The Leithart Trial: Dr. Jack Collins’ Defense of Peter Leithart’s View of the Covenant with Adam

The trial documents from the Peter Leithart trial are now available here.

Jason Stellman has begun to post some of the testimony from the trial here. I also want to post some of the testimony of the trial so we can discuss it here. I want to begin with discussing Dr. Jack Collins’ (professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary) testimony in regard to the covenant of works. Dr. Collins said that he found himself basically in agreement with Leithart on the covenant of works:

Leithart Defense: In your view, does Dr. Leithart’s view expressed as – - as expressed in the indictment contradict the teaching of Genesis 2 regarding the covenant God made with man in Eden and that – - that comes with, in a sense, a set of now predicable questions. Was there grace in that covenant? Was the fruit of the tree of life, often said to be the sacrament of that covenant, to be eaten by man in his innocence? Michael Horton, for example, has argued that Adam had to earn his right to the tree of life by his obedience. Comment in your – - on your understanding of the covenant made with Adam in the garden.

Collins: Well, I – - I find myself largely in – - in agreement with Dr. Leithart’s 8 discussion of God’s arrangement with Adam . . .

Since this seemed to be problematic, Jason Stellman asked him about this. I think he did a good job of getting at the heart of the issue, if perhaps relenting too early:

Stellman: Okay. I’m going to move on to the next issue brought up in direct concerning the covenant of works. And you’ve written, I’ve not read your books. Thank you for the plug. I – I – I will add it to my list of, my growing list of books I’d like to read, especially the one on the first four chapters of Genesis. Do you think that the prefall covenant, and I’m not going to use covenant of works, call it a covenant of life, or whatever. But the – - the covenant before the fall made with Adam, was it conditional and based upon Adam’s 14 obedience in a way that the covenant of grace is not? And – - and I’m – - here’s what I’m not asking ’cause – ‘cause – ‘cause when I ask this kind of question, usually the answer is 16 something like this. Well, there’s – - there’s grace before the fall, you know at least broadly defined, and there’s the nece- – necessity for obedience after the fall and those two things characterize all covenants. But – - but I’m not, that’s not what I’m asking. Because I’m going to concede that grace broadly defined was there before the fall and that obedience of the law of Christ is necessary after it. But my question is more narrow. Does the prefall covenant demand as a condition obedience on Adam’s part in a way that the covenant of grace doesn’t on our part?

Collins: Well, you have to be careful in your definition of the covenant of grace. I think the catechism thinks of the covenant of grace as having been made with Jesus as the head. And so there, I mean, there’s a parallel between Adam and Jesus. And so you want – - you want to be very, very careful in – - in your definitions there. And – - and again since 4 these terms covenant of works, covenant of life, whatever, and covenant of grace. These – - these are not terms that you find in the Bible. So that, you know, you – - so you have the – - the opportunity to, to exercise a level of arbitrariness in how you define these things. But the, the – - the reading that – - that I advocate of – - I’m not trying not to answer your question. I’m trying to understand your question, which – - which I’m not sure that I do. The reason the – - the reading that I advocate of God’s arrangement with Adam is that Adam is loaded with benefits, he’s – - he’s in a relationship with God and – - but but he’s not confirmed in that. And – - and the – - the job of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is by his obedience to God, Adam would be confirmed in the right kind of knowledge of good and evil. And so he was, he was seduced from the path of obedience and – - and in him all of us are rendered disobedient. The – - the situation with, with God’s dealings with – - with 15 mankind after that always involves the – - the aspect of redemption, a forgiveness of sins 16 and so forth, which – - which is not a part of the arrangement with Adam. So, I – I – help – - help me to know exactly what – - what it is you’re after?

Stellman: Okay, because there’s nothing that you said that I – - I disagree with. But what I’m asking is something more, more specific. Was Adam’s obedience what our Confession and catechisms call his perfect, perpetual, personal obedience. Did that 21 function as a condition to gaining whatever it we want to call the eschatological reward. 22 Did that obedience function as a condition to gaining that reward in such a way that after the fall our obedience does not function? Was there a condition attached to Adam’s obedience that no longer functions – -

Collins: Yes, there, I mean, there’s a condition attached to his obedience. And – - and so in not fulfilling the – - the condition, I mean, that’s a disaster.

Stellman: Yes. Is that the same arrangement that we’re under now after the fall covenantally?

Collins: Well, it’s, it’s – - I suppose you’d have to say, with respect to what? It’s in some ways there – - there is a similarity. It’s – - it’s a response to the goodness of a creator. But – - but in other way – - in other ways there’s a dissimilarity in that we’re dealing with ourselves as broken creatures that have been redeemed that are in process of being reconstructed.

Stellman: Isn’t that – - so, you’re describing the fall? Is it not true that because of the fall what changes after covenantally, what changes after the fall for us is not just the object of our faith. Adam believed in a loving creator. We believe in a crucified and risen Christ. Certainly there’s a dissimilarity there that nobody disputes. But because of the fall, is it not 15 the case that our obedience functions differently under the covenant of grace with respect to the condition for receiving the reward than Adam’s prefall obedience would have functioned?

Collins: Well, I – - I think that that you can say that there are differences. But there are also similarities. I mean, our obedience is the means by which, I mean that – - that’s a part of our participation in the benefits. And so, you know the apostle Paul will tell the Colossians believers, Colossians 1, that, you know, you will receive glorification provided you continue steadfast and so forth. So that’s, that there – - there are, I’m sure you, – - yes, I mean, there are differences, I think. Well, there – - there have to be. But – - but there’re also similarities and so (inaudible)- – -

Stellman: What are, what are the differences? 3

Collins: I’m sorry?

