Creation, Condescension, and Redefinition of Covenant Merit

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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

Follow up post after this one.
https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/creation-and-covenant-recast-and-collapsed-together/

“Further problems arise once this basic departure is discerned. One begins to see a metaphysical reworking of the categories of grace and justice in relation to the “covenant of nature.” Instead of a providential dispensation (see Shorter Catechism question 12), the covenant of works is turned into a creational entity which characterizes the natural relationship between God and man. Human morality is, in its very essence, made a covenant of works. Grace is only operative where sin abounds.”  Rev. Winzer

 

The Marrow of Modern Divinity and the Recent Republication Issue.

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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?”

http://www.puritanboard.com/f31/marrow-modern-divinity-republication-83911/

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.
http://clark.wscal.edu/covtheses.php
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

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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.

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/the-charge-of-lutheranism-is-not-about-distinction-it-is-about-dichotomy/

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/lutheran-reformed-differences-back-during-the-time-of-the-westminster-divines/

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?

http://www.puritanboard.com/f30/kline-karlburg-not-confessional-concerning-mosaic-69258/#post887978

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

The Covenant of Grace, The Sinaitic and the New

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The Covenant of Grace, The Sinaitic and the New
Drs. J van Gunderen and W. H. Velema
Concise Reformed Dogmatics pp. 548-550 P&R 2008

3. The Sinaitic Covenant.  We can say with Bavinck that the covenant with the fathers is the foundation and core of the Sinaitic covenant (R. D., 3.220).  God’s faithfulness toward the patriarchs is mentioned as the motive (Deut. 7:8).  There is continuity so that also the covenant with Israel bears the character of a covenant of Grace.  This is sufficiently clear from the words of Exodus 20:2, although in the phase of the history of the covenant there is a great emphasis on the observance of God’s commandments.

Sometimes the distinction between the covenant with Abraham and that with Israel at Sinai is almost turned into a contrast.  Thus it is said that although the latter is indeed not a covenant of works, it is presented in a form that is strongly reminiscent of a covenant of works (Aalders, 1939. 179).  We can object that the emphasis on what God demands from his people does not take us into the sphere of a covenant of works.  In Deuteronomy the central idea is that the people will keep the covenant.  Blessing and curse depend on this (Deut. 27-30), but it is the obligation to respond to God’s love that carries the covenant (see Deut. 6:4-5; 7:6-8; 30:19-20).  The Law is the torah, which plays a role within the covenant.  It provides the instruction that is required to make the people walk in the way of the covenant.  Just as Abraham is called to walk before God’s face when the Lord allies himself with him (Gen17.1), so the law that is given to Israel serves the covenant as a further explanation of the statement, “Walk before me and be thou perfect” (cf. Bavinck, R. D. 3.222).

4. In connection with the prophesies concern a new covenant or an eternal covenant, which God is about to establish with his people (Jer. 31:31-34; 32:37-41; Ezek. 37:24-28), the question arises whether this is a covenant other than the covenant made with Israel or whether we must think in terms of a renewal of the covenant.

Some theologians contrast the Sinaitic covenant with the new covenant.  The bond with the people of God in the covenant of Sinai is purely external and national, in the new covenant it is purely internal and spiritual.   Today we deal with the new covenant.  The members of the covenant are members of the invisible church , the living members of Christ (Aalders, 1939, 158f.).  An important conclusion is that covenant and election are quantitatively identical.  The number of covenant members is identical to the number of the elect.  Incidentally, the covenant appears to include illegitimate members, to whom also God has said that he establishes his covenant with them to be their God, but who refuse to acknowledge him as their God.  This can be interpreted as a breach of the covenant on their part (Aalders, 1939, 193,222).

According to Reiling, the prophecy of the new covenant implies that the old covenant no longer exists.  It has been breached by the people and there is nothing left to be restored or renewed.  The old covenant and the new covenant constitute the same covenant only to the extent that God remains himself.  As far as the covenant people are concerned, however, we must speak of two fundamentally different covenants. (J. Reiling, Verbond, oud en nieuto, 1976.111)

While Aalders, Reiling, and others emphasisze the discontinuity of the covenant with Israel and the new covenant, others point to continuity.  The distinction is not that the old covenant is only external and the new covenant internal.  This would constitute an essential difference.  It is disputed by L. H. Vander Meiden (1955.35).  The difference lies entirely in the area of the history of redemption (Wiskerke, 1955.174).

