The Marrow of Modern Divinity and the Recent Republication Issue.



Someone on the Puritanboard wanted to know how the view of Republication contained in the Marrow of Modern Divinity measured up.

He asked, “I have some questions in regards to Republication in the book Marrow of Modern Divinity. The book seems to be supporting some sort of republication of the CoW at Sinai. The Republication of the CoW proposed in Marrow does not seem like what we have in modern Republication. Am I right?”

Reverend Winzer does a really good job pointing out the positions advocated in the Marrow. He speaks and addresses a few questions in the discussion linked to above that I think highlight some of the problems with the Modern understanding propagated by those who hold to the modern Republication model advocated by David Van Drunnen, R. Scott Clark, Bryan Estelle, J. V. Fesko, and those who adhere to the teachings of Meredith G. Kline’s later theological stance concerning the Mosaic Covenant.

Reverend Winzer comments in Post 2…

‘The traditional view held that there was a republication subordinate to the covenant of grace, whereas the modern movement maintains that republication is co-ordinate with the covenant of grace. The one sets forth the unity and continuity of the covenant of grace as administered under Law and Gospel while the other introduces division and discontinuity into the covenant of grace.”

The last post at this time ,post #12, is an answer to Reverend Todd Ruddell.

Reverend Ruddell asks, “What is the “Marrow” combating in that line of argument?”

Reverend Winzer replies,”Antinomista questioned the belief that the covenant of grace was renewed with the people of Israel and is the same in substance with the new covenant, and quoted Jeremiah in an attempt to show there are two covenants differing in substance. From an Antinomian perspective, the law and the old covenant are one and the same and the abrogation of the old covenant entails abrogation of the law in every respect.”

Now, I know for a fact that one of the Professors I use to communicate with holds to a doctrinal stance that Antinomista is advocating in the Marrow. That being that the Mosaic Covenant is both an administration of the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace.  It is a mixed Covenant.  Let me quote Dr. R. Scott Clark’s Theological Theses at the end of this blog. It is certain that even Evangelista is in opposition to the movement that is being presented today as an acceptable understanding of Republication. But it wasn’t Fisher’s or Boston’s view that these men are teaching and claiming to advance.  I have heard one of them specifically say they are in agreement with what the Marrow men advocated.  If the Marrow of Modern Divinity is teaching the doctrine of the Marrow Men then it appears that some of these guys are off base.  Reverend Winzer points out that the root of this teaching advocated by this Modern teaching has more in common with Antinomista’s position.  Reverend Winzer makes note of this in his last sentence on post 6 stating, “If one is looking to trace the co-ordinate view of republication to its ancestry the tree will lead back to Antinomista, not Evangelista.”

Dr. Clark’s Theological Theses.
Biblical / Exegetical section…
13. The Mosaic covenant was not renewed under Christ, but the Abrahamic covenant was.

16. With regard to the land promise, the Mosaic covenant was, mutandis, for pedagogical reasons (Galatians 3:23-4:7), a republication of the Adamic covenant of works.

17. With regard to justification and salvation, the Mosaic covenant was an administration of the covenant of grace.

18. The Israelites were given the land and kept it by grace (2 Kings 13:23) but were expelled for failure to keep a temporary, typical, pedagogical, covenant of works (Genesis 12:7; Exodus 6:4; Deuteronomy 29:19-29; 2 Kings 17:6-7; Ezekiel 17).

19. The covenant of grace, initiated in history after the fall, was in its antepenultimate state under Adam, Noah, and Abraham, its penultimate state under the New Covenant administration and shall reach its ultimate (eschatological) state in the consummation.

20. The term “Old Covenant” as used in Scripture refers to the Mosaic epoch not every epoch before the incarnation nor to all of the Hebrew and Aramaic Scriptures indiscriminately.

21. The New Covenant is new relative to Moses, not Abraham.


I thought the thread was pretty explanatory.  It lays out that the modern understanding of Republication differs significantly from that of the teaching in the Marrow of Modern Divinity. This should draw a line for some of us. I personally am not a Marrow Man but it is within the confessional bounds of Reformed teaching. That being that the Mosaic Covenant is an Administration of the Covenant of Grace and not a mixed Covenant.

Be Encouraged guys. Press on.


Why I Was Drawn Into The Nuanced Republication and Mosaic Covenant Study


note: Click on the blue texts for links.

If anyone is interested, I first was drawn to this issue of Republication and the Mosaic Covenant as a person who was a Reformed Baptist for 30 years.  I had strong leanings toward Reformed Theology.  It took me a long time but I finally started to understand the differences between Reformed thought and Reformed Baptist thought.  Reformed Baptists hold to a view that the substance of the Mosaic Covenant is not an administration of the Covenant of Grace but that the Mosaic Covenant administers the Covenant of Grace along with a Covenant of Works.  It is a view that is similar to that of Samuel Petto, John Owen, Fred Malone (a modern day switcher) and somewhat similar to that of a recent Orthodox Presbyterian Professor of Great Influence at Westminster Theological Seminary West (not Philadelphia) even after death, Meredith G. Kline in his later days.  The Kline who wrote the book ‘By Oath Consigned‘ was not the same theologically as the Kline of ‘Kingdom Prologue’ many years later as is noted by Mark Karlberg .  He seems to have taken on a more Lutheran Theology the Reformers of the Westminster Standards understood.

