Causing more confusion than intended?



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

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

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

Added quote for edification….

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

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

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

J. Gresham Machen
The Christian View of Man p 193

Pin Point Response to New Paradigm NL/TK

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


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


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

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

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

Introducing David Van Drunen to David Van Drunen


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

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

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


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

“The fact is the civil kingdom has been ordained by God as a common realm, a realm for all people of whatever religious conviction in which to live and pursue their cultural tasks, while natural law is God’s common moral revelation given to all people of whatever religious conviction.”  David Van Drunen, “A Biblical case for Natural Law”, p.38 (2006)
“Scripture is not the appropriate moral standard for the civil kingdom.” David Van Drunen, “A Biblical Case for Natural Law”,p. 38

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

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

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

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


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


Stay out of the Culture Wars and get back to the Gospel?


Ever been told that the Church needs to get out of the Culture Wars and get back to the Gospel?

Well, here is my answer to that.

I admit that I find the cultural engagement a place to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. The Law has many good functions as people engage each other no matter what arena we contend in. From the Church, Mars Hill, all the way up to the Magistrates, God has given us a wonderful foundation where we can call all men to be reconciled to God and live at peace with him. Don’t forget that it was Christ who gave us the Decalogue which reveals God’s will, Love God and our neighbor. 

God is Love. But Love reproves wrong and perversion so that it can recover. To leave something or someone in a path of self destruction is not love. Therefore the word Repent is usually done with a lot of compassion and love for those who oppose themselves by their self-destructive lusts and behaviors.

Pastors and Christians who refuse to be involved with some of the issues in the “Culture Wars” should not be able to use the Gospel of the Kingdom of God as an excuse to not engage the world concerning its adversity to God’s will. The Culture Wars have eternal consequences.

As St. Paul noted, “How shall they hear if no one is sent.” After all we are the ones who are Christ’s Ambassadors. How shall they know if they are at enmity with God if no one brings that truth to them?  How shall the Christian in his station of life be challenged if he is not instructed on how to live out the Truth of the Kingdom of God in a world that opposes his King?  We can’t use the Gospel as an excuse to avoid the Culture Wars.  The World needs to be warned of the Wrath to Come.  The Christian needs to be warned about standing in a position that is opposed to God’s will.  Christ is the Mediator over all things.  Even over the peace of the Church.  We are called to be a light to the world.  We are to pray for all men in all stations of life so that Christ may be known and so that we may live holy lives in peace.

Pax Ecclesia.

Therefore don’t be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto Salvation.  Romans 1:16

2Co 5:14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
2Co 5:15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
2Co 5:16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.
2Co 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
2Co 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
2Co 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
2Co 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
2Co 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

2Ti 4:1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
2Ti 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
2Ti 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
2Ti 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
2Ti 4:5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

1Ti 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
1Ti 2:2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
1Ti 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
1Ti 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
1Ti 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
1Ti 2:6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

I particularly want to draw attention to St. Paul’s challenge and that that charge was to all men everywhere in this passage. It means all men from Magistrates on down to the poorest. Everywhere.

Act 17:24    God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
Act 17:25    Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
Act 17:26    And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
Act 17:27    That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
Act 17:28    For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
Act 17:29    Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.
Act 17:30    And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Act 17:31    Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

Old Posts on the Mosaic Covenant / the New Reformed Paradigm


Old Posts on the Mosaic Covenant vs. the New Reformed Paradigm

Why I was drawn into this.

Dr. Robert Strimple on Republication and the Mosaic Covenant

It isn’t about disctinctions it is about dichotomy

A Very Good Discussion on R. Scott Clark’s 7 point Summary of Republication /  He mistakenly thinks

The Marrow of Modern Divinity and the Recent Republication Issue

The Covenant of Grace, the Sinaitic and the New

OPC Special Committee Report

OPC Presbytery Northwest Debates Republication: Merit, Grace, and the Mosaic Covenant. Vote to send it to General Assembly

OPC Video – Session Two – Presentation on Particular view of Republication

WCF 19

Republication Beeke / Jones

Lutheran and Reformed Differences in the Divines.

Mosaic Covenant and the modern justification / sanctification controversy

The Mosaic Covenant same in Substance as the New Covenant

THe Modern Day Controversy justification / Sanctification

Depraved Christianity might be antinomian Christianity

Samuel Rutherford the Covenant of Life opened.