Regarding the relationship between the old (Sinaitic) covenant and the new covenant (Jer.31), we must keep in mind both the similarities and the distinctions between them.

  1. It is in essence one covenant of God with his people.  When the covenant first established with Abraham was subsequently ratified with Israel at Sinai, it retained the character of a covenant of grace.  Jeremiah 31 implies in a surprisingly new manner that God commits himself to extend his grace and faithfulness toward people who do not at all deserve it (cf. in this regard Jer. 31:32).  He renews his covenant with his people.
  2. The new covenant is none other than the old covenant.  The Law that is to be written in the hearts is the same law that was given earlier.  The all-encompassing promise (Jer. 31:33), “I…will be their God and they shall be my people,” is the same promise of Moses’ time (“I … will be your God, and ye shall be my people,” Lev. 26:12).  One may not infer from Jeremiah 31:33-34 that in earlier days the law was not yet written in the hearts or that there was then no forgiveness of sin and knowledge of the Lord.  This “internalization” (See F. Malaresta, Interiority and Covenant, 1978, 68-77) was already promised in the books of Moses (Deut. 30:6).  The Law was indeed written in the hearts of the godly, and the saints of God stood in the right relationship to him.
  3. The manner in which God deals with his people has not changed in the new covenant.  He grants promises such as those expressed in Jeremiah 31:31-34 not just to those who have been chosen to eternal life.  Just as those in Genesis 17 and Exodus 19, they are promises that require a believing response.
  4. There is nevertheless a clear progression in the history of the covenant, which is at the same time redemptive history.  “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant” (Jer. 31:31).  More blessings can be expected in the future.  In essence, what was granted under the old covenant is given to a fuller and richer extent under the new covenant.  Thus there is indeed a difference in degree (cf. Vander Meiden, 1955, 41).
  5. As far as the fulfillment of this prophecy is concerned, some place it after the exile, because the context refers to people returning (Jer. 31:23-25) and because they would then naturally be preoccupied with the law (cf. Neh. 9.38-10.31).  In our view the prophesies concerning the new covenant refer more to a new, enduring dispensation the covenant.  This new dispensation came when Christ completed his work as Mediator and when his Spirit was poured out (see Heb. 8:6-13; 2 Cor. 3:6).  Believers from among the Jewish people and from the nations of the world are proof that God fulfils his promise (cf. Rom. 9:24-26; 2 Cor. 6:16-18).  Thus the church of Christ represents the people of the new covenant. 

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

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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

http://feedingonchrist.com/geerhardus-vos-mosaic-covenant-covenant-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..
http://patrickspensees.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/pauls-use-of-lev-185-in-rom-105/

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. https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/taken-frompract/

“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.
https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/the-mosaic-covenant-same-in-substance-as-the-new/

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. (https://sites.google.com/site/themosaiccovenant/). 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.

Kline’s Reactionary Theology

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Kline’s Reactionary Theology

 

This is a portion taken from a paper written by three OPC Ministers who were taught at Westminster Seminary California.  This portion explains reasons why they believe Professor Meredith Kline adopted some of the doctrines he did concerning a Republication not only of the Law but of a Covenant of Works in the Mosaic Covenant.  In this portion they explain as does the book ‘The Law is Not of Faith’ (a book written by multiple authors) in Kline’s thought that Israel is to be considered a Corporate Type of Adam.  Is this the historical Reformed position?  It is something we need to figure out and decide.  Does this teaching protect the doctrine of Sola Fide as some desire?  You can decide for yourself.

The original booklet can be purchased from a link posted here.

