By Faith Alone, part 8

This is an article by David VanDrunen, of WSC, on the active obedience of Christ. The article is entitled “To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice,” subtitled “A Defense of the Active Obedience of Christ in the Light of Recent Criticism.” I wonder just a tad about the title. The article is outstanding. However, I wonder how many FV proponents and/or NPP proponents would deny that Christ was actively obedient to the law. Is it not the part of Christ’s active obedience in imputation that is at stake? Gundry (not a FV or NPP proponent) denies that Christ’s active obedience was imputed to the believer. However, he does not deny that Christ was actively obedient to the law. It makes Christ a perfect sacrifice. That, however, is usually where Christ’s active obedience ends with regard to salvation of sinners. VanDrunen’s focus is obviously on the part of Christ’s active obedience in imputation, since he says, “but also fulfilled all of the positive obligations of the law on their (His people’s) behalf” (pg. 127).

He notes that the denial of the active obedience of Christ in justification is common to both the NPP and the FV (127). His thesis is stated on page 128: “I argue that, despite recent claims to the contrary, God does demand perfect obedience to his law and that Christ has indeed provided this obedience on behalf of his people.”

The first major section deals with the Reformed tradition in the light of critiques. Shepherd, for instance, denies that Christ’s active obedience plays any part in justification (see page 128 and footnotes for quotations and sources in Shepherd’s theology). VanDrunen shows that Calvin, the 3FU, the WS, Turretin, Witsius, Hodge, Vos, Murray, and Berkhof all hold to the active obedience of Christ imputed to the believer. The selection of quotations is quite apt, in my judgment. Then, VanDrunen shows that various proponents of FV theology deny this: Jordan, Shepherd, Lusk, Sandlin; and NPP authors Wright and Dunn also deny this doctrine. One small criticism: Dunn deserves more than the one throw-away comment at the end of the paragraph on pg. 133. Either he shouldn’t have been mentioned at all, or been given his own paragraph.

The second major section defends the two absolutely necessary doctrines that form the basis for the imputed active obedience of Christ: the necessity of perfect obedience to the law for righteousness, and the doctrine that Jesus fulfilled such requirements on our behalf. As such, this section is exegetical in nature. The first part proves from Scripture that perfect obedience was always required. VanDrunen starts from the very character of God: “He will never permit his justice to be compromised” (pg. 134). VanDrunen affirms the covenant of works in the first chapter of Genesis. His exegesis of the commands given to Adam (yes, as a matter of fact, there is more than one command!) shows that they are legal in character: לֹא תֹאכַל “This is not simply imperative, but law” (pg. 135). The very same form appears in the Decalogue. Furthermore, “The fact that a single sin ushered in the curse means that perfect obedience was the standard” (pg. 135). This is a very telling argument. The analogy of a boy needing to do his homework is quite apt. The point is that, after the Fall, “the commands given to Adam in Genesis 1-2 still remain unaccomplished” (pg. 136).

Obedience is better than sacrificed. The meaning of this Scriptural statement is not limited to a forbidding of insincere hearts. Rather, obedience is actually separated from sacrifice (this would be contrary to Sanders’s claims, for instance). Jeremiah 7:23 says “Walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you. Sacrifice cannot replace obedience. Jesus’ conversation with the scribe in Mark 12 says the same thing (pg. 137). Paul, in modifying Dtr 27:26 in Galatians 3:10 makes the same point: he addes the word “all” in order to underline the fact that perfect obedience is required for life (pg. 138).

Then, VanDrunen exegetes the Scriptures that prove that Jesus did fulfill the entire law on our behalf. Gal 4:4-5, Heb 5:8 show that Christ’s positive obedience means more than that He became a perfect sacrifice (pg. 139). Rather, they show us the “necessity of Christ’s active obedience if we are to be saved” (pg. 139, emphasis original).  

Then follows an exposition of the phrase “the righteousness of God” in Paul. He notes that “Reformed theologians have associated the righteousness of God with the obedience of Christ that is imputed to Christians and upon which the justifying verdict is rendered” (pg. 140). He argues that “the righteousness of God comes to be identified with the active obedience of Christ by the apostle Paul” (pg. 140). Against Wright, Romans 1:17-18 speaks of unrighteousness as moral, rather than as having to do with covenantal status. The logical corollary is that righteousness also has to do with morality, not with covenant status. This argument is iron-shod, and casts Wright’s argument to the ground all by itself. “Furthermore, when Paul speaks about the righteousness that does not justify, he spaeks in moral terms and not in terms of being in or out of the covenant” (pg. 141). He cites Titus 3:5-7, Romans 10:3, and Phil 3:9 in support. In citing Philippians 3:9, I could wish that a footnote would have dealt with Wright’s distinguishing between τὴν ἐκ θεοῦ δικαιοσύνην and δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ (as found, say, in Romans 3:21). I do think Wright is incorrect to draw such a huge distinction between these two phrases. However, it might have been good had VanDrunen addressed the issue.

The human predicament, therefore, is that we do not have a perfect righteousness, but need one. Therefore, the Gospel is that Jesus has provided us with a perfect righteousness, which can stand the utmost scrutiny of the law. The Gospel, of course, is not limited to this. But anything less than this is no Gospel.

VanDrunen has an absolutely brilliant exposition of Romans 5, and the oft-quoted objection to the active obedience of Christ found in the one, single, solitary, lonesome act of obedience to which all objectors point. He notes that Christ’s passive obedience was no more a single act than his active obedience was (pg. 143). See, for instance, Heb 2:10, 17-18; 5:7-10. Therefore, “there must have been some reason for Paul’s emphasis on the oneness of Christ’s righteous action other than the isolation of a single discrete event” (pp. 143-144). That reason is that Christ’s obedience is seen in its “compact unity” (Murray’s phrase, quoted ibid.). “In context, the ‘righteous act’ of christ surely cannot be dissociated from the positive righteous obedience that Adam was required by God to accomplish in the garden” (pg. 144).