Stellman: You said several times that there are differences and similarities. And you’ve described the similarities between Adam before the fall and us now. What are – - what are the differences other than the object of his faith being different than the object of ours because now we’re sinners, we trust in a crucified and risen Lord. But with respect to the works and the obedience what’s the difference between how it functioned for Adam and how it functions for us now?

Collins: Well, I don’t come into the world morally innocent for one thing. And so that – - that I – - so I – - I’m just in a totally different condition to be dealt with of – - of guilt, brokenness and so forth. And – - and so the – - the process just looks different.

Stellman: But you’re talking about the difference of my condition as a fallen human born into the world. But I am not talking about our condition as fallen. I’m talking about the conditional nature of Adam’s obedience. Did his obedience function as a condition to gaining the reward in a way that ours does not?

Collins: Well, yeah it would, it would be different because he’s function- – he’s functioning as a head. And – - and so we have a head namely Christ who has functioned. And so that – - that we’re, our obedience isn’t in – - in the – - the department of functioning as a head of a covenant people.

Stellman: Okay. Good. So – - so Christ is the antitype of Adam and not us. Christ is the second Adam. We’re not second Adams.

Collins: Well, in – - in, when biblical writers talk about a second Adam or the last Adam they’re – - they’re talking about Christ. That – - that does not mean that that – - that there isn’t a bearing upon us, you know, from the Adamic situation.

Stellman: Certainly. We are Christians and so we – - there there’s obviously a 6 connection between us and Christ. But given what you just said that – - that Christ, that – - that we’re not federal heads. Christ is. The way Adam was. And so is it not true that the way, the condition for our receiving the benefits, the – - the very eschatological benefits promised to Adam, the condition by which we receive them is not our own perfect, perpetual and personal obedience but the obedience of Jesus Christ and his satisfaction and death imputed to us by faith alone, which is exactly what our standards say.

Peter Leithart actually got to the heart of the issue in his redirect. Here Collins stated that he did not think the Standards addressed the distinction between the nature of Adam’s obedience and the nature of the believer’s obedience:

Leithart: Right. And by the same token, does the Westminster standards, do the Westminster standards to your knowledge distinguish in detail between the – - the nature of Adam’s required obedience and the nature of the believer’s required obedience?

Collins: Not to my knowledge.

Do you agree? Would you say that the Westminster Standards do not distinguish in detail between Adam’s required obedience and the believer’s required obedience?

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50 Comments

  1. Cris Dickason said,

    October 11, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    I see a clear distinction in the Westminster Confession of Faith between Adam’s obedience and ours.

    VII. 2. The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam; and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.

    XIX. 1. God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works, by which he bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience, promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it, and endued him with power and ability to keep it.

    VII. 3. Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein he freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life his Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe.

    I see a pretty clear distinction there.

    VIII. 5. The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience, and sacrifice of himself, which he, through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of his Father; and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto him.

    I see Christ’s obedience presented to the Father in place of my disobedience, my lack of obedience, my rebellion.

    IX. 3. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation: so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.

    IX. 4. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, he freeth him from his natural bondage under sin; and, by his grace alone, enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so, as that by reason of his remaining corruption, he doth not perfectly, nor only, will that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil.

    The converted sinner is now enabled to will and do what is spiritually good. It does not state that the convert is now able to fulfill the conditions of the first covenant.

    X. 2. This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.

    Again, Spiritually enabled to answer the call of grace, not fulfill the conditions of the first covenant.

    XI. 1. Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness, by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.

    Whatever our “evangelical obedience” is, it is does not secure or establish our own righteousness and is does not satisfy the justice of an offended, holy God.

    XI. 3. Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to his Father’s justice in their behalf. Yet, inasmuch as he was given by the Father for them; and his obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead; and both, freely, not for anything in them; their justification is only of free grace; that both the exact justice and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.

    XVI. 2. These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith: and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end, eternal life.

    Our obedience is God’s work within us, this is again quite distinct from us offering up our obedience as a fulfillment of the conditions of the first covenant.

    -=Cris=-

  2. bsuden said,

    October 12, 2011 at 1:13 am

    Mr. Dickson,
    You are far too theologically astute to ever be a theology professor. Please sit down/ shut-up/go to the back of the class.
    We’ll let you know when a janitor position opens up.

  3. Jim Cassidy said,

    October 12, 2011 at 5:52 am

    If there is no difference between Adam’s obedience and the believer’s obedience, then there is no Gospel. It really is that simple.

  4. John said,

    October 12, 2011 at 6:11 am

    Procedural question: Can statements made by members of the defense in a trial be used as grounds for charges against they themselves?

    If the answer is yes, and if Collins is a PCA TE (if so, what Presbytery?), it would seem to me that his views strike at the vitals of our system of doctrine and that he should be charged as well.

    I don’t think every PCA Presbytery would allow for this nonsense. Perhaps instead of charging the big name FV guys, faithful PCA elders should start charging the rank and file in the faithful Presbyteries…

  5. October 12, 2011 at 8:00 am

    The fact that Rayburn wanted to disallow Lane’s testimony is very telling. It apparently isn’t the truth that matters, but earthly status.

    Great job by Cris in #1. Don’t they clearly teach the Standards at CTS anymore?

    Agree 100% with Jim in #3 – that’s the gospel – Christ as the 2nd Adam did it all for us! “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling.” Dr. Sproul, Sr., nailed it at the 35th GA.

    That opens the question as to what PNWP believes is the gospel.

  6. David Gray said,

    October 12, 2011 at 8:26 am

    >Perhaps instead of charging the big name FV guys, faithful PCA elders should start charging the rank and file in the faithful Presbyteries…

    Better purge all the overt Baptists first, people who openly confess to violating the standards..

