would more closely reflect the view that the MC is an administration of the covenant of grace.)

    Like

  145. Jeff,

    The issue then is what counts as “substantial” v “accidental.”

    Think of it this way: The substance is the promises and conditions. The accidental has to do with how the substance is administered.

    Like

  146. David,

    The MC is a broad category understood a number of ways, just like the concept of nomos itself. There is nothing wrong speaking of the MC as Hodge did: “Besides this evangelical character which unquestionably belongs to the Mosaic covenant, it is presented in two other aspects in the Word of God.”

    One covenant broadly speaking can act like two covenants if God so ordains it. As the MC broadly included sacrifices and reminders of the Abrahamic promise, it administered grace. As it narrowly set forth blessings and curses for obedience and disobedience to retain the land blessings it administered law to drive Israel to trust in the merits of Christ. While I understand the complexity and difficulty in labeling views, which has been a historical difficulty, I see no need to redefine according to your terms. I also do not see any need to continue this discussion, though it was helpful that you answered my question as to what you saw as the danger in Kline’s formulations. Please have the last word.

    Like

  147. D.G.,

    David R, given the variety of ways that Reformed theologians have held to republication, I’m not sure anyone — yourself included — can be particularly picky about the way that Clark formulates it. It’s all over the place.

    That’s part of the “narrative” I was talking about with Sean yesterday. I used to hold to it. Don’t anymore.

    But what is surprising is that the infusion of biblical theology in our circles has cut us off from a point that was so widely held even in various ways. And that puts a lie to your notion that the opponents of repub are really doing scholastic theology. Most of the opponents of repub deny the pactum salutis.

    Okay, then let’s just agree that we should all (both sides) be doing scholastic theology more than we are.

    Like

  148. D.G.,

    David R., it’s only Kline being opposed? Not Gordon, Estelle, VanDrunen, Fesko? They are merely Kline?

    I think I said “Kline’s view,” right? That would embrace all those guys more or less, no?

    And why such hostility to Kline. Even Jim Dennison doesn’t agree with Van Til on apologetics (which is part of the OPC’s training for all ministers).

    Why the selectivity?

    I don’t know Dennison’s apologetics, so I can’t really say.

    Like

  149. Todd,

    While I understand the complexity and difficulty in labeling views, which has been a historical difficulty, I see no need to redefine according to your terms.

    They aren’t my terms. This is just standard covenant theology and those definitions have been in place since the beginning. You want to reject those definitions and then you want me to accept your rejection of them. Sorry, but no go.

    I have read Hodge on this question many times, but I will take another look and see what I can see. Thanks again for the interaction, I do appreciate it.

    Like

  150. Jeff,

    I think that his point is that typological is not substantive.

    The types are the means by which the substance is communicated.

    For my part, the Deuteronomic curses and blessings would count as administrative, republicative, and accidental.

    I think we would want to say that they typify eternal sanctions.

    Like

  151. David, methinks thou protest too much. That the law, as an “accident”, was added does not change the covenant of grace substantially. If you want to keep pushing a string, that’s your business, but we’re not talking about Cameron or Calamy’s 3rd covenant, though at the time of the Assembly, republication included those views.

    Like

  152. 4) As to God’s love for the reprobate: I do tent to find this discussion a bit confusing. Pink seemed pretty adamant that God does not love the reprobate- but then apparently he’s a supralapsarian. But Scripture does tell us that God desires all to repent, and that he does not delight in the death of the wicked. It is the saints’ deaths in which He delights. Yes there are contexts to these passages- I’m certainly not advocating universalism. However, it’s also true that they are expressions of God’s mercy. He has given time for all men to repent. Whether they take the chance to do so is another matter. God is merciful as well as just. All these things have to be reconciled.

    Alex, it is an aside in the context of the OP and where the discussion has gone, but God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that they repent and believe in Christ. Calvin’s Calvinism p.100. IOW don’t separate what is connected and conditional in order to posit a amyrauldian/archetypal/modern moderate and ineffectual love of God for the reprobate.

    Like

  153. Bob S.

    David, methinks thou protest too much.

    Yeah, you’re right. Forget I said anything. It’s not important.

    Like

  154. JRC: The issue then is what counts as “substantial” v “accidental.”

    DR: Think of it this way: The substance is the promises and conditions. The accidental has to do with how the substance is administered.

    And there’s our difference. I would say that the substance is the eternal city and citizenship thereof, whereas the accidental was the nation of Israel and citizenship thereof. The typological did indeed, as you say, point to the substantive. But it was not of itself substantive. For if it were, then the substance of the covenant would have changed when the typological passed away.

    Like

  155. Bob S- Yes, God does not desire the death of the wicked, rather He desires they turn unto Christ. If they don’t they will be punished and God’s justice will be vindicated. What did I say that contradicts that? Stop throwing the accusation of Amyraldian around it’s a very serious one. Nowhere have I denied- but indeed espoused- limited atonement. This issue of God’s love for mankind is far too involved a discussion for such lazy and knee jerk accusations.

    Like

  156. I understand that the kingdom and the covenant or different objects, but the substance of the new covenant is to belong to the kingdom of Christ. That is the invariant through all ages about the covenant of grace.

    Like

  157. David R, So you now hold that republication is wrong all the time? Or that only Jim Dennison properly understands republication?

    How can you conceivably say that you don’t believe republication is all over the place? Do you believe in a flat earth?

    You may not agree with all the affirmations of repub or their variety, but then you’re not pope or council.

    Like

  158. David R., so now that you do know Dennison is an evidentialist, what say you? Should we overture GA to find out if apologetical differences are at the root of the PNW controversy?

    BTW, you’re being selective. Is that scholastic?

    Like

  159. D.G.,

    David R, So you now hold that republication is wrong all the time? Or that only Jim Dennison properly understands republication?

    Not at all. I’m mostly trying to channel Strother Martin in Cool Hand Luke.

    How can you conceivably say that you don’t believe republication is all over the place? Do you believe in a flat earth?

    As to your first question, it comes down to maybe 4-5 views (e.g., see Turretin’s taxonomy) which can be broken down to essentially two views, i.e., bi-covenantal and tri-covenantal. (Though I’ll grant that there’s different language used to express that the doctrine of the covenant of works is republished under Moses.)

    BTW, thanks for allowing me freedom to publish my unpopular opinions.

    Like

  160. D.G.,

    David R., so now that you do know Dennison is an evidentialist, what say you? Should we overture GA to find out if apologetical differences are at the root of the PNW controversy?

    (Sigh)

    Like

  161. D.G.,

    Why do you suppose it is that the “republicationists” invoke the guy whose Systematic Theology “put an end to scholasticism at Princeton,” while the “anti-republicationists” go to the older writers?

    Like

  162. Yeah, you’re right. Forget I said anything. It’s not important.

    David, thanks for sharing the substantive interaction.

    Yes, God does not desire the death of the wicked, rather He desires they turn unto Christ. If they don’t they will be punished and God’s justice will be vindicated. What did I say that contradicts that? Stop throwing the accusation of Amyraldian around it’s a very serious one. Nowhere have I denied- but indeed espoused- limited atonement. This issue of God’s love for mankind is far too involved a discussion for such lazy and knee jerk accusations.

    Read your #4 Alex. You find it all confusing, but now you don’t. Good.

    cheers

    Like

  163. John Fesko, The Theology of the Westminster Standards, Crossway, 2014, p 150—Burroughs contends that the administration of the Mosaic covenant had different elements “annexed” to the covenant that New Testament believers no longer live under….Confirmation that Bolton held to the subservient view comes from the fact that he published Cameron’s Theses on the Threefold Covenant of God as an appendix to his True Bounds of Christian Freedom….

    Thomas Blake–” There are those phrases in Moses, which holding out a covenant of works, and in a rigid interpretation are no other; yet in a qualified sense, in a gospel sense, the phrases in Moses hold out a covenant of grace and the conditions of it.”

    Fesko, p 153—The views defy a neat and tidy taxonomy….They all identify Christ as the “substance” of the covenant

    19: 3. Beside 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.

    19: 4. To them also, as a body politic, he gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the State of that people; not obliging any other now, further than the general equity thereof may require.

    mark: was Christ’s obedience to the Mosaic “ceremonial laws” imputed to those elect who were never under those Mosaic “ceremonial laws”?

    Like

  164. Are “others” (sinners who are not “true believers’) under the law as a covenant of works? Which law? If not the law given to Adam, and not the law given through Moses, which “covenant of works” are unbelievers under”.

    If all blessings are given on the basis of Christ’s satisfaction of law for the elect, how can there be positive sanctions (blessings on our performance of the law) for “true believers”? if all guilt, curse, and death (negative sanctions) have been satisfied by Christ’s righteousness, His obedience even to death, how can “true believers” be threatened? Is not condemnation for those not in Christ? Is not saving grace for those found in Christ?

    19: 6. Although true believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified, or condemned; yet is it of great use to them, AS WELL AS TO OTHERS; in that, as a rule of life informing them of the will of God, and their duty… together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and the perfection of his obedience.

    It is likewise of use to the regenerate, to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin: and the threatenings of it serve to show what even their sins deserve; and what afflictions, in this life, they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law.

    The promises of it, in like manner, show them God’s approbation of obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof: although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works. So as, a man’s doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourageth to the one, and deterreth from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law; and, not under grace.

    Like

  165. Turretin—Canon XXV: We disapprove therefore of the doctrine of those who fabricate for us three Covenants, the Natural, the Legal, and the Gospel, different in their entire nature and essence, and in explaining these and assigning their differences, so intricately entangle themselves that they greatly obscure and even impair the nucleus of solid truth and piety. Nor do they hesitate at all, with regard to the necessity, under the OT dispensation, of knowledge of Christ and faith in him and his satisfaction and in the whole sacred Trinity, to speculate much too loosely and dangerously.

    http://turretinfan.wordpress.com/2008/07/27/justification-part-ii/

    John Fesko, p 158, The Theology of the Westminster Standards, Crossway, 2014—“There is nothing which comes close to this statement in the Confession. The Formula Consensus Helvetica was never widely adopted as a confession of faith…perhaps because it was too strict on matters that were deemed genuine areas of disagreement between different parties who were considered “orthodox.”

    Like

  166. Turretin—Canon XXV: We disapprove therefore of the doctrine of those who fabricate for us three Covenants, the Natural, the Legal, and the Gospel, different in their entire nature and essence, and in explaining these and assigning their differences, so intricately entangle themselves that they greatly obscure and even impair the nucleus of solid truth and piety.

    I feel vindicated.

    Like

  167. You should feel vindicated – if anyone had said that there are three covenants: natural, legal, and gospel.

    But given the number of times various people have said that there are not three covenants, I wonder at the vindication. It seems a little more like you’ve been having a Smeagol/Gollum debate or something. 🙂

    I read Fesko and vanDrunen and never once understood them to be arguing for three covenants. Ditto Kline, though he’s harder to be clear about.

    So is the “three covenants” coming from actual primary sources, or are you relying on others’ readings?

    Like

  168. Jeff,

    First of all, I posted a link to a paper yesterday that I asked you to take a look at. Did you ever do that?

    Like

  169. Anyway, when you look at that link, you’ll have your answer.

    But second of all, you have pinpointed a difference between the old three covenant guys and the contemporary ones. The old ones were honest about it. But let me ask you this: Why do you think Dr. Fesko, in that little snippet above that Mark posted, is so eager to suggest that “The Formula Consensus Helvetica was never widely adopted as a confession of faith…perhaps because it was too strict on matters that were deemed genuine areas of disagreement between different parties who were considered ‘orthodox.'” Don’t you find that a bit telling?

    Like

  170. Thirdly, Jeff, let’s rehearse a little bit of my interaction with Todd yesterday, okay?

    Me: 1. What precisely is the condition of the Mosaic covenant? (For example, is it perfect obedience, like in the covenant of works, or something less than that?)

    Todd: Since we are dealing in typology, and we are dealing with a nation as a whole, it cannot be perfect individual obedience to remain in the land, but a general obedience that worships Jehovah and not other gods.

    Me: 2. What is the promise? (Eternal life? Temporal blessings?)

    Todd: The blessings of Deut 28 are earthly, thus temporary

    Jeff, which covenant is defined here? The covenant of works? Of grace? Well then, maybe ol’ Smeagol ain’t as dumb as we looks….

    Like

  171. Bob S,

    David, thanks for sharing the substantive interaction.

    You’re welcome, Bob, I try to return favors. As you’ll recall, I spat out at least twenty paragraphs arguing for something and you said I protest too much. I thought my interaction with you was pretty substantive. But we can try again if you’d like.

    Like

  172. David R., this is completely fubar. If you say you’ve interacted with Scott Clark, then you know that repub’ists hardly appeal to Hodge only. And Merit and Moses does very little to appeal to anyone before Murray.

    At a certain point, you lost your credibility.

    Like

  173. Leave a few hours and return to find out from David that Kline, Fesko, etc… are not only in error, but dishonest to boot. Of course when David held the same position he was full of integrity, so congratulations to David.

    Like

  174. D.G.,

    I don’t know if you’re testing me or what…. The “republicists” appeal to older writers to try to back their claim that republication is “all over the place.” But when they want to claim a precedent for their own idiosyncratic view, they appeal to Hodge. When did I have any credibility?

    Like

  175. D.G.,

    Not so quick David R., which republicaitionist affirms three covenants?

    We did this yesterday. I posted a link.

    Like

  176. Todd,

    Leave a few hours and return to find out from David that Kline, Fesko, etc… are not only in error, but dishonest to boot. Of course when David held the same position he was full of integrity, so congratulations to David.

    Older three covenant guys were open and frank about their view and were able to clearly explain their position. The contemporary three covenant guys don’t have the tools or the inclination to do so. When I held something like your position I was no different. I’m not trying to impugn anyone’s character.

    Like

  177. By “linked article”, are you referring to the Irons article?

    In that article, there are three people who are mentioned as holding to three-fold covenant: cameron, Bolton, Amyrault.

    Kline, meanwhile, holds a “two-layer” view.

    The most that the article gives you is that Bolton and Cameron are precursors to Kline. That’s clearly not (yet) the same as “Kline holds to three covenants” or even less, “Fesko et al hold to three covenants.”

    As to honesty: get to three covenants first before you start considering subterfuge.

    There is always the real possibility that you misunderstand the view in some crucial aspect.

    Like

  178. Jeff,

    As to honesty: get to three covenants first before you start considering subterfuge.

    Frankly, when you refuse to stay with me on substance and accidents, I’m inclined to give up.

    Like

  179. Guys,

    I’ve done my best. Thanks all for the time. If anyone wants to discuss this further, I’m happy to do so….

    Like

  180. David, you wrote “But second of all, you have pinpointed a difference between the old three covenant guys and the contemporary ones. The old ones were honest about it.”

    If that’s not impugning motives, what is it? You did better when you were attempting to deal with the substance of the view you are now opposing. If you wish to persuade us of error, be specific – suggesting we have not labelled our view accurately may have its place, but it does not get at the heart of the supposed error. Why don’t you succinctly explain the error of Kline’s view from your perspective.

    Like

  181. I don’t understand. I thought we ended with agreement on substance and accidents: The substance of the new covenant is belonging to the kingdom of Christ. You agreed.

    Like

  182. Todd,

    In our interaction you clearly defined the MC in terms of a third covenant, but you are unwillng either to concede to a three covenant view or clarify why you don’t hold one and you won’t even acknowledge that one covenant can’t be of works and grace at the same time. That’s what I meant by dishonesty, but perhaps there’s a better word. Clarity? Forthrightness?

    Regarding Kline, thank you for asking, I’ll give it a try (and no doubt lose more friends): In a nutshell, I think that his redefinition of merit causes a ripple effect throughout the system of doctrine, blurring various crucial distinctions, such as: (1) that between strict merit (Christ’s) and pactum merit (Adam’s), (2) between the covenant of works and the Mosaic administration of the covenant of grace, which also has the effect of overly dividing the Mosaic from the new covenant administration, (3) and that between man in the state of innocence (who could merit by pactum) and man in the state of grace (who merits only condemnation).

    Like

  183. Jeff,

    It’s hard to believe you say this with a straight face. Two different antitheses: Shadows/substance (yours), substance/accidents (mine).

    Like

  184. “In our interaction you clearly defined the MC in terms of a third covenant, but you are unwillng either to concede to a three covenant view or clarify why you don’t hold one and you won’t even acknowledge that one covenant can’t be of works and grace at the same time. That’s what I meant by dishonesty, but perhaps there’s a better word. Clarity? Forthrightness?”

    David, I am rarely accused of not being forthright about my views. After all, I am one of the theonomists’ favorite punching bags for my political libertarianism. What I am not conceding is granting your starting premise that the Mosaic covenant is either a covenant of works or a covenant of grace, period. That would be like saying there is either a first use of the law, or a third use, and you must choose one or the other. There can be an aspect of the MC that involves the works principle, and there can be an aspect that is evangelical in character. The works principle within the MS can be seen on two levels, the national covenant between God and Israel which is temporary and typological, and the obligation on the individual to obey the law perfectly to receive eternal life, the standard first use of the law. The evangelical character of the covenant is seen in the provision of sacrifices, and promises such as Deut. 18:17&18. Now you may want to label this a three covenant view, it really doesn’t matter what you want to label it, but I quote Hodge because this is what he taught and I agree with it, and it was perfectly acceptable in the church to this point, though many disagreed with it.

    Like

  185. It would be interesting to know, David R, the motives and psychology involved in your change of mind. I don’t ask in order to argue for the truth or falsity of the view (or any view of the Mosaic and Adamic covenants).

    As one who has changed my mind about some things, I want to say–it’s the texts (and the history of the exegesis of the texts) which changed my mind. But I still want to ask—did something happen to make you fear dispensationalism more than you used to? Are you now worried more about antinomianism? Have you become unsettled about our minority situation in the world? Have you gotten more sensitive about “supercessionism” or other kinds of “anti-Judiasm”? Have you been enticed by Dan Fuller’s gospel of conditionality? I hope you take these questions as real questions, because I am outside the loop, and don’t know you, as it seems some of the other fellows do.

    Kline—“The loss of the national election given to Israel in the Mosaic covenant compels all who confess the sovereignty of God’s grace to recognize the presence of a works principle in that covenant.” KP, p 322

    John Murray—“Even where there is no sin and therefore no wrath, we cannot eliminate the fear of incurring God’s displeasure as one motive deterrent to the commission of sin.” Principles of Conduct, p 235

    Dan Doriani—“Legalists motivate by guilt. If you don’t obey, God will be angry or withhold his blessings. Legalists motivate by fear. If you don’t obey, God will punish you.”

    Jeremiah 31: 31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord.

    Like

  186. David R.,

    Regarding Kline, thank you for asking, I’ll give it a try (and no doubt lose more friends): In a nutshell, I think that his redefinition of merit causes a ripple effect throughout the system of doctrine, blurring various crucial distinctions, such as: (1) that between strict merit (Christ’s) and pactum merit (Adam’s), (2) between the covenant of works and the Mosaic administration of the covenant of grace, which also has the effect of overly dividing the Mosaic from the new covenant administration, (3) and that between man in the state of innocence (who could merit by pactum) and man in the state of grace (who merits only condemnation).

    Then why is it that Kline was one of the most forthright critics of Shepherd well before others who endorsed Merit and Moses? And why is it that the republicationists have been the strongest in defense of justification by faith, rather than collapsing it with sanctification into union (in ways that make the Federal Visionists happy)?

    We don’t need more scholasticism. We need more history.

    Like

  187. My question to David, Patrick, et al. who agree with the Merit and Moses critique…

    If we grant that both the active and passive obedience of Christ is typified in the OT, and since the active obedience of Christ is meritorious, would we not be able to speak of typological merit when we explain the OT types as they point to Christ’s active obedience, as long as we make the proper qualifications, just as we do concerning the passive obedience of Christ?

    For example, we know from Heb. 10:4 that it is “impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” Thus ultimately the animal sacrifices were useless in procuring God’s forgiveness and pleasure. And yet throughout the OT we have passages like Lev. 4:20, that upon the sacrifice of a young bull, the priest was to make atonement for the unintentional sin of the congregation, “and it shall be forgiven them.” So how do we harmonize this statement with Heb. 10? John Gil put it well, “By offering the ram he brought, by which a typical, but not real atonement was made; for the blood of bulls and goats, of sheep and rams, could not take away sin; but as they were types of Christ, and led to him, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.”

    So if we make this qualification when it comes to the OT types of Christ’s passive obedience, why is it illegitimate to make these same qualifications when it comes to the OT types Christ’s active obedience? If Noah’s righteousness typified Christ’s, and through Noah’s righteousness Ham was saved from the flood judgment, why can’t we say that here the merit of Christ is pictured, that Noah’s righteousness was meritorious in a typological sense as it was the basis of Ham’s temporary and earthly salvation, but as only types, and as no sinner can truly merit salvation, Noah’s merit for Ham only pictured Christ’s merit for his elect?

    If positive affirmations of Christ’s passive obedience in the sacrifices can be made concerning the temporary effects of the animal sacrifices before God without assuming we are violating ontological and eternal categories on forgiveness before God, why can’t the same be done in the OT types of Christ’s active and meritorious obedience? Would not the key in both instances be to ensure that the proper qualifications of types are affirmed and the ultimate, eternal realities that these types pointed to equally affirmed?

    Like

  188. D.G.,

    David R., but who says their view is idiosyncratic? You? You following Dennison? Why isn’t Dennison idiosyncratic if he isn’t Van Tillian?

    I have written a few things on your blog in addition to the word “Kerux,” you know. I don’t know much about Dennison, but I liked the book (though due to Clark panning it on his blog, I didn’t read it for a number of years). You read the book yet? I can’t recall that they do any apologetics in it.

    Like

  189. Todd,

    What I am not conceding is granting your starting premise that the Mosaic covenant is either a covenant of works or a covenant of grace, period. That would be like saying there is either a first use of the law, or a third use, and you must choose one or the other.

    I really doubt that Kline would agree with you on this one.

    Like

  190. Mark,

    No, it’s none of those things. It’s that I came to realize that the Reformed tradition had correctly framed the law-gospel distinction in terms of the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. These two covenantal arrangements are like black and white; there is nothing anyone could possibly do to increase their antithesis and it would be foolish to try. But Kline comes along and tries anyway, and only succeeds in making things gray.

    Like

  191. Todd: What I am not conceding is granting your starting premise that the Mosaic covenant is either a covenant of works or a covenant of grace, period.

    David: I really doubt that Kline would agree with you on this one.

    Todd: Actually, Kline sees both grace and works operating at different levels in the MC

    “Fuller’s thinking would not have taken this unfortunate turn if he had distinctly discerned and taken account of the explanation of the combination of the principles of grace and works within the Mosaic economy which as held central place in the covenant theology tradition. As is properly perceived in this traditional view, under the old covenant a typological kingdom was superimposed as an overlay on the stratum that constitutes the continuity of all redemptive administrations and issues in the eternal antitypical kingdom. At the level of the underlying stratum, the Ievel of individual attainment of the eternal kingdom in Christ, the principle of inheritance under the old covenant as under all redemptive covenants was the principle of sovereign soteric grace. But the administration of the provisional earthly kingdom, the typological overlay peculiar to the old covenant, was informed by the principle of works in that the Israelites’ compliance with the covenant stipulations was made the ground of tenure with respect to the kingdom blessings. Had Fuller reckoned with the additional option presented by this distinctive form of covenant theology, the exegetical possibilities would have been radically altered for him as he dealt with such key contexts as Romans 10 and Galatians 3. As it is, he makes his way by a process of tortuous exegesis to conclusions in flat contradiction of the teaching of these passages that a works principle was in effect within the Mosaic economy. Clearly it was Paul’s recognition of the presence of this works principle at the typological overlay level of the old covenant that made him raise the question whether this “law” arrangement annulled the earlier Abrahamic Covenant of promise. And it was his recognition of the simultaneous presence, within the Mosaic economy, of the overlying stratum with its principle of grace controlling the reception of the eternal kingdom that made it possible for him to affirm that the Mosaic Covenant had not annulled God’s promise to Abraham.” (“Of Works and Grace” Presbyterion 9:1-2 Spring/Fall 1983: 85-92)

    Like

  192. “Todd, here’s where I’m stuck: Sinners merit only condemnation. Noah is a sinner. Ergo….”

    You have the same dilemma with animal sacrifices as explained above. It is the nature of typology.

    Like

  193. D.G.,

    David, Lee Irons is not representative in the current debates. That’s like saying the Baylys are representative of the anti-repub’s.

    Alright, how about T.D. Gordon? Is he representative?

    Like

  194. D.G.,

    Then why is it that Kline was one of the most forthright critics of Shepherd well before others who endorsed Merit and Moses?

    And in his commendable zeal, he not-so-commendably became their mirror image, or at least some of his followers did.

    And why is it that the republicationists have been the strongest in defense of justification by faith, rather than collapsing it with sanctification into union (in ways that make the Federal Visionists happy)?

    I won’t grant you this one.

    We don’t need more scholasticism. We need more history.

    Ya got something in the works?

    Like

  195. D.G.,

    David R., but Jeff is right about substance and accidents and you are not.

    How the old and new covenants differ from each other: whether essentially (as to substance of doctrine) or accidentally (as to the manner of dispensation). We make distinctions.

    –Francis Turretin (Institutes of Elenctic Theology)

    Though given that book’s editor, this can’t count for much, right?

    Like

  196. Todd,

    If Noah’s righteousness typified Christ’s, and through Noah’s righteousness Ham was saved from the flood judgment, why can’t we say that here the merit of Christ is pictured …

    Up to this point I agree.

    … that Noah’s righteousness was meritorious …

    But this goes too far (as it embraces the above contradiction).

    Like

  197. David,

    When you cut off the essential qualification from a quote concerning typology of course it appears to go too far. You must interact with the entire quote:

    “Noah’s righteousness was meritorious in a typological sense as it was the basis of Ham’s temporary and earthly salvation, but as only a type, and as no sinner can truly merit salvation, Noah’s merit for Ham only pictured Christ’s merit for his elect”

    Like

  198. David R., A sentence does not prove your point. Though I’m not sure what the point is. The Confession of Faith says as much.

    Plus, Jeff’s point was about the substance of salvation in the Old Covenant.

    You seem to be working awfully hard on this one but it’s not exactly clear why.