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/moses-and-merit/

Kline’s Reactionary Theology

pp. 19-24
As noted above, Kline and the authors of TLNF are correct to point to dangerous imbalances in the theology of Norman Shepherd and FV. But is it possible that even as Shepherd and FV represented a pendulum swing away from the WCF in one direction, Kline’s reaction to it might constitute a swing in another? We may identify three components of Kline’s teaching and writings intended to counteract the teaching of Shepherd and FV. In our view, these components also swing wide of the plumb line of the Westminster Standards.

1. Disagreement with Voluntary Condescension

In light of these controversies, Kline spoke of redefining the concept of grace to preserve the meritorious character of the covenant of works. Instead of the traditional Augustinian definition of grace as “unmerited favor,” Kline proposed viewing grace more strictly as “demerited favor” (i. e., favor granted after man’s fall in spite of demerit). He also questioned the Westminster Confession of Faith 7:1, which speaks of God’s voluntary condescension to make a covenant with Adam. (He told faculty members, including Robert Strimple in a private conversation, that he took a personal exception to that particular wording of WCF 7:1 [See Strimple, “WCF,” p. 8].) Since Murray and Shepherd spoke of gracious elements in God’s relationship with man before the fall, Kline did not want to use vocabulary like God’s goodnesskindness, or even condescension in entering into the covenant of works with Adam. Kline finally settled on speaking about God’s benevolence, but not in the context of the doctrine of God’s voluntary condescension (as outlined in WCF 7:1). Instead of referring to the necessity of God’s condescension in establishing the covenant with its reward of eternal life, he sees the bestowal of the reward of the covenant as “an aspect of God’s creational love.” He sought to guard the attainment of the reward as “a matter of works” in distinction from grace (Kingdom Prologue [2000], p. 112). As we will explore later in Part 2, this is the result of the conflation of creation and covenant in Kline’s system, which leads to the squeezing out of God’s voluntary condescension, and a recasting of the covenantal formulation of the Westminster Standards.

2. Israel as a Corporate Typological Adam with a Merit-Based Probation

As Kline reacted to Shepherd’s theology, he sought to demonstrate that the works principle was foundational to all of the divine covenants, and therefore, shut the door once and for all “to the sweeping denial of the operation of the works principle anywhere in the divine government” (Kingdom Prologue [2000], p. 108). One of the ways to do this is by comparing the two Adams, which is typical and necessary in Reformed covenant theology. If Christ’s mission is to prevail where the first Adam failed, then “Adam, like Christ, must have been placed under a covenant of works” (Kingdom Prologue [2000], p. 110)In the standard Reformed view of Romans 5, we understand that Paul draws a comparison between the obedience of the two Adams as the respective covenant heads of the covenant of works and covenant of grace: “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men” (Rom. 5:18).

But Kline does not stop with the comparison between the two Adams. He goes on to make Israel something of another “Adam figure” that he believes will fortify the two- Adam doctrine.

Likewise, the identification of God’s old covenant with Israel as one of works points to the works nature of the creational covenant. Here we can only state a conclusion that the study of biblical evidence would substantiate, but the significant point is that the old covenant with Israel, though it was something more, was also a re-enactment (with necessary adjustments) of mankind’s probation – and fall. It was as the true Israel, born under the law, that Christ was the second Adam. This means that the covenant with the first Adam, like the typological Israelite re-enactment of it, would have been a covenant of law in the sense of works, the antithesis of the grace-promise-faith principle (Kingdom Prologue [2000], p. 110).

Professor Kline taught that because the covenant with Israel provides the context for a historical re-enactment of the probation of the first Adam, it also republishes the covenant of works. The works principle in the Mosaic covenant would therefore provide additional evidence against Shepherd that Adam was in a covenant governed by the works principleIn other words, if it can be shown that Old Testament Israel was under a national works principle, then it is impossible to deny that Adam was under a works principle. The Mosaic covenant is designed to show that corporate Israel’s relationship to God is a re- enactment of Adam’s probation and fall. This retrospective reasoning going from Israel’s situation back to Adam’s would demonstrate that “there can be no a priori objection to the standard view of the original Edenic order as a covenant of works” (Kingdom Prologue [2000], p. 110). This also means, however, that the Mosaic covenant’s essential nature can no longer be characterized as a covenant of grace in Kline’s formulation (contrary to WCF 7:3). Instead, it corresponds to the nature of the Adamic covenant. In Kline’s words again, both the Adamic as well as the old covenant with Israel “would have been a covenant of law in the sense of works, the antithesis of the grace-promise-faith principle” (Kingdom Prologue [2000], p. 110)Thus, Kline taught that Israel was placed under a situation analogous to that of Adam, in which they were required to “maintain the necessary meritorious obedience” (Kingdom Prologue [2000], p. 109).