Philippians 2:8-9 also clearly show the active obedience of Christ. μέχρι θανάτου means “up to and including death,” thereby forbidding us to isolate one part of Christ’s obedience from any other part (pg. 145). Then, the particle διὸ is causal: “God exalted Christ on the basis of his obedience” (pg. 146). He notes the etymological fallacy that Lusk and Jordan commit when they note the word ἐχαρίσατο, saying that since it is from charis, therefore grace was meant in giving Christ the reward. Hogwash. This commits the root fallacy. “The precise meaning of the verb must be established in context, and the context of Philippians 2:9 is clearly one of ‘work rendered and value received'” (pg. 146, note 40). This is an outstanding article that not only sets the historical stage for the active obedience of Christ imputed to the believer, but also argues the point exegetically. He is triumphantly convincing, in my opinion.

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84 Comments

  1. David McCrory said,

    February 22, 2007 at 10:42 am

    It seems by denying (or renaming) the covenant of works, or by minimizing the need and the efficacy of Adam’s obediance or disobediance to that covenant, FV proponents have already begun servering the relationship between Adam’s active sin being imputed to us through Original Sin, and then in turn the need for Christ’s active role in restoring that relationship by fulfilling the law and satisfying the justice of God on our behalf. So wouldn’t this lead the FV proponents into denying Original Sin? If so, has the accusation of Pelagianism ever been brought up?

  2. greenbaggins said,

    February 22, 2007 at 10:50 am

    Well, I don’t think they’ve gone quite that far, yet, and so the charge probably wouldn’t stick. However, I think you have put your finger on the logical outcome of their position.

  3. Stewart said,

    February 22, 2007 at 11:17 am

    “Obedience is better than sacrificed. The meaning of this Scriptural statement is not limited to a forbidding of insincere hearts. Rather, obedience is actually separated from sacrifice (this would be contrary to Sanders’s claims, for instance).”

    Lane, could you unpack this a bit more for us? Thanks.

  4. Todd said,

    February 22, 2007 at 11:18 am

    David, have you read Murray on Covenant of Works/Adamic Administration?

  5. greenbaggins said,

    February 22, 2007 at 11:32 am

    I will attempt to unpack that. In looking at the Scripture “to obey is better than sacrifice,” some people might say that “God is simply exhorting his people not to offer sacrifices with insincere hearts” (VanDrunen, pg. 136). However, there is much more to the statement than merely that. VanDrunen goes on to note the significance of Jer 7:22-23 in this regard “And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.” In this passage, “holistic obedience is more basic than sacrifice; sacrifice can never replace it.” I believe that this statement of VanDrunen’s is directed against New Perspective misreadings of the OT, wherein sacrifice “replaces” the aspect of CoW structure in the Mosaic economy. Does this help?

  6. Stewart said,

    February 22, 2007 at 11:35 am

    David said, “It seems by denying (or renaming) the covenant of works, or by minimizing the need and the efficacy of Adam’s obediance or disobediance to that covenant, FV proponents have already begun servering the relationship between Adam’s active sin being imputed to us through Original Sin, and then in turn the need for Christ’s active role in restoring that relationship by fulfilling the law and satisfying the justice of God on our behalf.”

    Wow! That’s some sentence. Well, I reasoned like this when I was in college. I did not have many friends.

  7. Ben D. said,

    February 22, 2007 at 11:40 am

    1 comment for now (I really should be studying, but I keep getting distracted):

    1. In Phil 2:8-9, it seems hard to see the obedience of Christ as anything other than obedience (over his whole life, and culminating in the cross) in securing the work of redemption that God the Father gave him to do. Certainly Christ is given the name above all names due (causal) to his obedience, but is this obedience to the law? This seems clear in the preceding verses where Christ’s obedience is specifically seen in his humbling of himself and in his divesting himself of the divine prerogatives that were his due. We are, after told of Christ’s obedience here so that we may follow his example (vv. 5, 11), and the example to follow is being willing to humble oneself, even to the point of death. Where do we come up with the idea that this is referring to obedience to the 613 commandments of Torah?

    It appears here that Christ’s faithfulness is faithfulness to the task God gave him of securing redemption (the cross), rather than specifically faithful obedience to every commandment of Torah in place of Adam who failed to (proleptically) do so.

  8. pduggie said,

    February 22, 2007 at 11:44 am

    Does he do anything with Kline’s failure to affirm that active obedience was to the law?

  9. David McCrory said,

    February 22, 2007 at 11:46 am

    Todd, no I don’t think so.

    Stewart, my concern is for the validity of the statement, not how many friends it wins me. I didn’t finish college.

  10. pduggie said,

    February 22, 2007 at 11:47 am

    Gal 4:4-5 seems more to be talking about the law as a primitive, immature enslaving force. Are we supposed to be impressed with how much God demanded of us under that law? And if we WERE under that law, why does Paul then go on to talk about how they need to stop observing the weak parts of it (days and seasons). We don’t say we need to stop observing the moral law.

  11. greenbaggins said,

    February 22, 2007 at 11:58 am

    Ben, Christ’s obedience is implicitly set against Adam’s disobedience: where Adam grasped for divinity, Jesus did not use the divinity that He already had for his own advantage. Where Adam did not love God with heart, soul, strength, and mind, Jesus did. Where Adam disobeyed the law given to him, Jesus obeyed. I find it impossible to remove the moral law from Philippians 2, given the Adam-Christ typology inherent in the passage. At the end of your comment, you seem to recognize the connection between Adam and Christ. That connection means that Christ did what Adam failed to do: earn (by covenant pact-merit) eternal life.

    Paul, where does Kline fail to affirm that obedience was to the law? And is it an explicit denial of such, or neglect to mention it?