James Durham the Covenant of Works and the Mosaic

Vindication of the Law and Covenants Anthony Burgess

Skirting the Issue  / Clark

Dr. R. Scott Clark is not teaching the Broad View of the Westminster Divines

I know Dr. Clark seems to get a lot of attention here.  It isn’t because I have some personal vendetta.  Dr. Clark is accessible and easy to reference since he writes and contributes often in the world of modern media.

Typology and Republication (Patrick Ramsey)

“Two Kingdoms” Propositions and some Responses

Modern Day Reformed Thought and Two Kingdoms

Sundry Quotes from Solid Reformed Men on Law and Gospel



I am somewhat satisfied with the final report.  It should prove and settle the problem that some of our Modern Popular Professors and Authors are teaching contrary to the Scriptures and the Westminster Standards when it comes to the Mosaic Covenant.


Samuel Rutherford and Natural Law Question for Dr. Guy Richard


Dr. Guy Richard,
If you wouldn’t mind answering a quick question for me I would appreciate it. It might not be simple or be easy to answer shortly nor quickly.

I moderate the One of the Administrators on the Puritanboard Chris Coldwell and I were discussing Samuel Rutherford and Natural Law. We were looking at some of his thoughts on Natural Law in Lex Rex when and I found a quote from his Disputation Against Pretended Liberty that I considered to be his more definitive thought on the subject.

As I worked my way through examining Lex Rex he doesn’t ever seem to specifically define Natural Law but he does reference it and prove it is a Law in man by reason for preservation as I sum it up. In his book Disputations he writes what I would consider a more precise definition.

Of Conscience and its nature.
“Of this intellectual Treasure-house, we are to know these. 1. That in the inner Cabinet, the natural habit of Moral principles lodgeth, the Register of the common notions left in us by nature, the Ancient Records and Chronicles which were in Adam’s time, the Law of Nature of two volumes, one of the first Table, that there is a God, that he createth and governeth all things, that there is but one God, infinitely good, more just rewarding the Evil and the good; and of the second Table, as to love our Parents, obey Superiors, to hurt no man, the acts of humanity; All these are written in the soul, in deep letters, yet the Ink is dim and old, and therefore this light is like the Moon swimming through watery clouds, often under a shadow, and yet still in the firmament. Caligula, and others, under a cloud, denied there was any God, yet when the cloud was over, the light broke out of prison, and granted, a God there must be; strong winds do blow out a Torch in the night, and will blow in the same light again; and that there be other seeds, though come from a far land, and not growing out of the ground, as the former, is clear, for Christ scattereth some Gospel-truths in this Chalmer; as John 7.28. Then cried Jesus in the Temple; as he taught, saying, Ye both know me, and whence I am. John 15.24. But now they have both seen, and hated both me and my Father.”

Now I don’t think his work in Lex Rex is in any way in conflict with his later work but it does seem he puts a more precise definition of what Natural Law is in Disputation. He also seems to indicate that Natural Law emanates from the moral law that was originally written on man’s heart and it consists of two tables. That would seem to indicate to me that he directly would logically link the Decalogue and this Law of Nature together.

We are discussing this in relation to Coffey’s book (which I have never read and don’t have) that Chris is quoting for me and how Rutherford might have seen a difference of application concerning the 1st Table from Natural Law for heathen kings vs. Christian kings (or whatever various form of Government he might be addressing).

I guess my question would be threefold. Is Rutherford’s definition more precise in Disputations than Lex Rex because he is addressing a different group or persons? Or am I reading too much into the definition of Disputation? Does he consider Natural Law to be fully revealing of the Decalogue? I understand you are the expert.

Thanks for your consideration,

Dr. Richard’s Reply


Sorry for the delay in responding to your email. But thank you for contacting me. I always enjoy talking about Rutherford. I feel like he is my mentor and close personal friend in many ways, as much time as we have spent together!

