The Cultural Mandate and the Great Commission contra R2K


This addresses the New Paradigm teaching of Natural Law / Two Kingdoms. It addresses the Covenant of Works / Covenant of Grace issue very well. Dr. Nelson Kloosterman hits the head of the nail squarely. Please give it a good listening to.  It was a lecture given at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.  This lecture was presented at the 2013 Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary’s Spring Theology Conference.

Please download the audio and listen.  It will bless your sox off! 

The Cultural Mandate and the Great Commission – an Integrationist Model

What Shall Ye Do With These Things?

A brother from Scotland, Craig Scott, sent this quote to me on Facebook. I thought it was excellent and encouraging. A Scot peddling the words of another true Scot.


Question. How are evangelical commands directed to us? (Ezek. xviii. 31), “Make you a new heart, and a new spirit” (Col. iii. 10), “Put on the new man.” (Rom. xii. 2), “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” &c. This seems to lay the weight on our free will, which it cannot bear. What shall ye then do with these things?

Answer. Because lazy nature flings at the load, it should not be refused at the first hearing. We are to take us to our feet, no. less than the power were in our own hand. Christ helps fair ventures. Better die working and doing as we can, than cry in the fire, Lord, lift me out. It is our fault; the want of the command breaks our resolution to obey in two pieces, and there we lie.

God sends not His commandments to us because we have strength to do them. But God seeks that His charge be met with humility. Wherefore, the gospel is a mass of humble commandments; and we sigh because we cannot win up the brae. It is acceptable; providing we creep on hands and feet as we can, it is sweet obedience. Because faith has always in the second covenant the first stroke, and the fore-start, before doing, as being the condition of the covenant, therefore our Lord commands, and seeks in the command, that we believe. He will put His Spirit in us, and cause us to do what He craves of us. A father charges his child to bear a burden far above his strength, and threatens him if he obey not. He obeys if he stoop, and mint; and pant; and withal weeps, yet he cannot get it done, and believes that out of love his father will help him. So in opening of our hearts to Jesus; if we but weep, and look up with watery eyes to Christ, and then cry and mint, to open it as we can, using the weak fingers that we have. For though our money wants many grain weights, yet Christ fills the scale of the balance, and weighs down where we want. So Christ’s commands to us are commanding promises and promissory commands. He charges us to do (Ezek. xviii. 31), and He promises to work in us what He commands us to do (Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27).”

- Samuel Rutherford, Communion Sermons, Song of Solomon 5:2

Eze 18:31    Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

Col 3:10    And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

Rom 12:2    And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Eze 36:26    A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
Eze 36:27    And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

Pin Point Response to New Paradigm NL/TK

Here is a notable quote by a Reverend as he is responding in a discussion forum where we are delving into the topic concerning some Professors at Westminster West and the New Paradigm of Natural Law / Two Kingdom doctrine which is infesting the Reformed Church today. I love the simple way he puts things.


Thomas Boston wrote (Works, 4:156-157):
“There is one thing, which, from experience, we are taught they may lay their account to lose, namely, the countenance and protection of the civil magistrate in their duty. This is in itself a great loss. And seeing God has promised to a church, when he is well pleased with her, “that kings shall be her nursing fathers, and their queens her nursing mothers;” the withdrawing of it must be a sign of the Lord’s displeasure. Yea, and if we trace the sins of rulers that bear hard on the people to their first spring, we will find that it is some quarrel that God hath with the people, 2 Sam. 24:1. This should humble us, and stir us up to pray for them, and be dutiful to them, to whom the Lord has said, “ye are gods,” in every thing that is not inconsistent with your duty to God himself. But this is a trial to us, whether we will regard God or man most; and the saints will ever prefer the countenance of the Lord to the countenance of the highest powers on earth, and depend upon his protection alone when they are deprived of all other.”


“If Thomas Boston’s viewpoint were accepted, the loss of the nursing father would be seen as a trial from which we should seek deliverance through ordained means. Those who hold to a dualist form of two kingdom theology regard the lack of a nursing father as ideal and normal for the church’s condition in the world, and would not see it as a trial or practically seek any improvement on the state of affairs.