  12. Juan Z said,

    February 22, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    Could you please define what is meant by Federal Vision and the New Perspective of Paul? I have looked and can not find what they mean by these terms.

    thanks
    Juan

  13. greenbaggins said,

    February 22, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    Welcome to my blog, Juan. You’ve just asked quite the question, haven’t you? These are not easy to define, precisely because there are many different forms. Some would claim that there is no such thing as the FV, for instance. John Barach claims that quite strongly. Put basically, FV is a definition of the church in objective terms. They define the church as visible. Some will allow a sense in which the church can be defined by faith (invisible), but most do not like that distinction. They are concerned about how to address the church, especially when it comes to those who will eventually apostatize. What benefits do they have, if they are not eternally elect? Most FV proponents will claim that such have union with Christ if they are baptized. However, this union with Christ is quite hazy and confusing, as terms that are normally used for ordo salutis categories (justification, election, sanctification, etc.) are often used to describe these non-elect covenant members. Therein lies the confusion and the uproar.

    The New Perspective on Paul (abbr. NPP) is really a new perspective on Second-Temple Judaism. The Reformers claimed that Judaism was a works-based religion, even if grace was involved. The NPP says that Judaism was solely a religion of grace. Therefore Paul is not reacting against legalism in his letters, but against Jewish racial exclusivism. Thus “works of the law” are defined by NPP proponents as those things which mark Jews out as Jews (circumcision, dietary laws, etc.), not (as the Reformation said) any and all works of righteousness. That is a bit broad-brush, but it works as a quick and dirty definition. For more, see these posts:

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2007/01/03/federal-vision-index/

    and

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/tag/heresy/new-perspective-on-paul/

  14. David McCrory said,

    February 22, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    Lane, your #11 is what I was getting at in #1. When you take the meritorious aspects of the Adamic covenant out, you have undercut the need for a substitutionary replacement in the work of Christ. This seems to be what leads to a watering down of Christ’s active obediance. How to they do justice to Paul’s view of Christ as the “second” Adam?

  15. Stewart said,

    February 22, 2007 at 12:24 pm

    “That connection means that Christ did what Adam failed to do: earn (by covenant pact-merit) eternal life.”

    One can still maintain the “connection” without embracing the idea of a “treasury of merit.” Perhaps you could start a new post defending that. It would make for an interesting discussion.

  16. greenbaggins said,

    February 22, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    Stewart, don’t even think if linking covenant pact-merit with the Roman Catholic “treasury of merit.” Go here for what the Reformers thought of it:

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2006/07/07/merit-in-the-reformed-fathers/

  17. David McCrory said,

    February 22, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    Todd and Stewart, would either of you agree we are saved by works? And that outside of Christ we are judged on the merits of our own works (flthy rags)? So that the works (the keeping of the Law of God) is what Christ did to satisfy God’s just demands upon Adam (and his race)?

  18. Juan Z said,

    February 22, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    Thank you for the information and I will be reading up on it.

    Juan

  19. Todd said,

    February 22, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    David, sure. I agree with all that. It’s not quite the way the Bible itself ever says it, though. I know you didn’t mean to say everything in your question, but you haven’t even mentioned the cross and resurrection. David, did you read the paper on imputation by Michael Bird that I linked a day or two ago?

  20. pduggie said,

    February 22, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    Kline: “Adam, representative of mankind, was commissioned to fulfill the probationary assignment; he must perform the one meritorious act of righteousness. This act was to have the character of a victory in battle. An encounter with Satan was a critical aspect of the probationary crisis for each of the two Adams. To enter into judicial combat against this enemy of God and to vanquish him in the name of God was the covenantal assignment that must be performed by the servant of the Lord as his “one act of righteousness.” And it was the winning of this victory of righteousness by the one that would be imputed to the many as their act of righteousness and as their claim on the consummated kingdom proferred in the covenant.”

    also, at the start of the New Horizons piece “The active obedience of Jesus is his fulfilling the demands of the covenant probation. By the passive obedience of his atoning sacrifice he secures for us the forgiveness of sins. But he does more than clear the slate and reinstate us in Adam’s original condition, still facing probation and able to fail. Jesus, the second Adam, accomplishes the probationary assignment of overcoming the devil, and by performing this one decisive act of righteousness he earns for us God’s promised reward. By this achievement of active obedience he merits for us a position beyond probation, secure forever in God’s love and the prospect of God’s eternal home.”

    Is the moral law a probationary assignment, or a reflection of the character of God?

  21. greenbaggins said,

    February 22, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    Paul, this doesn’t even begin to amount to a denial of obedience to the law. this is crystal clear by the sentence, “The active obedience of Jesus is his fulfilling the demands of the covenant probation.” Could not “demands of the covenant probation” be equivalent to “the stipulations of the covenant of works,” which in turn be equivalent to “moral law?” This doesn’t even remotely prove your point.

  22. pduggie said,

    February 22, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    I suppose the one advantage Kline’s view has is that it pays attention to the actual conditions of the CoW (the fruit test) rather than asserting that the 10 commandments of Moses were the content of the test.

    It seems to me about as extraconfessional as anything Lusk has written though.

  23. greenbaggins said,

    February 22, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    That’s hardly an advantage, given chapter 21 of the WS. He is not denying a republication of the CoW in the Ten Commandments. Adam had to obey the moral law, which *were* the stipulations of the CoW.

  24. pduggie said,

    February 22, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    For Kline, there is ONE stipulation: resist the devil and beat him. Jesus fulfils that for us in the wilderness temptation. Remember, Kline is dealing with suzerainty tresties. The 10 commandments come LATER, with moses. They can’t form the stipulations for Adam.

    It is not for nothing that Kline’s student Lee Irons denied the Moral Law was binding.

    Read the new horizons quote again

    “Jesus, the second Adam, accomplishes the probationary assignment of overcoming the devil, and by performing this one decisive act of righteousness he earns for us God’s promised reward. By this achievement of active obedience he merits ”

    the assigment: overcome the devil.
    It IS one act. (something I guess Kline would dispute VanDrunen on)
    That One act is all you need for the reward. It merits the CoW’s blessing.

  25. pduggie said,

    February 22, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    search Kline’s current writings for “moral law” in the context of the covenant of works. You won’t find it.

  26. greenbaggins said,

    February 22, 2007 at 1:57 pm

    Paul, you are artificially restricting Kline’s meaning. By your interpretation, he would have to take an exception to chapter 19.1-2 of the WS, which firmly says that the moral law was given to Adam in the CoW, and republished in the Mosaic covenant. Kline is usually seen as upholding rather fervently such a view. As I said, you have not remotely proved your point. What you are saying is a bit like saying, “Kline says ‘apple,’ therefore he is denying ‘orange,'” when as a matter of fact, apples and oranges are both fruit.