Regarding your questions, let me first say that the passage you found in Pretended Liberty is a very good representation of what Rutherford believed regarding natural law. He clearly believed that the whole of the ten commandments were written upon the hearts of all men “in deep letters.” But, apart from Christ and apart from God’s Word and the Holy Spirit, “the ink is dim and old, and therefore this light is like the Moon swimming through watery clouds, often under a shadow, and yet still in the firmament.” Natural law is real. There is no such thing as an atheist, no one who ought to be able to plead ”not guilty” to breaking any of the 10 commandments. It is ”still in the firmament.” But it is oftentimes ”under a shadow.”

How this applies in the case of a person living within England or Scotland (or any other “Christian” nation) will be different many times than in the case of a “heathen” who does not have the same “Christian influences” around him/her. The one who lives within a Christian nation will have certain Christian influences (i.e., God’s Word, Christians themselves, the church, civil laws derived from the Christian ethic, etc). These things would serve to reinforce natural law in the case of the one living in a “Christian nation.” But the heathen would not have these influences. All he/she would have is natural law, which is the ten commandments written upon his/her heart “in deep letters” but with “ink [that] is dim and old” and “often under a shadow.”

I’m not sure whether or not that answers your questions. Feel free to email back if you’d like further clarification on anything.

Thanks again for contacting me. Blessings on your continued study!


Dr. Guy M. Richard

First Presbyterian Church


Dr. Guy Richard’s publications.


Just a quick question Dr. Richard,

Would it be okay to quote your response to my questions?  I will not use private messages without permission of the author in any way unless I am given permission.  It is matter of ethics and loyalty.  If not that is just fine.  I totally understand.


I’d prefer that you not publish them in print form. But if you would like to use them on line or something like that, that would be fine with me.


“Two kingdoms” propositions with some responses or counterpoints


Over on the Puritanboard, we are having a discussion on the recent developments of what Two Kingdom Theology is and how it is understood.  Mark Van Der Molen, an Indiana lawyer and former Elder in the URCNA (United Reformed Church of North America) who has studied the topic for some years, worked out a series of “two kingdoms” propositions drawn primarily from the teachings of Dr. David Van Drunen.  The development of the propositions arose in Van Der Molen’s discussion with Matthew Tuininga on his blog  Christian in America in May of 2012.  The 27 Propositions were developed, refined, and agreed upon by both Van Der Molen and Tuininga as a starting point to discuss the topic.

At the Puritanboard, in response to some questions, Mark provided an updated series of responses/ counter points to the propositions.  Just as my own blog is still a work in progress, and some two kingdom proponents may have some disagreements in their exact formulation, this list of propositions, responses, and counterpoints could be beneficial in bringing some clarity to this ongoing discussion.

Two kingdoms” propositions with some responses or counterpoints:

1. The moral law is binding on all men everywhere.

No disagreement on this.

2. Natural law is the basic moral standard in the common kingdom.

The Reformed confessions recognize that natural law exists and is a standard, but it is insufficient to order the common kingdom aright independently of special revelation.

3. Natural law is the standard for the civil government’s use of the sword.

The Reformed confessions testify that natural law is a standard, but is insufficient to order the government’s use of the sword aright.

4. The Decalogue was given for the covenant community only.

The Reformed confessions testify the Decalogue was given “to” the covenant community, but is given “for” all men.

5. The provisional and ceremonial aspects of the Decalogue were binding on the O.T. covenant community only.

Generally agreeable, except that the Reformed confessions also testify that the “truth and substance” of the law and prophets and ceremonial law remain today.

6. The moral law as expressed in the Decalogue is binding on all men everywhere.

Generally agreeable, except to the extent this formulation is sometimes used to sever the moral law from its written expression in the Decalogue

7. Scripture is not given as a common moral standard that provides ethical imperatives to all people regardless of their religious standing.

The Reformed confessions testify that the moral imperatives of Scripture are binding on all men everywhere.

8. As an expression of the natural law, the Noahic Covenant’s principle of lex talionis retributive justice governs use of the sword in the common kingdom.

Reformed theology has typically not limited the use of the sword to simply the lex talinios principle, but recognizes that the use of the sword includes justice tempered by mercy.

9. The lex talionis principle is not exact but is approximate, flexible, imprecise, and tempered by forbearance according the wise judgment of those in authority.

This proposition suggests agreement with the counterpoint to #8, but the term “forbearance” does not appear to equate with term “mercy” by two kingdoms proponents. 