  7. October 12, 2011 at 8:43 am

    [...] some sections of it on his own blog. You can read the first here. Lane Keister has posted another here. You can download the transcript of the [...]

  8. Cris Dickason said,

    October 12, 2011 at 9:12 am

    bsuden: Missed the “tone” of that @ 2. But I’m thinking that you’re offering me a more honorable position and status than that of a stammering, inarticulate, or deliberately obfuscating seminary professor. Is that right? If so, I can join you in a sad chuckle at your statement.

    BTW, did the janitor thing one summer, did the steakhouse/short order cook thing, the night-shift security thing, etc. (college and seminary $$) These days its software for healthcare. I’m not embarrassed that my M.Div. was preparation for manual and other kinds of labor.

    -=Cris=-

  9. John said,

    October 12, 2011 at 10:00 am

    David (per comment #6), I’m actually sympathetic to purging the Baptists as well. :)

    In general, I think we should purge both:

    1. Those who deny the distinction between the visible and invisible church (i.e., FV folks posing as Presbyterians).

    2. Those who deny that the outside of the visible church there is no ordinary means of salvation (i.e., the Baptists posing as Presbyterians).

    The idea that the Visible church contains but is not identified with or limited to the Invisible church is central and foundational to the Westminster standards.

  10. October 12, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Fixed, John.

  11. Reed Here said,

    October 12, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Cris: take Bob’s comment as friendly sarcasm meant to affirm your comment.

  12. Sean said,

    October 12, 2011 at 10:31 am

    John @4– Dr. Collins is a member of Missouri Presbytery, and yes he could be brought up on charges for his testimony. However, the problem with that is BCO 31-9:
    ~Every voluntary prosecutor shall be previously warned, that if he fail
    to show probable cause of the charges, he may himself be censured as a slanderer of the brethren.

    Thus if one is a subscriptionist in a latitudinarian presbytery (like MOP), it is almost certain that the bringer of charges will be censured!

    So, as in the case with Jeff Meyers, a group of folk from other presbyteries could strongly urge MOP, in writing, to initiate a 31-2 investigation of Dr. Collins. That way, when MOP exonerates him, there is no one under their authority to censure!

  13. October 12, 2011 at 10:43 am

    Reed,

    Cris: take Bob’s comment as friendly sarcasm meant to affirm your comment.

    You know me so well, brother. :-)

  14. michael said,

    October 12, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Since I am zealous and bold, a novelty nevertheless to Presbyterians and Her process of adjudication, you asked:

    “…Would you say that the Westminster Standards do not distinguish in detail between Adam’s required obedience and the believer’s required obedience?”

    I don’t know the premise of the question as framed?

    I would address something in any event.

    First, I would hope, after all is said and done and all FVists are found out and prosecuted by your process of adjudications, the original movement, the PCA and the OPC, whichever or both, that came across the Atlantic and grew to be a force in both realms in these United States and elsewhere, as a civil and spiritual entity, would fine the Heart and Soul of Christ anew and get refreshed again and invigorated to the Eternal Purpose you were anointed with and would then, little by little, rise up in Him anew focused and determined, to become yet again that that grew to be what She is called to be, a Light in the midst of darkness and the darkened souls She shines His Gospel Light through so that those Elect, yet sitting in darkness and the shadow of death, would come alive in Her, too!

    There seems to me to be a fundamental question that is being overlooked when asking the question that focuses on Adam’s “required” obedience; and, the “obedience to the Faith” True born again Believers live by?

    The question that seems to not be in play is the one found when questioning the meaning of “darkness” in Genesis 1:2?

    We have God’s revelation to the Elect about the Elect being those in this world who are predestined and foreordained before the foundation of the world to sojourn through this present evil age.

    We should have this, it seems to me, as the conclusion, that the purpose of Adam and Eve being created was so that their disobedience would come about precisely because of that reality of darkness written about in Genesis 1:2? It is the purpose of our salvation, is it not? Jesus, Himself, said that He did not come to call the righteous to repentance and no healthy person needs to go see the attending physician.

    My Bible declares that I should call His name Jesus because it is He who will “save” His people from their sins.

    Why do I say that?

    These four verses seem to me, from Acts, Ephesians, Hebrews and John, address both questions squarely, that is, the obedience of Adam and the obedience of the Elect who are born from the loins of Adam, even Jesus.

    They are:

    Act 26:13 At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me.
    Act 26:14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
    Act 26:15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.
    Act 26:16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you,
    Act 26:17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles–to whom I am sending you
    Act 26:18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
    Act 26:19 “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,

    Eph 3:8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
    Eph 3:9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things,
    Eph 3:10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
    Eph 3:11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,
    Eph 3:12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

    Heb 2:9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
    Heb 2:10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.
    Heb 2:11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,
    Heb 2:12 saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”
    Heb 2:13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.”
    Heb 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,
    Heb 2:15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
    Heb 2:16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.

    1Jn 3:7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.
    1Jn 3:8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
    1Jn 3:9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.
    1Jn 3:10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
    1Jn 3:11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

    I have to say, by way of encouragement, that the process of “loving one another” by the process of adjudication ferret’s our who are the children of darkness. And that work of the devil will be destroyed as the Devil himself will be, too! And so will the last enemy, death, be destroyed! Yes!

    Be encouraged to nail this one! If you don’t, you may just implode from within and the good work the PCA has been anointed to do for the Glory of God in this generation may just be reduced to “another” movement that has failed?

    Just like Israel did not lose Her identity in the world, neither will the PCA.