  27. greenbaggins said,

    February 22, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    Paul, you need to re-read Kingdom Prologue, pp. 107-117.

  28. David McCrory said,

    February 22, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    Todd, I’m sorry to say I haven’t. With other commitments I’m doing well with sifting through the comments here and trying to interact some. Will you repost the link, I’ll try to read it?

  29. Todd said,

    February 22, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    Here it is:

    http://www.etsjets.org/jets/journal/47/47-2/47-2-pp253-275_JETS.pdf

    Let us know what you think.

  30. Todd said,

    February 22, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    It doesn’t seem to me that Paul is saying the Kline denies anything. Instead, Paul simply seems to appreciate where Kline places the emphasis.

  31. Todd said,

    February 22, 2007 at 3:16 pm

    Lane, do you believe that “righteousness of God” in Romans 3:21-31*always* refers to the righteousness of Christ? Or are there various meanings for the phrase in that section?

  32. greenbaggins said,

    February 22, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    Yes, I think that “righteousness of God” always refers, *at least* to Christ’s righteousness. In verses 25-26, it surely includes more than Christ’s earned righteousness, but not less. The reason one cannot exclude Christ’s righteousness there is that it is Christ’s righteousness that allows God to pass over former sins, and to be just and justifer.

    Todd, Paul says this, “It is not for nothing that Kline’s student Lee Irons denied the Moral Law was binding.” How is that not saying that Kline denies the moral law in the Adamic covenant?

  33. David McCrory said,

    February 22, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    I’ve read Bird’s paper. It seems to be a good treatment of the specific issue of imputation as it relates to the critical text in Romans. I find no sympathy with Wright in his view that righteouness is merely “legal fiction”. As far as I’m concerned, he’s a liberal in sheep’s clothing. I’m not familiar with Gundry apart from this paper, but of what is said here I’m not persuaded. I find myself lining up with Piper. Big surprise, eh? The simple reason is I agree with the notion the words “imputation of Christ’s righteouenss” don’t have to be present and in that order for it to be implied and biblical.

    It seems Paul uses book-keeping language here in Romans, and in Phillipians where all his accolades are “counted” but a loss (a debit against an account) and having Christ is accounted as a credit. It seems an appropriate analogy to describe the relationship between our sin and Christ’s goodness. Yet in saying this, I believe in speaking about the imputed righteouness of Christ, we must be aware of what we are specifically discussing and regard the limitations of this language in dealing with the overall purposes of God’s redemptive work. This is one aspect and should not be construde as a wholistic treatment of the matter. I tend to be a bit of a strict biblicist myself and like to see biblical language used and applied. I understand some of what Piper and others are doing goes beyond this. But finally, I don’t think the historic reformed framework as laid out by Bird regarding the imputation of Christ’s righteouness in any way compromises our broader understanding of how we should define our union with Christ and all it entails.

  34. Todd said,

    February 22, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    In what way is it Christ’s righteounsness that is manifested apart from the law? Isn’t Christ’s righteousness precisely his lawkeeping?

  35. Todd said,

    February 22, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    The question in 34 was for Lane.

    David: “I find no sympathy with Wright in his view that righteouness is merely “legal fiction”.”

    This is either shorthand for something or it’s a misrepresentation. Wright doesn’t say that righteousness is legal fiction, does he?

  36. greenbaggins said,

    February 22, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    Christ’s righteousness is under the law in terms of His law-keeping, but apart from the law when applied to us.

  37. Stewart said,

    February 22, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    “Christ’s righteousness is under the law in terms of His law-keeping, but apart from the law when applied to us.

    Lane, you can’t leave that just hanging out there. You’ve got to elaborate a bit.

  38. Stewart said,

    February 22, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    “Obedience is better than sacrificed. The meaning of this Scriptural statement is not limited to a forbidding of insincere hearts. Rather, obedience is actually separated from sacrifice”

    Also, could you revisit this at some point?

  39. David McCrory said,

    February 22, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    Todd, I dunno. That’s straight out of Bird’s paper.

  40. David McCrory said,

    February 22, 2007 at 5:03 pm

    Todd, what are your thoughts on Bird’s work?

  41. Ben D. said,

    February 22, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    Lane,

    In comment 11, how do you come to the conclusion that an Adam-Christ contrast is “inherent” in Phil 2? It seems fairly clear that Christ’s “becoming obedient to the point of death” is referring to his willingly laying down his life for the sake of redeeming his people. Otherwise why is this set up as a pattern of self-sacrificial love for us to follow in Phil 2:3-5?

    It appears to me that you would have to read a lot into Phil 2 to find Christ’s obedience being obedience to the “moral law,” meriting salvation.

    This obedience would include the obedient path he took toward the cross, but only as this is obedience to the task given him by the Father to die vicariously for his people (e.g. John 17:4 speaking proleptically of John 19:30).

  42. greenbaggins said,

    February 22, 2007 at 6:03 pm

    BOQ It seems fairly clear that Christ’s “becoming obedient to the point of death” is referring to his willingly laying down his life for the sake of redeeming his people. EOQ This is no reason to kabosh the Adam-Christ connection, which is there because of vs. 6b, and the emphasis on humanity in verses 7-8. Jesus does the exact opposite of what Adam did. It is implicit in the text, I believe. I think that if one compares this passage with Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Cor 15, one will find ample reason to say that the Adam-Christ parallel is there in the text.

    There is no justification at all in the text for saying that the obedience that Jesus renders is to the Father and not to the law. Where do you find it in the text? I see the Adam-Christ typology, which leads me to believe that the obedience of Christ counters the disobedience of Adam. But you have to import obedience to the Father (which even there does not mean that the law is not in view) into the text to make your point.

  43. Todd said,

    February 22, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    “There is no justification at all in the text for saying that the obedience that Jesus renders is to the Father and not to the law. Where do you find it in the text?”