As a Reformed Baptist, whenever I would debate issues concerning church membership and baptism I viewed the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant to be different substantially.  Since the New Covenant was purely an Administration of the Covenant of Grace it had a different membership make up than the Mosaic Covenant.  The New Covenant membership was made up of those who were truly regenerate or Elect.

London Baptist Confession of Faith 26.1.

The catholic or universal church, which (with respect to the internal work of the Spirit and truth of grace) may be called invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ, the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

The Old Covenant membership was a mixture of unregenerate and regenerate as the Mosaic Covenant was a mixed Covenant.  The Mosaic Covenant administered both the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace as a stand alone Covenant.

Reformed Baptists view Covenant Theology somewhat similar to that of Johannes Cocceius from what I understand.  Covenant Theology was progression from a full blown out Covenant of Works that slowly faded away through the progression of Redemptive History as the Covenant of Grace took over and found its fulfillment in the coming of the Second Adam (Jesus Christ) in the New Covenant.

For the life of me I couldn’t understand why Dr. Clark and other Presbyterians weren’t anti-paedobaptists since they held to a position very similar to the Baptist position. That position is that the Old Covenant and New Covenant are substantially different.  It seemed they believed the Mosaic was a Covenant that administered both the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace making it different in substance from the New Covenant.  I understood that they claimed succession of the Covenant of Grace from Abraham but I thought that was a bit of a stretch since God also required the same obedience of Abraham as He did from Israel in Genesis 17:1,2.  (side note.  For a good concise understanding about this from a Reformed perspective look here.)

In 2007 Rev. Winzer tried to help me understand the issues concerning administration but I didn’t understand what he meant by the Mosaic being an administration of the Covenant of Grace.  I was too dispensational in my thinking.  And Dr. Clark wasn’t helping me understand it since he held to a view very similar to Kline’s later views along with those of a few minority Divines of the past such as Samuel Bolton who joined the Westminster Assembly after Chapter 7 was already written.  I believe he learned this particular view from a Divine named John Cameron.

Then we started having Law / Gospel discussions on the Puritanboard.  Those got rather heated but I had a different view of Grace that was closer to the Majority view of the Divines.  I believe that view is stated well by Samuel Rutherford.

The obedience of faith, or Gospel-obedience, in the fourth place, hath less of the nature of obedience than that of Adam, or of the elect angels, or that of Christ’s. It’s true we are called obedient children, and they are called the commandments of Christ, and Christ hath taken the moral law and made use of it in an evangelic way, yet we are more (as it were) patients in obeying gospel-commands. Not that we are mere patients, as Libertines teach; for grace makes us willing, but we have both supernatural habits and influences of grace furnished to us from the grace of Christ, who hath merited both to us; and so in Gospel-obedience we offer more of the Lord’s own and less of our own because he both commands and gives us grace to obey. And so to the elect believer the Law is turned into Gospel, he by his grace fulfilling (as it were) the righteousness of the Law in us by begun new obedience, Rom. 8:4.   Samuel Rutherford (The Covenant of Life Opened, 198-199).

The justification / sanctification discussions started to get heated up around 2009 and they started to escalate more after 2011 in my estimation.  I also noticed that this debate had to do with the same hermeneutical issue concerning the Mosaic Covenant.  Men were dichotomizing Law and Gospel (Grace) as the Lutherans did and not truly understanding the differences between the Reformed and Lutheran view of Law and Gospel.  We were both using the term distinctions about Law and Gospel but when Klineans were using the terminology it was a dichotomy instead of a mere distinction.  I explain that in one of my blogs.

Then the Natural Law / Two Kingdoms issue (Radical Two Kingdom in some critics thoughts) started to rear its head up and it also had to do with the same root issue of Law / Grace.  Thus its root in my estimation goes back to the hermeneutic some Professors are using that is more Lutheran than Reformed concerning the Covenant of Grace and the Mosaic Covenant.

I started to discuss this issue with some of the other leadership on the Puritanboard as my views were becoming more focused and I realized I wasn’t a Reformed Baptist any longer.  I believed that the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant were the same in substance as they were administrations of the One Covenant of Grace.  I fully agreed with WCF chapter 7.  It wasn’t hard for me to change for a lot of reasons.  I was already a member of the RPCNA back in the mid to late 80’s and had returned back to that Congregation.  I had also been a member of a PCA Church Plant before I returned back to the RPCNA.  For some reason the light bulb just didn’t turn on for me until 2011.  I can’t explain it except I had been so indoctrinated as a Reformed Baptist that I couldn’t understand the terminology of my Reformed brothers.

So after much time waiting to openly confess my change (as I was counseled to do) I posed this question on the Puritanboard.  It was the beginning of my open confession as I was learning. Are Kline and Karlburg Not Confessional Concerning the Mosaic?

I also made this post on the Puritanboard Blog area to start helping others understand why I was becoming a Reformed Theologian instead of a Reformed Baptist.  I ended up starting my own personal blog and moved it there.

These are some of the reasons I started to pursue this issue and this is where it has lead me thus far.  I am not one who has had many changes in my theology since I became a Christian.  I actually was born a Calvinist and didn’t know it.  You can read about it here. I wasn’t even a classical Scoffield / Darby dispensationalist which was the eschatological view that many of my friends in the Navigators held to.  I was Premil for a short time but I shortly became an Amil with a Positive bent when I started learning about the differences.  I have had a lot of growth over the past 33 years but not a lot of Theological shifting as some people experience.

