Development of Doctrinal Dispute Stalled

David Murray concludes his four-part series on Merit and Moses — the book that is anti-republication — by boiling it down to this:

. . . my own concerns about RP have grown as I’ve increasingly come into contact with people who are using the RP to argue against any place of the law in the Christian life. They hear RP teachers saying that Israel obeyed the law to merit the land, but the NT believer is no longer under that arrangement. Thus they conclude, we don’t need to obey God’s law any more. Again, I know that’s not what RP intends but it is such a complex and confusing system that even those who have heard it explained many times still struggle to understand and communicate it accurately. I remember the first time I heard the RP preached, I thought, “What on earth was that?” To some degree, I still feel that sense of bafflement. With theology, I’ve often noticed that the more complex a system, the more likely that it’s wrong.

What is striking about this conclusion is that Murray (David, that is) winds up basically where Norman Shepherd started — Christians in the 1970s believed they could dispense with the law (thanks either to D. James Kennedy’s Evangelism Explosion or Jack Miller’s Sonship Theology). Shepherd opposed such antinomianism and wasn’t even contending with republication or 2-kingdom theology. He was, of course, sorting covenant theology out to some degree with Meredith Kline, who turned out to be one of the leading opponents of Shepherd. And Kline, as David Murray points out, represents for the authors of Merit and Moses the overreaction against Shepherd.

Has anyone yet to show us what the right reaction against Shepherd is? The folks who have been most vigorous in opposing where Shepherd led (i.e. Federal Vision) were some of the people who wrote for The Law is Not of Faith. Do they get credit for that? Not much. And what about the Murrayites (not David) who didn’t go the way of Federal Vision? Were they critical of Shepherd or Federal Vision? Or did they sit on their hands? Or how about the Obedience Boys? Have they had their innings with Norman Shepherd who argued for an obedient faith?

My contention is still that the very small world of U.S. conservative Presbyterian and Reformed believers has not yet gotten over Shepherd.

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371 thoughts on “Development of Doctrinal Dispute Stalled

  1. Yeah, but antinomianism!

    I don’t follow Kline down the line on all points, but I am constantly amazed how his critics so often get him wrong. Part of that is understandable since Kline wasn’t a good writer. But with so much of his critics defeating a straw Kline in their writings, it makes me wonder if something not-so-sanctified is behind their work. For all of their professed concern over the law, they sure do bear false witness often.

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  2. They hear RP teachers saying that Israel obeyed the law to merit the land, but the NT believer is no longer under that arrangement. Thus they conclude, we don’t need to obey God’s law any more.

    Two things: Who are those that are concluding they don’t need to obey the law? And if they’re out there in any number how is Murray concluding that they are basing their lack of necessary law-obedience on the RP teachings in TLNF?

    And… How is it that all those TLNF authors who hold to the republication of the covenant of works at Sinai also teach that the moral law is binding on N.T. believers?

    And… “complex and confusing system”? Maybe for those who also reject the Law/Gospel distinction as a “Lutheran” doctrine or who consider the covenant of works to be gracious.

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  3. Jack, what’s odd is that the Westminster Seminary California faculty (several of whom contributed to TLNF) held a conference in January on sanctification in which they made it very clear that Christians need to obey the law and that the moral law is still binding on NT believers. The TLNF authors have publishes on this extensively as well.

    But that’s the point – most critics of republication don’t criticize what its proponents actually say, only what the critics want them to have said to make for an easier target. That seems a tad ironic coming from a group claiming a monopoly on caring about obedience to God’s law. Unless the 9th commandment doesn’t really count if you’re convinced you’re on the right side.

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  4. BV, shhh! Don’t mention the 9th commandment. That one doesn’t apply when you’re doing God’s work…

    I was at the WSC conference on Sanctification. Excellent. The M&M boys and the obedience boys should listen to those talks. Although they may find it “complex and confusing…”

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  5. It appears to me that those who deny any sort of republication fail to do justice to the clarity of the New Testament. The law / gospel contrast is explicit, and the former is clearly related to the “elemental” principals in Galatians; yet the apostolic testimony is also clear in that the summary of the moral law (Sinai) is deepened and recaptured in the commands of the new covenant to love God and others.

    The mosaic law may be said to recap in historic form the moral law in creation as well as its intensification in the probation. The probation for Israel was dependent upon the blessing/curse arrangement under the Mosaic covenant and these sanctions were temporal in nature, while at the same time for the individual Israelite the unity with the Abrahamic covenant was faith and a faithful walk before God.

    How difficult is this to understand (contra David Murray)???

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  6. Quite frankly, and to their credit, most of the people who say they disagree with Kline, admit to having not read him. They’ve heard some or perused an article, but they haven’t engaged the material.

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  7. Norman Shepherd commanded us to view election by means of “covenant”, so that there would be only one kind of church membership. Shepherd (Call of Grace, p 60 ) —The prophets and apostles viewed election from the perspective of the covenant of grace, whereas Reformed theologians of a later day have tended to view the covenant of grace from the perspective of election The result of this, it is argued, is that the reformed preacher no longer says “Christ died for you” – but, when these words are construed, not from the point of view of election, but of the covenant, then “The Reformed evangelist can and must say on the basis of John 3:16, Christ died for you.”

    Sinclair Ferguson: First, Shepherd appears to adopt the view of the prevailing academic critique of the covenant theology of the seventeenth century (forcefully presented decades ago by Perry Miller), which suggests that the doctrine of covenant somehow makes God’s secret counsels less harsh. We ought therefore to look at covenant, and not at election. This analysis, both historically and biblically we reject… To use Shepherd’s own citation – the fact is that some passages, e.g. Ephesians 1:1-14, do employ the mode of looking at covenant from the viewpoint of election. Indeed, in that passage it is necessary for the reader to look for covenant in the context of election.”

    http://www.misterrichardson.com/fergusonbr.html

    Not of Works: Norman Shepherd and His Critics, by Ralph Boersema, p 151 quoting Cornelius Venema—“Norman Shepherd’s strength is his insistence on the conditionality of the covenant. The covenant of grace is conditional in its administration. To view salvation in terms of God’s electing grace would make it impossible to do justice to human responsibility and to ward off antinomianism.”

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  8. Sean, I’m sure you’re right if referring to people in the pews. But that’s certainly not an accurate portrayal of ministers and professors who have published critiques of Kline or republication.

    I do think there’s a reasonable critique to be made of republication and some of Kline’s other contributions. But it drives me crazy when I see ministers of the gospel publicly slander him by grossly misrepresenting his views and the views of his successors. If people are really concerned about obedience to God’s law, then they should present charges against church officers guilty of the more gratuitous examples of this. Or maybe they’re only concerned about obedience on their own terms.

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  9. mark Karlberg—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. …..What the Murray school of interpretation must conclude, to be theologically consistent 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).

    http://patrickspensees.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/was-kline-a-republicationist/#comment-1187

    Footnote:
    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

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  10. Accusations of antinomianism against those of us who give priority to God’s federal imputations do not prove the reality of our being against the law. To say that only Christ has satisfied the law is to properly fear God.

    Neonomians turn out to be antinomians. To think that one can produce “sanctification” by our 100 perecent cooperation (because of infusions and impartations) in addition to what God has done in Christ is to not yet fear God as the Holy One who demands perfection. There are some puritans who put themselves on a superior level to the rest of us because of what they think they have been enabled to do and because of the righteousness they think they can and will now produce. They don’t deny imputed righteousness, but they dare not trust in it alone.

    The Precisianist Strain: Disciplinary Religion and Antinomian Backlash in Puritanism to 1638 , by Theodore Dwight Bozeman, p 20: “Penitential teaching expressly echoed and bolstered moral priorities. In contrast, again, to Luther, whose penitential teaching stressed the rueful sinner’s attainment of peace through acknowledgment of fault and trust in unconditional pardon, many puritans included moral renewal. In unmistakable continuity with historic Catholic doctrine that tied ‘contrition, by definition, to the intention to amend,’ they required an actual change in the penitent.
    However qualified by reference to the divine initiative and by denial of efficacy to human works, such teaching also adumbrated Puritan teaching of later decades.”

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  11. Accusations of antinomianism against those of us who give priority to God’s federal imputations do not prove the reality of our being against the law. To say that only Christ has satisfied the law is to properly fear God.

    Neonomians turn out to be antinomians. To think that one can produce “sanctification” by our 100 perecent cooperation (because of infusions and impartations) in addition to what God has done in Christ is to not yet fear God as the Holy One who demands perfection. There are some puritans who put themselves on a superior level to the rest of us because of what they think they have been enabled to do and because of the righteousness they think they can and will now produce. They don’t deny imputed righteousness, but they dare not trust in it alone.

    Theodore Dwight Bozeman, p 20: “Penitential teaching expressly echoed and bolstered moral priorities. In contrast to Luther, whose penitential teaching stressed the rueful sinner’s attainment of peace through acknowledgment of fault and trust in unconditional pardon, many puritans included moral renewal. In unmistakable continuity with historic Catholic doctrine that tied ‘contrition, by definition, to the intention to amend,’ they required an actual change in the penitent.
    However qualified by reference to the divine initiative and by denial of efficacy to human works, such teaching also adumbrated Puritan teaching of later decades.”

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  12. Is no one going to take issue with Murray’s contention that as the complexity of a theological system increases so does the probability of its being wrong? The converse of his suggestion – the more simple a theological system the more likely it is to be correct – has no precdent in the history of theology, to my knowledge.

    Few ideas in the history of Christian theology are more complicated than 1.) the hypostatic union; 2.) the Trinity; 3.) Reformed sacramentology.

    These would not pass the test of anyone concerned about complexity in theological system.

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  13. And Kline wasn’t exactly pumping the word ‘merit’ either. According to Lee Irons responding to one of my comments on another site:

    “I think the M&M boys may be hanging too much on the use of the word ‘merit’.” Good point, Jack Miller. Not only does the WCF not use that term very often, even Kline only uses that word once (as far as I can tell) in connection with the Mosaic Covenant. He normally speaks rather of the Mosaic Covenant being governed by the works principle.

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  14. Thanks DG. Cue the strobe light.

    To be brief, I take issue with Murray’s contention that as the complexity of a theological system increases so does the probability of its being wrong.

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  15. BV, I’ll give you ministers and profs who’ve published critiques. But the other 99% of the reformed community who think they don’t agree, pastors and profs included, haven’t read him. And yes, being one who entered the reformed world quite unaware, you better get familiar with Murray’s mono-covenantalism and the Shepherd controversy or you might end up courting, doing a reverse dowry(assuming you’re the dude), being a practicing RC on birth control issues, homeschooling and going patriarchal, cuz king jesus, and finally ending up RC on soteriology.

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  16. I will try to not send this one twice.

    David Murray— What did Norman Shepherd believe and teach? (pp. 23-27)
    .
    Covenant condition: God required the condition of covenant faithfulness in every covenant administration, pre- and post-fall. God’s promise secured or guaranteed the believer’s covenant inheritance but that inheritance can only be received on the condition of the believer’s covenant keeping. That single condition is the same for Adam, Israel, Christ and the NT believer.

    David Murray–As John Murray taught the opposite, he can in no way be blamed for Shepherd’s teaching or Federal Vision

    John Murray (The Covenant of Grace)– 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).

    John 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.”

    John Murray—“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…. 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.

    John Murray— “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.”

    John Murray—“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.

    John Murray—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 INDISPENSIBLE to the fruition of the covenant grace.”

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  17. dgh—forget Murray/Murray and Kline. Let’s read Paul. “The law is not of faith.”

    David Murray—Merit and Moses makes little or no attempt to base its arguments on exegesis of Bible verses or to deal with some of the verses that SEEM to support RP (e.g. Lev. 18:5 and Gal. 3:12). It’s a relatively short book and the authors probably decided to restrict their case to systematic and confessional theology. However, there’s still a need for a similar kind of work that presents the exegetical case for the non-RP view of the Mosaic covenant and that also takes on the RP interpretation of a few key Bible verses in both the OT and NT. Although I do not agree with all of TLNF’s exegesis, at least they make an attempt to wrestle with vital verses. I don’t believe that MM offered a convincing explanation of the covenant rewards in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.”

    http://headhearthand.org/blog/2012/09/17/id-rather-err-with-the-baptists/

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  18. I find the assertion that republication is “confusing and complex” to be without merit. The basic tenants of republication are simple and easily explained and understood. Now, it is true that one can present the doctrine in a confusing and complex manner, but that is equally true of any doctrine.

    Furthermore, many doctrines foundational to Christianity are complex or contain complexities when examined in detail, such as the Trinity, the attributes of God, etc. Clearly, in these cases complexity is not a barrier to acceptance in the Reformed world.

    Perhaps when those who pass judgment on republication for its complexity, rather than exposing an erroneous doctrine, instead reveal their own lack of theological acumen. Just sayin…

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  19. BV

    Lots of people have conferences, do they teach it clearly to the flock? Can they teach it clearly to the flock?

    DGH,

    Can you point me to a current or recent WSC professor who has written a book or books in the last year that you would consider as readable as “With Reverence and Awe” or “Defending the Faith”?

    Thank you,

    B

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  20. B, I guess your point is that the WSC guys are not clear? VanDrunen is always clear, if you ask me. The WSC volume on justification was clear.

    I wonder if you apply the same standard to WTS.

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  21. John Piper used to channel Dan Fuller on “the law is not of faith”. (The Pleasures of God, pg. 251)
    “They thought that obeying the law is not a matter of faith, but a matter of works. Note very carefully, ‘works’ is not synonymous with obeying the law. That’s plain because Paul says you can pursue obedience to the law either by faith or by works. But God never meant for obedience to be pursued by works. That’s clear from the little phrase, ‘as though it were by works.’ ‘As though’ means obedience is not by works but by faith. So works is not simply efforts to obey the law of God. Works is a way of trying to bring about the fruit of obedience without making faith the root.”

    But in his reply to NT Wright, in The Future of Justification, in an appendix, Piper backs away from Fuller (and John Murray and Shepherd and Gaffin)—-“The law that may suitably be described as “not of faith” as in Galatians 3:12 (“But the law is not of faith, rather `The one who does them shall
    live by them'”). I myself have argued in the past, for example, without careful distinction, that “the law teaches faith” because Romans 9:32 says that you don’t “attain the law” if you fail to pursue it “by faith,” but pursue “as from works.”

    Piper–” But the distinction that must be made is whether we are talking about the overall, long-term aim of the law, which is in view in Romans 9:32, or whether we are making a sweeping judgment about all the designs of the law. We would go beyond what Romans 9:32 teaches if we made such a sweeping judgment, so as to deny that there is a short-term design of the law not easily summed up in the phrase “the law teaches faith” but fairly described in the words “the law is not of faith” (Gal. 3:12).

    Piper—For example, one short-term aim of the law was to “imprison everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe” (Gal. 3:22). That is, the law functions, in a subordinate, short-term way, to keep people in custody, awaiting the fullness of time, which is a time of faith, as Galatians 3:23 says, “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.” If, in some sense, “faith” had not yet come, but was “to be later revealed,” then it would not be strange to say “the law is not of faith” if the faith being referred to is the faith of Galatians 3:23, that is, faith in the Son of God who has come in the fullness of time (Gal. 4:4). This is probably what Paul means when he says in Galatians 3:12, “The law is not of faith.” The faith that was to come–to which the law was leading Israel, as it held
    them in custody–is faith that is consciously in Christ, “the end of the law for righteousness for all who believe.”

    http://www.epubbud.com/read.php?g=ST9AALT4&p=10&two=1

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  22. DGH,

    I wish more people could write like Machen, or even with the orderliness/outline format of some of John Owen’s work. From my post, (flatter the moderator warning) I obviously appreciate DGH’s writing style as well. I have benefited from some of the apologetic works from WTS in the past 5 years but I do not hear about as many large books from WTS as I do from WSC.

    I remember back to the Christ the Center debate/interview series with Tipton and Horton. I listened to Horton for hours, read much of his work, and had extreme difficulty discerning what he was actually saying. Tipton used some large words but was clear, concise, and seemed to care for the lay people and non-seminary grads that may have been listening.

    Just some observations to back up Dr. Murray (David that is…though I don’t mind John),

    B

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  23. dgh—- where Norman Shepherd started — Christians in the 1970s believed they could dispense with the law (thanks either to D. James Kennedy’s Evangelism Explosion or Jack Miller’s Sonship Theology). Shepherd opposed such antinomianism….”

    mcmark–Those today who reject the “narrow distinction” between law and gospel are promoting a “large commanding gospel” . For example, Mark Jones (in his P and R book on Antinomianism) argues from the propitiation (the Trinity’s wrath on the Son for imputed sins) to the idea that God loving Christians means that God will be angry with Christians.

    From the conclusion that “God was never happier with the Son than when God was angry with the Son” (p 95), Jones reasons that God loves Christians less when Christians obey the law less. But using Christ’s life of atonement as the analogy for the Christian life misses out on the gospel news about Christians being legally united to Christ’s death.

    Romans 6:14 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!

    Romans 7:4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive

    Instead of seeing that the teaching of Romans 5 (the two imputations, the two headships) leads to the question of Romans 6, Jones claims that “Paul’s teaching of definitive and progressive sanctification” proves that “Paul could hardly be accused of antinomianism.” (p 121) I agree that Paul was not antinomian but not that Paul was not so accused. In Romans 3:2-8, Paul responds to the accusation by affirming the condemnation of antinomians.

    But for Jones to claim that Paul had a “large commanding gospel” in which the question could or should not be asked is to ignore not only the context (Romans 5) but the content of Romans 6, which teaches that Christ was ‘alive to sin” (because of imputed sins) and that Christians are justified from sin (6:7) because the power of sin in question in Romans 6 is the power of the law over a person “alive to sin” (guilty before God, as Christ was by imputed sin).

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  24. I know it’s not what the critics of republication intend, but the idea that my repentance and law-keeping is what causes God to accept me is so intuitive for my Adamic nature that I am always in danger of going down that road when the law-gospel distinction gets blurred. Whenever I hear people preach that the law is gracious, I am inclined to think, “That makes sense.” With theology, I’ve often noticed that the more intuitive the system, the more likely that it’s wrong.

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  25. Has anyone yet to show us what the right reaction against Shepherd is?

    The right reaction is precisely what Kline said it was, namely, a return to classic covenant theology. The only problem is, Kline wasn’t always the most reliable guide to getting there.

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  26. Mr. Miller,

    The WSCAL Conference on Sanctification was tremendous – and it totally cleared my head of all the confusion about sanctification. I agree that those who are of the Wesleyan Holy Club mindset (my metaphor) should view these sessions.

    I’ll follow up again – thanks for sharing, and to Dr. Hart and all.

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  27. B – That you think Horton is hard to understand says much more about you than Horton. Unless you’re talking about one of his few “heady” philosophically-focused books like Covenant and Eschatology, most grandmas and teens can understand Horton without any problem.

    Scroll up and read Jack Miller’s point about complex doctrines not necessarily being unbiblical/unconfessional. If it’s simplicity you desire, try Unitarianism.

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  28. B, that’s not the way I remember those interviews. I don’t always think Mike is as clear as desirable. But the pro-unionists have a vocabulary that requires a glossary. Here’s a sample.

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  29. Perspicuous? Dr. Gaffin explaining the approach to interpreting the data and events of Scripture:

    [T]he exegete, despite every cultural and temporal dissimilarity, stands in principle…in the same situation as the writers of the New Testament and, therefore, is involved with Paul (and the other letter writers) in a common interpretive enterprise…

    … Redemptive events constitute a function (f), the authentication and interpretation of the New Testament its first derivative (f′) and the interpretation of the later church its second derivative (f″). F′′, to be sure, is of a different order than f′, since the former, the infallible verbal revelation (Scripture) which has God as its primary author, is the basis (principium) of the latter. But both, as derivatives, have a common interpretive reference to f. Indeed, it may be said that…f″ “goes beyond” f′ by seeking to make more explicit the structure implicit in the latter.

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  30. D.G.,

    David R., you mean the classic covenant theology that leads us to think God still has a covenant with Scotland? Or the U.S.?

    Funny, it didn’t lead American Presbyterians to think that….

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  31. Well, the Covenant of Works is gracious: God owed nothing to man. Adam was under obligation to obey by virtue of being the creature but God was gracious and promised eternal happiness on condition of obedience.

    Also, perhaps the issue people have with the advocates of RD is that whilst they keep affirming the Westminster standards on sanctification, what are they saying with their other works and blog posts. One can affirm sanctification all day but if your example and your other statements imply something else there’s a problem.

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  32. Alexander – This is the part where you supply evidence to give teeth to your accusation that advocates of republication deny sanctification in their “other works and blog posts.”

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  33. Well there’s Dr. Hart’s numerous articles on the movies and tv shows he watches and his promotion of going to pubs and drinking and Dr. Clark’s saying dancing is acceptable for Christians and that it’s ok to partake in recreations during on Sabbath- so long as they don’t miss the service of course.

    All these are in plain violations of various commandments and therefore hardly in keeping with the Westminster doctrine of sanctification.

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  34. Alexander… and where in Scripture or in the Standards is having an alcoholic drink, non-lascivious dancing, or going to a pub defined as sin or not in keeping with sanctification?

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  35. David R., It didn’t? Why do you think Presbyterians put Abe Lincoln at apex of the arch above their Philadelphia headquarters? It had nothing to do with “almost chosen nation”?

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  36. Alexander – Trying to follow your argument here. So critics of republication don’t watch TV or movies, drink alcoholic beverages, or partake in a first dance with their wives at their weddings? If they do any of these, then does that mean anti-republicationists deny sanctification? I think your issue has nothing to do with republication and everything to do with fundamentalism.

    As a side note, if you spent any time with the men behind TLNF you may be surprised to learn that they observe the Sabbath more strictly than most of their critics. As does Darryl. But don’t let any of that get in the way of your narrative.

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  37. Alexander, if your neonomism is what Murray means by “…using the RP to argue against any place of the law in the Christian life,” then his utter confusion now makes sense–you RP critics basically cannot distinguish between the law of God and the laws of men. Hello, Fundamentalism. As far as the CoW being gracious, more distinction confusion. But do you really want your sheriff doling out at least as much grace as law (and your pastor at least as much law and grace)?

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  38. Alexander says this: Well there’s Dr. Hart’s numerous articles on the movies and tv shows he watches and his promotion of going to pubs and drinking and Dr. Clark’s saying dancing is acceptable for Christians and that it’s ok to partake in recreations during on Sabbath- so long as they don’t miss the service of course.

    All these are in plain violations of various commandments and therefore hardly in keeping with the Westminster doctrine of sanctification.

    John Y: I am waiting for a response from Kent to this one

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  39. FWIW, one “obedience boy” who had many innings against the Federal Vision, and hence, Shepherd, is Rick Philips. Again, reference back to the original Ft. Lauderdale colloquium.

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  40. “What if growing in grace is more about humility, dependence, and exalting Christ than it is about defeating sin?” (p. 18). Duguid articulates a profound and neglected point in this rhetorical question and effectively draws it out throughout the book.”

    From a book review of Barbara Duguid’s book, EXTRAVAGANT GRACE- I have not read it yet but want to.

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  41. Alexander, “antinomian” and “permissive” are not synonyms.

    I feel free to drink (but rarely do) because I believe, and my presbytery agrees, that Scripture permits drinking but not drunkenness.

    You seem to disagree, but that’s a question of what the law permits, not a question of whether the law should be obeyed.

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  42. I got no problem with mathematically correct theology. 🙂

    (But Gaffin’s baffles a bit. I’m pretty sure he’s using a very loose analogy…)

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  43. David,

    Kline is clearly not the end-all and be-all.

    But he does at least put his finger on the sore spot here: What is the purpose of the national sanctions (Deut 28-30) and the judicial law?

    If in fact both of those are operating by a principle of “do this and live”, then how are those a part of the covenant of grace whose principle is “believe and be saved”?

    In our previous conversation, we seemed ultimately to agree that both Deut 28 and the judicial law are part of an external legal economy, not a part of the substance of the COG. Yes?

    We also seemed to agree that the Decalogue is a restatement of the moral law, and that it, too, operates on a “do this and live” principle, with the understanding that none but Jesus would succeed.

    If we agree so far, then the hard part is over with. We can eliminate the possibility that those are a separate covenant. What is left then is a covenant of grace wrapped in an external legal outer cloak, and all of those belong to that cloak.

    So where is the problem?

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  44. I would like to hear how the competing schools of thought regarding sanctification and the law interpret a verse like this from the book of Job:

    Job 4—-“Now a word was brought to me stealthily;
    my ear received the whisper of it.
    13 Amid thoughts from visions of the night,
    when deep sleep falls on men,
    14 dread came upon me, and trembling,
    which made all my bones shake.
    15 A spirit glided past my face;
    the hair of my flesh stood up.
    16 It stood still,
    but I could not discern its appearance.
    A form was before my eyes;
    there was silence, then I heard a voice:
    17 ‘Can mortal man be in the right before[ God?
    Can a man be pure before his Maker?
    18 Even in his servants he puts no trust,
    and his angels he charges with error;
    19 how much more those who dwell in houses of clay,
    whose foundation is in the dust,
    who are crushed like the moth.
    20 Between morning and evening they are beaten to pieces;
    they perish forever without anyone regarding it.

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  45. Jeff,

    So where is the problem?

    I tried to answer that question in my “state of the question” comment. ‘Member?

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  46. Rick P excludes the sanctions of the law in justification, but not in what he calls “sanctification”. Though he agrees with Gaffin about faith being before “union” and “union” before justification, he does not seem to endorse a “not yet aspect” to justification.