3. Israel’s Meritorious Works as Typological of Christ’s Obedience

Since Kline was seeking to show the importance of the republication view, in contrast to Shepherd’s covenant formulation, he continued to draw a line of continuity from the obedience of Adam through Israel, to Christ. In this way, Israel’s probation was not only a “re-enactment” of Adam’s, but also served as a type of the obedience of Christ. In Kline’s system, the works principle operating in Israel under Moses thus illustrates and anticipates the necessity of the imputation of Christ’s meritorious active obedience. For Kline, the works arrangement under which Christ is placed as Mediator only makes sense in connection with Israel’s works arrangement. This point is affirmed and explained in the following way.

It was therefore expedient, if not necessary, that Christ appear within a covenant order which, like the covenant with the first Adam, was governed by the works principle (cf. Gal. 4:4). The typal kingdom of the old covenant was precisely that. Within the limitations of the fallen world and with modifications peculiar to the redemptive process, the old theocratic kingdom was a reproduction of the original covenantal order. Israel as the theocratic nation was mankind stationed once again in a paradise-sanctuary, under probation in a covenant of works. In the context of that situation, the Incarnation event was legible; apart from it the meaning of the appearing and ministry of the Son of Man would hardly have been perspicuous (Kingdom Prologue [2000], p. 352).

… Thus, in addition to calling attention to the probationary aspect of Jesus’ mission, the works principle that governed the Israelite kingdom acted as a schoolmaster for Israel, convicting of sin and total inability to satisfy the Lord’s righteous demands and thereby driving the sinner to the grace of God offered in the underlying gospel promises of the Abrahamic Covenant (Kingdom Prologue [2000], p. 353).

In this way, by looking forward to Christ and backwards to Adam, Kline underscored the continuity of the works principle in redemptive history. It runs not only from Adam to Christ, but also through corporate Israel in between. We may thus modify the familiar slogan about federal headship in this way: “Where Adam and Israel failed, Christ prevailed.” In effect, there are now three Adams in redemptive history, with Israel’s meritorious works arrangement now functioning along with the first Adam’s, as precursors to the meritorious work of Christ. Kline thus taught that the works principle in Israel served to show the need for the active obedience of Christ to merit the reward of life. Whereas Israel once sought to merit its retention of the typological reward— temporal life in the land—now Christ has come to merit eschatological life.

In sum, this distinctive element of Kline’s Republication Paradigm is thus viewed as undergirding the doctrine of justification against the teaching of Shepherd and Federal Vision. It does this by showing that Israel serves as a type of Christ, as she both re-enacts Adam’s history and pre-enacts the merit-paradigm under which Christ is placed. Kline seeks to show unequivocally that the need for the imputation of the active obedience of Christ is anticipated in the Mosaic covenant in the “typological” and “pedagogical” works principle in the life of the nation of Israel (see following diagram).

Adam Israel Christ
Obedience Typological Obedience Active Obedience

According to Kline’s republication teaching, the failure to view the Mosaic covenant as a merit-based probation has serious consequences. For Kline, the works principle in Israel becomes a key plank for the doctrines of the covenant of works and Christ’s active obedience. Since Kline integrally links the Adamic and Mosaic covenants by way of a meritorious works principle, a modification of the latter would (in his system) lead to a necessary modification of the former. Kline is thus seeking to guard against Shepherd’s formulation of a gracious covenant with Adam. This explains (in part) the zeal with which Kline and other proponents have promulgated and defended the doctrine of republication. It is just as TLNF put it: “In short, the doctrine of republication is integrally connected to the doctrine of justification” (TLNF, p. 19).

