The Republication-2K Connection

One of the authors cited in Merit and Moses is Patrick Ramsey, who defended Moses in the Westminster Theological Journal and included in his defense the following point about the value of the law (third use) according to the Confession of Faith (19.6):

According to this section of the Confession, the curses (“threatenings”) of the Mosaic Law teach the regenerate what temporal afflictions they may expect when they sin while the blessings (“promises”) instruct them concerning the benefits they may expect when they obey. Saving faith “trembles” at these curses and “embraces” the blessings for “this life, and that which is to come.”

“To establish a connection between obedience and blessing and disobedience and cursing is for many—notably antinomians—to establish in some sense a covenant of works. The divines were certainly aware of this possible misunderstanding. After all, they debated this issue for years. Consequently, they made it explicitly clear that such a connection does not in any form or fashion indicate that man is under a covenant of works (Ramsey, “In Defense of Moses.” Westminster Theological Journal 66 [2004]: 14-15).

Aside from the danger of teaching a prosperity gospel (if you’re well off, you must be doing something right in God’s accounting scheme), Ramsey may have way more confidence in the Westminster Divines than he should about possible misunderstandings of obedience to the law since they lived at a time when lots of Christians regularly compared their own nation to the nation of Israel. This meant that wars were God’s judgment upon the people’s sin, and victory in war was a sign of God’s blessing. Proof of this in the case of the Assembly was their reaffirmation of the Solemn League and Covenant which more or less kicked off their deliberations of matters like covenant theology and law (and likely accounts for the confessional oddity of including an entire chapter on oaths and vows — I’d love to see a candidate for ordination pressed by a presbyter to defend Chapter 22).

Ramsey may be okay with comparing England to Israel. But I’ll take the cautions of republication about the uniqueness of the Mosaic Covenant when it comes God’s blessings and cursings upon the covenant nation. Israel was a type of the first and second Adams. England was not and still is not, no matter how much you invoke Shakespeare. And don’t get me started on the U.S. as a “Christian nation.”

Advertisements

94 thoughts on “The Republication-2K Connection

  1. I always remind “conservative” presbys and confessionalists that are suspicious of 2k and repub that the advocates of these views are the only ones doing real battle with Rome and FVers, and they’re uniformly strong on worship. The cultural conservatives and pseudo evangelical-revivalists can grouse about the Escondido cabal all day long, even as the play footsie with Gospel Coalition types and a host of down-watering organizations.

    Like

  2. From Fesko’s new book, The Theology of the Westminster Standards: Historical Context and Theological Insights:

    “… the Larger Catechism’s exposition of the law is a literary genre unto itself, a document that was intended both for theological instruction and for case law for the civil magistrate. The historical context is vital…

    “The actions of Parliament provide evidence that the divines reflected the theology and practice of the day as that pertained to the magistrate’s responsibility to enforce both tables of the law.”

    Like

  3. Is Solomon authoritative enough for you: “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” And “For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof: but by a man of understanding and knowledge the state thereof shall be prolonged.”

    And are you saying, Dr. Hart, that you don’t hold to Westminster Confession’s teaching on the law?

    Like

  4. Mr. Miller- Have to say, that qualification doesn’t appear in the adopting act of the LC by the C of S assembly. Is it included in the adopting acts of the OPC, URCNA &c.? Otherwise that seems a little dishonest to make that point AFTER subscribing the document, no?

    Like

  5. Are you saying that section of the confession is wrong or not?

    Also, there are blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience in NT texts too (when Paul repeats the fifth commandment for one glaring example)

    Like

  6. Alexander,
    The point has to do with the historical atmosphere and general mindset regarding church and state at the time of the Assembly. One can’t divorce that from understanding the document as it was written. Same goes for the fact that the very real controversy of antinomianism and its perceived threat to England as a nation pervaded many of the chapter debates. See Letham’s book, “The Westminster Assembly, The Reading Its Theology in Historical Context.”

    Like

  7. But it’s the text as adopted this is binding, not the context. The journals of the divines may be interesting and help shed light on the document, for example, but we don’t subscribe their private writings. The text as written and adopted is our constitution and this talk of context undermines that. It becomes a “living confession”, essentially arbitrary and subjective.

    Like

  8. WCF 19.6 uses phrases like “deserve” and “may expect” — I wonder to what extent that was intended to express certainty vs uncertainty (i.e. if you obey you may expect good results, but then again maybe not…)

    Like

  9. RubeRad,
    I don’t have it with me right now, but it was in an extended section on the sabbath in the latter half of the book. I’ll check it out later when I get home.

    Like

  10. Paul, but an even more glaring example is when Jesus makes hating parents the cost of discipleship. Yes, the fifth is certainly still binding, but the point is that while some things abide other things have drastically changed in the new covenant era (besides, who gets crucified for promoting love of family?). Not least is the shift from old Israel to the new Israel. And if there remains a residual of “curse/blessing for dis/obedience” in the new era then is it more “It is sorta finished”? But if some spiritual nationalism remains along with a little bit of works righteousness then doesn’t leave things open for Pat Robertson to have some credibility when he draws a straight line from 9/11 to gay pride parades?

    Like

  11. WSC Question 66

    What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment?
    The reason annexed to the fifth commandment, is a promise of long life and prosperity (as far as it shall serve for God’ s glory and their own good) to all such as keep this commandment.

    WCF 19.6
    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.[383] So as, a man’s doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourages to the one and deters from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law: and not under grace.

    Like

  12. It’s interesting that the civil (restraining) use of the law is so heavily emphasized in the Confession but is totally absent from the Larger Catechism, but the third use (thankfulness and expression of the same) features strongly in the Catechism (Q 97) but is (apparently) absent from the Confession. Don’t know what to make of that….

    Like

  13. Alexander, that’s exactly what I’m saying. NOT!

    So God has a covenant with England, and Scotland, and Turkey, and Eritrea, and Australia? Is that what you’re saying? Alexander, do you deny what the Bible says about God’s special covenant with the nation of Israel?

    Like

  14. Wow, I posted just after Brian but I think he has showed me I was wrong about the civil use not appearing in the Catechism. But why isn’t the third use in the Confession?

    Like

  15. Paul, I’m saying that I don’t subscribe the Solemn League and Covenant. Do you? The Divines did.

    And I’m saying that the chapter on Oaths and Vows is even more tangential to Presbyterian Churches in North America than ch. 21 on singing psalms.

    Do you want to hold out for Oaths and Vows as essential to the system of doctrine? Funny, the other Reformed confessions don’t include it.

    Like

  16. If you’re just focusing on SC66 vs WCF 19.6, the SC question is just about 5th commandment, while 19.6 is about the law in general. If you take a look at LC94-98 you can see, however, two uses of the law clearly spelled out, but it looks like you may be correct that the “restraining” use of the law appears to be absent.