To get down to the nitty-gritty of it, what love is it to your neighbour, what honour to your superiors, to wish the national interest to remain alienated from the life of God and strangers to His blessings? What Christian in his right mind is content to see God dishonoured and a plethora of other gods worshipped in His place?

We are not able to change the moral conditions of society apart from our own personal response to them, but our personal response should include vexation of soul and grieving over the ungodliness of our fellow-men. The idea of building a doctrine from Scripture which supports and justifies being content with the dissolution of Christian standards in a society runs contrary to everything the Scripture tells us about the righteous Lord loving righteousness and hating wickedness.”

Is it really typological in the full sense?


This blog was made better and cleaned up from the original by a friend.  I need all the help I can get. Especially grammatically.  I am not a writer and have never pretended to be.  Anyways, here is my thought of recent.

One argument I have encountered recently with the Klinean Republicationist guys is that Kline used the word typological.  Therefore there is some over emphasis and possible distortion being presented by those who are critical of Kline’s view of works and merit. They say the Mosaic Covenant contained a typological Covenant of Works (in some sense). Let’s draw this out a bit.  Kline truly didn’t mean for this typology to be limited to typology only.  If he had only meant there was a typological setting there wouldn’t have been any merit attributed to Israel for either failing to keep or break the Covenant (Because sinners have only demerit).  But there is merit attributed in his understanding.

Something I would note about Kline’s typology is that the word typological in reference to the Old Covenant is not given a fully typological status. As is noted by Clark and others the Mosaic Covenant is an administration of both the Covenant of Works (in some sense) and the Covenant of Grace. There is some form of merit attributed to Israel for compliance to the covenant and some form of merit for breaking the Covenant and meriting ejection from the land. Even though they use the word typological to represent their thought about heaven, they fail in the fact that they actually declare that the Mosaic covenant is an Administration of the Covenant of Works (in some sense). There is actual bondage to a Covenant of Works here that was instituted postlapsarian in the Mosaic Covenant.

To sum this up Kline’s typology is more than typology.  The critics are right for being critical of Kline’s view of works and merit in the Mosaic Covenant.

Just thinking out loud. That might be dangerous.

At the same time I wonder if there might be some purposeful distortion based upon a desired hermeneutic as there is in the DISTINCTION / DICHOTOMY problem that I mentioned concerning DR. R. Scott Clark. 

Creation, Condescension, and Redefinition of Covenant Merit


The doctrine of God’s voluntary condescension goes hand in hand with the distinction that developed in Reformed theology between “covenanted” merit and “strict” or “proper” merit. Covenant merit is assigned to Adam in the covenant of works, whereas strict merit is assigned to Christ in the covenant of grace. What is the difference between the two? Covenant merit is a lesser category of merit when compared to strict merit. Adam’s merit is said to be “improper” when it is measured against the standard of Christ’s “proper” merit. This designation of covenant merit reflects the ontological considerations which pertain to Adam’s status. It seeks to take into account the Creator creature distinction and God’s act of condescension (WCF 7:1) to enter into covenant with Adam. According to the Confession, the establishment of the covenant of works is God’s appointed means of condescension, so that man as mere creature may know and enjoy God as his ultimate blessedness and reward.

…The merit of Christ, in contrast to Adam’s “covenant” or “improper” merit, falls uniquely into the category of “strict” or “proper” merit. Adam was a mere creature, and was dependent on God’s voluntary condescension to enter into the covenant of works. Jesus Christ, the second and last Adam, is uniquely set apart in his role as the Mediator of the covenant of grace. In the incarnation, Jesus is by nature true God as well as true man. He possesses a sinless human nature, which would qualify him (like Adam) to perform perfect and personal obedience. Christ was able to merit eschatological life in more than the “covenanted” sense. Our Savior, being the divine Son of God, is uniquely qualified to merit eternal life in the covenant of grace in the “strict” or “full” sense of the term.