    Rick P—“Evans cites me as saying that we must “pointedly separate [the necessity of good works] from justification,” and thus concludes that I am willing to speak of the necessity of works only as they pertain to sanctification. I understand how Evans draws this conclusion, so let me respond that this was not my intent. What I meant was that good works must be isolated from the instrumentality of justification, not from justification in an absolute sense.
    .
    Rick P— In complete agreement with Bill’s emphasis on union with Christ and the duplex gratia, I would enthusiastically agree that through union with Christ faith and works are not isolated but are joined (even while they remain distinct). Far from being “separate,” through union with Christ, faith and works are inseparable though distinct. So I agree with this and clarify that I was referring to works being excluded from the instrumentality of justification. ”

    Here is the link to Rick P’s 2009 arguments against future justification according to works.
    http://www.reformation21.org/articles/five-arguments-against-future-justification-according-to-works-part-ii.php

    mcmark—if future “sanctification” is 100 percent God’s work and also 100 percent our works, and if future “sanctification” is the reason for future assurance of present justification, what is the practical difference between the position of the “federal vision” and those who teach faith alone means that faith is not alone “from justification in an absolute sense”? Perhaps some technical hangup about the Confessional language about what is “instrumental”???

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  47. Could someone direct me to a sermon from a P&R pastor in decent standing that clearly teaches the moral law is not binding on his flock?

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  48. Presbytery- sorry, classis!- meetings with Dr. Clark must be really short: “I refer my colleagues to post dated 5/6/12 on that issue; to post dated 7/2/10 on this issue”.

    I don’t know that much about the critics of republication but I was asked to give examples of the discrepancies in certain people’s comments which I did. Drinking alcohol is not forbidden but Christians shouldn’t be going to pubs. And Dr. Hart promoted drinking in a very unsuitable way, encouraging behaviour that can only lead to immoral behaviour. And when someone shows mr modest dancing I’ll show them a flying pig.

    As to Republication: this is a prime example of how American Reformed over complicate issues. The Westminster Confession clearly teaches that the moral law, given as a Covenant of Works, was dodo given to Moses the moral law is perpetually binding. If you want to call that republication be my guest. It’s also clear from Scripture that Israel was rewarded for obedience and punished for disobedience; just as the church has been rewarded for obedience and received judgement for disobedience. These are clear. Those who disagree are wrong and it’s that simple.

    But those who advocate RD have complicated matters. They’ve confused others and themselves and it’s all so unnecessary. But they’ve done it with the so-called pactum salutis and union with Christ: starting arguments where there doesn’t need to be arguments.

    Mr. Noe- David Murray’s point about complexity equalling eerie may not be the most solid principle but it has truth in it. Truth should always be able to be expressed simply, especially spiritual truth. Justification can get very complicated but its essence can be easily explained. And the three examples you give aren’t good ones because while it may be hard to explain in words the Trinity, the believer understands it, embraces it, rests in it. He doesn’t embrace uncertainty, or vagueness, but rock solid certain truth: he may not have a perfect metaphor but he knows what the Trinity is by experience and he believes it.

    Zrim- Are you saying God wasn’t gracious in covenanting with Adam?

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  49. Alexander: And when someone shows me modest dancing I’ll show them a flying pig.

    BV: Haven’t you ever seen anyone do “The Carlton”?

    I’d love to chime in some more but I’m off to happy hour with some friends from church. Gasp!

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  50. Thesis: The doctrine of republication, even thought there have been multiple varieties, isn’t that complicated.

    However, the doctrine of republication that is actually being opposed really has only one variety, and complexity isn’t the problem.

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  51. Chris, do you know if Rick P has commented directly on the question of republication? Even though he may approve some kind of American Christendom, I don’t know of any evidence that Rick P ever endorsed a state-established church.

    I don’t even know if Rick P agrees or disagrees with John Murray about ‘the covenant of works”. But then again, do we know if Gaffin and Mark Jones disagree with John Murray’s objections to “cov of works” language? Surely David Murray’s conclusion that John Murray believed in the “essence” of the “cov of works” sweeps too many of John Murray’s objections down the memory hole.

    David Gordon: Murray’s followers confuse: -works and faith (Norman Shepherd), since the Mosaic covenant was not primarily characterized by faith, but by works (Gal. 3:12), and, presumptively, the Sinai covenant was not different in kind from the New Covenant; and confuse the imputation of the obedience of Christ with our own personal obedience

    David Gordon—I’d like to retain the right, after a generation or two of discussion, to change my mind and remove Murrayism if we discover that his views are genuinely fatal to consistent federalism. My current “tolerance” of his view is due, in no small measure, to the fact that in two of his published works (The Imputation of Adam’s Sin, and the Romans Commentary), Murray defends the historic federal position.

    David Gordon– The “Federal” theologians… don’t appear to have a biblical understanding of what a covenant is or whether the Bible contains more than one. Simply as a matter of intellectual integrity, theirs should be called “The Non-Federal Vision.” And when they suggest that we need to do theology from a covenantal perspective, we should demand that they do the same, and candidly acknowledge that the Bible not only records a multiplicity of covenants, but also speaks of them in the plural.

    Reflections on the Auburn Theology – T. David’s Page
    http://www.tdgordon.net/theology/auburntheology.doc

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  52. The problem for many with the term “works” appears to do with whether a created being can earn something by right thereby obligating God to reward; and along with this the following question, can we call this meritorious?

    In the two cases of God’s administrational arrangements with man under discussion, He condescends by His voluntary and free covenant to bless and / or curse. God is obligated by His own will and oath in entering into covenantal arrangements such as in the case with both the original covenant of works with Adam, and in the temporal blessings and cursings which accompany the Mosaic covenant as Kline affirmed. God’s obligation is to His own Word in these cases and His response to the “works” of the creature are covenantally meritorious based upon the stipulations given by God Himself whether absolute or relative, and eternal or temporal. Merit is thereby recognized as relative only under the terms of each covenant and man’s attitude within them in looking to God to respond is grounded in God’s word itself and man’s trust in Him which is part and parcel of these covenants.

    However, if the integrity of faith (trusting God) from first to last even under the covenantal arrangement(s) discussed devolves into the creature’s ontological/autonomous claim of a right based upon his own being and doing, the creature breaks the character of the covenant stipulations.

    Faith appears to be the norm under each covenant in this way.

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  53. Alexander, it is clear that the Bible tells Israel to keep all of God’s commandments or else die. It is clear that God did not say that to Abraham. It is clear that Paul contrasts the law given at Sinai to the promise given to Abraham. It is also clear that the NT nowhere threatens the church with “if you don’t keep everything I have commanded, you die.”

    I know that harmonizing all that takes some work. It’s so complicated that Paul links the law to Hagar instead of Sarah. But if you keep reading the Bible and progress in your sanctification, you might get it.

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  54. DGH, i just consider that David Murray has partnered up with Tim Challies, nothing wrong with that but it speaks volumes.

    I have never heard a Reformed or decent Baptist tell me directly that the pursuit of personal holiness isn’t a part of the faith.

    Come to think of it i have heard nothing but the demand to increase holiness…

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  55. Randall, here’s my problem with the way some construe “voluntary condescension.” Why would a loving and caring and providing God, who created a creature good and in his own image, have to be regarded as doing something so vastly beneath him to establish a covenant the creature? It’s as if Adam was dirty and God decided to hold his nose when he promised eternal blessedness based on perfect obedience. Is God really that squeamish about the pinnacle of his visible creation? Was man so deprived that God had to do something beneath him to have a relation with man?

    Be careful. What you say about Adam could have implications for the incarnate Christ.

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  56. Gen. 26:4 “I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring[a] all nations on earth will be blessed, 5 because Abraham obeyed me and did everything I required of him, keeping my commands, my decrees and my instructions.”

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  57. Be careful. What you say about Adam could have implications for the incarnate Christ.

    …and boom goes the dynamite.

    Deeg, I think this is where the kids say. “Oh no you di-int!”

    What is curiously missing from the republication arguments is where God accedes to himself ‘covenantal properties’ at creation (by repub detractors, e.g. Oliphint), and how this reading of covenant bleeds over into theology proper. Talk about stretching to make a point.

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  58. Are you saying God wasn’t gracious in covenanting with Adam?

    Alexander, if by gracious you mean to say that God was good to Adam in holding out the promise of eternal life in return for obedience, fine. But that’s different from saying, as you did originally, “the CoW was gracious.” It is one thing to say that God is gracious in his character, but another entirely to say law involves grace, for law inherently is devoid of grace as much as grace is inherently devoid of law.

    You also said, “Drinking alcohol is not forbidden but Christians shouldn’t be going to pubs. And Dr. Hart promoted drinking in a very unsuitable way, encouraging behaviour that can only lead to immoral behaviour.” Well, if consuming alcohol isn’t a problem then how is going to a place that serves it? What if I meet David Noe at Hop Cat and only have some cracked fries? And to what exactly are you referring when you say he promoted it in a very unsuitable way–by speaking approvingly of going to a pub? If so (and on top of the first and second questions), what are you saying, that going to a pub always and ever leads to a blatant breaking of God’s law?

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  59. In his book, From Embers To A Flame, Rev. Harry Reeder referenced the ‘Sin of Achen’ and how the Israelites were defeated in battle, and then drew upon a personal example of his own repentance in confessing to cheating on an exam to his seminary teacher two years after it happened. I must say that I admired his integrity, and there have been times in my own life where I did feel the need to confess in particular instances, and on the home front, it happens a lot more. I still do not feel, though, that ‘being blessed’ should mean that I should have the most excellent ‘confessions of sin’ after the tradition and manner of C.J. Mahaney, Bill Gothard, and others who follow the mystics. Someone quoted the Welsh revivalist once, Evan Roberts? (glad for the correct name) who said that to have a revival you should confess all known sin, etc., etc. And as much as I have benefited from Martin Lloyd-Jones on certain points, I don’t agree with his adulation over the Calvinistic Methodists……sorry.

    In Rev. Reeder’s book, his take on the ‘Sin of Achen’ and applying the principle seems more ‘Sinaic’ than ‘Abrahamic’ in terms of understanding the covenants. I do acknowledge and honor God’s Word – “he who covers his sins does not prosper” – but I must say that I was given advice years ago about confession of sin that remains with me as invaluable counsel for life – basically, that confession of sin is a ‘wisdom issue’. Someone could alleviate their guilty conscience while at the same time destroying someone else with their confession of sin. This is the danger in the camp of those who emphasize this type of piety/discipleship/confession of sin/accountability/via one-on-one and small group accountability. Calvin said that we should find someone ‘suitable’ to confess to. There are people I know that I would never want to confess to, even pastors, as well as elders. I do share with people I find suitable, and it’s a 2-way street as well – mutually being built-up. Most of all, I confess to Christ, and appreciate the pastoral prayer at our church so that I can confess with our congregation.

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  60. Zrim, i hope Alexander is able to walk even 10% of the path that he tries to burden us with.

    What was that saying about money talks and something else walks?

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  61. David: I tried to answer that question [that is, identify the problem] in my “state of the question” comment. ‘Member?

    Yes, I do. Here it is.

    Then our discussion somewhat trickled off. But my response was that most of the “questions of controversy” were not actually disagreements.

    Then that led to “further thoughts”, and we left things unresolved.

    Rather than go fifteen rounds at this time on those questions, I would like to circle around these two very different questions:

    (1) Does Vos support an anti-repub case?

    (2) Is David Murray correct to identify merit as “any work to which a reward is due from justice on account of its intrinsic value and worth and requires two essential things: Moral perfection, and Ontological equality”?

    I will develop those questions below. The first is important because you have appealed to Vos, and I didn’t have my copy of BT handy at the time. The second is important because you have identified “Kline’s redefinition of merit” as an issue even more important than republication proper.

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  62. David R., and we know that when you finally explain your objections to republication you actually hold a position virtually the same as republication.

    Let me get this straight: I List 13 things that the RPs affirm but their critics deny. He responds that he only affirms 6 of those 13 things. Your assessment is that our position is “virtually the same.” And now you want me to thank you?

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  63. Here is Vos. First, he lays out the nature of the problem. How are we to understand the law? If we understand that the Pharisees were wrong to try to find eternal life in the law, what are we to make of the law’s promised blessing to its keepers? In the background is Vos’s development of the redemption from Egypt as the type of redemption from sin (BT,pp 109- 119).

    From the nature of the theocracy thus defined we may learn what was the function of the law in which it received its provisional embodiment. It is of the utmost importance carefully to distinguish between the purpose for which the law was professedly given to Israel at the time, and the various purposes it actually came to serve in the subsequent course of history. These other ends lay, of course, from the outset in the mind of God. From the theistic standpoint there can be no outcome in history that is not the unfolding of the profound purpose of God. In this sense Paul has been the great teacher of the philosophy of law in the economy of redemption. Most of the Pauline formulas bear a negative character. The law chiefly operated towards bringing about and revealing the failure of certain methods and endeavours. It served as a pedagogue unto Christ, shut up the people under sin, was not given unto life, was weak through the flesh, worked condemnation, brings under a curse, is a powerless ministry of the letter. These statements of Paul were made under the stress of a totally different philosophy of the law-purpose, which he felt to be inconsistent with the principles of redemption and grace.

    This Pharisaic philosophy asserted that the law was intended, on the principle of merit, to enable Israel to earn the blessedness of the world to come. It was an eschatological and therefore most comprehensive interpretation. But in its comprehensiveness it could not fail being comprehensively wrong, if it should prove wrong. Paul’s philosophy, though a partial one, and worked out from a retrospective standpoint, had the advantage of being correct within the limited sphere in which he propounded it. It is true, certain of the statements of the Pentateuch and of the Old Testament in general may on the surface seem to favor the Judaistic position. That the law cannot be kept is nowhere stated in so many words. And not only this, that the keeping of the law will be rewarded is stated once and again. Israel’s retention of the privileges of the berith is made dependent on obedience. It is promised that he who shall do the commandments shall find life through them. Consequently writers have not been lacking who declared that, from a historical point of view, their sympathies went with the Judaizers, and not with Paul. — G Vos, Biblical Theology, pp 126-127.

    Now, he solves the problem. What is the meaning of the blessings and sanctions promised under the law? Those blessings belong to the symbolico-typical sphere of appropriateness of expression.

    Only a moment’s reflection is necessary to prove that this [is] untenable, and that precisely from a broad historical standpoint Paul had far more accurately grasped the purport of the law than his opponents. The law was given after the redemption from Egypt had been accomplished, and the people had already entered upon the enjoyment of many of the blessings of the berith. Particularly their taking possession of the promised land could not have been made dependent on previous observance of the law, for during their journey in the wilderness many of its prescripts could not be observed. It is plain, then, that law-keeping did not figure at that juncture as the meritorious ground of life-inheritance. The latter is based on grace alone, no less emphatically than Paul himself places salvation on that ground. But, while this is so, it might still be objected that law-observance, if not the ground from receiving, is yet made the ground for retention of the privileges inherited. Here it can not, of course, be denied that a real connection exists. But the Judaizers went wrong in inferring that the connection must be meritorious, that, if Israel keeps the cherished gifts of Jehovah through observance of His law, this must be so, because in strict justice they had earned them. The connection is of a totally different kind. It belongs not to the legal sphere of merit, but to the symbolico-typical sphere of appropriateness of expression.

    Before continuing the quote, I want to observe here that Vos is firmly on the side of those who see the “do this and live” principle in the law as typical.

    You, David, have resisted this point, when you say

    DR: The republication of the moral law, or matter of the CoW (or Turretin’s external economy), is legal, not typological. It simply says “Do this and live,” promises eternal life upon the doing and threatens eternal condemnation upon the not doing.

    In the typological sphere however, what we see (in keeping with I.5 and I.6 above) is that Israel’s exile prefigures the final judgment of the wicked and their everlasting exclusion from the heavenly kingdom. IOW, what is published in the sphere of typology is not the CoW per se, but rather a preview of the threatened punishment (under the terms of the broken CoW) that ultimately befalls those who know not God, and obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    So, not “typological republication,” but a straight-forward republication of the principles of justice together with (yet distinct from) a typological preview of judgment to come…

    The difficulty with your analysis is one of identifying the pieces in play. You correctly observe that the republication of the moral law in the Decalogue is something more than type. It is a reaffirmation of the principles of justice (which as we agree only Jesus would fulfill).

    But this is not the only piece in play, and it is not where the heart of the Klinean thesis lies.

    The issue is the judicial law and the national sanctions. Those are the material that are identified as being “a republication of the covenant of works in a moral sense.”

    And indeed, Vos goes there, using different terminology.

    As stated above, the abode of Israel in Canaan typified the heavenly, perfected state of God’s people. Under these circumstances the ideal of absolute conformity to God’s law of legal holiness had to be upheld. Even though they were not able to keep this law in the Pauline, spiritual sense, yea, even though they were unable to keep it externally and ritually, the requirement could not be lowered. When apostasy on a general scale took place, they could not remain in the promised land. When they disqualified themselves for typifying the state of holiness, they ipso facto disqualified themselves for typifying that of blessedness, and they had to go into captivity. This did not mean that every Israelite, in every detail of his life, had to be perfect, and that on this was suspended the continuance of God’s favor. Jehovah dealt primarily with the nation and through the nation with the individual, as even now in the covenant of grace He deals with believers and their children in the continuity of generations. There is solidarity among the members of the people of God, but this same principle also works for the neutralizing of the effect of individual sin, so long as the nation remains faithful. The attitude observed by the nation and its representative leaders was the decisive factor. Although the demands of the law were at various times imperfectly complied with, nevertheless for a long time Israel remained in the possession of the favor of God. And, even when the people as a whole beome apostate, and go into exile, Jehovah does not on that account suffer the berith to fail. After due chastisement and repentance He takes Israel back into favor.

    This is the most convincing proof that law-observance is not the meritorious ground of blessedness… — Ibid, 127-128

    Let’s break this down. Israel’s possession of the land was

    * On the ground of their obedience,
    * Nationally,
    * And not according to strict justice, but tempered with grace,
    * And typical of the state of blessedness,
    * Culminating in a convincing proof that blessedness cannot be had be law-keeping.

    So Vos is not your ally here. He looks like it, since he divides between a “legal sphere of merit” and an “appropriateness of expression.” On that basis, you have concluded that any legal principle cannot ipso facto be a typical principle also.

    But that division is between the moral law on the one hand, which was abiding and “real” and gives eternal blessing for perfect obedience, and the temporal sanctions on the other, which were temporal and “symbolico-typical” and gave temporal blessings for imperfect obedience. This whole discussion on pp 126-128 is to explain the meaning of the promises of blessing for law-keeping. It is separate from his discussion of the moral law in the Decalogue, which is on pp 129ff.

    So the correct contrast in Vos is between “strict merit” and “symbolico-typical.” The one refers to eternal blessedness, the other to possession of the land. The one operates on perfect obedience, the other on imperfect. The one is “real” because eternal; the other is “typical” because temporal.

    This was a really long post because I wanted to get the primary source material out here for discussion. Let me summarize:

    * Vos affirms that possession of the land on the ground of (imperfect) obedience is typical.
    * This is in reference to the temporal sanctions, not the moral law.

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  64. DR: Let me get this straight: I List 13 things that the RPs affirm but their critics deny. He responds that he only affirms 6 of those 13 things.

    I think you may have forgotten what you wrote. There’s no way that you affirm all thirteen of those things.

    Here are the first three:

    1. whether sinners can merit (in any sense) anything but condemnation,

    2. whether God has ever entered into a legal (inheritance by works) covenant with sinners,

    3. whether the Mosaic covenant was a substantially distinct covenant from the covenant of grace (which is affirmed by some republicationists),

    I have greater than 95% confidence that you do not affirm any of those.

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  65. So does David Murray do justice to the Reformed and Klinean notions of merit when he accuses Kline of “redefining merit”?

    I think he gets both of them wrapped around an axle.

    Here he is:

    3. What is the traditional view of “merit”? (43)

    In traditional Reformed theology, merit is defined as any work to which a reward is due from justice on account of its intrinsic value and worth and requires two essential things: Moral perfection, and [o]ntological equality.

    4. Can humanity merit blessing or favor from God? (43-46)

    Regarding moral perfection, yes before the fall but no after the fall because no sinner can render personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience to God and therefore merit any kind of blessing from God – temporal or eternal.

    Regarding ontological equality, never because there is such an infinite distance between God and humanity, the Creature and the creator…

    7. How does the WCF put ontological equality at the center of covenant theology? (49-52)

    In its preface to the section dealing with the covenant of works, the WCF emphasizes the infinite ontological difference between God and humanity in order to show that man owed God obedience before the fall as a creature without God owing humanity anything in return (WCF 7.1). Therefore the covenant of works was a “voluntary condescension” on God’s part to allow acts of obedience already owed to God without right of reward to actually merit eternal life.

    8. Is there any difference between Adam’s possible merit in the covenant of works and Christ’s actual merit in the covenant of grace? (52-58).

    Adam’s merit is often called covenant merit (it was a merit that God graciously covenanted to let Adam earn). This is a lesser category than Christ’s merit, often called strict merit, which he perfectly rendered to God’s perfect justice in the covenant of grace.

    In Adam’s case, God condescended to reward a lesser being, a creature, in the covenant of works (covenant merit), whereas Christ’s obedience was not only perfect but from someone with ontological equality with God and thus his merit is called strict merit.

    Here, Murray introduces a strawman of “strict merit” that confuses the issues.

    The notion of “strict merit” involving both moral perfection and ontological equality was uniformly rejected not merely by the Reformers, but even by Catholics as being a term unsuitable to describe the merit required of Adam (CCC 2007).

    So to say that Kline or any republicationist believes in “strict merit” in the sense that Murray introduces it is absurd. They are more likely to be Dispensationalists than “strict merit”-ists.

    Instead, when republicationists talk about “merit”, they are talking “obedience as a ground” — in other words, merit pactum, earning a reward by fulfilling the requirement of the covenant.

    This is clearly what Adam was supposed to do. No-one supposes that refraining from eating a fruit is somehow strictly morally equivalent to receiving eternal life.

    Here is how the WLC describes Adam’s situation:

    Question 20: What was the providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created?

    Answer: The providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created, was the placing him in paradise, appointing him to dress it, giving him liberty to eat of the fruit of the earth; putting the creatures under his dominion, and ordaining marriage for his help; affording him communion with himself; instituting the sabbath; entering into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience, of which the tree of life was a pledge; and forbidding to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death.

    What characterized the covenant of works was not “strict merit” but “upon condition of personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience”

    Now, what were the terms of Israel’s remaining in the land? “If you obey, you remain; if not, you leave; if you repent, I will restore you.”

    Israel remains in the land on the grounds of national, imperfect, and continued obedience.

    What is the appropriate term for this arrangement? Kline calls it “a typological republication of the covenant of works.” Does that entail strict merit? No. Does that entail an exact match to Adam’s or Jesus’s situation? No — types do not have to be exact matches to their antitypes.

    So when Murray says,

    5. What does RP teach about this? (46-48)

    By redefining the traditional concept of merit, the RP says that Adam could in strict justice merit favor before the fall and that certain OT figures (including Noah, Abraham, and Israel) did merit some outward blessings of this life in the promised land.

    6. In what way does the RP redefine the concept of merit? (49ff)

    In contrast to the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF), the RP redefines the concept of merit by doing away with the two requirements for merit – moral perfection and ontological equality.

    He needs to clarify how 5 and 6 do not contradict each other. If “merit” does not have the qualities of moral perfection and ontological equality, then it isn’t “strict merit.”

    The stake is not strict merit, but obedience as a ground. If Israel’s continuance in the land was grounded in her obedience, then we are talking about merit pactum. If her continuance in the land was grounded solely in God’s work, with no reference to obedience, then we are talking about grace.

    There are no other categories.

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  66. Dr. Hart- Throughout Scripture God makes it plain that those who follow Him will receive blessing. Nations will be blessed, the people of God will be blessed. “Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people”. I’m bit talking prosperity gospel- the saints in Scotland were often very poor and lowly- but that light will he given. But when a people turn away from God, there are consequences.

    Zrim- Man was made under law. He owed God obedience and God owed him nothing. But God chose to covenant with Adam and to promise him life in exchange for obedience. That was an act of grace. Read John Brown of Haddington’s commentary on the SC.

    Pubs are places of drunkenness and revelling and raucous behaviour; their whole purpose us to encourage as much drinking as possible. That is an environment at odds with a Christian walk. And the problem with Dr. Hart- in this area- is his manner of talking about alcohol: careless, unchaste. He encourages the sort of reckless, rowdy attitude to drink that is so dangerous.

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  67. Jeff- But what’s your complaint? Murray doesn’t say that Adam offered strict merit but covenant merit. You both seem to be saying that Adam’s obedience was accepted on the terms of the covenant- a gracious condescension- rather than as merit that inherently earned him life.

    Dr. Hart- Man is a creature, God is the creator. There’s a difference and an infinite distance. Otherwise why do we say it was a humiliation for Christ to take the form of man? Man is not God, maybe you should keep things in perspective.

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  68. Question:

    Kevin DeYoung’s views generally tend to promote subscribing to the Sinaic covenant
    (51% and beyond in terms of what he emphasizes).

    Agree?

    Disagree?

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  69. Jeff,

    Here are the first three:

    1. whether sinners can merit (in any sense) anything but condemnation,

    2. whether God has ever entered into a legal (inheritance by works) covenant with sinners,

    3. whether the Mosaic covenant was a substantially distinct covenant from the covenant of grace (which is affirmed by some republicationists),

    I have greater than 95% confidence that you do not affirm any of those.