    Like

  17. BV, you buried your lead:

    “They were absolutely shocked to find out how practical the Bible was,” Barton said. “They had no clue that all of these things [pertaining to government] were in the Bible … We talked to them about all sorts of things, about education in the Bible, about all sorts of things, so they were alive and on fire.”

    Since returning to America, Barton revealed that he has been contacted by several other members of the Ukrainian government, asking him to return and deliver his presentation to the entire parliament, as well as from government leaders in neighboring nations who want him to come and present his message there as well:

    Like

  18. Paul, we could write a new confession. Though the Holy Spirit did put pants on the Westminster Assembly.

    Anyway, since when are you such a stickler for the Confession. I seem to recall you saying lots of nice things about Federal Vision.

    Like

  19. And I don’t know what you’re saying that 3rd use is not in confession, it’s all over 19.6. Specifically “as a rule of life informing them of the will of God, and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly” — although the word “thankful” does not appear, I’m not sure that’s a hallmark of the 3rd use.

    Like

  20. Brian, that’s fine and lots of Reformed folks believe this. But what about the suffering of saints? Plus, the Vossians who do criticize the republicationists are very chatty about the Christian life as one of suffering followed by exaltation, like Christ’s own life. So where do we see a call to suffering in this view of the law? And how do we tell the difference between suffering that is like Job’s or suffering that is like David’s?

    Like

  21. I think the confession is really just generally stating that sin usually has bad consequences in life even for the forgiven (think David and Bathsheba). I dont think it is teaching a 1:1 correspondence between good deeds and blessings and sin and cursing all the time. But misusing the Lord’s Supper does have consequences, pre-marital sex leads to awkward shotgun weddings, and gluttony leads to being the mocking point of small children. But then again, sometimes the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer. Some do people do drugs and live till 90 and some eat a steady diet of organic berries and nuts and end up with stage 5 cancer. I think there was a guy named salami or sosaman or something that wrote about this phenomenon.

    Like

  22. Pretty sure the prosperity of the wicked and the suffering of the righteous is a pretty big theme in the Psalms. There’s some good material to temper all of us.

    Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity.
    (Ecclesiastes 2:15 ESV)

    Like

  23. My Vossian criticisms of Horton aside his chapter on providence in Calvin on the Christian Life is excellent on this subject. Sometimes its God’s fatherly discipline sometimes its just life this side of glory, “best not to wander into the labyrinth of God’s secret will” but to remember “Trials are the workshop of a father, not the threats of a judge,” whether we brought it on ourselves or not.

    26. Q.
    What do you believe when you say:
    I believe in God the Father almighty,
    Creator of heaven and earth?
    A.
    That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
    who out of nothing created heaven and earth
    and all that is in them,
    and who still upholds and governs them
    by his eternal counsel and providence,
    is, for the sake of Christ his Son,
    my God and my Father.
    In him I trust so completely
    as to have no doubt
    that he will provide me
    with all things necessary for body and soul,
    and will also turn to my good
    whatever adversity he sends me
    in this life of sorrow.
    He is able to do so as almighty God,
    and willing also as a faithful Father.

    Like

  24. RubeRad,

    And I don’t know what you’re saying that 3rd use is not in confession, it’s all over 19.6. Specifically “as a rule of life informing them of the will of God, and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly” — although the word “thankful” does not appear, I’m not sure that’s a hallmark of the 3rd use.

    As I understand it, “rule of life” and “directs and binds …” corresponds to the Catechism’s use of the law for “all men,” whereas “third use” is specifically for the regenerate.

    Like

  25. Deej, in light of this Barton-Ukraine news I’d like to propose a domino theory for Bartonian revisionism. Today Ukraine, but tomorrow Russia.

    Like

  26. OK, maybe you’ve got a point there, because the beginning of 19.6 is “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,…”. Later it restricts “It is likewise of use to the regenerate…restrain…threatenings…approbation…although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works.” Maybe that’s the 3rd use. Somebody else chime in here… which use is the civil/restrainging 1st or 2nd, and how is that different from the 3rd use?

    Like

  27. Rube,
    Usually:
    1rst – Mirror and pointer to Christ (some people switch 1 and 2)
    2nd – Civil/restraining
    3rd – rule of life for the godly

    I think your confusion is due to the fact that sometimes the 2nd use of the law is really good even for Christians. I am sinful enough that even just being restrained commonly is helpful. I think most of that section is referring to the third use, but the divines weren’t simplistic and realized that sometimes a whole lot of things are helpful to hold back our sinfulness even as believers. Not to be so pessimistic and defeatists but when it comes to our wilderness pilgrimage in this age instead being disallusioned by our triumphilism sometimes we just say “Dear goodness, lets just try to through this”. If you have ever read Calvin’s prayer from hear sermons or commentaries (the one from Hosea is free on monergism) they sound like he thinks every person present was about two seconds away from falling away and usually end with some form of please just bring us home.

    Like

  28. FYI, you can find the article referenced in this post here: http://patrickspensees.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/in-defense-of-moses.pdf

    WCF 30.3 says that the church can experience the wrath of God if they should suffer his covenant. WCF 17.3 says that believers can by their sins bring temporal judgments upon themselves.

    Does this mean that the NT church and NT believers are under a covenant of works in some sense? And does it mean that the NT church is under a typological covenant of works since they reference temporal judgments?

    Like

  29. I go away for a while to read the new Fesko, and come back to find a new thread on republication.

    Let me simply report that Fesko displays the conplexity of views. One does not have to say that the Mosaic covenant republishes the Adamic covenant in order to say that the Mosaic covenant is unique. And even between those who agree about the uniqueness of the Mosaic covenant, some teach that only certain parts of that covenant have been abrogated, and others teach that the Mosaic covenant itself was an interim intrusion, a “schoolmaster” for those under age, during an age which has now come to an end.

    Exodus 40:13 and put on Aaron the holy garments. And you shall anoint him and consecrate him, that he may serve me as priest. 14 You shall bring his sons also and put coats on them, 15 and anoint them, as you anointed their father, that they may serve me as priests. And their anointing shall admit them to a perpetual priesthood throughout their generations.”

    Leviticus 16: 33 He shall make atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tent of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. 34 And this shall be a statute FOREVER FOR YOU, that atonement may be made for the people of Israel once in the year because of all their sins.”

    Leviticus 24:8 Every Sabbath day Aaron shall arrange it before the Lord regularly; it is from the people of Israel as a covenant FOREVER. 9 And it shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place, since it is for him a most holy portion out of the Lord’s food offerings, a perpetual due.”

    Isaiah 24:5 The earth lies defiled
    under its inhabitants;
    for they have transgressed the laws,
    violated the statutes,
    broken the everlasting covenant.

    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.

    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 Turretin’s 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

  30. Here’s the third use defined in WCL Q #97:

    Q. 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.

    That doesn’t seem to be reflected anywhere in the Confession.

    Like

  31. dgh—Aside from the danger of teaching a prosperity gospel (if you’re well off, you must be doing something right in God’s accounting scheme)…

    mark—Thanks for making the connection of “law is the gospel” to the Constantinian situation. I do think it’s easy for those who are prospering to conclude that what they are doing factors in somehow. Those who are in control of the law tend to think they are not “under the law” but can “use it” to their own advantage. But….