    Like

  199. David R., could the becoming the mirror image apply to you?

    So which anti-Repub’s have taken the lead in opposing defections from the doctrine of justification?

    Like

  200. D.G.,

    Gordon is though he doesn’t speak for everyone. No repub’st does.

    And besides, he’s a “strawman,” right? And you question my credibility?

    Like

  201. @ David R:

    No, it’s none of those things. It’s that I came to realize that the Reformed tradition had correctly framed the law-gospel distinction in terms of the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. These two covenantal arrangements are like black and white; there is nothing anyone could possibly do to increase their antithesis and it would be foolish to try. But Kline comes along and tries anyway, and only succeeds in making things gray.

    That’s interesting. I agree with you that law-gospel is correctly aligned in terms of CoW and CoG. But for me, Kline’s work mostly helped clarify that alignment, whereas most of the anti-repub material I’ve read has muddied it.

    Do you have the same objections to Vos or Machen?

    Here’s the basic problem: If we agree that the Mosaic Covenant was an administration of the CoG (and all of us within this discussion *do* agree), then we next have to understand what it means that Israel was “under the law as a tutor” (Gal 4).

    Turretin’s solution, as I understand, is that the “under the Law” aspect was accidental to the CoG. Kline’s solution, as I understand, is that the “under the Law” aspect was accidental to the CoG.

    This cleanly separates CoW from CoG, but at the expense of some complexity in understanding the structure of the Mosaic Covenant.

    The anti-repub solution, as I understand, is that the Law was “gracious in some sense.” This *also* cleanly separates CoW from CoG, but at the expense of complexity in understanding the nature of the biblical term “grace.”

    The complexity is unavoidable, since Deut 28 so clearly articulates obedience as the ground for blessing, while Gen 15 so clearly articulates faith as the sole instrument for belonging to the covenant. You have to have complexity somewhere.

    For my part, it makes a lot more sense to have the complexity located in the structure of the Mosaic Covenant, than to have it located in our understanding of grace.

    Like

  202. David R.: As you know, there are at least some in your camp who would claim to embrace something like the “subservient covenant” or “third covenant view,” which makes a point of distinguishing the MC from the covenant of grace.

    D.G. Hart: Who? Not the people in TLNF. Don’t bring straw men around here.

    D.G. Hart: Not so quick David R., which republicaitionist affirms three covenants?

    D.G. Hart: David, Lee Irons is not representative in the current debates. That’s like saying the Baylys are representative of the anti-repub’s.

    David R: Alright, how about T.D. Gordon? Is he representative?

    D. G. Hart: Gordon is though he doesn’t speak for everyone. No repub’st does.

    Jeff, are you paying attention?

    Like

  203. “For my part, it makes a lot more sense to have the complexity located in the structure of the Mosaic Covenant, than to have it located in our understanding of grace.”

    Amen! Excellent observation

    Like

  204. DGH: David R., but Jeff is right about substance and accidents and you are not.

    David R, quoting FT: How the old and new covenants differ from each other: whether essentially (as to substance of doctrine) or accidentally (as to the manner of dispensation). We make distinctions.

    You actually completely missed my point. The question was not “substance/accident v. substance/shadows”, but “What is the substance and what are the accidents?”

    Like

  205. David R: Jeff, are you paying attention?

    Yes, in fact.

    Let’s review the bidding.

    * I made a point about substance and accidents. You missed it entirely.

    * I read the linked article by Lee Irons. Just for good measure, I’ve now re-read it. I observed that the article at no point attributes a “subservient covenant” view to Kline. You overlooked or ignored my point and re-reposted the article as evidence that Kline holds to subservient covenants.

    * Todd has observed that he doesn’t hold a three-covenant view (up to the point where, in disgust, he said “call it whatever you want”). You ignored that also.

    I am at least paying enough attention to observe who says what.

    Look, it’s pretty hard to “lose friends” because you change views. Diversity of thought is not punished around here. Heck, I’m even allowed to think that John Frame has some good points.

    But with your change in view seems to have come a change in personality. The old David R was thoughtful, careful, gracious. I had a lot of respect for him. He had some valuable things to say about imputation.

    The new David R is suspicious, sloppy, and snarky. He makes ungrounded personal accusations, and he doesn’t read carefully anymore. If there’s any connection between your change in view and your change in presentation, please reconsider one or both of those. Our exchange has colored my view of anti-repub’s.

    Like

  206. David R., when did I say Gordon was a straw man? I’m just lowering your expectations for my answering for every republicationist (the way you seem to for Dennison et al).

    If your credibility is in question, it is because you seem to have a bee in your bonnet over this one, and so far you haven’t explained what is so pressing — especially since the allegation by you and Patrick is that repub undermines Reformed soteriology. I thought Shepherd did that.

    Like

  207. David R., did Gordon write on three covenants in TLNF (I don’t have it memorized)? Could it be that you are reading repubs the way white people look at Asians — they all look the same?

    Like

  208. D.G.,

    David R., did Gordon write on three covenants in TLNF (I don’t have it memorized)?

    Nope, he wrote on two. But in addition to those, I assume he holds to the covenant of works, no? But what’s your point since the question was whether or not any of the authors holds the view (not wrote explicitly about it)?

    Like

  209. Jeff,

    You actually completely missed my point. The question was not “substance/accident v. substance/shadows”, but “What is the substance and what are the accidents?”

    It’s possible that I did. Perhaps if you state your view of the substance and accidents of the covenants of works and grace and the Mosaic, it will help me to understand (that is, if you can stomach further interaction with such a suspicious, sloppy, and snarky guy).

    Like

  210. Naturally, given that you can bear with my hectoring.

    I thought we had agreed that the substance of the CoG, in all of its administrations, is to belong to the kingdom of God.

    If so, then would it not follow that the accident that corresponds is to belong to the visible family of Abraham? That would be the line of Seth/Noah/Abraham prior to the Law, the nation of Israel under the Law, and the visible New Testament church in these latter days.

    So we have substance and accidents, corresponding but not identical.

    Like

  211. Posted July 22, 2014 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    . . . I also much appreciate this one from Turretin:

    Meanwhile it pleased God to administer the covenant of grace in this period under a rigid legal economy–both on account of the condition of the people still in infancy and on account of the putting off of the advent of Christ and the satisfaction to be rendered by him. A twofold relation ought always to obtain: the one legal, more severe, through which by a new promulgation of the law and of the covenant of works, with an intolerable yoke of ceremonies, he wished to set forth what men owed and what was to be expected by them on account of duty unperformed…. The other relation was evangelical, sweeter, inasmuch as “the law was a schoolmaster unto Christ” (Gal 3:24) and contained “the shadow of things to come” (Heb 10:1), whose body and express image is in Christ.

    According to that twofold relation, the administration can be viewed either as to the external economy of legal teaching or as to the internal truth of the gospel promise lying under it. The matter of that external economy was the threefold law–moral, ceremonial and forensic. The first was fundamental; the remaining appendices of it. The form was the pact added to that external dispensation, which on the part of God was the promise of the land of Canaan and of rest and happiness in it; and, under the image of each, of heaven and the rest in him (Heb 4:3, 9); or of eternal life according to the clause, “Do this and live.” On the part of the people, it was a stipulation of obedience to the whole law or righteousness both perfect (Dt 27:26; Gal 3:10) and personal and justification by it (Rom 2:13). But this stipulation in the Israelite covenant was only accidental, since it was added only in order that man by its weakness might be led to reject his own righteousness and to embrace another’s, latent under the law.[12:7:31,32]

    Posted July 23, 2014 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Thirdly, Jeff, let’s rehearse a little bit of my interaction with Todd yesterday, okay?

    Me: 1. What precisely is the condition of the Mosaic covenant? (For example, is it perfect obedience, like in the covenant of works, or something less than that?)

    Todd: Since we are dealing in typology, and we are dealing with a nation as a whole, it cannot be perfect individual obedience to remain in the land, but a general obedience that worships Jehovah and not other gods.

    Me: 2. What is the promise? (Eternal life? Temporal blessings?)

    Todd: The blessings of Deut 28 are earthly, thus temporary

    Jeff, which covenant is defined here? The covenant of works? Of grace? Well then, maybe ol’ Smeagol ain’t as dumb as we looks….

    Sam the not so wise sham here,
    First Turretin tells us about the two fold legal and gospel nature of the MC and then in the second, we are queried about the MC; up or down, black or white, works or grace. IOW T’s first is practically denied.

    But before the last post, we are also challenged at to why Fesko mentions that Turretin’s condemnation in the Formula Consensus of the three covenant views of Cameron and Amyraut is not sustained at large among the reformed, with the insinuation that what? This makes room for Kline’s modern 3 covenant view?


    Posted July 23, 2014 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    Anyway, when you look at that link, you’ll have your answer.

    But second of all, you have pinpointed a difference between the old three covenant guys and the contemporary ones. The old ones were honest about it. But let me ask you this: Why do you think Dr. Fesko, in that little snippet above that Mark posted, is so eager to suggest that “The Formula Consensus Helvetica was never widely adopted as a confession of faith…perhaps because it was too strict on matters that were deemed genuine areas of disagreement between different parties who were considered ‘orthodox.’” Don’t you find that a bit telling?

    So which is it? Turretin’s two covenant view allows for repub in a sense particularly his last paragraph, but he condemns 3 covenants, so T is interpreted to say K is out, but T is a minority so maybe K is really in, but then other repubs say K/repub is not 3 covenant but 2 covenant.

    IOW what in the Sam Hobbit Hill is going on here?
    Could it be that someone’s power of exposition exceeds their enthusiasm for their POV?
    Like a certain other character in Woodinville who recently changed their mind?

    Dunno. But if I may be excused. I need to go hide from the charge of uncharitableness.

    Like

  212. The substance of the CoW was to obtain blessing by obedience and curse by disobedience.

    In the Mosaic, this function was accidental only.

    Here is Calvin establishing first the unity of Old and New in substance:

    This discussion, which would have been most useful at any rate, has been rendered necessary by that monstrous miscreant, Servetus, and some madmen of the sect of the Anabaptists, who think of the people of Israel just as they would do of some herd of swine, absurdly imagining that the Lord gorged them with temporal blessings here, and gave them no hope of a blessed immortality. Let us guard pious minds against this pestilential error, while we at the same time remove all the difficulties which are wont to start up when mention is made of the difference between the Old and the New Testaments. By the way also, let us consider what resemblance and what difference there is between the covenant which the Lord made with the Israelites before the advent of Christ, and that which he has made with us now that Christ is manifested.

    It is possible, indeed, to explain both in one word. The covenant made with all the fathers is so far from differing from ours in reality and substance, that it is altogether one and the same: still the administration differs. — Calv Inst 2.10.1-2

    And then the difference in administration:

    What, then? you will say, Is there no difference between the Old and the New Testaments? What is to become of the many passages of Scripture in which they are contrasted as things differing most widely from each other? I readily admit the differences which are pointed out in Scripture, but still hold that they derogate in no respect from their established unity, as will be seen after we have considered them in their order. These differences (so far as I have been able to observe them and can remember) seem to be chiefly four, or, if you choose to add a fifth, I have no objections. I hold and think I will be able to show, that they all belong to the mode of administration rather than to the substance. In this way, there is nothing in them to prevent the promises of the Old and New Testament from remaining the same, Christ being the foundation of both. The first difference then is, that though, in old time, the Lord was pleased to direct the thoughts of his people, and raise their minds to the heavenly inheritance, yet, that their hope of it might be the better maintained, he held it forth, and, in a manner, gave a foretaste of it under earthly blessings, whereas the gift of future life, now more clearly and lucidly revealed by the Gospel, leads our minds directly to meditate upon it, the inferior mode of exercise formerly employed in regard to the Jews being now laid aside. Those who attend not to the divine purpose in this respect, suppose that God’s ancient people ascended no higher than the blessings which were promised to the body. They hear the land of Canaan so often named as the special, and as it were the only, reward of the Divine Law to its worshipers; they hear that the severest punishment which the Lord denounces against the transgressors of the Law is expulsion from the possession of that land and dispersion into other countries; they see that this forms almost the sum of the blessings and curses declared by Moses; and from these things they confidently conclude that the Jews were separated from other nations not on their own account, but for another reason—viz. that the Christian Church might have an emblem in whose outward shape might be seen an evidence of spiritual things. But since the Scripture sometimes demonstrates that the earthly blessings thus bestowed were intended by God himself to guide them to a heavenly hope, it shows great unskilfulness, not to say dullness, not to attend to this mode of dispensation. The ground of controversy is this: our opponents hold that the land of Canaan was considered by the Israelites as supreme and final happiness, and now, since Christ was manifested, typifies to us the heavenly inheritance; whereas we maintain that, in the earthly possession which the Israelites enjoyed, they beheld, as in a mirror, the future inheritance which they believed to be reserved for them in heaven. — Calv Inst 2.11.1

    Note that for Calvin, possession of the land and temporal blessings in general were accidental, not substantial. They were also typological of the substance. If this is ringing any “Kingdom Prologue” bells, then good.

    Finally, on the typological nature of temporal cursings and blessings:

    For, as the Lord, in testifying his good will 390towards believers by means of present blessings, then exhibited spiritual felicity under types and emblems, so, on the other hand, by temporal punishments he gave proofs of his judgment against the reprobate. Hence, by earthly objects, the favour of the Lord was displayed, as well as his punishment inflicted. The unskilful, not considering this analogy and correspondence (if I may so speak) between rewards and punishments, wonder that there is so much variance in God, that those who, in old time, were suddenly visited for their faults with severe and dreadful punishments, he now punishes much more rarely and less severely, as if he had laid aside his former anger, and, for this reason, they can scarcely help imagining, like the Manichees, that the God of the Old Testament was different from that of the New … – Calv Inst 2.11.3

    Now obviously, Calvin doesn’t spend the 500 pages that Kline does in breaking down the structure of the Mosaic. But it is clear that paleoCalvinists should affirm that

    * The Old and New are co-substantial in that they both promised eternal life through the merits of the Messiah (read all of Inst 2.10 to get the full sense of this).
    * The temporal blessings of the Old belonged to the accidents.
    * The means of acquisition of those temporal blessings — blessing for obedience, curse for disobedience — belonged to the accidents.

    Those three points are quite clear above.

    But wait, there’s more. When discussing the sanctions of the Law, Calvin says

    The restriction of the recompense, which is here mentioned, to this earthly and transitory life, is a part of the elementary instruction of the Law; for, just as the spiritual grace of God was represented to the ancient people by shadows and images, so also the same principle applied also both to rewards and punishments. Reconciliation with God was represented to them by the blood of cattle; there were various forms of expiation, but all outward and visible, because their substance had not yet appeared in Christ. For the same reason, therefore, because so clear and familiar an acquaintance with eternal life, and the final resurrection, had not yet been attained by the Fathers, as now shines forth in the Gospel, God for the most part shewed forth by external proofs that He was favorably disposed to His people or offended with them. — Calv Comm Harm Law 3 Lev 26.3-13

    And again

    I have indeed already observed, that whatever God promises us on the condition of our walking in His commandments would be ineffectual if He should be extreme in examining our works. Hence it arises that we must renounce all the compacts of the Law, if we desire to obtain favor with God. But since, however defective the works of believers may be, they are nevertheless pleasing to God through the intervention of pardon, hence also the efficacy of the promises depends, viz., when the strict condition of the law is moderated. — ibid

    So we have these two features in Calvin, that blessings and cursings for obedience were typological, and that they were grounded in imperfect obedience.

    If we agree to accept these features in Calvin’s thought, there seems little left about Kline to object to. Do you agree?

    Like

  213. Jeff,

    Do you have the same objections to Vos or Machen?

    No. I don’t understand why you ask.

    Here’s the basic problem: If we agree that the Mosaic Covenant was an administration of the CoG (and all of us within this discussion *do* agree), then we next have to understand what it means that Israel was “under the law as a tutor” (Gal 4).

    You are using the phrase “administration of the CoG” in a way that differs from historic usage. I know what it has meant historically, but if I am to understand what you mean by it, you will have to explain. According to historic usage of that terminology, all of us within this discussion most certainly do not all agree that the Mosaic Covenant was an administration of the CoG (in my ever so sloppy, snarky and suspicious opinion).

    Like

  214. david r— It’s that I came to realize that the Reformed tradition had correctly framed the law-gospel distinction in terms of the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. These two covenantal arrangements are like black and white

    mark–Thanks for the answer. So you see yourself as circling the wagons, tightening the boundaries of the antithesis. If you allow the conditional to creep into the unconditional tent, then pretty soon the Confession notion of two abstract a-historical covenants will be completely gone, and all that will be left is historical covenants. I think you may be correct about that being a possible trajectory. When David Gordon finishes his work on Galatians, there won’t be much left of “the covenant of grace”

    But when one has left those two a-historical covenants behind, DOES that also mean the end of the law-gospel antithesis? Will those who follow John Murray’s denial of “covenant of works” end up saying that all covenants are about grace, but that this means that grace is about law?

    Must there be one unchaning law for there to be one unchanging gospel? Where there is new covenant, can there be new law but still the same gospel?

    It remains to be seen. Some dispensationalists know very well the difference between law and grace. Daniel Fuller’s dismissal of covenant theology (and dispensationalism) has left him with an “unity of the Bible” in which there is no difference between law and grace.

    David Gordon—what I am less happy with is the language of the covenant of grace, because this is a genuinely unbiblical use of biblical language; Biblically, covenant is always a historic arrangement, inaugurated in space and time. Once covenant refers to an over-arching divine decree or purpose to redeem the elect in Christ, confusion Is sure to follow….

    Gordon— Murray wrote that was not “any reason for construing the Mosaic covenant in terms different from those of the Abrahamic.” Murray believed that the only relation God sustains to people is that of Redeemer. I would argue, by contrast, that God was just as surely Israel’s God when He cursed the nation as when He blessed it. The first generation of the magisterial Reformers would have emphasized discontinuity; they believed that Rome retained too much continuity with the levitical aspects of the Sinai administration.

    Gordon—When Paul and the other NT writers use the word covenant, there is almost always an immediate contextual clue to which biblical covenant is being referred to, such as “the covenant of circumcision” (Acts 7:8) The New Testament writers were not mono-covenantal regarding the Old Testament (see Rom 9:4, Eph 2:12; Gal 4:24)

    Like

  215. Ephesians 2: 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the LAW OF COMMANDMENTS expressed in ordinances, in order to create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and in order to reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

    In Ephesians 2, Paul is not dividing the law from its curse, or saying only that the curse has been abolished. What has been abolished is “the law of commandments expressed in ordinances”. In some sense, the Mosaic law covenant itself has been abolished. Paul speaks in Ephesians 2 the opposite of the way he would have to speak if he thought that curse and law were two different things.

    While the Reformed distinction between law and curse lays the emphasis on the curse in Ephesians 2, the emphasis in context of Ephesians 2 is the law itself. Is it only the “ceremonies” which curse?

    Like

  216. Jeff,

    I haven’t overlooked your recent comments, but I wanted to get back to this one for a moment:

    The anti-repub solution, as I understand, is that the Law was “gracious in some sense.” This *also* cleanly separates CoW from CoG, but at the expense of complexity in understanding the nature of the biblical term “grace.”

    I don’t understand. I wouldn’t want to say that the law is gracious in any sense, but the purpose behind giving it was certainly gracious, i.e., to drive the Israelites to Christ, and then antecedently to serve as a rule of their obedience. What am I missing?

    Like

  217. Jeff,

    I mean WCF 7.5. What do you have in mind?

    Well then, now that you know that T.D. Gordon views the MC as a third covenant, can we agree that he denies it to be an administration of the covenant of grace?

    Like

  218. Jeff,

    * I read the linked article by Lee Irons. Just for good measure, I’ve now re-read it. I observed that the article at no point attributes a “subservient covenant” view to Kline. You overlooked or ignored my point and re-reposted the article as evidence that Kline holds to subservient covenants.

    The article observes that Bolton dissented from the majority view that two covenants structure redemptive history. As an alternative, he proposed a three covenant view. The article then suggests that Bolton is a precursor to Kline. Am I to suppose that the author thinks Kline holds to the standard two covenants?

    Like

  219. DR: I wouldn’t want to say that the law is gracious in any sense, but the purpose behind giving it was certainly gracious, i.e., to drive the Israelites to Christ, and then antecedently to serve as a rule of their obedience.

    Agreed.

    What am I missing?

    Possibly, this:

    From the beginning of God’s disclosures to men in terms of covenant we find a unity of conception which is to the effect that a divine covenant is a sovereign administration of grace and of promise. It is not compact or contract or agreement that provides the constitutive or governing idea but that of dispensation in the sense of disposition. This central and basic concept is applied, however, to a variety of situations and the precise character of the grace bestowed and of the promise given differs in the differing covenant administrations. The differentiation does not reside in any deviation from this basic conception but simply consists in the differing degrees of richness and fulness of the grace bestowed and of the promise given. — John Murray, The Covenant of Grace

    The Sinaitic administration is, for Murray, entirely gracious. So is the covenant of works. This now introduces complexity into our understanding of “grace.”

    Like

  220. JRC: I mean WCF 7.5. What do you have in mind?

    DR: Well then, now that you know that T.D. Gordon views the MC as a third covenant, can we agree that he denies it to be an administration of the covenant of grace?

    No, not exactly. TDG is not a straightforward case. He thinks of covenants as being located historically, and is not comfortable with an overarching term “covenant of grace” (souce).

    So when he talks about Sinai in TNLF, he alternates between the term “covenant” and “administration.” When he explains covenants, he presents them NOT as three, but as multifold (source).

    In other words, he seems to be making a “biblical-over-against-systematic” point in his use of the term “covenant.”

    I neither endorse nor criticize this approach, but it’s not mine.

    So no, I would not say that TDG is evidence of a subservient covenant view. He seems to be more of a “lots of covenants” person.

    Like

  221. DR: The article observes that Bolton dissented from the majority view that two covenants structure redemptive history. As an alternative, he proposed a three covenant view. The article then suggests that Bolton is a precursor to Kline. Am I to suppose that the author thinks Kline holds to the standard two covenants?

    If you’re asking my advice on understanding “precursor”, then I would say that it does not imply carryover of any specific properties. In other words, don’t assume.

    Glycerin is a precursor of nitroglycerin. One makes lovely cakes. The other doesn’t.

    Take Patrick Ramsey, who also asserts that Kline was a subservient guy. His evidence:

    Agreements
    1. The way of eternal salvation has been the same throughout the history of redemption,
    that is, by means of the Covenant of Grace.
    2. The blessings and curses of the Mosaic Covenant refer to temporal blessings in the
    land of Canaan.
    3. The Mosaic Covenant is distinct from the Abrahamic and New Covenants.
    4. The Mosaic Covenant is distinct from the Covenant of Works and Covenant of Grace.
    5. The condition of the Mosaic Covenant is works apart from faith in Christ.
    6. The Mosaic Covenant was designed to lead people to Christ by exposing their sin.
    Disagreements
    1. For the Subservient Covenant view, the condition of the Mosaic Covenant was
    perfect obedience whereas for Kline and Karlberg, less than perfect obedience was
    acceptable to obtain the blessings.
    2. Kline and Karlberg teach that the righteousness of Israel in the Mosaic Covenant was
    typical of Christ’s righteousness whereas the Subservient Covenant view does not
    teach this at all. — D. Patrick Ramsey, In Defense of Moses

    What DPR does not observe is that difference #2 makes all the difference between two distinct covenants (Bolton) and a covenant of grace with an outward administration of works (Turretin).

    So by investing the word “precursor” with the meaning “has the same subservient covenant structure”, I think you go too far.

    Now, you may have additional evidence. I don’t know with certainty that Kline was bi- and not tri-covenantal. But having read several of his works, I never picked up on a tri-covenantal thesis.

    So if you have additional evidence, fire away.

    Like

  222. Ephesians 2:15 teaches that the Mosaic law was the instrument of condemnation and death. The emphasis is on the code, the “commandments expressed in ordinances”. Instead of separating out the curse from the code, Paul actually writes of the abolition of the commandments themselves. This can be seen from the statement itself, and also from the context which speaks of the joining of jew and gentile into the body.

    It is impossible to maintain that only the curse itself is that which divides the two groups, since both are under the curse equally. No, the curse divides God from humans. What stands between jew and gentile is the law itself, the code, the covenant mediated by Moses. It is not grace adminstered differently, because law is not grace.

    Think of the parallel in Colossians 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

    The “record of death” against us is the same as the “legal demands” against us. It is difficult to see how the law and its curse can be separated, when the Apostle integrates them together in this way.

    It is the demands which are hostile to us. Colossians 2: 16 goes on to say: “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.” It is more than the removal of the curse that the law-work of the cross achieves. The cross brings about in some sense the abolition of the law itself. Nobody has to do anymore what the Mosaic covenant commands to be done because the Mosaic covenant commands it. There is new covenant, and there is new law, because Christ is not the new Moses but Lawgiver, Lord, and the one who has satisfied law for all of the elect.

    Like

  223. Jeff,

    The Sinaitic administration is, for Murray, entirely gracious. So is the covenant of works. This now introduces complexity into our understanding of “grace.”

    1. I have never claimed in this discussion to follow Murray. In fact I disagree with his redefinition of covenant.

    2. Just an FYI for you, given his redefinition of covenant, Murray argued that the “Adamic administration” was not covenantal. (I disagree with him about that as well.)

    So, again, what am I missing?

    Like

  224. David Gordon—-It was not the Law, as allegedly perverted a millenium after Moses that Paul discussed in Galatians 3, but the law which came 430 years after the Abrahamic covenant that Paul discusses(Gal. 3:17). When he illustrated the matter in chapter 4, for instance, citing Sarah and Hagar, he did not say that these two women were figuratively two ways of understanding the covenant, one right and one wrong. Rather, he said “these women are TWO COVENANTS (au|tai gavr eijsin duvo diaqh’kai). One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery;she is Hagar” (Gal. 4:24)

    Like

  225. David Gordon—The Sinai covenant-administration was no bargain for sinners, and I pity the poor Israelites who suffered under its administration, just as I understand perfectly well why 73 (nearly half) of their psalms were laments. I would have resisted this covenant also, had I been there, because such a legal covenant, whose conditions require strict obedience (and threaten severe curse-sanctions), is bound to fail if one of the parties to it is a sinful people.

    Like

  226. @ Mark: the notion of “resisting the covenant” is a frankly puzzling feature of Gordon’s thought. It hearkens back to classic Dispensationalism.

