Finally, a Contradiction!

I’m going to start out this time with response to Doug before going on to the next section of the Joint Statement. I intend to address all of Doug’s concerns, as well as the part of my post that he forgot to address. Firstly, and most importantly:

And I respond to it this way — the reprobate covenant member is unforgiven. He does not have the root of the matter in him. He is a tare, not wheat. He is a cleaned-up pig, not a lamb. He is son of Belial and the devil too, not in that order. He is damned and going to hell. His baptism places greater covenantal condemnation on him, not lesser. The only kind of forgivenness he could possibly have is a forgiveness that is consistent with the common operations of the Spirit, whatever those are.

I agree with all this except the last sentence, since the common operations of the Spirit do not include any kind of forgiveness. But the point is this: there is an unresolvable contradiction here between the position of Wilson and the position of Wilkins. Here is Wilkins (AATPAC, pp. 262ff): “Because being in covenant with God means being in Christ, those who are in covenant have all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places. Union with Christ means that all that is true of Christ is true of us…(lists blessings at the bottom of the page)…All this was true of each of the members, but, like Israel, the were required to persevere in faith. If they departed from Christ, they would perish like Israel of old. All their privileges and blessings would become like so many anchors to sink them into the lake of fire…All in covenant are give all that is true of Christ…Thus, when one breaks covenant, it can be truly said that he has turned away from grace and forfeited life, forgiveness, and salvation” (emphasis added). It should be further noted that in both lists (pg. 262 and 264), the forgiveness of sins is listed (in the first list by justification and sanctification, and in the second list on pg 264 by “cleansed from former sins,” which is certainly a twisting of 2 Peter 1:9).

So, clearly, we have Wilson denying that non-elect visible church members (I do not use the term “non-elect covenant members,” as the term is confusing) are forgiven in any sense except possibly the common operations of the Spirit, and we have Wilkins affirming that non-elect church members have their sins forgiven. Which one of them is correct? I would certainly go with Doug here, except, again, that last sentence of his, through which hole one could conceivably drive a semi packed with ninjas. Even if one accepted Wilson’s last sentence, the “common operations of the Spirit” is certainly NOT what Wilkins is talking about in justification and sanctification being accorded to the non-elect visible church member. On to the IOAC.

The disconnect that Lane is struggling with is, I believe, this. I believe that it is fair to say that all FVers affirm the heart of imputation, and the substance of what is aimed at with the IAOC. Where we have our intramural disagreements and discussions is over the mechanisms by which this forensic reality might be accomplished. What we all agree on is that the mechanism is not God infusing righteousness into us, and then pronouncing that He finds that it has been infused to adequate levels.

This is as clear as mud. What does “substance of what is aimed at with the IAOC” mean? To my mind, this is a bit like saying that so and so is more pregnant than someone else. The fact of pregnancy does not exist in degrees, even if the visual evidence does. Similarly, one either holds to the IAOC or not. There are no degrees. As I said and made quite clear, my issue here is NOT with imputation per se, but with the IAOC. Wilson still seems to think that I am denying any FV’ers’ adherence to imputation. I am well aware that, at the very least, many FV’ers state that they hold to imputation. That is NOT the issue here. The issue here is the apparent contradiction between the Joint Statement seeming to imply the IAOC, and then denying that it does. The above is not an answer to this, in my mind.

Lastly, I suppose I must respond to the charge that republication mixes law and gospel. It does no such thing. For one thing, such a charge flattens out redemptive history, since folk who hold to republication almost to a man also hold that there is no overlap whatsoever between the CoW and the CoG in the New Testament period. I am certainly one of these. Thus, there is a progressive separation of the CoW strands and the CoG strands, in general. The Abrahamic covenant is an exception to this, but it is an exception that proves the point regarding the Mosaic. Folk who do not hold to the republication theory cannot make sense of Galatians 4:21ff, where the Sinai covenant is explicitly said to be the covenant bearing children for slavery. In fact, I would very much like to see Doug exegete said Galatians passage. Nevertheless, to the extent that OT Israelites had the faith of Abraham, they belonged to the CoG. The CoW was an overlay in the Mosaic economy. And the WCF supports this position in chapter 7, chapter 19, and the interpretation of WLC 99. Yes, I know, Pete, I have yet to answer your concerns regarding the interpretations of these passages, but I do intend to get to it at some point. The point is that distinguishing the strands highlights the law/gospel distinction rather than undermining it. Advocates of republication have never asserted that the Mosaic economy becomes a tertium quid like sodium and chloride becoming salt. Rather, the elements of each covenant are distinguishable in the Mosaic economy.

And the last issue is my rhetoric regarding the first use of the law. In the comments to the previous post, several asked me about what I meant. I will let that reply be my reply to Doug.

The only real question regarding the section on justification in the Joint Declaration is this, which has been hashed and rehashed many times: does faith justify because it is alive? To use some scholastic language here, I distinguish. Justifying faith is, of course, alive. But justification is not dependent in any way upon this fact. Justification is solely because of faith’s laying hold of Christ. In other words, the aliveness of faith is an always accompanying aspect of faith, but it does not factor into justification proper. This is because the aliveness of faith has to do with sanctification, which always accompanies justification. Someone might respond this way: “but how can any faith lay hold of Christ if it is not alive?” Well, a dead faith doesn’t lay hold of Christ. Only a live faith does. However, the aliveness of faith is not the reason that it lays hold of Christ. It is rather the definition of faith proper that it lays hold of Christ. That is what faith does. So, the distinction amounts to this: the nature of faith is that it lays hold of Christ; the aliveness of faith is because of sanctification.

94 Comments

  1. Patrick said,

    January 5, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    According to Herman Witsius Rom. 9:31 and Gal. 4:24-25 teach that the unbelieving Israelites perverted the Mosaic Covenant into a Covenant of Works. Thus Paul is not discussing the true nature of the Mosaic Covenant in those passages. Concerning Gal. 4:24-25, he writes: “For, in that place, Paul does not consider the covenant of mount Sinai as in itself, and in the intention of God, offered to the elect, but as abused by carnal and hypocritical men.” Witsius then quotes Calvin in support of this position. See his Economy, 4:4:52.

  2. Todd said,

    January 5, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Patrick wrote: “According to Herman Witsius Rom. 9:31 and Gal. 4:24-25 teach that the unbelieving Israelites perverted the Mosaic Covenant into a Covenant of Works.”

    Are you sure that’s all he saw about the Law?

    “Secondly, we more especially remark that, when the law was given from mount Sinai or Horeb, there was a repetition of the covenant of works. For, those tremendous signs of thunders and lightnings, of an earthquake, a thick smoke and black darkness, were adapted to strike Israel with great terror. And the setting bounds and limits round about the mount, whereby the Israelites were kept at a distance from the presence of God, upbraided them with that separation, which sin had made between God and them. In a word, “Whatever we read,” Exod. xix. (says Calvin, on Heb. xii. 10.) “is intended to inform the people, that God then ascended his tribunal, and manifested himself as an impartial judge. If an innocent animal happened to approach, lie commanded it to be thrust through with a dart; how much sorer punishment were sinners liable to, who were conscious of their sins, nay, and knew themselves indited by the law, as guilty of eternal death.” See the same author on Exod. xix. 1, 16. And the apostle in this matter, Heb. xii. 18-22. sets mount Sinai in opposition to mount Zion, the terrors of the law to the sweetness of the gospel.

    Thirdly, We are not, however, to imagine, that the doctrine of the covenant of works was repeated, in order to set up again such a covenant with the Israelites, in which they were to seek for righteousness and salvation. For, we have already proved (B. 1. chap. ix. section 20) that this could not possibly be renewed in that manner with a sinner, en account of the justice and truth of God, and the nature of the covenant of works, which admits of no pardon of sin. See also Hornbeck.Theol. Pract. tom. 2. p. 10. Besides, if the Israelites were taught to seek salvation by the works of the law, then the law bad been contrary to the promise, made to the fathers many ages before. But now says the apostle, Gal. iii. 17. “the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.” The Israelites were, therefore, thus put in mind of the covenant of works, in order to convince them of their sin and misery, to drive them out of themselves, to show them the necessity of a satisfaction, and to compel them to Christ. And so their being thus brought to a remembrance of the covenant of works tended to promote the covenant of grace.”
    (Witsius – Economy of the Covenants 182ff)

    Todd

  3. Ron Henzel said,

    January 5, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Todd is absolutely correct. Patrick has selectively cited Witsius in such a way as to represent him as teaching the opposite of what he actually wrote. You can begin reading here on Google Books.

  4. Reed Here said,

    January 5, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    I.O.W.:

    Galatians 3:23-24 23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.

    I could be naive, but it seems so simple if we keep in view this fundamental purpose of the Mosaic Law.

  5. Patrick said,

    January 5, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Ron, How have I misrepresented Witsius? How then does he interpret Rom. 9:31 and Gal. 4:24-25?

  6. Ron Henzel said,

    January 5, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Well, Patrick, perhaps I misunderstood you, but you seemed to be implying that Witsius denied that the Mosaic Law contained a republication of the Covenant of Works. Quite to the contrary, he wrote, “…when the law was given from mount Sinai or Horeb, there was a repetition of the covenant of works,” as Todd quoted above. If I misunderstood you, I apologize.

  7. Patrick said,

    January 5, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    Ron,

    Lane had made quite a strong claim when he wrote: “Folk who do not hold to the republication theory cannot make sense of Galatians 4:21ff, where the Sinai covenant is explicitly said to be the covenant bearing children for slavery.”

    I was simply showing how Witsius made sense of Gal. 4 apart from a republication interpretation. That is all.

  8. January 5, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Patrick,

    Then why did Witsius clearly affirm republication?

  9. greenbaggins said,

    January 5, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Patrick, it has been shown that you are misreading the sources. It would be good of you to respond to the direct quotes that show that Witsius believed in the republication of the CoW.

  10. Pete Myers said,

    January 5, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    Hey guys,

    Whatever Witsius actually believed about the Sinai covenant is immaterial… …because:

    Witsius’ exegesis of Romans 9 and Galatians 4 is an exegesis of those passages that doesn’t depend on a republication position. Put this another way – Witsius’ exegesis of those passages would stand, even if he didn’t hold to republication. Put again, but negatively – Witsius’ exegesis of Romans 9 and Galatians 4 is not incompatible with his republication position, but neither is it dependent on his republication position.

    I don’t know what was going through Patrick’s head in #1, but a charitable reading of his comment would say that Patrick was not trying to prove Witsius position on the broader issue – but simply show that Witsius’ exegesis can be picked up and used by the non-republication folk with no issues.

    Reading Patrick charitably, all he could be saying is “the way Witsius expounds these texts means that Lane isn’t quite correct when he says:”

    Folk who do not hold to the republication theory cannot make sense of Galatians 4:21ff

    Just because Witsius is a republication man, doesn’t mean that all his exegesis depends on republication.

    Of course, my comment could easily be refuted if you showed me a little more of Witsius exegesis, that demonstrated his explanation of the verses did in fact depend on his position on republication. Very happy to accept such a rebuttal…

  11. greenbaggins said,

    January 5, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    It is sufficiently clear that Witsius is arguing against those who would call the Mosaic economy exclusively a covenant of works. This is proven in the context by this statement: “The design of the apostle therefore, in that place, is not to teach us, that the covenant of mount Sinai was nothing but a covenant of works, altogether opposite to the gospel-covenant; but only that the gross Israelites misunderstood the mind of God, and basely abused his covenant; as all such do, who seek for righteousness by the law.” See, using the Mosaic economy in such a way as to reject the aspects of the covenant of grace is really what Witsius is getting at. This is proven by the passage a little later, in the very next section, which explicitly states that the Mosaic economy was not formally a covenant of grace either.