10. Principles of mercy and forgiveness do not govern the common kingdom.

Principles of mercy and forgiveness do operate in the common kingdom, if one understands the common kingdom to include families, personal relationships, etc.

11. Principles of mercy and forgiveness govern Christ’s spiritual kingdom.

The Reformed would agree, but add that principles of justice also operate in the spiritual kingdom. 

12. The civil magistrate is to enforce the natural law duties of men toward one another as expressed in the Second Table of the Decalogue, but is not to enforce any natural law duties of men toward God as expressed in the First Table of the Decalogue.

The Reformed confessions testify that the written expression of the Second Table itself is enforced in some respects (not just the natural law represented by the Second table) and further, testify that there are aspects of the First Table that are within the proper sphere of the magistrate.

13. As the Noahic Covenant makes no distinction between believers and unbelievers, the state should not require nor promote any particular religious commitment to norm participation in the social order in the common kingdom.

Reformed theologians have also recognized that the Noahic Covenant did make distinctions between believers and unbelievers (commands and gracious promises to Noah and his family vs. mankind in general) and have denied that the Noahic is strictly a “common grace” covenant with no particular religious commitment to be promoted in the common kingdom.

14. The church is the present institutional manifestation of Christ’s redemptive kingdom.

The Reformed confessions testify that the church is the “chief” manifestation, but not the sole present manifestation of the kingdom.

15. Natural law alone is the sufficient standard for ordering the common kingdom aright.

The Canons of Dort and Belgic Confessions testify that natural law is insufficient to order things civil and natural “aright” due to the noetic effects of sin.

16. The Law delivered at Sinai under the Mosaic Covenant was a republication of the Covenant of Works in effect only during the time of the Israel theocracy.

The Mosaic covenant is in substance and essence an administration of the one covenant of grace. The idea of the Mosaic as a republished covenant of works with a “works principle” actually operating in some mixed or subservient fashion, was an historically minority opinion not codified in of our confessions.

17. The principles embedded in the judicial laws of the Mosaic Covenant are not normative for public policy today, except to the extent they reflect the general equity of natural law.

Generally agreed, except that it would be better to substitute or at least include the word “moral law” for “natural law” for clarity’s sake.

18. The state has no duty or goal to aid the advancement of the spiritual kingdom.

The Reformed confessions testify to the contrary, in that the magistrate is ordained to restrain evil, to promote good, to protect the church, and aid the advance of the gospel. 

19. It is illegitimate to change the institutions of the common kingdom (e.g., the state) to make them conform to distinctively Christian principles (e.g., turn the other cheek).

The Reformed confessions and scripture testify that all men, in whatever station, are to submit to the Lordship of Christ, tearing down strongholds and taking every thought captive to the Lordship of Christ.

20. It is inappropriate to seek the gospel’s transformation of culture into a Christian culture.

See response to #19.

21. Our resurrected body is the only element of creation that will be carried over into the eschatological kingdom.

Reformed theologians have also said that our sanctified/perfected works and the renewed heavens and earth will be part of the eschatological kingdom.

22. The family is part of the common kingdom.

The institution of the family is formed by God and is to be directed to the glory of God. It is agreed that it is an institution shared by unbelievers, but unbelievers misdirect or suppress the direction the institution should take.

23. The Christian is a dual citizen, as a citizen of both the spiritual kingdom and a citizen of the common kingdom.

It is agreeable that we share and interact with unbelievers but the term “kingdom” could confuse if such activities are thought in spatial terms as some “realm” governed by some different king or different ethic. 

24. The unbeliever is a citizen only of the common kingdom.

This is generally agreeable, but with same caveat as #23 on the definition of “kingdom”. 

25. The Christian lives under a dual ethic, namely, the natural law-justice ethic governing life in the common kingdom and the grace-mercy ethic governing life in the spiritual kingdom.

The Reformed confessions and scripture testify we we live under a unified Biblical Christian ethic, not a dual- antithetical ethic that depends on which “kingdom” we are operating in. Thus, for example, the Christian family is not guided solely by an ethic of lex talionis justice, but also an ethic of mercy and forgiveness. 

26. The common kingdom pertains to temporal, earthly, provisional matters, not matters of ultimate and spiritual importance. It includes matters of politics, law, and cultural life more generally.

