OK, You’re Not Monocovenantal, You’re…Uhhh….Errr….

Posted by Wes White

Well, there’s no one quite like James Jordan. He’s come up with a post rebuking those who have called the FV “monocovenantal.” He does so by accusing most of the men on the committees who’ve looked at FV in the NAPARC denominations of being “evil men”:

How do you answer such evil men? They cannot find that you’ve ever written XYZ, and they cannot find that you’ve ever said XYZ, but they accuse you of it anyway. When you say you don’t believe XYZ, they call you a liar. I wish I were wrong about this, but it seems that these are the kind of men who staff the theological committees of pretty much all the “conservative” “Reformed” denominations these days. There is no charity, no benefit of the doubt, not even a phone call. The attitude is pretty clear; as Luther put it: They proudly say, “Now, where is he That shall our speech forbid us? By right or might we shall prevail; What we determine cannot fail; We own no lord and master!” (Luther, Psalm 12).

He goes on to say that they do believe in bi-covenantal structure. Here’s what he says:

The human race was created in covenant fellowship with God, but in a child form of that relationship. Human beings were under “law” administered by angels until they grew up. When the human race was ready, God entered into a new covenant, an adult covenant with humanity. The first covenant was in Adam and in the human beings that came from him, including Jesus the Christ. Jesus was born into the first covenant, and then through death and resurrection brought the new covenant, the covenant of maturity or glory. So, there are two overall covenants.

But, then, he goes on to say that there are eight covenants. He writes:

Beyond this, each of these eight covenants has an initial and then a full form. The Adamic covenant is “not good” until Adam has gone through a kind of death-sleep and then been glorified with a bride; then the covenant is “very good.” Similarly, the Sinaitic covenant has a first phase, in which the Ten Words are written on stone and in which the bride is merely part of the husband’s house in the Tenth Word; and then after the death and resurrection of Israel in the wilderness comes the full phase of the Sinaitic covenant, in which the Ten Words are now put in flesh through the voice of Moses and in which the bride is elevated in the Tenth Word to co-rule with her husband over the house. The same kind of move from initial to full form can be seen in each of the covenant administrations, once it is recognized that the “bride” is the community. Hence, again, the Prophetic covenant starts with Elijah as soloist, but after his departure, Elisha is seen always in community.

You can read the full post here.

Posted by Wes White

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25 Comments

  1. Jason said,

    June 7, 2010 at 1:51 am

    Jordan’s post was one of the most evasive, deceptive, lie-filled, convoluted rants I’ve read by that old fool. He denies “monocovenantalism” and then outlines it perfectly. He labels his personal esoteric speculations as “standard Reformed doctrine”. He castigates and caricatures Confessional doctrines as obscure modernist Klinean inventions. He has pulled the wool underwear over his followers eyes after giving them all intellectual wedgies. Unfortunately dedicated BH readers won’t take the time to check JBJ’s word against the WCF, Calvin’s Institutes, or much of anything else for that matter. Tilt at windmills Jimmy, tilt away.

  2. David Gadbois said,

    June 7, 2010 at 2:01 am

    Nice one, Wes. I think Federal Visionists honestly think they can “nuance” their way into orthodoxy simply by formally affirming two covenants, no matter how those covenants are defined and distinguished. To be bi-covenantal in the orthodox sense is not just to say that there is numerically 2 covenants, distinguished only by whatever small differences one can dream up and attribute to them. They must be fundamentally different in character, one defined by the demands of law, works, and righteousness gained through moral self-exertion. The other covenant is gracious in character, characterized by the moral exertion of Another, with the sole condition of passive/receptive, outward-looking faith as a requirement.

    Why is this so hard?

  3. GLW Johnson said,

    June 7, 2010 at 9:28 am

    Gee, at first glance one might think that JJ has disavowed his mentor Norman Shepherd…but,no, he hasn’t. He displays once again the FV game plan (drawn up in the dirt) which is to throw as many words as possible up against the wall to see if any of them will stick.

  4. PDuggie said,

    June 7, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Its always interesting when opponents just ritually cite a man as obviously wrong, without actually arguing why he is wrong.

