Controversial Book

This book is now in at WTS bookstore. It represents a full-scale treatment of the relationship of the Mosaic covenant to the Adamic covenant of works. Agree or disagree, it will be essential reading on the subject.

About these ads

23 Comments

  1. January 19, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Didn’t you already have a thread for this book?

  2. greenbaggins said,

    January 19, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Yes, but the book wasn’t published yet. For especially controversial books I usually let people know it’s coming, and then also when it’s available.

  3. Matt Beatty said,

    January 19, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Lane,

    Should we expect anything but what we’ve already heard/read? Anything new?

    Thanks,
    Matt

  4. greenbaggins said,

    January 19, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    I don’t know what’s in the book, Matt, although I am fairly certain that there is a detailed taxonomy of many different positions on the question. I’m hoping to get a review copy of it and review it on the blog.

  5. January 19, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Thanks.

  6. January 19, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    Call me crazy but I think the tagline that Re-Publication was “once a staple in Reformed theology” a bit much.

    Look forward to reading the book.

  7. Ronnie said,

    January 19, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    Do you know the list of contributing authors?

  8. jpc said,

    January 20, 2009 at 6:41 am

    …or just save your money and read the JSNT journal exchange between Cranfield and Dunn. It covers the major issues on “works of the law”. Read exchanges; don’t trust partison publishing to “treat the issues” for you.

  9. GLW Johnson said,

    January 20, 2009 at 8:18 am

    jpc
    Really? Naturally it it to be assumed that you have read this book, No?

  10. Ron Henzel said,

    January 20, 2009 at 10:53 am

    Benjamin,

    You wrote:

    [...] I think the tagline that Re-Publication was “once a staple in Reformed theology” a bit much.

    In a comment I made on Lane’s “Law and Gospel or Golawspel?” post I provided references going back to Jonathan Edwards to demonstrate the normative nature of the re-publication concept. This was in addition to Herman Witsius’s treatment, which we discussed in that comment thread. (The link to Witsius’s text can be found on that comment.) I highly recommend reading the complete citations I provided in those references along with Witsius, but for now I’ll provide relevant excerpts here that I think will provide ample evidence for the truth of the aforementioned tagline.

    In his discussion of the place of the Mosaic Law in redemptive history, Jonathan Edwards wrote:

    The covenant of works was here exhibited as a schoolmaster to lead to Christ, not only for the use of that nation, under the Old Testament, but for the use of God’s church throughout all ages of the world.

    [Jonathan Edwards, “History of Redemption,” IV.III in Works, 1:547-548)]

    Likewise, Charles Hodge wrote:

    Besides this evangelical character which unquestionably belongs to the Mosaic covenant, it is presented in two other aspects in the Word of God. First, it was a national covenant with the Hebrew people. In this view the parties were God and the people of Israel; the promise was national security and prosperity; the condition was the obedience of the people as a nation to the Mosaic law; and the mediator was Moses. In this aspect it was a legal covenant. It said, “Do this and live.” Secondly, it contained, as does also the New Testament, a renewed proclamation of the original covenant of works. It is as true now as in the days of Adam, it always has been and always must be true, that rational creatures who perfectly obey the law of God are blessed in the enjoyment of his favour; and that those who sin are subject to his wrath and curse. Our Lord assured the young man who came to Him for instruction that if he kept the commandments he should live.

    [Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:374-376]

    Herman Bavinck, while not as explicit, brings out a central dynamic of the covenant of works aspect of the Mosaic Law when he writes:

    The law of Moses, accordingly, is not antithetical to the covenant of grace but subservient to it… On the one hand, therefore, the law was subservient to the covenant of grace; it was not a covenant of works in disguise and did not intend that humans would obtain justification by their own works. On the other hand, its purpose was to lay the groundwork for a higher and better dispensation of that same covenant of grace to come in the fullness of time. The impossibility of keeping the Sinaitic covenant and of meeting the demands of the law made another and better dispensation of the covenant of grace necessary.