Kline Is the Source of the Republication View in TLNF

In spite of the book’s claims to the contrary, we believe (with several reviewers of TLNF) that the Republication Paradigm was not the predominant view in the history of Reformed covenant theology. There are certainly those in the Reformed tradition who speak of the Mosaic covenant as reflecting aspects of the original covenant of works with Adam. But even these are quite different from the view proposed by Kline, which isolates the works element to the temporal arena and describes Israel’s obedience (and other Old Testament figures) as possessing a “meritorious” character. We also believe it is unfair that John Murray has been made the scapegoat who shoulders the blame for the errors of Norman Shepherd, as well as for any resistance with which the republication view is met. Although we acknowledge that certain points of similarity between the covenant of works and the Mosaic covenant can be found in previous writers, none of them argue a works-merit formula for Israel as a “corporate Adam”, as Kline and his disciples propose. Instead, in our view, the evidence shows that Meredith Kline is the architect of the contemporary Republication Paradigm described above. Kline was responding to a modern theological debate and discussion about the covenants, and his views are now being advocated by the authors of TLNF and other adherents of the republication doctrine. The present writers agree with the point Cornel Venema makes in his review.

First, the stimulus and source for this understanding of the typology of the Mosaic covenant is undoubtedly the biblical-theological formulations of Meredith Kline. In the writings of Reformed theologians in what I have termed the “formative” period of the formulation of covenant theology, the language of a “works principle” in the Mosaic economy is not found. However, this language is frequently employed by Meredith Kline in his biblical theology of the covenants of works and of grace, and it is evident that Kline’s formulations lie behind those of several of the authors of The Law is Not of Faith. The idea that the covenant of works was republished “in some sense” is a significant part of Kline’s understanding of the distinctive nature of the Mosaic economy (“The Mosaic Covenant: A ‘Republication’ of the Covenant of Works?” Mid-America Journal of Theology 21 [2010]: 89).

Thus, it is our belief that in the republication teaching presented in TLNF, we see the evidence of a pendulum swing in reaction to Norman Shepherd’s modern formulations of covenant theology.8

The Faithful Plumb Line of the Westminster Confession of Faith

On the one hand, Shepherd’s teaching led to a pendulum swing away from the Westminster Standards by rejecting the covenant of works. In its place, he recast the covenant of grace as a monocovenantal enshrinement of the gracious condition of covenant faithfulness from creation to consummation. This condition was imposed upon all alike, from Adam and his descendants, to Christ and all who are united to him by faith. This has led to serious doctrinal errors, especially regarding justification. We are grateful for how the authors of TLNF joined many others in the church in sorting out a number of these errors.

On the other hand, the Republication Paradigm of Kline and the authors of TLNF has led to a pendulum swing away from the Westminster Standards in the opposite direction. This has occurred by bringing meritorious human works into the covenant of grace after the fall (i.e., in the Mosaic covenant). It is laudable that the proponents of the doctrine of republication passionately reject the mixture of faith and works in the covenant with Adam against Shepherd. Nevertheless, it is of equal concern that a similar mixture of individual faith and national works are brought into the covenant with Moses after the fall (see following diagram).

Adam

Israel

Christ

Perfect Obedience Imperfect National Obedience Perfect Obedience

What is more, these (imperfect) works after the fall are said to be operating within a paradigm where a group of fallen sinners can merit or extract a blessing from God. In Kline’s writings, meritorious works become possible for other post-fall Old Testament figures prior to the Mosaic covenant (as we will see in Part 2). How can this be? We believe the concept of merit that lies behind the Klinean republication teaching raises serious doctrinal concerns. When evaluated against the measuring line of our Confession and other Reformed creeds, additional questions and concerns about the republication view emerge. We will address these concerns in the remainder of this booklet.