    It makes it sound as if the Israelites should have told Joshua, “OK, we won’t serve the Lord, then.”

    I’m sure TDG doesn’t think that, but what alternative does he envision?

    Like

  227. Jeff,

    I wasn’t asking for your advice in understanding the term, but since you’ve given it, I’ll suggest that the article is rather using the term in the more commonly understood sense of Merriam Webster’s first definition: “precedes and indicates the approach of another.” But of course you already knew this. I will submit that there is no sensible reader who can come away from that article with any question about which of the two camps the author thinks Kline lands in.

    But by way of clarification, I have never argued on this thread that Kline was a “three covenant guy.” If you’ll recall, at the beginning of my interaction with Todd, I explained that I really can’t figure out where Kline comes down on the two-covenants-or-three question and I was hoping Todd could help me gain clarity. In our interchange I learned that Todd thinks the MC offers temporal life conditioned on “general” obedience. This jibes with a three covenant view but not a two covenant view. But then he also insisted that the MC administers grace, which jibes with a three covenant view but not a two covenants view. Todd is inconsistent but denies the inconsistency and (apparently) thinks he can have it both ways (which I have found to be commonly true of “republicationists”). So no clarity (for me) resulted.

    The only reason I had produced the Irons article is that DGH challenged my assertion that some of the “republicationists” embrace the three covenant view. That is, I wasn’t trying to prove Kline’s view (which I still don’t know).

    Like

  228. Jeff,

    What DPR does not observe is that difference #2 makes all the difference between two distinct covenants (Bolton) and a covenant of grace with an outward administration of works (Turretin).

    Mind fleshing this out some?

    Like

  229. @ DR:

    Re #1: right, the point is not to attribute Murray to you, but to point out that the ur-anti-repub position, the precursor, if you will, is a comingling of grace and law under the category of “condition”: the Murray family of anti-repub arguments have in common the belief that the Old and New Covenants are alike in stipulating *conditions* of personal obedience for reception of blessing, with obedience being the fruit of faith.

    Ramsey is in this family. IIRC, so is van Jones.

    In the Klinean family, the term *condition* is rejected as not so much wrong, but confused. In its place is the term “ground.” In the CoW, Adam’s obedience is the ground for blessing. In the CoG, Christ’s obedience is the ground.

    Re #2: right, Murray spoke of an Adamic administration, not a separate Adamic covenant. This led some to believe that he was proposing monocovenantalism, though this is contested.

    Like

  230. David Gordon: It was necessary for there to be a covenant that, at a minimum, preserved two things: memory of the gracious promises made to Abraham and his “seed,” and the biological integrity of the “seed”itself. Sinai’s dietary laws and prohibitions against inter-marrying with the Gentiles, along with Sinai’s calendar and its circumcision, set Abraham’s descendants apart from the Gentiles,
    “saving” them (in some degree) from their desire to inter-marry with the Am ha-Aretz until the time came to do away with such a designation forever.

    Gordon–. Such a covenant would need, by the harshest threats of curse-sanctions, to prevent inter-marriage and idolatry among a people particularly attracted to both. Sinai’s thunders did not prevent this perfectly, but they did so sufficiently that a people still existed on earth who recalled the promises to Abraham when Christ appeared, and the genealogy of Matthew’s gospel could be written.

    Genesis 17: 9 And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. .. both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised.

    Like

  231. Jeff,

    These are good points.

    DR: Well then, now that you know that T.D. Gordon views the MC as a third covenant, can we agree that he denies it to be an administration of the covenant of grace?

    No, not exactly. TDG is not a straightforward case. He thinks of covenants as being located historically, and is not comfortable with an overarching term “covenant of grace” (souce).

    So when he talks about Sinai in TNLF, he alternates between the term “covenant” and “administration.” When he explains covenants, he presents them NOT as three, but as multifold (source).

    By way of clarification, when Gordon says Sinai “administration,” he means something different than WCF 7.5 means by the use of that term. Gordon is referring to the administration of a covenant that he views as devoid of grace.

    In other words, he seems to be making a “biblical-over-against-systematic” point in his use of the term “covenant.”

    I neither endorse nor criticize this approach, but it’s not mine.

    So no, I would not say that TDG is evidence of a subservient covenant view. He seems to be more of a “lots of covenants” person.

    Yes, you are right. But you’re funny. First you fight me over my claim that Irons thinks Kline holds to three covenants. Now you’re arguing that Gordon holds to more than three.

    So then, can we agree that Gordon (at least implicitly) denies the MC to be an administration of the covenant of grace?

    Like

  232. David came with a box and he ain’t leavin’ until he’s got some people in it. What, no volunteers?

    Like

  233. Muddy, don’t worry, I only stay as long as people interact. If you’d like me to leave, just persuade them to stop.

    Like

  234. Re: T. David Gordon,

    I strongly suspect that he has not expressed his full view in the articles I’ve cited. Here are the possibilities:

    (1) He affirms WCF 7.5, with a quibble about terms. My guess would be, “One plan of salvation from Gen 3 to Rev 21, administered under different historically situated covenants.”

    (2) He takes exception to WCF 7.5 and really believes that God has enacted substantially different covenants under Noah, Abraham, etc. If this is true, end of story, then he’s a full-blown Chafer or Ryrie dispensationalist, and no-one in his presbytery has ever called him on it.

    I think (1) is a lot more likely than (2), wouldn’t you agree?

    Like

  235. Todd,

    For example, we know from Heb. 10:4 that it is “impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” Thus ultimately the animal sacrifices were useless in procuring God’s forgiveness and pleasure. And yet throughout the OT we have passages like Lev. 4:20, that upon the sacrifice of a young bull, the priest was to make atonement for the unintentional sin of the congregation, “and it shall be forgiven them.” So how do we harmonize this statement with Heb. 10? John Gil put it well, “By offering the ram he brought, by which a typical, but not real atonement was made; for the blood of bulls and goats, of sheep and rams, could not take away sin; but as they were types of Christ, and led to him, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.”

    I don’t see what’s so difficult to harmonize. It’s impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Period. Don’t we understand the sacrifices to have been sacramental? What did the sacrifices gain for those who didn’t rightly use them?

    a Brakel:

    [The ungodly] were required to use the sacraments in faith. If they did not use them in this way, they would provoke the Lord. Neither in the Old nor New Testament do the ungodly have a right to the use of the sacraments. Unto such God says, “What hast thou to do to declare My statutes, that thou shouldest take My covenant in thy mouth?” (Ps 50:16).

    Like

  236. JRC: What DPR does not observe is that difference #2 makes all the difference between two distinct covenants (Bolton) and a covenant of grace with an outward administration of works (Turretin).

    DR: Mind fleshing this out some?

    Sure. Mark Beach does a good, extensive, expensive job of explaining this. Here’s the cheap version.

    To summarize the summary of the summary, the three-fold covenant leaves “belonging to Christ” out of the substance of the “legal” (Mosaic) covenant. The aim of the legal covenant was to bring people to Christ, but in substance, it operated strictly on the basis of obey and be blessed, period.

    Turretin opposes this by re-affirming the twofold division of CoW/CoG, and then stating that the Mosaic administration wears the outward, typological cloak of a CoW while being in substance the CoG.

    So with that distinction in mind, we go back to the Irons article. Bolton, a tri-cov (or “sub-cov”, subservient covenantalist), is the precursor to Kline, BUT Kline holds to a two-fold administration of the CoG. This displaces the sub-cov position in his thought.

    Quoting Irons, Yet, although I see continuity between Bolton and Kline, I also
    recognize that Kline, using Vosian biblical theology, takes covenant theology a couple of
    steps beyond Cameron and Bolton. The primary areas where Kline goes beyond them are:
    (1) Kline’s “two-layer” model more clearly affirms the underlying substratum of
    the covenant of grace during the Mosaic epoch…(2) Kline emphasizes the type-antitype relationship between the typal kingdom of
    Israel (first level fulfillment) and the eternal kingdom of Christ (second level fulfillment)…(3) Kline sees the Mosaic republication of the Adamic covenant of works as
    having a Christological purpose.

    Right there, Kline concedes every point that Turretin makes.

    The continuity between Bolton and Kline, the “precursorship”, lies in a different area, in the untangling of law and grace. Acc to Irons, Bolton’s burden is to address the problem that
    “the covenant of grace under the Old Testament seems to be so presented as if it were
    still a covenant of works to man””

    This is likewise Kline’s burden. Keep in mind that defending against theonomy and moralism is a life-long burden for Kline, and his construction of the Mosaic Covenant moves in the same direction as Bolton because they share the same pastoral concern. But “moving in the same direction” does not mean “shares the same structure”, which is where our discussion lies.

    So this sensible reader does not agree that Irons thinks Kline is sub-cov. Irons appears to read Kline as presenting a view with Reformed roots. Why Irons did not appeal to Turretin, I don’t know, although the issue might be that Turretin was unavailable (IIRC) in English until 1997, and it may be that he hadn’t read Turretin at that time.

    Like

  237. Jeff,

    I strongly suspect that he has not expressed his full view in the articles I’ve cited.

    Agreed.

    Here are the possibilities:

    (1) He affirms WCF 7.5, with a quibble about terms. My guess would be, “One plan of salvation from Gen 3 to Rev 21, administered under different historically situated covenants.”

    (2) He takes exception to WCF 7.5 and really believes that God has enacted substantially different covenants under Noah, Abraham, etc. If this is true, end of story, then he’s a full-blown Chafer or Ryrie dispensationalist, and no-one in his presbytery has ever called him on it.

    I think (1) is a lot more likely than (2), wouldn’t you agree?

    No. From the sources you linked, he is clear that he views the covenants as substantially different (as you even noted in a recent comment). But that doesn’t make him a dispy because (unlike them) he understands the relationship between the OT and the NT as that of type to antitype; whereas they do not acknowledge realized eschatology in the present age.

    Like

  238. Jeff,

    Why Irons did not appeal to Turretin, I don’t know, although the issue might be that Turretin was unavailable (IIRC) in English until 1997, and it may be that he hadn’t read Turretin at that time.

    See here.

    Like

  239. Interact?
    We’re still waiting for an explanation why the anti repubs aren’t hoisted on their own petard if they want to quote Turretin 12:7:31,32.
    Or is it only Kline’s version?

    Again from More Vantilian Than Thou thread:

    David R.
    Posted July 22, 2014 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    CW,

    Thanks, I have perused that quote by Shaw many times. He is one of my standard go-tos for commentaries on the WCF (it also doesn’t hurt that he can be accessed free online). I find his analysis helpful. I also much appreciate this one from Turretin:

    Meanwhile it pleased God to administer the covenant of grace in this period under a rigid legal economy–both on account of the condition of the people still in infancy and on account of the putting off of the advent of Christ and the satisfaction to be rendered by him. A twofold relation ought always to obtain: the one legal, more severe, through which by a new promulgation of the law and of the covenant of works, with an intolerable yoke of ceremonies, he wished to set forth what men owed and what was to be expected by them on account of duty unperformed…. The other relation was evangelical, sweeter, inasmuch as “the law was a schoolmaster unto Christ” (Gal 3:24) and contained “the shadow of things to come” (Heb 10:1), whose body and express image is in Christ.

    According to that twofold relation, the administration can be viewed either as to the external economy of legal teaching or as to the internal truth of the gospel promise lying under it. The matter of that external economy was the threefold law–moral, ceremonial and forensic. The first was fundamental; the remaining appendices of it. The form was the pact added to that external dispensation, which on the part of God was the promise of the land of Canaan and of rest and happiness in it; and, under the image of each, of heaven and the rest in him (Heb 4:3, 9); or of eternal life according to the clause, “Do this and live.” On the part of the people, it was a stipulation of obedience to the whole law or righteousness both perfect (Dt 27:26; Gal 3:10) and personal and justification by it (Rom 2:13). But this stipulation in the Israelite covenant was only accidental, since it was added only in order that man by its weakness might be led to reject his own righteousness and to embrace another’s, latent under the law.

    Like

  240. I see your point about Irons.

    At the same time, his two-view taxonomy is not the same as T’s four-view taxonomy, so that Irons includes many more under the subservient tent.

    Let’s grant the worst for sake of argument: Irons views Kline as sub-cov. Now what?

    Wrt TDG, you would have to put the question to him directly. Having grown up dispie, I can assure you that they are all about types and antitypes.

    Like

  241. Bob S.

    Interact?
    We’re still waiting for an explanation why the anti repubs aren’t hoisted on their own petard if they want to quote Turretin 12:7:31,32.
    Or is it only Kline’s version?

    You think the “republicationists” are only saying what Turretin was saying?

    Like

  242. Jeff,

    At the same time, his two-view taxonomy is not the same as T’s four-view taxonomy, so that Irons includes many more under the subservient tent.

    True, I think Irons may conflate two views in that paper.

    Let’s grant the worst for sake of argument: Irons views Kline as sub-cov. Now what?

    Then we can reconsider the question whether “all of us” affirm the MC to be an administration of the covenant of grace.

    Wrt TDG, you would have to put the question to him directly. Having grown up dispie, I can assure you that they are all about types and antitypes.

    Of course but they say none of them have been fulled yet and Israel and the church are forever distinct.

    Like

  243. David R. and Jeff,

    Brief commercial interruption – Brenton Ferry in his WTJ article, Cross-Examining Moses’ Defense: An Answer to Ramsey’s Critique of Kline and Karlberg, quotes of Kline disavowing the subservient covenant view as well as the three covenant view, while affirming the organic unity between the Mosaic and New covenants. Ferry makes a convincing case that Ramsey did more to muddy the conversation on republication than to clarify.

    Now back to the regularly scheduled conversation…

    Like

  244. You think the “republicationists” are only saying what Turretin was saying?

    David,
    Don’t know and haven’t really seen you demonstrate it.
    Yeah, it’s a combox, but Kerux’s views aren’t a slam dunk and I don’t remember them mentioning Turretin at all.
    Still got to get to Kline.

    Like

  245. Jack, Kline changed his views on things during the course of the controversy over Shepherdism. The Ferry article quotes only the old stuff, which is not particularly controversial. So no, Ferry’s case is anything but convincing.

    Like

  246. David R.,

    Are you saying that Kline wrote things later on where he disavows the earlier writings Ferry cites? Or is it just things written later that others interpret as so doing? If so, then I wouldn’t think it’s such an open and closed case…

    cheers

    Like

  247. “According to that twofold relation, the administration can be viewed either as to the external economy of legal teaching or as to the internal truth of the gospel promise lying under it. ”

    David, Muddy is correct, you are forcing your opponents into a box of your own making. Shaw’s point above is also Kline’s in that section of his I cited earlier. One of the problems is that you are assuming the first use of the law entails a whole other separate covenant, and thus if anyone holds to typological republication he must hold a three covenant view. Then when we do not accept that premise you cry inconsistent or not forthright. Because Jesus used the law in its first use with those attempting to justify themselves does not mean that use of the law was a whole other separate covenant between God and Israel. The covenant Israel agreed to obey was not to individual, perfect obedience of every Israelite, though hypothetically one would have to be perfectly obedient to all God’s laws to merit heaven. So while not demonstrating exegetically three covenants in Moses you are attempting to push republicationists, whether Hodge, Kline or Gordon or myself, who see a typological cov. of works alongside the promises and symbols of grace within the MC, into a corner of your own making.

    Like

  248. Jack, this discussion over the past few days has kinda worn me out and I can’t really get into this now but if you don’t want to take my word for it (and why should you?), then look around, as there’s been a decent amount of discussion. Better yet, check out the Kline page for yourself and compare and contrast. But for testimony from someone on “your side,” this series of blog posts may be a good place to start.

    Like

  249. What they said.

    I’m open to re-opening the question, “Are any repubs also sub-covs?”

    So far, your list of candidates includes

    (1) Lee Irons, who endorses a sub-cov that is different from the one that Turretin criticized and 1st Helvetic rejected. (And is no longer an OPC minister, but let’s not throw him under the bus.)

    (2) T David Gordon, whom you believe to be a multi-covenantalist flying under the radar in broad daylight.

    (3) Todd, who keeps telling you that you’re mistaken.

    If we’re going to re-open the question, however, we need to start at the top:

    What is the essential difference between Turretin’s view, which we all agree to be orthodox, and Bolton/Cameron’s, which we agree to be non-orthodox? What markers distinguish one from the other?

    Having done that, it should be easy to make your case.

    For my part, I think I’ve done so by identifying the substance of the covenant as possession of the kingdom, and the accidents of the covenant as membership in the visible community and all that goes with that, including the types and signs.

    Do you have a different proposal?

    Like

  250. jeff–then he’s a full-blown Chafer or Ryrie dispensationalist, and no-one in his presbytery has ever called him on it.

    mark: Are you suggesting that all who disagree with the WCF about two a-historical covenants are “dispensationalists”? And would your definition of ‘dispensationalist” be anybody who does not agree with the WCF? or anybody who thinks that the Mosaic and the new covenants are the “two covenants” in question in Galatians?

    This is a serious question, because I notice your qualification ‘full blown Chafer or Ryrie” dispy. Does this mean you see some people somewhere between Chafer and the WCF? Why would you not theorize that David Gordon has perhaps become a progressive covenant guy (or a progressive dispy) who denies that the new covenant is future etc? Should we take a guess that you don’t beat your family a. often but b. only on occasion. My guess is that it’s more likely b….

    David Gordon—“My own way of discerning whether a person really has an understanding of covenant theology is to see whether he can describe it without reference to dispensationalism. When Paul and the other NT writers use the word covenant, there is almost always an immediate contextual clue to which biblical covenant is being referred to, such as “the covenant of circumcision” (Acts 7:8) The New Testament writers were not mono-covenantal regarding the Old Testament (see Rom 9:4, Eph 2:12; Gal 4:24).”

    Like

  251. @ Mark:

    So TDGs paper on covenants outlines many different covenants. If we take DRs line, that Gordon is speaking of covenants in the same sense as WCF 7, then he really is (would be) viewing redemptive history as divided into many distinct covenants. That’s a distinctive feature of dispensationalism over against covenant theology, above and beyond a general rejection of WCF 7.

    In addition, if TDG were viewing the Mosaic covenant as a strictly legal covenant, then he would fall in the Chafer or Ryrie categories of dispie thought.

    Naturally, I think all of this is improbable. It is more likely that TDG is using “covenant” as a synonym for “administration” out of a deference to the Biblical usage.

    Like

  252. Karlberg on the Mosaic covenant

    http://www.apuritansmind.com/covenant-theology/reformed-interpretation-of-the-mosaic-covenant-by-mark-w-karlberg/

    Jeff–viewing redemptive history as divided into many distinct covenants. That’s a distinctive feature of dispensationalism over against covenant theology, above and beyond a general rejection of WCF 7.

    mark–no, it’s not a feature distinctive or unique to dispensationalism. That’s a false alternative. Dan Fuller rejects both dispensationalism and covenant theology, in the name of the “unity” of all covenants. Robert Rayburn Jr reads Hebrews as if “new covenant” means the correct attitude and interpretation of “covenant”. And certainly David Gordon can and does see distinct biblical covenants without insisting on a a future gentile/ Jew distinction

    While it is necessary to deny “the covenant of grace” to be a dispensationalist, that is not a sufficient condition of being a dispensationalist. Most dispies have a false gospel, but they have the one false gospel, the same during all dispensations. David Gordon understands the gospel, and one of the reasons he does is that he knows that Galatians and Hebrews describe “covenants” plural, and not “administrations” in one a-historical covenant.

    Jeff—It is more likely that TDG is using “covenant” as a synonym for “administration” out of a deference to the Biblical usage.

    mark: Well, I am all for deference to the biblical usage. Maybe more of us should try that (on words like sanctification , and phrases like “in Christ) But you do not understand Gordon if you think he still means “administration of the covenant of grace”, when he says (with the biblical usage) covenants (distinct, plural) He’s been clear that “the covenant of grace” theory is not helpful in understanding Galatians.

    Jeff, you want to put Gordon in a box–either mean “administration” when you say “covenants”, or be a dispensationalist, and for you that means “more than one gospel, more than one salvation”

    Like

  253. If I understand your point, Mark, it is that there are outliers like Fuller who do not fit into major schools of thought. Perhaps TDG is one.

    And that’s a valid complaint, which suggests a minor modification to my argument:

    Either TDG is using “covenant” to mean “administration” OR he espouses a covenantal arrangement very similar to dispensationalism, that no-one in his presbytery ever called him on.

    See, the point wasn’t to find the right box for TDG. The point was the unlikeliness that TDG would be a minister in good standing, while holding the view that David R attributes to him.

    And the larger point is, If you want to know TDGs view on WCF 7, you have to look at places where he addresses that specifically. Just pointing to the word “covenant” is not enough, since he clearly uses that term idiosyncratically.

    Like

  254. David Gordon uses the word “covenants” idiosyncratically, because he defers to the biblical use instead of to the Confessional use?

    I think our focus should not be on Dan Fuller who simply denies the law-grace distinction, but on those who teach distinct historical covenants but who do not subscribe to the distinctive points of dispensationalism OR to the “adminstrations of one covenant” view of the WCF.

    This is not me trying to say anything more about Gordon and the WCF. This is me saying that, if you see my point about Dan Fuller, then maybe you should see my point about something else than dispensationalism also being alternative to the WCF.

    There are many who disagree with “the covenant of works” who are far on the opposite side from Norman Shepherd and those in the (non-federal) “federal vision”. (They questioned the concept long before John Murray said that covenant alwys meant grace in some sense) As much as we might dislike agreeing with Norman Shepherd about anything, our objections to non-historical “covenant overload” is not at all motivated by Shepherd’s desire to collapse the distinction between faith and works. To the contrary, some of us even deny extra rewards for Christians because we deny that even Adam “could have” merited immortality on the basis of a probation of finite obedience. (Nobody can how long the probation time was, because nobody can show in the text the probation, but only infer from representative death that there must have been representative immortality possible..)

    I am not at all speculating on what Gordon (or Lee Irons) would say about the idea of diversity of rewards for less than perfect obedience. Karlberg has made some good objections.

    David Gordon—- ”My own way of discerning whether a person really has an understanding of covenant theology is to see whether he can describe it without reference to dispensationalism.

    Like

  255. MM: David Gordon uses the word “covenants” idiosyncratically, because he defers to the biblical use instead of to the Confessional use?

    Yes. “Idiosyncratic” meaning “peculiar to himself”, not “wrong.”

    It’s an issue of communication and not correctness: what does TDG mean by “covenant”? My answer: you have to ask him directly, rather than looking at WCF 7. He is using the term in a manner different from the Confession.

    Like

  256. Jeff,

    What is the essential difference between Turretin’s view, which we all agree to be orthodox, and Bolton/Cameron’s, which we agree to be non-orthodox? What markers distinguish one from the other?

    I think I covered this in my initial long (pedantic) response to you. I’m happy to take another stab, but before I do, I’ll remind you that there are other things about the “republicist” position that are even more cause for concern, particularly the redefinition of merit (which doesn’t enter into the question of the number of covenants).

    Having done that, it should be easy to make your case.

    For my part, I think I’ve done so by identifying the substance of the covenant as possession of the kingdom, and the accidents of the covenant as membership in the visible community and all that goes with that, including the types and signs.

    I don’t see how your dichotomy helps to distinguish Turretin from Bolton; they were in agreement on the substance of the covenant of grace, no? (But if I’m misunderstanding you, let me know).

    Getting pedantic again: We analyze covenants by determining their promises and conditions. C. Hodge defines a covenant as “a promise suspended on a condition.” (Can we agree on this basic definition?) So if the condition is legal, “Do this and live,” the covenant is legal. If the condition is gracious, “Believe and be saved,” so is the covenant.

    So was the Mosaic covenant gracious or legal?

    For Turretin, it was a gracious covenant. The legal “clothing” doesn’t enter into the essence; it merely presents the demand of the covenant of works pedagogically. For Turretin, the MC is essentially the covenant of grace, i.e., life and salvation in Jesus Christ.

    For Bolton, otoh, the MC was essentially a legal covenant, therefore it did not administer “one gram of grace” (to borrow a phrase). Of course, this does not mean that elect Jews weren’t saved during the time of the MC; they were, but through a different covenant (the covenant of grace) which it subserved, and which was operating at the same time.

    How am I doing?

    Like

  257. Todd (and Jeff),

    So while not demonstrating exegetically three covenants in Moses you are attempting to push republicationists, whether Hodge, Kline or Gordon or myself, who see a typological cov. of works alongside the promises and symbols of grace within the MC, into a corner of your own making.

    A great king enters into a covenant with a nation, granting them a kingdom but warning them that they will only remain prosperous if they faithfully serve him. If they prove themselves unworthy, he will take away the kingdom.

    At the same time, he also covenants with a select group within that nation, promising them his eternal favor and blessing, no matter how they may lapse.

    I analyze this situation and conclude that this is two different covenants. You disagree and say, “No, it’s just one covenant.” I ask, “How do you figure?” You respond, “Because the temporal and eternal blessings are operating at two different levels.” I respond, “Huh?” And you respond … how? If you can help me out of my box, please try one more time.

    Like

  258. Charles Hodge on II Corinthians 3—-The second question is more difficult. Every reader of the New Testament must be struck with the fact that the apostle often speaks of the Mosaic law as he does of the moral law considered as, a covenant of works; that is, presenting the promise of life on the condition of perfect obedience. He represents it as saying, Do this and live; as requiring works, and not faith, as the condition of acceptance. Romans 10:5-10; Galatians 3:10-12.

    Hodge–He calls it a ministration of death and condemnation. He denies that it can give life. Galatians 3:21. He tells those who are of the law (that is, Judaizers) that they had fallen from grace; that is, had renounced the gratuitous method of salvation, and that Christ should profit them nothing. Galatians 5:2,4.

    Hodge–In short, when he uses the word law, and says that by the law is the knowledge of sin, that it can only condemn, that by its works no flesh can be justified, he includes the Mosaic law; and in the epistle to the Galatians all these things are said with special reference to the law of Moses.

    Hodge–On the other hand, however, he teaches that the plan of salvation has been the same from the beginning; that Christ was the propitiation for the sins committed under the old covenant; that men were saved then as now by faith in Christ; that this mode of salvation was revealed to Abraham and understood by him, and taught by Moses and the prophets. This view is presented repeatedly in Paul’s epistles, and is argued out in due form in Romans 3:21-31, Romans 4, and Galatians 3.