    Just to highlight what I see is a parallel between them and you, I post these verses, too:

    Rom 11:1 I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.
    Rom 11:2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel?
    Rom 11:3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.”
    Rom 11:4 But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”
    Rom 11:5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.
    Rom 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
    Rom 11:7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened,
    Rom 11:8 as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.”

    Rom 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
    Rom 11:34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”
    Rom 11:35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”
    Rom 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

    Do not weary, you PCA brothers, it is a good fight you are necessarily fighting!

  15. David Gadbois said,

    October 12, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    This exchange is downright embarrassing. A PCA seminary professor acts like it is a mental feat on the level of the Manhattan Project to properly distinguish between the CoW and CoG, and he still doesn’t answer Jason’s questions properly.
    The condition/requirement of obedience in the CoW would form the legal/moral ground of man’s justification and reward. The obedience is characterized by personal moral exhertion, not simple belief or extrospective trust. It would have constituted Adam’s own righteousness. That is the bare minimum that an orthodox man should assert, even if they are uncomfortable with going further and saying that the reward is a “wage” that is “due” because of the obedience, or that the obedience would have made Adam worthy of reward.
    The condition of faith in Christ (they intentionally blur the lines by labeling this ‘obedience’), on the other hand, is not the ground but merely the instrumental cause of justification. That is to say, faith is a passive instrument, it is extrospective trust in Another’s righteousness. Faith, even considered as a form of obedience, does not constitute our own righteousness. It merely appropriates the righteousness of Christ (faith is the “appropriating organ”). This is precisely what makes the character of this arrangement gracious. Grace is not compatible with the works/obedience principle that governs the CoW.
    But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. Romans 11:6
    The difference between the two covenants is stark and clear. Why is this so hard for these clever people?

  16. JP said,

    October 12, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Read the SJC decision. Well at least one thing’s for sure, Lane. Whipping up sentiment online against a man everyone including you yourself admitted to be a godly man at trial certainly showed your character as a Christian and need to repent. Good call for the SJC bringing THAT to light.

  17. Jed Paschall said,

    October 12, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    David,

    This exchange is downright embarrassing. A PCA seminary professor acts like it is a mental feat on the level of the Manhattan Project to properly distinguish between the CoW and CoG, and he still doesn’t answer Jason’s questions properly.

    The problem is, I can’t see how he has no working knowledge of the distinction between CoW & CoG. Stellman’s questions get distilled into a very simple question:

    I’m talking about the conditional nature of Adam’s obedience. Did his obedience function as a condition to gaining the reward in a way that ours does not?

    It would be one thing if he doesn’t know the answer to Stellman’s questions, which would be a sad commentary indeed on who is educating our PCA pastors. However, what it appears to be is hand-wringing and back-peddling in order to avoid a clear answer to the question, which I can’t accept that he is ignorant of. You don’t earn a PhD in OT, and teach at a Reformed seminary by being ignorant of this issue in particular, as it colors your whole vision of OT theology and the notion of Federalism and Adam-Christology as developed canonically. The fact that he tap dances around our similarities to Adam’s in the framework of the covenant is very telling, very very telling. Either our obedience to the covenant has continuity with Adam, or it doesn’t when it comes to our standing before God, and the prospect of eschatological reward or judgment.

    It seems as if the deck was stacked against Stellman in the first place here. I worry for the churches of PNWP, if their elders can tolerate such marked and apparently intentional vacillation on this issue, which is so central to Reformed orthodoxy. Add this with an unwillingness to consider key testimony. It’s a sad day when secular courts shame our denominational ones, because such a dismissal would surely result in a mistrial. It’s positively unconscionable.

  18. Reed Here said,

    October 12, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Is it possible that apparent failure to make CoW vs. CoG distinctions is a necessary consequence of the denial of the merit concept? I.O.W., if there is no merit notion in view, what really is the difference b/we CoW and CoG?

    Reading Dr. Collins response from that perspective does offer some explanation for why he struggles to both understand and then answer Rev/ Stellman’s question. The question was framed according to a paradigm that apparently he does not use. Accordingly it falls into the category of a “does not compute” question.

    What do you think?

  19. Jed Paschall said,

    October 12, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    If Dr. Collins credentials mean anything at all, clearly the man is anything but ignorant. A MIT alum, no less; they probably wouldn’t (truth be told shouldn’t) let a guy like me take a campus tour if they knew my math skills

    Covenant Seminary’s profile of Dr. Jack Collins

  20. Jed Paschall said,

    October 12, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Reed,

    How could it even be possible that a lettered man, who is clearly bright, and teaches at a Reformed seminary be ignorant of a paradigm that is historically and quintessentially Reformed? If he really is ignorant of the paradigm that is a whole other issue entirely, and one that leads to no good conclusion about the Seminary that hired him. I seriouly doubt that this is the case, he has to know the content of the Standards, otherwise he had no business answering Leithart’s redirect.

    If he is making no distinction between CoG and CoW, which isn’t uncommon amongst OT scholarship, and isn’t totally novel in the Reformed world as I understand, he has to be making an informed call here, and he needs to distinguish his view from the historic and confessional one by clear biblical inference. I assume he is compotent to do this. But by the time he arrives there, is his position Reformed, or Leithart’s? That seems to be the crux of the trial.

    I take my cue from the opening of the original post:

    Dr. Collins said that he found himself basically in agreement with Leithart on the covenant of works

    He would have no business saying he agreed with Leithart if he didn’t at least have a grasp of the debate at hand, otherwise why call him to the stand? Having weathered not a few legal disputes in the construction world, if an expert witness took the stand and answered in the manner Collins did, the arbitrators or jury would have discredited his testimony, and the opposing attorney would’ve eaten his lunch.