Well now you all might have some understanding about why I have pursued this.  I also want you to know that I have not pursued these issues apart from counsel and apart from being under authority.  I keep close to my Elders and listen to them and I listened to the Leadership of the Purianboard who has placed a lot of trust in me as a Moderator.  I have not acted as a Lone Ranger who has been out to correct and purify the Church because I am right and everyone else is wrong.  I am a man under authority.  I am a sinful man who needs the counsel of my Elders and Leadership and I have tried to be faithful in obeying them.  They have had to reel me in a few times in the past few years also.  They have helped me to keep it between the lines the best they can and I am most grateful for them and their work.  I truly believe Hebrews 13:7, 17.  There is blessing in submission.

Heb 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

Heb 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

In my estimation I found that the particular view of Republication that Popular Modern Reformed Teachers are holding to (Michael Horton, Bryan Estelle, David Van Drunen, R. Scott Clark, etc.) and their view of the Mosaic Covenant to be out of bounds.  It effects the doctrine of Christology (His Kingship and authority, Two Kingdom / Natural Law), Soteriology and how the Gospel is defined (ie. Justification is overemphasized and sanctification denied leading to a form of antinomianism possibly.), and the doctrine of Union with Christ has been debated due to this.

This teaching has a hermeneutic with fingers that reach into many different areas of theology.  So I have tried to understand it the best I can.  I am sure I still have much to learn.  So I will keep on trying.

Be Encouraged,

For the peace and Unity of the brothers.

Be Encouraged dear Elders and brothers in Christ,

Randy Martin Snyder

“Our object should not be to have scripture on our side but to be on the side of scripture; and however dear any sentiment may have become by being long entertained, so soon as it is seen to be contrary to the Bible, we must be prepared to abandon it without hesitation.”
William Symington

Trying to clarify my thoughts in light of G. Vos’ thoughts concerning the Mosaic Covenant


Just some thoughts I am untangling in relationship to a blog Nick Batzig wrote on the Feeding on Christ blog.

Geerhardus Vos on the Mosaic Covenant and the Covenant of Grace

Here is the Vos quote that puzzles me a bit because of how I have come to understand the passages referenced in the quote.

“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.” GV

For one thing Paul references the application of “be well with you in the land” and specifically brings this passage into the New Testament.

Eph 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
Eph 6:2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
Eph 6:3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. (in the land)

Concerning the Faith and Leviticus 18:5 passage, I believe Patrick Ramsey speaks well to that issue as I have referenced it many times before..

Paul’s Use of Lev. 18:5 in Rom. 10:5
Pastor Patrick Ramsey

The following is (I trust) a simple but not simplistic explanation of Paul’s use of Leviticus 18:5 in Romans 10:5.

In 9:30-10:5 Paul explained the reason the Jews did not attain righteousness even though they pursued it. They mistakenly pursued it by works (9:32). Hence, they stumbled over the stumbling stone (9:33). They sought to establish their own righteousness (10:3). Ignorant of the right way to righteousness, although they should have known better, they zealously pursued life on the basis of their own obedience to the law.

In Rom. 10:5 Paul describes this wrong way of pursuing life (righteousness) from the OT, namely Leviticus 18:5 (see also Neh. 9:29; Eze. 20:11, 13, 21): “For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them.” Now the fact that Paul appeals to Moses to describe the wrong way, or if you will, the Pharisaical way of pursuing righteousness, is somewhat perplexing. As a result, this verse, along with its counterpart in Gal. 3, is quite controversial among commentators and theologians.

Here is the difficulty from three different perspectives. First, in 9:32, Paul had said that the law itself did not teach that righteousness was based on works or obedience to the law. The Jews pursued the law as if it led to righteousness. The Jews, as the NT says elsewhere, misread the OT. And yet Paul seems to be saying in vs. 5 that the OT did in fact teach and exhort the people to pursue life/righteousness by keeping the law. How then can Paul (or the rest of the NT) condemn the Pharisees for seeking righteousness by works if that is what Moses told them to do?

Second, in vs. 8 Paul will quote Deut. 30 and later on he will cite Isaiah and Joel in direct contrast to Lev. 18:5 to describe the right way to find life and righteousness. So then it would seem that Paul pits Moses against Moses and the OT against the OT.

Third, the context of Lev. 18:5 doesn’t seem to support the way Paul uses it in Rom. 10:5. Moses exhorts Israel to keep God’s commandments in the context of redemption and covenant. Verses 1-3 highlight the point that Israel already belongs to God as his redeemed people. These verses are very similar to the prologue to the Ten Commandments, which teaches that salvation precedes obedience. God didn’t give Israel the law so that they might be saved. He saves them so that they might keep the law. In short, the context of Lev. 18:5 speaks against the idea that it teaches legalism or a work-based righteousness. Yet, that is how Paul is using this verse!

Now some have sought to solve this difficulty by saying that there is no actual contrast between verses 5 and 6. The “but” of vs. 6 should be translated “and.” The problem with this, however, is that it doesn’t fit the context of Paul’s argument. The apostle, beginning in 9:30 is contrasting two ways of seeking righteousness—works and faith—and this contrast clearly continues in vs. 5. This is confirmed by the fact that Paul speaks of works righteousness or righteousness based on law elsewhere (Gal. 3; Phil. 3:9) in a negative way.