    1. Theonomists like Gary North promise even “others” (unbelievers, those outside the covenant) that they will prosper if they do the law. Since he’s post-mill, North thinks “common grace” will decrease over time, and then there will be more “saving grace”, but he thinks that even the “common grace” is going to happen for those unbelievers who outwardly use the law, obeying it for their advantage.

    2. Even those who lament that we are no longer in a Constantinian situation still tend to have a “prosperity gospel”, so that they at one and the same time complain of being in exile, but also boast of being folks best suited for success in such a time. The difference between a ‘theology of glory” and sheer triumphalism gets pretty thin sometimes. Sure. grace gives us what we have, but also nothing comes to those who won’t make an effort and we know how to compete and work, and just so long as we don’t say merit, and are careful to thank God that we are not like other sinners….

    3. Isn’t “old school” theology somewhat tied to “Constantinian prosperity” or the nostalgia for that? No, I am not trying to talk about the South or even the “spirituality of the church”. But it’s a little tricky to criticize the Solemn League and Covenant and still then think that all other revisions to the confession have been already done. There is a self-satisfaction about that which has come about with the passing of time which sees all questions as unnecessary.

    Theodore D. Bozeman, “Inductive and Deductive Polities”, Journal of American History, December 1977, p 722–Materially comfortable and conspicuously toward the leading groups in society, the old school carried forward traditional Calvinist support for business and professional vocations….Having supported from the beginning a version of Protestantism supportive of property consciousness, the Old School leadership had incentive enough for worry about social instability… Old School contributions to social analysis may be viewed as a sustained attempt to defend the inherited social structure…The General Assembly found it necessary to lament the practice of those who ‘question and unsettle practice which have received the enlightened sanction of centuries’… Social naturalists assumed that the laws of society were not merely true, that is, given in the scheme of nature. They bore too the humbling force of prescription; they demanded compliance. The desire was to draw the ought out of the is…to make facts serve a normative purpose.”

    Like

  32. BV—I’d like to propose a domino theory for Bartonian revisionism. Today Ukraine, but tomorrow Russia.

    Leonard Cohen–
    They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom
    For trying to change the system from within
    I’m coming now, I’m coming to reward them
    First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin
    I’m guided by a signal in the heavens
    I’m guided by this birthmark on my skin
    I’m guided by the beauty of our weapons
    First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin

    Ah you loved me as a loser, but now you’re worried that I just might win
    You know the way to stop me, but you don’t have the discipline
    How many nights I prayed for this, to let my work begin
    First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin

    Like

  33. Patrick, does the church go into exile? And if you want to say that God shows wrath against his church, wouldn’t you also want to say with Paul that there is no condemnation, and that not even persecution or famine or war can separate us from the love of God? Was that true for the nation of Israel?

    Like

  34. I don’t know if anyone has ever looked into the ‘Mussar’ movement among Messianic Jewish Congregations, but it seems that the parallels to this topic are amazingly close. I read some of their literature on ‘holiness’ and couldn’t help but think of those in the ‘obedience camp’ in Reformed circles.
    It’s all about ‘intention’ with the right ‘kavanah’……so that ‘middot’ can be formed in the soul for keeping ‘mihtzvot’………little mention of Yeshua, lot of language on personal growth –

    Like

  35. D. G. Hart –
    Patrick, does the church go into exile? And if you want to say that God shows wrath against his church, wouldn’t you also want to say with Paul that there is no condemnation, and that not even persecution or famine or war can separate us from the love of God? Was that true for the nation of Israel?

    Exactly…

    Like

  36. There is a problem about relating contemporary problems of the Church with problems for OT Israel, Israel had prophets to tell them what was going on while we have no such prophets who can tell us whether a hardship is due to sin in the Church or sin by others.

    There is also a problem of relating the Church too much to what the exiles in the OT went through, the Church is also like the wandering Hebrews before they entered the Promised Land in that the Church has never been to the Promised Land. The OT exiles had been but were temporarily kicked out because of sin.

    Like

  37. If it can be said that God shows his wrath against the church it must also be that God shows his pleasure by materially blessing the church. I’ve heard it said “that God must be happy with us since he’s blessed us with this new building.” Makes me wonder though, God must really be pleased with Muslims, Catholics and Mormons cuz they have some very nice buildings; nicer than most buildings I’ve seen in the OPC/PCA churches I’ve attended.

    Like

  38. DGH,

    Do I remember correctly that Machen wrote about the modernists in the PCUSA being free to believe and teach what they wanted, just not in the PCUSA? One of the big problems was the lack of honesty. The ministers in the PCUSA had made vows and rather than seek to change the standards officially they just taught things contrary to it – thus violating their own vows and, in their case, leading the church to destruction. Had they been honest early on, the PCUSA would likely have removed their credentials and the PCUSA may have continued as a faithful denomination to this day.

    There is a way to go about changing the confession, personally I am not an advocate as I agree with the WCF as it is written. I believe it properly summarizes the teaching of Scripture. That doesn’t mean that the OPC or PCA cannot make changes to the WCF (changes have been made in past Presbyterian history). However, the way to make those changes is through the presbytery, general assembly, and then back to the presbyteries. Simply teaching in contradiction is not proper.

    If one finds themselves no longer in agreement with the standards they formerly held to, they need to make this clear to their governing body, and submit to the decision of the body.

    Am I incorrect here?

    Like

  39. Is it a fair analogy to say that if one does not believe the “psalms” of WCF 21 refer only to the 150 in the book of Psalms, than someone else may take exception to WCF 19 on the law of God and WCF 7 on the covenants?

    Men take exceptions/scruples with the WCF often, and many exceptions (perhaps too many) are allowed. Generally speaking, sessions and presbyteries, and GAs have accepted a view of the “psalms” in WCF 21 to mean the 150, other hymns, and spiritual songs. They have not taken WCF 7 to mean that one covenant of Grace after Adam means one covenant of Grace and republication of the Cov. of Works after Adam (at least not that I have seen…maybe a presbytery has?)

    If one exception is the same as another, than the whole WCF is meaningless as a standard.

    I am struggling with the analogies being made. However, I do agree with the premise that modern 2K (my term) and Republication are connected. I also think other items are also closely connected but they would not add to this post.

    I appreciate the dialogue.

    Like

  40. 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.”

    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

    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

  41. B,

    The OPC has long held to the animus imponentis. The original members of the OPC, for instance, were not exclusive psalmodists or six-day creationists (not sure the Divines were either but I’m sure 20th century Presbyterians understood human origins differently from 17th century Presbyterians). I recommend Alan Strange’s interview.

    Like

  42. DGH,

    I listened to the interview and I believe my previous posts would affirm animus imponentis (AI).

    What AI does not do is allow a minister or elder to teach a Sunday School class or preach a sermon declaring the Lord’s supper to only be a sign and not a seal.

    As was addressed in the interview, AI does not mean “anything goes”.

    If rather clear (in the history of the OPC) statements of the WCF are being disagreed with, shouldn’t those ideas be voluntarily brought before the session or presbytery for examination? Then the session or presbytery can decide if they are acceptable. Wouldn’t this be more in line with AI?

    Thank you,

    B

    Like

  43. I myself am not much of a ‘stickler’ for the confession. But I was raised to be one (in the church John Murray attended, and trained on G I Williamson’s teaching materials: and YES, he covered Oaths and Vows and said it was relevant).

    I would also describe myself as still learning and willing to listen to all views, but I learn best by skeptically questioning people with specific views. I ask the FV ppl skeptical questions too.

    I find that there are a lot of people who oppose thing I think don’t conflict with cofnessional boundaries who do so by “stickling” but only to some things. Cafeterial sticklers if you will. I tend to think its hypocritical to stickle to others when one doesn’t stickle in many ways oneself I felt moved to question your lack of stickling….

    and this area BTW, is not in terms of just what we think of as non-core doctrine: this area of the WCF is about determinign what counts as a covenant of works and the relationship between law and gospel. if the WCF worldview on how a COW is different from a COG is not yours, even your “ex animo” subscription would be questionable I’d think.

    Not that there’s anythign wrong with that

    Like

  44. Patrick – I am still unclear as to why a Klinean wouldn’t see WCF 30.3 and 17.3 as being legalistic.

    Which causes me to wonder about your “Dennison” premises as to what is a “Klinean” position. Why would a “Klinean” view those two citations as legalistic?

    Like

  45. Paul, but Murray didn’t consider the arrangement with Adam a covenant of works. So how do the defenders of Murray have leverage in this (and then they abandon him on Psalm singing)?

    Like

  46. Jack,

    “Dennison” premises? I pointed out the discrepancy between Kline’s teaching and WCF 30.3, 19.6,17.3 over ten years ago. See In Defense of Moses.

    The reason is because they express substantially the same relationship between obedience-blessing and disobedience-curses that is found in the Mosaic Covenant. And so if the MC is a legal/works covenant then the NC is a legal/works covenant. Or if the NC is a gracious covenant, then the MC is a gracious covenant.

    Like

  47. It sure does seem that saying the MC was evangelistic, in terms of being pedagogical, is a lot more helpful and insightful than it’s either strictly COG or COW. That just pushes us back to the edenic consideration, but even on the level of pactum merit, republ. seems to read well with the texts and then by the time you get to paul’s dichotomies trying to bring grace and faith in bold relief against works and righteousness and curse, the monocovenantalists sure do look like they’re ignoring the scriptures in favor of prior commitments.

    Like

  48. Jack, I thought I just explained it.
    Daryl, I confess my ignorance on “the Gaffin and the Vossians on suffering.” I never studied under Gaffin and I haven’t read much of Vos. I am familiar though with Rom. 8:17.

    Like

  49. Patrick,
    The reason is because they express substantially the same relationship between obedience-blessing and disobedience-curses that is found in the Mosaic Covenant. And so if the MC is a legal/works covenant then the NC is a legal/works covenant. Or if the NC is a gracious covenant, then the MC is a gracious covenant.
    So the New Covenant is equal to or parallel to the Mosaic Covenant? Nothing going on typologically in the MC that points either back to Adam or forward to Christ visa-vis a works principle and a national covenant and fulfilled in the gospel administration? Is the OT Israel nation/church parallel or equal to the NT visible church?

    .

    Like

  50. So Daryl, does this mean you are going to answer my question.

    I am not sure what kind of anti-repub. you think I am. But disagreeing with Kline’s take on the MC is not the same thing being ant-repub. In fact, Kline is anti-repub. at least as the republication doctrine is historically understood.

    Like

  51. Daryl, my question is how does a Klinean understand the teaching of WCF 30.3 and 17.3? 30.3 speaks of God’s wrath justly falling upon the church “if they should suffer his covenant.” and 17.3 says that believers can by their sins bring temporal judgments upon themselves.

    Like

  52. Patrick, legalism would be do all of this and live. Break any part of this, and die.

    I don’t exactly see how that kind of threat is gracious, as in my yoke is easy, my burden is light. It’s not, fail to carry my light cross and die.

    Like

  53. Daryl,

    WCF 30.3 and 17.3 do not teach “break any part of this, and die.” And of course Kline’s view of the MC doesn’t teach that either. He says that only a general level of obedience is necessary to receive temporal blessings.

    WCF 30.3 and 17.3, however, do teach a connection between disobedience and temporal judgments. Kline and his advocates teach that the MC is a works/legal covenant because it teaches a connection between disobedience and temporal judgments. It does then seem to follow that from a Klinean perspective the WCF expresses a works principle in the NC and in that sense is legalistic. But I am sure I am missing something. What am I missing?

    Like

  54. But Daryl the Psalms are in the OT when, as Kline says, Israel was blessed for their obedience. So who are you going to believe?

    So am I right that from Klinean perspective WCF 30.3 and 17.3 reflect a works principle?

    Like

  55. @ Patrick: not being a hard-core Klinean, I nevertheless have concerns about the current anti-Kline push, which I see as a proxy for a fight over sanctification.

    Here’re my concerns, and perhaps you could address them:

    (1) What is your understanding of “being under the law” in Romans and Galatians?

    (2) Do we increase in our sanctification by means of our obedience?

    (3) Is Calvin in Inst 2 correct in his explication of the differences between Mosaic and New covenants?

    Thanks,

    Like

  56. Jeff, as interesting as that discussion would be, I want to stay on track since I haven’t received a clear answer yet. Doesn’t WCF 30.3 and 17.3 seem to express a works principle? And if not, why not?

    Like

  57. OK. No, for the outcome of disobedience is not removal from the covenant (in either section).

    That is, national Israel’s disobedience accumulated leading to removal (Babylon), followed by restoration (returrn) and then ultimately destruction (AD 70).

    By contrast, a believer’s disobedience is circumscribed by the work of the Spirit leading to perseverance.

    Your turn?

    Like

  58. Patrick, how is cultic discipline the same as probationary covenant tied to the land that has a definite beg and end? And how do you come to discerning between the two without exegeting Gal. 3 and 4 for example? I understand the impulse to abstract the covenant arrangement and forever be bringing it to a consistent conclusion, but if the other side recognizes discontinuity then you’re stacking the deck in accord with your abstraction. Or so it would seem. Are the abrahamic and MC distinct and in what way?

    Like

  59. Institutes of Elenctic Theology (1679-85) – Francis Turretin

    It pleased God to administer the covenant of grace in this period [from Moses to Christ] 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. In this respect, the law is called the letter that kills (2 Cor. 3:6) and the handwriting which was contrary to us (Col. 2:14), because by it men professed themselves guilty and children of death, the declaration being written by their own blood in circumcision and by the blood of victims.