    I am glad that you guys are calling attention to this issue, so much of what we wrangle over in the Reformed world pales in importance compared to this. I guess I am curious though, how would you respond to my perception that there was a lot of backpeddaling and lack of forthrightness in this exchange between Stellman and Collins. Not trying to be too much of a shark here, but there seems to be some blood in the water if you catch my drift.

  21. Jed Paschall said,

    October 12, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    JP,

    Since when is reporting the facts of our denominational courts whipping up sentiment? It’s not as if Lane is guilty of yellow journalism here.

  22. Cris Dickason said,

    October 12, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    So, following through on the nature and content of Dr. Collins’ testimony… Is the cat finally out of the bag with respect to Covenant Seminary?

    Westminster (Philadelphia) has been joked about and kicked around over the years (notably Norman Shepherd and Peter Enns), almost as if it’s fashionable to do so. But apparently for many years now some serious undermining of the historic, straight forward teaching of the Westminster Stds has been happening at CTS.

    Up to now I’ve kept this observation/question to myself, as I realize it won;t look too objective when recognizing I’m a WTS alumnus.

    Reluctantly asking,

    -=Cris=-
    M.Div., 1982

  23. David Gadbois said,

    October 12, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    1. Regarding #18: Reed, I don’t know that one would have to accept the concept of merit in order to sign on to the statements I laid out. I self-consciously avoided the “m” word for that reason.

    2. The orthodox bi-covenantal theology presented in WCF is nothing more than the law/gospel distinction put into covenantal terms. FV gets covenantal theology wrong because they already have blown the law/gospel distinction.

    3. FV and other monocovenantalists want to make both covenants gracious, thereby taking the pre-lapsarian covenant out of the domain of law and justice, it is no longer an expression of God’s just nature. They would only allow that with respect to the punishment aspect (death, eternal punishment) but not with respect to the reward. But then the obvious question is, was God just in rewarding Christ for His obedience to the law. Was Christ *worthy* because of what He did as well as because of who He was and is. Does His righteousness deserve reward or not?

  24. Sean Gerety said,

    October 12, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    I’m wondering if Paul would care how well educated the Judaizers in his day were or if he would be impressed?

  25. October 13, 2011 at 1:00 am

    Prosecution Statement against Leithart…

    Jason Stellman has the statement here. This statement is very helpful for why the Reformed churches have declared the Federal Vision as outside of the bounds of confessionalism. It is too bad the lower courts of the Pacific Northwest have decided to go…

  26. Diana said,

    October 13, 2011 at 3:11 am

    What are the implications of saying the CoW was not based on merit? I heard somewhere that it was by Faith …Adam trusting what God said, a pointing to Faith in Christ. If it WAS by merit, God apparently didn’t see Adam as succeeding. Without Him we can do nothing and Christ was slain from the foundations of the world.

    I’m trying to work through the confession to see any differences. I listen to Doug Wilson’s preaching and haven’t found any problems but I haven’t been Reformed for more than a few years and am new to Covanant theology. I listen to Sproul Jr as well but not to any of the FV guys listed above other than Wilson.

    When I read/listen to Doug Wilson I don’t see anything but ‘Lordship salvation’…Faith that is not alone, faith that does not mock God. Even in the confession listed above XVI.2 the last paragraph sounds the same to me.

    Any clues on this would be apprecitated.

  27. October 13, 2011 at 3:50 am

    I was going to offer a comment, but instead I’ll contact my session asking them to purge me from the congregation. Thanks for the insight, fellers.

  28. Tim Wilder said,

    October 13, 2011 at 7:59 am

    @Diana 26

    Keep your eye on the covenants and who they were made with. The Covenant of Works was made with Adam as the head of humanity, and he had to keep it.

    The Covenant of Grace is made with Christ, and he keeps it. His merit is imputed to us as we are united with Christ, but he is the covenant keeper.

    To the extent that the Federal Vision represents their church members as the covenant keepers it makes them their own christs working for their own salvation. The Federal Vision is trying to erase the difference between the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace to bring down this distinction between the two different covenant keepers. That is why it is a big controversy.

  29. Jack Bradley said,

    October 13, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Tim,

    Your comment #28 is a good example of how overblown the anti-FV rhetoric has become. I would suggest working carefully through the presbytery defense documents from the trial to see just how overblown. Here’s one sample, and then a post from Leithart’s blog a couple of years ago:

    Defense Exhibit 2
    In regard to Charge No. 2 concerning views related to
    Covenant of Works/Grace

    http://pnwp.org/images/resources/defense-ex-2-covenants.pdf

    “Dr. Leithart denies, in fact, nothing actually asserted in the Westminster Confession and Catechisms
    regarding the covenants of works and grace except he does not think the term “covenant of works” is the
    most felicitous term to describe the Adamic administration. This is not a very daring position to take
    considering the fact that the Standards themselves use other terminology.3 Indeed, the Minority report,
    though laboring mightily to demonstrate that Dr. Leithart repudiates the doctrine of the Standards does
    not adduce evidence of the same but rather concocts a theory of the meaning of the Standards to which it compares a theory of the meaning of several of Dr. Leithart’s statements. To suggest that Dr. Leithart
    denies that salvation is obtained through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ or denies that the
    believer’s righteousness before God is the achievement of Christ and the gift of God’s grace is frankly
    preposterous. But as to the two covenant scheme, he is as surely an exponent of federalism as anyone in
    the Presbytery.