    Argument from silence, right?

  44. Ben D. said,

    February 22, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    I’ll admit the point about obedience to the Father, I was not being careful with my language.

    However, I have to admit that I am at a loss to see an Adam parallel here. If there is one, it is so extremely subtle that I can’t see it.

    However, it still seems to me that the most natural and simple way to take obedience here is “obedience unto death.” How this can be thought to refer to obedience to the law is another point that I am completely unable to see.

    Certainly the law does not stipulate that Christ had to die on the cross to fulfill it. So how can obedience unto death by obedience unto the law? Law is not even brought into the discussion here.

    I am open to being proved wrong on this, I just can’t for the life of me see any justification for taking “obedience unto death” to mean “obedience unto the law.”

    If Christ is said to be obedient to the law here, resulting in his exaltation, then would that not mean that the Christian pattern is to follow him in his obedience to the law, rather than his obedience in suffering and death? And would that not destroy the whole point of the call for us to live in self-sacrificial love toward fellow Christians, in imitation of Christ (vss. 1-5)?

    Anyways, I probably sound like I am beating a dead horse, so I’ll give you the last word on this Lane.

  45. Ben D. said,

    February 22, 2007 at 8:07 pm

    In the fourth paragraph above I said “So how can obedience unto death by obedience unto the law?” but meant to say: “So how can obedience unto death be obedience unto the law?”

  46. Todd said,

    February 22, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    David, here’s why I like the Bird paper, in no particular order:

    1. Critical of Wright where criticism is appropriate.
    2. Appreciative of Wright where appreciation is appropriate.
    3. Bird is clear about the difference between what a NT text actually says and what may be a legitimate ST way of answering other kinds of questions. That’s my sloppy way of summarizing this paragraph along with one of its footnotes, which I copied here the other day:

    “Third, the notion of “imputation” is entirely legitimate within the field of
    systematic theology as a way of restating the forensic nature of justification
    over and against alternative models.44 However, it is not the language of
    the NT. What is proposed below is that justification is forensic, eschatological,
    effective, and covenantal. The basis of justification lies exclusively in
    Jesus the Messiah, who is our substitute and representative, whereby God’s
    verdict against us is transformed into God’s vindication of us and culminates
    in God’s cosmic vivification of believers in the last day.45 Moreover,
    justification consists of an alien righteousness. But how is that righteousness
    apprehended? Imparted righteousness is to be rejected for sure, but in
    the words of G. E. Ladd, “Paul never expressly states that the righteousness
    of Christ is imputed to believers.”46 What is set out below is that believers
    are incorporated into the righteousness of Christ. The matrix for understanding justification is union with Christ. It is the contention of this study that several passages in the Pauline corpus support this perspective.”

    Note 44: “For instance, in the sphere of biblical theology one may ask of the Pauline corpus, “How are people justified?” (a question that Paul does address) where an appropriate answer would be, “through union with Christ and incorporation into his righteousness.” However, if one moves to the realm of systematic theology and asks, “How does union with Christ justify?” (a question that Paul does not address), then an answer along the lines of imputed righteousness is apt. See further D. A. Carson, “The Vindication of Imputation: On Fields of Discourse and, of Course, Semantic Fields,” in “Justification”: What’s at Stake in the Current Debates? (ed. M. A. Husbands and D. J. Treier; Downers Grove, IL: IVP, forthcoming 2004). I wish to state that my thoughts on this point have been shaped largely by D. A. Carson’s lectures on justification at the Sydney Presbyterian Hall in 2001.

  47. Todd said,

    February 22, 2007 at 8:29 pm

    4. Emphasis on union with Christ.
    5. Emphasis on resurrection of Christ. Too many summaries of justification ignore it.

  48. Todd said,

    February 22, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    6. Introduces a cool, newish term: incorporated righteousness.

  49. Todd said,

    February 22, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    And here’s an interesting post about Owen and the imputation of active obedience.

    http://motherkirk.blogspot.com/2007/02/imputation-of-christs-active-obedience.html

    I like it because the blogger writes a bit like David G.: “complete and utter rubbish”!

  50. Todd said,

    February 22, 2007 at 10:50 pm

    7. Critical of Piper where criticism is appropriate.
    8. Appreciative of Piper where appreciation is appropriate.

  51. pd said,

    February 22, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    Testing:

    Kline on Lying:

    http://www.kerux.com/documents/keruxv16n1a1.htm

    “The enemies of the theocracy lost the ordinary right to hear the truth as that is guaranteed by the ninth commandment. Insofar, therefore, as the theocratic agent did not deny God (or, to put it differently, did not violate the immutable principles of the first three laws of the Decalogue), he might with perfect ethical propriety deceive such as had hostile intent against the theocracy.”

  52. xduggie said,

    February 22, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    Hmm. My comments were eaten. Maybe Lane can recover them. Or is there some other problem?

    Anyway, I don’t see where Kline affirms the Moral Law as the thing Adam had to do to merit.

    That part of Kingdom prolog is supposed to be here: Is that what you meant? “Moral law” doesnt’ appear there.

    http://www.upper-register.com/papers/answering_objections.html

    He says of the relation between the decalog and 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” Is “typological re-enactment” the same thing the Confession is speaking of?

  53. yduggie said,

    February 22, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    “It doesn’t seem to me that Paul is saying the Kline denies anything. Instead, Paul simply seems to appreciate where Kline places the emphasis.”

    I’m not sure what I think about Kline here. I cited Irons not to say Kline denies, but just to note that its a zone his theology might be perceived as deficient in. I only find a failure to affirm the moral law so far. Happy to be corrected.