    Maybe you should rub the sleep out of your eyes before posting…. Those items are the first three of the thirteen that I said your side affirms and the critics deny. You agreed with me on six of them (if I counted right).

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  70. Patrick, seriously? That only confirms the point that some people get righteous because another obeyed the law — you know, like the gospel. Abraham’s descendants are blessed because of Abraham’s faithfulness.

    Where is the threat, “don’t do this and die”?

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  71. Zrim, and if God was gracious to Adam before the fall, is God gracious to animals before the fall? Does his providential care for them qualify as grace? Or was he gracious only with the critters that made it to the Ark?

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  72. alex: Jeff- But what’s your complaint? Murray doesn’t say that Adam offered strict merit but covenant merit. You both seem to be saying that Adam’s obedience was accepted on the terms of the covenant- a gracious condescension- rather than as merit that inherently earned him life

    My complaint is that Murray wrongly attributes “strict merit” to repubs, which is ludicrous.

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  73. @ David:

    Quite right, I read you backwards. Sorry.

    But your count did surprise me, as I thought we were in closer agreement at the time. Perhaps it would be helpful if you answered those same questions.

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  74. Speaking of being sleepy, I have a massive erratum above.

    I wrote, “Those are the material that are identified as a republication of the covenant of works in a moral sense.”

    That should have read “in a typological sense”

    Apologies for any confusion.

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  75. Jeff- Ah I get ya. So would you agree with Murray that the merit of Adam is different from the merit of Christ? This distinction seemed to make sense to me, but I wasn’t aware that he was saying that Republicationists were saying Adam had or offered strict merit.

    Dr. Hart- Why do you create all these dichotomies which aren’t there in Scripture? And why do you read blessing as power, whether economic or military or whatever? That’s so Second Temple Judaism!

    I repeat my example of Scotland: after the Reformation for a good number of generations the Gospel light shone in this country and many, many souls were saved. Scotland was blessed. The Lord’s people didn’t necessarily receive temporal improvements- like money or power- and there were times of persecution as the agents of darkness sought to quench the light, but still the people and the nation were blessed as they turned to God.

    Sometimes it might be temporal blessings for a nation- such as a civic morality which is widely ascribed &c.- although I don’t think we need to say the blessings of Israel for obedience- remaining in the land, military security- are necessarily transplanted exactly but the principle remains: that Scripture clearly teaches that those nations which fear God will be blessed and those which don’t, won’t. But that doesn’t preclude suffering, but also why must Christians always be sufferering, and how do we define that suffering? Is your suffering the same as the Christians in Sudan? No. The world is always at enmity towards the soul which has grace, and the believer is always aware of that enmity, but usually he is more aggrieved at the sin within and the war between the old and new man. But Christians can also experience triumph in this life.

    Some things require a little nuance.

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  76. When this RP and anti-RP debate finally gets resolved I can then determine who I can safely go to for Pastoral confession or “wisdom” counseling. Until then my guide is summarized pretty good by this book reviewer of Barbara Duguid’s book, EXTRAVAGANT GRACE:

    1) He started off with the following that I already mentioned: “What if growing in grace is more about humility, dependence, and exalting Christ than it is about defeating sin?” (p. 18). Duguid articulates a profound and neglected point in this rhetorical question and effectively draws it out throughout the book.”

    2) He then names the chapters that are telling and hopeful for those who are dwelling in the wilderness (or the hood) but want to find a way out. Or, perhaps they are worried that they have been condemned to the wilderness until they die with no way out because of their frequent breaking of the commandments. Here they are with a little commentary afterwards:

    “Individual chapters address the superiority of the heart over mere behavior in growth (ch. 1); the naiveté of newly converted Christians about how much sinfulness will remain in them throughout their lives (ch. 2); what true Christian maturity looks like (ch. 3); the crucial importance of humility in Christian growth (ch. 4); the unrealistic optimism about growth in many of our churches and the paradox of strength through weakness throughout the Christian life (ch. 5); the sovereignty of God over even our sin (ch. 6); the role of adversity in revealing to us our ongoing depravity (ch. 6); the unilateral work of God to sustain us in sanctification (chs. 8–9); the importance of patience and compassion toward sin, both ours and others’ (ch. 10); the transforming nature of God’s kindness and love (ch. 11); the implications of the grace of the gospel and the advantages of remaining sin (ch. 12); and the means of grace as we journey through this life to heaven (ch. 13).”

    “Throughout, Duguid wants to free up Christians. It is in their weakness and messiness, not beyond it, that Christ and his grace are theirs. This insight is crucial because of the ineradicable proclivity even among believers to doubt God’s love in light of repeated moral failure. Yet while the New Testament does occasionally call for self-examination, the emphasis is not self-assessment but looking outside oneself to Christ (Heb 12:2), resting in the provisions of a grace that comes to us wholly from outside us. John Newton and his disciple Barbara Duguid capture this counter-instinctual biblical truth and drive it home.”

    3) But then he almost takes away the hope by “wondering” too much:

    “Three questions arose in my mind as I read, however, which could fall under the headings regeneration, divine anger, and hyper-Calvinism.”

    “First, the main reason I wonder if the book succeeds in avoiding imbalance is that it seems as if regeneration and the new spiritual taste buds granted in the new birth get unhelpfully sidelined. Duguid does mention in a few places regeneration and the new impulse toward holiness that comes when the Holy Spirit sets up permanent residence within the believer (e.g., pp. 97, 129). But the general message is that the regenerate are no more capable of obeying God than the unregenerate. The mature Christian, we read, “is just as incapable of performing spiritual acts or resisting temptation on his own as he was on the day he was saved” (p. 63). Or: “at the moment of conversion [God] frees us from the spiritual power that our sin had to condemn us, but he leaves us with a sinful nature that will wage war against our new nature for the remainder of our lives” (p. 60). To be sure, we remain sinners in need of grace our whole lives long. Yet one wonders if Duguid overly mutes the decisive transformation wrought in the new birth and the animating power of the Holy Spirit, who grants both the desire and the ability to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him” (Col 1:10; cf. Phil 1:27; Eph 4:11; 1 Thess 2:12). One further wonders if Duguid has accurately presented the fullness of Newton’s own teaching at this point.”

    John Y: I think that accurately summarizes the hopes and concerns of both sides of the issue.

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  77. Jeff,

    Let’s break this down. Israel’s possession of the land was

    * On the ground of their obedience,
    * Nationally,
    * And not according to strict justice, but tempered with grace,
    * And typical of the state of blessedness,
    * Culminating in a convincing proof that blessedness cannot be had be law-keeping.

    So Vos is not your ally here. He looks like it, since he divides between a “legal sphere of merit” and an “appropriateness of expression.” On that basis, you have concluded that any legal principle cannot ipso facto be a typical principle also.

    Missing from your “careful” and “thoughtful” analysis of Vos is any commentary on his concluding thoughts:

    This is the most convincing proof that law-observance is not the meritorious ground of blessedness. God in such cases simply repeats what He did at the beginning, viz., receive Israel into favour on the principle of free grace. It is in agreement with this, when the law is represented in the Old Testament, not as the burden and yoke which it later came to be in the religious experience of the Jews, but as one of the greatest blessings and distinctions that Jehovah had conferred upon his people [Deut. 4.7, 8; Psa. 147.19, 20; cp. even Paul, Rom. 9.4, 5]. And in Paul’s teaching the strand that corresponds to this Old Testament doctrine of holiness as the indispensable (though not meritorious) condition of receiving the inheritance is still distinctly traceable.

    So allow me to help you with your conclusion:

    * The NT church is also under a works principle whereby their possession of the heavenly inheritance will be grounded on their obedience.

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  78. Man was made under law. He owed God obedience and God owed him nothing. But God chose to covenant with Adam and to promise him life in exchange for obedience. That was an act of grace.
    Alexander, simply stated and yet so convoluted. So was the arrangement quid pro quo or not? I can’t tell by what you say here. First God doesn’t owe for obedience (wrong), then he does (right, but you just said he didn’t…?) and it’s called an act of grace (huh?). But grace is what comes to one who hasn’t earned, while life is what comes to one who has earned.

    Pubs are places of drunkenness and revelling and raucous behaviour; their whole purpose us to encourage as much drinking as possible. That is an environment at odds with a Christian walk. And the problem with Dr. Hart- in this area- is his manner of talking about alcohol: careless, unchaste. He encourages the sort of reckless, rowdy attitude to drink that is so dangerous.

    This ironically sounds like someone who’s watched too many movies and read too many novels. But if you spent any actual time in an actual pub you’d know that most patrons comport themselves and things are pretty orderly. And “his manner…careless, unchaste, reckless and rowdy”? I know Darryl can defend himself here, but are you talking about the same guy who’s all about restraint and modesty to the chagrin of revivalists and semi-revivalists everywhere? What on earth are you talking about now? But my own sense is that this is the typical inflated smearing by a teetotaler of an imbiber. Your distinction-oh-meter needs tweaking not only doctrinally but morally. Let me guess, you also see no difference between a heavy drinker and an alcoholic?

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  79. David, HopCat tonight at 7. Don’t forget your unchaste pants—I want to get kicked out in a drunken stupor before 7:45. Because that’s what it’s there for, right?

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  80. Darryl, good question. I don’t know, but it was sheer grace that he invented dogs. What explains the advent of cats, not sure.

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  81. Zrim, yet again- God created Adam. Adam, as the creature, owed his obedience to God. In return for this obedience God did not owe him anything: his obedience was required of him by virtue of being created. However, God then entered into a covenant with Adam whereby as a reward of the obedience he owed God by virtue of his creation, Adam would receive eternal life. Adam always owed obedience but God, in His grace, covenanted to bestow life on Adam as reward.

    It might be a thing to think about not using generalisations to attack a generalisation. But the fact you say “most patrons” you concede yourself that there are those in these establishments who do not, therefore Christians should not be there. Dr. Hart may promote restraint in regards “pietists” (he’s right to a point, but goes beyond that point and effectively denies spiritual experience by the believer) but not when it comes to alcohol or smoking.

    I’m not sure what your point about the distinction between a heavy drinker and alcoholic is. There may be a distinction but are you talking about people who quite happily drink heavily? Such a person is clearly immoral.

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  82. @ David R:

    Thanks. Here’s my help in return:

    This is the most convincing proof that law-observance is not the meritorious ground of blessedness. God in such cases simply repeats what He did at the beginning, viz., receive Israel into favour on the principle of free grace. It is in agreement with this, when the law is represented in the Old Testament, not as the burden and yoke which it later came to be in the religious experience of the Jews, but as one of the greatest blessings and distinctions that Jehovah had conferred upon his people [Deut. 4.7, 8; Psa. 147.19, 20; cp. even Paul, Rom. 9.4, 5]. And in Paul’s teaching the strand that corresponds to this Old Testament doctrine of holiness as the indispensable (though not meritorious) condition of receiving the inheritance is still distinctly traceable.

    So you say,

    The NT church is also under a works principle whereby their possession of the heavenly inheritance will be grounded on their obedience.

    Here, you’ve really repudiated WSC 19.6: Although true believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified, or condemned

    Your words literally say that law observance will be the ground of the attainment of blessedness.

    Oh, but you say, what about WSC 13.1: They, who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them: the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified; and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

    And here we distinguish between anterior and posterior conditions. Why is it true that without true holiness, no man shall see the Lord? Because, posteriorly, all who are justified receive the Spirit, and from that Spirit reap holiness. All who are justified, are also sanctified.

    But the justification is the ground of being received into the heavenly dwellings. That’s basic, basic Reformed stuff.

    Our holiness in obedience does not and cannot serve as the ground (antecedent condition) for our glorification. You have reworded Vos to mean something that he clearly repudiates.

    This is dangerous turf, brother.

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  83. Alexander: But the fact you say “most patrons” you concede yourself that there are those in these establishments who do not, therefore Christians should not be there.

    Huh. Scripture?

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  84. Zrim, I think there are at least two David’s here … I’d happily accept but for the little problem of 1000 miles or so…. I guess I’ll have to content myself with virtual libations.

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  85. Jeff- If you can’t give the time to write complete sentences don’t expect me to give up my time helping you in Christian 101.

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  86. Alexander, why is the Christian in the Sudan’s suffering different? Don’t take offense. I can see all sorts of differences in civil and external matters. But what about spiritual suffering? Is it different?

    And if Scotland was blessed, how do you know? By what standard? You want nuance, I’m asking for nuance — more like definition.

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  87. Jeff, dangerous turf? It’s a different gospel: “The NT church is also under a works principle whereby their possession of the heavenly inheritance will be grounded on their obedience.”

    But I do thank David R. for being candid. We now have a record of where anti-repub goes. Neonomian to the core.

    WOW!!

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  88. Our holiness in obedience does not and cannot serve as the ground (antecedent condition) for our glorification. You have reworded Vos to mean something that he clearly repudiates.

    No, Jeff, that was your conclusion I was helping you with. My point (obvious I thought) was that’s where your reading Vos takes you. What Vos is actually saying however, is that, just as obedience (albeit non-meritorious, non-instrumental and God-enabled) was a prerequisite for possessing the typological inheritance, so it is also for possessing the eternal one. (For corroboration, see the final clause of WLC #32.)

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  89. D.G., sorry to disappoint you (yet again). I was only being candid about where Jeff’s (mis)interpretation of Vos leads him.

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  90. Alexander, my guess is that you’re trying to protect God against being portrayed as unduly beholden to his creatures. I get it, seems impious, but not only does God not need your help, what you inevitably end up doing is reading grace back into the CoW where it simply cannot be. Belgic 14 says in part: “We believe that God created human beings from the dust of the earth and made and formed them in his image and likeness—good, just, and holy; able by their will to conform in all things to the will of God.” Grace wasn’t needed and it wasn’t one iota a part of the scheme, so why do you keep speaking as if it were?

    Bad behavior is possible everywhere. You’re picking on pubs because you have a prior bias against drink and by extension those who affirm their freedom in Christ to imbibe, and it especially grinds you when they actually enjoy it and commend it to others.

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  91. Alexander – If there is a Mrs. Alexander, is it sinful to have sex with her? After all, some people have sexual addictions and some people rape! And while you’re at it, you shouldn’t visit any restaurants because those places exist for people to engage in gluttony (and most even serve alceehol). I know that because I always see a few obese people whenever I enter a restaurant. Same goes for grocery stores. Time to start gardening.

    The memory verse I’m assigning to you today is Psalm 104:15.

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  92. David R., what are you talking about. That conclusion was precisely what Klineans and others saw in Shepherd. Now you’re saying that their position leads them right to Shepherd. This is stuff right out of Jack Van Impe, as in they don’t know what their doing but the anti-repubs do.

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  93. D.G., do I “virtually agree” with you, or am I “neonomian to the core”? Are the cats teaching you to be fickle?

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  94. I guess I need to spell it out:

    Vos says that the obedience that was prerequisite for possessing the typological inheritance is also prerequisite for possessing the eternal inheritance.

    Jeff misunderstands Vos to be saying that Israel’s obedience was the (meritorious?) “ground” for possessing the typological inheritance.

    I then simply tried to show him the logical conclusion of his misunderstanding….

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  95. It’s time for deep breaths all around.

    Alexander: I will hereby only use complete sentences in conversing with you, Lord willing. I hope that helps.

    I am not remembering a question on merit. Let me scan for it. Ah, here it is:

    So would you agree with Murray that the merit of Adam is different from the merit of Christ?

    Yes. I am not absolutely certain as to whether that difference is better described as “strict merit” or “merit pactum under the eternal covenant”, but in either case, the merit of Adam is different from that of Christ.

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  96. David R: I am relieved that you weren’t representing your own view.

    You aren’t representing mine, either, which I hope is good news for you.

    So why is that not my position, and why do I think I’ve gotten Vos right?

    Let’s break this down more carefully:

    But, while this is so, it might still be objected that law-observance, if not the ground from receiving, is yet made the ground for retention of the privileges inherited. Here it can not, of course, be denied that a real connection exists. But the Judaizers went wrong in inferring that the connection must be meritorious, that, if Israel keeps the cherished gifts of Jehovah through observance of His law, this must be so, because in strict justice they had earned them. — G.Vos, BT

    * Vos is not denying that law-observance was the ground for retention of privileges inherited: “Here it cannot be denied, of course, that a connection exists.”

    * He is denying that that connection operates according to strict merit.

    So do I.

    Next, why would you wrongly think that my position means that the NT church is under a works principle? Here, there are too many assumptions left out for me to accurately speculate. So let me inaccurately speculate and you can correct me about your own thoughts.

    You emphasized Vos: And in Paul’s teaching the strand that corresponds to this Old Testament doctrine of holiness as the indispensable (though not meritorious) condition of receiving the inheritance is still distinctly traceable.

    So perhaps your argument is,

    (1) Jeff thinks that Vos thinks that law-keeping was the ground for retention of the land.
    (2) Vos thinks that Paul’s teaching about holiness as an indispensable condition for receiving the inheritance is exactly parallel to the situation with Israel.
    (3) Therefore, the principle for Israel’s retention and the principle for our retention must be the same.
    (4) Whence Jeff is compelled to believe that law-keeping would be the ground for our retention of salvation.

    Is that a fair reconstruction?

    If so, it breaks down at (2). Having “a strand discernible” is not the same as “is an exact parallel to.” Vos is not saying, “Just as with national Israel, so also with us.” For if he were, then defectible salvation would be the necessary conclusion, since it was certainly possible for Israel to fail to remain in the land (as in fact did happen), whereas it is not possible for a Christian to fail to inherit.

    So we cannot over-read Vos here.

    Having sorted all that out, I would like for you to deal with the judicial law square on. How do you understand that as a dispensation of the covenant of grace?

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  97. Alexander: But the fact you say “most patrons” you concede yourself that there are those in these establishments who do not, therefore Christians should not be there.

    Please defend that reasoning from Scripture.

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  98. Jeff, besides the distinction in covenantal parties; CoW vs. CoR. Are you saying that adam’s potential merit was less strict or somehow not commensurate to potential reward or curse?

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  99. I’m saying that Adam’s obedience would have been commensurate inasmuch as it would have been obedience to the stipulated command.

    Eating a fruit of itself is hardly equivalent to eternal life.

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  100. Jeff,

    Is that a fair reconstruction?

    Yes.

    If so, it breaks down at (2). Having “a strand discernible” is not the same as “is an exact parallel to.” Vos is not saying, “Just as with national Israel, so also with us.” For if he were, then defectible salvation would be the necessary conclusion, since it was certainly possible for Israel to fail to remain in the land (as in fact did happen), whereas it is not possible for a Christian to fail to inherit.

    You are not making the correct parallel. The correct parallel is not “Israel” and “Christian”; it is Old Testament church/New Testament church. In both cases, there is the possibility of apostasy and consequent loss of privilege. In both cases, obedience is prerequisite to possessing the inheritance, though in neither case is it the meritorious ground or instrumental ground. (In both cases of course, the elect persevere.)

    Having sorted all that out, I would like for you to deal with the judicial law square on. How do you understand that as a dispensation of the covenant of grace?

    If you don’t mind, I think it might be more productive if you explain how you understand Vos’s parallel between the OT and NT in terms of prerequisite obedience (since I think you now are clear on my view?).

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  101. David R. Hello! The church has no holy land except for dispensationalist Christians who still pine for Jerusalem. Is that you?

    If you take away the judicial and ceremonial laws from Israel, what do you have?

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  102. Jeff, I’ll assume( I know I know) that you mean more by that than hell is equally incommensurate to biting a piece of fruit. My point is covenant is not an add on to the native relationship of creator and creature, nor should it be assumed that strict justice isn’t possible in the edenic situation . Rather, viewed covenantally, it should be considered inherent to the nature of a just God and His Imago Dei creation.

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  103. Maybe I can just put it this way: Obedience was a prerequisite for the OT church to remain in the land in precisely the same way that obedience is a prerequisite for a NT church to keep its lampstand. That obedience is a condition of maintaining privilege doesn’t prove a works principle in the former case any more than it does in the latter.

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  104. Zrim-

    You just cannot argue that God owed man anything merely by His creating him. God is not dependent upon, nor obligated to, anyone or anything outside of Himself unless He chooses to condescend and covenant with said person. Which is what happened with Adam. Adam, by virtue of his being a reasonable creature, was obligated to obey the moral law; but God was not obligated to reward him for that.

    John Brown of Haddington on the CoW:

    Q. Was Adam, by virtue of his creation, under this covenant? A. No; he was only under the law of God.

    Q. Wherein did that law, and the covenant made with him, differ? A. The law made him God’s servant, and required perfect obedience, without promising any reward; but this covenant made him God’s friend and ally, and promised a glorious reward to his obedience to which himself had engaged.

    Q. What moved God to enter into this covenant? A. His own free favour and bounty, Job 7:17: What is man that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?

    Q. How doth that appear? A. Because God as a Creator might justly have executed all the service man was capable of, without giving him any reward; and, notwithstanding, punished him for disobedience, Luke 17:10: So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

    Q. Was very much grace manifested in the covenant of works? A. Yes, very much free favour and bounty.

    Q. How so? A. In God’s not only promising to reward man’s obedience; but also in so framing this covenant, as to admit a covenant of grace, if it was broken.

    Q. Why then is it not called a covenant of grace? A. Because there was far less grace manifested in it than is in the second covenant, Rom. 5:20, 21

    Fisher’s Catechism:

    Q. 4. What do you understand by God’s writing the law upon the table of his heart?

    A. God’s inlaying a principle of obedience in his heart, disposing him to obey out of love to God, and a supreme regard to his authority, Eccl. 7:29.

    Q. 5. What was the peculiar favour which God manifested to man in a state of innocence, besides writing the law upon his heart?

    A. The reducing that law to the form of a covenant, by which man became confederate with heaven.

    Q. 19. Was there any mercy or favour in restricting man from eating of this tree?

    A. Much every way; for this restriction taught him, that though he was lord of the creatures, yet he was God’s subject: it was a beacon set up before him to beware of sin; and it pointed him away from the creatures to God himself for happiness.

    Q. 30. Was there any proportion between Adam’s obedience, though sinless, and the life that was promised?

    A. There can be no proportion between the obedience of a finite creature, however perfect, and the enjoyment of the infinite God, Job 22:2, 3 — “Can a man be profitable to God? Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? or, is it gain to him, that thou makest thy way perfect?”

    Q. 31. Why could not Adam’s perfect obedience be meritorious of eternal life?

    A. Because perfect obedience was no more than what he was bound to, by virtue of his natural dependence on God, as a reasonable creature made after his image.

    Q. 32. Could he have claimed the reward as a debt, in case he had continued in his obedience?

    A. He could have claimed it only as a pactional[21] debt, in virtue of the covenant promise, by which God became debtor to his own faithfulness, but not in virtue of any intrinsic merit of his obedience, Luke 17:10.

    Q. 33. What then was the grace and condescension of God that shined in the covenant of works?

    A. In that he entered into a covenant, at all, with his own creature; and promised eternal life as a reward of his work, though he had nothing to work with, but what he received from God, 1 Cor. 4:7.

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  105. Jeff-

    You would agree, though, that the believer inherits eternal life based on his being able to offer a perfect obedience of the law, either his or another’s? As man cannot do this, it must be another’s he offers, namely Christ’s. Which, of course, is what is so gracious about the covenant of grace.

    Does that not come into your argument above, or is it a seperate point?

    As to pubs: revelling is forbidden in Galatians 5 in the table of the works of the flesh, and pubs are a place of revellings, ergo Christians should not be there. They are also a place of drunkenness and lewd behaviour, ergo Christians should not be there. They are also a place of profanity, blasphemy and all sorts of unchaste behaviours and conversations that Christians should not be there.

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  106. So Jeff, what I’m trying to say is that you reason wrongly here:

    “Vos is not saying, ‘Just as with national Israel, so also with us.’ For if he were, then defectible salvation would be the necessary conclusion, since it was certainly possible for Israel to fail to remain in the land (as in fact did happen), whereas it is not possible for a Christian to fail to inherit.”

    It seems to me you reason as follows:

    Vos’s parallel can be exact only if NT saints are liable to failure to inherit.
    NT saints are not liable to failure to inherit.
    Ergo, Vos’s parallel can’t be exact.

    Is this fair? Assuming it is, the problem is with your major premise.

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  107. Alexander,

    I think your pubs are different from my pubs. The last time I went to a pub, I had a quiet burger and fries with an elderly couple. The tables around were filled with families.

    There was a bar off to the side. It was low-key.

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  108. Zrim-

    If you’re saying grace wasn’t needed by Adam in order for him to obey the law, then that would appear to make sense. As the standards tell us Adam was created in knowledge, righteousness and holiness and able to obey. But I haven’t argued that Adam needed grace to obey the law. I’ve argued that the covenant of works is gracious, in the sense that 1) God was not obligated to enter into it and 2) God owed man nothing for his obedience but, graciously, offered him eternal life in exchange for said obedience.

    So, yes, Adam was able to obey the law, but he was obligated to obey the law.

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  109. “God owed man nothing for his obedience but, graciously, offered him eternal life in exchange for said obedience.”

    Alexander, not according to Romans 4 – “Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation.”

    If we say the reward of eternal life was not a just reward commensurate with Adam’s obedience then hell does not need to be a just punishment commensurate with Adam’s disobedience, which would bring God’s character into question, would it not?

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  110. DR – Maybe I can just put it this way: Obedience was a prerequisite for the OT church to remain in the land in precisely the same way that obedience is a prerequisite for a NT church to keep its lampstand. That obedience is a condition of maintaining privilege doesn’t prove a works principle in the former case any more than it does in the latter.