    . . . “To represent Dr. Leithart’s taking a side in the now longstanding debate about the covenant of works as striking at the vitals of our system of theology is absurd. Are we seriously of a mind to think that John Murray could not serve in the Presbyterian Church in America? First, the panel treats us to the more than faintly ridiculous conclusion that though Dr. Leithart teaches that is there is discontinuity between the Adamic covenant and the post-lapsarian covenants [C i] – a discontinuity rooted in the entrance of sin and change of federal head from Adam to the Son of God! – there is nevertheless no significant difference between the covenants. Surely God’s covenant with sinners in Jesus Christ represents a difference of some significance! Second, there is a total failure accurately to represent the nature of this debate. Strip away the sloganeering and what is left is, first, Dr. Leithart’s assertion that there is grace in the first covenant – as demonstrated in Presbytery’s brief, this a commonplace of Reformed teaching and of the teaching of Westminster divines and certainly is not contradicted by any statement in the Standards – and, second, there was the necessity of faith on Adam’s part. Surely, unless Adam were omniscient in Eden and God were then a visible being, Adam must have had to have been a believer! Surely he was required to believe what God told him and to believe that his life lay in obedience to God’s commandments! To equate this position in this debate with overturning our system of doctrine is the worst sort of overreaching. Palmer Robertson wisely points out that the nomenclature of covenant of works/covenant of grace has strengths and limitations and he too asserts that there was grace in the first covenant. Those who read the Standards as emphasizing a meritocracy and those who read them as emphasizing the gracious foundation of all God’s covenant dealings with humanity can both find their view in the language of the Standards and in the Westminster tradition. The Standards are simply not sufficiently precise to settle this debate.”

    12-12-09

    http://www.leithart.com/2009/12/12/covenant-of-works/

    As the [Presbytery] Minority Report points out, I believe the terms “mono-covenantal” and “bi-covenantal” have become unthinking slogans in this controversy that need to be examined more carefully. Each phrase captures an aspect of the biblical teaching on covenant, and each misses some important features of that teaching. . .

    As the Minority Report mentions, I also find it unfruitful to debate whether the covenant with Adam and the covenant in Christ are “fundamentally similar” or “fundamentally different,” whether they differ in “administration” or “substance.” Those terms are too general and vague to get at what we need to get at. The covenants with Adam and Christ are different in some respects, similar in others.

    The Minority Report quotes me as saying that the contrast of the Adamic covenant with the new covenant is not a contrast between “a ‘legal’ versus a ‘gracious’ covenant.” The next sentence begins, “TE Leithart’s insistence that the Adamic covenant was not ‘legal.’” I would have made my point more clearly if I had written that the contrast is not a contrast between “an exclusively legal covenant and an exclusively gracious one.” I do believe that God gave Adam a law in the garden, as is clear from the quotation that follows in the Minority Report from my post “More from Ward.” The covenant with Adam was thus “legal” in the sense that Adam was obligated to keep God’s commandments.
    In that respect, however, the covenant with Adam was the same as every other covenant in Scripture. Abraham was called to blamelessness (Genesis 17:1), and the Lord later commends him for obeying Him and keeping His charge, commandments, statutes, and laws (26:5). We too are called to living faith, a faith that works (James 2:14-26); we are called to fulfill the “law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). There are “legal” aspects to every covenant.

    At the same time, there is grace in every covenant as well. Adam’s existence was an act of grace, and he was created in a state of integrity that was also a gift – obviously unmerited – from God. He had access to the tree of life, and he was on speaking terms with his Creator. He was created a son in the image of his heavenly Father (Genesis 5:1, 3; Luke 3:38). He was not created in a neutral state with the demand to work his way into fellowship with God. He was created in fellowship with God. Abraham too was called by grace, and after the exodus Yahweh delivered the law to a redeemed Israel. Adam was, further, called to faith. He trusted the Lord to give him food, to provide a helper suitable to him, to raise him up after putting him in deep sleep. His obedience arose from this trust. Yahweh commanded Adam to avoid the tree of knowledge, and Adam was supposed to trust God’s wisdom and obey Him. Because we are utterly dependent on our Father, faith is inherent in human life properly lived.

    Grace and law from God’s side, and a demand for faith and obedience from man, characterize every covenant in Scripture. No covenant is exclusively legal or exclusively gracious. No one is ever called to a dis-obedient faith or a faithless obedience.

  30. David Gadbois said,

    October 13, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    On the contrary, Jack. Your quotation demonstrates precisely that these guys are out to lunch and don’t distinguish the covenants properly:

    Dr. Leithart teaches that there is discontinuity between the Adamic covenant and the post-lapsarian covenants [C i] – a discontinuity rooted in the entrance of sin and change of federal head from Adam to the Son of God! – there is nevertheless no significant difference between the covenants.

    Merely saying that the entrance of sin and change in federal head distinguishes the covenants falls into the “no duh” category, and is not sufficient. At the bare minimum it must be acknowledged that the conditions of the covenant are different, both in terms of the type of condition (extrospective faith/trust vs. works) and in terms of their character (works are the ground vs. faith as passive instrument), and there needs to be an acknowledgement that it simply is not gracious to demand works as a condition of reward vs. the gift character of the CoG.

    You say Abraham was called to blamelessness (Genesis 17:1), and the Lord later commends him for obeying Him and keeping His charge, commandments, statutes, and laws (26:5). We too are called to living faith, a faith that works (James 2:14-26); we are called to fulfill the “law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). There are “legal” aspects to every covenant.

    But simply being “called” to obedience as believer in the CoG is not the same as obedience being the condition of justification and reward in the contractual terms of the covenant. Works are, at best, a descriptive condition rather than a prescriptive condition, that is, they flow from our faith in Christ and already-secured justification. So works in the CoG do not have a causal relation – instrumental or otherwise – as they did in the CoW.

    Adam’s existence was an act of grace, and he was created in a state of integrity that was also a gift – obviously unmerited – from God.

