Wilson responds to my post here. I would say that Wilson’s post definitely clarifies some issues on where Wilson stands on the law/Gospel issue.
First of all, I agree with Wilson that there is an aspect of the law/Gospel distinction that is in the heart of a person. I would disagree that the law/Gospel distinction is not also in the text. What Wilson says is “promises and imperatives” I interpret as Gospel and law respectively. Of course the law looks differently to a non-believer than to a believer. In the former situation, the law is the enemy. In the latter situation, the law is our friend. However, that does not change the law into the Gospel. One is reminded of T. David Gordon’s critique of Rich Lusk’s comment on this (Lusk had said that the Mosaic law was simply the Gospel in pre-Christian form): “This strikes me as analogous to saying: ‘Early-1944 Hiroshima was simply a Japanese city in pre-nuclear form.’” (See _By Faith Alone_, pg. 119).
Wilson hones in on my use of the word “use.” Wilson defines “use” as “It means that the same passage applies differently to different people in different situations.” However, later on he says, “We cut through all the confusion if we allow that there is a CoW use (for those under the law) and a CoG use (for those not under the law).” Does this not undercut his use of the term “use?” The latter sentence would seem to require fixed, exclusive categories (i.e., those under the law cannot use the law in a CoG sense, and vice versa). This is a tad confusing. Or is Wilson saying that the three uses are fluid in their application, whereas the categories he has introduced are fixed? Are not the three uses of the law biblical? Were the Westminster divines misreading Scripture?
I must confess that this sentence made no sense whatever to me: “Those not under the law are constantly reminded of their sinfulness by the holy law of God, and so the first use of the law applies to them provisionally, but not really and actually.” What is Wilson trying to avoid by using this qualification?
The similarity between the Garden and Sinai is paraphrased by Wilson as follows: “‘Always do what God says, the way He says to do it.’ That applies both in the Garden, and on the mountain.” To me this is a bit vague. Would it not be more accurate to say that God commanded Adam to love the Lord his God with all his heart, soul, strength, and mind, and love his neighbor as himself? Surely, to love God in this way would have been to obey the one prohibition given to Adam, and to obey the cultural mandate given to him. Also implicit in the Garden (though not difficult to see) is that the purpose for which God put Adam in the Garden must have been told to him. God put him there to tend the Garden (see Beale’s excellent book on what this means) and to guard it (presumably against intruders; again, see Beale, and now Fesko). FV’ers are fond of pointing out that the prohibition was the only command given to Adam, and therefore Adam didn’t have the moral law given to him as a Covenant of Works. But this is not true. The cultural mandate was given to Adam, as was the prohibition, as was the implicit command in the purpose statement of Genesis 2:15. Plainly, Adam’s motivation for doing these things was to be love for his God, and love for his wife (hence the moral law). By good and necessary consequence…
One point that keeps on cropping up in these discussions is the Tree of Life. I have no problem with saying that Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Life in the Garden. Nor do I have any problem saying that it was a sacramental tree. But where I stick is in the inference usually drawn from this: that Adam could not have obeyed to obtain something further. The problem here is the assumption that, in the critics’ position, the Tree of Life symbolizes everything for which Adam was to strive. It doesn’t. 1 Corinthians 15 makes that very plain (again, see Fesko, building on Gaffin, for this argumentation). Adam would have obtained not “maturity,” but the glorified body. The glorified body was not symbolized by the Tree of Life. 1 Corinthians 15:44b (note: NOT verse 44a, which is still talking about the post-Fall corpses of believers) refers to the Adamic pre-Fall body (as is decisively proven by the fact that Paul proof-texts Genesis 2:7, which would be completely out of place if verse 44b was talking about the post-Fall body). Paul says that the pre-Fall body of Adam always pointed towards the glorified spiritual (not non-material!) body. This is that for which Adam was to obey the Covenant of Works and merit (by pact, not in any other way but agreement) not merely “eternal life,” as the WCF says, but a specific form of eternal life: the glorified body.