  54. greenbaggins said,

    February 23, 2007 at 9:43 am

    Ben, have you considered the import of “mechri” in verse 8? I could not see that you acknowledged its force. The word does mean “to,” as in “obedient to death itself,” but “up to the point of.” If Jesus’ obedience is “up to the point of death,” then there is no possible way of eliminating the law from consideration. Christ’s obedience all the way through His life is the subject of praise here (the time frame must surely be dictated by the “becoming a man” in verse 7, i.e., the Incarnation. From there up to death constitutes Christ’s humbling of Himself, and it is that humbling of Himself that is obedient “up to the point of death.” Christ’s obedience was not rendered to death itself. Verse 9’s “dio” forbids such an interpretation. It was *because of* Christ’s obedience up to the point of death that God the Father exalted Him, and gave Him the name that is above every name. So, the entire life of Christ is in view as the subject of obedience. Therefore, one cannot exclude the law from Christ’s obedience.

    Paul, not sure why your comments are being eaten. I hate it when that happens. Paul, Kline affirms that law was the basis of the CoW. I would definitely interpret the quotation you brought in as saying, in effect, that Sinai was a recapitulation of the moral law. I see no problem with saying that.

  55. Stewart said,

    February 23, 2007 at 10:08 am

    Ben,

    Although the tone of the passage seems to have Christ vocation in mind, I’d have to side with Lane and say that Phil 2 could indeed refer to Christ’s a”ctive obedience.” As he says, it says no less than that. However, I would qualify this by saying that “active obedience” has nothing to do with salvation earning “merit.” Christ was not a Boy Scout that earned his salvation merit badge.

  56. pdugi said,

    February 23, 2007 at 10:14 am

    The moral law and decalogue are given as a probationary assigment?

    “he was to come as the second Adam in order to undergo a representative probation and by his obedient and triumphant accomplishment thereof to establish the legal ground for God’s covenanted bestowal of the eternal kingdom of salvation on his people.”

  57. pdugi said,

    February 23, 2007 at 10:41 am

    Hey, look: T David Gordon gave expert tesimony where he implied that Kline would take scruples w.r.t. WCF 19:2

    “I myself have registered the same scruple, because 19:2 could be understood as affirming that the Mosaic Decalogue was given to Adam. Such an understanding would be plainly in conflict with the apostle Paul’s saying “Sin was in the world before the Law” (Rom. 5:13). Mr. Irons has the same concern about chapter nineteen that other orthodox men have had.”

    and then he goes on to cite Kline as one of those men:

    “It is needless to cite here Meredith Kline’s many statements about the distinctive nature of the Israelite theocracy, or, therefore, the distinctive nature of her covenant stipulations, summarized in the Decalogue. And, while I recognize that Dr. Kline’s views have not won the universal approval of his generation, as a matter of ecclesiastical-historical fact, neither he, nor Bavinck, nor Fairbairn, have had their views disqualified by any Reformed church.”

    But Irons did. What about Gordon? He posts here from time to time, no?

  58. pdugi said,

    February 23, 2007 at 10:49 am

    Hey look: Bavinck says the ultimate test of the moral law for Adam was FAITH

    “In the probation-command the entire moral law was staked on a single throw, as it were, for Adam; for him the former incorporated the dilemma: God or man,
    God’s authority or his own insight, unconditional obedience or independent
    investigation, faith or doubt”

    All these FV heretics keep popping up in the oddest places!

  59. Ben D. said,

    February 23, 2007 at 10:59 am

    Okay so I shouldn’t have said I would give the last word (I can’t restrain myself, please forgive me): however this comment is simply to acknowledge that I agree with you Lane and Stewart that obedience covers Christ’s entire life, the question that I was attempting to highlight is the nature of that lifelong obedience. Is it obedience to the law? Or is it obedience in humiliation and suffering (as a model for the Christian)? Contextually I see no justification for saying it is obedience to law. If you already believe that Christ’s vocation was to obey the 613 statutes of Torah in order to merit salvation for his people, then of course you will include this in your understanding of “obedience unto death”. If on the other hand you stick to the text at hand, I think it is clear that Christ’s obedience is described as being of a different nature. This does not rule out Christ’s active law-keeping obedience being found elsewhere in the NT, but I think the intent of Phil 2 is to show something altogether different.

    I guess I shouldn’t be so hasty to say what my last word on something will be :-).

  60. Todd said,

    February 23, 2007 at 11:11 am

    “This does not rule out Christ’s active law-keeping obedience being found elsewhere in the NT,”

    Another important question is how central Jesus’ law-keeping is to the gospel narratives. What do M, M, L, and J emphasize about the life of Christ? Torah observance? Or Israel fulfillment? No contradiction between these two, of course, but where is the emphasis?

  61. Stewart said,

    February 23, 2007 at 11:17 am

    Ben said,

    “Contextually I see no justification for saying it is obedience to law. If you already believe that Christ’s vocation was to obey the 613 statutes of Torah in order to merit salvation for his people, then of course you will include this in your understanding of “obedience unto death”. If on the other hand you stick to the text at hand, I think it is clear that Christ’s obedience is described as being of a different nature.”

    Ben, I can totally see why you draw this conclusion. In fact, I lean toward this conclusion, and see the passage as primarily speaking of “passive obedience.” I just can’t completely rule out Lane’s understanding.

  62. Stewart said,

    February 23, 2007 at 11:18 am

    I can can, however, rule out Lane’s understanding of active obedience as merit points that earn us salvation.

  63. greenbaggins said,

    February 23, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    Stewart, you can rule it out because you have already ruled it out, not because you have actually looked at the WS’s position on the topic. Don’t be condescending. Paul and Ben, you are making a fundamental historical error. My position is not that the Ten Commandments *as encoded in that form* were given to Adam. Instead, I say that it was the moral law that was given to Adam, and was later encoded in the Ten Commandments. The moral law changes form as it is given to different bodies of people. As it was given to all humanity in Adam, it looked like the CoW. As given to national Israel, it looked different. Christ upholds the same moral law in the NT, but it looks a little different from either of the two previous things. Stewart, you can use all the rhetoric you want to about “brownie points,” but the fact of the matter is that the Reformed position is that Christ earned our salvation. Re-read the post on merit in the Reformed Fathers. Whatever your position is, it is **not** Reformed.

  64. John said,

    February 23, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    Lane, your point about the “root fallacy” being committed in exegeses of Phil. 2 is questionable, though I grant that the context must always be taken into account in our exegesis of a particular word.