    Hodge—To reconcile these apparently conflicting representations it must be remembered that the Mosaic economy was designed to accomplish different objects, and is therefore presented in Scripture under different aspects. What, therefore, is true of it under one aspect, is not true under another. 1. The law of Moses was, in the first place, a re-enactment of the covenant of works. A covenant is simply a promise suspended upon a condition. The covenant of works, therefore, is nothing more than the promise of life suspended on the condition of perfect obedience.

    Hodge–This is all that those who reject the gospel have to fall back upon. It is this principle which is rendered so prominent in the Mosaic economy as to give it its character of law. Viewed under this aspect it is the ministration of condemnation and death. 2. The Mosaic economy was also a national covenant; that is, it presented national promises on the condition of national obedience.

    Charles Hodge: “It is to be remembered that there were two covenants made with Abraham. By the one, his natural descendants through Isaac were constituted a commonwealth, an external, visible community. By the other, his spiritual descendants were constituted a church. The parties to the former covenant were God and the nation; to the other, God and His true people. The promises of the national covenant were national blessings; the promises of the spiritual covenant (i.e., the
    covenant of grace), were spiritual blessings, reconciliation, holiness, and eternal life.”

    Like

  259. @ David R:

    This is forward progress. Thanks for putting this out here.

    DR: C. Hodge defines a covenant as “a promise suspended on a condition.” (Can we agree on this basic definition?)

    For these purposes, it should be fine. The myriad of definitions of “covenant” out there are amusingly perplexing, and Hodge seems middle-of-the-road.

    DR: So was the Mosaic covenant gracious or legal?

    For Turretin, it was a gracious covenant. The legal “clothing” doesn’t enter into the essence; it merely presents the demand of the covenant of works pedagogically. For Turretin, the MC is essentially the covenant of grace, i.e., life and salvation in Jesus Christ.

    For Bolton, otoh, the MC was essentially a legal covenant, therefore it did not administer “one gram of grace” (to borrow a phrase). Of course, this does not mean that elect Jews weren’t saved during the time of the MC; they were, but through a different covenant (the covenant of grace) which it subserved, and which was operating at the same time.

    Agreed to all of this.

    A great king enters into a covenant with a nation, granting them a kingdom but warning them that they will only remain prosperous if they faithfully serve him. If they prove themselves unworthy, he will take away the kingdom.

    At the same time, he also covenants with a select group within that nation, promising them his eternal favor and blessing, no matter how they may lapse.

    I analyze this situation and conclude that this is two different covenants. You disagree and say, “No, it’s just one covenant.” I ask, “How do you figure?” You respond, “Because the temporal and eternal blessings are operating at two different levels.” I respond, “Huh?” And you respond … how? If you can help me out of my box, please try one more time.

    Good. I’m encouraged that were are at this spot.

    Your king is a Bolton-king, inasmuch as he delivers two sets of promises to two groups of people, suspended on two sets of conditions. And the key that makes this a Bolton arrangement is that both sets of promises have an independent reality. There is no typology involved, and no connection between the two sets.

    Now imagine a Turretin-king who says this to his people:

    In ages past, I promised to your forefathers to be their God and their descendants’. This covenant promise I will keep to all who have the faith of their forefathers. But you should know that the promise comes at a cost to me. In order for you to understand this, I am going to give you a picture of that cost. By understanding the picture, you will understand the work that I undertake on your behalf, both your unworthiness and also the worthiness of the coming Messiah.

    Here is that picture: You yourselves will represent my son, the Messiah. You will live in the land, but subject to the condition of obedience. If you obey, you will live; if you disobey, you will die. And because I know that you will frequently disobey, I will provide an additional picture. If you disobey and repent, you may make sacrifice, which pictures the sacrifice that my son will make on your behalf.

    In this way, I am administering the covenant made with your forefathers to you, so that you will learn.

    This is loose, because I’m probably doing a mediocre job of adapting my understanding of republication to the metaphor at hand.

    But the key features are

    * The Mosaic Covenant is not coextensive with the Law. The MC includes the Law as the administrative side of the one covenant, which is of course by grace through faith.

    In this way, the Mosaic Covenant is the covenant of grace wrapped in a robe of works.

    * The promises of blessing and cursing under the Deuteronomic principle do *not* have an independent reality apart from belonging to the kingdom of God. They are typological only.

    That is, if (somehow) a person managed to be blameless with respect to the Law, but not of the faith of Abraham, then he would not be entitled to any of the promises. Hey — that’s Paul’s point!

    * There are not two covenants running concurrently (Mosaic, Abrahamic), but rather one covenant with two different layers (threads?!) running concurrently: The typological (or accidental) and the substantial.

    Does that help?

    Like

  260. Pushing this just a bit further, the Turretin-king has a good reason to say that “To [Israel] also, as a body politic, He gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the State of that people; not obliging under any now, further than the general equity thereof may require.”

    Those laws were a part of the legal cloak, which has now been shed.

    Like

  261. David,

    I appreciate the question, and that you are willing to stick with it as we kick at each other a bit. I also agree that the pressing issue seems to be whether Kline has really redefined merit or not, though I would also argue that those who fail to see a works principle in Moses often have a poor and even dangerous understanding of grace, but that may be for another time. So if my answer satisfies (not that you agree with my conclusions but understand our differing terminologies) let’s move on to merit.

    The box I believe you have created is not distinguishing the MC broadly and narrowly the way Kline and others have done. You are assuming that because it is called the Mosaic covenant, and a covenant is a divine promise or agreement, then the MC is either a covenant of works or grace. Narrowly speaking that is true. It cannot be both. But like the term nomos in the NT, which at times narrowly refers to the Sinai commands, and at other times to all Moses wrote, and even at times to the entire OT (John 10:34, 12:34, 15:25), the MC can also be considered broadly, as in everything God communicated to Israel in the old economy from Exodus to Malachi, and narrowly, as the specific covenant God made with Israel on Sinai with its blessings and curses.

    For example, Patrick Gillespie wrote, “The Sinai Covenant may be considered, either more largely, for the whole economy and dispensation of the Covenant by Moses, as it taketh in the Ceremonial Law with the Morall; or more strictly for that part of that dispensation which we call the Moral Law; yet with the preface, promises and threatnings added to it.” Now, I do not agree with Gillespie’s conclusions, but simply making the point that theologians distinguished these two aspects of the MC.

    So when Hodge, Kline, myself (not that I am worthy to be mentioned with them) speak of both works and grace operating in the MC, we are speaking of the MC broadly, not narrowly. Narrowly, as the covenant God made with Israel that pronounced blessings for obedience to the law and curses for disobedience to the law, that would not be a mixture of works and grace, but the principle of works to drove the Israelites to Christ. We might even say it was gracious for God to drive them to Christ this way, but he does this by placing them under a works arrangement he promised would fail.

    Broadly, the MC included more that this narrow and temporary arrangement at Sinai, as the prophets of Israel reminded the sinning Israelites of the Abrahamic promise, whose operating principle was grace, and through the Abrahamic promise, ceremonies and types, encouraged them to look beyond the failed cov. between God and Israel to a new and better covenant that could not be broken.

    As to your scenario, “At the same time, he also covenants with a select group within that nation, promising them his eternal favor and blessing, no matter how they may lapse.” God had already covenanted through Abraham (and even back in Gen. 3) the cov. of grace, so he did not really make this covenant with certain Israelites through Moses, but reminded the Israelites as they were punished for disobedience that their hope lie outside the Sinai covenant, which only condemned them (II Cor. 3), thus they must look to the previously published covenant with Abraham for hope of salvation.

    As for three covenants, I don’t see any evidence that the first use of the law is called a covenant, but simply a principle, that one would need to obey perfectly to merit heaven, but I’m not overly concerned how one labels something compared to the substance of what one believes about the law and gospel, works and grace, which is why I believe the merit debate is a good one.

    Hope this helps

    Like

  262. Jeff,

    Thanks for your continued interaction, and I’m grateful that you and I have been able to reach a good deal of agreement. I will continue to ponder your responses (and Todd’s also) and try to say more later, but one issue I think we could explore is the question of what it is that determines whether the legal feature of a covenant is accidental or substantial. If I’m reading you rightly, you argue that it’s the typological connection that renders the legal administration accidental, and your point is that typology is missing in Bolton but present in Kline (and Turretin), hence the legal aspect is accidental in both K and T. Is that correct?

    If so, I agree that the typological connection is important, but I would argue that the decisive factor is the presence of a works principle. According to both Bolton and Kline, Israel was exiled because they broke a legal (works-based) covenant, i.e., they failed to merit the blessing. Hence (I would say), in both cases, the legal administration is substantial.

    However, for Turretin (and Calvin too, as I think your earlier citation demonstrates), the reason for Israel’s exile was their defection from the covenant of grace (legally administered during that period). Hence, the legal administration is not substantial.

    (To anticipate a common objection, we all agree that the CoG can’t be broken as to its essence, but we also agree that natural branches can be broken off for their unbelief. To anticipate another objection, if you interpret Jeremiah 31:31-34 the way Kline does, it’s hard for me to see how you’re not locked into a three-covenant position.)

    I agree with you that a typological connection to Christ makes a covenant gracious, but I would argue that Kline is then inconsistent to posit a works principle.

    Is this at all reasonable?

    Like

  263. Todd,

    The box I believe you have created is not distinguishing the MC broadly and narrowly the way Kline and others have done. You are assuming that because it is called the Mosaic covenant, and a covenant is a divine promise or agreement, then the MC is either a covenant of works or grace. Narrowly speaking that is true. It cannot be both. But like the term nomos in the NT, which at times narrowly refers to the Sinai commands, and at other times to all Moses wrote, and even at times to the entire OT (John 10:34, 12:34, 15:25), the MC can also be considered broadly, as in everything God communicated to Israel in the old economy from Exodus to Malachi, and narrowly, as the specific covenant God made with Israel on Sinai with its blessings and curses.

    Thank you for this. I am quite happy with the broad/strict distinction but the problem is (I believe) that you are using those terms differently than did Gillespie and other older writers who commonly made that distinction. For you, the MC strictly considered is the MC properly understood, and so you define the MC in terms of a meritorious condition and a temporal promise. Whereas for the old writers, the MC broadly considered (i.e., as connected with promises of grace) is the MC properly understood. For them, the MC strictly considered is the bare command abstracted (no apologies for using this term, though one side in the current debate hates it) from the promises of grace and thus misunderstood as a covenant of works (as in the case of the Pharisees). As Turretin explans:

    [T]he Old Testament is taken either broadly or strictly. Broadly, it denotes in general the whole dispensation under which the fathers lived from the beginning of the world until Christ. It contained the doctrine of grace delivered to the ancients, promising salvation and life to the people openly (indeed, under the condition of perfect obedience rendered to the moral law and the threatening of transgressors with death, together with the intolerable burden of ceremonies and the yoke of the most restricted Mosaic polity); reservedly, however, under the condition of repentance and faith in the Messiah about to come. In this respect, the Old Testament embraces three things most especially: (1) old doctrine, partly legal and partly evangelical; (2) an old servile form of worship and ecclesiastical service, laborious and shadowy; (3) the old method of external polity down to one people and place.

    Strictly, however, it denotes the covenant of works or the moral law given by Moses, the unbearable burden of legal ceremonies being added, absolutely and apart from the promise of grace. The former was signified properly and of itself (if the scope and intention of the lawgiver be considered) because in that first economy he joined together these three things by giving the old covenant or legal dispensation, not to abolish the promises, but to lead unto Christ. The latter is accessory and accidental, springing from an ignoring of the true end and the devising of a false. The true end was Christ for righteousness to every believer (Rom 10:4), but the self-righteous Jews did not obtain this end because it was proposed under veil (2 Cor 3:14), i.e., under a wrappage of types and of figures because the promise of grace on account of Christ was clothed with legal rites. Hence they invented a false end, maintaining that the law was given in order that by its observance they might be justified before God and be saved (Rom 10:3-5). (Institutes 12.8.3, 4)

    So no, I don’t believe I’ve created any boxes….

    Like

  264. Todd,

    As I read through the Turretin citation again, it occurs to me that for you, the pedagogy of the law is in the MC strictly considered; whereas for him, its in the MC broadly considered. An interesting observation I think, fwiw…

    Like

  265. David,

    I think we may be talking past each other. I never suggested that Kline’s view of a typological covenant of works is found in all the reformed fathers. There were a variety of views as to how to understand and explain the Mosaic economy. As Ernest Kevan wrote in his study of Puritan theology,

    “It is not possible to make an accurate classification of the Puritans on the basis of their views about the Mosaic Covenant, because many of them held several of the different views in varying combinations.”

    You argued earlier that the MC cannot be both works and grace, and my response that broadly speaking it can have both these characteristics when proper distinctions are made. Because some older writers describe the narrow aspect of the MC a bit differently does not negate the point that your accusation against Kline is not valid since he makes the distinction between the Sinai covenant narrowly as the national cov of works and the MC broadly as including promises of grace, though he tended to use different language to make the same point. I am trying to move past titles and labels to focus on substance. So some theologians saw the MC as a national cov. of works alongside but distinct from the promises of grace in the Mosaic economy:

    “First, (the MC) it was a national covenant with the Hebrew people. In this view the parties were God and the people of Israel; the promise was national security and prosperity; the condition was the obedience of the people as a nation to the Mosaic law; and the mediator was Moses. In this aspect it was a legal covenant. It said. “Do this and live.” (Hodge)

    “The national covenant did not refer to the final salvation of individuals: nor was it broken by the disobedience, or even idolatry, of any number of them, provided this was not sanctioned or tolerated by public authority…The outward covenant was made with the Nation, entitling them to outward advantages, upon the condition of outward national obedience; and the covenant of Grace was ratified personally with true believers, and sealed and secured spiritual blessings to them, by producing a holy disposition of heart, and spiritual obedience to the Divine law. (Thomas Scott)

    “What was necessary on the nation’s part was, as M.G. Kline expresses it, an `appropriate measure of national fidelity.’ Enough covenantal obedience was necessary to keep the typology legible, serving its purpose of directing attention to the true and lasting kingdom of God that it prefigured. This does not mean that the world only needed a redeemer who could roughly approximate the requirement of perfect obedience. After all, the covenant of works made with Adam and his posterity still requires fulfillment if anyone is to be saved. There must be a second Adam, not just a second Israel.There are both continuities and discontinuities between the covenant of works made with Adam and the republication of the works-covenant at Sinai, differences that are determined largely by changing historical contexts (viz., the fall and God’s determination to have a typological system whose every detail was designed to prefigure his Son’s arrival in world history” (Michael Horton)

    The point being we can both quote theologians who hold our position, some only saw the MC as a cov. of grace, and thus the curses for disobedience only a rejection of grace, and the principle of blessings for obedience a general principle of grace operating in both dispensations, some saw the works principle alongside grace operating only for those who misunderstood the law to be justified by it, and some saw the works principle not only for those who misunderstood, but typologically as it was properly understood as the nation as a whole prefigured the need for Christ to obey God in our place so we can receive God’s blessings. The debate has been going on for some time. So I stand by my original assertion that when the proper distinctions are made between the Mosaic economy as a whole and the works principle introduced at Sinai, there is no mixing of grace and works. I would even argue that the only ones who tend to mix grace and works are those who only see the Law as a covenant of grace.

    So my questions for you are:

    1. Since this has been an in-house debate for many centuries, and since Bolton, Kline, Hodge, Horton, etc. view has been seen as acceptable within the reformed camp, whether agreed with or not, what do you now see that all those in the past who accepted these views have not seen?

    2. What is the actual danger to the faith in positing a typological cov. of works between God and Israel?

    3. If you say Kline has introduced something new and unorthodox that Bolton, Hodge and others did not, are you suggesting it is okay to see a typological cov. of works between God and Israel that did not require perfect obedience like they did, or is the idea itself unorthodox?

    4.) If only Kline is guilty, what was he specifically teaching that differed substantially from Bolton, Hodge, etc.? (if this brings us back to a supposed new view of merit we would need to progress to there and consider the accusations in the new book)

    Like

  266. David R— a typological connection to Christ makes a covenant gracious,

    mark–does “the covenant of works” have a typological connection to Christ” ? Is “the covenant of works” a gracious covenant?

    Like

  267. Mark, yes to your first question, but not in the WCF 7.5 sense of covenants that communicate redemption by means of types, which is what I meant. (Interestingly, Kline, if I’m not mistaken, argued that Adam is not a type of Christ, notwithstanding the usage of that term in Romans 5, since the topic there is federal representation.)

    Like

  268. “Interestingly, Kline, if I’m not mistaken, argued that Adam is not a type of Christ, notwithstanding the usage of that term in Romans 5, since the topic there is federal representation.)”

    David, you may want to read more Kline, not sure where you’d get an idea like above.

    “Now I start the article out by emphasizing the importance of the active obedience
    of Christ. How is it that heaven is earned? The first Adam failed and we cannot earn it
    anymore by ourselves. But of course, it is precisely the role of our Lord according to
    Romans 5. It says that the first Adam is a type of Christ. It is precisely then the role of
    Christ to pick up and to do that which Adam failed to do. Christ then is the one who by
    his active obedience merits for us heaven.” (http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/digitalcourses/kline_kingdomprologue/kline_kingdom_prologue_text/kline_kingdomprologue_lecture10.pdf)

    Also, you might read Lane Tipton’s notes on MK http://trueforms.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/meredith-kline-on-the-covenant-of-works/

    Like

  269. Kline from his 1994 Covenant Theology Under Attack:

    What is true in the covenant arrangement with the second Adam will also have been true in the covenant with the first Adam, for the first was a type of the second (Rom. 5:14) precisely with respect to his role as a federal head in the divine government. Accordingly, the pre-Fall covenant was also a covenant of works and there too Adam would have fully deserved the blessings promised in the covenant, had he obediently performed the duty stipulated in the covenant.

    http://www.upper-register.com/blog/?p=169

    Like

  270. Thanks, Jack. I was referring to this in the 1953/54 “The Intrusion and the Decalogue”

    The following rule may be used for distinguishing the typical elements in the Old Testament: Whatever in the Old Testament is both inexplicable in terms of Common Grace alone (i. e., whatever is of the Intrusion) and not essentially unchanged when later seen again in the antitypical age introduced by Christ (i. e., whatever is not of the core of the Intrusion or sacramental thereof) is typical.

    In adopting this formulation of typology we necessarily confine the phenomenon to the Covenant of Grace. For if typology is by definition an attribute of the Intrusion, it cannot be a feature of the Covenant of Works, in which the Consummation did not intrude itself but was present only as a goal on the horizon. Accordingly, the opinion that Adam’s rôle in the Covenant of Works was typical (in the specific sense) of the rôle of Christ in the Covenant of Grace is erroneous. That Adam is styled τύπος του μβΧλοντος (Rom. 5:14) does not overthrow our conclusions. We cannot arrive at an understanding of the nature of typology by an undiscriminating compilation of passages containing the word τύπος. In fact, that word is not used anywhere in the New Testament in the specific sense. What Paul teaches in Romans 5:14 and context is that God has dealt with mankind according to the principle of federal headship under the Covenant of Works and of Grace. This parallelism in the rôles of the first and last Adam is adequate explanation of Paul’s application of the term τύπος to the former.

    Like

  271. David,

    I would suggest that the same mistake you just made concerning Kline – that he “argued that Adam is not a type of Christ,” even though Kline’s point was that Adam was a type of Christ, as long as we distinguish between the proper and improper connections between Adam and Christ, is the same mistake you are making concerning Kline and typological merit.

    Heading out to worship, peace.

    Like

  272. David R.

    Thanks, Jack. I was referring to this in the 1953/54[?] “The Intrusion and the Decalogue”

    I thought you wanted to be working with his most recent views…

    Yet, form Kline from above:
    “Accordingly, the opinion that Adam’s rôle in the Covenant of Works was typical (in the specific sense) of the rôle of Christ in the Covenant of Grace is erroneous… What Paul teaches in Romans 5:14 and context is that God has dealt with mankind according to the principle of federal headship under the Covenant of Works and of Grace. This parallelism in the rôles of the first and last Adam is adequate explanation of Paul’s application of the term τύπος to the former.”

    … I don’t see Kline denying Adam as a type of Christ, rather, he seems to be qualifying what that means under the CoG and CoW.

    Like

  273. David R: one issue I think we could explore is the question of what it is that determines whether the legal feature of a covenant is accidental or substantial. If I’m reading you rightly, you argue that it’s the typological connection that renders the legal administration accidental, and your point is that typology is missing in Bolton but present in Kline (and Turretin), hence the legal aspect is accidental in both K and T. Is that correct?

    Precisely. More specifically, I think that legal-typology-as-accidental is (1) Biblically correct, (2) The view put forward in Calv Inst 2, and (3) Kline’s view.

    David R: but I would argue that the decisive factor is the presence of a works principle. According to both Bolton and Kline, Israel was exiled because they broke a legal (works-based) covenant, i.e., they failed to merit the blessing. Hence (I would say), in both cases, the legal administration is substantial.

    However, for Turretin (and Calvin too, as I think your earlier citation demonstrates), the reason for Israel’s exile was their defection from the covenant of grace (legally administered during that period). Hence, the legal administration is not substantial.

    This doesn’t yet make sense to me (that is, I don’t yet understand what you’re saying).

    I believe that you are saying that the presence of a works-principle would give a different substance to the covenant, so that a works-principle administration is a substantially different covenant. Is that right?

    But then, you agree that Turretin speaks of a works-principle outer covering around the covenant of grace. So what is the difference that you see there?

    Further, you seem to agree with me that a works-principle says “do this and live.” Would you agree that Deut 28-30 says “do this and live”? If not, then what is it saying? If so, then doesn’t this put a works-principle in the Mosaic Covenant (regardless of whose theory we are considering)?

    Maybe another way of putting my confusion is, What is the specific way in which Turretin’s “legal clothing” is *not* a works-principle?

    Like

  274. My second question from above—Is “the covenant of works” a gracious covenant?

    If I were to speak of a hypothetical law (eternal life for a finite time of obedience) based on a hypothetical fact (Adam not sinning), I would say no. Law is not gospel. A legal covenant is not a gracious covenant.

    Romans 2: 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

    6 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be tribulation and distress FOR EVERY HUMAN BEING WHO DOES EVIL the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality. 12 For all who have sinned without the law will also PERISH without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be JUDGED BY the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the DOERS of the law who will be justified.

    Like

  275. Jeff,

    This doesn’t yet make sense to me (that is, I don’t yet understand what you’re saying).

    I believe that you are saying that the presence of a works-principle would give a different substance to the covenant, so that a works-principle administration is a substantially different covenant. Is that right?

    Yes, that’s exactly right.

    Would you agree that Deut 28-30 says “do this and live”?

    Yes.

    If so, then doesn’t this put a works-principle in the Mosaic Covenant (regardless of whose theory we are considering)?.

    No. The crucial difference is whether the works principle is:

    A. (using Turretin’s language) “accessory and accidental, springing from an ignoring of the true end [i.e., “Christ for righteousness to every believer] and the devising of a false” end, i.e., “maintaining that the law was given in order that by its observance they might be justified before God and be saved,”

    or

    B. substantial, such that the true end is inheritance by works (which is necessarily the case in a legal covenant, even one that is said to subserve the covenant of grace).

    In the former case (#A) the works principle is only operative because many pervert the true intent of the covenant. In the latter case (#B) the works principle is the true intent of the covenant (and thus explains the exile). I’ll try to unpack this more below.

    Maybe another way of putting my confusion is, What is the specific way in which Turretin’s “legal clothing” is *not* a works-principle?

    Good question. I continue to be encouraged by our progress and it seems to me that if we can get over this last hill, we’re just about home….

    Consider the following thumbnail sketch account (forgive the length; I probably could have said as much with fewer words):

    The Lord renews his covenant of grace with his people, inaugurating a new period of redemptive history in which he will give them a temporal kingdom typifying the perfected state of heaven. In accordance with the time (i.e., prior to Messiah’s advent), and due to their darkness and ignorance, he administers the covenant in a form that brings into sharp focus the demand of the covenant of works. He promises them eternal life (typified by temporal blessings) on the condition of perfect and personal obedience to his law—moral, ceremonial and civil—and he threatens hell (typified by temporal judgments) in the case of transgression.

    The intent behind the stipulation, “Do this and live” is not to renew the covenant of works with a sinful people, but rather to “to awaken their consciences to flee from the wrath to come, and to drive them to Christ” (WLC 96), the substance of the covenant, prefigured in the types and ordinances of the ceremonial law, “for that time, sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation” (WCF 7.5). The Lord’s elect people respond rightly in repentance and faith, but the others (i.e., those not partaking of the substance of the covenant) are hardened and either utterly forsake him, or, having misunderstood the pedagogical intent behind the legal stipulation, mistakenly embrace it as a covenant of works.

    When the people as a whole (especially their leaders), apostatize, the Lord afflicts them with temporal judgments. He bears with them patiently for generations, but when their apostasy eventually reaches a climax, he drives them out of his land.

    Question: In this scenario, can it be said that the people were exiled on account of their failure to merit continued possession of the kingdom under a legal (works-based) covenant? No! (Because the covenant was only legal for those who perverted it.) Rather, though the judgment took place on a grand scale, it was really principially no different from New Testament temporal judgments, which granted, are far less characteristic, but consider Jesus’s warnings to the churches in Revelation two, e.g., “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the works as at first; or else I will come unto thee quickly and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, unless thou repent” (v. 2), “Repent, or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth” (v. 16), and “Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death …” (vv. 22-23).

    IOW, in both the OT and the NT, the church can apostatize from the truth, thereby incurring temporal judgments and/or disqualifyng itself from continued possession of its outward privileges. (Again, I realize this phenomenon is far more characteristic of the OT administration, but I am arguing that this is a difference of degree, not kind). However, the true people of God persevere by grace in both testaments.

    Now, whether or not you think I’ve given an accurate sketch of what the Bible teaches concerning the Mosaic covenant, can you see why the legal demand (works principle) in this scenario is merely accidental? And how this cannot be the case in a Bolton or Kline interpretation (i.e., that explains the exile in terms of failure to merit)? If I need to try to clarify further, just let me know….