    No actually, that’s not interesting.

    I see you really take the definition of the childhood covenant of Galatians 4 seriously, so that even though the covenant is with a son of God (Adam) God has so ordained it that the child Adam must earn the love of his Father by way of moral self exertion. I guess I should remember to tell my son, when he yells at me that I’m making him clean his room and says I’m treating him like a slave (he really yelled this at me, BTW) that, yes, God says that he is to be treated *exactly* as a slave.

    Not all reformed teachers defined the works of the covenant as righteousness to be *gained* by moral self-extertion. John Ball writes that the form of the Law in the Covenant God made with man in the state of Innocency is as follows

    “as it is propounded in form of a Covenant, as if he must necessarily perish, who doth neglect or break it in the least jot or tittle, and in this sense the Covenant of grace and works are opposite.”

    The fundamental difference of law in the first covenant and second then, for Ball, is that disobedience will kill you, not that obedience will merit you eternal life. The law doesn’t PROMISE Jesus resurrection for keeping the law perfectly. God promises him resurrection for falling under the curse, not the blessing of the law.

    How can righteousness be “gained” by Adam anyway. Adam was, for Ball “man entire and perfect, made after the Image of God in Righteousness and true holiness, furnished not only with a reasonable soul and faculties beseeming, but with divine qualities breathed from the whole Trinity, infused into the whole man, lifting up every faculty and power above his first frame, and enabling and fitting him to obey the will of God entirely, willingly, exactly, for matter and measure.”

    Ball also says that any continuance in the state of righteousness, had Adam fulfilled the covenant, would have been gift, not reward in justice

    “The good that God promised was in its kind a perfect system of good, which was to be continued so long as he continued obedient, which because it might be continued in the eye of creating power for ever, we call it happiness, life, and everlasting happiness. But upon a supposition of Adam’s persisting in a state of obedience, to say that God would have translated him to the state of glory in Heaven, is more than any just ground will warrant; because in Scripture there is no such promise. And if we must not presume above what is written, we may say, Adam should have continued in that blessed estate in which he was created, but as for his translation after some number of years spent on earth, we read it not. In this state and condition Adam’s obedience should have been rewarded in justice, but he could not have merited that reward. Happiness should have been conferred upon him, or continued unto him for his works, but they had not deserved the continuance thereof: for it is impossible the creature should merit of the Creator, because when he hath done all that he can, he is an unprofitable servant, he hath done but his duty.”

    What do you say to Ball?

  5. PDuggie said,

    June 7, 2010 at 9:40 am

    Here’s something in general I don’t get, I’m sure you’ll be happy to explain.

    We debate “manner of communion” between the covenants. In the first its works/law and in the second its grace/faith (in the second, law and faith sweetly comply, but maybe not in the first?)

    But is “manner of communion” really what is covered by faith and grace. I think Ball’s description of Adam’s gifts

    “man entire and perfect, made after the Image of God in Righteousness and true holiness, furnished not only with a reasonable soul and faculties beseeming, but with divine qualities breathed from the whole Trinity, infused into the whole man, lifting up every faculty and power above his first frame, and enabling and fitting him to obey the will of God entirely, willingly, exactly, for matter and measure.”

    Adam has that by creation gift. We’re restored to that by Grace in the Spirit. That, more than a “how do you feel” subjective approach, seems more like a ‘manner’ of communion to me.

    Where does this manner of communion term get defined, and what does it have to do with Ball’s description of Adam (and how we are renewed in Christ).

    Doesn’t that description HAVE to be common to both covenants? IIRC, we reason that Adam has knowledge, righteousness, and holiness on the very basis that that is what we have restored to us by the Spirit in Christ.

  6. Jeff Cagle said,

    June 7, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Dunno about Ball, but how did we shift from “Covenant of Works” with Adam over seeing a “Covenant of Works” in Galatians 4? Isn’t Gal 4 speaking of the Mosaic Covenant, which was an administration of the covenant of grace? I feel like I’m missing something…

  7. June 7, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Paul, as I read the Ball quote, I agree with it.

  8. PDuggie said,

    June 7, 2010 at 9:56 am

    The Sinai covenant, all parties agree (!) involves some kind of look back to the garden covenant. The childhood/immaturity, son/slavery, tutelary governorship aspects all fit the Genesis 1-2 context as well as Sinai.

    The Sinai covenant and Adamic covenant mutually inform each other, even while Sinai administers the covenant of Grace.

  9. GLW Johnson said,

    June 7, 2010 at 10:06 am

    pduggie
    Huh, exactly how does your last statement square with Paul’s arguement in Gal.4:21-31 and the sharp distinction bewteen the two mounts? How can Mt.Sinai administer the Jerusalem above?

  10. PDuggie said,

    June 7, 2010 at 10:13 am

    GLW Johnson. I don’t know. I just know the confession says that the Mosaic covenant is an admin of the Covenant of Grace.

    The Kerux guys say that one way to handle it is to say that Paul is using absolute language to deal with a relative contrast. Now that the covenant is revealed in Christ, the old Law looks awful by comparison, like a slave rule. But that law is holy and good too, and only failed because of the flesh.

    Sinai graciously kept you going till you get the gift of inheritance.

  11. Jeff Cagle said,

    June 7, 2010 at 10:13 am

    OK, so you are speaking of Gal 4 in a “looking back” (“republication”?) sense. Thanks.

    It seems clear to me that the Law was demeritive only, even hypothetically, because of the sin nature and because of the guilt inherited from Adam (“nevertheless, death ruled from Adam to the law”). It seems to follow that the “lesson” taught by the tutor of the Law was therefore the need for Christ, yes?

    But the covenant of works in the Garden functioned differently, since Adam lacked a sin nature.

    So that’s why I reacted to the identification of Gal 4 with the covenant of works. I can agree with and appreciate the idea of the Law as a look back at the covenant of works, but the tutoring function of the Law is not obviously present in the original covenant of works. Agree? Disagree?

  12. Jeff Cagle said,

    June 7, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Dr. Johnson (#9):

    In your view, what does the Confession mean by including Sinai under the covenant of grace (WCoF 7.4-6)?

  13. GLW Johnson said,

    June 7, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Jeff
    I do see the Mosaic Cov. as a republication of the CoW and Christ fulfiling it as the grounds for the CoG.This is how men like John Owen understood the subject. Strictly speaking this is what is meant by the term bi-covenantal. The stuff that Jordon is spinning is not remotely the same thing.

  14. todd said,

    June 7, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    I was looking for the part of Jordan’s post that explains the black helicopters. Must be in the next post.

  15. pduggie said,

    June 7, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    I don’t see any evidence or arguments that JBJ is actually *wrong* about the maturity distinction between the covenants. Does he have to be wrong about that for bi-covenantalism to be preserved?

    Mononcovenantalists seem to be accused of causing Christ’s work to merely put us back into the state of Adam and leave us to sink or swim on our own, but what Jordan is saying is that, instead, we gain much more in Christ than what we loose in Adam. Kline and some of the tradition focus on some kind of comprehensive fullness to Adam’s life that isn’t true to the full biblical picture. Kline wants to keep talking about all Adam is *invested* with and *clothed* with (priesthood, kingship, glory, righteousness) but ignores the textual emphasis on Adam’s *nakedness* (just as the text first highlights that Adam is alone)

    This article by William Wilder makes up for the deficiencies of Klines read of Adam http://studycenter.net/documents/Investiture.pdf

    Anyway, Adam is Priest and King, but not prophet. In Christ, all have matured to be prophets, speaking the life-giving and transforming word of God into a dead world bringing new life. That was NOT what Adam could do by the first covenant.

  16. David Gadbois said,

    June 8, 2010 at 12:12 am

    JBJ is wrong because maturity is not the difference between the two covenants. A lack of maturity may come with various deficiencies or weaknesses, but it is not *wrong* to be immature. It is wrong to sin and break God’s law. Sin is a moral/legal problem, not a maturity problem. So the pre-Fall covenant must be explained in moral/legal terms (the requirement of obedience to the commandment of Life, punishment for failure). And likewise the post-Fall covenant must provide a solution to the moral/legal problem humanity has as a result of breaking the first covenant. Therefore the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and the grace/gift character of receiving it.

  17. PDuggie said,

    June 8, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Moral/legal describes very well the man’s plight after the fall, but doesn’t tell us about what the first covenant’s purpose was positively. Man’s sin gives him a moral/legal problem, but its a problem caused by trespass against that which is not yet given. What was to be given?

    Righteousness imputed will put you back in the garden again, but how will anyone progress any further? Would we not be left as those of the earth, earthy, if we don’t receive more from Christ that his obedience to the earthly law?

    The reformed world needs to see the prohibition on the tree as more than just an arbitrary positive law that holds a timeless natural law behind it.

  18. David Gadbois said,

    June 8, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    PDuggie said Moral/legal describes very well the man’s plight after the fall, but doesn’t tell us about what the first covenant’s purpose was positively.

    It is sufficient to say, with the WCF, that Adam was promised life.

    This doesn’t deal with the fact that obedience to law was the requirement. Maturity was not the requirement.

    Man’s sin gives him a moral/legal problem, but its a problem caused by trespass against that which is not yet given.

    The commandment of Life was given. It was a trespass against God and his commandment. You have imbibed too much of Jordan’s Lord of the Rings biblical theology.

    Righteousness imputed will put you back in the garden again, but how will anyone progress any further?

    That is your assertion. The orthodox teaching, however, contends that Christ’s righteousness imputed does not just put us back in the garden, but gives us right to glorification and the new heavens and new earth.

  19. pduggie said,

    June 8, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    John Ball says that Adams obedience would NOT have given him a right to glorification in the new heavens

  20. pduggie said,

    June 8, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    “The commandment of Life was given. It was a trespass against God and his commandment.”

    Are you identifying the command not to eat of the tree as the commandment of life? If so, where is life promised?

    if not, where in the bible does the commandment of life get given to Adam. Are you doing natural theology to discover that, or Biblical exegesis?

    The commandment that was violated was “don’t eat from the tree or you will die”

    Ball doesn’t say that the difference in the way that law fucntions for adam and for us is that for Adam

    “as it is propounded in form of a Covenant, as if he must necessarily perish, who doth neglect or break it in the least jot or tittle, and in this sense the Covenant of grace and works are opposite.”

    Not that, for Adam and us grace and works are opposite because Adam was promised life for obedience.

  21. pduggie said,

    June 8, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    I’ll agree that Christ’s righteousness imputed WILL get us more than the garden, but that’ because Christ’s righteousness exceeds human lawkeeping, he suffers the curse of the law on our behalf (exercising for us the maturity that Adam never gained) and because it is infinitely worthy righteousness of his divine person.

    But the kind of law-righteousness from the immature garden-law you accept is only good for gardens. Its a happy inconsistency that you see it giving you more, but its not scripturally warranted. If it were, where is it warranted?

  22. pduggie said,

    June 8, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    any story with talking snakes, trees that grant eternal life or change human nature is going to sound like Lord of The Rings. Tolkien was no dummy.

  23. curate said,

    June 9, 2010 at 1:52 am

    I am interested to know if all advocates of the bi-covenantal structure favoured by Gadbois believe that the test in the garden was an historical event. Can I assume that these men also believe in historical six day creation? Following from that, do they condemn those who deny the historicity of Genesis 1 – 3?

    For, if the garden test did not happen, then there is no original covenant of works at all.

    IOW, what is the implication of this for those within the NAPARC churches who deny the historicity of Adam’s fall?

  24. curate said,

    June 9, 2010 at 1:56 am

    For the record, I firmly believe in six day creation, and the law/grace distinction in justification, and that this distinction has always existed. I mention this to show that I am not being disingenious in my post above.

  25. December 22, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    [...] this year, I posted on Green Baggins a summary of an article that James Jordan wrote this year explaining why he, James Jordan, was not [...]


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