    Lusk and Jordan are hardly the only ones who take “given” to refer to a free gift. I’m not in my office right now and don’t have access to my commentaries, but I believe Silva takes it that way, too. And there may be others.

    The context does talk about Christ’s obedience unto death and connects that to his exaltation with the word “therefore.” But it doesn’t indicate that the reward was wages for work done; it doesn’t indicate that the obedience merited the exaltation. That doesn’t have to be the sense of “therefore.”

    In fact, Paul is holding up Christ as a pattern for the Philippians. He wants them to have the mindset of Jesus Christ, who, during His earthly life, emptied himself (pouring his soul out in death), humbled himself, and obeyed to the point of death on the cross and who was therefore exalted.

    The assurance is that if the Philippians have the mindset of Christ among themselves (2:5) they will also be exalted out of all their troubles. Now, they won’t be given the name above every name, as Christ was, but they will receive glory with Christ (as chapter 3 indicates).

    Christ humbled himself and therefore God exalted him. Have Christ’s mindset and God will exalt you, Paul is saying. But if Christ’s exaltation was merited, then Paul would be implying that ours is too. On the contrary: both Christ and we ourselves will receive exaltation on the path that leads to glory, but neither (in this passage) will have earned it.

    That, it seems to me, is the context and that’s what inclines me to see “gave” in v. 9 as a free gift, a gracious gift in response to what Christ did.

  65. markhorne said,

    February 23, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    “God does demand perfect obedience to his law and that Christ has indeed provided this obedience on behalf of his people.”

    If this has already been dealt with, I apologize. My question is: if Jesus has provided perfect obedience and we are regarded as perfectly obedient by imputation, then why did Jesus need to die?

    I am not coming at this from the question of the representative role of Christ as our mediator. I think that does give us, by good and necessary consequence, in imputation of Christ’s whole obedience (not only then, but also now as He rules in submission to the Father).

    Rather, I’m asking about the specific needs of a sinner. If the curse on disobedience is done away with, then what more can the law demand?

    Also, I keep coming away from these discussions with the feeling that there is something conceptual that needs to be addressed. To my way of thinking, righteous and forgiven are like convex and concave. If Christ reckons us as sinless through forgiveness then he, in that act, reckons us as positively righteous. But when I hear defenders of IAO talk, forgiveness and positive righteousness seem more like peanut butter and jelly.

  66. pdugi said,

    February 23, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    Is the moral law given as a probation? Does following it have the charcater of a victory in a battle?

  67. Stewart said,

    February 23, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    Lane, is it your contention that the entire Westminster assembly understood the “covenant of works” and “active obedience” in exactly the same way that Klein articulates it?

  68. pdugi said,

    February 23, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    “The moral law changes form as it is given to different bodies of people. As it was given to all humanity in Adam, it looked like the CoW. As given to national Israel, it looked different.”

    Did it look like the 10 commandments to Adam? If not, what did it look like?

  69. Ben D. said,

    February 23, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    Lane, even if I concede your point about the moral law, that doesn’t really get to the heart of what I am saying. Torah, moral law, or whatever, I simply cannot see anything other than lifelong obedience in humiliation, culminating in the obedient act of dying on the cross being described in Phil 2.

    Mark, you asked this: “If this has already been dealt with, I apologize. My question is: if Jesus has provided perfect obedience and we are regarded as perfectly obedient by imputation, then why did Jesus need to die?”

    I don’t think any proponents of IAO argue that perfect law-keeping obedience is sufficient for our salvation. Law-keeping obedience is necessary on this way of thinking because it is Jesus’ earning the righteousness-that-is-imputed to believers, the postive righteousness that the covenant of works demands (and Adam failed to supply). The cross is still fundamentally necessary (but only post-fall) in this line of reasoning because it is the satisfaction for sins.

    But maybe I misunderstood your question.

    John, I think you would at least have to admit that Christ’s obedience (however understood… and I see it the same way you do in this passage) is the causal result of Christ being given a name above all names. Correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t think ‘dio’ can take any other sense than that of “logical conclusion” or “deduction” as BDAG indicates (which lists only one sense for the word, that of “inferential conjuction,” indicating a translation of “therefore=for this reason”).

  70. greenbaggins said,

    February 23, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    John, BOQ The context does talk about Christ’s obedience unto death and connects that to his exaltation with the word “therefore.” But it doesn’t indicate that the reward was wages for work done; it doesn’t indicate that the obedience merited the exaltation. That doesn’t have to be the sense of “therefore.” EOQ But what are your reasons for denying this aspect of “dio?” Could it be that a preconceived idea of ST is governing your interpretation of Scripture at this point? ;-) “Doesn’t have to be” is not the same as “exegetically wrong.” As you have admitted in your response, there are non-exemplary aspects of Jesus’ acts. Surely the main point of exemplary conduct in this context is the attitude, or mind (vs. 5). We are to be thinking the same way, even if the circumstances, while similar, are not identical. Therefore, “But if Christ’s exaltation was merited, then Paul would be implying that ours is too” does not follow, since aspects of Christ’s work are not-exemplary. The rest of Paul’s writings abundantly rule out the notion of our earning our own salvation. Therefore, your objection does not hold with regard to understanding from this passage that Christ earned our salvation. John, what do you make of all the Reformed fathers who have consistently said that Christ earned our salvation? Are they wrong? See comment 16 for the link.

    Mark, Christ’s death involves the wiping out of our sins. Christ’s active obedience does not do that, but rather earns for us eternal life. There are two needs that we have: forgiveness and eternal life, as you say. No amount of law-keeping will wipe away sin. Even Christ’s active obedience to the law does not wipe away our sin. That’s why Christ needed to die: to wipe away our sin. Then, Christ’s obedience earns eternal life for us.

    Paul, I do not think that Kline is wrong in his estimation. I just think that Kingdom Prologue, in the passage I quoted to you earlier, affirms the WS’s approach to the moral law, and that Kline is teasing out further implications of what Adam’s victory would have looked like. Adam was set to guard the garden from intruders such as the Tempter. If he had held fast, he would have won what could be described as a military victory, which would *also* have been his obedience to the moral law. Adam quite certainly had the summary of the moral law: love the Lord your God with all your soul, strength, mind, and body, and love your neighbor as yourself (though there weren’t a whole lot of neighbors around at that time! ;-) Although there was his wife. She counts, and actually, he violated the second table of the law by listening to his wife when she pushed for sin).

    Stewart, I believe that all the Westminster divines understood the moral law as given to Adam and as re-given at Mt. Sinai. That is absolutely certain.

  71. greenbaggins said,

    February 23, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    Ben, I guess my point is that if anything of Christ is imputed to us, then all of His law-keeping is, since Christ cannot be divided. Christ’s obedience is one whole. If we are clothed with His Righteousness, then we are clothed with all of it.

  72. Stewart said,

    February 23, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    Lane said, “Stewart, I believe that all the Westminster divines understood the moral law as given to Adam and as re-given at Mt. Sinai. That is absolutely certain.”

    Lane, that’s not what I asked. Nice dodge. I’ll ask again.

    Is it your contention that the entire Westminster assembly understood the “covenant of works” and “active obedience” in exactly the same way that Klein articulates it?

  73. greenbaggins said,

    February 23, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    I will re-iterate my answer, Stewart, because I don’t agree with the way you are wording the question. The question is not whether the divines knew what Kline knows. The question is whether Kline is in agreement with the WS. He is. In other words, I don’t like the question.

  74. markhorne said,

    February 23, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    But if Adam was created righteous, how can I define him as lacking righteousness in order to be granted eternal life?

    It seems to me that Jordan’s maturity model will inevitably be the only way to account for the data. Either we have to deny that Adam was morally righteous at creation or else we have to say that the eschatology of the Garden had something other than righteousness in view.

    Take the last word.

  75. greenbaggins said,

    February 23, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    Morally innocent, yes, Adam had that. *Proven and tested* moral righteousness, no, he didn’t have that. He had not undergone temptation and testing. He had been given the car in neutral, as it were. He needed to go forward with the car. He didn’t do that, but went backward in sin. Christ puts us in neutral (forgiveness of sins), *and* puts the car in a forward gear (earns eternal life for us).

  76. pdugi said,

    February 23, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    Kline understands a probationary test was given to adam, and then was typologically re-enacted by Israel in the Mosaic code’s works principle of typological inheritance of the temporal land. Jesus fulfilment of the mosaic code is merely typological of the thing he “really” does for all humanity, which is pass the probation of resisting the devil.

    His studied refusal to speak of the Moral Law when he speaks of the grounds of inheritance is amazing

    “According to the terms stipulated by the Creator it would be on the ground of man’s faithful completion of the work of probation that he would be entitled to enter the Sabbath rest.”

    I wonder how Adam was to “do” the Sabbath (4th part of the moral law) in order to earn the right to enter the Sabbath.

    The Sabbath issue I think is a fatal flaw of Kline system. It likely flows from his framework hypothesis where he sees narratvie tensions and indeterminate ammounts of time all over the narrative.

  77. greenbaggins said,

    February 23, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    You’re assuming that when Kline says “works,” he has no reference to the moral law inherent in that. That’s quite a stretch, given that he’s a WS guy. you still haven’t interacted with KP, the pages I’ve quoted.

  78. pdugi said,

    February 23, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    You quoted a huge number of pages. Want to cite a paragraph or so where he lays out that Adam merits through obedience to moral law.

    Kline doesn’t say “works” he says “the work”. He also says “one act”. Contrary to the guy at the start, Kline seems to think the “one act” issue is important exetically, (does he not?) which is why he seems pleased to have boiled it down to the tree-probation. (He also doesn’t say “moral law”).

    His article is proving that there are works involved in the garden, rather than grace. He proves that there are works, because Adam had a task to “do” (the test of righteousness, as you put it). Adam had the probation of the tree. Israel had the probation of the decalog and tora. Jesus had (only typologically) the theocratic probation of the torah too, but the thing that Jesus does for everyone is Adamic. Jesus earns righteousness for Jews AND GENTILES as second adam versus the devil in the wilderness, not as new israel with a torah to fulfil for a land inheritance.

    Kline is a textualist. He knows a covenant has to have stipulations. That’s what makes a covenant “legal”, to be Law, and to earn merit thereby it, and to make it “of works”. He also knows Adam had exactly ONE stipulation, as opposed to the ten stipulations that come in WAY later.

  79. greenbaggins said,

    February 23, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    10 pages is a huge number of pages? Kline couldn’t possibly believe that the one stipulation included in it “love the Lord your God,” I suppose.

  80. pdugi said,

    February 24, 2007 at 8:22 am

    Sure he *could*. Where is the evidence he does?

    Covenant stipulations are supposed to be specific and legal. I think thats how Kline is construing them.

    “According to the terms stipulated by the Creator it would be on the ground of man’s faithful completion of the work of probation”

    The work of probation is THE ground. Its the One Act. Are you claiming Kline would agree with VanDrunen and Murray on the nature of the “one act”? I think its clear he is distinguishing his view from both (esp Murray)

  81. greenbaggins said,

    February 24, 2007 at 9:16 am

    The evidence that he does has to do with the very fact that he says “law” all the time. To what other law can he possibly be referencing, if not the moral law?

  82. Todd said,

    February 24, 2007 at 9:20 am

    Why not the probationary law about the tree?

  83. November 25, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    “VanDrunen shows that Calvin, the 3FU, the WS, Turretin, Witsius, Hodge, Vos, Murray, and Berkhof all hold to the active obedience of Christ imputed to the believer. The selection of quotations is quite apt, in my judgment. Then, VanDrunen shows that various proponents of FV theology deny this: Jordan, Shepherd, Lusk, Sandlin….”

    Sandlin does indeed deeny that the imputation of active obedience is an aspect of the ground of justification.

    But Sandlin is not a proponent of either the FV or the NPP.

    Or so he tells me.

  84. Robert K. said,

    November 25, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    Sandlin’s in the primordial soup of it all though, isn’t he…


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