So then how are we to understand what Paul is saying in vs. 5 (and in Gal. 3)? Well, Paul is citing Lev. 18:5 according to how it was understood by the Jews of his day; and no doubt how he understood it before his conversion. The Jews of Paul’s day saw obedience to the law (which included laws pertaining to the atonement of sins) as the source of life and as the basis of salvation. Keeping the law was the stairway to heaven. The way to have your sins forgiven and to be accepted by God was to observe the law. Lev. 18:5 provided biblical support for this Pharisaical position. And it is not hard to see why they would appeal to this verse since it says that the person who does the commandments shall live by them.

In Rom. 10:6ff Paul refutes this works-based righteousness position including the Jewish appeal to Lev. 18:5. Now he doesn’t do it in the way you or I might think of doing it. We might tend to respond to the Pharisee and say: “Look, you have completely misunderstood what Moses is saying in Lev. 18:5. The specific and general context of that verse indicates that your interpretation is incorrect…” Instead, Paul uses a technique that was quite common in his day. He counters their interpretation of Lev. 18:5 by citing another passage: Deut. 30:12-14. In other words, Paul is saying that Deut. 30 demonstrates that the Jewish understanding of Lev. 18:5 is incorrect. We of course sometimes use this type of argument today. For example, some people today appeal to James 2 to prove that we need to obey the law in order to be justified. One way to disprove that interpretation would be to cite Paul in Romans or Galatians. So Paul is not pitting Moses against Moses in vv. 5-6 or saying that Moses taught salvation by works. Rather the apostle is using one Mosaic passage to prove that the legalistic interpretation of another Mosaic passage is wrong.

Patrick Ramsey

Concerning the 2 Corinthians 3 passage I wrote this.

In light of the passage mentioned in 2 Corinthians 3, which calls the Old an administration of Death, one must also read the prior passages to understand in what context St. Paul is referring to the Mosaic Covenant.

(2Co 2:14) Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.
(2Co 2:15) For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:
(2Co 2:16) To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?
(2Co 2:17) For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

Christ and the Gospel were Preached in Moses and the Old Testament. In fact Jesus said as much as did the author of Hebrews.

(Luk 24:27) And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

(Joh 5:46) For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.
(Joh 5:47) But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

(Heb 4:2) For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
(Heb 4:3) For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

The Mosaic was an administration of death the same way the New Covenant is to those who seek to turn the New Covenant into a Covenant of Works. We are so inclined to stumble because we will not believe Moses or Christ. We naturally tend to corrupt the Word of God and the Covenant of Grace by wanting to add our works into our justification before God. In doing so we are refusing the Cornerstone and Saviour. We become like those that Paul is speaking about, “to one they [Paul and the Apostles] are a savour of death unto death.” And how is to be considered that Paul and the Church is a savour unto death? They are because the corrupters of the word of God do what St. Paul says he doesn’t do in the proceeding verse, “For we are not as those who corrupt the Word of God.” Those who corrupt the word are rejecting the Chief Cornerstone and depending upon their works or acts that contribute to their justification. The book of Galatians, Romans, and Hebrews have warnings and correctives for those who corrupt the word. But when they reject the truth they fall deeper into death. Even St. Paul acknowledged that the Law didn’t kill him. He was already dead and discovered it.  That is one of the purposes of the Law.  That purpose is to reveal sin and death.  .As Paul noted earlier in the letter to the Romans death came upon all men by sin and Adam.

Rom 7:13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
Rom 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

Note James Durham here on the Mosaic Covenant and how God intended the reception to be in light of how it was turned into something God didn’t intend.

“3. [We would] distinguish between God’s intention in giving and the believers in Israel, their making use of this law; and the carnal multitude among that people, their way of receiving it, and corrupt abusing it contrary to the Lord’s mind. In the first sense, it was a covenant of grace. In the second it turned to be a covenant of works to them. And therefore it is that the Lord rejects (as we may see, Isa. 1:13; 66:2-3; Jer. 7:22) their sacrifices and services as not commanded, because rested on by them, to the prejudice of grace, and contrary to the strain and scope of this law complexly considered.”
James Durham Practical Exposition of the Ten Commandments p. 55

Most of this has been taken from this blog I wrote in Sept of 2012.

As far as the Deuteronomy 27:26 passage I leave you with these examples. The man in 1 Cor 5 who was delivered to Satan and the removal of the Candlestick in Revelation 2.  There are various New Testament passages also that contain strong warnings such as in 1 Cor. 10, 11; Hebrews 2-4, 6, 10, 12; 2 Peter 2; Jude; and Revelation 2-3.

Vos can’t be right about everything. I do appreciate a lot what I have seen of Vos as others have written about him.  I loved Rich Barcellos’ book ‘The Family Tree of Reformed Biblical Theology‘ so much I read it two times in a row. I admit that I haven’t read much of Vos.  I will be getting his Biblical Theology book as it is now being published in hardcover by Banner of Truth.  Nick Batzig asked me if I had the Logos edition of Vos’ Reformed Dogmatics.  I can’t afford much of anything from Logos.  I am still using E-Sword.  It is more fitting to my wallet.  Nick told me through a message I need to read the fuller context.  He admonished me to read Vos on the Mosaic Covenant in his section on the Covenant of Grace.  