The result of the controversy surrounding the Shepherd-FV theology, was the establishment of an OPC study committee on justification. Their report has helped the church clarify these issues in light of Scripture and the system of doctrine contained in the Westminster Standards. We believe the republication doctrine similarly leads to imprecise theological formulations, as well as the redefinition of established Reformed concepts (as we will consider in Part 3). This, in turn, leads to confusion. Our hope and belief, therefore, is that our presbytery will overture the general assembly of the OPC to establish a study committee to examine and consider this contemporary controversy.

Conclusion of Part 1

We need not fall prey to the confusion caused by the formulations of Shepherd and FV on the one side, nor those of Kline and the Republication Paradigm on the other. The Westminster Standards (and other Reformed creeds) embody the consensus formulations of historic Reformed theology. This plumb line has served as a faithful standard for faith and life for hundreds of years. More importantly, our church embraces the Westminster Standards as containing the system of doctrine taught in the holy Scriptures. Indeed, we may be assured that our confidence in our Reformed creeds is well-placed. They are proven guides and reliable signposts in navigating a Biblically sound course among many potential deviations.

 (8) Additionally, the recent work of James T. Dennison, Jr. (which has resulted in the publication of Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation, Vols. 1-3 [1523-1599]; Vol. 4 [1603-1609] forthcoming), demonstrates that the Republication Paradigm of a typological works-merit covenant with Israel as a “corporate Adam” in the Mosaic era, is not found in any of the more than 125 Reformed confessions of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Part 2 Intro
Redefining Merit: The Klinean Paradigm Shift

In Part 1, we spoke of a “Republication Paradigm” that differs in important respects from the Westminster Confession of Faith. We argued that these differences were the result of a pendulum swing against the paradigm of Norman Shepherd. In Part 2, we will seek to show how this pendulum swing resulted in a redefinition of the traditional concept of merit. This redefinition was first applied to the notion of Adamic merit in the original covenant of works. In the development of Kline’s teaching, it also came to undergird and shape Israel’s “typological merit” in the republication of the covenant of works under Moses.

Our purpose in this section is to demonstrate that the Republication Paradigm and the Westminster Confession of Faith represent two different conceptions of “merit.” One of the most significant differences between the two positions is the way in which the Republication Paradigm affirms merit for Old Testament figures after the fall. Clear examples of this can be found in the writings of Professor Kline and other contemporary authors. The difference between this view and the traditional position cannot be more striking. The traditional view rejects any possibility for merit on the part of sinful man, in any sense, after the fall. The Republication Paradigm affirms that a type of merit is possible on the part of fallen man.

What is at the root of these differences between historic Reformed theology (as expressed in the Confession) and the republication formulation? To answer this question, we must first speak about the different ways in which the term “merit” is being used (Ch.5). Then we will seek to explain how the Republication Paradigm is a system that defines merit in a particular way, in contrast to the Confession’s earlier definition of merit (Chs. 6-7). Finally, we will consider how the reformulation of merit is connected to the Mosaic covenant, as it was separated into two levels in Kline’s system. On the one hand, there was the grace level for the eternal salvation of the individual. On the other hand, there was a national, meritorious-works level for the retention of temporal earthly blessings (Ch. 8).0

Further, it is our belief that this redefinition of merit is not an isolated modification that leaves the broader Reformed system of doctrine unaffected. Instead, this new conception of merit has paradigmatic implications which significantly modify other key doctrines. This will be taken up in Part 3.

To read the rest you will have to purchase the book.
https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/moses-and-merit/

Or you can listen to them speak about this topic on You Tube.

I also recommend you read a follow up concerning Kline, Creation, Condescension, and Covenant Merit which I posted after this.

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

And here also.

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/creation-and-covenant-recast-and-collapsed-together/

WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH: WAS THE MOSAIC
COVENANT A REPUBLICATION OF THE COVENANT OF
WORKS?
By Robert B. Strimple

 http://tinyurl.com/q7ftuq5

http://patrickspensees.wordpress.com/2013/11/22/typology-and-republication/

The Modern Day Grace Movement / A Hermeneutical Problem

I was reading through one of the threads on the Puritanboard.com 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 | SermonAudio.com

 



Video SermonAudio.com – Media Player