    Like

  60. Here’s a vote that we stay on track by Patrick answering Jeff’s good questions.I f Patrick does not answer, we are going to have to be as dissatisfied with him as he is with Kline and Karlberg.

    1) What is your understanding of “being under the law” in Romans and Galatians?

    (2) Do we increase in our sanctification by means of our obedience?

    (3) Is Calvin in Inst 2 correct in his explication of the differences between Mosaic and New covenants?

    Like

  61. Jeff,

    I want to make sure I understand you. It sounds like you saying that there is a do this and live principle in the new covenant just like the old covenant. For in both covenants, if you disobey then you will experience God’s wrath and temporal punishments. The only difference is that in the old covenant, if you disobey too much then you will be removed from the covenant (excommunicated). So I guess it follows then that there is no removal from covenant or excommunication in the new covenant. Am I reading you correctly?

    Fyi, Israel’s story doesn’t end in AD 70. Romans 11 says that all Israel will be saved. The end is not destruction but rather salvation. So does this mean that Israel wasn’t under a works covenant?

    Like

  62. Patrick,
    I’m wondering, who is Israel to be saved? All that were under the Mosaic covenant (which was found with fault and ended with Christ according to Hebrews) including any Jew who lived since the time of Christ? Or only those of Israel who are recipients through faith of the Covenant of Grace or New Covenant since Christ’s death and resurrection?

    Romans 11 says that all Israel will be saved…

    Rom. 9:6 – But it is not as though the word of God hath come to nought. For they are not all Israel, that are of Israel:

    Like

  63. DPR: It sounds like you saying that there is a do this and live principle in the new covenant just like the old covenant. For in both covenants, if you disobey then you will experience God’s wrath and temporal punishments. The only difference is that in the old covenant, if you disobey too much then you will be removed from the covenant (excommunicated). So I guess it follows then that there is no removal from covenant or excommunication in the new covenant. Am I reading you correctly?

    No, but the fault is in my poor short-handing. In the Old Covenant, for *national* Israel, if you disobey too much, you will be destroyed.

    This has in fact happened, and Paul’s discussion of Israel in Rom 11 does not speak to any kind of restoration of the nation of Israel as a geopolitical entity, but rather to engrafting, or even re-engrafting, of individuals into God’s church.

    There was a works-principle in operation for the nation: disobey and die. The nation of Israel did so.

    Meanwhile, in the New Covenant (and Abrahamic, and in the Mosaic with respect to individual salvation), there is a grace principle: receive the Gospel by faith and be saved. This puts a very different color on fatherly displeasure and discipline. There is no possibility for a believer of incurring displeasure unto disinheritance.

    Now, you have excommunication in the background of your question. But we would agree that excommunication does not turn a believer into an unbeliever. Rather, it says of the individual, “Your behavior is inconsistent with your profession of faith.”

    That is, even excommunication does not operate according to a “disobey and die” principle, but a “persistent, determined disobedience is evidence of unbelief” principle. The aim of excommunication is restoration, not destruction.

    So perhaps you might ask, “Why couldn’t national Israel be operating under a similar principle? After all, their persistent determined disobedience certainly stemmed from unbelief.”

    And the answer is, “Look to the outcome. Israel *as a nation* is not to be restored.”

    So then the outstanding question is, “Does Rev 2-3 indicate also some kind of works-principle with local visible churches?” But that question goes beyond the scope of either of the Confessional questions you raised.

    One of the key points here is that what happens to corporate entities (Israel) need not operate according to the same principles as what happens to individuals (whether under the Old or New Covenants).

    Like

  64. If Kline changed his mind about the non-elect being in the new covenant ( from what he wrote in By Oath Consigned), I would appreciate being directed to where Kline comments.

    Kline agrees that Jeremiah 31 sounds like “discontinuity” with earlier covenants. “Jeremiah speaks, to be sure, only of a consummation of grace; he does not mention a consummation of curses in the new Covenant.” p 76. But Kline maintains this is only a matter of focus: the emphasis is on eschatological blessing but curse is not denied. “But the theologian of today ought not to impose on himself the visionary limitations of an Old Testament prophet.”

    But why does Kline think we should we take this (dispensational?) attitude to Jeremiah? Could it be that the prophet really is seeing a new covenant which has no “dual sanctions” because it (not salvation, but the covenant and a place in it) is altogether conditioned on the obedience of Christ?

    Yes, there is anathema and excommunication in the New Testament. But what Kline does not show is that those judgments are exclusions of those who are in the new covenant. I John 2:19 says that those who sent out “were not of us.” But John 15 says that those who do not abide in the vine are thrown away. Is the right exegesis here that those who began to abide were later broken off from “the new covenant”?

    As for me, I don’t see how saying that the vine is the covenant fits with Christ saying He is the true vine. Certainly there is such a thing as a false profession, but does it really answer any questions to read John 15 as being about a covenant with dual sanctions?

    Kline argues that the new covenant of Jeremiah 31 is ultimately not about now but about after the second coming of Christ. Thus he says that we who say that only the elect are now in the new covenant “prematurely precipitate the age to come.” (p 77, footnote) The new covenant is not really here yet,Kline suggests, because now there are those in the new covenant who do not know the Lord.

    Like

  65. After reading of the covenant with Abraham and WCF 19, the argument could be how does one squeeze grace into Sinai.

    Like

  66. Jeff,

    Your answer raises a lot of issues. I will try and focus on the point at hand.

    One reason I cited WCF 30.3 is that it refers to God’s wrath coming to the church, which is corporate and not individual, and is thus parallel to the curses falling upon corporate Israel, the church in the OT. So distinguishing between “national” Israel and the individual NT believer doesn’t address the issue.

    Also, the fact that Israel was exiled doesn’t really address the issue either. In both covenants, disobedience leads to wrath and temporal punishment while obedience leads to blessing. My question has been, why is one a works covenant and the other one is not? Your answer as far as I can tell is that Israel was exiled and the church will never be and so Israel was under a works covenant. But just because the church will never be exiled doesn’t prove it is not under a works covenant. If Adam had obeyed and never died, would that have meant he wasn’t under a works covenant? No. Thus, the fact that Israel was exiled doesn’t mean that the NT church isn’t also under the same works principle: disobedience leads to wrath, obedience to blessing.

    Like

  67. DPR: One reason I cited WCF 30.3 is that it refers to God’s wrath coming to the church, which is corporate and not individual

    Fair point. I thought you were referring to the “Church censures are necessary for the reclaiming of offending brothers” clause.

    So if we are focusing on the church corporately, then Rev 2 – 3 does become relevant here.

    I’ll put this back to you, not to be coy, but to make sure that I understand your actual position. I’m assuming that you believe in the perseverance of the saints. How then can branches be broken off (Rom 11) or lampstands be removed (Rev 2-3)?