    [Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 3:222)]

    Finally, Berkhof, who, I am told, depended heavily on Bavinck, wrote:

    The Sinaitic covenant included a service that contained a positive reminder of the strict demands of the covenant of works. The law was placed very much in the foreground, giving prominence once more to the earlier legal element. But the covenant of Sinai was not a renewal of the covenant of works; in it the law was made subservient to the covenant of grace. This is indicated already in the introduction to the ten commandments, Ex. 20:2; Deut. 5:6, and further in Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:24. It is true that at Sinai a conditional element was added to the covenant, but it was not the salvation of the Israelite but his theocratic standing in the nation, and the enjoyment of external blessings that was made dependent on the keeping of the law, Deut. 28:1-14. The law served a twofold purpose in connection with the covenant of grace: (1) to increase the consciousness of sin, Rom. 3:20; 4:15; Gal. 3:19; and (2) to be a tutor unto Christ, Gal. 3:24.

    [Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 298)]

    To reiterate and slightly expand on something I wrote in my comment on “Law and Gospel or Golawspel?”: it is both surprising, as well as a sad testimony to the pervasive neglect of our own historical theology, that so many otherwise well-informed Reformed Christians today find the notion that the Mosaic Law was an administration of the Covenant of Grace that contained a republication of the Covenant of Works “controversial.”

  11. jpc said,

    January 20, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Nope. I’ve read a great deal of the pertinent literature that this new book will be treating and “weighing” for us. After reading a bit of it, one realizes that the key’s can be simplified—which I the Cranfield/Dunn exchange does. With significant issues like this, the preference should be to listen to and judge the debate oneself, rather than having the moderators (who have a dog in the race) tendentiously present it to us. This removes the selectivity which, sadly, we cannot assume to absent from scholarly works.

  12. Ron Henzel said,

    January 20, 2009 at 11:13 am

    jpc:

    Among the books I have read, and for some reason retain on my bookshelves, are Krister Stendahl’s Paul Among Jews and Gentiles; E.P. Sanders’ Paul and Palestinian Judaism, Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People, and Paul: A Very Short Introduction; James D.G. Dunn’s Jesus, Paul and the Law, and his Paul and the Mosaic Law (which he edited); and N.T. Wright’s The Climax of the Covenant, The New Testament and the People of God, and What Saint Paul Really Said. Based on what I have read from the post authors and commenters on this blog, I would not be surprised if others here have read much more from those on “the other side” of this issue than I have. So may we have your kind and learned permission to add a copy of The Law Is Not of Faith to our collections? We promise not to be hoodwinked by—oh, that reminds me: it’s spelled “partisans.”

  13. jpc said,

    January 20, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    yes, you have my permission.

  14. Ron Henzel said,

    January 20, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Whew!

    : )

  15. January 20, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Ron Henzel,

    Forgive me, but I think I may have read (much) more “from the other side”… : )

  16. January 20, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    There was supposed to be a : ) in the above, but it got split…

  17. Ron Henzel said,

    January 20, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    FTH:

    I freely grant the veracity of your assertion, but must one assent to jpc’s version of the “Fairness Doctrine” in order to grasp the major issues?

  18. jpc said,

    January 21, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Ron,

    Perhaps I can assist you in getting my thesis correct. Unmoderated exchanges are to be preferred to books like the one plugged in this post.

    That’s it.

    And given the context of my comments, I am speaking mainly to those who are not familiar with the issues, not one like you who has a library collection of related books. That’s why I don’t care if you put this book on your shelf too; but a newbie I would advise to hear a few exchanges first.

    Can one chose a method contrary to mine and thereby grasp the major issues? Absolutely. Didn’t my comments mention that that’s how I grasped the keys? But in retrospect, I think Cranfield/Dunn is ample.

    Later, one may sprinkle a little Paul Owen’s subjective genitive thesis and Fuller’s works = legalism thesis! :)

  19. G.C. Berkley said,

    January 21, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    “Paul Owen”

    There’s a name I haven’t heard of in while. Thanks for ruining everything, jpc…

  20. Patrick said,

    January 21, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Is there a list of contributors or table of contents of this book anywhere on the web?