This truth is implicitly taught in the Westminster Confession, where Christ is said to satisfy the justice of God and “purchase” (i. e., “merit”) the eschatological reward of the covenant for his people.

  The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience, and sacrifice of Himself, which He through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, has fully satisfied the justice of His Father; and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for those whom the Father has given unto Him (WCF 8:5).

The [Klinean] republication view teaches that man was in covenant with God at the very moment of creation. This is an important shift from the traditional viewpoint. Ontological considerations demand that there be at least a logical distinction (rather than a chronological or historical sequence) between God’s creating man and his entering into covenant with him. The [Klinean] republication teaching now erases this confessional distinction (which is based upon the “great disproportion” between the Creator and creature), and thereby turns God’s providential work of establishing the covenant into an aspect of the work of creation. Thus, we may say that the two distinct acts have been conflated or collapsed into essentially one act in this new view. For all intents and purposes, the relationship between God and man is not first that of sovereign Creator over his finite creature, but is from the point of creation a relationship of “God-in-covenant-with-man.” For Professor Kline and those who have followed his lead in the republication position, it is improper to even consider man’s existence apart from covenant. Thus, man’s covenantal status seems to “trump” his creaturely status. Professor Kline makes this clear in Kingdom Prologue.

Man’s creation as image of God meant, as we have seen, that the creating of the world was a covenant-making process. There was no original non-covenantal order of mere nature on which the covenant was superimposed. Covenantal commitments were given by the Creator in the very act of endowing the mancreature with the mantle of the divine likeness. …The situation never existed in which man’s future was contemplated or presented in terms of a static continuation of the original state of blessedness (Kingdom Prologue [2000], p. 92).

…The obliteration of the distinction between creation and covenant is extremely significant for laying the foundation of a new paradigm of merit—one that is divorced from ontological considerations.

We have already observed that the Creator-creature distinction lies at the center of the doctrines of God, man, and of the covenant in the history of Reformed theology. This distinction is also central to the traditional understanding of merit, as the differences between Adam’s covenant merit and Christ’s strict merit rest on ontological factors. It is apparent that the adherents to the Republication Paradigm have followed Professor Kline in their departure from the tradition in this regard.

… In this redefined view of merit, there is no longer any need or place for the previous distinction made between Adam’s covenant merit in contrast to Christ’s strict merit. In  terms of the definition of merit, Adam and Christ can equally earn the rewards of their respective covenants according to the principle of simple justice.

It is also important to note another ramification of this new paradigm. Just as the respective obedience of Adam and Christ would be deemed equally meritorious according to the definition of “simple justice,” so also the works of others, beyond (or between) the two federal heads, may equally be counted as meritorious. The [Klinean] Republication Paradigm allows for only one category or definition of merit (“covenant merit”) which is applied equally to Adam, to Christ, as well as to other figures after the fall (such as Noah, Abraham, and Israel). This explains why meritorious works of obedience are possible for sinners between Adam and Christ in this new paradigm. The redefinition of merit “allows” God to make another meritorious arrangement outside of the ones made with the two Adams. After the fall, in the Mosaic covenant, for example, God may decide to make an arrangement in which he promises temporal-typological blessings on the basis of Israel’s imperfect, sincere, national obedience, instead of the perfect, entire and personal obedience which was required of the two covenant heads.

The redefinition of “covenant merit” does not require any ontological considerations. In fact, it does not even require moral perfection on the part of man. Thus, the fact that Israel’s works are those of fallen sinful creatures is completely irrelevant. They are meritorious because God says so. All that matters is that they fulfill God’s covenant Word, which alone defines and determines what constitutes merit and justice in any given covenantal arrangement.

Booklet on Merit
portions from pp. 32-42

Moses and Merit

Bergquist, Van Kooten, Elam



Moses and Merit


It is in print.
Merit and Moses

A Critique of the Klinean Doctrine of Republication

Updated Endorsements
There were mistakes made by the publisher when they posted them initially. It has been corrected.

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

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

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

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

Book Description

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

Purchase it here.

Introducing David Van Drunen to David Van Drunen


Introducing David Van Drunen to David Van Drunen
Thanks for highlighting this issue and writing most of this up Mark Van Der Molen.
Immanuel URCNA

In the below statement it seems that David Van Drunen is amazed by conclusions drawn and at the responses he received from Jeffrey Waddington and Cornel P. Venema.  He seems to indicate that there is no reason for their conclusions.  But the scholars I have spoken with seem to indicate that these two men of God do have a place to rest their heads concretely for the statements they have made.  They didn’t come to their conclusions by just pulling them out of thin air.  As Mark Van Der Molen suggests, maybe David Van Drunen needs to be reintroduced to David Van Drunen.

Here is what this is about.  David Van Drunen states, “Yet Jeffrey Waddington and Cornelis Venema, for example, think they know a lot about my views and offer bold critical comments; see Waddington, “Duplex in Homine Regimen: A Response to David VanDrunen’s ‘The Reformed Two Kingdoms Doctrine: An Explanation and Defense,’ ” The Confessional Presbyterian 8 (2012): 192–93; and Venema, “One Kingdom or Two?” 106–11. I’ll mention just one issue among several they raise: the unbeliever’s ability to profit from natural law. Waddington (193) states: “Clearly Dr. VanDrunen’s understanding of the efficacy of natural law/natural revelation is significantly different from the clear and unambiguous statement made in the Canons of Dort [3/4.4].” Similarly, Venema (108-9) also implies that I am at variance with Canons of Dort 3/3.4 and writes: “in the two kingdoms paradigm, non-believers are almost as apt as believers to profit from their discernment of the natural law.” Neither of them cite a single example from my writings to prove these claims; nor could they, I am quite sure. I agree entirely with the statement in Canons of Dort 3/4.4 and have never argued against it. And I cannot think of where I have said anything along the lines of Venema’s charge.” David Van Drunen, Footnote (5) Ordained Servant, July 2013


It appears that there are things that might indicate Dr. Cornel P. Venema and Jeffrey Waddington do have a just reason for their conclusions.   Here are a few quotes from David Van Drunen.

“Scripture is not the appropriate moral standard for the civil kingdom.” David Van Drunen, “A Biblical Case for Natural Law”,p. 38 (2006)

“Biblical moral instructions are given to those who are redeemed and are given as a consequence of their redemption. The Ten Commandments, for example, provide not an abstract set of principles but define the life of God’s redeemed covenant people. David Van Drunen, “A Biblical Case for Natural Law”, (p. 39)

“Since membership in the civil kingdom is not limited to believers, the imperatives of Scripture do not bind members of that kingdom. These imperatives are not “directly applicable to non-Christians” (40).” David Van Drunen, “A Biblical Case for Natural Law,” p.40.

“Natural law is the only moral standard for which there is a common (though implied) indicative that grounds common imperatives: All people are created in God’s image and have this law written upon their hearts; therefore, they should conduct themselves according to the pattern of that image and the demands of the law.” David Van Drunen, “A Biblical Case for Natural Law”, p. 40.

“Scripture is not given as a common moral standard that provides ethical imperatives to all people regardless of their religious standing.” David Van Drunen, “A Biblical Case for Natural Law”, (p. 53)


Canons 3/4.4:”There is, to be sure, a certain light of nature remaining in man after the fall, by virtue of which he retains some notions about God, natural things, and the difference between what is moral and immoral, and demonstrates a certain eagerness for virtue and for good outward behavior. But this light of nature is far from enabling man to come to a saving knowledge of God and conversion to him–so far, IN FACT, THAT MAN DOES NOT USE IT RIGHTLY EVEN IN MATTERS OF NATURE AND SOCIETY. Instead, in various ways he completely distorts this light, whatever its precise character, and suppresses it in unrighteousness. In doing so he renders himself without excuse before God.” [Emphasis added].