    Like

  276. Todd,

    You argued earlier that the MC cannot be both works and grace, and my response that broadly speaking it can have both these characteristics when proper distinctions are made. Because some older writers describe the narrow aspect of the MC a bit differently does not negate the point that your accusation against Kline is not valid since he makes the distinction between the Sinai covenant narrowly as the national cov of works and the MC broadly as including promises of grace, though he tended to use different language to make the same point. I am trying to move past titles and labels to focus on substance.

    This is substance and we can’t move past it until we resolve this issue. Let me review:

    1. You say that the MC is both works-based and grace-based at the same time, and by way of undergirding your assertion, you invoke the orthodox broad/strict distinction.

    2. I counter that you are cloaking an absurdity (analogously, would you assert that one color is red and purple at the same time?) in orthodox terminology and I explain that the traditional broad/strict distinction is a distinction between the MC as rightly understood on the one hand and the MC as perverted by the Pharisees (i.e., mistaken for a covenant of works) otoh.

    3. You seem to be missing my point and you continue to insist that I am being unfair to Kline (and you) by challenging your use of this time-honored distinction.

    Well then, I respond that we can also distinguish between a right understanding of the New covenant (i.e., a covenant of grace) versus a perversion of it that mistakes it for a covenant of works). On your principles, this means that the New covenant has a works principle. Can’t you see the problem?

    Like

  277. “1. You say that the MC is both works-based and grace-based at the same time, and by way of undergirding your assertion, you invoke the orthodox broad/strict distinction.”

    No, I have been clear not to say this. I have said the Mosaic economy as a whole displays both grace and works, but distinctly, not mixed. I do not recognize my position in your description of it.

    “2. I counter that you are cloaking an absurdity (analogously, would you assert that one color is red and purple at the same time?) in orthodox terminology and I explain that the traditional broad/strict distinction is a distinction between the MC as rightly understood on the one hand and the MC as perverted by the Pharisees (i.e., mistaken for a covenant of works) otoh.”

    And I have responded that there is not one “traditional” broad/strict distinction, but varying views. Your “mistaken cov. of works” view is only one among many, and some reformed church fathers did see a cov. of works between God and Israel, and they also distinguished the Mosaic economy broadly from the specific covenant arrangement between God and Israel.

    “3. You seem to be missing my point and you continue to insist that I am being unfair to Kline (and you) by challenging your use of this time-honored distinction.”

    If some of those who used this time-honored distinction came to opposite conclusion as you do, then it is not invalid to use those distinctions, but again, you seem much more concerned about how to describe a view than I am, I would rather debate the substance of the view.

    “Well then, I respond that we can also distinguish between a right understanding of the New covenant (i.e., a covenant of grace) versus a perversion of it that mistakes it for a covenant of works). On your principles, this means that the New covenant has a works principle. Can’t you see the problem?”

    No, I would actually suggest it is yours and Patrick’s view that fails to clearly distinguish works and grace. By not distinguishing the ordo salutis from the historia salutis, and thus suggesting the Israelites as a nation were under a covenant of grace as we are, that Deut. 28 is a cov. of grace, you need to somehow correlate their blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience with our relationship with God in the NC. But the differences are too clear to ignore:

    1. When Israel was exiled, the righteous and wicked within Israel were both exiled, they both together received the covenant curse. They were all called “Lo Ammi” (Hos. 1:9).

    2. In the NC, true believers are disciplined by a loving Father that disciplines because they are his sons (Heb. 12), not because they are no longer his people.

    3. While according to Rev. God may remove his presence from a local church, he does not remove his presence from true believers in that church (Rev 3:4). Yet there was a sense (historia salutis, not ordo) that Jeremiah was exiled from God’s presence. (Jer. 52:3)

    4. The basis of the MC was blessing for obedience and curses for disobedience. (Deut 28)

    5. The basis of the covenant of grace is we that are are blessed in the heavenly places in Christ, he merited our spiritual blessings, and he took our curse.

    6. Unlike OT believers who as members of Israel experienced God’s temporary curse of exile, NC believers are never said to experience God’s curse, for there is no condemnation for those in Christ, and he became a curse for us.

    Thus by flattening out the old and new covenants into all grace, you end up conflating grace and works into the new covenant.

    Like

  278. Todd,

    Thus by flattening out the old and new covenants into all grace, you end up conflating grace and works into the new covenant.

    I’ll get to your other points too, but just to be clear, are you suggesting that Calvin, Turretin, Gillespie, etc. were conflating grace and works into the new covenant, or do you just mean me?

    Like

  279. @ David R: I’m closer, but still not there. I promise I’m not trying to be a pain in the neck!

    You say,

    If so, then doesn’t this put a works-principle in the Mosaic Covenant (regardless of whose theory we are considering)?.

    No. The crucial difference is whether the works principle is:

    A. (using Turretin’s language) “accessory and accidental, springing from an ignoring of the true end [i.e., “Christ for righteousness to every believer] and the devising of a false” end, i.e., “maintaining that the law was given in order that by its observance they might be justified before God and be saved,”

    or

    B. substantial, such that the true end is inheritance by works (which is necessarily the case in a legal covenant, even one that is said to subserve the covenant of grace).

    In the former case (#A) the works principle is only operative because many pervert the true intent of the covenant. In the latter case (#B) the works principle is the true intent of the covenant (and thus explains the exile).

    So are you saying that Deut 28-30 is not a works-principle at all, OR that it is an accidental rather than substantial works-principle?

    I think the latter, but the ‘No’ confused me.

    Let me assume the latter. Then you are saying

    (1) According to Turretin and yourself, there is an accidental works-principle in the MC.
    (2) That accidental work-principle is active only for those who mistake the CoG for the CoW and try to inherit eternal life (or maybe even temporal life?) by obedience.
    (3) The purpose of Deut 28-30 is to awaken the conscience, with the result of repentance unto faith and life.

    So let me ask two further questions, hoping that we’re on track so far.

    (a) In Rom 6, when Paul says, “sin shall not be your master, for you are under grace and not under Law”, you would paraphrase as:

    “Sin shall not be your master, for you properly receive the covenant by faith, and not according to a works-principle.”

    That is, being “under the Law” is a synonym for “misapprehending the covenant”?

    (b) But in Galatians 4.4, when Paul says, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

    I would assume here that you do not believe that Jesus was “under the Law” in the sense of “misapprehending the covenant.” How do you understand “under the Law” in both places in this verse?

    With all of that in place, I think I will understand your position.

    Like

  280. Why is it so difficult to understand that the Mosaic law is not grace? Perhaps the answer is as simple as knowing that the law is not grace. Romans 11:5—“So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is not on the basis of works; otherwise grace would not be grace.” The nomist reduces the demand of the law on us to something important but not of the essence (accidental, something other than permanent death) so that those in the covenant can still be a factor in staying in the covenant. Even worse, the nomist call this grace..

    John Murray—The Covenant of Grace—-It may plausibly be objected, however, that the breaking of the covenant envisaged in this case interferes with the perpetuity of the covenant. For does not the possibility of breaking the covenant imply conditional perpetuity? . . . .

    Murray– Without question the blessings of the covenant and the relation which the covenant entails cannot be enjoyed or maintained apart from the fulfillment of certain conditions on the part of the beneficiaries. For when we think of the promise which is the central element of the covenant. ‘I will be your God, and ye shall be my people’, there is necessarily involved, as we have seen, mutuality in the highest sense. Fellowship is always mutual and when mutuality ceases fellowship ceases. Hence the reciprocal response of faith and obedience arises from the nature of the relationship which the covenant contemplates (cf Gen. 18:17-19; Gen. 22:16-18).

    Murray—The obedience of Abraham is represented as the condition upon which the fulfillment of the promise given to him was contingent and the obedience of Abraham’s seed is represented as the means through which the promise given to Abraham would be accomplished. There is undoubtedly the fulfillment of certain conditions and these are summed up in obeying the Lord’s voice and keeping His covenant.”

    “It is not quite congruous, however,TO SPEAK OF THESE CONDITIONS AS CONDITIONS OF THE COVENANT.. For when we speak thus we are distinctly liable to be understood as implying that the covenant is not to be regarded as dispensed until the conditions are fulfilled and that the conditions are integral to the establishment of the covenant relation. And this would not provide a true or accurate account of the covenant. The covenant is a sovereign dispensation of God’s grace. It is grace bestowed and a relation established. The grace dispensed and the relation established do not wait for the fulfillment of certain conditions on the part of those to whom the grace is dispensed.

    Murray— How then are we to construe the conditions of which we have spoken? The continued enjoyment of this grace and of the relation established is contingent upon the fulfillment of certain conditions. For apart from the fulfillment of these conditions the grace bestowed and the relation established are meaningless. Grace bestowed implies a subject and reception on the part of that subject. The relation established implies mutuality.

    Murray— But the conditions in view are not really conditions of bestowal. They are simply the reciprocal responses of faith, love and obedience, apart from which the enjoyment of the covenant blessing and of the covenant relation is inconceivable….viewed in this light that the breaking of the covenant takes on an entirely different complexion. It is not the failure to meet the terms of a pact nor failure to respond to the offer of favorable terms of contractual agreement. It is unfaithfulness to a relation constituted and to grace dispensed. By breaking the covenant what is broken is not the condition of bestowal but the condition of consummated fruition.”

    “It should be noted also that the necessity of keeping the covenant is bound up with the particularism of this covenant. The covenant does not yield its blessing to all indiscriminately. The discrimination which this covenant exemplifies accentuates the sovereignty of God in the bestowal of its grace and the fulfillment of its promises. This particularization is correlative with the spirituality of the grace bestowed and the relation constituted and it is also consonant with the exactitude of its demands. A covenant which yields its blessing indiscriminately is not one that can be kept or broken. We see again, therefore, that the intensification which particularism illustrates serves to accentuate the keeping which is indispensable to the fruition of the covenant grace.”

    mark—I suppose it would be way too simple to summarize Murray’s position as “the more conditionality, the more grace.” I am reminded of Orwell—the more law, the more grace. Murray says so, and if we do not agree, it must be only because we do not understand.

    Like

  281. David,

    I asked a similar question of you yesterday that you haven’t answered. Did all those in the past who did see a typological cov. of works between God and Israel mix grace and works into the OC, and were they all guilty the way you suggest Kline is guilty?

    While Calvin is much more inserted in the ordo than historia, (see Fesko http://www.prpbooks.com/samples/9781596381001.pdf,) Calvin was able to distinguish Moses and Christ, law and gospel, in a way I do not see you and Patrick doing. The fact that Klineans only add that the way God used the law to drive them to Christ was not only individually but corporately (thus typologically) does not change the general distinctions between Moses and Christ we wish to affirm.

    So Calvin writes: “The Old Testament is literal, because promulgated without the efficacy of the Spirit: the New spiritual, because the Lord has engraven it on the heart. The second antithesis is a kind of exposition of the first. The Old is deadly, because it can do nothing but involve the whole human race in a curse; the New is the instrument of life, because those who are freed from the curse it restores to favour with God. The former is the ministry of condemnation, because it charges the whole sons of Adam with transgression; the latter the ministry of righteousness, because it unfolds the mercy of God, by which we are justified…In Scripture, the term bondage is applied to the Old Testaments because it begets fear, and the term freedom to the New, because productive of confidence and security… As the offspring of Agar was born in slavery, and could never attain to the inheritances while that of Sara was free and entitled to the inheritance, so by the Law we are subjected to slavery, and by the Gospel alone regenerated into liberty. The sum of the matter comes to this: The Old Testament filled the conscience with fear and trembling—The New inspires it with gladness. By the former the conscience is held in bondage, by the latter it is manumitted and made free. If it be objected, that the holy fathers among the Israelites, as they were endued with the same spirit of faith, must also have been partakers of the same liberty and joy, we answer, that neither was derived from the Law; but feeling that by the Law they were oppressed like slaves, and vexed with a disquieted conscience, they fled for refuge to the gospel; and, accordingly, the peculiar advantage of the Gospel was, that, CONTRARY TO THE COMMON RULE OF THE OLD TESTAMENT, IT EXEMPTED THOSE WHO WERE UNDER IT FROM THOSE EVILS. Therefore, seeing they were obliged to the anxious observance of ceremonies (which were the symbols of a tutelage bordering on slavery, and handwritings by which they acknowledged their guilt, but did not escape from it), they are justly said to have been, comparatively, under a covenant of fear and bondage, in respect of that common dispensation under which the Jewish people were then placed.” (Capitalization mine)

    Unlike what you and Patrick seem to be arguing, Calvin would not suggest NC believers suffer God’s judgments because they are part of a visible church who as a whole may be unfaithful,attempting to reconcile this with believers’ experience under the Old Covenant curses.

    My other question is, according to your view, how is the NC not like the covenant God make with Israel, which they broke? If the MC was a covenant of grace, how can the NC be “not like” the covenant Israel broke?

    Like

  282. Witsius seems to teach that imperfect but sincere obedience works as a Mosaic condition, even though he also writes that the original “covenant of works” has not been abrogated by Adam’s sin.

    Witsius– when the law was given from Mount Sinai or Horeb there was a repetition of the covenant of works. For those tremendous signs of thunders and lightnings, of an earthquake, a thick smoke and black darkness, were adapted to strike Israel with great terror. And the setting bounds and limits round about the mount, whereby the Israelites were kept at a distance from the presence of God, upbraided them with that separation which sin had made between God and them. “In a word, whatever we read, Exodus. 19 (says Calvin, on Hebrews 12:19) is intended to inform the people, that God then ascended his tribunal, and manifested himself as an impartial Judge. If an innocent animal happened to approach, he commanded it to be thrust through with a dart; how much sorer punishment were sinners liable to, who were conscious of their sins, nay, and knew themselves indicted by the law, as guilty of eternal death.” And the apostle in this matter, Heb. 12:18–22, sets Mount Sinai in opposition to Mount Sion, the terrors of the law to the sweetness of the gospel.

    How does a condition imperfectly kept fit with “To display the nature of the law, which by demanding PERFECT obedience, wonderfully strikes sinners to the heart, and without any measure of gospel grace, leads to despair, and is to them the ministry of death and condemnation.” 4:4:12

    —Herman Witsius, The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man: Comprehending a Complete Body of Divinity (4.4.48), trans. William Crookshank, vol. 2 (London: T. Tegg & Son, 1837), 188.

    http://heidelblog.net/2014/06/witsius-the-law-given-at-sinai-was-a-repetition-of-the-covenant-of-works/

    Like

  283. Jeff,

    @ David R: I’m closer, but still not there. I promise I’m not trying to be a pain in the neck!

    Not at all, I appreciate your efforts to track!

    So are you saying that Deut 28-30 is not a works-principle at all, OR that it is an accidental rather than substantial works-principle?

    I think the latter, but the ‘No’ confused me.

    Sorry for not being clearer. Yes, I think you’re tracking, but let me try to hone this a little. Deut 28-30 does indeed express the demands and sanctions of the covenant of works, but I would want to distinguish the law’s legitimate use—as a pedagogue unto Christ (and antecedently as a rule of life)—from its illegitimate use, as a means of being justified by works.

    Let me assume the latter. Then you are saying

    (1) According to Turretin and yourself, there is an accidental works-principle in the MC.

    I wouldn’t say it quite like that because to say it is “accidental” is to say that it is not “in the MC” (i.e., part of the MC), but rather accessory to the MC (as the clothing I wear is not a part of me but accessory). As you know by now, I like Turretin’s phrase “clothed with the form of …” That is to say that the matter and form (and therefore the essence) of the MC are all that of the covenant of grace, but it is clothed with the form of the CoW. Analogously, the matter and form (and therefore the essence) of a statue is marble but it is clothed with the form of a human being. The matter and form (and therefore the essence) of Bert Lahr was human, but in the movie, The Wizard of Oz, he was clothed with the form of a cowardly lion.

    (2) That accidental work-principle is active only for those who mistake the CoG for the CoW and try to inherit eternal life (or maybe even temporal life?) by obedience.

    When we speak of classes of people under a works principle, I think we’re limited to (1) Adam pre-fall, (2) Christ in the state of humiliation, and (3) the unregenerate under God’s wrath and curse. (Did I miss any?….)

    (3) The purpose of Deut 28-30 is to awaken the conscience, with the result of repentance unto faith and life.

    Yes.

    So let me ask two further questions, hoping that we’re on track so far.

    (a) In Rom 6, when Paul says, “sin shall not be your master, for you are under grace and not under Law”, you would paraphrase as:

    “Sin shall not be your master, for you properly receive the covenant by faith, and not according to a works-principle.”

    That is, being “under the Law” is a synonym for “misapprehending the covenant”?.

    Hmmm, I think I would want to say that (1) we (the NT church) are “not under the law” in the sense that we are not under the legal administration of the CoG; but also, and especially, that (2) we (believers, whether OT or NT) are “not under the law” in the sense that we are freed from God’s wrath and curse incurred by the broken CoW.

    (b) But in Galatians 4.4, when Paul says, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

    I would assume here that you do not believe that Jesus was “under the Law” in the sense of “misapprehending the covenant.” How do you understand “under the Law” in both places in this verse?

    I think I would say that to speak of Christ being “born under the law” is to speak of His role as the second Adam voluntarily subjecting Himself to the law as a covenant of works in order to redeem His people and therefore “those who were under the Law” are elect sinners, all of whom by nature were subject to the curse of the broken CoW.

    With all of that in place, I think I will understand your position.

    Well? Are we there yet?…

    Like

  284. Mark, thanks for the links to Karlberg.
    Why call me naive, but even Nicky and St. Jason of Woodinville could profit from reading them.

    Like

  285. Todd,

    (No problem on the typos though I did wonder at first what you meant by “inserted in the ordo”…..)

    I do appreciate your patience in hanging in there with me but our conversation has gone absolutely nowhere; we have made no progress at all and can’t even agree on a couple of basic definitions. Our dialogue serves to confirm for me that I was on the right track in the thoughts I tried to express in my initial comment on this thread. Still I’m happy to keep chipping away if you are….

    Also, please know I’m not intentionally avoiding answering any of your questions. I’d love to spend more time at this, but I’m not a particularly facile writer and I need to be careful not to take too much away from ordinary responsibilities (which happened last week….). I will try to get to the questions and if I neglect to, I’m happy to be reminded.

    No, I would actually suggest it is yours and Patrick’s view that fails to clearly distinguish works and grace. By not distinguishing the ordo salutis from the historia salutis, and thus suggesting the Israelites as a nation were under a covenant of grace as we are, that Deut. 28 is a cov. of grace, you need to somehow correlate their blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience with our relationship with God in the NC.

    To quote you, “I do not recognize my position in your description of it.”

    So my questions for you are:

    1. Since this has been an in-house debate for many centuries, and since Bolton, Kline, Hodge, Horton, etc. view has been seen as acceptable within the reformed camp, whether agreed with or not, what do you now see that all those in the past who accepted these views have not seen?

    First of all I don’t accept your assumption that this is the same debate that’s been going on “for many centuries.” Second, I don’t accept your apparent assumption that this is simply about a particular view held in common by “Bolton, Kline, Hodge, Horton, etc.” (I don’t think they hold a common view). Third, regarding the notion that Kline’s view “has been seen as acceptable within the reformed camp,” sure, but as you well know, it’s also been seen as quite unacceptable and there’s no need to rehearse the evidence for that….

    4.) If only Kline is guilty, what was he specifically teaching that differed substantially from Bolton, Hodge, etc.? (if this brings us back to a supposed new view of merit we would need to progress to there and consider the accusations in the new book)

    Yes, the merit issue is absolutely the crux of the matter. If Kline were simply advocating for Bolton’s (Amyraldian) view of the MC, I don’t know if anyone would much care (though it’s interesting how often that view was refuted). Regarding the issue of merit, some questions I’m interested in at the moment are:

    1. Is it acceptable to teach that Adam could merit eternal life in strict justice?

    2. Is it acceptable to teach that OT saints could (and did) merit temporal blessings (notwithstanding the typological significance of said blessings)?

    3. Is it acceptable to teach that the Mosaic covenant was a legal (works-based) covenant stipulating “typologically legible” obedience as a meritorious condition?

    Like

  286. Since John Owen did not agree that the Mosaic covenant was an administration of “the covenant of grace”, Owen can be safely ignored in the work of the committee on republication, because we need to start with the WCF and not always be reforming or looking at different Reformed Confessions

    John Owen—“Having noted these things, we may consider that the Scripture does plainly and expressly make mention of two testaments, or covenants, and distinguish between them in such a way as can hardly be accommodated by a twofold administration of the same covenant…Wherefore we must grant two distinct covenants, rather than merely a twofold administration of the same covenant, to be intended.”

    Owen– “Having shown in what sense the covenant of grace is called “the new covenant,” in this distinction and opposition to the old covenant, so I shall propose several things which relate to the nature of the first covenant, which manifest it to have been a distinct covenant, and not a mere administration of the covenant of grace.”

    The Scripture’s Doctrine on the Difference Between the Covenants Expounded on 17 Particulars:

    #4 In Their Mediators:

    They differ in their mediators. The mediator of the first covenant was Moses. “It was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator,” Galatians 3:19. And this was no other than Moses, who was a servant in the house of God, Hebrews 3:5. And he was a mediator, by God’s design, chosen by the people, following the dread that befell them on the terrible promulgation of the law. For they saw that they could no way bear the immediate presence of God, nor deal with him in their own persons. Wherefore they desired that there might be a go-between, a mediator between God and them, and that Moses might be the person, Deuteronomy 5:24-27.

    24 And ye said, Behold, the LORD our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth. 25 Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any more, then we shall die. 26 For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? 27 Go thou near, and hear all that the LORD our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the LORD our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it, and do it.

    But the mediator of the new covenant is the Son of God himself. For “there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all,” 1 Timothy 2:5. He who is the Son, and the Lord over his own house, graciously undertook in his own person to be the mediator of this covenant; and in this the new covenant is unspeakably superior to the old covenant.

    Like

  287. John Owen (on Hebrews 8)—-The Sinai covenant thus made, with these ends and promises, did never save nor condemn any man eternally. All that lived under the administration of it did attain eternal life, or perished for ever, but not by virtue of this covenant as formally such. It did, indeed, revive the commanding power and sanction of the first covenant of works; and therein, as the apostle speaks, was “the ministry of condemnation,” 2 Cor. iii. 9; for “by the deeds of the law can no flesh be justified.”

    Owen—And on the other hand, the Sinai covenant directed also unto the promise, which was the instrument of life and salvation unto all that did believe. But as unto what it had of its own, it was confined unto things temporal. Believers were saved under it, but not by virtue of it. Sinners perished eternally under it, but by the curse of the original law of works. …No man was ever saved but by virtue of the new covenant, and the mediation of Christ in that respect.”

    Augustine—-“In that testament, however, which is properly called the Old, and was given on Mount Sinai, only earthly happiness is expressly promised… But then some happy persons, who even in that early age were by the grace of God taught to understand the distinction now set forth, were thereby made the children of promise, and were accounted in the secret purpose of God as heirs of the New Testament.”

    Like

  288. David,

    I think we are getting some somewhere, but this format makes it difficult. Let me try to summarize our differences.

    1. You do not accept my broad, narrow descriptions of the Mosaic economy because you do not think that is how the terms were used. For the sake of debate I will instead use historia and ordo, if that helps. Or simple state as Kline did, “Also contradicting the contention that no divine covenants have ever been governed by the works principle is the irrefutable biblical evidence that the Mosaic economy, while an administration of grace on its fundamental level of concern with the eternal salvation of the individual, was at the same time on its temporary, typological kingdom level informed by the principle of works.” (Kingdom Prologue)

    2. You identify Kline’s view with Amyraldianism, I do not. Amyraut posited his three covenant system to water down Calvinism to four points and deny total depravity. Kline does not. Amyraut did not speak of a typological cov. of works doomed to fail because of Israel’s hard-heartedness. Kline does. So the similarities between Amyraut and Kline are superficial but not substantive.

    3. You separate Kline from earlier writes who taught a typ. cow because Kline uses the term merit. But Kline presupposes merit wherever works oppose grace as a principle of inheritance. Merit is simply another way to say works in this setting. You do not grant this, I do.

    How we doing so far?

    So before I answer your questions, let’s catch up with mine.

    1. What is the fundamental difference between Kline and earlier writers like Hodge who speak of a typ. cow between God and Israel?

    2. How is the new covenant not like the MC (Jer 31), which Israel broke? If the MC is a covenant of grace how is it not like the NC?

    Like

  289. Patrick Ramsey—-I understand how a gracious covenant … administers the gospel through types/shadows …But how can the gospel be administered by a law/works/meritorious covenant? How does “do this and live” administer the gospel: “believe and you shall be saved”? Undoubtedly, the answer will be by typology.

    Ramsey—- The problem with this answer is that the law covenant itself does not administer grace to the covenant member. It simply demonstrates through typology how eternal life is achieved. It is not itself an administration of grace. After all, it is a law/works/meritorious covenant. And only a gracious covenant can administer grace. A works covenant cannot administer grace. Hence, it seems to me that to call a law covenant an administration of the covenant of grace is to misuse the language of the Confession and to confuse law and gospel

    Like

  290. Three quick thoughts in between coding projects here.

    (1) David R: I wouldn’t say it quite like that because to say it is “accidental” is to say that it is not “in the MC” (i.e., part of the MC), but rather accessory to the MC (as the clothing I wear is not a part of me but accessory).

    Turretin is using the term “accidental” in its Aristotelian sense as simplified by Aquinas (here). That is, an “accident” is an outward form, specifically the Aristotelian accident of “raiment”, of a substance, the covenant.

    In other words, the Mosaic is a covenant of grace with a worksy outward clothing.

    The term “accessory” would suggest that the works-principle is a separate entity, a separate substance, and hence a distinct and subservient covenant. That’s NOT where you are trying to be! 🙂

    (2) Way back, David, you said of Todd, “2. I counter that you are cloaking an absurdity (analogously, would you assert that one color is red and purple at the same time?) in orthodox terminology ”

    This is the root of the communication problem. Todd is saying (if I may?) that there is one ribbon (covenant) with two sides: red (grace as to inheritance of eternal life, the substance) and purple (works as to typological retention of the land).

    You counter that he is saying that red is purple.

    He isn’t saying that. Now, you believe that it is impossible to have such a ribbon, so that his view would eventually entail that red is purple. And that’s the meat of this argument.

    But you need to be clear on what he’s actually *saying* first.

    (3) If you’re going to talk about merit you’ll eventually have to get to merit pactum. Just sayin’.