  21. DJ said,

    January 21, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Patrick,

    The book is divided into 3 parts:

    Historical with J.V. Fesko, D.G. Hart, and Brenton C. Ferry.

    Biblical with Bryan Estelle, Richard Belcher Jr., Byron Curtis, Guys Waters, T. David Gordon, and S.M. Baugh.

    Theological with David VanDrunen and Michael Horton.

  22. Ron Henzel said,

    January 21, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    jpc,

    In comment 19 you wrote:

    Perhaps I can assist you in getting my thesis correct. Unmoderated exchanges are to be preferred to books like the one plugged in this post.

    That’s it.

    Well, as those who know me all realize, I need all the assistance I can get. But you went much further than that in your initial comment (#9). You wrote: “don’t trust partison [sic] publishing to ‘treat the issues’ for you.” I don’t know what you meant by “partisan,” but Webster’s primary definition is, “a firm adherent to a party, faction, cause, or person; especially: one exhibiting blind, prejudiced, and unreasoning allegiance.” If that’s what you meant, then you’ve leveled a fairly substantial allegation against the authors and publisher of The Law Is Not of Faith. Even if you didn’t intend to convey the idea of blind prejudice and unreasoning allegiance in your use of the word “partisan,” the fact remains that anyone who studies any issue with any degree of intellectual engagement is going to end up adhering to one side or another of that issue, and will in that limited sense end up having what we might call a “partisan” perspective.

    So, no, I don’t think you can now come back and say, “That’s it.” I believe that to say that we should not trust someone to present an issue just because he has studied it and come to his own conclusion about it is both cynical and absurd. And yet that’s what you seem to have said.

    You also wrote:

    And given the context of my comments, I am speaking mainly to those who are not familiar with the issues, not one like you who has a library collection of related books. That’s why I don’t care if you put this book on your shelf too; but a newbie I would advise to hear a few exchanges first.

    I went back and re-read your comments but I don’t see how you ever made it clear that you were primarily addressing newcomers to this topic. If you want to add that clarification now, I welcome it and to some extent agree with it.

    Often—though not always—reading the kind of exchange that took place between Cranfield and Dunn can serve as a helpful introduction to a controversial issue. But not everything Cranfield said about the relationship between Law and Gospel will be necessarily agreeable to everyone here, just I have often found that books that present multiple views on a topic by multiple authors do not always succeed in representing all major views on a controversial topic. And even if they did, they would only be a starting point for someone who wanted to seriously study that topic, and deeper study would require one to engage the so-called “partisan” presentations. I don’t see how you were recommending the Cranfield-Dunn exchange as a starting-point for serious study; it seems to me you presented it as a replacement for it (as per your “save your money” remark in comment 9, and your implication of tendentiousness concerning a book you never read in comment 12). But if you didn’t mean to say that, fine.

    You wrote:

    Can one chose a method contrary to mine and thereby grasp the major issues? Absolutely. Didn’t my comments mention that that’s how I grasped the keys? But in retrospect, I think Cranfield/Dunn is ample.

    OK, in comment 12 you asserted something to the effect that “the key’s can be simplified,” and now you say you “grasped the keys.” Am I correct in understanding your reference to “the keys” in comment 12 as synonymous with “the major issues” you mention in comment 19? Otherwise I find it difficult to make sense of that part of comment 12, which in turn shows just how problematic it can be at times to “boil down” our thoughts on complex issues in terms that communicate to everyone. This is why I do not trust the notion that a vast topic such as the relationship of the Mosaic covenant to the Adamic covenant of works can be “boiled down” by a single article such as the one you recommend, which was limited to a discussion of the phrase “works of the law,” a small subset of the subject covered in The Law Is Not of Faith, which in case you missed it was written to address the matter in the framework of Reformed confessionalism, whereas Cranfield and Dunn’s debate was confined to New Testament theology.

    Later, one may sprinkle a little Paul Owen’s subjective genitive thesis and Fuller’s works = legalism thesis! :)

    Please, don’t make me gag! I’ve read both Owen’s JBL article and Fuller’s book. How out-of-left-field can you get?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 337 other followers

%d bloggers like this: