I have been at Presbytery for most of last week, which was why I was almost entirely absent from the blogging world. But I am back now, and ready to hit the saddle again. To start off with, I owe Doug a response. In the continuing debate about covenant theology, he has responded in this way (his words in block quotations, and my response underneath). This is from his blog post Obedience and Life, one of the comments.
Lane, it was apparent that we were not rejecting obedience because we insisted on it just a few sentences before the passage you quoted.
I don’t believe that I was saying that you were rejecting obedience (what FV’er does?). I was saying that you were rejecting any overlap between obedience and works, such that you could say that the CoW was based on grace, and that obedience was required, but works were not. I am challenging that assertion. More below under the discussion of Paul.
We distinguish between obedience and works because Paul does. In the Pauline vocabulary, deeds without faith is works. Deeds done in faith is obedience.
So, when Paul talks about justification being not by the works of the law, is he excluding all works done by faith or without faith, or is he only excluding some works? Is he excluding obedience from that? If so, then your distinction (I would say divorce) of works and obedience falls to the ground. It does not sound to me as if you are rejecting all works as being part of justification. What does the phrase “works of the law” mean? I argue that it means any and all works, whether done from faith or not. As such, it would certainly include everything under the label of obedience. Now, of course, Paul is talking about the CoG here, not the CoW. In the CoW, Adam would have been justified by works. Out of curiosity, what is your interpretation of Romans 2:13? Is this a statement that says that people will actually be justified on the final day by works, or does it mean “do this and live,” a hypothetical but realistically impossible schema (impossible because of sin)?
We are bi-covenantal if we believe there are two covenants. This we believe, holding the covenants have with different terms and different promises, but with the same gracious God as the other party to the covenant. You are saying that we cannot be bi-covenantal unless we believe that the two covenants are radically different in nature. But you can’t find that in the Confession, which is why numerous Reformed theologians agree with us that the “covenant of works” was gracious.
The confession says that the principle of Adam’s obtaining eternal life was obedience, and in no way is that true of the CoG. That is a radical difference, if you ask me.