    Like

  291. Jeff,

    Turretin is using the term “accidental” in its Aristotelian sense as simplified by Aquinas (here). That is, an “accident” is an outward form, specifically the Aristotelian accident of “raiment”, of a substance, the covenant.

    In other words, the Mosaic is a covenant of grace with a worksy outward clothing.
    The term “accessory” would suggest that the works-principle is a separate entity, a separate substance, and hence a distinct and subservient covenant. That’s NOT where you are trying to be!

    Thanks for the Aquinas link, that looks like a helpful resource. I think I got “accessory” from Turretin.

    I think you’re saying that in order for the law to exist it needs a covenantal form? If so, I would respond that the law (moral, with civil and ceremonial added) can (and does) take other forms; for example, as delivered on Mt. Sinai, the moral law was a “perfect rule of righteousness” (WCF 19.2) and not a covenant (WCF 19.1). Whether in the form of a pedagogue or rule of life, the law is not a covenant.

    (2) Way back, David, you said of Todd, “2. I counter that you are cloaking an absurdity (analogously, would you assert that one color is red and purple at the same time?) in orthodox terminology ”

    This is the root of the communication problem. Todd is saying (if I may?) that there is one ribbon (covenant) with two sides: red (grace as to inheritance of eternal life, the substance) and purple (works as to typological retention of the land).

    You counter that he is saying that red is purple.

    He isn’t saying that. Now, you believe that it is impossible to have such a ribbon, so that his view would eventually entail that red is purple. And that’s the meat of this argument.

    But you need to be clear on what he’s actually *saying* first.

    Yes, that’s helpful. I have been working with the definition, “a promise suspended on a condition” (btw, I am also happy with Kline’s “mutual commitment with divine sanctions”), but (unless I’m mistaken) Todd never assented to that definition, so maybe instead of suggesting that he was “asserting” something I could have used “implying.” But it’s true, Todd and I won’t make much progress until we can agree about what a covenant is. And yes, in my view, what he has been describing (as I’ve understood him) can’t exist in reality as just one covenant.

    (3) If you’re going to talk about merit you’ll eventually have to get to merit pactum. Just sayin’.

    I am more than happy to talk about merit pactum; the idea is explained in WCF 7.1 (using different terminology). But that’s precisely the central issue in the first question I raised in my last response to Todd.

    Like

  292. David,

    To continue,

    Looking back I see that you may not be suggesting Kline holds to an Amyraldianist view of the MC, but earlier I thought you did because you identified it with his (Amyrault) three covenant view. So you may want to clear that up for me.

    To Jeff you wrote, “Whether in the form of a pedagogue or rule of life, the law is not a covenant.”

    This is the point I made to you earlier, that the first use of the law Kline does not, as far as I am aware, label a covenant. So there is no three covenant view with him.

    As far as my definition of a covenant, I usually use Ursinus’ definition “A covenant in general is a mutual contract, or agreement between two parties, in which the one party binds itself to the other to accomplish something upon certain conditions, giving or receiving something, which is accompanied with certain outward signs and symbols, for the purpose of ratifying in the most solemn manner the contract entered into.” (Zacharius Ursinus Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, 97.)

    Your questions:

    1. Is it acceptable to teach that Adam could merit eternal life in strict justice? Yes, though God condescended to make man and endow him with good gifts, I believe the terms of the covenant of works were based on God’s justice

    2. Is it acceptable to teach that OT saints could (and did) merit temporal blessings (notwithstanding the typological significance of said blessings)?

    Yes, with the proper qualifications:
    A. Sinful man can do no eternal, spiritual good before God (Total depravity)
    B. Sinful man can only be justified before God by grace through faith in Christ apart from works (Sola Fide)
    C. In the same way that God accepted the sacrifice of animals and offered a temporary forgiveness to the nation or, even better, a withholding of judgment, even though animals could not truly offer forgiveness in the ordo salutis, so there is a pactum or covenant merit that God agreed he would accept only for temporary blessings serving on the typological level as a type of the merit of Christ. Maybe the best example is the Book of Judges; when the nation turned from other gods, the Lord rescued them from oppressors, even though it is clear their hearts had not changed.

    3. Is it acceptable to teach that the Mosaic covenant was a legal (works-based) covenant stipulating “typologically legible” obedience as a meritorious condition?

    If you are speaking of the MC as it was ratified as a covenant at the end of Deuteronomy, then yes, with the qualifications stated above.

    Like

  293. Todd,

    As far as my definition of a covenant, I usually use Ursinus’ definition “A covenant in general is a mutual contract, or agreement between two parties, in which the one party binds itself to the other to accomplish something upon certain conditions, giving or receiving something, which is accompanied with certain outward signs and symbols, for the purpose of ratifying in the most solemn manner the contract entered into.” (Zacharius Ursinus Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, 97.)

    Thanks. I’ll respond to your other questions too, but this jumped out at me so I’ll follow up now. Given this definition (which contains the standard components of parties, promise and condition), would you agree with me that whenever we find a situation where “one party binds itself to the other to accomplish something upon certain conditions,” we can be sure that what we have found is a covenant, and that if there are two sets of parties, promises and conditions, then there are two covenants? And if you agree with this, then doesn’t it follow that for Kline, the MC and the CoG are distinct covenants (since in his view, they each have differing parties, promises and conditions)?

    Like

  294. Todd,

    1. You do not accept my broad, narrow descriptions of the Mosaic economy because you do not think that is how the terms were used. For the sake of debate I will instead use historia and ordo, if that helps. Or simple state as Kline did, “Also contradicting the contention that no divine covenants have ever been governed by the works principle is the irrefutable biblical evidence that the Mosaic economy, while an administration of grace on its fundamental level of concern with the eternal salvation of the individual, was at the same time on its temporary, typological kingdom level informed by the principle of works.” (Kingdom Prologue)

    I don’t think using “historia” and “ordo” will help. (But I do think the definition you just provided from Ursinus might help!)

    However, in case it is helpful, I can briefly outline how I understand the historia (which I think is more or less compatible with Vos): There are two administrations of the CoG: (1) the OT administration, characterized by type and shadow, beginning with the fall and continuing until Christ, the substance appears, and (2) the NT administration. Within the OT administration, there are three periods: (a) Adam to Abraham (characterized by the first promise), (b) Abraham to Moses (characterized by the AC), and (c) Moses to Christ (characterized by a more testamentary form).

    2. You identify Kline’s view with Amyraldianism, I do not. Amyraut posited his three covenant system to water down Calvinism to four points and deny total depravity. Kline does not. Amyraut did not speak of a typological cov. of works doomed to fail because of Israel’s hard-heartedness. Kline does. So the similarities between Amyraut and Kline are superficial but not substantive.

    I didn’t intend to identify Kline with Amyraldianism, but (if I’m not mistaken) it was they who formulated Bolton’s subservient covenant view. That’s all I meant.

    3. You separate Kline from earlier writes who taught a typ. cow because Kline uses the term merit. But Kline presupposes merit wherever works oppose grace as a principle of inheritance. Merit is simply another way to say works in this setting. You do not grant this, I do.

    Yes, I don’t think a condition necessarily implies merit. For example, Thomas Scott (btw, thank you for introducing me to him; he does seem to be a precursor to Kline in not only separating the MC from the CoG but also positing corporate obedience as the covenantal condition) does not suggest or imply that the condition of the MC is meritorious and I expect he would vehemently deny it.

    So before I answer your questions, let’s catch up with mine.

    Happy to oblige….

    1. What is the fundamental difference between Kline and earlier writers like Hodge who speak of a typ. cow between God and Israel?

    I don’t believe that Hodge labeled the MC “typological,” did he? (In another comment I can tell you why I don’t believe claiming Hodge for your position helps much. I do agree that there are superficial similarities, but a big problem is that his remarks (in the Sys Theo text) are so brief that his position is debatable. In fact I think it is just as likely, if not more so, that Hodge’s “national covenant” is the same as Turretin’s “external economy.” IOW, saying “My view is Hodge’s” doesn’t help if we can’t agree on what Hodge’s view actually is.)

    2. How is the new covenant not like the MC (Jer 31), which Israel broke? If the MC is a covenant of grace how is it not like the NC?

    But again, if the MC isn’t a covenant of grace, then how can it possibly not be a distinct covenant from the covenant of grace?

    But to answer your question, the newness of the NC is administrative (accidental), not substantial. Here’s Calvin:

    Now, as to the new covenant, it is not so called, because it is contrary to the first covenant; for God is never inconsistent with himself, nor is he unlike himself, he then who once made a covenant with his chosen people, had not changed his purpose, as though he had forgotten his faithfulness. It then follows, that the first covenant was inviolable; besides, he had already made his covenant with Abraham, and the Law was a confirmation of that covenant. As then the Law depended on that covenant which God made with his servant Abraham, it follows that God could never have made a new, that is, a contrary or a different covenant. For whence do we derive our hope of salvation, except from that blessed seed promised to Abraham? Further, why are we called the children of Abraham, except on account of the common bond of faith? Why are the faithful said to be gathered into the bosom of Abraham? Why does Christ say, that some will come from the east and the west, and sit down in the kingdom of heaven with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? (Luke 16:22; Matthew 8:11) These things no doubt sufficiently shew that God has never made any other covenant than that which he made formerly with Abraham, and at length confirmed by the hand of Moses. This subject might be more fully handled; but it is enough briefly to shew, that the covenant which God made at first is perpetual.

    Like

  295. Todd,

    To Jeff you wrote, “Whether in the form of a pedagogue or rule of life, the law is not a covenant.”

    This is the point I made to you earlier, that the first use of the law Kline does not, as far as I am aware, label a covenant. So there is no three covenant view with him.

    I do not understand this argument since the uses of the law is a different question from that of the nature of the MC.

    Like

  296. Afterthought: However, if the law was a temporary legal covenant that was broken and not renewed, then doesn’t it become more difficult to view the moral law (as given in the Decalogue) as a rule that “does forever bind all”?

    Like

  297. “And if you agree with this, then doesn’t it follow that for Kline, the MC and the CoG are distinct covenants (since in his view, they each have differing parties, promises and conditions)?”

    David, we may be at the end because I feel like I am answering the same questions over and over, and you just don’t like the answers. So forgive me for the length of this post, but I at least I want the readers following us to understand the view regardless of their level of agreement.

    As to your question above, the two are distinct in the principle of inheritance for the blessings of the covenant, one (the MC at the typological level), the blessings are inherited through Israel’s own obedience, and the other (COG) the blessings of the covenant come through the obedience of a representative. They are not distinct as to their aim – both reveal Jesus Christ as the only savior of sinners, one revealing grace through promises, symbols, types, etc., the other, demonstrating the necessity of obedience through a works arrangement that drives them to Christ because only he can attain their blessings through his obedience on their behalf.

    “Yes, I don’t think a condition necessarily implies merit.”

    Not in every situation, sure, there are conditions (faith) to receive the blessings of the COG, but faith is not a work before God, faith is a gift. When God grants the condition there is no type of merit involved. But God did not grant the Israelites the obedience required to fulfill the conditions of the MC, or they would not have failed and broken it. Thus in any cov. arrangement where works are required from man to fulfill it, whether Adam in the Garden or Israel in the typological MC, we can use the word merit with its proper qualifications.

    “For example, Thomas Scott (btw, thank you for introducing me to him; he does seem to be a precursor to Kline in not only separating the MC from the CoG but also positing corporate obedience as the covenantal condition) does not suggest or imply that the condition of the MC is meritorious and I expect he would vehemently deny it.”

    Scott wrote: The outward covenant was made with the Nation, entitling them to outward advantages, upon the condition of outward national obedience; and the covenant of Grace was ratified personally with true believers, and sealed and secured spiritual blessings to them, by producing a holy disposition of heart, and spiritual obedience to the Divine law.

    As above, once you accept the notion of a condition being fulfilled through outward national obedience, there is pactum merit involved. It is anachronistic to suggest Scott would reject an understanding of pactum merit that wasn’t really in use yet. But the point is that Kline could avoid the term merit but still teach exactly what Scott writes above. As a matter of fact when I studied under Kline back in the 90’s he simply used the terms as expressed above; a national, typological covenant of works, I do not remember him ever speaking of merit in the classroom, nor were there any objections to his formulations such as with the accusations found in the book mentioned here.

    I don’t believe that Hodge labeled the MC “typological,” did he?

    Hodge wrote: “First, it was a national covenant with the Hebrew people. In this view the parties were God and the people of Israel; the promise was national security and prosperity; the condition was the obedience of the people as a nation to the Mosaic law; and the mediator was Moses. In this aspect it was a legal covenant. It said. “Do this and live.” Secondly, it contained, as does also the New Testament, a renewed proclamation of the original covenant of works.”

    Hodge makes the same distinctions as Kline, a national, legal cow, but the law also individually demonstrating that the requirement of man back in the garden had not been revoked, the need for perfect obedience to attain eternal life. Because Hodge did not write that the national legal cov was typological does not mean he did not believe so. When he writes, “In the Old Testament there are frequent intimations of another and a better economy, to which the Mosaic institutions were merely preparatory,” it would be safe to assume that the national legal cov. he spoke of a few paragraphs before were included as preparatory, and since he believed Christ fulfilled the works principle of the law, then how else to understand a nat. legal cov. except that as a type it was fulfilled by Christ?

    BTW, John Owen had no problem speaking of Israel’s potential merit after the fall – “It was not just any law, but the Mosaic Law that Christ fulfilled (Matt 5:17-18)… For this reason the Mosaic Covenant had to be a covenant of works. If it had not been, there would have been no hope for humanity… Imputed righteousness cannot exist without a covenant of works… In this sense God’s law does not exist outside of a covenant… This means that it was necessary for a covenant of works to be in operation during the life of Christ. For Christ to merit righteousness, He had to be born under the law; that is, born under a legal covenant of works… Otherwise, there would be no covenant to reward Him for His righteousness… If all this is true, then the Mosaic Covenant had to be a covenant based upon works; our salvation depended upon it… The Mosaic Covenant gave man another opportunity to merit life.” (Fatal Flaw 145-147)

    (Not arguing Kline agrees in every way with Owen, just that Owen can speak of the potential of merit under Moses)

    One more thing – it’s important to remember that in Kline’s view Israel never fulfilled the terms of the MC. Merit for blessing was held out as a possibility but according to the terms of the covenant they did not merit anything. Though the process was long for Israel to make their apostasy official and corporal, from the beginning they were turning to other gods. That’s why the prediction of failure as soon as the covenant was enacted and accepted (Deut. 31). The typological merit in different places in the old economy (Noah, the kings as their obedient acts were representatively applied the the people, etc.,) were not the successful fulfillments of the term of the covenant, but simply pictures of the active obedience of Christ.

    I think we are back where we started. The authors of the book believe Kline and some WSC profs, in speaking of Israel’s merit in the MC in any sense, have introduced a Pelagianism into the reformed camp. I think you will see when the OPC study committee presents their findings on republication that as long as the proper qualifications and distinctions are made, there is nothing Pelagian about the view explicated in the book, The Law is Not of Faith”

    I will leave you with one more quote from Kline explaining the view:

    “A variety of purposes can be discovered to explain the insertion of the old covenant order and its typal kingdom into the course of redemptive history. Of central importance was the creation of the proper historical setting for the advent of the Son of God and his earthly mission (cf. Rom 9:5). In accordance with the terms of his covenant of works with the Father he was to come as the second Adam in order to undergo a representative probation and by his obedient and triumphant accomplishment thereof to establish the legal ground for God’s covenanted bestowal of the eternal kingdom of salvation on his people. It was therefore expedient, if not necessary, that Christ appear within a covenant order which, like the covenant with the first Adam, was governed by the works principle (cf. Gal 4:4). The typal kingdom of the old covenant was precisely that. Within the limitations of the fallen world and with modifications peculiar to the redemptive process, the old theocratic kingdom was a reproduction of the original covenantal order. Israel as the theocratic nation was mankind stationed once again in a paradise-sanctuary, under probation in a covenant of works. In the context of that situation, the Incarnation event was legible; apart from it the meaning of the appearing and ministry of the Son of Man would hardly have been perspicuous. Because of the congruence between Jesus’ particular historical identity as the true Israel, born under the law, and his universally relevant role as the second Adam, the significance of his mission as the accomplishing of a probationary assignment in a works covenant in behalf of the elect of all ages was lucidly expressed and readily readable.”

    Like

  298. David,

    To avoid a potential objection, I didn’t mean the term “pactum merit” was unknown in Scott’s time, but covenant, typological merit as Kline defines it avoiding medieval categories of merit the earlier writers did not usually avoid.

    Carry on (my wayward son?)

    Like

  299. I’ve temporarily given up on the coding. If anyone is familiar with using images in Matlab, let him speak up.

    We need to sort some stuff out. I would like to straightforwardly argue for the correctness of this position:

    The Mosaic Covenant was an administration of the Covenant of Grace in which a works-principle was deliberately attached, as accidental and not substantive, for the typological purpose of leading Israel to Christ in two ways: First, to demonstrate their inability to merit God’s favor; Second, to symbolize the meritorious obedience of Christ, who was the final Israel.

    The argument that follows is long and essentially walks through Calv Inst 2.10-11. If you have that available, now is a good time …

    But first, we start with a short and easy theorem:

    Theorem: Typological features of the covenant of grace are always accidental, never substantial

    Proof: By the definition of substance, anything about an object that changes without changing the identity of that object is necessarily accidental. And typological features of the covenant necessarily change (disappear) when the antitype appears. Yet, all sides agree that the substance of the covenant of grace remains the same from the fall through revelation.

    It follows therefore that all typological features of the covenant of grace must be accidental and are never substantial, QED.

    The obvious application of the theorem is the OT sacrifices, which typified Christ who was to come. When he appeared, they became of no effect (Hebrews), from which we see that they were not of the substance of the covenant of grace.

    The application at hand, however, are the various promises of temporal blessing and cursing on the condition of obedience.

    Here is what Calvin had to say about those promises:

    It is possible, indeed, to explain both in one word. The covenant made with all the fathers is so far from differing from ours in reality and substance, that it is altogether one and the same: still the administration differs. — Inst 2.10.2

    After this, he goes into an extended disputation with Servetus and various Anabaptists, who had argued that the purpose of the Old Covenant, the end of it, was to bring the Jews to worship God in their own land. Over against this, he says,

    Therefore, even from this confession of David, let us learn that the holy fathers under the Old Testament were not ignorant that in this world God seldom or never gives his servants the fulfilment of what is promised them, and therefore has directed their minds to his sanctuary, where the blessings not exhibited in the present shadowy life are treasured up for them. This sanctuary was the final judgment of God, which, as they could not at all discern it by the eye, they were contented to apprehend by faith. Inspired with this confidence, they doubted not that whatever might happen in the world, a time would at length arrive when the divine promises would be fulfilled. — Inst 2.10.17.

    His argument comes to a climax here: that whenever the Prophets make mention of the happiness of believers (a happiness of which scarcely any vestiges are discernible in the present life), they must have recourse to this distinction: that the better to commend the Divine goodness to the people, they used temporal blessings as a kind of lineaments to shadow it forth, and yet gave such a portrait as might lift their minds above the earth, the elements of this world, and all that will perish, and compel them to think of the blessedness of a future and spiritual life. — Inst 2.10.20.

    He then summarizes: Let us then lay it down confidently as a truth which no engines of the devil can destroy—that the Old Testament or covenant which the Lord made with the people of Israel was not confined to earthly objects, but contained a promise of spiritual and eternal life, the expectation of which behaved to be impressed on the minds of all who truly consented to the covenant. Let us put far from us the senseless and pernicious notion, that the Lord proposed nothing to the Jews, or that they sought nothing but full supplies of food, carnal delights, abundance of wealth, external influence, a numerous offspring, and all those things which our animal nature deems valuable. — Inst 2.10.23.

    It is abundantly evident, then, that Calvin

    (1) viewed the temporal promises to the Jews as types of the heavenly blessings to come,
    (2) thereby viewed the Mosaic Covenant was of one substance with the New, for it promised the same blessing,
    (3) and thereby did not view the temporal blessings of the Mosaic Covenant to be substantial in that covenant, but accidental to it (using our Theorem).

    What then are the differences between the Mosaic and New? These he deals with in the next chapter. Acc to Calvin, there five, all administrative and not substantial — that is, accidental and not substantial.

    These differences (so far as I have been able to observe them and can remember) seem to be chiefly four, or, if you choose to add a fifth, I have no objections. I hold and think I will be able to show, that they all belong to the mode of administration rather than to the substance. — Inst 2.11.1

    They are

    1. … in old time, the Lord was pleased to direct the thoughts of his people, and raise their minds to the heavenly inheritance, yet, that their hope of it might be the better maintained, he held it forth, and, in a manner, gave a foretaste of it under earthly blessings

    This is a repetition of his previous argument in 2.10.

    And then he makes a subtle distinction. Not all typologies are acceptable:

    The ground of controversy is this: our opponents hold that the land of Canaan was considered by the Israelites as supreme and final happiness, and now, since Christ was manifested, typifies to us the heavenly inheritance; whereas we maintain that, in the earthly possession which the Israelites enjoyed, they beheld, as in a mirror, the future inheritance which they believed to be reserved for them in heaven.

    That is, the typology was not towards us only, but towards the Jews as well. It is for this reason that the Mosaic was of the same substance as the New: it held out hope of salvation to the Jews, typified in their temporal blessings.

    He then finishes beating this horse:

    But we shall easily disencumber ourselves of such doubts if we attend to that mode of divine administration to which I have adverted—that God was pleased to indicate and typify both the gift of future and eternal felicity by terrestrial blessings, as well as the dreadful nature of spiritual death by bodily punishments, at that time when he delivered his covenant to the Israelites as under a kind of veil.

    — Inst 2.11.3.

    So that we notice here that not only were the terrestrial blessings, but also the bodily punishments, were types.

    He moves on …

    2. Another distinction between the Old and New Testaments is in the types, the former exhibiting only the image of truth, while the reality was absent, the shadow instead of the substance, the latter exhibiting both the full truth and the entire body.

    This is obviously similar to 1., but the difference here will focus not on the promises but the ceremonies.

    Here we may see in what respect the legal is compared with the evangelical covenant, the ministry of Christ with that of Moses. If the comparison referred to the substance of the promises, there would be a great repugnance between the two covenants; but since the nature of the case leads to a different view, we must follow it in order to discover the truth. Let us, therefore bring forward the covenant which God once ratified as eternal and unending. Its completion, whereby it is fixed and ratified, is Christ. Till such completion takes place, the Lord, by Moses, prescribes ceremonies which are, as it were formal symbols of confirmation. The point brought under discussion was, Whether or not the ceremonies ordained in the Law behaved to give way to Christ. Although these were merely accidents of the covenant, or at least additions and appendages, and, as they are commonly called, accessories, yet because they were the means of administering it, the name of covenant is applied to them, just as is done in the case of other sacraments.236 Hence, in general, the Old Testament is the name given to the solemn method of confirming the covenant comprehended under ceremonies and sacrifices. Since there is nothing substantial in it, until we look beyond it, the Apostle contends that it behaved to be annulled and become antiquated (Heb. 7:22), to make room for Christ, the surety and mediator of a better covenant, by whom the eternal sanctification of the elect was once purchased, and the transgressions which remained under the Law wiped away. But if you prefer it, take it thus: the covenant of the Lord was old, because veiled by the shadowy and ineffectual observance of ceremonies; and it was therefore temporary, being, as it were in suspense until it received a firm and substantial confirmation.

    — Inst. 2.11.4.

    Notice the logic: “Although these were merely accidents of the covenant, or at least additions and appendages, and, as they are commonly called, accessories, yet because they were the means of administering it, the name of covenant is applied to them, just as is done in the case of other sacraments.”

    Hang on to that thought, for we proceed now from the ceremonies to the blessings and punishments under the Law.

    3. For example, the Law everywhere contains promises of mercy; but as these are adventitious to it, they do not enter into the account of the Law as considered only in its own nature. All which is attributed to it is, that it commands what is right, prohibits crimes, holds forth rewards to the cultivators of righteousness, and threatens transgressors with punishment, while at the same time it neither changes nor amends that depravity of heart which is naturally inherent in all.

    Let us now explain the Apostle’s contrast step by step. The Old Testament is literal, because promulgated without the efficacy of the Spirit: the New spiritual, because the Lord has engraven it on the heart. The second antithesis is a kind of exposition of the first. The Old is deadly, because it can do nothing but involve the whole human race in a curse; the New is the instrument of life, because those who are freed from the curse it restores to favour with God. The former is the ministry of condemnation, because it charges the whole sons of Adam with transgression; the latter the ministry of righteousness, because it unfolds the mercy of God, by which we are justified. The last antithesis must be referred to the Ceremonial Law. Being a shadow of things to come, it behaved in time to perish and vanish away; whereas the Gospel, inasmuch as it exhibits the very body, is firmly established for ever.

    — Inst 2.11.7-8

    Notice what Paul says of the Law in contrast to the Gospel: (1) the promises of mercy within the Law are accidental, not substantial; (2) the function of the law is to reward right behavior and punish wrong.

    This is a genuine contrast between the Mosaic and the New. In what sense a contrast? In that it is administrative, not substantial.

    He then goes on to discuss the state of Israelites under the law:

    4. Out of the third distinction a fourth arises. In Scripture, the term bondage is applied to the Old Testaments because it begets fear, and the term freedom to the New, because productive of confidence and security … If it be objected, that the holy fathers among the Israelites,

    395
    as they were endued with the same spirit of faith, must also have been partakers of the same liberty and joy, we answer, that neither was derived from the Law; but feeling that by the Law they were oppressed like slaves, and vexed with a disquieted conscience, they fled for refuge to the gospel; and, accordingly, the peculiar advantage of the Gospel was, that, contrary to the common rule of the Old Testament, it exempted those who were under it from those evils. Then, again, we deny that they did possess the spirit of liberty and security in such a degree as not to experience some measure of fear and bondage. For however they might enjoy the privilege which they had obtained through the grace of the Gospel, they were under the same bonds and burdens of observances as the rest of their nation.

    — Inst 2.11.9

    Notice that this is in opposition to the principle that you articulated, that “the works-principle was in operation only for unbelievers.” For Calvin, the works-principle delivered fear to all, but less to believers than non-believers.