One thing that I wonder is why these guys who want to teach the new paradigm of Republication of the Covenant of Works in the Mosaic Covenant, why they don’t want to reference or deal with the Divines who spoke clearly on this subject and contended that the Mosaic Covenant was purely an Administration of the Covenant of Grace as is stated in the Westminster Confession of Faith and as is proven by a lot of the following site’s references. ( I believe Vos holds to the view of the majority of the old Divines but this section’s nuances seem a bit confusing to me.  It won’t be the last time something written is confusing to me.  I probably just don’t understand the nuances myself.  But I am trying.

Just my humble opinion.

I actually found this blog by Michael Lynch (PhD student with Richard Muller) to be encouraging in light of what is going on in today’s atmosphere

Vos, Republication, and the Mosaic Covenant.  by Michael Lynch

Here are three paragraphs from it.

The Orthodox Presbyterian Church, of which I am a member, just approved to form a study committee to investigate the role of the Mosaic covenant in the economy of the covenants.  The particular view at question is the republication of the covenant of works in the Mosaic covenant.  It should be noted that the Westminster confession of faith itself teaches (cf. WCFXIX, 1 and 2) material republication–i.e., that God republished the law, which God gave Adam under the covenant of life or works, in the Mosaic economy.   However, the question at hand is not whether the law was republished in the Mosaic economy (or under the new covenant!), but whether the Mosaic covenant, as a covenant, was established or given as a covenant of works (even if, under the broader context of the covenant of grace).  In light of this discussion, I want to revisit Geerhardus Vos and his discussion of the Mosaic economy as expressed in his Biblical Theology….

…This typology is crucial to understanding the role of the law in the Mosaic administration. Vos argues that from “the function of the theocracy” in its typological significance, “we may learn what was the function of the law.”[9] At the outset of his section on “the function of the law” inBiblical Theology, Vos states that it is of “utmost importance” to distinguish between the law’s original function and the subsequent interpretations of the function of the law in later periods.[10] So, one must not impute the “pharisaical philosophy” found for instance in Paul’s opponents. This interpretation of the law asserted “that the law was intended, on the principle of merit, to enable Israel to earn the blessedness of the world to come.”[11] Vos recognizes that Paul, and even the Pentateuch itself, sometimes appear to be teaching such a “pharisaical philosophy.”[12] However, in fact they do not, for “the law was given after the redemption of Israel from Egypt had been accomplished, and the people had already entered upon the enjoyment of many of the blessings of the berith.”[13]

In summary, Vos’s understanding of the Mosaic covenant is in line with confessional Reformed theology when he argues that the Mosaic administration and the law in particular, is grounded in the covenant of grace. The Mosaic economy is not a republication of the covenant of works where Israel merited the blessings or merited the continuation of the blessings. Rather, Israel typifying the NT church and the promised land typifying the New Heavens-New Earth, demanded an “appropriateness of expression” that Israel should “trust and obey” and meet the condition of the covenant of grace. As soon as the nation as whole apostatized, Israel was sent into exile. Although the Mosaic covenant (and thus the covenant of grace) was broken by Israel, God did not break his ratified promise to be a God to his people. Because the Mosaic covenant, like all OT covenants, was grounded upon God’s immutable ratification, God could not forget his covenant. For Vos, this is why the Mosaic covenant, though broken by Israel, is not the end of redemptive history. The old covenant, the Mosaic administration, awaited the full-flowering of God’s dealing with his people, which finds its telos in the new covenant.

The Charge of Lutheranism is not about distinction, it is about dichotomy


May 19, 2014
When I was a seminary student (1984-87) I only occasionally heard about a “law/gospel” distinction and then it as never explained to me. I learned about the substance of the distinction 10 years later doing my doctoral work. No one ever explained how it related to preaching until 1998. I had been preaching for a decade by the time I had any clear idea how important it was for preaching. I didn’t want to be a moralist in the pulpit but I was. I knew I was doing something wrong in my preaching but I couldn’t figure out what it was. I don’t think I was alone. When I first started writing about the distinction several years later I was roundly attacked as a “Lutheran.” A decade or more later it still happens. I still regularly read that the law/gospel distinction is “Lutheran.”

The law/gospel distinction is, it is argued, Lutheran.


The author of the above comment either doesn’t fully appreciate what he has been told by some people or he just doesn’t understand the situation still after many have tried to explain it to him.  He keeps addressing this Law / Gospel issue but seems to refuse to deal with certain specifics when they are shown to him.

He is the commander of his ship (blog).  So when he addresses a topic he is in control of the material and terminology he chooses to expose others to.  For some reason, when others have tried to explain to him that it isn’t the distinctions that we are troubled by but the issue of dichotomizing Law and Gospel it seems to fall upon deaf ears.  He seems to keep hearing an incorrect charge.  Some are probably making other charges that he would rather answer. therefore he can deflect away from this one about distinction.  He claims that it is about distinctions but that is too broad of an accusation.  It seems he obfuscates the issue by constantly making reference that others are calling him Lutheran because he makes a Law / Gospel distinction.  Dear Dr. Clark,  It isn’t about the distinctions, it is that you seem to be dichotomizing Law and Gospel as the Lutherans do.  That is what we are having a problem with.  It isn’t about how they are distinct.  We acknowledge that they are distinct subjects.  We don’t believe the Law is set in the Form of a Covenant of Works in many situations where you see it is.  We do not see that Law and Gospel necessarily oppose each other.  The Law and Gospel sweetly comply.