    It is hotly debated that unmerited favor constitutes grace vs. demerited favor. The problem is that this would make the creation act itself “gracious”, and indeed almost any voluntary act of God’s would be gracious. It is best to see these things as acts of God’s goodness – grace is a special subset of His goodness and should be reserved for His special acts of mercy as is the habit of Scripture.

    His obedience arose from this trust. Yahweh commanded Adam to avoid the tree of knowledge, and Adam was supposed to trust God’s wisdom and obey Him. Because we are utterly dependent on our Father, faith is inherent in human life properly lived.

    This is just an attempt to flatten the distinctions between the covenants. It is a trivial observation that belief and trust are prerequisites for obedience, but believing that I have to do something (works/obedience) in order to establish my righteousness and then doing it is quite a different thing from believing that someone else has established my righteousness for me and passively receiving it as a gift.

  31. Jack Bradley said,

    October 13, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    David,

    Glad that you’ve got the CoW and its implications so fine-tuned. Much more so than Calvin, et al (see above), each of whom would apparently fall under your critique of Leithart.

  32. David Gadbois said,

    October 13, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Jack, I cleared out your comment above. No big deal, but just give us links rather than pasting lengthy quotes in the combox.

    Also, you are wrong, nothing I have said would necessarily implicate Calvin. Leithart dwells on the fact that others have used the term “grace” in a broader manner or emphasized God’s “condescension”. That is a dodge – we’d allow some flexibility in use of language or terminology. The substantive problems I pointed out go far deeper than that.

  33. David Gadbois said,

    October 13, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Also, I’m frankly tired of this sacred cow syndrome. Calvin and John Murray all made mistakes. Reformed ministers, however, are held to the Westminster Standards or the 3 Forms of Unity.

  34. Jack Bradley said,

    October 13, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Well, you may have convinced others of the “substantive problems”, but there is an entire presbytery that obviously remains unconvinced. I really do hope you’ll read all of their documents.

  35. David Gadbois said,

    October 13, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Rather than rebutting the substance of my arguments, you point to the fact that an “entire presbytery” remains unconvinced. Well, guess what, there are many, many presbyteries that remain unconvinced of orthodox doctrine in the PCUSA. Perhaps the PNW presbytery would find a better home there.

  36. Jack Bradley said,

    October 13, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Wow.

  37. ljdibiase said,

    October 13, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    #29. You sound as confused as Dr. Collins.

    “To suggest that Dr. Leithart denies that salvation is obtained through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ or denies that the
    believer’s righteousness before God is the achievement of Christ and the gift of God’s grace is frankly preposterous.”

    “The explanation which some make of this general concession, that ‘we are justified by faith,’ doth as fully overthrow what is affirmed therein as if it were in terms rejected; and it would more advantage the understandings of men if it were plainly refused upon its first proposal, than to be led about in a maze of words and distinctions unto its real exclusion.” ~John Owen

  38. Thomas Victoria said,

    October 13, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    David, the biggest problem is that you and men like you seem to think that your way of thinking is exhaustive and perfect. It is the height of arrogance for you to claim that the way you understand the standards to be the only way, to the extent that if John Murray or John Calvin wouldn’t have agreed then it means that they are mistaken. Are you really so sure of your understanding that you believe that where Calvin is in disagreement with you then your views are correct? Have you ever heard of the word “humility”? Not that what I’m saying will have any effect on your arrogance… But Jack is alone in offering a voice of sanity in the comments here so far…

  39. michael said,

    October 13, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Mr. Bradley,

    from my novel seat, watching like my forefathers did when taking their seat on the sidelines of the battles that ensued watching the Civil War, hoping my side would win, I have to say your comments above “take” the victory out of the place where the battle was fought and won, “before Genesis 1:1″ and by defending Leithart, you put the “victory” in the wrong place, (the garden of Eden), where there was only a demonstration unfolded. That demonstration simply made the birth of Christ possible so as through Christ and His Elect, partakers of flesh and blood, show forth the Truth of the matter so as to bring about the execution of the defeated as I pointed too in my citations above.

    Satan and his angels demise were a foregone conclusion before the first breath of Adam made him a living soul!

    Adam’s work, God’s work, was meritorious and was purposed to fail!

    Christ’s Work, God’s Work, was just as meritorious and was predetermined not to fail.

    Really, if you can hear it, Adam’s success or failure as that CoWs is not the problem here. That is the success of the matter. What Eve and Adam did by disobeying God and obeying the snake is exacted what was suppose to happen.

    I assert, as a novice here, that the “anti-FV war is far from over and if more men of God within the PCA don’t pick up their weapons of War and battle what is happening within the PCA, the pro-FVists are destined to win.

    You brothers of the PCA, here’s another encouraging Word from Job and the book of the Psalms to cheer you forth to rise up and battle this evil work until it is disposed of. I am bold enough to say, this battle is a firm example of just how subtle the enemy fights among the Righteous!

    [moderator edited for length]

  40. Tim Wilder said,

    October 13, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    @Jack Bradly 29

    Two views of covenants and works:

    1. A covenant is made with a party who has to comply with the terms of the covenant. These terms are the conditions or “works” of the covenant.

    Christ is our covenant keeper. It is his obedience that is imputed to us. This is why our faith is called “instrumental”. Faith is not a term of the covenant, as we are not the party keeping the covenant. So faith is not a work.

    2. But Norman Shepherd says: “To begin, faith is obviously a work. Faith is a response to a divine command and therefore an act of obedience.”

    He goes on to argue: “To avoid bringing Paul into conflict with himself we simply label faith as an “instrument” rather than a “work.” We say that faith is not the ground of our justification. It is only an instrument by which we receive the justifying verdict of God. “Instrument” is a theological/scholastic term, not a biblical term, but we support it biblically by saying that Paul never says we are justified “on account of faith” (dia pistin), but always “by faith,” that is, by the instrumentality of faith (ek pistews).”

