Creation and Covenant Recast and Collapsed Together

0e380301_covenant-tree

I have been interacting with a few blogs and discussions the past few days concerning Kline’s doctrine of Creation and Covenant

Based upon Kline’s view of Covenant and Creation he seems to reformulate the essence of both by collapsing both into one as I mention in the comments on David Murray’s blog Head Heart Hand.

“Concerning the Prelapsarian Covenant and grace I would mention that it isn’t that grace needs to be qualified as goodness or kindness alone. It requires the unmerited aspect of goodness and kindness. God’s condescension was gracious in that it was unmerited and full of gifts that Adam never merited. That is what needs to be understood. And that has long been a Reformed understanding concerning Adam as a created being. The booklet does a good job explaining that. One of the problems in this matter is that the Covenant of Works is turned into a creational entity which characterizes the natural relationship between God and man. In this scheme human morality is, in its very essence, made a covenant of works. Grace is only operative where sin abounds. And that is just wrong. It is too narrow of a definition of grace which is something I have addressed many times. There is the narrow understanding of grace and a broader understanding depending on the context. The same is true for how we understand the Gospel.”

http://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2014/07/22/creation-condescension-and-redefinition-of-covenant-merit/

From the booklet….Merit and Moses

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).”

On a side issue David Murray’s review and summation are excellent.
Merit and Moses Pt. 4

Causing more confusion than intended?

image

 

The First Commandment of the Decalogue states, “I am the LORD thy God,.. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” St.Paul addressed the sin of idolatry to the Romans and the world by stating this, “For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Act 17:23-31)

Does this not place the call upon all men to repent and the free offer of the Gospel into the category of Redemption? And doesn’t this command to repent reach into the Civil arena as well as the Church?  I ask this in light of what this comment seems to state, “Would it not be better to think of our cultural engagement, as part of our citizenship in Christ’s twofold kingdom, to think of our engagement with mediating institutions as part of our service to God and neighbor, under Christ’s general Lordship over creation? Doesn’t our engagement with such institutions come under the heading of creation rather than redemption? Isn’t it a matter of fidelity to our calling as image bearers in the temporal kingdom, rather than a matter of service in the eternal kingdom?” RSC

That comment seems to state that we are not to engage our culture based upon any relationship with the Church. We are only to address the Civil Realm based upon some category that only fits under the heading of Creation. In other words we are not to address civil matters (Culture / Politics) as Christians but only as persons responsible to love our neighbor as civilians living in a culture. I believe these guys are going to great lengths to justify a Law / Grace (Gospel) dichotomy (not just a distinction) that is confusing more people and justifying an antinomian spirit in our age, a truncated Gospel, causing confusion between the relationship of Justification and Sanctification in relation to Union with Christ, and distorting the doctrine of Christ’s Kingship whether they intend to or not.

Added quote for edification….

“What then is the remedy for the threatened disruption of society and for the rapidly progressing decay of liberty?

There is really only one remedy. It is the rediscovery of the law of God.

If we want to restore respect for human laws, we shall have to get rid of this notion that judges and juries exist only for the utilitarian purpose of the protection of society, and shall have to restore the notion that they exist for the purposes of justice. They are only very imperfect exponents of justice, it is true. There are vast departments of life with which they should have nothing whatever to do. They are exceeding their God-given function when they seek to enforce inward purity or purity of the individual life, since theirs is the business only of enforcing – and that in necessarily imperfect fashion – that part of righteousness which concerns the relations between man and man. But they are instruments of righteousness all the same, and when that is not recognized, disaster follows for the state. Society will never be preserved by attaching savage penalties to trifling offences because the utilitarian interests of society demand it; it will never be preserved by the vicious practice (followed by some judges) of making ‘examples’ of people is spasmodic and unjust fashion because such examples are thought to have a salutary effect as a deterrent from future crime. No, we say, let justice never be lost from view – abstract, holy, transcendent justice – no matter what the immediate consequences may be thought to be. Only so will the ermine of the judge again be respected and the ravages of decadence be checked.”

J. Gresham Machen
The Christian View of Man p 193

The Cultural Mandate and the Great Commission contra R2K

kloosterman-01

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
http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=41131323494

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.

samuel-rutherford

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.

tbost

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?

typology

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

broken-tablets-300x223

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