How they are distinct does matter in a narrow sense and in a broader sense.  In the narrow sense the Works of the Law are opposed to the Gospel as all die in Adam.  In the broader sense the distinction of Law is yet different and not necessarily opposed to the Gospel.  This is Reformed Thought as I understand the Confession and hear our heritage speak.  In Lutheranism Law and Gospel are generally opposed because the Law is almost always equated with being in the Form of a Covenant of Works.  And that is where the problem lies.  The Moral Law is usually set in a context of a Covenant of Works in some sense which puts the Law in Opposition to the Gospel in all of those situations.  That is why the charge of Lutheranism is leveled at some men who dichotomize Law and Gospel in both the narrow and broader sense.

We are not necessarily speaking about distinctions when we accuse anyone of Lutheranism.  We are speaking about how men dichotomize Law and Gospel.  It almost seems as if the author of the comment above is hiding some historical facts.  It is as if he hasn’t been shown or confronted with some of the writings of the Divines of the Westminster Assembly.   Here is the great Westminster Divine Anthony Burgess addressing the subject back in the 17th Century.

“We have confuted (proven to be incorrect) the false differences, and now come to lay down the truth, between the law and the Gospel taken in a larger sense.  

And, first, you must know that the difference is not essential, or substantial, but accidental: so that the division of the Testament, or Covenant into the Old, and New, is not a division of the Genus (classification) into its opposite Species; but of the subject, according to its several accidental administrations, both on Gods part, and on mans.It is true, the Lutheran Divines, they do expressly oppose the Calvinists herein, maintaining the Covenant given by Moses, to be a Covenant of Works, and so directly contrary to the Covenant of Grace. Indeed, they acknowledge that the Fathers were justified by Christ, and had the same way of salvation with us; only they make that Covenant of Moses to be a superadded thing to the Promise, holding forth a condition of perfect righteousness unto the Jews, that they might be convinced of their own folly in their self-righteousness.” (Vindication of the Morall Law,  Lecture 26  p.251)

The differences were recognized back then.  Sure there are some added nuances in the way things have been laid out in today’s theological atmosphere but the Lutheran charge is not about distinctions as much as how the Lutheran hermeneutic makes Law and Gospel so opposed to each other in a large part of theological context.

Statements have been made in the past that the Law only commands and the Gospel only says believe.  In a narrow context that is somewhat true.  But when it is applied to the broader context we start having problems.  We also have problems just because we know the Gospel does command and promise is applied to the command.  When statements are made like this, “The Gospel never tells us what to do.” or “The Gospel never Commands, that is what the Law does.” we start to have problems.  This is the dichotomizing I am speaking about.  The hermeneutic that Gospel and Law are opposed to each other in almost all situations is a misnomer and one that is being propagated on a regular basis today by men in the Reformed Camp.  They are equating the Law with the Covenant of Works in all things.  It is troubling and dangerous in my estimation.  When people lay the charge of Lutheranism at the feet of these Seminary Professors and people like them, this is what they are speaking about.  These guys want to equate the Moral Law with the Covenant of Works.  That is a Lutheran Hermeneutic.

Let me expound on why I think that hermeneutic is a bit out of kilter by referring to Robert Shaw in his commentary on the Law of God in Chapter 19 of the Westminster Confession of Faith.

The law, as thus inscribed on the heart of the first man, is often styled the law of creation, because it was the will of the sovereign Creator, revealed to the reasonable creature, by impressing it upon his mind and heart at his creation. It is also called the moral law, because it was a revelation of the will of God, as his moral governor, and was the standard and rule of man’s moral actions. Adam was originally placed under this law in its natural form, as merely directing and obliging him to perfect obedience. He was brought under it in a covenant form, when an express threatening of death, and a gracious promise of life, was annexed to it; and then a positive precept was added, enjoining him not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, as the test of his obedience to the whole law.–Gen. ii. 16, 17.

Adam was created with the Law written upon his heart in its Natural Form before he was placed in the Garden of Eden under it in the form of a Covenant of Works.  He was brought under the Law in Covenant Form when death and life promises were annexed (attached) to it based upon his compliance to the stipulations of that Covenant Form.  He lived in creation and under the law in its natural form first.  After Adam sinned that Law which was given to him also in Covenant Form was anulled according to Robert Shaw because Adam failed in complying with the stipulations of perfect adherence to that Covenant Form.

Upon the fall of man, the law, considered as a covenant of works, was annulled and set aside

Now after the fall the Law that was written upon Adam’s heart in it’s Natural Form still directed and obliged him to obey it perfectly as it first did in its Natural Form.  It was no longer a Covenant of Works that had the promise of life attached to it.  I can only think by the phrase “annulled and set aside” that Shaw was emphasizing that the Covenant of Works was broken and that possibility for fulfillment by Adam’s children was removed.  All died in Adam.  The Law after the Fall was only considered the Moral Law (as in its Natural Form) as Robert Shaw signifies and as our Confession states.

but, considered as moral, it continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness. That fair copy of the law which had been inscribed on the heart of the first man in his creation, was, by the fall, greatly defaced, although not totally obliterated.