    Calvin now pauses to consider the four differences alleged:

    The three last contrasts to which we have adverted (sec. 4, 7, 9), are between the Law and the Gospel, and hence in these the Law is designated by the name of the Old, and the Gospel by that of the New Testament. … And here also, with regard to the holy fathers, it is to be observed, that though they lived under the Old Testament, they did not stop there, but always aspired to the New, and so entered into sure fellowship with it. Those who, contented with existing shadows, did not carry their thoughts to Christ, the Apostle charges with blindness and malediction.

    Here, finally, we have the principle that you have been waiting for: that believers properly understood the covenant of grace, while non-believers did not.

    Notice how different Calvin’s construction is from yours, however. For you, the failure to understand the covenant of grace turned that covenant into a covenant of works. For Calvin, the works-principle is present to all, typifying eternal judgment to come. Failure to apprehend this fact left the OT unbeliever in a state of fear.

    This is a crucial difference. For Calvin, faith receives the grace of Christ found in the types. Faith is an instrument.

    Your position, on the other hand, appears to make faith the ground of blessing: because of faith, the OT believer experienced grace, while the unbeliever experienced works.

    This is why the repubs have concerns about positions like Murray’s, and why we believe that the anti-repub position ultimately mingles faith and works.

    Finally, to the fifth difference:

    5. The fifth distinction which we have to add consists in this, that until the advent of Christ, the Lord set apart one nation, to which he confined the covenant of his grace.

    Let us summarize the argument so far. For Calvin, the works-principle of the Law was

    * An accidental feature of the covenant because
    * It was in reference to temporal blessings and punishments, which
    * Were types of the real blessing contained in the substance of the covenant of grace: possession of the eternal kingdom.
    * Was tied to a specific nation-state of Israel

    This construction is incompatible with the view that the Law’s sanctions are the same in kind (but different in degree) from God’s treatment of believers in the New Covenant.

    Objections:

    (1) But if there is a works-principle in the Law, then this means that the Law was a separate covenant. Since we know that the Mosaic was of one substance with the New, it follows that the Law contained no works-principle within it (except to unbelievers).

    This objection errs in the first premise. The works-principle was administrative, typological, accidental.

    The easiest way to see the error is to observe that there is self-evidently a works-principle in Deut 28-30. If the objection were to be correct, it would follow that Deut 28-30 could not be a part of the Mosaic Covenant, which is absurd.

    (2) The works-principle arose because of the unbelief of the Israelites: They attempted to use the Law as a means of justification, and were destroyed by their unbelief.

    This objection takes two correct facts and wrongly relates them. It is certainly true that (some) Jews encountered by Paul and Jesus attempted to use the Law as a means of justification. And it is also true that they were destroyed because of their unbelief (Hebrews again!)

    But their unbelief consisted in failing to see Christ in the symbols. Their hope, their justification rested in the type, not the substance.

    Hence, it is false reasoning to move from

    * The Jews failed to recognize the substance in the types
    * And they failed by unbelief

    to

    * And therefore, there was no works-principle in the types.

    There is no logical “there” there.

    (3) The notion of a typological works-principle requires a redefinition of merit: Since in the repub position, the Israelites merited temporal blessings by obedience, it follows that a crypto-Pelagian notion of merit must be in play: that Israelites would have to have merited without the assistance of grace.

    This objection fails because it assumes that “merit” (or even “strict merit”) has reference to congruent merit, rather than merit pactum.

    But in fact, the repub position does not posit that Israel’s obedience would have of itself been meritorious so as to earn the land of Israel. No, the only merit in view here is the merit per the terms of the covenant. (I’ll go out on a limb: There is no such thing as congruent merit, inasmuch as there can only be value according to contract … but I digress)

    If the merit is relative to the terms of the covenant, then there is no possibility of a Pelagian scheme. It mattered not whether the obedience would have been “on their own” or “graciously assisted.” It still would have met the condition required by the covenant, and hence would have been the ground for reward.

    I want to reiterate that point, because it underscores my discomfort with the general term “condition.” You have repeatedly noted that faith is the “condition” for participation in the New Covenant. Strictly speaking, this is true.

    But conditions come in many flavors. One of the most common is “ground” — because of X, you receive Y. And “ground” is the term associated with merit.

    So the proposition “faith is the condition of the New Covenant” comes close to saying that we are received into the New Covenant on the ground of our faith. And we agree, I hope, that this construction is unConfessional.

    For that reason, I try to be clear about the difference between condition (generic) and ground (specific).

    Objection: The accidental features of the covenant were only for those who did not receive its substance — that is, for unbelievers.

    In some ways, this objection is a repetition of the second, but with the focus on the heart condition of the recipients.

    This objection fails because it would force the covenant to have two different meanings according to the heart condition of the recipient: For those who receive it by faith, the Mosaic was the covenant of grace; for those who received it by works, it was a covenant of works.

    Did God’s word have two meanings? May it never be. When God delivered the covenant at Sinai, it had one unitary meaning — a substance of grace, administered by accidents of works. Those who received it by faith received the grace by peering through the veil of the sacrifices. Those who did not, failed to receive the grace that was genuinely offered to them.

    Their unbelief did not change the meaning of the covenant!

    Whew. I hope this helps clarify some things.

    Like

  300. Unlike those who will contrast the Mosaic covenant with the new covenant, but who will not contrast the law for Abraham’s children with the new covenant conditioned only on Christ, Hodge saw a distinction between the different promises given to Abraham and his children.

    Hodge—-“If, then, the Church is the body of Christ; if a man becomes a member of that body by faith; if multitudes of those who profess in baptism the true religion, are not believers, then it is just as certain that the external body consisting of the baptized is not the Church, as that a man’s calling himself a Christian does not make him a Christian.

    Hodge—As the Church is holy, the body and bride of Christ, the temple and family of God, all members of that organization are holy, members of Christ’s body, and partakers of his life… Then, moreover, as Christ saves all the members of his body and none other, he saves all included in this external organization, and consigns to eternal death all out of it… It becomes those who call themselves Protestants, to look these consequences in the face, before they join the Papists and Puseyites in ridiculing the idea of a Church composed exclusively of believers, and insist that the body to which the attributes and promises of the Church belong, is the visible organization of professing Christians.

    Hodge—That the Church is a visible society, consisting of the professors of the true religion, as distinguished from the body of true believers, known only to God, is plain, they say, because under the old dispensation it was such a society, embracing all the descendants of Abraham who professed the true religion, and received the sign of circumcision… The Church exists as an external society now as it did then; what once belonged to the commonwealth of Israel, now belongs to the visible Church. As union with the commonwealth of Israel was necessary to salvation then, so union with the visible Church was necessary to salvation now. And as subjection to the priesthood, and especially to the high-priest, was necessary to union with Israel then, so submission to the regular ministry…. is necessary to union with the Church now. Such is the argument of Romanists; and such we are sorry to say is the argument of some Protestants, and even of some Presbyterians.”

    Hodge—The fallacy of this whole argument lies in the false assumption, that the external Israel was the true Church… The attributes, promises, prerogatives of the one, were not those of the other. If it were true, then the true Church rejected and crucified Christ; for he was rejected by the external Israel, by the Sanhedrin… Paul avoids this fatal conclusion by denying that the external Church is, as such, the true Church, or that the promises made to the latter were made to the former.

    Hodge—It is to be remembered that there were two covenants made with Abraham. By the one, his natural descendants through Isaac were constituted a commonwealth, an external, visible community. By the other, his spiritual descendants were constituted a Church. The parties to the former covenant were God and the nation; to the other, God and his true people. The promises of the national covenant were national blessings; the promises of the spiritual covenant, (i.e. of the covenant of grace) were spiritual blessings, reconciliation, holiness, and eternal life. The conditions of the one covenant were circumcision and obedience to the law; the condition of the latter was, is, and ever has been, faith in the Messiah as the seed of the woman, the Son of God, and the Savior of the world. There cannot be a greater mistake than to confound the national covenant with the covenant of grace, and the commonwealth founded on the one with the Church founded on the other.”

    Like

  301. Calvin—-the law here and there contains promises of mercy; but because they have been borrowed from elsewhere, they are not counted part of the law when only the nature of the law is under discussion. They ascribe to it only this function: to enjoin what is right, to forbid what is wicked; to promise a reward to the keepers of righteousness, and threaten transgressors with punishment; but at the same time not to change or correct the depravity of heart that by nature inheres in all men (2.11.7)

    Like

  302. Jeff,

    We need to sort some stuff out. I would like to straightforwardly argue for the correctness of this position:

    The Mosaic Covenant was an administration of the Covenant of Grace in which a works-principle was deliberately attached, as accidental and not substantive, for the typological purpose of leading Israel to Christ in two ways: First, to demonstrate their inability to merit God’s favor; Second, to symbolize the meritorious obedience of Christ, who was the final Israel.

    I think you’re close, but I would want to amend your position (if you don’t mind) as follows:

    The Mosaic Covenant was an administration of the Covenant of Grace in which the stipulation “Do this and live” was deliberately attached, as accidental and not substantive, for the purpose of leading Israel to Christ in two ways: First, to demonstrate their inability to merit God’s favor; Second, to reveal the righteous standard for the meritorious obedience of Christ, who was the second Adam.

    But first, we start with a short and easy theorem:

    Theorem: Typological features of the covenant of grace are always accidental, never substantial

    Proof: By the definition of substance, anything about an object that changes without changing the identity of that object is necessarily accidental. And typological features of the covenant necessarily change (disappear) when the antitype appears. Yet, all sides agree that the substance of the covenant of grace remains the same from the fall through revelation.

    It follows therefore that all typological features of the covenant of grace must be accidental and are never substantial, QED.
    Sounds good to me.

    It is abundantly evident, then, that Calvin

    (1) viewed the temporal promises to the Jews as types of the heavenly blessings to come,
    (2) thereby viewed the Mosaic Covenant was of one substance with the New, for it promised the same blessing,
    (3) and thereby did not view the temporal blessings of the Mosaic Covenant to be substantial in that covenant, but accidental to it (using our Theorem).

    Yes! I agree.

    Here we may see in what respect the legal is compared with the evangelical covenant, the ministry of Christ with that of Moses. If the comparison referred to the substance of the promises, there would be a great repugnance between the two covenants; but since the nature of the case leads to a different view, we must follow it in order to discover the truth. Let us, therefore bring forward the covenant which God once ratified as eternal and unending. Its completion, whereby it is fixed and ratified, is Christ. Till such completion takes place, the Lord, by Moses, prescribes ceremonies which are, as it were formal symbols of confirmation. The point brought under discussion was, Whether or not the ceremonies ordained in the Law behaved to give way to Christ. Although these were merely accidents of the covenant, or at least additions and appendages, and, as they are commonly called, accessories, yet because they were the means of administering it, the name of covenant is applied to them, just as is done in the case of other sacraments.236 Hence, in general, the Old Testament is the name given to the solemn method of confirming the covenant comprehended under ceremonies and sacrifices. Since there is nothing substantial in it, until we look beyond it, the Apostle contends that it behaved to be annulled and become antiquated (Heb. 7:22), to make room for Christ, the surety and mediator of a better covenant, by whom the eternal sanctification of the elect was once purchased, and the transgressions which remained under the Law wiped away. But if you prefer it, take it thus: the covenant of the Lord was old, because veiled by the shadowy and ineffectual observance of ceremonies; and it was therefore temporary, being, as it were in suspense until it received a firm and substantial confirmation.

    — Inst. 2.11.4.

    Notice the logic: “Although these were merely accidents of the covenant, or at least additions and appendages, and, as they are commonly called, accessories, yet because they were the means of administering it, the name of covenant is applied to them, just as is done in the case of other sacraments.”

    I’m not sure whether I agree, but let me give my understanding and we can compare: Essentially he is saying that the difference between the OT and NT (or OC and NC) is not substantial but merely administrative (accidental) in that the former is administered by ceremonies that are rendered obsolete (because accidental) once Christ the substance appears. Is this basically how you understand him?

    Hang on to that thought, for we proceed now from the ceremonies to the blessings and punishments under the Law.

    3. For example, the Law everywhere contains promises of mercy; but as these are adventitious to it, they do not enter into the account of the Law as considered only in its own nature. All which is attributed to it is, that it commands what is right, prohibits crimes, holds forth rewards to the cultivators of righteousness, and threatens transgressors with punishment, while at the same time it neither changes nor amends that depravity of heart which is naturally inherent in all.

    Let us now explain the Apostle’s contrast step by step. The Old Testament is literal, because promulgated without the efficacy of the Spirit: the New spiritual, because the Lord has engraven it on the heart. The second antithesis is a kind of exposition of the first. The Old is deadly, because it can do nothing but involve the whole human race in a curse; the New is the instrument of life, because those who are freed from the curse it restores to favour with God. The former is the ministry of condemnation, because it charges the whole sons of Adam with transgression; the latter the ministry of righteousness, because it unfolds the mercy of God, by which we are justified. The last antithesis must be referred to the Ceremonial Law. Being a shadow of things to come, it behaved in time to perish and vanish away; whereas the Gospel, inasmuch as it exhibits the very body, is firmly established for ever.

    — Inst 2.11.7-8

    Notice what Paul says of the Law in contrast to the Gospel: (1) the promises of mercy within the Law are accidental, not substantial; (2) the function of the law is to reward right behavior and punish wrong.

    This is a genuine contrast between the Mosaic and the New. In what sense a contrast? In that it is administrative, not substantial.

    I’m not sure I understand you here, so again, let me give my interpretation of the Calvin’s citation and let me know whether you disagree. Calvin in this passage is not speaking of the Mosaic covenant proper; rather, he is speaking of the Mosaic covenant strictly considered (“as considered only in its own nature”), that is, abstracted from promises of grace. In this sense, the promises of mercy are “adventitious to it,” that is, they are not part of its substance. IOW, he is speaking of what we generally term “the moral law” (not the MC proper), which in and of itself demands perfect and personal obedience and gives no quarter. So the contrast he is making is not between the MC and the NC (which are the same in substance); rather, he is describing the law-gospel antithesis (which of course are different in substance). Would you agree?

    He then goes on to discuss the state of Israelites under the law:

    4. Out of the third distinction a fourth arises. In Scripture, the term bondage is applied to the Old Testaments because it begets fear, and the term freedom to the New, because productive of confidence and security … If it be objected, that the holy fathers among the Israelites, as they were endued with the same spirit of faith, must also have been partakers of the same liberty and joy, we answer, that neither was derived from the Law; but feeling that by the Law they were oppressed like slaves, and vexed with a disquieted conscience, they fled for refuge to the gospel; and, accordingly, the peculiar advantage of the Gospel was, that, contrary to the common rule of the Old Testament, it exempted those who were under it from those evils. Then, again, we deny that they did possess the spirit of liberty and security in such a degree as not to experience some measure of fear and bondage. For however they might enjoy the privilege which they had obtained through the grace of the Gospel, they were under the same bonds and burdens of observances as the rest of their nation.

    — Inst 2.11.9

    Notice that this is in opposition to the principle that you articulated, that “the works-principle was in operation only for unbelievers.” For Calvin, the works-principle delivered fear to all, but less to believers than non-believers.

    Jeff, here is where you are going off the rails. Calvin is not talking about believers being under (or afraid of) a works principle. In the first part of the paragraph he is speaking of the moral law in its pedagogical use driving the Israelites to Christ (“… but feeling that by the Law they were oppressed like slaves, and vexed with a disquieted conscience, they fled for refuge to the gospel”). He says absolutely nothing about them being under a works principle (and I assure you he would vehemently deny it). In the second part of the paragraph, he is saying that the liberty of OT believers was essentially that of believers under the NT, yet they were still bound to the ceremonial observances. For corroboration, consider WCF 20:1:

    I. The liberty which Christ has purchased for believers under the Gospel consists in their freedom from the guilt of sin, and condemning wrath of God, the curse of the moral law; and, in their being delivered from this present evil world, bondage to Satan, and dominion of sin; from the evil of afflictions, the sting of death, the victory of the grave, and everlasting damnation; as also, in their free access to God, and their yielding obedience unto Him, not out of slavish fear, but a child-like love and willing mind. All which were common also to believers under the law. But, under the New Testament, the liberty of Christians is further enlarged, in their freedom from the yoke of the ceremonial law, to which the Jewish Church was subjected; and in greater boldness of access to the throne of grace, and in fuller communications of the free Spirit of God, than believers under the law did ordinarily partake of.

    Calvin now pauses to consider the four differences alleged:

    The three last contrasts to which we have adverted (sec. 4, 7, 9), are between the Law and the Gospel, and hence in these the Law is designated by the name of the Old, and the Gospel by that of the New Testament. … And here also, with regard to the holy fathers, it is to be observed, that though they lived under the Old Testament, they did not stop there, but always aspired to the New, and so entered into sure fellowship with it. Those who, contented with existing shadows, did not carry their thoughts to Christ, the Apostle charges with blindness and malediction.

    Here, finally, we have the principle that you have been waiting for: that believers properly understood the covenant of grace, while non-believers did not.

    Notice how different Calvin’s construction is from yours, however. For you, the failure to understand the covenant of grace turned that covenant into a covenant of works. For Calvin, the works-principle is present to all, typifying eternal judgment to come. Failure to apprehend this fact left the OT unbeliever in a state of fear.

    Huh? I never said that (and if I did, I certainly didn’t mean it). What I said was that the Jews misinterpreted the true intent of the law (pedagogue unto Christ) and devised a false end (covenant of works). As Turretin explains:

    Strictly, however, it [the Old Testament] denotes the covenant of works or the moral law given by Moses, the unbearable burden of legal ceremonies being added, absolutely and apart from the promise of grace…. The latter is accessory and accidental, springing from an ignoring of the true end and the devising of a false. The true end was Christ for righteousness to every believer (Rom 10:4), but the self-righteous Jews did not obtain this end because it was proposed under veil (2 Cor 3:14), i.e., under a wrappage of types and of figures because the promise of grace on account of Christ was clothed with legal rites. Hence they invented a false end, maintaining that the law was given in order that by its observance they might be justified before God and be saved (Rom 10:3-5).

    Neither Calvin nor Turretin posit the law as a works principle; rather for both it is a pedagogue unto Christ. It is only a works principle for those who perverted it.

    This is a crucial difference. For Calvin, faith receives the grace of Christ found in the types. Faith is an instrument.

    Your position, on the other hand, appears to make faith the ground of blessing: because of faith, the OT believer experienced grace, while the unbeliever experienced works.

    Sorry, I don’t recognize myself at all in your characterization….

    This is why the repubs have concerns about positions like Murray’s, and why we believe that the anti-repub position ultimately mingles faith and works.

    What is why? You’ve completely lost me….

    Finally, to the fifth difference:

    5. The fifth distinction which we have to add consists in this, that until the advent of Christ, the Lord set apart one nation, to which he confined the covenant of his grace.

    Let us summarize the argument so far. For Calvin, the works-principle of the Law was

    * An accidental feature of the covenant because
    * It was in reference to temporal blessings and punishments, which
    * Were types of the real blessing contained in the substance of the covenant of grace: possession of the eternal kingdom.
    * Was tied to a specific nation-state of Israel

    Sorry, my friend, you have distorted Calvin beyond recognition. Here is where you’ve completely lost me and I believe completely lost Calvin. I’m tempted to stop here since we’ll agree on nothing from this point on but I’ll press on….

    This construction is incompatible with the view that the Law’s sanctions are the same in kind (but different in degree) from God’s treatment of believers in the New Covenant.

    What?! Whoever said that “the Law’s sanctions are the same in kind (but different in degree) from God’s treatment of believers in the New Covenant”? What I did say (or at least would say) is that the law’s sanctions of eternal life/damnation are proposed openly in the NT but typified by temporal sanctions in the OT. These temporal sanctions are accidental, as the substance is eternal sanctions, as you noted above. Daniel in exile was not substantially exiled from the presence of God (any more than an unbeliever during the peak of Solomon’s reign substantially experienced God’s favor).

    Objections:

    (1) But if there is a works-principle in the Law, then this means that the Law was a separate covenant. Since we know that the Mosaic was of one substance with the New, it follows that the Law contained no works-principle within it (except to unbelievers).

    This objection errs in the first premise. The works-principle was administrative, typological, accidental.

    I will continue to maintain the principal that wherever you posit a works principle (accidental or not), you are positing a covenant (accidental or not). What you have constructed in this essay of yours is an accidental covenant, accessory to the CoG. You are reading this construction into Calvin.

    The easiest way to see the error is to observe that there is self-evidently a works-principle in Deut 28-30. If the objection were to be correct, it would follow that Deut 28-30 could not be a part of the Mosaic Covenant, which is absurd.

    Maybe we need to define “works principle.” How about this: A works principle of inheritance (or retention) is that principle of inheritance whereby blessings are promised on the ground of obedience. How’s that?

    If what you are saying is that Deut 28-30 presents the demands and sanctions of the covenant of works, then yes! I agree. If you take Deut 28-30 in and of itself, apart from its redemptive context, it is the covenant of works. If you enter into a covenant with God with Deut 28-30 as your charter, then you are under a covenant of works. But, as I thought you had agreed with me above, Deut 28-30 is not is not the charter of the covenant and only those who ignored the true end (pedagogue unto Christ) and devised a false one (covenant of works) found themselves under a works principle.

    Please, if you have Turretin, read the entire section on “The Covenant of Grace and Its Twofold Economy” in volume 2. You won’t regret it!

    (3) The notion of a typological works-principle requires a redefinition of merit: Since in the repub position, the Israelites merited temporal blessings by obedience, it follows that a crypto-Pelagian notion of merit must be in play: that Israelites would have to have merited without the assistance of grace.

    This objection fails because it assumes that “merit” (or even “strict merit”) has reference to congruent merit, rather than merit pactum.

    But in fact, the repub position does not posit that Israel’s obedience would have of itself been meritorious so as to earn the land of Israel. No, the only merit in view here is the merit per the terms of the covenant. (I’ll go out on a limb: There is no such thing as congruent merit, inasmuch as there can only be value according to contract … but I digress)

    No, I would not say that “The notion of a typological works-principle requires a redefinition of merit.” What I would say is that (1) a works principle entails a legal covenant distinct from the covenant of grace and (2) its the notion that sinners can merit anything but condemnation (by pactum or otherwise) that requires a redefinition of merit. The concept of pactum merit explains how innocent Adam could merit life by perfect and personal obedience. It does not explain how Adam post-fall (or Noah, Abraham, David etc.) could merit anything from God (temporal and typological or otherwise).

    If the merit is relative to the terms of the covenant, then there is no possibility of a Pelagian scheme. It mattered not whether the obedience would have been “on their own” or “graciously assisted.” It still would have met the condition required by the covenant, and hence would have been the ground for reward.

    I understand the principle. I just believe it’s terribly misapplied to post-fall reality.

    I want to reiterate that point, because it underscores my discomfort with the general term “condition.” You have repeatedly noted that faith is the “condition” for participation in the New Covenant. Strictly speaking, this is true.

    But conditions come in many flavors. One of the most common is “ground” — because of X, you receive Y. And “ground” is the term associated with merit.

    So the proposition “faith is the condition of the New Covenant” comes close to saying that we are received into the New Covenant on the ground of our faith. And we agree, I hope, that this construction is unConfessional.

    Of course I agree that we need to carefully define what we mean by conditions in the CoG/Pactum salutis. I don’t see the connection with this debate though….

    Objection: The accidental features of the covenant were only for those who did not receive its substance — that is, for unbelievers.

    In some ways, this objection is a repetition of the second, but with the focus on the heart condition of the recipients.

    This objection fails because it would force the covenant to have two different meanings according to the heart condition of the recipient: For those who receive it by faith, the Mosaic was the covenant of grace; for those who received it by works, it was a covenant of works.

    Did God’s word have two meanings? May it never be. When God delivered the covenant at Sinai, it had one unitary meaning — a substance of grace, administered by accidents of works. Those who received it by faith received the grace by peering through the veil of the sacrifices. Those who did not, failed to receive the grace that was genuinely offered to them.

    Their unbelief did not change the meaning of the covenant!

    I don’t recognize this objection as one I would raise. In our discussion thus far, we have spoken of “accidental features” in two ways (or at least this is how I understand Calvin and also my own understanding): (1) The ceremonial law with its types and shadows of Christ were accidental to the CoG and were thus set aside when Christ the substance appeared, and (2) The law’s stipulation, “Do this and live” was accidental to the MC because its intent was pedagogical, i.e., not that Israel should embrace it as a covenant of works.

    Again, the MC has one unitary meaning but those who pervert it devise another meaning.

    Whew. I hope this helps clarify some things.

    “Whew” is right…. Hopefully this helps clarify some things too….

    Like

  303. @ David R: I am pleased that we agree on as much as we do.

    And I would like to pause for a moment and say something that didn’t come out in my last. And that is this: at the core, we are both trying to preserve the graciousness of the covenant of grace.

    That is, we are both (in our own ways) trying to keep the Law-Gospel distinction clear and alive.

    In other words, our discussion is about means and not the end. And for that, I am glad.

    Like

  304. OK, I need to poke at some things that seem confused.

    The first is that you keep returning to this point:

    (1) a works principle entails a legal covenant distinct from the covenant of grace

    This is really the central premise of your entire objection to republication, as I understand it. The short-hand of your argument appears to be,

    (1),
    Therefore republication entails a subservient covenant,
    which we know is wrong,
    so republication must be wrong.

    However, (1) is precisely the issue on the table. So I would ask you to back up a moment and satisfy my stupidity: How do you know that (1) is true? Can you substantiate it with teaching from Scripture? Or is it simply obvious to you?

    Specifically, how do you know that (1) is true in the face of an alternative possibility: That the sanctions of the Law were added to the covenant of grace in an accidental or accessory manner, rather than a substantive one?

    The second is that you appear to contradict yourself. And perhaps I’m simply not understanding you, but here it is.

    JRC: For you, the failure to understand the covenant of grace turned that covenant into a covenant of works.

    DR: Huh? I never said that (and if I did, I certainly didn’t mean it). What I said was that the Jews misinterpreted the true intent of the law (pedagogue unto Christ) and devised a false end (covenant of works).

    DR: It [the Law] is only a works principle for those who perverted it.

    DR: If you take Deut 28-30 in and of itself, apart from its redemptive context, it is the covenant of works. If you enter into a covenant with God with Deut 28-30 as your charter, then you are under a covenant of works. But, as I thought you had agreed with me above, Deut 28-30 is not is not the charter of the covenant and only those who ignored the true end (pedagogue unto Christ) and devised a false one (covenant of works) found themselves under a works principle.