    DPR: Also, the fact that Israel was exiled doesn’t really address the issue either. In both covenants, disobedience leads to wrath and temporal punishment while obedience leads to blessing. My question has been, why is one a works covenant and the other one is not? Your answer as far as I can tell is that Israel was exiled and the church will never be and so Israel was under a works covenant. But just because the church will never be exiled doesn’t prove it is not under a works covenant. If Adam had obeyed and never died, would that have meant he wasn’t under a works covenant? No. Thus, the fact that Israel was exiled doesn’t mean that the NT church isn’t also under the same works principle: disobedience leads to wrath, obedience to blessing.

    This is confused. The issue is not the exile of Israel, but its entire destruction.

    And the destruction of Israel is a symptom, not a cause, of being under a works covenant. By contrast, the discipline of believers is never unto destruction because believers are not under a works covenant.

    So the *fact* of punishment is an insufficient diagnostic. You need also to consider the type and end of that punishment.

    On the blessing side, the type and end of the blessing is also relevant. For believers, our imperfect obedience is rewarded on the ground of Christ’s merit, and uncertainly in this life. That is, obedience sometimes leads to temporal blessing; sometimes, to persecution.

    For Israel, their imperfect obedience was rewarded on its own ground, and more certainly. Further, as Calvin notes, the temporal blessings were not an end unto themselves, but were typical of the covenant blessing to come.

    In other words, your diagnostic tool, “In both covenants, disobedience leads to wrath and temporal punishment while obedience leads to blessing”, is too blunt of an instrument for the job at hand.

    Like

  68. Jeff,

    Okay, so in the NC God rewards imperfect obedience because of Christ’s merit and punishes disobedience; and in the OC God rewards imperfect obedience because of Israel’s own merit and punishes their disobedience.

    Now why this difference? Why isn’t it the same for both covenants? Why isn’t it true that God rewards the OT church’s imperfect obedience for the same reason he rewards the NT church’s obedience?

    The only answer I hear is that Israel is entirely destroyed. Even though both covenants bless obedience and punish disobedience, the OC is a works covenant because Israel was not just exiled but destroyed entirely.

    How can Israel be entirely destroyed? God promises to restore Israel. The NC, which is eternal, is made with the houses of Judah and Israel (Jer. 31:31). Gentiles are engrafted onto the olive tree, which is Israel.

    But again, the end result of a covenant doesn’t necessarily determine the kind of covenant it is. Let me put it this way: If Israel had not been exiled or destroyed entirely, how would you know that the reward for their obedience was based upon their own merit and not Christ’s merit?

    Like

  69. DPR: Okay, so in the NC God rewards imperfect obedience because of Christ’s merit and punishes disobedience; and in the OC God rewards imperfect obedience because of Israel’s own merit and punishes their disobedience.

    No, you have not yet correctly articulated the position. In order to properly represent and understand the position, one must distinguish between what happens to individuals and to bodies politic, and one must distinguish between eternal life and death, over against temporal life and death.

    In the covenant of grace, throughout all time from the fall through the eschaton, God does indeed temporally reward imperfect obedience because of Christ’s merit and *disciplines* his children (with the aim of restoration). This is true for Abraham, for David, for Peter. However, these temporal rewards and disciplines are not the end-goal of the covenant of grace. That end-goal is in fact eternal life.

    In the Old Covenant (which is of course an administration of the covenant of grace), there is an additional and accidental feature, an “outward covering of works”, as Turretin put it, and this feature is directed towards Israel as a nation. Namely, the corporate *nation* of Israel is under a works principle as articulated in Deut 28-30.

    DPR: The only answer I hear is that Israel is entirely destroyed.

    That’s correct. We know that the administration of the OC towards the nation was works-based *because* we see the outcome: The geopolitical nation of Israel was destroyed. It died. Had Deut 28-30 been grace-based, there could have been discipline with the aim of restoration, but not punishment leading to total destruction, or death of the geopolitical entity. It makes no sense to speak of having grace towards something that you destroy.

    Further, hypothetically, had Israel obeyed, their geopolitical nation would not have been destroyed. The outcome of death v. life for the nation is consistent with a works-principle.

    DPR: Even though both covenants bless obedience and punish disobedience, the OC is a works covenant because Israel was not just exiled but destroyed entirely.

    The blessing and punishment are not the same in kind.

    The blessing and the curse in the OC towards the nation are (1) temporal in nature (and hence, per Calvin, typological), (2) given on the ground of obedience, (3) entire, entailing life or death.

    By contrast, believers in the covenant of grace never taste eternal death. The temporal blessings that we receive are not our life. Even our physical death is not our death.

    So it would be false to say that by our obedience, we receive life and by our disobedience, death. 1 Cor 11.30 is conditioned by 1 Cor 11.32.

    This reasoning indicates that the punishment administered towards national Israel under the OC is different in kind from the discipline of individuals under the CoG.

    DPR: How can Israel be entirely destroyed? God promises to restore Israel.

    Are you suggesting that there is an eschatological future for the geopolitical nation of Israel? Surely not. I would guess rather that you are not distinguishing between the nation of Israel and individuals (“branches” in Rom 11) who are descendants of Abraham according to the flesh. But the Confession does so distinguish:

    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.

    We note here that Israel as a body politic and as a State is “expired.”

    This would make no sense if we were to see Rom 11 as a promise of a future restored state of Israel.

    Like

  70. Merit and Moses: A Critique of the Klinean Doctrine of Republication
    by Andrew M. Elam, Robert C. Van Kooten, and Randall A. Bergquist
    [from the website of Wipf and Stock]

    Book Description:
    What did writers in the Reformed tradition mean by suggesting that the Covenant of Works with Adam has been republished in the Mosaic Covenant? Not all forms of this doctrine of “republication” are the same. Merit and Moses is a critical evaluation of a particular version of the republication doctrine—one formulated by Meredith G. Kline and espoused in The Law Is Not of Faith (2009). At the heart of this discussion is the attribute of God’s justice and the Reformed view of merit. Has classic Augustinian theology been turned on its head? Does—or can—God make a covenant at Sinai with fallen people by which Israel may merit temporal blessings on the basis of works? Have “merit” and “justice” been redefined in the service of Kline’s works-merit paradigm? The authors of Merit and Moses examine the positions of John Murray and Norman Shepherd with respect to the reactionary development of the Klinean republication doctrine. Klinean teachings are shown to swing wide of the Reformed tradition when held up to the plumb line of the Westminster Standards, which embody the Reformed consensus on covenant theology and provide a faithful summary of Scripture.

    Endorsements for Merit and Moses:
    “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

    The Foreword is by William Shishko.

    Regarding the OPC Denominational Study of the Mosaic Covenant and Republication,
    by Mark W. Karlberg, Th.D.

    As the five-man study committee begins its work articulating biblical teaching concerning the “republication of the covenant of works” in the Mosaic Covenant, itself an expression of the single, ongoing administration of the Covenant of Grace (extending from the Fall to the Consummation), we take note of events leading up to the present state of upheaval within the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and beyond. Three former students of Westminster Seminary California – now members of the OPC’s Presbytery of the Northwest – submitted a paper, entitled “A Booklet on Merit in the Doctrine of Republication presented to the Presbytery of the Northwest,” for its Stated Meeting in April of 2013. This was done in conjunction with its request to overture the OPC’s General Assembly asking for a denominational study for the purpose of guiding and instructing the churches on what has become highly contentious doctrine within the Reformed communion at large. That paper has been revised for publication as Merit and Moses: A Critique of the Klinean Doctrine of Republication (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock), released on July 10, 2014. Book endorsements include those of Richard Gaffin and Robert Strimple, timed for the start of the study committee’s work. Let no one be confused today where Gaffin and Kline stand! To be sure, differences between John Murray and Meredith Kline extend well into past history of Westminster Seminary. We have simply moved on to a new phase of the dispute, one bearing radically different implications and ramifications derived from Westminster’s current thinking on the subject of the covenants.

    According to the view of Gaffin and Strimple, there is no works-principle functioning in the covenant God made with Israel through Moses, mediator of the old covenant. This means that the sole principle underlying the old covenant is the principle of (saving) grace, identical to what is the case in the new covenant. The blessings and curses of the covenant of law – fully and explicitly laid out in “the Treaty of the Great King” (the Book of Deuteronomy), as elsewhere throughout the Old Testament – are administered on the basis of Israel’s obedience or disobedience. If the position of Israel were secure in the earthly land of promise (Canaan) – which is the case for recipients of God’s saving grace with regard to reception of the heavenly, antitypical reward (life in the eternal kingdom yet to come) – there is then no place for curse and exile from the land. Such judgment upon Israel of old is, in the final analysis, inexplicable. What the Murray school of interpretation must conclude, to be theologically consistent (what is the aim of the systematician), is to say that believers under the new covenant are likewise subject to both the blessings and the curses of redemptive covenant in accordance with (non-meritorious) good works. This point is crucial: in this school of thought there is no genuine difference between the two economies of redemption, wherein reward is bestowed “on the basis of” or “in accordance with” the believer’s works of obedience. This is precisely the doctrine Shepherd and Gaffin have been eagerly advancing; and they have taken the argument one step further by eviscerating the law/grace antithesis entirely in their doctrine of the covenants (pre- and post-Fall).

    Fundamental to the position of Shepherd and Gaffin is aversion to the works-inheritance principle, that which is antithetical to the faith-inheritance principle. With respect to the idea of the principle of works operating on the symbolico-typological level of temporal life in Canaan, Gaffin asserts: “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.” Now the real question is whether perfect, meritorious obedience was required of the First Adam in accordance with the probationary test given him in the original Covenant of Works at creation. This Gaffin and Shepherd vehemently deny. Had Adam kept covenant with God, not yielding to the temptation of Satan in assuming equality with God (specifically in regards to the knowledge of good and evil), he would not have “earned” or “merited” divine blessing, so Gaffin and Shepherd contend. Only the Second Adam, we are told, can merit the reward of the covenant made with his Father on behalf of God’s elect by his own obedience. Hence, Gaffin and Shepherd’s renunciation of the Reformed-Protestant law/grace antithesis, what is essential to teaching concerning the Gospel of justifying grace. The Gaffin-Shepherd contention is nothing other than the dogma of Neo-orthodoxy, now one of the doctrinal planks in New School Westminster. From this theological point of view, Westminster has moved well beyond Murray’s “recasting” of covenant theology. Yet, at the same time, Murray remains the sacred cow.

    Clearly there is nothing but disdain for “public” opposition to the teaching of Murray on the covenants, Westminster’s most revered systematician. There is unity of mind within the Murray-Gaffin school today regarding “the reactionary development of the Klinean republication doctrine,” including what is seen as an over-reaching assault on Murray’s reformulation of covenant theology and an unwarranted, wholesale repudiation of Shepherd’s theology of the covenants, including Shepherd’s take on the doctrines of election, baptism, and union with Christ. On the matter of the history and development of Reformed teaching, the Shepherd-Gaffin school is flatly wrong. Setting aside questions pertaining to what individual Reformed expositors did or did not teach, past and present, both sides agree that the final arbiter is the Spirit of God speaking through the Scriptures. How then is Scripture to be interpreted in light of today’s contentious debate? The answer remains, as always, faithfulness to the teaching of Scripture as self-interpreting (free of human speculation and opinion).

    A final word of caution: Do not be misled or misinformed. Read carefully and thoroughly, including writers on both sides of the controversy. If properly and faithfully conducted, the work of the OPC study committee should lead to trials in the courts of the denomination regarding the teachings of those holding heterodox opinions, notably as regards the doctrine of eschatological justification/judgment in accordance with faith and (good) works.

    Endnote:
    For a full account of developments at Westminster Seminary regarding the doctrine of the covenants and justification by faith (among other cardinal doctrines), see Mark W. Karlberg, Gospel Grace: The Modern-Day Controversy (2003), Federalism and the Westminster Tradition (2006), and Engaging Westminster Calvinism (2013). Foundational to these studies is my prior work Covenant Theology in Reformed Perspective (2000). All are published by Wipf and Stock. For a summary update on these matters see also my essay published as the Special May 2014 Issue of The Trinity Review (posted at http://www.trinityfoundation.org).

    Like

  71. from booklet, John Piper on the Chrsitian Life, by Mark Karlberg,
    available from CRN Journal

    “In Piper’s theology, testamental discontinuity is obscured There is, says Piper, only one covenant in the Bible, the Covenant of Grace. There is no place for ‘works’ in the original covenant at creation, nor under the Mosaic economy. Rather, insists Piper, the obedience demanded by the Old Testament is ‘the obedience of faith’ (p 143, Future Grace)…What then is the difference
    between the old and new covenants, according to Piper?

    Karlberg—-“The difference, says Piper, lies in the fuller manifestation of the Spirit’s working in the new covenant era…However, besides the ‘normative’ application of the Mosaic law, there is the TYPOLOGICAL interpetation…temporal life and prosperity in the land of Canaan was contingent upon Israel’s obedience to the Sinaitic covenant. With respect to the earthly inheritance, the governing principle was one of works, not of faith. (Leviticus 18:5). The ancient theocracy endured from the time of Sinai to the Cross. This was the period of Israel’s national probation. That probation was terminated with the SATISFACTION OF DIVINE JUSTICE.