Now let me reiterate that the charge of Lutheranism isn’t necessarily about distinctions as much as it is about the dichotomizing of Law and Grace.  Justification and Sanctification are distinct doctrines found in the Gospel.  They are definitely to be considered in our Union with Christ.  They are as Calvin referred to them a two-fold grace.  They are distinct.  But they do not oppose each other nor are they to  be considered issues cut off from one another.  As Calvin stated repeatedly, justification and sanctification are benefits that are to be distinguished but never separated (distinctio sed non separatio) any more than Christ himself can be separated 1 Cor 1:30.  The Law as Christ’s law is never separated from the Gospel.  The Gospel actually restores it in our lives.  The trajectory that the Law is equated with the Covenant of Works and opposes the Gospel in a broad sense is just poor Lutheran Hermeneutics.  In its Natural Form the Law still obliges perfect obedience but it is not annexed to the promises of life and death any longer as a Covenant of Works.  Not even in some sense.  If that were true then we could even make the Lord’s table a Covenant of Works.  It isn’t about distinction.  It is about dichotomy.  So the charge of Lutheranism just might be true.  Aye?

I think Bavinck is a great place to learn from.

Other related posts.

Tullian: Exit Stage Left Dazed and Confused


Dazed and Confused?  Okay, maybe not dazed, but Confused?

“I had informed The Gospel Coalition of my plan to make this transition in August when the new Liberate site is launched, but was informed on Thursday that certain members of The Gospel Coalition wanted the transition to happen ASAP. I was disappointed and a bit confused. We would’ve loved to have had more time to get things ready on our end and I have always been open to having any conversations with any of the staff at The Gospel Coalition who had any questions whatsoever about the content I was posting. I would’ve been happy to answer any questions they may have had and provide robust clarification if needed. None of the powers that be, however, ever mentioned anything to me (either by email or phone) before Thursday when I was simply told that the transition needed to happen now.” TT


Dazed and Confused?  Okay, maybe not dazed, but Confused? For the past few years Tullian has been challenged and asked to clarify himself.  He and Rick Phillips started to communicate a bit at one time.  Now I can’t speak to the issue of who communicated (or who should have communicated) with Pastor Tullian Tchividjian at all.  But evidently he understood there were some concerns as he states, “I know I have had some differences with some of the other contributors to this site but my goal has always been to do nothing but preach the Good News with every post, to bring relief to the burdened and broken, and rest to the weary and heavy laden by fixing the readers’ eyes on the finished work of Jesus.”  I am grateful that Pastor Tchividjian desires to focus on the finished work of Jesus.  I am grateful he desires to bring relief to the burdened and broken by fixing their eyes upon Jesus.  But part of the problem is that he is only giving half a message.  Once our eyes are focused on Christ we need to hear what the Spirit says to the Church.  After we see him we need to hear Him.

At the end of his short fairwell address to the readers of his blog at the Gospel Coalition Tullian takes the high road of Luther in declaration form, “Here I Stand.”  The famous quote was delivered by Luther as an act of confessing and doing.  It was an act of desiring to obey God rather than man.  His comment was followed up by another short phrase.  “Here I Stand.  I can do no other.”  Tullian could have done something more.  He was not placed in a situation as Luther was.  He could have given full weight to his brothers who were imploring him to hear all of the scripture speak instead of his truncated view of the Gospel.  Yes, the Work of Christ is Finished.  But there is still a work for us to do.  The Gospel message is more than just a proclamation of our justification (our being declared righteous) before God.  The Gospel of our Salvation also includes our freedom to obey (Sanctification) in light of our future hope of deliverance (Glorification).

I find it ironical that his new ministry is called Liberate.  The part of the message that others are trying to get Pastor Tchividjian to also focus on is found in Jesus words and the Words of St. Paul.  Freedom from bondage to sin and Freedom to Obey.

Joh 8:34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
Joh 8:35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
Joh 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
Rom 6:2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Rom 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Rom 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Rom 6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
Rom 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
Rom 6:7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
Rom 6:8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
Rom 6:9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
Rom 6:10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
Rom 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Rom 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
Rom 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
Rom 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
Rom 6:15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
Rom 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
Rom 6:17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
Rom 6:18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
Rom 6:19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
Rom 6:20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
Rom 6:21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
Rom 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Now I am pretty sure that Pastor Tchividjian understands this point also.  Unfortunately he has skewed things by turning every text of scripture that he can into a message of Justification by Faith Alone.  And that is a wonderful message and a message that some declare is the article upon which the Church stands or falls.  But there is much more than that in the account when we consider the doctrine of Salvation.  I will just leave you all with this thought.  Salvation is more than justification.  It is about reconciliation.  It is about Eternal Life.  It is about knowing and being known by God.  It is about relationship and freedom found in that relationship.

Hurry up and save the work.  The program has a flaw.  It is shutting down at its present location.  I will pray and have prayed for this system flaw.  May Pastor Tullian be given eyes to see and ears to hear so that Christ may be exalted and glorified.  Blessings upon Him.  I pray I see things more clearly also as I am prone to only see a partial message.

I would encourage everyone to watch the video in this blog post.