The Reformed confessions do not exclude the kingdom of God as being manifest in these earthly matters of law, politics, and cultural life more generally.

27. The spiritual kingdom pertains to things that are of ultimate and spiritual importance. Insofar as this spiritual kingdom has earthly existence, it is found in the church and not in the state or other temporal institutions.

See comment on #26.

You can read the back and forth discussion from the comments section at the link below to see how they worked the propositions out.

The comments, post, and link has been put away by Matthew Tuininga.  I saved them in a file at one time.

The Mosaic Covenant and the Modern Day Justification and Sanctification Controversy


In light of the modern day controversy concerning justification and sanctification,  let me ask others to look at something that hasn’t been considered much. What is its root problem? The root problem can actually solve a lot of issues from the justification / sanctification issue in soteriology to the Natural Law / Kingdom Issues we are experiencing.  Why?  Because they all have to do with our relationship to the Law of God.

This issue has a root problem that goes back to a hermeneutic of how the Mosaic Covenant is viewed and seen. It is having a rippling effect through much of the theology in our Reformed Camp. It is dichotomizing (divorcing) law and grace (law and gospel) in our doctrines of soteriology. It is also leading others into the various doctrines that are divorcing God from society.  A few friends of mine have referred to these doctrines as old distortions of Natural Law / Two Kingdom Theology that were out of accord and rejected by the Reformers.

The hermeneutic I am referring to is propagated by men who are in the United Reformed Church of North America, Orthodox Presbyterian Church, possibly men in the Presbyterian Church of America, and noted men teaching at a Seminary that trains our Reformed and  Presbyterian Ministers. Most people who know me know of whom I am referring to.  (Westminster Seminary California)  Does this Seminary allow this teaching to go on from the top (Dr. Robert Godfrey) down (Drs. Horton and Clark) without a notification that it is against the Standards we as Presbyterians confess?  It sure seems hidden to me.  I would even venture to say that this teaching is so prevalent in the Church today that it isn’t even recognized as being different from the Westminster Standards.   I know Pastors, Ruling Elders, Drs. of Theology, Seminary Professors,  Seminary Students, and Laymen who know this is true and have affirmed this truth to me.  

Even our Divines at the Westminster Assembly knew this teaching and variants of it were in opposition to sound doctrine.  Here is Anthony Burgess on the difference between Lutheran and Reformed views concerning the Mosaic Covenant.

“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)

This view that is being taught was a minority view and evidently refuted without much to do from what I understand.  There isn’t much discussion paid to the topic in the minutes nor much argument about it from what I understand. I guess that might be an indication about how much of a factor this minority view was.  Yet it seems this minority teaching is being taught as though it is a majority position. This doctrine has to do with the substance of the Old and New Covenants being the same as the Westminster Confession of Faith states in chapter 7, sections 5,6.  It also has to do with some forms of Republication of the Covenant of Works and what Republication is.

I can quote one person specifically that does not believe the Mosaic Covenant is of the same substance as the New Covenant.  He holds to views that are specifically contrary to our Standards when considering the Mosaic Covenant. Yet he is teaching future Presbyterian Pastors contrary to our Standards. I wonder if he is teaching our future Pastors that he doesn’t hold to the Westminster Confession of Faith on this topic.  I think he should since he teaches these future Pastors  from a Seminary which distinctively has a namesake taken from our Confessional Standards.  He specifically writes (for everyone to read) that he does not believe that the Mosaic Covenant is renewed in the New Covenant.  He must believe it is of a different substance having a superadded work or Covenant of Works principle in it.  The Mosaic Covenant in his thinking is both an administration (pedagogically) of the Covenant of Works and of Grace. That would make the New Covenant and Mosaic Covenant different and not of the same substance as an administration of the Covenant of Grace.  As I understand it, in this scheme there is an opposition of law and grace that is not found in the Presbyterian or later Reformed hermeneutic of the Majority of the Divines.  Samuel Rutherford, Anthony Burgess, and many other good men have written on this topic and it just seems that this is neglected by these Modern Reformed Thinkers.
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.

Concerning the Covenant of Grace, Richard Sibbesl states it thusly in his writing…

There are four periods of time of renewing this covenant: first, from Adam to Abraham;… Secondly, From Abraham to Moses;… The third period of renewing the covenant of grace was from Moses to Christ; and then it was more clear, whenas to the covenant made with Abraham, who was sealed with the sacrament of circumcision, the sacrament of the paschal lamb was added, and all the sacrifices Levitical; and then it was called a testament. That differeth a little from a covenant; for a testament is established by blood, it is established by death. So was that; but it was only with the blood and death of cattle sacrificed as a type.

But now, to Christ’s time to the end of the world, the covenant of grace is most clear of all; and it is now usually called the New Testament, being established by the death of Christ himself; …

This is the hermeneutical root and problem in my estimation. This hermeneutical problem is a dichotomizing of Law and Gospel (Grace).  It tells us the Law only commands and that Gospel (Grace) tells us something has been done for us without command.  Just for reference this is what I am talking about.   Dr. Michael Horton in his three minute video clip says this concerning the Gospel,  “It refers to God’s promise of salvation in Christ.  The gospel is a victory announcement.  It never tells us something to do.  That is the business of the law.  Rather, the gospel tells us something that has been done.

This has spilled over into other areas of our theology also.  For instance it has spilled over into Kingdom Theology and how the Law of God applies to all of mankind.   We are slowly removing the requirement and responsibilities of our Magistrates to be in subjection to God and His Ten Commandments.   This is killing our Society.  Anytime you start to partition an Administration of the Covenant of Grace and change its substance like these guys are doing you are treading in strange waters if you are Presbyterian.  The Gospel and Law are not opposed to each other as some want to prove in all cases.  In fact Ursinus says when they are joined together they become the Spirit.

I started discovering this dichotomizing of law and grace a few years ago as I started noting how these men were defining the Gospel.  This dichotomizing of law and Grace seemed unnatural even to this one time Reformed Baptist. I use to be a Reformed Baptist until I came to understand that the Old Covenant and New Covenant were of the same substance as they were from the Administration of the Covenant of Grace. Even then this long time Reformed Baptist didn’t dichotomize Law and Grace in the Gospel and Sanctification to the extreme I saw it being done.  As a Reformed Baptist I did dichotomize the Substance of the Covenants based upon my understanding of Hebrews chapter 8.  I did hold to a similar view of John Owen’s interpretation of the Mosaic and New Covenant when it came to membership of the Covenant but I didn’t dichotomize grace and law in the life of the believer of either Covenant.  I believe that is what is being done by those who hold to this Lutheranized (Not necessarily Luther’s view) / Klinean view of the Mosaic Covenant.

I believe a proper view of the Covenant of Grace as it administers the Covenants historically will give us a proper balance of Law and Grace.  I have already written about the substance of the Covenant before and I think if you read it you will see why I am saying what I am saying.  It views the Law of God and Grace in their proper relationship as they should be viewed in my estimation.  It also views the Gospel correctly as it isn’t just a proclamation outside of us with no commands.

I also want to encourage Westminster California to be forthcoming about their Professors doctrinal stances in relationship to the Westminster Confession of Faith.  I have run into far too many people that look to Westminster West for guidance that don’t know that they are teaching contrary to the Westminster Standards concerning the Mosaic Covenant.   It is eye opening when others discover this.  After they put aside their party spirit and their theological celebrity status blinders things start falling into place and a whole new world of understanding comes to their aid in Christ.  Pieces of the theological puzzle start to fit together as it was meant to be.  People start to have a different appreciation for grace and law as they see it more clearly.

Just my Nickles worth.

The following link is a short paper presented to Dr. Joseph Pipa on this topic. It also helped me clarify some things when I first started looking at this issue.


And this is one great website that is pulling the historical truth out concerning the Mosaic Covenant.

James Durham on the Mosaic Covenant

From A Puritan Theology by Beeke and Jones. What is Republication

Depraved Christianity?  The Gospel….. Horton…. What is the Gospel?

The Mosaic Covenant, same in substance as the New? Not according to Modern Reformed Thought.


Pressing an old Blog entry…

via The Mosaic Covenant, same in substance as the New? Not according to Modern Reformed Thought..

Also look at this…
This is the doctrine that caused me to became a Presbyterian after having been a Reformed Baptist for 30 years.  It is also the doctrine that causes me to be alarmed over much of what is being taught today in the Reformed Camp.  They don’t understand the Mosaic Covenant.   I call today’s understanding Modern Reformed Thought.

Check out the whole thing as I post a small portion here…

I have recently been helped in understanding the Mosaic Covenant by Scripture clarification along with the help of a Pastor Patrick Ramsey. Thank You Pastor Ramsey.I have found that I disagree with Meredith Kline and others that hold to similar positions of a works paradigm in the Mosaic Covenant. While Owen’s view and Kline’s differ a bit by terminology I believe they are closer than people want to credit. I believe Kline holds to something more similar called a superadded subservient view of the Mosaic Covenant which was rejected by the Majority of Divines who wrote the Westminster Confession of Faith. You can learn about this by reading this article that was published in the Westminster Journal.

In working out this works paradigm I think Patrick Ramsey does a good job in revealing what Romans 10:5 and Leviticus 18:5 say when considering the whole Counsel of God. In fact when we look at Paul’s references we would think that Paul is pitting Moses against Moses and the Old Testament against the Old Testament in his New Testament writings. Especially if we just lift passages out of texts without considering other passages Paul also referenced. Paul isn’t pitting the OT against the OT or Moses against Moses when we look at the fuller context for understanding….

Read on brothers and sisters….

Here is a great reference….

Exposure on Dr. R. Scott Clark from Westminster West.  No wonder why I remained a Reformed Baptist and didn’t understand Covenant Theology from a truly Reformed perspective.

Dr. Robert Strimple whose Chair at Westminster Seminary California  David Van Drunen occupies sets the Record straight concerning the book The Law Is Not of Faith and the Mosaic Covenant.

I loved this piece on Klhortonian Theology…

Modern Day Reformed Thought and Two Kingdoms…

The Mosaic Covenant:  a “Republication” of the Covenant of Works?

A Review article: The Law Is Not of Faith: essays on Works and Grace in the Mosaic Covenant

Cornel P. Venema

You may also want to check out my comments on Galatians 3 and 4.  Some people use this passage to show that the Law and Gospel are opposed to each other but that is a terrible misreading of the text.  The Law and Gospel are not opposed.

Depraved Christianity may be Antinomian Christianity Part 2


Pastor Tullian Responds to Rick Phillips.
But once God regenerates us by his Spirit, draws us to himself, unites us to Christ, raises us from the dead, and grants us status as adopted sons and daughters, is there any sense in which we can speak of Christian’s being totally depraved?  Yes.

Theologians speak of total depravity, not only in terms of “total inability” to come to God on our own because we’re spiritually dead, but also in terms of sin’s effect: sin corrupts us in the “totality” of our being. Our minds are affected by sin. Our hearts are affected by sin. Our wills are affected by sin. Our bodies are affected by sin. This is at the heart of Paul’s internal struggle that he articulates in Romans 7:

The terminology is incorrect and you can’t stop at Romans 7 and sit. The same guy who wrote Romans 7 wrote Romans 8. I read his response and found it lacking. Sorry guys. Which theologian uses the words total depravity together? I understand that there may be some deprivation in things but we are not deprived of things we need to be Godly. That is what is missing here. We all go hungry. That is why we pray that the Lord give us our Daily Bread. We depend upon Him for all sustenance. Total depravity is incorrect. We are complete in Christ as Colosians 2:10 states. . We are to pray to know how to walk in the Spirit. We will always depend on him. All things are unclean before Him. No one is being Pharisaical here. We just aren’t seeing Romans 8 and we are also seeing a confusion concerning justification and sanctification as they pertain to the Gospel.

Pastor Tullian wrote….
While it is gloriously true for the Christian that there is nowhere Christ has not arrived by his Spirit, it is equally true that there is no part of any Christian in this life that is free of sin.

The above was addressed by Rick. Pastor Tullian really didn’t address this. Also note Dr. David Murray’s critique on Tullian’s book. Does Jesus + Nothing = Everything? | HeadHeartHand Blog

Tullian really didn’t answer the charges by Rick when Rick mentioned Freedom and why the term Total Depravity is incorrect. BTW, I have heard Christians say that we are totally depraved Christians. It has always made me cringe.