    “It occurred to me, however, that in James 2, James does not say that we are justified on account of works (dia erga). He says we are justified by works (ex ergwn). If we escape from saying that justification is on the ground of faith by appealing to Paul’s use of the Greek preposition, ek, plus the genitive, and by calling faith an instrument, can’t we do the same in James, and call works an instrument of justification? In this way we avoid bringing James into conflict with Paul just as we avoid bringing Paul into conflict with himself.”

    Notice how Shepherd never concerns himself with which covenant faith applies to as a term (work) and who is responsible for keeping that covenant, such that the faith would be a work. He simply does not think covenantally at all most of time.

    This is the really ironic thing about Shepherdism and about the Federal Vision, Certain parties, typically Baptists, or virtual Baptists, say that the problem with the Federal Vision is that it is hyper covenantal. But it is not particularly covenantal at all, and seeks to confuse and reduce the idea of covenant whenever possible, to reduce the idea to relational theology when it can, all the while using the term with the agenda of changing its usage.

    In various forms of Arminianism faith is a work. That is because these theologies are covenant substitution schemes. In these schemes Christ buys an easier covenant whose terms we can keep. For some 17th century moralists the terms were to refrain from high-handed sins. More commonly, only one thing is required to keep them: faith. Faith in these cases is the term and the sole work of the covenant.

    Some New Perspectives people speak in similar terms, only instead of covenant substitution they speak of Christ modifying the terms of the covenant.

    I submit that the best way to avoid Shepherdite and Federal Vision confusion is to ask these questions. What covenant are you talking about? Who is it made with? What are its terms?

    As soon as they say we must do such and such to keep the terms of of a covenant that our savior keeps for us, we should see that they are pushing a self-salvation scheme. Notice how Shepherd does not like the term “instrumental” because it distinguishes our participation in Christ from Christ’s role as covenant head. He wants us all working and keeping the covenant.

  41. David Gadbois said,

    October 13, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    OK, guys, just a moderator comment here: we need to keep this thread tight and on-topic. I’m going to trim off comments that contain lengthy or irrelevant quotations. You can provide links to lengthy texts, or just quote the relevant sections and provide your own accompanying commentary if you like. But I need to keep this thread from getting more cluttered or from devolving into a cut and paste war.

  42. David Gadbois said,

    October 13, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Thomas, your response is very po-mo. Anything of the form “how can you be so arrogant as to claim that you know X” in lieu of an actual rebuttal of a substantive argument always is.

    First, I do not grant that the similarities between Calvin or Murray’s positions and Leithart’s exhonerate him in the least. There may be some overlap at points, but still substantial systemic differences (hint: Murray actually believed in the imputation of Christ’s active obedience).

    Second, it takes some historical naivete to believe that Calvin would have necessarily signed on to the Westminster Standards. On some points it is simply hard to tell (take, for instance, limited atonement), given that the Standards benefitted from the many decades after Calvin’s death of additional doctrinal development, reflection, dialogue, and refinement in expression.

  43. David Gadbois said,

    October 13, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    And Tim is right, Norman Shepherd’s oily fingerprints are all over this mess. If both covenants are just filled with grace-y faithful obedience, then we have lost the Gospel of justification by faith alone.

  44. Diana said,

    October 13, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    tim w,etc……

    What is the difference between doug wilsons/fvs use of the term covenant breakers for apostates and other presbyterians use of the same term? Ive often seen ‘covenant breaker’ used by presbs llke joe morecraft etc and was confused as too what was meant by it. Over time it seemed they were using it to describe apostates and that those who trusted in Chist were covenant keepers. It just seems like a common presbyterian term…how is it different between regular presbys and fv?

  45. Peter Green said,

    October 13, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    David Gadbois,

    Have you touched Norman Shepherd’s hands? Are they really oily?

  46. michael said,

    October 13, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    @ #39, my reference Scriptures are Job 12 and Psalm 149, especially Job 12:16, Job 12:22 and Ps 149:6-9.

    Does that help, moderators, instead of posting the entire reference verbatim?

  47. Tim Wilder said,

    October 13, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    @Diana, 44.

    In older Presbyterian and Puritan writing there is a reference to the church covenant when someone joins a congregation and takes vows. In the16th century sometimes a person was not allowed to move to another town unless the congregation gave permission, otherwise they were seen as having broken the church covenant.

    Sometimes some people today seem to speak of covenant breakers on analogy with Old Testament usage of those who have rebelled against God and taken to worshiping other gods. Sometimes some people seem to use covenant breaking as a reference to sin, as in breaking the Covenant of Works. Sometimes they are just not clear what they mean.

    I don’t suppose there is any harm of asking people which covenant they have in mind. There is always the danger of falling into the habit of using certain rhetoric and then people don’t notice that they are not always thinking clearly when they use the language.

  48. Tim Wilder said,

    October 13, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    On Collin’s testimony specifically: What is he supposed to be testifying about? Whether Leithart’s view is the Biblical view? Whether Leithart’s view of the confessional view? What the confession actually says?

    Why does it seem that he is being questioned about what he believes as though he were the one on trial?

  49. Mark B. said,

    October 13, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    @48 The main body of the quotation here is not Dr Collin’s testimony as a witness for the defense, but rather the cross examination by the prosecution, he’s being pressed about the testimony he gave in support of Leithart.

  50. Tim Wilder said,

    October 14, 2011 at 8:54 am

    @49

    I don’t understand why that is allowed. If Collins is not testifying about what Leitheart’s view is, or about the meaning of the Standards, or comparing these two things, how is it germane to the trial?


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