The Modern Day Grace Movement / A Hermeneutical Problem

I was reading through one of the threads on the the other day and noticed something that I must have missed last year. I knew there was a Pre-Assembly Theological Conference before the PCA General Assembly last year on Grace but I didn’t realize that the sessions were posted for us to listen to. One of the sessions that peaked my interest was a critique of the Modern Grace Movement. So I downloaded it and listened to it a few times. I have to admit that I was quite taken back by the content and theological expose’ that was given. Now the session critiquing the Modern Grace Movement doesn’t mention any names nor does it openly go after anyone specifically. At the same time I found it quite unavoidable to see certain teachers and teachings being address. It is very relevant to the topics being discussed today. I would wholeheartedly encourage everyone who has any interest in the discussions going on in today’s climate concerning Sanctification to give this Session a solid listening to.

The Gospel Reformation Network

Original page to Conference videos. 2013 Sessions

Sermon Audio page with audio and video links
Critique of the Contemporary Grace Movement |


Video – Media Player


Tullian Tchividjian and Mark Jones’ Reformation 21 blog post


Click here to view Dr. Mark Jones’ Reformation 21 blog post, ‘Tullian’s Trench’

Pastor Tullian Tchividjian of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church has been removed from the list of contributors on the Gospel Coalition’s blog. I believe his older posts will remain. Maybe Dr. Mark Jones’ challenges concerning sanctification (a Christian’s growth in personal holiness) along with other prominent men such as Richard Phillips, David Murra
y, Daniel Hyde, and Kevin DeYoung have had some influence on the situation. I don’t know if the decision to remove Tullian Tchividjian from being a contributor was made by Pastor Tchividjian himself or the Council Members over at The Gospel Coalition. Either way, I have a hope that the Church is finally getting the point that this issue is important and that it is just as important as Dr. Jones declared it is in his recent Reformation 21 blog post

“In aiming to protect the doctrine of justification, Tchividjian does more harm than good to this precious doctrine. We cannot be light-hearted about this doctrine; it is worth dying for. Even so, we can’t read justification into passages that are clearly talking about sanctification, as Tchividjian is prone to do in many places. When this type of theologizing is done by preachers on a consistent basis, their preaching becomes burdensome, and preaching (and God’s commandments) should not be burdensome. Ironically, by doing this (i.e., reading justification into sanctification), Tchividjian has made, to use his words, a “category” mistake.”

I personally appreciated Mark’s challenge here.

“But perhaps TGC will have the theological fortitude to remove Tchividjian’s blog. And will others say something? Oh that Tullian would be rebuked, not defended, by those wishing to recover the Reformed confession.” MJ

Maybe it is time for some cold reality to be splashed on the face of those who claim to be Confessionally Reformed and or Presbyterian. That reality can be stated like this, Just because you attach the name Reformed to something doesn’t necessarily mean it is good Reformed Theology. Good godly men have been lovingly raising awareness over aberrations concerning the teaching of sanctification and good works for the past few years. What some guys are pawning off as Reformed Theology doesn’t appear to be sound Reformed Theology at all. And that appears to include the teaching of sanctification and good works in its various formulations as noted by Mark Jones in his Reformation 21 blog post.

Additional Follow ups…

Follow up blog post 5/20/14 ….

TGC explanation 5/21/14

We want to give readers help in understanding some of the changes that have gone on at The Gospel Coalition of late. One minister, Tullian Tchividjian, was asked to move his blog off our website. Two other members of the Council, Joshua Harris and C. J. Mahaney, resigned from the Council (Tullian was not a member of the Council). Each move had significantly different reasons behind it.

In Tullian’s case, it was obvious to observers that for some time there has been an increasingly strident debate going on around the issue of sanctification. The differences were doctrinal and probably even more matters of pastoral practice and wisdom. Recently it became clear that the dispute was becoming increasingly sharp and divisive rather than moving toward greater unity. Earlier in the year our executive director spent two days with Tullian in Florida. Coming out of that meeting, it was decided that Tullian would move his blog. Finally the Council at its meeting last week decided that Tullian should move his blog immediately, and we communicated this conclusion to Tullian.

I honestly believe the Westminster Confession of Faith contains one of the best summaries and sound proclamations concerning sanctification and good works. So I will just leave you with its teaching as my final thoughts here.


Of Sanctification.

I. They who are 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.

II. This sanctification is throughout in the whole man, yet imperfect in this life: there abideth still some remnants of corruption in every part, whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.

III. In which war, although the remaining corruption for a time may much prevail, yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome: and so the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.


Of Good Works.

I. Good works are only such as God hath commanded in his holy Word, and not such as, without the warrant thereof, are devised by men out of blind zeal, or upon any pretense of good intention.

II. 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.

III. Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ. And that they may be enabled thereunto, besides the graces they have already received, there is required an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit to work in them to will and to do of his good pleasure; yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless upon a special motion of the Spirit; but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.

IV. They, who in their obedience, attain to the greatest height which is possible in this life, are so far from being able to supererogate and to do more than God requires, that they fall short of much which in duty they are bound to do.

V. We can not, by our best works, merit pardon of sin, or eternal life, at the hand of God, because of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come, and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom by them we can neither profit, nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins; but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants: and because, as they are good, they proceed from his Spirit; and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection that they can not endure the severity of God’s judgment.

VI. Yet notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him, not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreprovable in God’s sight; but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.

VII. Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands, and of good use both to themselves and others; yet, because they proceed not from a heart purified by faith; nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word; nor to a right end, the glory of God; they are therefore sinful and can not please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God. And yet their neglect of them is more sinful, and displeasing unto God.