    How is that not a works principle? Keep the stipulations of the covenant > Obedience = stay in the Land. Break the stipulations of the covenant > Disobedience = exiled from the Land. Which Scripture teaches. Both elect and non-elect Israelites were exiled in the second case when, for instance, Solomon the king of the nation disobeyed by setting up worship of foreign gods for his wives, even though that exile was delayed. In other words, as far as the nature of the covenant regarding the nation wasn’t it “Do this (keep the stipulations) and live”, i.e. Remain in the Land… and “Disobey (do not keep the stipulations) and die”, i.e. Exiled from the Land? Wasn’t this a works principle operating on some level?

    Rather than bring in the “lampstand” of Revelation isn’t more helpful to talk in terms of the marks of a church? Do churches that stop preaching the gospel and rightly administering the sacraments get temporally exiled? We might rightly call them false churches but that doesn’t equate to any temporal punishment. Are you saying that the nation of Israel is a type (“precisely the same way”) of individual NT churches? Sorry for the questions but this seems to be what you are implying.

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  111. Jack, I have already answered the question of your first paragraph numerous times. As to your second paragraph, the question wasn’t concerning the form that loss of privilege takes (which we agree was different in the OT than it is in the NT) but rather, the prerequisite for maintaining privilege, which I argue is the same in the NT as it was in the OT.

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  112. David R., so the church has a works principle to maintain the ministry of the word.

    How is it that if a repub guy affirms works principle in the Mosaic covenant you go all ape____. But when you do it it’s fine.

    Is your objection that repub is soft on the works principle? They really need to be theonomists about it?

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  113. Alexander, fair enough perhaps, but it’s not obvious what is to be gained by characterizing the CoW as gracious even in a modified sense. I mean, when the judge acquits me because the law has vindicated me as not guilty but innocent, I don’t call him gracious for doing so. I call him just. Indeed, I’ve no problem saying that he as the agent of justice owed me an acquittal, even if that’s a tad awkward. Gratefulness for justice is a better posture. But gracious? No.

    On bistros and pubs, so what happens when my bistro gets unchaste and the pub stays orderly? It can happen, the world is a complex place where neatly defined expectations get turned on their heads. Happens all the time, and the pious rigidity with which you evaluate pubs becomes a useless and legalistic ruler to help me live in the real world as a believer.

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  114. Alexander: You would agree, though, that the believer inherits eternal life based on his being able to offer a perfect obedience of the law, either his or another’s? As man cannot do this, it must be another’s he offers, namely Christ’s. Which, of course, is what is so gracious about the covenant of grace.

    Full agreement.

    Does that not come into your argument above, or is it a separate point?

    It is a separate-but-related point.

    Here is one way in which that point is related to the larger discussion. David R and I agree (I think!) that the Decalogue was an actual republication of the moral law — the requirements of the CoW — at Sinai.

    If this were not so, then Jesus would not have merited our salvation.

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  115. JRC: If so, it breaks down at (2). Having “a strand discernible” is not the same as “is an exact parallel to.” Vos is not saying, “Just as with national Israel, so also with us.” For if he were, then defectible salvation would be the necessary conclusion, since it was certainly possible for Israel to fail to remain in the land (as in fact did happen), whereas it is not possible for a Christian to fail to inherit.

    DR: You are not making the correct parallel. The correct parallel is not “Israel” and “Christian”; it is Old Testament church/New Testament church.

    So this is a really interesting point, and I’m glad that you raised this issue. My first reaction was, “absolutely fair point.” My second was, “But is that what Vos meant?”

    Let’s unpack a bit, and I hope you’ll adduce additional evidence for your view. It is certainly clear that you have structural parallelism on your side.

    The reason that I thought Vos was paralleling Israel to Christian individuals is that I cannot think of a place — perhaps Eph 5, “washing her with water” — where Paul has a “strand that corresponds to this Old Testament doctrine of holiness as the indispensable condition of receiving the inheritance” in reference to the Church as an entity.

    Paul does speak of holiness in reference to individuals, frequently, as does Heb 12.14.

    But there’s more. You want the type to be the OT church, but in fact Vos is explicitly talking about the theocracy, which is subtly different.

    Further, Vos is clearly speaking in the “symbolico-typological” realm. Is the OT theocracy used as a type for the NT church in Scripture? I can’t think of any references off the top, but perhaps you can.

    Israel as a nation is a type of Christ (Matthew).

    And the OT church is certainly continuous with the NT church as symbolized by the tree (Rom 11) and the temple (Eph 2).

    But is the OT church a type of which the NT church is the antitype?

    So I am not yet convinced that the structural parallelism, as attractive as it is, is what Vos has in mind. He clearly is talking about the OT theocracy and not the OT church. He would seem to be talking about the “holiness without which no one will see the Lord”, which is in reference to Christian individuals.

    And the notion of broken-off branches and removed lampstands is not operating in the “symbolico-typological” realm.

    So say more. What is your reasoning?

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  116. D.G., wait I think you’re the one affirming a works principle and I’m denying…. I have that right, don’t I?

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  117. Jeff,

    Maybe it would help if I clarify (and perhaps revise a bit what I said above) that in fact I do not believe that Vos is making an exact parallel. The difference in the parallel he makes is of course to be explained by the distinction between “the symbolico-typical sphere of appropriateness of expression” (characterizing the OT) and what perhaps we can label (something to the effect of) the antitypical sphere of realized eschatology (in the NT). Hence, the holiness required in the OT as the condition for possessing the typological inheritance is merely a type; whereas that required for possessing the antitypical one is the reality.

    So what exactly is the parallel? It is that in both cases (as Vos says), “holiness” is “the indispensable (though not meritorious) condition of receiving the inheritance.” Now, can we agree that the holiness he speaks of wrt the NT is the believer’s sanctification?

    With that out of the way, I would then ask you (as I think I have above): If in both cases, we are speaking of a condition that is “not meritorious” (Vos), then how can it possibly entail a works principle (in the OT)? Given what you’ve said thus far, your response would be to the effect that there has to have been a works principle in the OT because the inheritance wasn’t guaranteed; whereas in the NT it is. Assuming this is basically what you would say, my response is that in the NT, the inheritance is not at all guaranteed to those who have been externally admitted into the covenant. It is only guaranteed to those who partake of its substance. Hence, the fact that there is no guarantee of inheriting does not (in and of itself) imply a works principle. So again I ask: if we’re speaking of a non-meritorious condition, how can a works principle possibly be involved?

    (If you need further clarification on anything, then I would be happy to attempt to engage your above comment more directly.)

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  118. David R., if the church has to be obedient to keep the lampstand — that was your point — then answer the question. What about Corinth and Paul’s instruction to them?

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  119. Todd-

    I think Romans 4 is talking about the CoW. Once established, there was a reward for perfect obedience which was due him who offered that perfect obedience. So, Adam, within the framework of the CoW, would have merited eternal life if he had passed the probation; and so if you or I were able to offer a perfect obedience to the law then we would merit eternal life. But that is not possible post-Fall, so we must look for another, i.e. Christ.

    So Hell is the just punishment for breaking the covenant. But it was also the just punishment before the CoW was established, as the writers I quoted earlier say, because God was at liberty to require perfect obedience from his creatures, without rewarding them; and punish them upon their failure to perfectly obey.

    One has to bear in mind that Adam’s perfect obedience in a state of innocency is not equal to God’s holiness, righteousness &c. for Adam was a finite creature. We are not dealing with equals here. Indeed, Adam was promised eternal life- within the CoW- after a probation so the obedience requred of him was not in any sense a quid pro quo. What Adam was being asked to offer was not of equal value, or directly correlative, to what he would have received: thus, grace.

    A parent does not owe his child anything just because the child does the chores he has been commanded to do; and a parent has every right to punish a child for not doing those chores, as well as witholding reward for doing them. Parents often do reward children for chores done- allowance- but that is a gracious act and so we could see, speaking with all reverence, an analogy in that situation with the relationship between God and Adam pre and post covenanting.

    But in Romans 4 I would say Paul is talking about the CoW and that those who offer perfect obedience, within that covenant, are entitled to eternal life, as a debt/wage. But no one can do that, except Christ, who did it.

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  120. Zrim- You mentioned about people calling the CoW gracious. I admit, it was an aside but I decided to run with it, but I think it’s a useful and interesting discussion to have.

    I don’t think the picture you use of the judge is accurate for the CoW though, it’s a CoG picture. Adam was not before a Judge accused of wrongdoing, within the CoW pre-Fall, as the sinner is post-Fall, was he?

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  121. Alexander, you say God was under no obligation to enter into a covenant with man. Well, can you imagine a good and trinue God creating someone in his own image and then letting the creature exist like a cat? I don’t know if obligation is the right word, but a faithful God could be expected to do more than your contention that God was under no obligation. Was he not obligated to himself?

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  122. Alexander, “One has to bear in mind that Adam’s perfect obedience in a state of innocency is not equal to God’s holiness, righteousness &c. for Adam was a finite creature.”

    So Jesus, because he was divine, wasn’t really tempted as we are.

    You’re starting to sound Eastern Orthodox, as if man’s sin problem is really ontological.

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  123. D.G., I’m not sure I understand your question. Was the Corinthian church apostate? Should we ignore Revelation 2?

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  124. DR, well what would the union-with-Christ folks say about sleeping with your stepmother? What’s apostasy? Violating the seventh or the second commandment?

    If you’re so quick to jump on the condemnation of Turkish churches, what about the Greek ones?

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  125. Alexander, I think it’s agreed that Creator and creature aren’t equal. That’s not the point from over here. The point is that the CoW is “do this and live, don’t and die.” There is nothing gracious whatever about that. It’s all law. And now you’re saying that what was offered doesn’t compare to what was required, as in life and righteousness aren’t co-equal. Does that mean heaven won’t be as great as the Bible says and hell won’t be quite as awful? Can you see how your theory here doesn’t exactly foster the faithful nor incentivize the yet unbelieving with respect to what eternal life or death means?

    I wonder if you have children. As a parent, I get your point in theory, but it doesn’t work in reality (sorry, but you seem to have a reality problem in various ways). Sure, there are times I’d like to say, “Do it because I said do it, that should be enough.” And sometimes that’s the deal. But if I’ve set up an explicit quid pro quo arrangement, then to reward hap-hazardly and not in accord with established rules that bind each party is really to govern more like a tyrant than a father.

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  126. D.G., here’s the point: Jeff argues (I think) that the possibility of failure to inherit entails a works principle, and thus there was a works principle in the OT. My response is that this argument proves too much. In both the OT and NT administrations of the covenant of grace, there is no guarantee of inheriting, but only to those who partake of the substance of the covenant.

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  127. Zrim-

    But the “quid pro quo”, or rather, “do this and live” arrangement didn’t exist until God entered into covenant with Adam. Until that happened Adam was under obligation to obey, without there being the obligation on God’s part to reward that obligation. The reward came in with the covenant. The issue is was Adam created in covenant or was the covenant after the creation. The old Reformed would say the covenant came after the creation.

    You say that “do this and live” isn’t gracious, but I’m saying the provision itself is gracious. God didn’t need to say “do this and live” but He did, and that was gracious: as any movement of God towards Man is gracious. Of course the terms of the CoG are, technically, the same as the CoW- it’s just someone else who meets them. So if you say the terms of the CoW aren’t gracious then I think that calls into question the graciousness of the CoG, no? Why is it not gracious to offer reward to Adam for his obedience, but it is to offer reward to Christ for his obedience? Adam, pre-Fall, was endowed with the capacity to meet the terms of the covenant. Christ could not fail to meet the terms, but Adam at least was able to meet them. Now of course the CoG is far far more gracious- hence its name- but that’s because of the provision made, not necessarily because of the terms, no?

    Also I don’t know what that has to do with Heaven and Hell. I mean, perfectly obeying the law for a week doesn’t equal life for eternity, does it? That was my point. Adam was given a probation and if he passed that probation he would inherit eternal life. Now we don’t know how long that probation would have been (the old divines supposed not very long at all) but however long it was, it wasn’t eternity, otherwise it wouldn’t be a probation. So at the end of the day, the “thing” which Adam was asked to give in reward for eternal life was not co–equal with eternal life. And Adam was a finite being, therefore he could not offer infinite holiness or righteousness, which is what God possesses.

    On the other hand, Christ is an infinite being which is why his atonement- whilst only lasting a few hours- or the perfect obedience he offered for only a few years, is credited as meeting the standards of an eternal law. That is why an unsaved sinner must spend eternity in Hell paying for his sins, but Christ paid the price of his people’s sins in a matter of hours. It’s the person who is offering the sacrifice: the difference between a finite and an infinite being.

    Dr. Hart-

    I see your point about whether God would have just left Adam as he was. Of course, He didn’t. But you assume that Adam’s existence without a covenant would be bad: it seems it was a pretty good existence. After all, the fact he was created at all is more than he deserved. But it does seem likely that God created Man with a view to being in relationship with him- why else create him in His image? But we do, after all, have to still be precise in our working out the logical and temporal order of things and the concepts involved, do we not?

    As to your second point: Christ was also human. He was the God-man, so that is a particular “thing” that applies to the second person. Christ was tempted as we are, except from anything within himself, wouldn’t we say? There was no sin in him or his flesh/humanity. Satan had no foothold in Christ by which to tempt him, because he was without sin. So there are differences between Christ and fallen man, because he was divine as well as human. Otherwise he couldn’t have made atonement.

    But I don’t think this is really pertinent to what I’ve been saying. Adam, by virtue of being a creature, pre-Fall, whilst made in the image of God and endowed with an inherent righteousness, still wasn’t God. He wasn’t equal to God so we cannot say he was holy and righteous to the same extent that God was. By virtue of his creation he was inferior to God:

    “I. The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto Him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of Him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God’s part, which He has been pleased to express by way of covenant.” WCF 7:1

    Man could never have put God in obligation by mere fact of anything he did. God only became indebted to him, if that’s an appropriate way of speaking, because He condescended to place Himself in debt.

    Anyway, I’m beginning to feel I’ve gone as far as I’m comfortable in going- if not moreso- so I’ll pull back. We must always be very careful about what we say about Christ and his work and our relationship with the eternal, ever blessed God. I hope I have made sense in what I’ve said.

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  128. Alexander, the business about what happened pre-covenant just seems speculative, so it’s not clear to me what’s to be gained speculating about the nature of that arrangement.

    The point about the CoW being gracious or just is getting resistive, but it does seem to me to be muddying the waters to speak of what is clearly a legal as gracious. Again, my guess is that you actually mean “good” (i.e. it was good of God to covenant with man), in which case agreed.

    The point about heaven and hell is that in an attempt to maintain the Creator-creature distinction and say that whatever aligns with the Creator surpasses in worth anything the creature does or earns as a result, you seem to be undermining the nature of both reward and punishment. Yes, in some sense obeying God for its own sake has (ahem) merit, but covenant theology is all about the organic nature of the relationship of Creator to creature; there has to be something in it for us for anything to resonate (I thought you guys were the affections crowd?). Maybe you think that is to detract from the glory of God, I don’t know, but how do you get creatures to care about any of it if you want to emphasize simply the greatness of God?

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  129. David R., do this and live or else is not a works principle? I’m not sure how you are reading texts.

    And if you are saying that the elect have no guarantee of a long and prosperous life (which is not exactly what the Promised Land involved), sure. 2k and repub try to make that point all the time — believers actually do suffer for no good reason. But if you’re saying that God’s people will not persevere spiritually, then you’re not a Calvinist.

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  130. Alexander, I think you push too hard a line of discontinuity between Adam and Christ. Paul doesn’t do that which is why he draws so many parallels. You also disparage the humanity of Adam and Christ. It is the pinnacle of creation, you know.

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  131. D.G., if you’re saying anyone perseveres apart from electing grace, then you’re not a Calvinist. (Whew, this game gets tiring….)

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  132. David R:

    Hi. I’ve gotten confused at this point as to what your actual view is about some things, so I think I will retrench and restate so that we can reengage.

    Here is our point of agreement:

    Hence, the holiness required in the OT as the condition for possessing the typological inheritance is merely a type; whereas that required for possessing the antitypical one is the reality.

    I think this is exactly right, and I am pleased to see you now affirming rather than denying that the holiness required in the OT functioned typologically, for it was a condition for possessing the typological inheritance.

    The questions before us now are,

    (1) What or who is the antitype (for Vos, and in Scripture)?
    (2) What counts as a “works principle” or “meritorious obedience”?

    I’ll develop the first below.

    Several options have been floated for understanding the type and antitype:

    (A) The OT church is the type, the NT church is the antitype
    (B) The OT church is the type, the Christian individual is the antitype.

    I would like to add one to the list:

    (C) The OT theocracy is the type, Christ himself is the antitype.

    This is not an obvious read of Vos here, since he makes no mention of Christ as the antitype in our section. But in fact, he makes no mention of the antitype at all. His aim is not to develop that type, but to refute the Pharisaic view that the law was given for inheritance of eternal life on the ground of strict merit.

    Part of the problem here is that you and I have tacitly agreed to mine Vos for a topic that he isn’t actually addressing — the function of obedience in the land as a type. For Vos, the “symbolico-typical” is a three-paragraph aside whose function is to repudiate liberal theologians who hold that the OT salvation economy was of a different variety (namely, operating under strict merit) than that of the NT.

    Let me illustrate. Previously, you have asserted that the polar opposite categories here are “legal” and “typical.” Anything legal is not typical, anything typical is not legal. And you cited Vos in support of this view.

    But if you continue on to Vos’s discussion of the prophets, we find that Jehovah’s righteousness by which He removes Israel from the land is of a forensic variety (p. 251), and that Vos conceives of the covenant as a legal relation together with divine promise (257). As seen in Hosea, the covenant is a legally defined relationship, on the basis of which Jehovah brings lawsuit against Israel (262). And going back to the passage we considered, Vos declares that

    …we must not forget that this revelation and promulgation of the gospel in the Mosaic institutions bore, as to its form, a legal character, and differs, in this respect, from the form it exhibits at the present time … [The prefigured gospel] was not permitted to rise superior to the legal environment in which it had been placed. Only the New Testament the full liberty in this respect — BT 129

    So it is clear that Vos does not consider “typological” and “legal” to be antonyms. And this is good, for now that you have conceded that Israel’s obedience was indeed the condition for inheritance of the type of eternal life, it would be very difficult to understand Turretin’s “legal cloak” if indeed that which is typological cannot also be legal.

    So what is Vos’ contrast?

    Again, the contrast is between on the one hand a legal system of strict merit that acquires eternal blessedness, and on the other a system in which obedience is the ground for acquiring the temporal type of blessedness.

    So what is the antitype? Clearly, it must be the righteousness that does actually acquire eternal blessedness. And that righteousness is not our sanctification. I know you agree!

    Where Vos goes in discussing Israel’s removal from the land is to show how the prophets point forward to the Messiah. For this reason, I believe that for Vos, the antitype is Christ Himself. I certainly believe that this is so in Scripture.

    So what about the statement, And in Paul’s teaching the strand that corresponds to this Old Testament doctrine of holiness as the indispensable (though not meritorious) condition of receiving the inheritance is still distinctly traceable?

    It means simply that we see a reflection of the OT doctrine of holiness in Paul’s teaching on holiness. The language here is by no means strong enough to indicate a type-antitype relationship.

    No, I think that

    (1) The logic of type/antitype from lesser to greater, from imperfect to perfect requires that

    Imperfect righteousness : land-inheritance :: Perfect righteousness : life-inheritance

    Which requires that the righteousness in the second half be that of Christ and not our own imperfect sanctification.

    (2) Vos’ subsequent development of the Content of Prophetic Revelation — keeping in mind that his aim is to develop the scope of Scriptural teaching — shows that he views the Messiah to be the antitype of Israel in the creation of the new and unbreakable covenant.

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  133. @ David R:

    So what counts as a “works principle” and what counts as “merit”?

    Here we need to distinguish. If we take “strict merit” to mean that the actions absolutely deserve the reward, then there is not and has never been a strict meritorious situation save for Christ’s obedience.

    Not even the CoW was strictly meritorious.

    But then we have “merit pactum”, in which the actions are stipulated (for whatever reason) as the ground for the reward. The CoW falls in this category.

    Then further we have something like “congruent merit” in which actions are not exactly stipulated, and might even be imperfect, and yet are rewarded by grace. God’s reward for our good works falls in this category.

    Here is the Catholic Dictionary on congruent merit: “Also called appropriate merit, it is any good deed that deserves reward on any one or more of a variety of grounds, but not in strict justice or fidelity to a promise. Thus friendship, compassion, kindness, and responding to a request are grounds for congruent merit.”

    Why do I bring in Catholicism? Because I want to draw attention to the fact that what you have been calling “non-meritorious obedience” is in fact “congruently meritorious obedience” in the Catholic system.

    And if you are then saying that our obedience is a non-meritorious ground for inheritance of eternal life, then you would really be saying that our obedience receives congruent merit unto eternal life.

    And that is no different from Catholic soteriology.

    In other words, the attempt to create the category of “non-meritorious grounds” is inherently self-contradictory. The phrase to merit by X action is synonymous with To be rewarded on the ground of X.

    OK, so what is Vos saying when he speaks of “holiness as the indispensable (though not meritorious) condition of receiving the inheritance”?

    I believe he’s speaking of strict merit, given his contrast with the Pharisees earlier. But also, he is self-evidently not speaking of holiness as the ground for reception. Holiness is the posterior condition of being justified, not the anterior.

    And in this way, it is very different from Israel’s obedience (or lack), which Vos in two places identifies as the ground for keeping (or losing) the land.

    In short, one of the differences between Israel and us — and the difference that drives the unbreakability of the New Covenant — is that for national Israel, obedience was an anterior condition for receiving the land. For us, obedience is a posterior condition for having been justified and indwelt by the Spirit. If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

    So what about Rev 2 – 3? It’s been a while, but I believe Hodge deals with this. There is an extent to which the corporate, external dealings of God with the OT church do in fact carry over into the corporate, external dealings with the NT church.

    But that function is one of pruning and engrafting, not one of destroying. In other words, not everything that happens to the theocracy is something that applies to the NT church as well.

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  134. Jeff, this makes a lot of sense (much more than anyone normally finds at Old Life), especially since the big point of repub is not the works principle in inheriting the land, but law as pedagogue — that is, Israel under the Mosaic administration shows the need for Christ. Forget the land. What Adam and Israel could not do, Christ did.

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  135. Dr. Hart,

    The most common error among some…a number…..many?……in Reformed circles seems to be understanding the distinction in the covenants and that:

    Our obedience/performance/good works might mean something in OT times under the temporal Sinaic-Mosaic Covenant – for being able to keep the soil under our feet (though clearly no one is/was that good but One), which is why

    God had purposed in Eternity a better Covenant in/through Christ alone for the Elect (forever)

    If there had not been a Republication of the Covenant of Works, then Christ’s Active Obedience to it could not have happened, and we would all be sure lost and condemned forever

    So now, in Christ, the Law is our friend and our guide to conform us to the image of Christ

    Sigma:Summation: Many in Reformed circles today still believe that obtaining God’s favor/blessing/Providence is by/through

    our holiness
    obedience
    piety
    practicing self-denial
    standing in the gap
    becoming martyrs for causes
    taking stands in the public square on every jot and tittle which is anti-Christian
    dying on every hill
    transforming our culture
    not smoking
    not drinking
    not dancing
    not listening to the Rolling Stones or the Moody Blues

    sacrificial giving till we bleed and hurt and die while others go to Alaska and fish/fly airplanes

    promise to go to the mission field, even when it means a divorce-strained relations-separation because doing what God wants is more important than family

    supporting Israel and the Republican-Tea party

    Dr. Hart, and friends, do I have it right?

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  136. Oh……one more thing…….

    those of you (imitating Priolo & Adams) who doubt are damned if you eat……no place for I John 3:20 or William Cowper or – iiiieeehhh – Bunyan

    in other words, do you have doubt? God is not pleased and won’t hear your prayer, and your doubt is letting down the prayer chain, and you are losing reward in heaven

    you should not have any doubts at all about your salvation…..if you do, you might want to revisit the Sinner’s Prayer……….argument with your wife or child? disobedient children? bad for you!

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  137. Mr. Miller,

    What you posted is ‘like a drink from a clear, rushing, mountain stream’ – thank you so very much.

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  138. semper, “If there had not been a Republication of the Covenant of Works, then Christ’s Active Obedience to it could not have happened, and we would all be sure lost and condemned forever.”

    Not sure that this is the best way to put it. I’m not sure of the best way. But it seems you need to explain some terms and logic.

    “Our obedience/performance/good works might mean something in OT times under the temporal Sinaic-Mosaic Covenant – for being able to keep the soil under our feet (though clearly no one is/was that good but One)”

    What does this mean?

    Not sure if this is the major problem confronting the reformed churches, but clearly we have long love affair with neonomianism.

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  139. Thanks so very much, Dr. Hart.

    I have watched and listened and learned a lot on this discussion and debate. I even went back to the beginning to review/re-read all the way through, and am still at it.

    Think of me as the little kid brother who is watching his older brothers playing baseball in the corner neighborhood lot, and who are having a terrific day at bat….and wants a turn at bat also. I may not be able yet to hold the bat so well, or do any better than hit a fly/foul ball, but I want to help my brothers out………………. (on being able to *define terms, logic, and meaning).

    Correction: ‘Do this and live’ (holiness/performance/good works) would never mean anything – even in OT times under the Mosaic economy. It is all about what Christ has done, past, present, and future. You see how difficult it is to avoid the ‘creep’, even when you know and understand. Of course, the 3rd use of the Law is essential for us today, and the desire is in my heart to want to be Christ-like, and honor the Lord in every way, though imperfectly – (much imperfection) on my part.

    *Could I invoke what my professor said about my college thesis in the early stages of it’s formulation and apply it to my writings here in this post? He said, “It’s not there yet, but there is an idea in there”. Do you think that I am ‘in the ballpark’? I agree about the neonomian influence in the church.

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  140. Addendum:

    I would not want to cause confusion or muddy the waters in any way to suggest the notion that since Christ has done everything for us, there is nothing that I am supposed to do or commanded to do (Antinomianism). I care deeply about this.

    My point is to clarify – to say that what Christ commands, Christ also supplies. All things are given to us in Christ, even our ability to desire Him, and to obey His commands (3rd use of the Law).
    This is point of the discussion where the obedience boys ‘freak’…………..

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  141. Semper, I do think you are in the ballpark. I also think that though they may not be the last word our confessions are a good word on how to understand these things. And I believe the Ob Boys say more than needs to be said.

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  142. Really appreciate it, Dr. Hart. It’s a comfort and an encouragement to know if you’re ‘seeing correctly’, or on the ‘right track’. Definitely (on the confessions). I wish the PCA would adopt the Belgic, Heidelberg, and Dort Confessions in addition to the WCF.

    On……’Ob boys say more than needs to be said’……I was thinking of a couple of my favorite film directors, David Lean and William Wyler:

    David Lean said (about his approach to film-making) “I want to make clear a point, and a clear point of view”. His films won many Academy Awards….

    William Wyler was known for bringing out wonderful values/nuances in his films that were so fine, that any discussion of them would subtract from the intended result. And his films won so many Academy Awards…………

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  143. Jeff,

    Several options have been floated for understanding the type and antitype:

    (A) The OT church is the type, the NT church is the antitype
    (B) The OT church is the type, the Christian individual is the antitype.

    I would like to add one to the list:

    (C) The OT theocracy is the type, Christ himself is the antitype.

    The thing is, we don’t have to guess, Vos tells us what the antitype is (and it’s none of the above):

    As stated above, the abode of Israel in Canaan typified the heavenly, perfected state of God’s people. Under these circumstances the ideal of absolute conformity to God’s law of legal holiness had to be upheld. Even though they were not able to keep this law in the Pauline, spiritual sense, yea, even though they were unable to keep it externally and ritually, the requirement could not be lowered. When apostasy on a general scale took place, they could not remain in the promised land. When they disqualified themselves for typifying the state of holiness, they ipso facto disqualified for typifying the state of blessedness, and had to go into captivity.

    The relative obedience of national Israel typified the consummate holiness of the saints in heaven.

    For this reason, I believe that for Vos, the antitype is Christ Himself.

    Honestly I don’t see how you can possibly extrapolate this from that passage. What’s interesting is that not even Kline claimed that Israel’s obedience typified Christ’s obedience (though many Klineans seem to think he did). At least not in Kingdom Prologue he didn’t. Kline appears to have agreed with Vos on this one.

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  144. “Honestly I don’t see how you can possibly extrapolate this from that passage. What’s interesting is that not even Kline claimed that Israel’s obedience typified Christ’s obedience (though many Klineans seem to think he did). At least not in Kingdom Prologue he didn’t.

    Actually, he did, there and elsewhere;

    “Israel’s obedience to the stipulations of the works arrangement mediated by Moses would be accepted as the legal ground of their continued possession of the typological kingdom. But Jesus does not summon the church to earn the eternal kingdom by obedience to the demands of the new covenant. Rather, it is as the one who, by the active and passive obedience of his life and death, has already merited salvation and the glory of the kingdom for his church that Jesus addresses to his disciples the great commission.” (Kline – By My Spirit)

    “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.” (Kingdom Prologue)

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  145. Of course, small groups are like the 12 tribes under the Sinaic/Mosaic Covenant……………………..

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  146. Okay, possibly I stand corrected by that quote from KP, but I’m not sure how to interpret that in light of passages like the following (also from KP) where he says that the obedience of certain OT saints such as Noah, Abraham and David were types of Christ’s obedience but he expresses a different view regarding Israel’s obedience:

    The pedagogical purpose of the Mosaic works arrangement was to present typologically the message that felicity and godliness will be inseparably conjoined in the heavenly kingdom, or, negatively, that the disobedient are forever cut off from the kingdom of the eschaton.

    In the case of the covenants of grant, the message to be conveyed through the introduction of the works principle did not so much concern the nature of the messianic kingdom, but rather the role of the messianic king. The biblical data indicate that the Lord was pleased to take the exemplary obedience of certain of his servants and to constitute that a typological sign of how the obedience of the coming messianic Servant of the Lord would secure the kingdom and its royal-priestly blessings for himself and for his people. Abraham and David were recipients of such covenants of grant as rewards for faithfulness. Phinehas was another (cf. Num 25:11-13).

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  147. David R:

    The relative obedience of national Israel typified the consummate holiness of the saints in heaven.

    Yes, you’re absolutely right. I completely missed the paragraph you cited and went wandering afield.

    OK. So for Vos, the relative obedience of national Israel typifies the consummate holiness of the saints in heaven.

    Where from there? We cannot argue, for example, that it typifies the relative obedience of saints now in their sanctification.

    We’ve gotten to the point of agreeing that the stipulated obedience under the law was typological. What’s left?

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  148. Todd,

    Having read through those Kline citations a few more times, and wanting to assume that Kline isn’t contradicting himself, it seems to me that in the passage you quote from KP, he is not actually drawing the line from Israel’s obedience to Christ’s obedience; rather he is drawing it from what he views as Israel’s probation (and prior to that, Adam’s) to Christ’s probation.

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  149. Jeff,

    Where from there? We cannot argue, for example, that it typifies the relative obedience of saints now in their sanctification.

    Agreed.

    We’ve gotten to the point of agreeing that the stipulated obedience under the law was typological. What’s left?

    Let’s take another look at his concluding thought:

    And in Paul’s teaching the strand that corresponds to this Old Testament doctrine of holiness as the indispensable (though not meritorious) condition of receiving the inheritance is still distinctly traceable.

    So what’s the parallel he’s drawing?

    National Israel’s relative obedience was “the indispensable (though not meritorious) condition” of retaining the typological inheritance of Canaan. The consummate holiness of the saints in heaven will be “the indispensable (though not meritorious) condition” of their receiving the heavenly inheritance. In neither case is a works principle involved. (He signifies this by saying “not meritorious.”)

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  150. Seems easy. But you still haven’t addressed Vos’s statement that obedience in Israel was the ground for retention of the land.

    I feel comfident that you would not say that in the eschaton, our holiness would be the ground for possession of eternal life. We are received because we are glorified?

    Nor have you yet addressed the fact that “meritorious” here is clearly in reference to strict merit.

    So we’re not out of the woods yet. Israel was on probation in a way that the glorified in heaven will not be.

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  151. He clearly says it is not the meritorious ground. You want to say that he means it *is* the meritorious ground. And your reasoning seems to be that a “ground” has to be meritorious in some sense. But his whole discussion makes it clear he’s actually speaking in terms of a necessary condition, a sine qua non.

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  152. “he is not actually drawing the line from Israel’s obedience to Christ’s obedience; rather he is drawing it from what he views as Israel’s probation (and prior to that, Adam’s) to Christ’s probation.”

    One entails the other. Israel’s probation was to obey to receive the Deut 28 typ. blessings or be exiled. Christ obeyed and inherited the (eternal) blessings Israel failed to in the . Thus it is typology by contrast (since all types includes similarity and contrast)

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  153. But in the passage I quoted, Kline distinuishes that one works arrangement (the MC) teaches about “the nature of the Messianic kingdom” and the other (covenants of grant) teaches about “the role of the Messianic king.” So he seemingly assigns a different typological role to Israel’s obedience there. I would be happy to be wrong but I’d like to know how to reconcile Kline with Kline.

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  154. David,

    Kline would view Abraham and Noah’s obedience as types of the messianic king, not because they were under a works arrangement, but because their righteousness was applied to others in a representative way. Kline would see Israel’s obedience as typological of the works principle being fulfilled by Christ the true Israel through his active obedience. At the same time there are lessons we learn from Israel’s obedience and disobedience that do apply to our own walk with God in the NC, but that is a different category.

    It is interesting that after a month or so of you and Jeff exchanging views and challenging each other, you two are still unsure what each other believes about the Mosaic covenant, as it is not clear to either of you what Vos was saying about it either. This refutes David Murray’s notion that if it is complicated it must be wrong. Better to go with Jonathan Edwards, “There is perhaps no part of divinity attended with so much intricacy, and wherein orthodox divines do so much differ as stating the precise agreement and difference between the two dispensations of Moses and Christ.”

    The key is not where one begins, but where one ends up. For example, I do not like where John Murray begins on the Mosaic covenant, but when he explains justification I like where he ends up. I can live with what I believe is a happy inconsistency, as I realize I likely have happy inconsistencies in my theology.

    I think it would helpful to move on from what Vos or Kline might be saying to how our views of the new covenant might differ because of differing starting points. From what I can tell, our chief difference lies in describing the new covenant as breakable or not. Since Klineans see discontinuity between the works principle of Moses and the grace principle of the NC, we see one as breakable by works and the other unbreakable, as that is the nature of grace. Since you see continuity between the covenants, you suggest both covenants are breakable by apostasy. We would say that while an apostate surely spits upon the covenant of grace he claimed to believe, his apostasy did not
    “break the covenant,” as the cov. of grace is unbreakable because the obedience of Christ, not ours, is the surety of the covenant. The question then is; are there more differences between our understanding of the gospel and new covenant than simply different ways to describe it? If you have not gone the FV route, then that might be the question worth exploring.

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  155. Todd,

    Kline would see Israel’s obedience as typological of the works principle being fulfilled by Christ the true Israel through his active obedience.

    You assert this once again but w/o answering my question. Again, how do I reconcile Kline with Kline?

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  156. I agree that the question of where we differ concerning the NC is an interesting one. I certainly have my opinions about that. But if after a month, we still don’t know how each other views the MC, I’m not super optimistic about how we’ll fare with the NC. Still, I actually do think that Jeff and I have made progress and I always feel like we’re on the verge of a breakthrough…. Maybe it’s my personality but I like finishing one task before starting another….

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  157. David,

    I didn’t mean to say there was no progress between you and Jeff, or that you should cease your interaction, but the reality that after all this time there “may be a breakthrough” only buttresses my point of the difficulty of this subject. But after all is said and done the key will be potential differing views of the covenant of grace. As for Kline vs. Kline, I tried to answer your question.

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  158. Todd has a good point, which is related to what I said above: We are trying to mine a few paragraphs in Vos to determine his view on a topic that isn’t exactly the subject of his book. It would be better for us to return to Scripture.

    To get there, I would like to point out that Vos needs more study before we would be able to declare his views. So you have an argument,

    * Vos says that Israel’s obedience was “non-meritorious”
    * Thus he denies all kinds of merit principle in the giving of the law
    * Thus he denies any kind of work-principle in the law
    * Thus he agrees with you that the law was not a republication of the CoW.

    And off we go debating each point. Does Vos mean any form of merit or only strict merit? Is a work-principle the same as a merit principle? Etc.

    But it’s entirely likely that we have insufficient information in BT to draw a firm conclusion about Vos’s view of the covenant.

    For example, were you aware of this?

    From the above we can also explain why the older theologians did not always clearly distinguish between the covenant of works and the Sinaitic covenant. At Sinai it was not the “bare” law that was given, but a reflection of the covenant of works revived, as it were, in the interests of the covenant of grace continued at Sinai. It would be a mistake, however, to say that the above is the essence of the covenant. That natural relation in which man stands to God and this just claim made by the Creator, remain valid, also at each later stage and are presupposed in each act, including the covenant of grace.

    — G Vos, The Doctrine of the Covenant in Reformed Theolgoy

    And as you already know, at least one reader of Vos’ Reformed Dogmatics summarizes his teaching thus:

    b) The covenant with Israel served in an emphatic manner to recall the strict demands of the covenant of works. To that end, the law of the Ten Commandments was presented so emphatically and engraved deeply in stone. This law was not, as Cocceius meant, simply a form for the covenant of grace. It truly contained the content of the covenant of works. But—and one should certainly note this—it contains this content as made serviceable for a particular period of the covenant of grace. It therefore says, for example, “I am the Lord your God.” Therefore, it also contains expressions that had reference specifically to Israel, and thus are not totally applicable to us (e.g., “that it may be well with you in the land that the Lord your God gives you”). But also, beyond the Decalogue, there is reference to the law as a demand of the covenant of works (e.g., Lev 18:5; Deut 27:26; 2 Cor 3:7, 9). It is for this reason that in the last cited passage, Paul calls the ministry of Moses a ministry of condemnation. This simply shows how the demand of the law comes more to the fore in this dispensation of the covenant of grace. This ministry of the law had a twofold purpose: 1) It is a disciplinarian until Christ. 2) It serves to multiply sin, that is, both to lure sin out from its hidden inner recesses as well as to bring it to consciousness (cf. Gal 3:19; Rom 4:15; 5:13). Paul teaches expressly that the law did not appear here as an independent covenant of works in Gal 3:19ff. That the law is also not a summary of the covenant of grace appears from the absence of the demand of faith and of the doctrine of the atonement.

    — Nicholas Batzig, Geerhardus Vos on the Mosaic Covenant and the Covenant of Grace

    So I think something more subtle is going on here than Kerux represents in their Vos archives. He is clearly not using the exact language of republication, but he is certainly appealing to some of its categories over against the categories of repubs.

    For example, he is comfortable saying that the law contains the content of the covenant of works, repackaged in the service of grace. That’s certainly very different from what I’ve heard you say.

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  159. My previous comment contained TWO hyperlinks and is therefore in Moderation Purgatory.

    In it, I appeal that we follow Todd’s advice and return to Scripture. In particular, I want to understand how you conceive of this as a non-works-principle:

    If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out, then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit. Indeed, your threshing will last for you until grape gathering, and grape gathering will last until sowing time. You will thus eat your [c]food to the full and live securely in your land. I shall also grant peace in the land, so that you may lie down with no one making you tremble. I shall also eliminate harmful beasts from the land, and no sword will pass through your land … So I will turn toward you and make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will confirm My covenant with you. You will eat the old supply and clear out the old because of the new. Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not [e]reject you. I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people …

    ‘But if you do not obey Me and do not carry out all these commandments, if, instead, you reject My statutes, and if your soul abhors My ordinances so as not to carry out all My commandments, and so break My covenant, I, in turn, will do this to you: I will appoint over you a sudden terror, consumption and fever that will waste away the eyes and cause the soul to pine away; also, you will sow your seed uselessly, for your enemies will eat it up. I will set My face against you so that you will be struck down before your enemies; and those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee when no one is pursuing you. If also after these things you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins … ‘If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers, in their unfaithfulness which they committed against Me, and also in their acting with hostility against Me— I also was acting with hostility against them, to bring them into the land of their enemies—or if their uncircumcised heart becomes humbled so that they then make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and I will remember also My covenant with Isaac, and My covenant with Abraham as well, and I will remember the land. … Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I so abhor them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God. But I will remember for them the covenant with their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God. I am the Lord.’”

    I see in this all of the elements of a works principle: blessing for obedience, cursing for disobedience. And yet those elements are not applied strictly, as with Adam, but with the possibility of repentance and renewal. And those elements are applied not to eternal life, but to possession of the land (which we all agree was a type of possession of eternal life).

    Why would you call this anything other than a works-principle?

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  160. Jeff, I am perfectly happy with those passages from Vos. Regarding Deuteronomy 28 and other passages that republish the moral law, yes, those are expressive of the covenant of works. If anyone entered into covenant with God on the basis of those passages alone, they would be under a works principle of inheritance. But as Vos says just under the part you emboldened, “It would be a mistake, however, to say that the above was the essence of the covenant.”

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  161. But my impatience aside, your response does need some clarification.

    For you say that Deut 28 et al are “expressive of” the covenant of works. This is either ambiguous or else not literally true. The CoW required keeping of the moral law

    (1) In perfection (“the day you eat, you shall surely die”)
    (2) For the attaining of eternal life.

    In Deut 28, perfection is not required, in that repentance and restoration were possible. And the reward was not the attaining of eternal life, but of the symbol (Canaan) of eternal life. So Deut 28 does not literally express the CoW in the same way that Ex 20 does.

    So how should we refine your statement?

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  162. Meanwhile, Berkhof:

    The Sinaitic covenant included a service that contained a positive reminded of the strict demands of the covenant of works. The law was placed very much in the foreground, giving prominence once more to the earlier legal element. But the covenant of Sinai was not a renewal of the covenant of works; in it the law was made subservient to the covenant of grace. This is indicated already in the introduction to the ten commandments … It is true that at Sinai a conditional element was added to the covenant, but it was not the salvation of the Israelite but his theocratic standing in the naion, and the enjoyment of external blessings that was made dependent on the keeping of the law. Deut 28:1-14. The law served a twofold purpose in connection with the covenant of grace: (1) to increase the consciousness of sin … (2) to be a tutor unto Christ …

    L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 298.

    I’ve noted in your comments elsewhere that you’re already happy with Berkhof. It would seem then to me that we are just quibbling over whether we can properly call “receiving X reward on the ground of Y action” to be synonymous with “meriting X by Y.”

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  163. Todd-

    If Murray’s proposition is wrong and Edwards is right then perhaps those who advocate republication in the ways the WSC guys and others do shouldn’t be so dogmatic on the point, if after all their attempts to explain their position people are still confused. Let’s stuck with the Westminster standards. If- a big if- the older divines weren’t able to explain this distinction- in which case we could just read them- then these modern guys sure ain’t gonna succeed. I don’t know if your noticed but this isn’t exactly a golden age of theology.

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  164. Jeff-

    Hello again. Re: Berkhof quote. Does that mean there was no republication? I thought you were arguing there was? I’m so confused.org.uk

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  165. @ Alexander:

    Excellent question. My citation of Berkhof means rather that republication is *not* a matter of renewal of the CoW, but of reflection.

    But we need to get David’s response first before developing that idea.

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  166. Alexander,

    Not sure what you mean by dogmatic. The Standards do not answer all the questions on this issue, but make general statements. The divines offered their viewpoint in their writings, as did those who wrote “The Law is Not of Faith.” Is it dogmatic to put your view in writing? I don’t remember the book suggesting all other viewpoints should be banned or disciplined or such.

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  167. Lee Irons—The ontological elements in the medieval view of the sacraments were removed, so that they became signs and seals of the covenant rather than rites which ex opere operato infused the divine nature into the soul. These developments flow from the nominalistic development of the notion of pactum. And, therefore, to a certain extent we in the Reformed camp today are all
    the theological heirs of the via moderna. But have we carried the covenantal revolution to its logical conclusion? or does our system still perpetuate remnants of an ontologically-based notion of merit and justice? ….

    Lee Irons—-Note the fundamentally voluntarist reasoning of the Westminster Confession’s opening statement on the covenants: The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God’s part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant (WCF VII.1). All the basic elements in this statement are derived directly from the Franciscan notion of covenantal or congruous merit.

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  168. Lee Irons p 17—The covenant becomes a way, therefore, of circumventing strict justice, making possible the arbitrary acceptance as meritorious of that which is not actually meritorious….. Casting about for some way of bridging the awesome metaphysical gap between God and the creature, the voluntarist seizes on the notion of a condescension expressed by way of covenant… The voluntarist definition of merit must be qualified as a lesser merit that cannot even exist apart from God’s gracious acceptation.

    Lee Irons—But Kline searches for an entirely new definition of merit: “God’s justice must be defined and judged in terms of what he stipulates in his covenants”….Kline’s understanding of covenant is different. It is not a voluntary condescension of divine grace but a revelation of divine justice. …God’s freedom must be maintained, but not at the expense of the divine perfections (i.e., wisdom, goodness, justice, holiness, truth, and rationality). God does not act arbitrarily, for all his actions are expressive of and delimited by his attributes.

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  169. Jeff,

    Quick question: You say,

    For you say that Deut 28 et al are “expressive of” the covenant of works. This is either ambiguous or else not literally true. The CoW required keeping of the moral law

    (1) In perfection (“the day you eat, you shall surely die”)
    (2) For the attaining of eternal life.

    In Deut 28, perfection is not required, in that repentance and restoration were possible. And the reward was not the attaining of eternal life, but of the symbol (Canaan) of eternal life. So Deut 28 does not literally express the CoW in the same way that Ex 20 does.

    However, I don’t believe Deuteronomy 28 mentions any possibility of repentance, though Leviticus 26 does. But Exodus 20 is also clear about the possibility of repentance, for example in the promise of mercy appended to the second commandment. Likewise, Exodus 20 promises long life in the land (fifth commandment) but makes no explicit mention of eternal life.

    So, how is it that you claim that Exodus 20 expresses the covenant of works but Deuteronomy 28 doesn’t?

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  170. The repentance and restoration are found in the continuation, Deut 30.

    I’m not tracking with you on repentance found in the second commandment. I wouldn’t rule it out, but the language seems dichotomous rather than sequential to me.

    That’s a fair point about the land promise in the fifth commandment. It is fair to say that while Ex 20 is the most pristine expression of the moral law in the MC, even it is not thoroughly decoupled from the typological.

    My point was that Ex 20, inasmuch as it presents moral law, shows the righteous requirement for eternal life that only Jesus can meet. By contrast, passages like Deut 28-30 do not have eternal life in view.

    But don’t get hung up on Exodus 20. The major point is contained in the two numbered items above: the CoW required keeping the commandment to perfection and offered eternal life. Deut 28-30 and Lev 20 and Lev 26 do not.

    So if we agree that Deut 28 “reflects” or “expresses” the CoW, then in what way? Clearly not literally so.

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  171. Jeff,

    My point was that Ex 20, inasmuch as it presents moral law, shows the righteous requirement for eternal life that only Jesus can meet. By contrast, passages like Deut 28-30 do not have eternal life in view.

    I still don’t get it. If both Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 28-30 demand obedience and promise temporal blessings, then on what basis can you say that the former has eternal life in view but the latter doesn’t?

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  172. Bill Baldwin—Come, walk in obedience to Christ. But do not do this because you fear the threats of this Psalm. Those threats are in the past tense for you. You have passed through them already in Christ. And do not walk in obedience because you hope by that obedience to gain the blessings of this psalm. Christ has already gained the blessings of this psalm on your behalf. Every single one of them!

    Come even dare to delight in the Law. The law is no longer terrifying to you, for it’s terrors have already been borne on your behalf at the cross. Now the Law speaks of Christ, of his beautiful righteousness, of his perfect compassion, and awesome holiness—and all those things belong to you. Come to the Law and let the Law bring you to Christ who has fulfilled the Law. Let Christ be your meditation day and night, for in him the righteousness and wisdom and glory of God are perfectly and finally revealed.

    http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/sermons/psalm1.shtml

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  173. Jeff,

    I see in this all of the elements of a works principle: blessing for obedience, cursing for disobedience. And yet those elements are not applied strictly, as with Adam, but with the possibility of repentance and renewal. And those elements are applied not to eternal life, but to possession of the land (which we all agree was a type of possession of eternal life).

    I know we’ve already been through this ad nauseum with little to show for it (maybe Todd’s right) but it seems like you really want to say that the MC operated according to a works principle, and yet at the same time “that the essence of the Mosaic Covenant is gracious.” I submit that until you either convince me that this is a metaphysical possibility, or I convince you that it isn’t, we won’t get anywhere.

    Much as I hate to do this, I don’t know how to proceed, or to gain clarity on your position, without asking the same questions I had asked Todd: Who are the parties to the MC, what is its condition and what does it promise? (If your answers are not identical to the answers you would give if I asked you the same question of the covenant of grace, then I will know that you conceive of the MC as essentially different from the CoG and we can proceed from there….)

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  174. David R: I submit that until you either convince me that this is a metaphysical possibility, or I convince you that it isn’t, we won’t get anywhere.

    Much as I hate to do this, I don’t know how to proceed…

    For my part, it would help the proceedings if you would now provide answers to the two questions left into suspense:

    (1) Explain how the judicial law functions in your scheme.

    (2) Deut 28-30, Lev 20, and Lev 26 do not “express the covenant of works” (as you put it) in a literal sense. So in what sense do they express the covenant of works?

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  175. I am curious what you both, Jeff and David, think of William Strong’s understanding of the Mosaic Covenant as being in substance a CoW for the unregenerate, yet in substance a CoG for the regenerate, and an administration of the CoG?

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  176. David R., but Murray says all covenants are gracious in character, including the Covenant of Works Adamic Administration. If you’re following Murray, as all the anti-Klineans are (though you don’t seem to stay on the trail), then you’re defending a view that has grace and works principle bound together from the get go. Why throw the flag on repub but not on Murray?

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  177. Jeff,

    (1) Explain how the judicial law functions in your scheme.

    I don’t know what your asking. WCF 19.4. But I think you’re asking something else?

    (2) Deut 28-30, Lev 20, and Lev 26 do not “express the covenant of works” (as you put it) in a literal sense. So in what sense do they express the covenant of works?

    In that they promise eternal life (typified by temporal blessings) on the condition of obedience to the law and threaten death in the event of transgression, they restate the demands of the CoW. (Same condition, same promise.)

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  178. Joel, I think the problem with Strong’s view is that the substance of the covenant is an objective thing (though certainly some who are externally admitted never partake of its substance). Hence the more typical Reformed explanation, e.g., that of Turretin:

    In this sense [i.e., with regard to the doctrine delivered], the Old Testament is taken most especially in two ways, 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).

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  179. David,

    For the unregenerate, the curse given because of their failure to obey the law is not hypothetical or “false.” Doesn’t the “scope and intention” of God include the curse of the law to be on those who rely on their own works? The unregenerate perceive rightly that they are judged by works, they just believe wrongly that they may achieve the hypothetical end of salvation by their works. That end is false, but God’s end for those who do not obey is the curse. The curse is of the substance of the MC.

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  180. Joel, the curse is not of the substance of the covenant of grace in any of its administrations. To say that it is, is to turn it into a covenant of works.

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  181. David R., which was what, that you deny the Covenant of Works as gracious? Murray said it was gracious as all covenants are. Kline said it wasn’t gracious. Moses and Merit authors believe Kline is wrong. You believe Kline is wrong. So you must believe the Covenant of Works is gracious.

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  182. David R., who says the curse is the substance? You keep defining your terms as you make them up. The curse was part of the Covenant of works and the Mosaic Covenant. Where is the curse in the New Testament? “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.”

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  183. Gaffin in defense of Kinnaird—-This is from Calvin’s commentary on the prophet Ezekiel. Now, I understand that Dr. Lillback referred to this last week…..”This needs prudence and sound interpretation. For this proposition that faith without works justifies is true, yet false … true, yet false… according to the different senses which it bears. The proposition that faith without works justifies by itself is false. Because faith without works is void. But if the clause, without works,’ is joined with the word, ‘justifies,’ the proposition will be true. Therefore faith cannot justify when it is without works because it is dead and a mere fiction. Thus faith can be no more separated from works than the sun from its heat. Yet faith justifies without works because works form no reason for our justification.

    Gaffin—-Just these comments. What you can see then is that Calvin considers the proposition “faith without works justifies,” that proposition taken by itself, Calvin says, or he considers it to be, ambiguous. He doesn’t use that word but that is clearly what he is saying. Notice what he does say. It needs prudence and sound interpretation. It is true yet false. Now there is a paradox. True yet false, depending on the way it is read…..”

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  184. D.G.,

    David R., which was what, that you deny the Covenant of Works as gracious? Murray said it was gracious as all covenants are. Kline said it wasn’t gracious. Moses and Merit authors believe Kline is wrong. You believe Kline is wrong. So you must believe the Covenant of Works is gracious.

    I’m pretty sure there’s a flaw in that logic somewhere….

    David R., who says the curse is the substance? You keep defining your terms as you make them up. The curse was part of the Covenant of works and the Mosaic Covenant. Where is the curse in the New Testament? “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.”

    I don’t know what you think I’m making up. Joel (in the comment above mine) said that the curse is of the substance of the MC. You apparently agree. But I prefer to side with Turretin and the majority of Reformed theologians on this one.

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  185. David,

    I asked this question rhetorically before, but I think I’d like a specific answer, if you will.
    “Doesn’t the “scope and intention” of God include the curse of the law to be on those who rely on their own works?”

    The curse of the law here serves an intended function that isn’t of the substance of the CoG. It isn’t unintended by God on account of the subjective error of the self-righteous Jew. It objectively curses those self-righteous Jews that God reprobated.

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  186. Joel, that is indeed the scope and intention of God for those who lie under the curse of the covenant of works. But it is not the scope and intention of God in administering the covenant of grace, in any administration, including the Mosaic. The MC and the covenant of grace are the same in substance.

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  187. David,

    This seems to be using the accident of the administration to define the substance of the MC. The substance of the MC must be both the curses as well as the blessings, unless you make the curses hypothetical (which apparently means they are false). Of course, I’m not saying that the curses and blessings both belong to the substance of the CoG, but only the MC.

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  188. David,
    Are you saying that the curses of the MC are only hypothetical, and only the curse of the CoW is actual?

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  189. Turretin again:

    [The Sinaitic covenant] was really the same with the covenant made with Abraham, but different as to accidents and circumstances (to wit, clothed as to external dispensation with the form of a covenant of works through the harsh promulgation of the law; not indeed with that design, so that the covenant of works might again be demanded with the sinner [for this was impossible], but that a daily recollection and reproaching of the violated covenant of works might be made; thus the Israelites felt their sin and the curse of God besides hanging over them and acknowledged the impossibility of a legal righteousness; driven away from that hope, they so much the more ardently thirsted for the righteousness of redemption and were led along by the hand to Christ). Hence in it there was a mixture of the law and the gospel: the former to strike terror into sinners and press upon the neck of the stiff-necked people; the latter to lift up and console the conscience contrite and overpowered by a sense of sin.

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  190. I’ve followed this debate over the last several years and have always walked away a bit befuddled by the arguments. I believe this piece from Ligonier helps clear the air:

    “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you … but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has redeemed you from the house of slavery” (vv. 7-8).

    – Deuteronomy 7:6-8
    Of all the covenants that the Lord has made with His people, perhaps none is more misunderstood than the Mosaic covenant, which we more commonly refer to as the old covenant. Fundamentally, the covenant with Israel that was mediated by Moses is a gracious covenant. It is part of the unfolding of the covenant of grace, and does not introduce a new principle of salvation in opposition to the Abrahamic covenant of promise.

    Along with such luminaries as Charles Hodge, we could say that in some sense the Mosaic covenant is “a renewed proclamation of the original covenant of works”; in that it sets forth a theoretical (for sinners) way of salvation via perfect obedience to its commands (see Lev. 18:5; Gal. 3:10-14). But the Lord never meant for the Israelites to think that they could fulfill the covenant and keep His law with the perfection He demands for justification. The very existence of the sacrificial system, for example, presupposes that they would not. In fact, the sacrifices of the Mosaic covenant are a testimony to its being part of the one covenant of grace, added to show people their transgression and to cultivate the hope of a Messiah who would offer the final sacrifice for sin. But the Mosaic covenant is not a republication of the covenant of works in the sense that it is opposed to the covenant with Abraham; in fact, it is part of the covenant of grace, a gracious gift of God to reveal His demands, point people finally to Christ, and provide a blueprint that outlines holy living for those who have been justified by faith alone.

    In the Mosaic covenant, God’s promises to Abraham begin to reach a more glorious fulfillment. The twelve tribes made up of the patriarch’s descendants are constituted as a nation as the Lord starts to make the number of Abraham’s progeny as numerous as the stars (see Gen. 12:1-3; 15:1-6). God comes to dwell among His people in the tabernacle (Ex. 40:34-38), and the Israelites are called to be a holy nation that testifies to the Lord’s grace and encourages the Gentiles to come to Him for blessing (19:1-6; Deut. 4:1-8; Micah 4:1-5).

    The gracious character of the Mosaic covenant is most evident when we consider the context in which the Lord gave it. As we see in today’s passage, there was nothing in Israel that motivated God to enter into covenant with the nation. In fact, it was His decision alone to do so and keep the oath He swore to the patriarchs (Deut. 7:6-8). Furthermore, salvation comes first. God saves the Israelites from Egypt, and only then does He reveal His law.

    Coram Deo

    By revealing His law to Israel after redeeming the nation from Egypt, our Creator establishes the basic principle of sanctification. Strictly speaking, we do not make ourselves holy. First, God saves us from sin and sets us apart as His holy people. Then, we receive and obey His law, expressing our gratitude for His gracious redemption. The Mosaic law is God’s gift of grace, given not as a means to save ourselves but to show us how to live in thankfulness for His salvation.

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  191. David, so you’re saying the design of the MC was to not curse anyone, because they had already received the curse of the CoW. The cursings are hypothetical to drive those who are not under a curse to the gospel.

    Why doesn’t this invalidate the idea that the MC has the substance of the promise as well, since they had already received the promise in Abraham? If the cursings of the CoW make the MC’s cursing hypothetical (or at least not of the substance of it), why doesn’t the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant not make the blessings of the MC hypothetical as well, or at least not of the substance of it?

    I see that Turretin says that the MC is really the same as the AC, but why couldn’t I say that for the unregenerate, the cursings of the MC are really the same as the CoW? It seems that Turretin affirms that the cursings are the same.

    Was the MC not really made with all of Israel, both self-righteous and faithful alike?

    Thanks for using Turretin, BTW.

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  192. Given how the issue of the Covenant of works and its relationship to the Mosaic covenant is being hotly debated today I can’t help but think that these words of Anthony Burgess from the time of the Assembly (cited by Fesko in his book “The Theology of the Westminster Standards”) are meant to apply to our time as well:

    “I do not find in any point of Divinity, learned men so confused and perplexed (being like Abrahams Ram, hung in a bush of friars and brambles by the head) as here” (p.153).

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  193. I like what Strong said, that largely considered, it is a CoG, but strictly considered, it is a CoW. I think that position is called a mixed covenant.

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  194. David,
    Jack, but Anthony Burgess didn’t shy away from writing an elaborate treatise in the interests of clearing up the confusion and perplexity

    As did many others leading up to the time of the Assembly and subsequent to it. Burgess wasn’t unique. There were a number of differing views, all held by various orthodox reformed theologians of that time, as there are today. The labeling of TLNF as “error” is a rather unfortunate and uncharitable turn. I know you think that their teaching has no continuity with those of earlier times and therefore worthy of disapprobation . Yet the reasoning I’ve read here and elsewhere seems rather strained. I’ve yet to read anything that convinces me otherwise (e.g. Jones, you, Murray, Venema, the original NWP documents). And the “anti-Repubs”, as of yet, haven’t presented much of a Biblically based argument as have the authors of TLNF.

    I look forward to the OPC study finding…

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  195. Jack, you apparently admit to being confused and perplexed, yet you’re sure that the critics of TLNF are not just wrong, but sinfully so. That doesn’t seem very consistent. But if you think those words of Burgess you quoted are apropos, then why not take a look at the treatise in which they’re contained instead of just dismissing it with an insult. I assure you it contains plenty of the biblically based arguments you claim to be looking for.

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  196. David R., here’s why it might look sinful (read personal), because you can view everyone else who talks about some sort of works principle as okay but not the contributors to TLNF. And so far, none of theorizing you’ve done to justify your prejudice sticks. Not yet an extended quote from TNLF. I got it. Dennison “did” that.

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  197. David,

    Jack, you apparently admit to being confused and perplexed,

    Not at all. I’ve said nothing like that nor intimated that. Assuming that may fit into how you want to make sense of my comments given your position. So…

    yet you’re sure that the critics of TLNF are not just wrong, but sinfully so. That doesn’t seem very consistent.

    … in my thinking that the critics of TLNF are wrong in their assessments is not inconsistent. As I wrote I’ve read nothing that convinces me of their arguments. And where have I assigned sin to their views? Is there some possible projection going on here? Maybe, maybe not… Having the opinion that they have been less than charitable in their approach to the authors of TLNF is a different matter. They, in my opinion, assign conclusions to TLNF writings that the authors would deny. That being the case they’d serve the cause of truth and unity in a better way by asking for clarification. Similar to right now, as I don’t think you are being all that charitable in the way you are construing my words. Rather that concluding that I am confused and perplexed apart from me saying so and claiming I’m insulting someone, you’d better serve the conversation by asking if that is the case, i.e ask for clarification.

    But if you think those words of Burgess you quoted are apropos, then why not take a look at the treatise in which they’re contained instead of just dismissing it with an insult.

    Again, it seems it is you who is accusing of wrong. How have I insulted you or Burgess or the M&M people? Is to disagree with a view an insult? I made no comment on Burgess’s view other than his was one of many that where considered acceptable discourse among Reformed theologians of his time. Your response is troubling.

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  198. D.G., I haven’t read Murray in years so don’t know to what extent I’d agree or disagree with him, but if you’re asking whether I agree with his “recasting” of covenant theology, then no, I don’t. Happy?

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  199. D.G.,

    David R., here’s why it might look sinful (read personal), because you can view everyone else who talks about some sort of works principle as okay but not the contributors to TLNF.

    If by “you,” you mean me, how can it possibly be personal? Like I’ve said, Kline was my favorite living theologian for years. WSCal was my favorite seminary for years.

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  200. Jack, I really don’t want to get into a tit-for-tat. If you want to substantively interact with something I’ve said, I’d be more than happy to talk. But if what you’ve got to say is, “Your arguments are strained and you’re uncharitable to boot,” then I’ll just say that you’re certainly welcome to your opinion.

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  201. Darryl, here is an extended quote –

    From Bryan Estelle’s essay conclusion in TLNF:

    Entitlement to heaven is not some separate benefit of justification which is based upon the meritorious or even the demonstrative works of believers after they are justified. Rather, entitlement to heaven is something won by the satisfaction of Christ…

    … In the garden of Eden, the probation was put in negative terms with an implicit positive promise, eschatological life. In the Mosaic economy, that was reversed: the probation was put in positive terms (temporal blessings) with an explicitly state punishment: extirpation from the land. Additionally, it was obvious that no mere man could earn life, gain entitlement to heaven that is, since he was only able always to sin. Nevertheless, God was well pleased to hold out the promise of life, with its temporal blessings, in order to teach the Israelites that there was an entitlement to a land beyond any geopolitical sphere. They could enter the rest of heaven, and a greater Joshua could lead them there one day, a true son of Israel (Heb. 4). Entitlement to heaven can be secured only by grace through faith, not works, not mere human works, this is.

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  202. David,

    I think you’re correct that we’ve run our course for now. I would like to give a final statement, because I think I owe you a clear explanation of three things. After that, I have a final rebuttal of sorts that I hope will stimulate thought towards a future, fruitful line of discussion.

    And I thank you for the exchange. It certainly has pushed me in some beneficial ways.

    (Q1) How it is that “that the MC operated according to a works principle, and yet at the same time “that the essence of the Mosaic Covenant is gracious.””?

    (Q2) Who are the parties to the MC, what is its condition and what does it promise?

    (Q2a) (implied) Why is the MC a single covenant and not two different ones?

    (A1) Let’s leave aside the contested term “typological republication” and go strictly with the Vosian and Berkhofian terms. If it is given that the MC is a “reflection of the CoW revived in the interest of the CoG” (Vos, Doctrine), and if it is given further that this reflection was in operation with respect to the external, national aspect of the MC (Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 298), then I reason as follows:

    * A reflection of the CoW must of necessity have a reflection of both the stipulation and also the promise of the CoW. Else it is no reflection.
    * The reflection of the stipulation is found in the principle “do this and live.” This echoed the command to Adam.
    * The reflection of the promise is found in the type: the land was promised as a reflection or type of eternal life to come. The promise was typological.
    * It is therefore most reasonable to view the reflection of the stipulation to be typological as well. That is, “do this and live” does not function in the MC as it did in the CoW, but in a lesser way, as a picture. Instead of strict obedience, a lesser obedience is required. This is explicit in Deut 30, where imperfect obedience can be repented of, and restoration can occur.
    * Further, it is most reasonable that a reflection of the CoW would contain a reflection of the merit principle of the CoW, that the reflection of the stipulation would function in a manner that echoed the stipulation’s function in the CoW.

    Whereas Adam merited in condign fashion, with perfect obedience fulfilling the terms of the pact, Israel would merit in congruous fashion, with imperfect obedience being rewarded. Practically, this was worked out as God in His patience tempered the demands of law with His grace towards national Israel.

    All of this is in reference to the national and external aspect of the covenant, which Berkhof says that Turretin says is the “outward administration” of that covenant (B 285).

    Further, this does not exhaust the typology in the MC, such as the sacrificial types, but answers solely with reference to the stipulation of national Israel keeping the land on the ground of obedience.

    That ground of obedience is a reflection of the merit principle of the CoW.

    (A2) So then, who are the parties to the MC, what is its condition, and what does it promise?

    We distinguish. With regard to the internal substance of the covenant, the parties are the elect individual and God. Its condition is perfect righteousness, and its promise is eternal life.

    As regards that perfect righteousness, it cannot be obtained by law-keeping but is instead obtained by faith receiving the righteousness of the Messiah.

    With regard to the external legal cloak, or aspect, of the covenant, the parties are the nation of Israel and God. Its condition is imperfect righteousness, and its promise is life in the land.

    As regards that imperfect righteousness, it is not obtained by faith receiving the merit of the obedience of Christ, but by the obedience of the nation. That is to say, Jesus’ merit was not the ground of land retention. For if it were, then the retention of the land would be sure and infallible – which clearly did not occur.

    (A2a) How then are these two aspects not two different covenants, for they seem to have two different conditions and promises?

    This is in some ways already clear, for the internal aspect of the covenant resembles the external. The condition is righteousness (actual v. type), and the promise is life (eternal v. type).

    What makes the substance gracious, however, is that the perfect righteousness that obtains eternal life is that of another. What makes the external aspect non-gracious and a reflection of the CoW is that the required righteousness is that of the nation. To the extent that there was grace given in the external administration, it was always in spite of a failure of the condition.

    And what makes the external covenant to be a reflection “in the service of grace” is that it taught what we knew that it would teach: That the nation (and indeed no man) can obtain or retain the reward on the ground of his own righteousness. He needs that righteousness of another. And in this way it served grace, by making the futility of righteousness by the law clear.

    That is as clear as I can make it.

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  203. Typo correction in the second paragraph of Estelle’s conclusion:

    “…the probation was put in positive terms (temporal blessings) with an explicitly stated punishment: extirpation from the land.”

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  204. Now for a final rebuttal. The first point is going to be blunt, so skip it until you’re in the mood. It’s the least important of the points

    (1) I find your view confusing because your expressions of it are seemingly contradictory and make inconsistent use of your sources.

    On the one hand, you insist that the MC was in essence gracious. On the other, you insist that Deut 28-30 ” … promise[d] eternal life (typified by temporal blessings) on the condition of obedience to the law and threaten death in the event of transgression… [it] restates the demands of the CoW. (Same condition, same promise.)”

    It really sounds here like you are saying that the MC has the some condition and promise as the CoW.

    And that would mean it has the same substance as the CoW … which would make it non-gracious, unless you think that the CoW was in essence gracious, which was the point of DGH’s question to you.

    Likewise, I cannot make head or tail of what you mean by “non-meritorious ground of reward.” In Vos, that phrase makes sense — he clearly delimits merit to mean “strict merit” (or possibly “condign merit”). But to claim that a ground for reward is different from merit in any sense of the word seems like a simple contradiction. We might as well talk of “non-round circles.” Right now, you have “claritude” — a feeling of clarity without actually being clear.

    Further, you lean on Berkhof, yet disregard what he says. In Berkhof, the “service that contained a positive reminder of the strict demands of the covenant of works” is external, national, and directed towards physical rewards:

    It is true that at Sinai a conditional element was added to the covenant, but it was not the salvation of the Israelite but his theocratic standing in the nation, and the enjoyment of external blessings that was made dependent on the keeping of the law, Deut 28:1-14.

    — Berkhof, ST, 298.

    You on the other hand say that Deut 28 promised eternal life on condition of keeping the law.

    Wherever you are standing, it’s not where Berkhof is standing.

    Thus ends the bluntness. I say all this with the knowledge that you have clearly been reading, researching, and wrestling, and also with the knowledge that I need to do the same. I am certain that I need to get ahold of Turretin’s Institutes and Vos’s Dogmatics before I can make progress here. So I’m not trying to denigrate you or arrogate myself, but to say, dear brother, there’s more work to be done on both our parts.

    (2) Joel’s questions have sparked an insight.

    The central question here is architectural: Within the MC, do the elements of grace and law lie side-by-side, working together in a single covenant, OR do they commingle to work as “lawce” or “graw”?

    In RCC soteriology, grace and law commingle. God’s grace enables the keeping of the law of love, which keeping in turn merits (congruently) the grace of ongoing justification.

    In the view I’ve tried to present, law and grace lie side-by-side, working together in a single covenant. The merit principle is external, typical, non-salvific. The grace principle is internal, substantial, salvific. That architectural feature of distinguishing but not sundering law and grace is what I am really willing to spend a lot of capital defending.

    What I perceive in your view, at least in tendency, is a commingling of law and grace. Perhaps that’s not your view, but you need to find a way to make that really clear. By encompassing the law within the gracious aspect of the MC, you seem to mix the two into a new kind of substance that “seems like CoW but is really CoG.”

    Again, this is my perception and may well not be your reality. But it is my perception, as a reasonably skilled (but imperfect) reader.

    By contrast, Vos and Berkhof and Turretin and Calvin and … well, most everyone, place grace and law alongside one another without commingling. The law is added externally to the CoG. So even though your view has legitimate points of contact with all of those, and it might even do a better job than mine at points, it still has this architectural flaw, that you seem to want to the call the law “gracious in essence.”

    (3) Your explanation of type and antitype is quite opaque. On the one hand, you hold that Israel is the type of the saints in glory. But then you use Deut 28 to explain what’s happening in Rev 2-3. That makes it seem as if you view Israel under the law as a type of the NT church that is … under? not under? … the law. Likewise, you agreed with the central theorem that the typological is always accidental, but then you disputed my characterization of the law as accidental because typical. And you have (again) Deut 28 articulating a principle of inheriting eternal life, but at the same time promising the type. It’s type and antitype in the same passage, two-for-the-price-of-one!

    I think that type-antitype relationship needs clarification. Is the demand for obedience in the OT law functioning as type, antitype, or neither? If not type, then how do you square up with Vos? If not type, then why is land possession promised as the reward?

    (4) You need to distinguish in your explanation between the MC with regard to the individual and the MC with regard to the nation. That was the point of my asking about the judicial law, which applied to individuals. If the law really did promise eternal life on the condition of obedience, same condition and same promise as the CoW, then what did it mean for the slob caught gathering wood on the Sabbath?

    Did he miss out on eternal life, as typified by his physical punishment? Was Daniel damned during the time of the exile?

    Those are both rhetorical questions, obviously, but I don’t see you how you give a No answer to both and remain consistent with your previous statements.

    Well, that’s all. I will of course read any reply that you care to make.

    Grace and peace,
    Jeff

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  205. Jeff,

    Thanks for your synopsis in your second to last comment. Very helpful and clear from where I sit. Would you consider your understanding/views that you expressed to be more or less in the ballpark of those in TLNF?
    Thanks…

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  206. David R., you don’t watch enough movies or read enough memoirs. To say that Kline and WSC were your “favorites” and now you turn on them suggests all the more that this is personal. It’s like a girl on whom you have a crush. How do you lose it? It’s not by becoming “objective.” More like she turns out to be going out with one of your least favorite people.

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  207. @ Jack: I probably need to re-read TNLF with this conversation in mind. When I first read it, it was in the context of the Federal Vision dispute. At that time, I was comparing Gordon to Murray and thinking that Gordon probably was righter than Murray.

    Now on re-reading Gordon, I wonder why he multiplies the covenants the way he does.

    I certainly don’t view them as condoning or making the world safe for antinomianism, which is where the pastoral rubber meets the road.

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  208. Addendum to forestall an objection: When I speak of Israel being required to merit, that doesn’t mean that they ever did. It simply means that that was the requirement in the national covenant.

    Consider the many many places in which it is affirmed that we cannot merit: https://sites.google.com/site/themosaiccovenant/Home/merit-in-the-reformed-confessions

    And now we ask a simple question: how did all the reformed fathers in the faith learned that we cannot merit? Answer: The Law taught them so. What Israel was required to do, it could not do.

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  209. Jeff,
    Gordon’s view on the covenants is to be further addressed, by him that is…
    “In my 500-page (not yet published) book on Galatians, I argue that Paul can use “promise,” “law,” and “faith” in Galatians as synecdoches to refer to three particular covenants, characterized respectively by promise, law, and faith. So the Abrahamic covenant is indeed called “promise” in Gal. 3:17. So Paul can use many terms to designate particular covenants…”

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  210. D.G.,

    Do you mean in this sense explained by Robert Shaw? (He must have been reading Murray….)

    God might, therefore, if he had pleased, demanded all possible obedience of man, without making any promise securing his establishment in a state of innocence and enjoyment, and his advancement to a state of still higher felicity, as the reward of his obedience. And though man had gone through a long course of obedience, without a single failure, he could not have laid his Creator under any obligation to him, or been entitled to any recompense. But God graciously condescended to deal with man by way of covenant, and thus gave him an opportunity to secure his happiness by acquiring a right to it – a right founded upon stipulation, or upon the promise.

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  211. David R., why is it so hard to answer? Why hide behind kilts?

    But I’ll take that as a yes. God deals graciously with man when he enters into covenant with Adam.

    So what is so bad about a works principle in the Mosaic Covenant as repubs argue? You’re really arbitrary on this. And until you become a divine, it’s like just your opinion (verbose though it may be), man.

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  212. D.G.,

    David R., you don’t watch enough movies or read enough memoirs.

    Probably true!

    To say that Kline and WSC were your “favorites” and now you turn on them suggests all the more that this is personal. It’s like a girl on whom you have a crush. How do you lose it? It’s not by becoming “objective.” More like she turns out to be going out with one of your least favorite people.

    IOW, you find out the girl isn’t who you’d thought she was. She lets you down or perhaps betrays you. You realize she wasn’t worthy of your attention in the first place…. Maybe not more “objective” but more realistic.

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  213. So what is so bad about a works principle in the Mosaic Covenant as repubs argue?

    Because that would imply that God entered into a works inheritance covenant with sinners, which (I think) you’ve already denied, haven’t you?

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  214. David R., but God did enter into a works principle based covenant with sinners. It’s called the Covenant of Grace and it is based on Christ fulfilling the Covenant of Works.

    So again, who made you the arbiter?

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  215. David R., but God did enter into a works principle based covenant with sinners. It’s called the Covenant of Grace and it is based on Christ fulfilling the Covenant of Works.

    So do sinners merit in the covenant of grace or don’t they? Here you seem to imply that they don’t.

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  216. Calvin on Leviticus 26:3:

    We have now to deal with two remarkable passages, in which he professedly treats of the rewards which the servants of God may expect, and of the punishments which await the transgressors. 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. Whilst, therefore, they reach forward and strive, reward is given to their efforts although imperfect, exactly as if they had fully discharged their duty; for, since their deficiencies are put out of sight by faith, God honors with the title of reward what He gratuitously bestows upon them. Consequently, “to walk in the commandments of God,” is not precisely equivalent to performing whatever the Law demands; but in this expression is included the indulgence with which God regards His children and pardons their faults. The promise, therefore, is not without fruit as respects believers, whilst they endeavor to consecrate themselves to God, although they are still far from perfection; according to the teaching of the Prophet, “I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him,” (Malachi 3:17;) as much as to say, that their obedience would not be acceptable to Him because it was deserving, but because He visits it with His paternal favor. Whence it appears how foolish is the pride of those who imagine that they make God their debtor, as if according to His agreement.

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  217. Calvin on Leviticus 26:14:

    But, inasmuch as the sluggishness of our flesh has need of spurring, threatenings are also added to inspire terror, and at any rate to extort what ought to have been spontaneously performed. It may seem indeed that it may thus be inferred that threats are absurdly misplaced when applied to produce obedience to the Law, which ought to be voluntary; for he who is compelled by fear will never love God; and this is the main point in the Law. But what I have already shewn, will in some measure avail to solve this difficulty, viz., that the Law is deadly to transgressors, because it holds them tight under that condemnation from which they would wish to be released by vain presumptions; whilst threats are also useful to the children of God for a different purpose, both that they may be prepared to fear God heartily before they are regenerate, and also that, after their regeneration, their corrupt affections may be daily subdued. For although they sincerely desire to devote themselves altogether to God, still they have to contend continually with the remainders of their flesh. Thus, then, although the direct object of threats is to alarm the reprobate, still they likewise apply to believers, for the purpose of stimulating their sluggishness, inasmuch as they are not yet thoroughly regenerate, but still burdened with the remainders of sin.

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  218. D.G.,

    David R., sure they merit. By trusting Christ, his righteousness, his merit, is mine. No hope on judgment day without it.

    But the TLNF crowd say they merited by their own works. Seems like you’re being fickle again….

    David R., so you can cut and paste Calvin. The point?

    Calvin thinks those passages are about us. You agree?

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  219. David R., like Todd said.

    Why would you think that I don’t believe the OT law (the moral, not the ceremonial or judicial — repub anyone?) doesn’t apply to me? You think I’m antinomian? You’ve not read anything here about the Sabbath — that would be the fourth commandment?

    So come out and say it rather than dancing around either with answers or quotes. Be like Dennison. Sure you can.

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  220. “But the TLNF crowd say they merited by their own works. Seems like you’re being fickle again….”

    Quote?

    Kline, Kingdom Prologue, p. 322:

    At the level of the secondary, typological stratum of the Mosaic order, continuance in the election to kingdom blessings was not guaranteed by sovereign grace on the basis of Christ’s meritorious accomplishments. It was rather something to be merited by the Israelites’ works of obedience to the law.

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  221. If you think is compatible with Calvin, then I don’t know what to say (though that doesn’t seem to stop me….). But hey, there were thousands of orthodox views on Moses, therefore they must all be acceptable, right?

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  222. Here is the one place where Kline uses “merit” (the verb) in reference to the Mosaic order: “At the level of the secondary, typological stratum of the Mosaic order, continuance in the election to kingdom blessings was not guaranteed by sovereign grace on the basis of Christ’s meritorious accomplishments. It was rather something to be merited by the Israelites’ works of obedience to the law” (KP 322). And note that, although Kline uses the verb “merited,” he expressly adds the qualifier that this is “at the level of the secondary, typological stratum.” And see his additional qualifier on the next page, where he states that “their election to receive the typological kingdom in the first place was emphatically not based on any merit of theirs (cf. Deut 9:5,6)” (KP 323) but rather was based on God’s promises to Abraham.
    – Lee Irons

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  223. Why would you think that I don’t believe the OT law (the moral, not the ceremonial or judicial — repub anyone?) doesn’t apply to me?

    I don’t think you don’t believe the moral law applies to you. But Calvin thinks the principle of inheritance is the same.

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  224. More Bryan Estelle from TLNF:

    In sum, if Paul, under the influence of increasing eschatologizing exegetical tendencies (both in the Hebrew Bible and early Judaism), understood the reward of human obedience leading to life as offered in Leviticus 18:5 as eternal life which was necessarily contrary to fact because of man’s impotence; and if Deuteronomy 30:1-14 is a predictive prophecy suggesting that faith in Jesus Christ is the only answer to that prophecy which earns life; then, life in the Pauline mind-set leads to entitlement to eschatological life, that is, heaven, through the faith principle and in no other way. There has been a divine reversal. What mere man could not accomplish, God has. Moses says no mere man may gain entitlement to heaven through the works principle, but the righteousness of faith says that Jesus has won entitlement to heaven and now the principle of faith receives that gratuitous gift. It is grace in the end. As Machen so apply states in another context, “for what the Apostle is concerned to deny is any intrusion of human merit into the work by which salvation is obtained. That work, according to the Epistle to the Galatians and according to the whole New testament, is the work of God and God alone.” (p. 146)

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  225. question for Jeff–are all those “in the covenant of grace” also united to Christ? Have those in “the covenant of grace” always been united to Christ even during the Mosaic administration? Or is “union with the risen present Christ” different during the new covenant age?

    Marcus Johnson, One with Christ, Crossway, 22013

    Johnson: William Evans argues that Berkhof’s soteriology is the logical conclusion of a federal theological trajectory, epitomized by Charles Hodge, in which union ceases to function as an umbrella category unifying all of salvation.

    mcmark: Johnson rejects “imputation priority” because he has already rejected the federal transfer of Adam’s guilt (see his chapter 2 on incarnation) AND because he has already rejected what he calls a “mechanical transfer” of sins to Christ.

    I would say “the sins of the elect” but Johnson does not consider the doctrine of election in his discussion of imputation and justification. Election for him seems to be only an “apologetic doctrine” which he does not deny but which plays no part in his soteriology. (His accusation against those of us with “justification priority”, is that the incarnation and the Trinity are no part of our gospel., p 41)

    Johnson: Both Horton and Fesko subordinate union with Christ to justification, indicating that they see union with Christ as reducible to sanctification.

    mark: Johnson denies the reality of legal imputation, and subordinates imputation as merely one benefit of “union”, and then he defines “union” as the personal presence of Christ in us because of our faith (given to us by the Holy Spirit). So Johnson subordinates the work of Christ to the person of Christ, and then accuses those who disagree with him of dividing person and work. And then Johnson subordinates the imputation of Christ’s work to the work of the Holy Spirit, who he thinks is the one who unites us to Christ’s person by creating faith in us.

    Johnson does not deny “union with Christ in election” (p 35) but he never ever says that any human is not elect, Johnson’s doctrine of “union with Christ in the incarnation” (p 36) ignores election and focuses on the human nature of Christ as the human nature of every sinner. Having ignored any notion of Christ having died for the elect alone, Johnson announces that “the normal referent of the phrase union with Christ in this book is to subjectively realized EXPERIENTIAL union by the power of the Holy Spirit.” p 39

    Not denying the eternal election in Christ, Johnson insists that there is only one “union” (not two, as he describes the position of Horton, Fesko, and Berkhof), but then he takes his “one union” and agrees that it has different “aspects” of which election is one, but then he takes the “application of the union” as being his working definition of “the union”.

    This fits with the Barth/Torrance notion of “actualist” election and of the atonement as that which the Holy Spirit does in creating faith (and thus creating a “real” union).

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  226. David R., why wouldn’t it be the same if I am righteous thanks to imputation?

    Or are we talking about secondary typological or primary real deal inheritance?

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  227. Jeff,

    * A reflection of the CoW must of necessity have a reflection of both the stipulation and also the promise of the CoW. Else it is no reflection.

    Yes.

    * The reflection of the stipulation is found in the principle “do this and live.” This echoed the command to Adam.

    Yes (that reflects the promise as well).

    * The reflection of the promise is found in the type: the land was promised as a reflection or type of eternal life to come. The promise was typological.

    Yes.

    * It is therefore most reasonable to view the reflection of the stipulation to be typological as well. That is, “do this and live” does not function in the MC as it did in the CoW, but in a lesser way, as a picture. Instead of strict obedience, a lesser obedience is required. This is explicit in Deut 30, where imperfect obedience can be repented of, and restoration can occur.

    No, this does not follow from your previous points (your “therefore” does not signal the conclusion of an argument). In order to for the stipulation to truly reflect that of the covenant of works, it must require what was required in the covenant of works, namely, perfect and personal obedience. Besides, strict obedience is always required by God’s law, not a lesser obedience, though of course sincere but imperfect obedience is accepted from those under grace. And apart from the principle of grace (which is opposed to that of works), repentance and restoration are not possible. Thus, the fact that repentance and restoration could occur shows that works were not actually the meritorious ground of inheritance.

    Also, earlier I thought you had said that you agreed with Turretin, who clearly understood the reflection of the stipulation to be literal, that is, demanding perfect and personal obedience. Do you no longer agree with the following?

    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).

    So, while it is true that the promise of the covenant of works is reflected in the Mosaic covenant via a type (blessings in Canaan), it does not follow from this that the stipulation is also reflected via a type.

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  228. D.G., I understand it fine. What about continuance in the election to kingdom blessings was not guaranteed by sovereign grace on the basis of Christ’s meritorious accomplishments. It was rather something to be merited by the Israelites’ works of obedience to the law don’t you understand?

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  229. David R. well, doesn’t it depend on “kingdom blessings”? I understand the kingdom to be temporal and typological. But if you want to say it is spiritual and eternal, you better book a flight to Tel Aviv soon.

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  230. Belgic Confession, article 24:

    So then, we do good works, but not for merit–for what would we merit? Rather, we are indebted to God for the good works we do, and not he to us, since it is he who “works in us both to will and do according to his good pleasure”–thus keeping in mind what is written: “When you have done all that is commanded you, then you shall say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have done what it was our duty to do.'” Yet we do not wish to deny that God rewards good works–but it is by his grace that he crowns his gifts.

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  231. David R., you keep quoting without commenting. We’re not mind readers and you aren’t clear.

    So which TNLF contributor do you think disagrees with that? The rewards don’t come here and now, right? The Vossians call us to suffer, you know, humiliation before exaltation.

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  232. Okay, so you agree then that Israel’s

    continuance in the election to [temporal and typological] kingdom blessings was not guaranteed by sovereign grace on the basis of Christ’s meritorious accomplishments. It was rather something to be merited by the Israelites’ works of obedience to the law.

    Correct?

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  233. Kline: “It was rather something to be merited by the Israelites’ works of obedience to the law.”

    Belgic: “… what would we merit? Rather, we are indebted to God for the good works we do, and not he to us, since it is he who “works in us both to will and do according to his good pleasure” …

    Were the Israelites indebted to God for the good works they did? Did God enter into a covenant with them on an impossible condition?

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  234. David R., this is pathetic. You’re using the Belgic to figure out how to interpret what the Israelites were to hear and understand with “do this and live”?

    If you think we are in the same situation as the Israelites, have I got an author for you? Paul.

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  235. Jeff,

    (1) I find your view confusing because your expressions of it are seemingly contradictory and make inconsistent use of your sources.

    On the one hand, you insist that the MC was in essence gracious. On the other, you insist that Deut 28-30 ” … promise[d] eternal life (typified by temporal blessings) on the condition of obedience to the law and threaten death in the event of transgression… [it] restates the demands of the CoW. (Same condition, same promise.)”

    It really sounds here like you are saying that the MC has the some condition and promise as the CoW.

    And that would mean it has the same substance as the CoW … which would make it non-gracious, unless you think that the CoW was in essence gracious, which was the point of DGH’s question to you.

    The external economy of the MC, which is legal and pedagogical, has the same promise and condition as the CoW. But the internal economy, which is gospel, administers the covenant of grace. I think this is consistent with what I’ve been saying all along.

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  236. David R., well, it’s a blog I run. You don’t. And in case you didn’t notice, I don’t run it according to a works principle. If I did, you’d have been booted long ago.

    But to answer your question, how do I answer a quotation? Or is disagreeing with you not an answer? When did you become a 4th-grade teacher?

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  237. @ McMark:

    are all those “in the covenant of grace” also united to Christ? Have those in “the covenant of grace” always been united to Christ even during the Mosaic administration? Or is “union with the risen present Christ” different during the new covenant age?

    I’ve been avoiding this question for some time, not because it’s not a good question, but because the answer threatens to turn into a huge thread. And I’m not sure I have a perfect answer, either.

    I tend to agree with Berkhof on aspects, but I think he sells short the problem of knowledge.

    To be “in the covenant of grace” is to be “united with Christ.” If externally in, then externally united as in John 15 or Rom 11. If internally in, by faith, then internally and truly united, as in Eph 1.

    What is unclear is whether external means

    * In the eyes of men only, which tends towards Baptist theology, or
    * In the eyes of God but in a sense different from the internal, which shades anywhere from Berkhof and Bavinck all the way on down to Schilder.

    Honestly, I don’t think Scripture gives us enough to know the exact nature of the external union. What we *know* is that Isaac was to treat Jacob and Esau as covenant members until one of them showed otherwise. From there, we make our own private peace with it …

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  238. Jeff,

    Likewise, I cannot make head or tail of what you mean by “non-meritorious ground of reward.” In Vos, that phrase makes sense — he clearly delimits merit to mean “strict merit” (or possibly “condign merit”). But to claim that a ground for reward is different from merit in any sense of the word seems like a simple contradiction. We might as well talk of “non-round circles.” Right now, you have “claritude” — a feeling of clarity without actually being clear.

    You’re latching on to the term “ground”; I’m latching on to “non-meritorious.” I think by “non-meritorious” he means “non-meritorious.” For my part, I don’t think Vos is saying anything different than Calvin does in what follows:

    Moreover, when Scripture intimates that the good works of believers are causes why the Lord does them good, we must still understand the meaning so as to hold unshaken what has previously been said, viz., that the efficient cause of our salvation is placed in the love of God the Father; the material cause in the obedience of the Son; the instrumental cause in the illumination of the Spirit, that is, in faith; and the final cause in the praise of the divine goodness. In this, however, there is nothing to prevent the Lord from embracing works as inferior causes. But how so? In this way: Those whom in mercy he has destined for the inheritance of eternal life, he, in his ordinary administration, introduces to the possession of it by means of good works. What precedes in the order of administration is called the cause of what follows. For this reason, he sometimes makes eternal life a consequent of works; not because it is to be ascribed to them, but because those whom he has elected he justifies, that he may at length glorify, (Rom 8: 30); he makes the prior grace to be a kind of cause, because it is a kind of step to that which follows. (Institutes 3.14.21)

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  239. David, what do you think is essential reading to competently discuss this topic? Turretin and Burgess, to start with, I assume. Who/what else?

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  240. D.G.,

    The Belgic says that we don’t merit for the reason that “we are indebted to God for the good works we do, and not he to us, since it is he who ‘works in us both to will and do according to his good pleasure.’” Notice the reasoning, and notice that it eliminates the possibility of our meriting anything, no matter how mandane.

    But Kline says (and you apparently agree?) that “continuance in the election to kingdom blessings was not guaranteed by sovereign grace on the basis of Christ’s meritorious accomplishments. It was rather something to be merited by the Israelites’ works of obedience to the law.”

    Therefore, if you agree with the Belgic, then you must think that the Israelites too were indeed indebted to God for the good works they did. And if you also agree with Kline, then you must think that God entered into a covenant with Israel on an impossible condition (since they couldn’t merit).

    So, do you indeed think that God entered into covenant with Israel on an impossible condition, and if not, then how do you ‘splain in light of the above?

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  241. Joel, I’m not sure about what’s essential for competent discussion, but in my opinion, Turretin and Burgess are indeed great places to start. There’s also lots of other helpful stuff on that website I’d linked to, for example, discussions by Francis Roberts and Patrick Gillespie. If you’ve been overly influenced by Klinean views of the Mosaic covenant (as I had), then I would also recommend the Kerux review of The Law is not of Faith.

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  242. Jeff,

    Further, you lean on Berkhof, yet disregard what he says. In Berkhof, the “service that contained a positive reminder of the strict demands of the covenant of works” is external, national, and directed towards physical rewards:

    It is true that at Sinai a conditional element was added to the covenant, but it was not the salvation of the Israelite but his theocratic standing in the nation, and the enjoyment of external blessings that was made dependent on the keeping of the law, Deut 28:1-14.

    — Berkhof, ST, 298.

    You on the other hand say that Deut 28 promised eternal life on condition of keeping the law.

    Wherever you are standing, it’s not where Berkhof is standing.

    I believe you have misunderstood Berkhof. When he speaks of a “positive reminder of the strict demands of the covenant of works,” he is speaking in terms of perfect and personal obedience. Whereas what you quoted is part of his explanation that the law was not in fact a renewal of the CoW, but rather was subservient to the CoG. What he is saying in that passage is actually quite reminiscent of Vos’s discussion (which we’ve been laboring over), and probably indebted to him. But the typological intrusion of eschatological sanctions (which Berkhof, like Vos, refers to here though w/o Vos’s explanation) is something different from the reminder of the strict demands of the CoW. Of course, Berkhof is much terser than Vos, and therefore it would probably be even more difficult to reach agreement concerning him. But I believe I’m standing where Berkhof is.

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  243. Jeff,

    What I perceive in your view, at least in tendency, is a commingling of law and grace. Perhaps that’s not your view, but you need to find a way to make that really clear. By encompassing the law within the gracious aspect of the MC, you seem to mix the two into a new kind of substance that “seems like CoW but is really CoG.”

    I feel like this is old ground. The external economy is law. It presents the strict demands of the covenant of works. The internal economy is gospel. What can be less “commingling” than that?

    On the other hand, it seems to me that your view commingles law and gospel by positing merit in the covenant of grace, which neither Calvin, Turretin, Vos or Berkhof did (I realize you disagree) and by positing a relaxed standard of legal obedience as well as the possibility of repentance within the (supposedly) legal aspect of the Mosaic covenant.

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  244. Essential:
    Certainly read The Law is Not of Faith as the first resource.

    The Kerux review never contacted the authors to get any clarifications or feedback and thus one ought to indeed be cautious as to how TLNF views are presented . I don’t know that the Merit and Moses authors had any back and forth with TLNF authors either.

    Read Venema’s review and Fesko’s repsonse in the Confessional Presbyterian Vol. 9, 2013. It is a good example of how TLNF views are misrepresented by its critics.

    An archive of republication historical’theological resources at Heidelblog: http://heidelblog.net/category/republication-of-the-covenant-of-works/

    Check out Mark Karlberg and Lee Irons on Kline and republication.

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  245. Essential:
    Certainly read The Law is Not of Faith as the first resource.

    Yes, if you want to become more familiar with the view being critiqued.

    The Kerux review never contacted the authors to get any clarifications or feedback and thus one ought to indeed be cautious as to how TLNF views are presented . I don’t know that the Merit and Moses authors had any back and forth with TLNF authors either.

    Stop your bellyaching already….

    Read Venema’s review and Fesko’s repsonse in the Confessional Presbyterian Vol. 9, 2013. It is a good example of how TLNF views are misrepresented by its critics.

    Please cite one of example of Venema misrepresenting TLNF views.

    An archive of republication historical’theological resources at Heidelblog: http://heidelblog.net/category/republication-of-the-covenant-of-works/

    Again, for a version of the view being critiqued.

    Check out Mark Karlberg and Lee Irons on Kline and republication.

    Same thing.

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  246. Jeff,

    (3) Your explanation of type and antitype is quite opaque. On the one hand, you hold that Israel is the type of the saints in glory.

    Yes, national Israel.

    But then you use Deut 28 to explain what’s happening in Rev 2-3. That makes it seem as if you view Israel under the law as a type of the NT church that is … under? not under? … the law.

    I should not have brought this up as it’s a distraction. This does not actually belong to the discussion of typology but rather to the discussion of the continuity between the visible church of the OT and that of the NT. If you don’t mind, let’s set it aside for now….

    Likewise, you agreed with the central theorem that the typological is always accidental, but then you disputed my characterization of the law as accidental because typical.

    But I think by now you realize I don’t think the law is a type?

    And you have (again) Deut 28 articulating a principle of inheriting eternal life, but at the same time promising the type. It’s type and antitype in the same passage, two-for-the-price-of-one!

    I don’t understand you here.

    I think that type-antitype relationship needs clarification. Is the demand for obedience in the OT law functioning as type, antitype, or neither?

    The demand for obedience is neither.

    If not type, then how do you square up with Vos? If not type, then why is land possession promised as the reward?

    Vos doesn’t say that the demand for obedience is a type. The things that he says are types are: the theocracy, Canaan, Israel’s obedience, Israel’s exile….

    But otoh, if by “demand,” you simply mean the relative obedience that was required in order for Israel to remain in the land (as opposed to the perfection which the law actually requires), then yes, in that sense it was a type. So, there’s a distinction that needs to be made here….

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  247. I’ve found Ferry’s taxonomy *thesis* to be probably the most helpful thing I’ve read. In fact, I find myself rereading a lot of things with the new understanding that taxonomy provided. I will grant that he probably could have done better classifications of individuals; each individual probably deserves a paper, if not a thesis to have complete clarity about their views. I don’t think Venema, certainly not the Kerux authors, had read the thesis. Kerux was particularly uncharitable to Ferry. I found their writing almost unpalatable. Also, this sentence by Venema, “However, much of Witsius’ treatment of the question corresponds to the themes that we have seen previously in Calvin and Turretin, and cumulatively support the view that Witsius regarded the Mosaic covenant as substantively an administration of the covenant of grace,” made me wonder how well he understood this part of the debate. Venema was far more helpful overall, however.

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  248. Joel, one thing I appreciated about Ferry’s taxonomy was that it introduced me to the distinction between formal and material republication, which I have found extremely helpful as it is often reflected in the older writers.

    I agree with you that Venema’s conclusion regarding Witsius’s view was somewhat awkward. But the funny thing about Witsius is, all down the line he reads like Calvin, Turretin, etc., until you get to the precise question of “What was the Sinai covenant?” and then (unlike the others) he wants to say that it was not the covenant of grace, but rather a national covenant renewal (or something to that effect). But then again, he seems to limit the Sinai covenant to a few verses in Exodus 19, so go figure….

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  249. Read Venema’s review and Fesko’s repsonse in the Confessional Presbyterian Vol. 9, 2013. It is a good example of how TLNF views are misrepresented by its critics.

    Please cite one of example of Venema misrepresenting TLNF views.

    Fesko does so quite thoroughly in his response to Venema. That’s why I suggested it.

    As to the Kerux review, generally it’s considered good scholarly form to make sure one is accurately representing the views of those one is critiquing by running their understanding of those views past those one is reviewing…

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  250. I read Fesko’s response to Venema and I’ll just say I strongly disagree with your claim.

    It’s Fesko’s claim in his respnse not mine, and he happens to be one of the editors and authors of TLNF…

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  251. You just claimed that (and I quote) “Venema’s review … is a good example of how TLNF views are misrepresented by its critics.”

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  252. David R., so you think it was possible for Israel, fallen though they were, to obey all the law? That is the fall back on your side. So don’t make it seem like I’m the only one in knots here. You think Israel could have inherited the land by their obedience.

    And, by the way, so do I. It’s just the land is not eternal life. As I say, spotting the difference between the kingdom of Israel and the New Jerusalem is pretty easy if you can tell the difference between civil and spiritual righteousness. But you’re always conflating the two, as so many theonomists, neo-Calvinists, and Federal Visionaries do.

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  253. David R., the commingling is thinking that repubs are talking about the Israelites inheriting eternal life and you thinking Belgic regards the Mosaic Covenant.

    Buy a vowel.

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  254. Jack, re: the Kerux review — it’s also scholarly not to publish a work you wrote in a journal you edit. That’s why I never take the Nicotine Theological Journal seriously.

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  255. The full quote: Read Venema’s review and Fesko’s response in the Confessional Presbyterian Vol. 9, 2013. It is a good example of how TLNF views are misrepresented by its critics.

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  256. In other words, Fesko, in his response, chronicles a number of misrepresentations of Venema’s review… I happen to agree, but they are his criticisms. Best for someone to go there and read both essays rather than me pulling and pasting quotes…

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  257. David R., if you can read into TLNF what you think is objectionable, surely you can read a response to your question. Paul surely thinks the Mosaic Covenant was impossible to keep. Why do you think it was possible?

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  258. D.G.,

    Okay, I think I’m clear now that your answer is yes, God indeed entered into covenant with Israel promising temporal blessings on an impossible condition (since it is impossible for sinners to merit anything from God, as our good works actually indebt us further), to which they agreed.

    Paul surely thinks the Mosaic Covenant was impossible to keep. Why do you think it was possible?

    Paul thinks it was impossible, not because merit post-fall is a metaphysical impossibility (though it is), but because the law as a covenant of works cannot be kept by sinners. And he doesn’t think the MC per se couldn’t be kept. (It was an administration of the CoG after all.)

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  259. Part of dgh’s attempt in TLNF to turn the stalled engine over and get the old jalopy rolling down the right road again…

    D.G. Hart, Princeton and the Law:
    “But even if the Princeton Theology lacks the scholarly curves that excite academics, the intellectual feat of planting one foot in Reformed scholasticism and the other in Scottish moral philosophy has its own marvelous quality. The reason has less to do with the apparent inconsistency or naiveté of Princeton theologians than with their ability to hold together notions about law and grace that apart from covenant theology look antithetical. but when viewed aright those seeming disparate elements of Princeton Theology emerge as part of a complexly coherent system of theological reflection. One instance of these doctrinal subtleties is the relationship of the Mosaic economy to the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. Princeton perpetuated the long-standing Reformed habit of seeing the Decalogue as a republication of the covenant of works and as a pedagogue unto the covenant of grace’s promise of a redeemer.” (p. 75)

    Darryl, the Old Life bus may lack what some would call the more scholarly curves (not referring to you personally of course!) but at least its rolling down the right Reformed road…

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  260. Bavinck: “…When the covenant of grace is separated from election, it ceases to be a covenant of grace and becomes again a covenant of works. Election implies that God grants man freely and out of grace the salvation which man can never again achieve in his own strength. But if this salvation is not the sheer gift of grace but in some way depends upon the conduct of men, then the covenant of grace is converted into a covenant of works. Man must then satisfy some condition in order to inherit eternal life.

    “So far from election and the covenant of grace forming a contrast of opposites, the election is the basis and guarantee, the heart and core, of the covenant of grace. And it is so indispensably important to cling to this close relationship because the least weakening of it not merely robs one of the true insight into the achieving and application of salvation, but also robs the believers of their only and sure comfort in the practice of their spiritual life.”

    Notice how far reaching this is – reformulating the reformation truth of the covenants leads to a messed up view of election (saying there are different degrees of election), justification (injecting our works there where they do not belong), and sanctification (making justification dependent on sanctification). It also throws our salvation back into stormy waters, teaching that only those who make it to the life raft will get out of the seas of death. Who can be truly pious when their salvation depends on something they do?

    Our Reasonable Faith (260-269)

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  261. D.G.,

    I assume that you and everyone else have had more than enough of this topic, so I will thank you again for your tolerance of my publishing of my opinions here. I have a response to one of your recent comments followed by a thought about Charles Hodge and then I’ll leave it at that….

    David R., so you think it was possible for Israel, fallen though they were, to obey all the law?

    They could not obey it as a covenant of works, and were not under it in that sense. However, they (i.e., the true believers among them) could obey it as a rule of life given to those under grace.

    That is the fall back on your side. So don’t make it seem like I’m the only one in knots here.

    I honestly don’t know what knots you think I’m tied in, but I’m glad to see you concede that your position is a knotty one….

    You think Israel could have inherited the land by their obedience.

    That’s pretty ambiguous, so let me summarize what I think: First of all, the inheritance offered was the eternal inheritance, though indeed typified by the land. Secondly, inheriting on the grounds of obedience requires perfect obedience, which of course they couldn’t render. Thirdly, the MC offered life and salvation in Jesus Christ, whose meritorious obedience alone secures the inheritance on behalf of the elect. Fourthly, they (i.e., believers) were under grace, and thus the obedience required of them was the sincere obedience that flows from life, not the perfect obedience necessary in order to inherit life. Finally, what was required of the typological kingdom in order to remain in the typological inheritance was merely a relative corporate obedience, suitable for typifying the consummate holiness of the saints in heaven.

    And, by the way, so do I.

    But in your scheme they merited by imperfect obedience, a notion which, it seems to me, has little or no precedent in Reformed theology prior to Kline. That doesn’t necessarily make it erroneous, but in my opinion, you guys should stop hiding behind the cloak of “There were lots of acceptable views connecting the MC to the CoW; therefore this one is acceptable too.” Perhaps we can at least agree that the acceptability question is worth the time and energy of a study committee….

    It’s just the land is not eternal life.

    Well, I think it’s important to keep it straight that the promise of the MC was not land. Rather, it was the eternal inheritance, typified by land (assuming of course that the MC was an administration of the CoG and not a subservient covenant).

    As I say, spotting the difference between the kingdom of Israel and the New Jerusalem is pretty easy if you can tell the difference between civil and spiritual righteousness.

    Maybe I’m missing something, but this does not at all seem like an apt comparison, since spiritual righteousness was required in the kingdom of Israel.

    But you’re always conflating the two, as so many theonomists, neo-Calvinists, and Federal Visionaries do.

    I can’t tell whether you intend to include me in one or all three of the above groups, or if you’re just saying I’m as bad as they are, but I do recognize that in your vocabulary there isn’t much worse you can say about someone’s doctrine. And this is an example of what, in my opinion, is one of the worst fruits growing from the repub tree, namely that you guys can’t seem to tell the difference between standard vanilla Reformed theology (granted, my feeble attempts to represent it) of the sort OldLifers profess to hold to, and several deviations therefrom.

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  262. Now for a couple of quick observations concerning your recently-quoted reflections on Old Princeton, specifically: “One instance of these doctrinal subtleties is the relationship of the Mosaic economy to the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. Princeton perpetuated the long-standing Reformed habit of seeing the Decalogue as a republication of the covenant of works and as a pedagogue unto the covenant of grace’s promise of a redeemer.”

    Granted, that’s just a couple of sentences, and obviously you are privy to primary source material that I am not, but it is interesting to note that Hodge’s discussion of the Decalogue in his Systematic Theology occurs all the way over in volume three, following his discussion of the application of redemption, and inserted smack dab between the chapter on sanctification and the one on the means of grace. And there he characterizes the Decalogue not as a republication of the covenant of works, but as a “rule of duty.” Perhaps you’re aware of another of Hodge’s writings where he calls the Decalogue a republication of the covenant of works, but there’s no evidence of this in the Sys Theo.

    Secondly, back in volume two where Hodge discusses the Mosaic covenant, when he speaks explicitly of the republication of the covenant of works, lo and behold, he is clear that he thinks it’s republished in the New Testament as well: “Secondly, [the Mosaic covenant] contained, as does also the New Testament, a renewed proclamation of the original covenant of works. It is as true now as in the days of Adam, it always has been and always must be true, that rational creatures who perfectly obey the law of God are blessed in the enjoyment of his favour; and that those who sin are subject to his wrath and curse.”

    Now it’s possible that in your reflections you did not intend to limit the Princeton view of the republication of the CoW to the “Mosaic economy.” However, from where I sit, it appears that Hodge may only avoid being tarred with the “theonomists, neo-Calvinists, and Federal Visionaries” brush by having his theology subtly recast in the image of Meredith Kline’s….

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  263. David R., well if you don’t like the fruit then don’t grow the tree of saying that repubs are off the ranch.

    Like those other folks, theonomists, neo-Cals, and FV’s, you confuse the substance of grace with the accidents of the Mosaic Covenant. You keep saying the MC promised Christ. Where? And if you’re right, then Paul would never have written what he did about the law in Galatians and elsewhere.

    Think of yourself as Hagar and repub as Sarah.

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  264. David R., btw, your comment which follows was highly revealing:

    First of all, the inheritance offered was the eternal inheritance, though indeed typified by the land. Secondly, inheriting on the grounds of obedience requires perfect obedience, which of course they couldn’t render. Thirdly, the MC offered life and salvation in Jesus Christ, whose meritorious obedience alone secures the inheritance on behalf of the elect. Fourthly, they (i.e., believers) were under grace, and thus the obedience required of them was the sincere obedience that flows from life, not the perfect obedience necessary in order to inherit life. Finally, what was required of the typological kingdom in order to remain in the typological inheritance was merely a relative corporate obedience, suitable for typifying the consummate holiness of the saints in heaven.

    So you think the covenant of grace requires obedience from believers no matter how imperfect or no matter how non-meritorious, though if it is required I’m not sure how the covenant of grace becomes anything less than conditional. So we are back to the neonomian vs. antinomian debate, or back to Shepherd after all. And for good measure, I am not sure how your understanding of the Covenant of Grace is fundamentally different from Roman Catholicism — except that you don’t sound very sacramental.

    But in your view, there goes the hope that many of us find in the gospel. To quote the Belgic Confession:

    although we do good works we do not base our salvation on them; for we cannot do any work that is not defiled by our flesh and also worthy of punishment. And even if we could point to one, memory of a single sin is enough for God to reject that work.

    So we would always be in doubt, tossed back and forth without any certainty, and our poor consciences would be tormented constantly if they did not rest on the merit of the suffering and death of our Savior.

    Who were the Christians defending good works in the sixteenth century? Who were the Christians saying that good works proceeded from grace? And which Christians said:

    We believe that for us to acquire the true knowledge of this great mystery the Holy Spirit kindles in our hearts a true faith that embraces Jesus Christ, with all his merits, and makes him its own, and no longer looks for anything apart from him.

    For it must necessarily follow that either all that is required for our salvation is not in Christ or, if all is in him, then he who has Christ by faith has his salvation entirely.

    Which Christians are saying that today? Three guesses, the first two don’t count.

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  265. Like those other folks, theonomists, neo-Cals, and FV’s, you confuse the substance of grace with the accidents of the Mosaic Covenant.

    I distinguish; it’s just that I don’t separate. You apparently separate.

    You keep saying the MC promised Christ. Where?

    Ah, so you take an exception to WCF 7.5.

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  266. David R., so I see the strategy — catch the church officer in his words. Are you wearing a recording device?

    I don’t know, though, that you’d think I take exception to 7.5 except that you do seem to have trouble with reading comprehension. The confession says:

    This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the gospel: under the law, 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; which were, 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; and is called the old testament.

    The confession DOES NOT SAY that the covenant of grace was administered by the law and obedience to it. So what am I missing.

    And while you’re pulling out your confession, take a look at the OPC’s proof texts. None come from the Torah or OT for that matter. And all pertain to the work of Christ as high priest, the promises (not the or else), and the sacraments.

    Catch me if you can. But you’re the one on thin ice.

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  267. Gal. 3:17-18:
    This is what I mean: the law [Mosaic covenant], which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant [Abrahamic covenant] previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law [Mosaic covenant], it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

    and John 1:17:
    For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

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  268. D.G.,

    So you think the covenant of grace requires obedience from believers no matter how imperfect or no matter how non-meritorious, though if it is required I’m not sure how the covenant of grace becomes anything less than conditional. So we are back to the neonomian vs. antinomian debate, or back to Shepherd after all.

    Or maybe we’re back to the Reformed vs. antinomian debate. You really want to say that the covenant of grace does not require obedience?

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  269. D.G.,

    You think I sound Romish when I say that “Fourthly, they (i.e., believers) were under grace, and thus the obedience required of them was the sincere obedience that flows from life, not the perfect obedience necessary in order to inherit life.”

    But are you willing to give Old Princeton a pass? Following is some wisdom from B.B. Warfield:

    17. I believe that, having been pardoned and accepted for Christ’s sake, it is further required of me that I walk in the Spirit whom He has purchased for me, and by whom love is shed abroad in my heart; fulfilling the obedience I owe to Christ my King; faithfully performing all the duties laid upon me by the holy law of God my heavenly Father; and ever reflecting in my life and conduct the perfect example that has been set me by Christ Jesus my leader, who has died for me and granted to me His Holy Spirit that I may do the good works which God has afore prepared that I should walk in them. (“A Brief and Untechnical Statement of the Reformed Faith”)

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  270. D.G.,

    David R., so I see the strategy — catch the church officer in his words. Are you wearing a recording device?

    No recording device here. But you sure are sounding uncharacteristically paranoid….

    The confession DOES NOT SAY that the covenant of grace was administered by the law and obedience to it. So what am I missing.

    What you are missing is that I NEVER SAID that the covenant of grace was administered by the law and obedience to it. So I don’t think I’m the one having trouble with reading comprehension….

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  271. David R., the way I learned the Reformation it was faith alone, not faith plus obedience. Embrace your inner Shepherd. Then read this:

    These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith: and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end, eternal life. (CF 16.2)

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  272. David R., so far as I know, Warfield is neither infallible nor confessed by any Reformed church (unless you have antinomianly created the Warfield Church of Christ). I prefer this:

    Therefore, to say that Christ is not enough but that something else is needed as well is a most enormous blasphemy against God– for it then would follow that Jesus Christ is only half a Savior. And therefore we justly say with Paul that we are justified “by faith alone” or by faith “apart from works.”

    Or this:

    Q. 153. What doth God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse due to us by reason of the transgression of the law?
    A. That we may escape the wrath and curse of God due to us by reason of the transgression of the law, he requireth of us repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, and the diligent use of the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation.

    I don’t see the law as part of that requirement, which is odd on your view since the divines just spent over fifty questions discussing the law that came with Moses.

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  273. Berkhof:

    The covenant of Sinai was essentially the same as that established with Abraham, though the form differed somewhat. This is not always recognized, and is not recognized by present day dispensationalists. They insist on it that it was a different covenant, not only in form but in essence. Scofield speaks of it as a legal covenant, a “conditional Mosaic covenant of works,” under which the point of testing was legal obedience as the condition of salvation. If that covenant was a covenant of works, it certainly was not the covenant of grace. The reason why it is sometimes regarded as an entirely new covenant is that Paul repeatedly refers to the law and the promise as forming an antithesis, Rom. 4:13 ff.; Gal. 3:17. But it should be noted that the apostle does not contrast with the covenant of Abraham the Sinaitic covenant as a whole, but only the law as it functioned in this covenant, and this function only as it was misunderstood by the Jews. The only apparent exception to that rule is Gal. 4:21 ff., where two covenants are indeed compared. But these are not the Abrahamic and the Sinaitic covenants. The covenant that proceeds from Sinai and centers in the earthly Jerusalem, is placed over against the covenant that proceeds from heaven and centers in the Jerusalem that is above, that is, — the natural and the spiritual. (Systematic Theology, p.297)

    Vos:

    The covenant with Israel had a ceremonial and a typical ministry, fixed in its details…. A formal gospel preaching was offered continually by symbols and types…. One must consider all these types and symbols from two points of view: 1) as demands of God on the people; 2) as a proclamation of God to the people. God had appointed them to serve in both respects. But the Jews overlooked the latter aspect more and more, and made the types and symbols exclusively serve the former purpose. That is to say, they used them only as additions to a self-willed covenant of works, and misunderstood the ministering significance they had for the covenant of grace. So the opinion arose that righteousness had to be obtained by keeping that law in the broadest sense of the word, including the ceremonial law. And by this misuse, the covenant of grace of Sinai was in fact made into a Hagarite covenant, a covenant giving birth to servitude, as Paul describes it in Gal 4:24. There he has in view not the covenant as it should be, but as it could easily become through misuse.

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  274. David R., so you’re obsessed and I’m paranoid. But you know, they didn’t appoint a committee of the Assembly to which I owe some deference to study the views of anti-repubs.

    You have asserted several times that inheritance of the land which is a type of eternal life is obtained through imperfect obedience. Why else are you telling me that obedience is required and quoting Warfield to tell that obedience is required for salvation, you know, prefigured by the land.

    You just asked: “You really want to say that the covenant of grace does not require obedience?” Now you say “I NEVER SAID that the covenant of grace was administered by the law and obedience to it.”

    Then why are you asking me whether the covenant of grace requires obedience if you say it doesn’t?

    Some might think you haven’t really figure this out. Maybe it’s because you’re really Hagar.

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  275. D.G., ah okay, Warfield sounds Romish too…. Well, at least you’re consistent. But how is it that you can’t tell the difference between what’s required of us in order to be saved, versus what’s required of us once we are saved?

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  276. David R., maybe because I haven’t bought your phony notion that God accept imperfect obedience as legitimate obedience. But maybe it’s because I can read. What can’t you tell about the language of the catechism?

    Q. 91. What is the duty which God requireth of man?
    A. The duty which God requireth of man, is obedience to his revealed will.

    Then the exposition of the Ten Commandments handed down at the launch of the Mosaic Covenant.

    Q. 153. What doth God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse due to us by reason of the transgression of the law?
    A. That we may escape the wrath and curse of God due to us by reason of the transgression of the law, he requireth of us repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, and the diligent use of the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation.

    Then exposition of faith, repentance, and the means of grace.

    What is required in the law and what is required to escape God’s wrath and curse once we break the law are two different things that you collapse.

    Are you related to Shepherd?

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  277. David R., again the quotations without comment. If I were grading your paper, you get a D. You gotta tell us what this means to you (in your heart).

    I know you don’t believe this, but repub is trying to make sense of this exactly: “The covenant that proceeds from Sinai and centers in the earthly Jerusalem, is placed over against the covenant that proceeds from heaven and centers in the Jerusalem that is above, that is, — the natural and the spiritual.”

    In contrast, you identify the imperfect obedience that inherits the land with eternal salvation.

    Yowza!

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  278. David R., so you’re obsessed and I’m paranoid.

    We can always finish this dialogue in the asylum.

    But you know, they didn’t appoint a committee of the Assembly to which I owe some deference to study the views of anti-repubs.

    With your zeal, maybe it’s high time you draft an overture?

    You have asserted several times that inheritance of the land which is a type of eternal life is obtained through imperfect obedience. Why else are you telling me that obedience is required and quoting Warfield to tell that obedience is required for salvation, you know, prefigured by the land.

    What I asserted was this: “First of all, the inheritance offered was the eternal inheritance … Thirdly, the MC offered life and salvation in Jesus Christ, whose meritorious obedience alone secures the inheritance on behalf of the elect. Fourthly, they (i.e., believers) were under grace, and thus the obedience required of them was the sincere obedience that flows from life, not the perfect obedience necessary in order to inherit life.”

    It’s hard for me to believe you think that’s controversial.

    You just asked: “You really want to say that the covenant of grace does not require obedience?” Now you say “I NEVER SAID that the covenant of grace was administered by the law and obedience to it.”

    You’re conflating things again…. Regarding the OT administration of the covenant of grace, we confess WCF 7.5. Regarding the requirement of obedience for those under grace, we confess WCF 19.5-7. You see? The law and the gospel “do sweetly comply … the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely, and cheerfully, which the will of God, revealed in the law, requires to be done.”

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  279. David Noe, if you’re asking about the obedience required once we’re saved, again, I think Warfield’s article 17 in “Brief and Untechnical Statement” is good. Also, WCF 19.5-7.

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  280. D.G.,

    David R., again the quotations without comment. If I were grading your paper, you get a D. You gotta tell us what this means to you (in your heart).

    If I were writing a paper I would tell you what it means to me. But the parts I emboldened should point the way well enough.

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  281. What is required in the law and what is required to escape God’s wrath and curse once we break the law are two different things that you collapse.

    So once we escape God’s wrath and curse, we’re no longer required to obey? Or is the point that you take an exception to WCF 19:5-7 too? (No recording device so you can be honest….)

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  282. David R., where does chapter 19 say that the justified are required to obey the law to obtain salvation? And how could it possibly say that if our good works are filthy rags? I get it. You hold out for imperfect obedience. Now that’s Reformed Roman Catholic.

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  283. D.G., here it is (from the heart): You think Paul was contrasting a covenant that promised Christ with one that did not. However, both Vos and Berkhof thought he was “not contrast[ing] with the covenant of Abraham the Sinaitic covenant as a whole, but only the law as it functioned in this covenant, and this function only as it was misunderstood by the Jews.” Does that help any?

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  284. David R., where does chapter 19 say that the justified are required to obey the law to obtain salvation?

    Nice try, D.G., nice try…. Let me remind you that my assertion that you claimed to take issue with was this: “First of all, the inheritance offered was the eternal inheritance … Thirdly, the MC offered life and salvation in Jesus Christ, whose meritorious obedience alone secures the inheritance on behalf of the elect. Fourthly, they (i.e., believers) were under grace, and thus the obedience required of them was the sincere obedience that flows from life, not the perfect obedience necessary in order to inherit life.”

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  285. Just trying to keep up… a question to clarify and maybe help this along (hopefully):
    Where does it argue in the New Testament (Galatians) that the law contrasted with the promise was a function of the law “only as it was misunderstood by the Jews?” I know that’s a popular interpretation, but where does Paul actually make that case? T. David Gordon argues this differently, and rather convincingly that the contrast Paul makes is between those “of faith” and those “of works of law” not those who mistakenly rely on the law (rely is not in the Greek)… consistent with the contrast Paul makes between the promise (Abrahamic covenant) and the Law (Mosaic covenant).

    Thanks.

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  286. IOW, the question is not whether “the justified are required to obey the law to obtain salvation.” Rather, the question is whether the justified are required to obey the law “as the evidence of the truth of their faith and thankfulness to God, and as the way which he hath appointed them to salvation” (WLC 32). If you answer “yes” to the first question, you’re a Shepherdite, but if you answer “no” to the second, you’re an antinomian. I’d like to avoid both those alternatives….

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  287. David, one other question, again trying to understand the “why” of your concerns about TLNF. Can a “repub” of WSCAL stripe answer your first question with a “No” and the second (LC 32) with a ‘Yes”?
    Does their repub position not allow them to give those answers and remain consistent? If not, why not?

    Thanks…

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  288. Just trying to keep up… a question to clarify and maybe help this along (hopefully):
    Where does it argue in the New Testament (Galatians) that the law contrasted with the promise was a function of the law “only as it was misunderstood by the Jews?” T. David Gordon argues this differently …

    It would benefit you to check out some of that material I linked you to earlier. There are lots of standard Reformed treatments there arguing against the position that the Mosaic covenant was specifically distinct from the Abrahamic (i.e., against Gordon’s position). I found their arguments far more convincing than his.

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  289. Jack, If you’ll scroll to the top of the page, you’ll see that D.G. had asked: “David R., where does chapter 19 say that the justified are required to obey the law to obtain salvation?” Hence, my state-of-the-question clarifying comment.

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  290. David, I think I understand your “state-of-the-question comment. My question though again is, Does their repub position not allow them to give those answers and remain consistent? If not, why not?

    Again, thanks…

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  291. Jack, the problem is that (based on this interaction anyway) some repubs can’t seem to tell those two questions apart.

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  292. IOW, it seems like no matter how many times you ask D.G. the second question, he always thinks you’re asking the first.

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  293. David, I appreciate your perspective on that. My question is in principle can a TLNF guy answer those two questions as you do? And if not, why not? I’m trying to get to what may (or may not, of course) lie at the core of disagreement.

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  294. If there is only the one covenant of grace, and not covenants, then we will need not only contrast but continuum between law and gospel, between condition and promise, as Daniel Fuller has explained for such a very very long time. Since the Mosaic covenant commands faith, Daniel Fuller claims, what we need to do is avoid MISUNDERSTANDING so that our works are “works of faith” and not a “legalism of merit without faith.”

    It’s not “nothing of works”. Rather, it is of works, and on top of that, the works must be of faith. So instead of trusting only the finished work of Christ, we must constantly suspect ourselves, and look to see if we have works, and to see if these works are properly motivated. Thus the defense of the “conditionality” of the gospel–“The law is not the “letter” of 2 Corinthians from which we are released…. “The spiritual law of Romans 7:12 cannot be the same as the ‘letter’ of II Cor 3:6. The ‘letter’ from which we are released is the one without the Spirit…and thus is the very opposite of the spiritual law of Romans 7.”

    This is the “misunderstanding” reading:—neither Romans 7 or II Cor 3 are seen as being about the redemptive historical changes brought by covenant cuts. Thus Daniel Fuller leaves us with warnings, proper for any time or covenant, to NOT MISUNDERSTAND, to not be a “legalist with wrong motives”.

    Cranfield also support this reading of II Cor 3: “Paul does not use ‘letter’ as a simple equivalent of ‘the law’.” “Letter” is rather what the legalist is left with as a result of his misunderstanding, and misuse of the law in isolation from the Spirit is not the law in its true character….”

    This “misunderstanding” view is what many are doing to minimize the discontinuity between law and grace. If you get the law back to its “true character”, then salvation is also by law. If you get works back to being enabled by sovereign grace, then Augustinian justification is by works of persevering faith, these works being predestined as were the waters of baptism.

    The “misunderstanding view” is not limited to those with “the new perspective” or with the “federal vision”. Many other Reformed folks want to us to nuance any idea that God DID what those believing in the law could NEVER do (Romans 8:3) in order to avoid sounding “antinomian” and “dispensationalist”. .

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  295. David R., well, that’s what repub does. “only the law as it functioned in the covenant” as if that is some trifling matter. You don’t understand it so it can’t be that easy.

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  296. David R., if you say obedience is required, required for what, salvation? We need Jesus’ righteousness plus our own (as if Jesus’ righteousness is not mine? as if Adam’s guilt is not mine?)?

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  297. David R., and your answers to both questions, along with your badgering about them, is not entirely clear what obedience is required for? So you agree that it is not faith plus works? Is so, then what’s the problem? That I don’t try to obey the law? How the hades do you know?

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  298. David R., ” There are lots of standard Reformed treatments there arguing against the position that the Mosaic covenant was specifically distinct from the Abrahamic.”

    You mean like Paul in Rom. 4 and Gal 3?

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  299. David R., well, that’s what repub does. “only the law as it functioned in the covenant” as if that is some trifling matter. You don’t understand it so it can’t be that easy.

    There are many things I don’t understand that are easy for others, but this one I don’t actually find that difficult.

    David R., if you say obedience is required, required for what, salvation? We need Jesus’ righteousness plus our own (as if Jesus’ righteousness is not mine? as if Adam’s guilt is not mine?)?

    (sigh)

    David R., and your answers to both questions, along with your badgering about them, is not entirely clear what obedience is required for? So you agree that it is not faith plus works? Is so, then what’s the problem? That I don’t try to obey the law? How the hades do you know?

    (sigh)

    David R., ” There are lots of standard Reformed treatments there arguing against the position that the Mosaic covenant was specifically distinct from the Abrahamic.”

    You mean like Paul in Rom. 4 and Gal 3?

    Well, the Reformed treatments I mentioned do examine those passages….

    David R., but that’s because you are never clear about the obedience required in the covenant of grace. You clear it up and get back to me.

    D.G., I’ve given it my best shot….

    Like

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