But this is really about what the first paragraph of Rick’s blog stated. It is about the Gospel.  I know that many have truncated the Gospel by claiming it is only an outward declaration of Good News.  Dr. Michael Horton does the same thing in a three minute video he has posted on You Tube.

But for now I will allow some of Dr. David Murray’s comments about Sanctification speak and then in the next part or blog I will address the Gospel and antinomianism.

Pastor Tullian’s quote from his book ‘Jesus Nothing Everything’…

“I used to think that growing as a Christian meant I had to somehow go out and obtain the qualities and attitudes I was lacking. To really mature, I needed to find a way to get more joy, more patience, more faithfulness, and so on. Then I came to the shattering realization that this isn’t what the Bible teaches, and it isn’t the gospel. What the Bible teaches is that we mature as we come to a greater realization of what we already have in Christ. The gospel, in fact, transforms us precisely because it’s not itself a message about our internal transformation but about Christ’s external substitution. We desperately need an advocate, mediator, and friend. But what we need most is a substitute—someone who has done for us and secured for us what we could never do and secure for ourselves. (94, Kindle Edition)”

Dr. David Murray writes…
I agree that the Gospel is certainly a message about Christ’s external substitution. But it does not stop there. The Gospel is also a message about internal transformation (a major part of sanctification). Christ saves us from our sins objectively and subjectively, from the penalty of sin and the presence of sin.

In this next excerpt, Tullian says that Christian growth (sanctification) is looking away from self and looking to Jesus and His performance for us. But is that the whole of sanctification? It’s certainly the essence of justifying faith, and the beginning of sanctifying growth. But it’s not the whole of growth, it’s not the sum of sanctification.:

Pastor Tullian…

“The hard work of Christian growth, therefore, is to think less of ourselves and our performance and more of Jesus and his performance for us. Ironically, when we focus mostly on our need to get better, we actually get worse. We become neurotic and self-absorbed. Preoccupation with our effort instead of with God’s effort for us makes us increasingly self-centered and morbidly introspective. (95)”

In this next paragraph, the confusing overlapping is even more obvious:

Again, think of it this way: sanctification is the daily hard work of going back to the reality of our justification. It’s going back to the certainty of our objectively secured pardon in Christ and hitting the refresh button a thousand times a day. (95)

If all he is saying is that sanctification begins with our appropriating justification, and is fueled by it, then yes, I agree. But I think he’s going further than that, by suggesting that the totality of sanctification involves going back to our justification. This seems to be confirmed by what he writes in the same context:

Think of what Paul tells us in Philippians 2:12: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” We’ve got work to do—but what exactly is it? Get better? Try harder? Pray more? Get more involved in church? Read the Bible longer? What precisely is Paul exhorting us to do? He goes on to explain: “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (v. 13). God works his work in you, which is the work already accomplished by Christ. Our hard work, therefore, means coming to a greater understanding of his work. And so it is that we move further into the gospel, into a deeper, bigger, brighter understanding of all that God has already achieved for us in Christ. (95-96)


Is it correct to say that the “work” that we are called to, and that results from God’s work in us, is simply understanding more, believing more, trusting more? Sure, this is the core of justification, and the foundation and cement of sanctification. But it’s not the whole of sanctification. It’s not every brick of it.

Here are some further quotes that only heightened my anxiety about Tullian’s emphasis:

Growth in the Christian life is the process of receiving Christ’s “It is finished” into new and deeper parts of our being every day, and it happens as the Holy Spirit daily carries God’s good word of justification into our regions of unbelief—what one writer calls our “unevangelized territories.” (78)

In this definition of growth (sanctification), where is the “being enabled to die to sin, and live to righteousness” as described by the Westminster Catechism? Where is the doing and not doing?

I like to remind myself and others that the only thing you contribute to your salvation and to your sanctification is the sin that makes them necessary. (104)

Contribution to salvation = nil! Yes. Contribution to sanctification = nil! No. We are enabled to die to sin and live to righteousness. We are enabled to do and not do. Our (enabled) doing and not doing is part of our sanctification. For example, when Peter protested his love to Jesus, Jesus told him to start feeding his lambs, which involved stopping doing one thing and starting to do another (John 21).

Please read the rest of Dr. David Murray’s critique here..