    Karlberg—“The Pentecostal outpouring of the Spirit ‘was reserved for the New Testqment time’. But that outpouring of the Spirit must be understood in terms of the redemptive-historical transition from shadow (old covenant) to fulfillment (the new covenant). The fuller measure of the Spirit’s working is eschatological in nature, not quantitative… What Piper needs to recognize is that the Mosaic covenant-as the legal instrument regulative of Israel’s life in Canaan-has been terminated, not
    just in part, but in whole, with the coming of Christ. What chiefly resulted was the cessation of probation for the people of God and the abrogation of the works-inheritance principle operative within the symbolic-typical sphere of the Israelite theocracy. Piper is wrong when he says that ‘all the covenants of God are conditional covenants of grace-both the old covenant and the new covenant.’ (p 248, Future Grace)”

    mcmark Though I do not agree with traditional covenant theology (one covenant, various administrations) he difference between Piper and traditional “covenant theology” involves
    a gospel issue., and this issue is “the covenant of works” but the more basic idea of “the satisfaction of divine justice.” The gospel is not only about grace but about righteousness, and this righteousness must be defined by what Christ did outside of us, most especially in His satisfaction of divine law for the sake of the elect by His death. at the cross.

    mcmark—Despite differences about “the covenant” or “covenants”, we should agree that the elect are justified ONLY by what Christ did outside of us. We are declared just by God before our works, without our works. This is the very thing John Piper will not say. And his not saying it is not only a difference with Luther and Calvin but a difference with the gospel. Since he rejects an absolute difference between law and grace, Piper has “conditional grace” which is NEVER DONE doing what justice requires. Piper does not see the death of Jesus Christ as a FULL satisfaction of justice because he does not see a already complete satisfaction of justice as the only reason for our final justification,

    Like

  72. Good sermon from last Sunday evening: “The Law is Not of Faith”. Galatians 3:11-14

    [audio src="https://ia902309.us.archive.org/11/items/July272014EveningSermon/July%2027%2C%202014%20-%20Evening%20Sermon.mp3" /]

    Republication is mentioned explicitly.

    Like

  73. No surprise E, if your bible contains Galatians 3 and 4 and you aren’t satisfied with pretending they don’t exist, you will find Republication a sound view

    Like

  74. Vos–Evidence that in this sense conditions are attached to the covenant of grace:

    1.The Scriptures speak in this way: John 3:16, 36; Rom 10:9; Acts 8:37; Mark 16:16; and in many other places.

    2.If there were no conditions, there would be no place for THREATS, for threatening only makes sense to those who reject the conditions; that is to say here, those who do not walk in the God-ordained way of the covenant.

    3.If there were no conditions, God alone would be bound by this covenant, and no bond would be placed on man. Thereby the character of the covenant would be lost. All covenants contain two parts.”

    Geerhardus Vos Reformed Dogmatics (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2013) vol. 2, ch. 3 Q. 30

    vos—If one is under the covenant relationship and covenant fellowship, the essence of the covenant, is missing, one is nevertheless treated as a covenant member in the sense that non-observance of the covenant incurs guilt and causes covenant-breaking. This explains how there is covenant-breaking and yet no apostasy of the saints.

    Vos—Note carefully, not merely temporary covenant-breaking is in view—for in believers that is compatible with perseverance—but final covenant-breaking. Everyone who is under the covenant is treated AS THOUGH he lived in the covenant. It is so with the covenant of works, and is so with the covenant of grace.

    Vos—And therefore, one does not have the right to say that the non-elect are in no way in the covenant. For them there is no true covenant fellowship, but their accountability is determined according to the covenant relationship. This accountability is greater than that which an ordinary person outside the covenant has in relation to the gospel. Being-in-the-covenant may never be diminished to a life under the offer of the gospel. It is more than that.

    http://feedingonchrist.com/geerhardus-vos-sides-administrations-conditionality-covenant-grace/

    Like

  75. Critique of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church
    Report on Republication – by Dr. Mark W. Karlberg

    The Report on Republication written by a committee of five and approved for distribution by the 2016 General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church is currently being read and studied by many in the Reformed community. According to the summary of the GA provided on the denominational website (http://www.opc.org/GA/83rd_GA_rpt.html): “The assembly voted to distribute the report to presbyteries and other interested parties for study. The report would not carry constitutional weight, as if it were the official statement of the OPC, but the assembly determined it would be a profitable document. The report includes a list of topics pertaining to covenant theology for presbyteries to consider as they examine candidates for the ministry.”

    Chief attention in this Report is given to the “controversial” views of Professor Meredith G. Kline. Judged in the light of the long-standing theological dispute within the OPC and Westminster Seminary (East and West), this focus is wholly misguided. More grievous, the committee has placed Confession above Scripture, and in so doing commends to its readers an unscriptural construct regarding the first covenant God established with Adam as federal head (the Covenant of Works). It promotes the medieval, scholastic (i.e., speculative) dichotomy between a natural (legal) state for Adam at creation and a subsequent covenantal (gracious) relationship established between the Creator and the creature, God’s image-bearer. The first covenant before the Fall affords the human race represented in Adam the opportunity of receiving eternal reward and blessing for obedience. We are told that this reward is not earned (or “merited”), but is granted as a gift of grace. The error of this formulation of the Covenant of Works shapes the committee’s understanding of the subsequent redemptive covenants, those which are part of the single, ongoing Covenant of Grace spanning the entire redemptive era from the Fall to the Consummation. Adopting this view in the Report on Republication, the committee undermines the traditional Protestant-Reformed teaching concerning the antithesis between “Law” and “Gospel.” This in turn clouds one’s understanding of the vital covenantal structure of redemptive revelation (including the way of salvation), thus opening the door to misformulation of the crucial doctrine of justification by faith alone, what has been a major bone of contention in the dispute raging ever since the days of Norman Shepherd in the mid-1970s. The doctrine of the Covenant of Works and the doctrine of soteric justification are inextricably intertwined; critical here is the opposition between principles of inheritance, that of works (“legal) and that of faith (“gracious,” in the accurate, biblical sense of the word).

    It is most unfortunate that this Report was approved for distribution. For a full critique of the Report and clarification of issues (including the historical development of this unresolved debate) see my article, “Troubler of Israel: Report on Republication by the Orthodox Presbyterian Church Assessing the Teaching of Professor Meredith G. Kline” ( here:
    http://www.trinityfoundation.org/PDF/The%20Trinity%20Review%20Special%20Issue%20Troubler%20of%20Israel%20KarlbergonRepublicationReport.pdf ). In this critique I have noted:

    It was never Kline’s intent that his work should be the center of controversy. The fact that it came to be so is more a sign of the times, a very sad development for Reformed orthodoxy indeed. Whether we consider Kline’s opposition to Gregory Bahnsen’s theonomy, the Shepherd-Gaffin reformulation of doctrine (specifically, justification by faith alone, election, and the twofold covenants), or John Murray’s recasting of covenant theology, Kline surely is to be recognized and honored for his unwavering stand for the truth of Scripture, for his life-long devotion to the Church of Christ, and for his commitment to orthodox Reformed teaching. The differences between Kline and Murray (notably, interpretation of the Mosaic Covenant) moved to the forefront only as a consequence of the dispute surrounding the teaching of Norman Shepherd.

    My essay concludes: “One would hope that a newly-appointed committee of the OPC would redress the grievous wrong that has been committed with regard to this committee’s reading of the work of Kline and restate the biblical teaching pertaining to the covenants, giving priory to Scripture rather than the Confession.”

    Previously posted on The Aquila Report (October 9, 2016)

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.