    DR: In our discussion thus far, we have spoken of “accidental features” in two ways (or at least this is how I understand Calvin and also my own understanding): (1) The ceremonial law with its types and shadows of Christ were accidental to the CoG and were thus set aside when Christ the substance appeared, and (2) The law’s stipulation, “Do this and live” was accidental to the MC because its intent was pedagogical, i.e., not that Israel should embrace it as a covenant of works.

    Again, the MC has one unitary meaning but those who pervert it devise another meaning.

    It’s hard for me to understand how you are not saying that the Law (which is certainly a part of the Mosaic Covenant) becomes a covenant of works for those who misunderstand it.

    In fact, when you get here, you seem to be fully agreeing with me!

    DR: What I did say (or at least would say) is that the law’s sanctions of eternal life/damnation are proposed openly in the NT but typified by temporal sanctions in the OT. These temporal sanctions are accidental, as the substance is eternal sanctions, as you noted above.

    Can you unravel the seeming contradiction here? Perhaps these two questions might help.

    Do you understand “do this and live” to be something that (say) Deut 28-30 actually says? Or does it not actually say it?

    Likewise, for those who misunderstood the covenant, did the law actually become for them a curse, or did they only imagine that they were under a curse?

    I would think that if Deut 28-30 actually says “do this and live”, then to perceive that it says so is not a misunderstanding.

    Likewise, if the OT law became an actual, real curse for some group (even if because they had misunderstood the substance of the covenant), then does it not follow that the OT law contained that curse within it?

    The third thing is that you seem to be vacillating back and forth between the moral law and the Mosaic covenant. For example, you write

    DR: Calvin in this passage [Inst 2.11.7-8] is not speaking of the Mosaic covenant proper; rather, he is speaking of the Mosaic covenant strictly considered (“as considered only in its own nature”), that is, abstracted from promises of grace. In this sense, the promises of mercy are “adventitious to it,” that is, they are not part of its substance. IOW, he is speaking of what we generally term “the moral law” (not the MC proper), which in and of itself demands perfect and personal obedience and gives no quarter. So the contrast he is making is not between the MC and the NC (which are the same in substance); rather, he is describing the law-gospel antithesis (which of course are different in substance).

    This is an impossible reading. For Calvin is pointing out the differences between the Mosaic covenant proper and the New Covenant proper. This paragraph is describing the third of five such differences. If were speaking of the moral law (which he does elsewhere, and does, as you say, ascribe a works-principle to it with regard to justification), then he could not posit this as a difference between the two covenants, for as you know, the moral law remains constant between Old and New Covenants.

    Further, in the very next paragraph, he makes explicitly clear that he is speaking of the contrast between the Old and New Covenants.

    Now where we do agree is that Calvin is describing the law-gospel antithesis. But it is important to understand that the Old Testament Law, the part of the Mosaic Covenant delivered on Sinai, is for Calvin a shadowy reflection of the moral.

    And I refer you again here for emphasis:

    JC: The three last contrasts to which we have adverted (sec. 4, 7, 9), are between the Law and the Gospel, and hence in these the Law is designated by the name of the Old, and the Gospel by that of the New Testament. … And here also, with regard to the holy fathers, it is to be observed, that though they lived under the Old Testament, they did not stop there, but always aspired to the New, and so entered into sure fellowship with it. Those who, contented with existing shadows, did not carry their thoughts to Christ, the Apostle charges with blindness and malediction. — Inst

    Note that he identifies the Law (which contrasts with Gospel) with the Old Testament and with shadows, and not solely with the moral law. The self-same identification occurs (in boldface!) in the section you quoted from Turretin.

    The same vacillation occurs in your treatment of the next section:

    DR: Calvin is not talking about believers being under (or afraid of) a works principle. In the first part of the paragraph he is speaking of the moral law in its pedagogical use driving the Israelites to Christ (“… but feeling that by the Law they were oppressed like slaves, and vexed with a disquieted conscience, they fled for refuge to the gospel”). He says absolutely nothing about them being under a works principle (and I assure you he would vehemently deny it). In the second part of the paragraph, he is saying that the liberty of OT believers was essentially that of believers under the NT, yet they were still bound to the ceremonial observances.

    Again, if Calvin were speaking of the moral law, then he could not be speaking of a contrast between Old and New. For the moral law has in no way been diminished in force in the New Covenant.

    I understand how you connect Calvin here to WCF 20.1. But you overlook the judicial law. Were the Israelites afraid because they were forbidden to eat shellfish? Or were they rather afraid because if caught collecting wood on the Sabbath, they would be stoned to death?

    It is principally in the judicial law that we see the works-principle typified. The judicial law did not make a distinction between believer or non-believer. It operated on the principle of “obey and live; disobey and be punished.” Faith was no part of that equation.

    So to recap:

    * Defend (1)
    * Help me understand the seeming contradiction
    * Clarify why you seem to vacillate between the moral law and the Old Testament Law in reading Inst 2.11.

    Like

  305. Buzzer-beater!

    DR: What you have constructed in this essay of yours is an accidental covenant

    You may have been being witty here, but you do understand that there can be no such thing as “an accidental covenant.”

    Accidents are characteristics of substances, adjectives for the nouns. “An accidental covenant” has as much meaning as “a pretty” or “a jogging.”

    I wonder if you are reading the word “accidental” to mean “not intended”? Or perhaps you were just being funny.

    Like

  306. So I don’t own Turretin, and at $100/3 vol, I’m not likely to purchase the whole thing soon.

    So I will grant that you have the advantage of context in the reading of FT.

    Still and all, Bob S’s quote seems quite dispositive to me. Here again:

    FT, quoted by BobS: Meanwhile it pleased God to administer the covenant of grace in this period under a rigid legal economy–both on account of the condition of the people still in infancy and on account of the putting off of the advent of Christ and the satisfaction to be rendered by him. A twofold relation ought always to obtain: the one legal, more severe, through which by a new promulgation of the law and of the covenant of works, with an intolerable yoke of ceremonies, he wished to set forth what men owed and what was to be expected by them on account of duty unperformed…. The other relation was evangelical, sweeter, inasmuch as “the law was a schoolmaster unto Christ” (Gal 3:24) and contained “the shadow of things to come” (Heb 10:1), whose body and express image is in Christ.

    According to that twofold relation, the administration can be viewed either as to the external economy of legal teaching or as to the internal truth of the gospel promise lying under it. The matter of that external economy was the threefold law–moral, ceremonial and forensic. The first was fundamental; the remaining appendices of it. The form was the pact added to that external dispensation, which on the part of God was the promise of the land of Canaan and of rest and happiness in it; and, under the image of each, of heaven and the rest in him (Heb 4:3, 9); or of eternal life according to the clause, “Do this and live.” On the part of the people, it was a stipulation of obedience to the whole law or righteousness both perfect (Dt 27:26; Gal 3:10) and personal and justification by it (Rom 2:13). But this stipulation in the Israelite covenant was only accidental, since it was added only in order that man by its weakness might be led to reject his own righteousness and to embrace another’s, latent under the law.[12:7:31,32]

    Notice that the “external economy of legal teaching” does not arise from a misunderstanding. Further, it is identified as a “new promulgation of the law and of the covenant of works.” Further, that external economy set forth “what men owed and what was to be expected by them on account of duty unperformed.”

    It would appear that we have * an external (accidental) legal framework that, * is a republication of the CoW, that *operates by a works-principle.

    So help me understand how Turretin is saying anything different from what I’ve said? How does the larger context change things?

    Like

  307. Hey, you know what? I realized this morning that we’re wading into shoulder-high weeds. Let’s do this a much easier way. Let’s start with something that I feel confident that we have 100% agreement on: the moral law and justification. I’m sure that we agree to the following principles:

    * The moral law was given to Adam as a covenant of works. WCF 19.1.
    * It was republished at Sinai. WCF 19.2
    * The moral law, of itself, functions according to a works-principle: do this and live, disobey and die.
    * That works-principle was unable to be satisfied by anyone except Adam (hypothetically) and Jesus (actually) because of the sin nature.
    * So the republishing of the moral law at Sinai was not intended that Israel would actually be able to fulfill it, but rather for Israelites to see their inability and thereby perceive the Messiah through the sacrifices.
    * But the republishing of the moral law at Sinai *was* intended that Jesus should fulfill it.
    * The works-principle of the moral law, therefore, was not of the substance of the Mosaic covenant, but accidental to it.
    * And in particular, the giving of the law at Sinai to Israel (who would fail) was a type of the fulfillment of the Law by Christ, the true Israel and the true son of David (thus, federal head of Israel).

    If we agree so far, as I am confident that we do, then you must abandon (1). For it is unquestionable that

    * The Mosaic Covenant contained the moral law as a component (10 Commandments!)
    * The moral law operates according to a works-principle of itself. This is true in all ages: pre-Abrahamic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, and New. (Calvin discusses the works-principle of the moral law in Inst 2.7)
    * The works-principle within the moral law was not therefore operative only for non-believers, but for all. To Israelites, as a source of failure. To Jesus, as the ground for purchasing our salvation.
    * Therefore, the Mosaic Covenant contains within it a component that operates by works-principle — yet not of the substance (for it was never intended that Israelites should be able to keep the law and live), but as accident, as a type of Christ keeping the moral law on their and our behalf.

    Thus the moral law. And this reasoning directly falsifies the proposition (1), that anything operating by a works-principle would necessarily belong to a separate covenant. On the contrary, in the moral law republished at Sinai, we have an echo of the covenant of works that is functioning *not as a separate covenant* but as an accidental (meaning: attribute, not substance) feature of the covenant of grace.

    Like

  308. Jeff,

    Thanks for all of the above. I’m pondering it, and will say more later, but for now, but let me try this (at the risk of being repetitious):

    When Jesus said to the rich young ruler, “Do this and you will live,” the stipulation was accidental, because Jesus’s intent was not actually to enter into a covenant of works with the man, i.e., place him under a works principle of inheritance. On the contrary, Jesus’s intent was to humble the man in the sense of his sin and misery and help him to a clearer sight of his need for Christ (WLC 95). IOW, Jesus was preaching the law in its second use.

    Do you agree?

    Therefore, if the RYR, after listening to Jesus, then set about to endeavor to merit life by his obedience, we would conclude that he has seriously (and fatally) misunderstood Jesus’s intent, wouldn’t we? And the precise nature of the misunderstanding would not be in thinking that someone who perfectly obeys inherits eternal life (which is true), but rather in thinking that he should attempt to merit life by his own obedience (which is false).

    Agreed?

    What I have been trying to argue is that this is precisely how the law was intended to function as given to Israel. The stipulation was accidental, i.e., God never intended to enter into a legal (i.e., works-based) covenant with Israel, nor did he ever enter into such a covenant with them. It was only those who misunderstood the intent of the giving of the law who devised a sort of counterfeit CoW for themselves.

    Does this help any?

    Like

  309. Jeff,

    Maybe this is a way to simplify it:

    I take it for granted that, in order for a works principle to exist, two things are necessary:

    1. Two parties must enter into a covenant.

    2. The condition of that covenant must be works.

    Given the above, I then reason that God’s dealings with Israel don’t satisfy #2. Ergo, no works principle.

    What have I missed?

    Like

  310. Paul’s reasoning in Galatia is covenant-historical. Paul distinguishes the Abrahamic covenant from the Sinai covenant as each was instituted by God, not as either covenant was or was not later perverted either by Jews or by Christians. When he says “nomos,” he most emphatically does not mean some first-century aberration of that covenant, whether Jewish or Christian. He means the Sinai covenant as it was instituted by God through the hand of Moses…

    This translation error, erroneous enough in its own right, also flies in the face of the text.
    Note that Paul does not condemn any alleged abuse of the Sinai covenant here. It is not those
    who abuse (“rely on”) the law who are under a curse; it is those who are covenantally under the
    law that are under its threatening curse-sanction. Twice here Paul quotes the law’s own words,9
    indicating that the curse-sanction was an inherent part of the administration itself, long before
    anyone allegedly perverted or distorted it. It was not, that is, some later false reliance on the law
    that cursed; it was disobedience to its statutes and ordinances in the first generation (and in all
    subsequent generations) that cursed…

    … it was not some famous (or obscure) first-century Jewish sectarian who said, “The one
    who does them shall live by them;” it was Moses who said this in Leviticus 18:5. It was not the
    Law, as allegedly perverted a millenium after Moses that Paul discussed in Galatians 3, but the
    law which came 430 years after the Abrahamic covenant that Paul discusses (Gal. 3:17).</i?

    http://www.tdgordon.net/theology/abraham_and_sinai_contraste.pdf

    Like

  311. Jeff,

    * The Mosaic Covenant contained the moral law as a component (10 Commandments!)
    * The moral law operates according to a works-principle of itself. This is true in all ages: pre-Abrahamic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, and New. (Calvin discusses the works-principle of the moral law in Inst 2.7)
    * The works-principle within the moral law was not therefore operative only for non-believers, but for all. To Israelites, as a source of failure. To Jesus, as the ground for purchasing our salvation.

    Has the moral law been abrogated? Therefore you would argue that the works principle continues to be operative for all?

    It is true that the moral law in and of itself is the charter for the covenant of works. But since the fall, that use of the moral law has been rendered obsolete. What I am saying is that the moral law was given to Israel as a pedagogue unto Christ and antecedently as a rule of life, and that this is precisely the way the moral law is given under the NC.

    Like

  312. Q. 93. What is the moral law?
    A. The moral law is the declaration of the will of God to mankind, directing and binding every one 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 oweth to God and man: promising life upon the fulfilling, and threatening death upon the breach of it [CoW].

    The uses of the moral law can be to lead one to Christ and also as a rule of righteousness (as well as all that is in Q. 97). But it would seem according to Q. 93 that some aspect of the covenant of works is intrinsically part of the the moral law. Therefore the reprobate is today still under it (i.e the moral law as a covenant of works) and therefore liable to its sanction of death for not providing complete obedience. The elect are not under the law as a CoW but under grace as a covenant (Rom. 6:14) because Christ Jesus as their Surety replaced them under law (Gal. 4:4) and he, having born their curse and fulfilled the moral law for them as a covenant of works, merited the promise of life for the elect under the Covenant of Grace. This only makes sense if the promise and curse of the CoW is still put forth in the moral law. It remains but as a believer I’m not under it.

    Like

  313. David R: Thanks.

    DR: if the RYR, after listening to Jesus, then set about to endeavor to merit life by his obedience, we would conclude that he has seriously (and fatally) misunderstood Jesus’s intent, wouldn’t we? And the precise nature of the misunderstanding would not be in thinking that someone who perfectly obeys inherits eternal life (which is true), but rather in thinking that he should attempt to merit life by his own obedience (which is false).

    Yes. Specifically, he would bring his inability into contact with the covenant of works, and die thereby.

    DR: When Jesus said to the rich young ruler, “Do this and you will live,” the stipulation was accidental, because Jesus’s intent was not actually to enter into a covenant of works with the man, i.e., place him under a works principle of inheritance. On the contrary, Jesus’s intent was to humble the man in the sense of his sin and misery and help him to a clearer sight of his need for Christ (WLC 95). IOW, Jesus was preaching the law in its second use.

    OK, good, we’ve isolated the issue.

    YES to your characterization of intent. Jesus’ intent was to humble the man in the pedagogical sense. So if we’re thinking about the Mosaic covenant and the republication on Mt Sinai per WCF 7.2, Jesus’ intent is to use the shadow of the CoW to direct the man to the reality of the CoG.

    A partial NO to your characterization of accident. When Jesus says “do this and live”, there is a pedagogical use in the Mosaic Covenant that is accidental (because typological). But there is also, underlying that, a very real expression of the CoW. It is literally true that the moral law requires “do this and live”, and that the very person (Jesus) standing before the RYR is the one who will actually keep the Law.

    So “do this and live” is substantial with respect to the moral law. The moral law in the form of the Decalogue is attached administratively, hence accidentally, to the Mosaic Covenant in order to have a pedagogical use.

    So I would say that the RYR was *already* under the CoW, and already dead because of it (both federally under Adam and actually because of his own sin). Jesus is not inviting him to enter into a CoW, but inviting him to realize his death, and need for life, and to understand that “no one is good but God” (as in, Jesus).

    Where we differ appears to be on this question of the meaning of ‘accident.’ You seem to think (maybe? I’m interpolating here) that ‘accident’ is a synonym for ‘not intended’, as in:

    Jesus did not intend for the RYR to enter into the CoW, so his expression of ‘do this and live’ is accidental.

    Whereas I am understanding ‘accidental’ to mean ‘an attribute not of the essence’, as in:

    The essence of the Mosaic Covenant was grace through faith, the essence of the CoW was ‘do this and live’. So Jesus’ expression of ‘do this and live’ was accidental wrt the Mosaic, substantial wrt the CoW. He is intended for the RYR to realize his death under the CoW so that he may have live under the CoG.

    Like

  314. DR: Has the moral law been abrogated?

    No.

    Therefore you would argue that the works principle continues to be operative for all?

    Absolutely! Inability of course means that all are under the sentence of death, both in Adam and of themselves. But if the works principle were no longer operative, there would be no guilt.

    It is true that the moral law in and of itself is the charter for the covenant of works. But since the fall, that use of the moral law has been rendered obsolete.

    I think you want to mean that since the fall, there is no real possibility of fallen man meriting life under it. But if that use had been rendered obsolete, then (1) there would be no guilt for those who are reckoned as disobedient, and worse (2) it would be impossible for Jesus to have merited life for us by his obedience.

    Pause for a moment here and think about the statistical correlation between those who oppose republication and those who deny active obedience. I know that you are not one of those, but you must admit that every single denier of active obedience is also an opponent of republication. This is not an ‘accidental’ (heh-heh) connection. If we deny that that works-principle continued in force, then we cannot believe that Christ’s obedience was meritorious on our behalf.

    What I am saying is that the moral law was given to Israel as a pedagogue unto Christ and antecedently as a rule of life, and that this is precisely the way the moral law is given under the NC.

    I would say rather that the moral law as republished in the Decalogue serves those exact functions *because* it points to the real requirement of righteousness under the CoW, which when combined with our inability leaves but one possibility: righteousness extra nos.

    Like

  315. Jeff,

    Related to what I wrote about, your premise above that “The Mosaic Covenant contained the moral law as a component (10 Commandments!)” is unclear to me because I am not sure what you mean by “component.” In my view, the moral law had precisely the same uses under the MC as it does under the NC, but in your use of that term (component), I wonder whether you would agree with me.

    Like

  316. Jeff,

    Me: Therefore you would argue that the works principle continues to be operative for all?

    You: Absolutely! Inability of course means that all are under the sentence of death, both in Adam and of themselves. But if the works principle were no longer operative, there would be no guilt.

    But the question is whether the works principle is operative FOR ALL, including believers. Hopefully we would both deny.

    Like

  317. But the question is whether the works principle is operative FOR ALL, including believers.

    Not sure what you mean by “operative”, but I’ll bite and say that it is “operative” for believers. The catch being that they have Someone who, according to the Covenant of Grace, has step into their place under that works principle and took their penalty and fulfilled their obligations. So that when my conscience is trouble or afflicted by the accuser with the dread of the law’s penalty I don’t reply that the CoW isn’t operative. Rather I reply that my Savior has paid the price and fulfilled the obligation under the CoW so that I can rightly say that I have fulfilled the works principle in Christ Jesus.

    Q. 97. What special use is there of the moral law to the regenerate?
    A. Although they that are regenerate, and believe in Christ, be delivered from the moral law as a covenant of works, so as thereby they are neither justified nor condemned; yet besides the general uses thereof common to them with all men, it is of special use, to show them how much they are bound to Christ for his fulfilling it, and enduring the curse thereof in their stead, and for their good; and thereby to provoke them to more thankfulness, and to express the same in their greater care to conform themselves thereunto as the rule of their obedience.

    Like

  318. I would say that Rom 7 addresses this: believers are transferred out of the CoW into the CoG.

    We under one covenant at any given time.

    Like

  319. Jeff,

    David: It is true that the moral law in and of itself is the charter for the covenant of works. But since the fall, that use of the moral law has been rendered obsolete.

    Jeff: I think you want to mean that since the fall, there is no real possibility of fallen man meriting life under it. But if that use had been rendered obsolete, then (1) there would be no guilt for those who are reckoned as disobedient, and worse (2) it would be impossible for Jesus to have merited life for us by his obedience.

    No. I think you are conflating the use of the law as a CoW with its uses as a perfect rule of righteousness. What I am saying is no different from WLC 94, “Although no man, since the fall, can attain to righteousness and life by the moral law: yet there is great use thereof …”

    (I am not denying that the hypothetical promise of life on the condition of perfect and personal obedience still stands, and, as you pointed out, I affirm Christ’s active obedience.)

    Like

  320. I’ve temporarily given up on the coding. If anyone is familiar with using images in Matlab, let him speak up.

    Have used MATLAB a fair bit, not too much with the image library, I deal with satellite images in C++. But I know people that prototype the kind of stuff I work on in MATLAB.

    Like

  321. Jeff,

    A partial NO to your characterization of accident. When Jesus says “do this and live”, there is a pedagogical use in the Mosaic Covenant that is accidental (because typological).

    No. It was not accidental because it is typological. It was accidental because “it was added only in order that man by its weakness might be led to reject his own righteousness and to embrace another’s, latent under the law” (Turretin).

    Like

  322. DR: It is true that the moral law in and of itself is the charter for the covenant of works. But since the fall, that use of the moral law has been rendered obsolete.

    DR: I am not denying that the hypothetical promise of life on the condition of perfect and personal obedience still stands

    JRC: If we deny that that works-principle continued in force …

    DR: But no one is denying this.

    Lost me. You say that the use of the moral law as the “charter for the covenant of works” is obsolete, yet the works-principle continues in force?

    What other works-principle is there, other than the one chartered under the covenant of works? What other promise of eternal life on the condition of perfect and personal obedience is there, other than the one chartered under the covenant of works?

    How then obsolete?

    And again: if the CoW had been obsolete since the fall, then under what principle did Christ merit for us?

    Like

  323. Jeff,

    If we deny that that works-principle continued in force, then we cannot believe that Christ’s obedience was meritorious on our behalf.

    Please reflect for a moment on what I argued above:

    In order for a works principle to exist, two things are necessary:

    1. Two parties must enter into a covenant.

    2. The condition of that covenant must be works.

    Given the above, I then reason that God’s dealings with Israel don’t satisfy #2. Ergo, no works principle.

    Therefore, in what situations has a works principle existed?

    1. Jesus (representing the elect) was under a works principle by virtue of the pactum salutis.

    2. Adam (representing his posterity) was under a works principle by virtue of the CoW (and therefore his posterity continue under God’s wrath and curse).

    In keeping with what I’ve said above, the hypothetical promise of life contingent on perfect obedience (which does indeed continue in force) does not constitute a works principle except in the case of someone who actually enters into covenant with God on that basis.

    Does this clarify anything?

    Like

  324. JRC: When Jesus says “do this and live”, there is a pedagogical use in the Mosaic Covenant that is accidental (because typological).

    DR: No. It was not accidental because it is typological. It was accidental because “it was added only in order that man by its weakness might be led to reject his own righteousness and to embrace another’s, latent under the law” (Turretin).

    These are two ways of describing the same action. You are correctly describing the intent. I am correctly describing the means.

    How is man led by its weakness to reject his own righteousness and to embrace another’s? Because the commandments pointed backwards to the CoW on the one hand, and pointed to Christ as the fulfiller of the Law on the other.

    Like

  325. Jeff,

    Pause for a moment here and think about the statistical correlation between those who oppose republication and those who deny active obedience. I know that you are not one of those, but you must admit that every single denier of active obedience is also an opponent of republication. This is not an ‘accidental’ (heh-heh) connection.

    This is not persuasive to me since my contention is that the view being propounded today is not compatible with historic Reformed theology. Yet Reformed theologians have affirmed (with few exceptions) the IAOC. All I’m saying is please don’t go there….

    Like

  326. DR: Therefore, in what situations has a works principle existed?

    1. Jesus (representing the elect) was under a works principle by virtue of the pactum salutis.

    2. Adam (representing his posterity) was under a works principle by virtue of the CoW (and therefore his posterity continue under God’s wrath and curse).

    In keeping with what I’ve said above, the hypothetical promise of life contingent on perfect obedience (which does indeed continue in force) does not constitute a works principle except in the case of someone who actually enters into covenant with God on that basis.

    Does this clarify anything?

    No, I’m not clear about your understanding of Adam’s posterity. Are they under the works-principle (unless and until transferred to the CoG)? Or are you saying that they are simply under wrath, without being under a works-principle?

    If the former, then the CoW is not obsolete (but also, not directly relevant to Israel’s situation). If the latter, then I have to take strong exception.

    Like

  327. DR: In order for a works principle to exist, two things are necessary:
    1. Two parties must enter into a covenant.
    2. The condition of that covenant must be works.

    OK, so we would agree that there was a covenant, the CoW, that operated with a works-principle. And the charter of that works-principle was the moral law.

    So now, the moral law is republished at Sinai. So what is the meaning of that republication?

    We really only have two options.

    (1) Either the republication is functioning as a genuine works-principle in its own right – in which case the Mosaic Covenant was a covenant of law, OR it had a subservient covenant of law. OR

    (2) The republication is pointing backwards to a covenant previously made — the CoW — as a way of symbolizing the curse from which the Israelites must flee, by coming under a new covenant, the CoG.

    So we only have two options. Either the law given on Sinai is actually a works-principle, or it is a type of the works-principle. There really aren’t any other possibilities.

    Like

  328. DR: All I’m saying is please don’t go there….

    OK. With respect to you, yourself, I have confidence that we need not go there. With respect to the larger debate, I would argue that the anti-repubs have moved the goalposts with respect to what historic Reformed theology looked like. And we see where the goalposts are by seeing how far out the boundaries lie.

    I am amazed, not at you, but in general, that republication even needs a defense.

    Like

  329. Jeff,

    So now, the moral law is republished at Sinai. So what is the meaning of that republication?

    Precisely the same meaning as the republishing of the moral law in the NT.

    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. (WCF 19.2).

    The moral law does forever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof; and that, not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it. Neither does Christ, in the Gospel, any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation. (WCF 19.5)

    Like

  330. Fair enough. So what is then the meaning of “the moral law as charter of the CoW is obsolet