    Understood in the context of what Witsius was saying, then, especially with regard to the target of his rhetoric, we may confidently conclude that Witsius was not saying that the Mosaic economy was a covenant of grace, or a covenant of works, but that it presupposed both covenants (as he explicitly says on page 186, section 54). This does affect our understanding of his exegesis of Galatians 4 and Romans 9, since it indicates that Witsius’s view of the apostle’s argument runs like this: the Mosaic economy presupposed both the CoW and the CoG. One cannot abuse either aspect of the Mosaic economy. Paul was reacting against the abuse of the grace side of things, as when people use grace to achieve a righteousness by works. Hence, the quotation does not work the way Patrick says it does.

  12. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 5, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    Can we define “republication”? Does it mean simply “repeating” or does in mean “to set up again such a covenant with”? As I understand it, Klinean “republication” it means something more like the latter, i.e., the terms and conditions of the CoW are established, although only with respect to temporal benefits.

  13. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 5, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    Lane, doesn’t the CoG always presuppose the CoW? The CoG doesn’t make any sense unless the CoW has already been broken. So, simply presupposing the CoW doesn’t contradict the idea that the Mosaic administration–even in its unique nature–was fundamentally the CoG.

  14. Pete Myers said,

    January 5, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    #11, Lane

    Thanks Lane, though I’m going to need to spend a couple of days reading Witsius before I can even pretend to evaluate that properly. For example #13 may be a valid crit… but I don’t know.

    #0, Lane again,
    What does “substance of what is aimed at with the IAOC” mean?

    So the essence of imputation is two-fold:
    1 – God sees me, and sees Christ’s righteousness
    2 – God sees Christ on the cross, and sees my unrighteousness

    I think Doug is saying something like “the IAOC is one way of explaining what’s going on with 1, but the important thing is to have 1, not how you explain it.”

    I fully admit, that, you would have a point in saying “but there is no consistent way of getting to 1 without the IAOC, and so therefore without the IAOC you don’t have 1″.

    But, the way you are currently debating this point with Doug, you’re not postulating the category separation of the IAOC and 1 in order to prove that they are the same, or impossible to separate.

    So, my request is, either respond to Doug on the IAOC in a manner that divides the categories finely enough so that the substantive point can be debated – or just point me to the post where you’ve done that already, but I missed it :)

  15. Patrick said,

    January 5, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    Lane, the issue here is not the idea of republication but the exegesis of Gal. 4. While Witsius does affirm a FORM of republication, he does not find it in Gal. 4 or Rom. 9. IOW, he does not use the republication idea to make sense of Gal. 4. And I think his interpretation is, at the very least plausible, contrary to your claim that one cannot make sense of Gal. 4 apart from republication.

    So again, the issue is not Witsius’ view of the Mosaic Covenant, which is complex and often misunderstood, but his exegesis of Gal. 4. And in Gal. 4, as the section I quoted demonstrates, he takes the mis-interpretation view, not the republication view.

  16. Pete Myers said,

    January 6, 2009 at 4:44 am

    #15, Patrick,

    I have pushed Lane on whether or not Witsius’ republication view is necessary for his exegesis of Galations 4… I did this on your behalf.

    Lane has tried to show, that, Witsius exegesis of Gal 4 does indeed require the assumption of his republication view. So, Lane has actually answered your question – I’d cheerfully point you to #11, and gently suggest you read it very carefully.

    I’m not sure if I agree with Lane yet – but he has addressed the real issue.

  17. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 6, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Let me put on an FV-dark mask for a moment and challenge your challenge.

    In Matthew 18, Jesus tells his disciples the parable of the unforgiving servant who is forgiven of a large debt by his master (v. 27, αφηκεν). He then fails to forgive his fellow servant, and the forgiveness is rescinded “until he should pay all that he owes” (v. 34). Jesus then caps this parable with the strong warning, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

    Now:

    (1) Jesus is clearly talking about forgiveness of sins.
    (2) The forgiveness that the first servant receives is temporary.
    (3) We are also threatened with the same kind of recension as the servant.

    Is it not the case, then, that there is a kind of temporary forgiveness of sins?

    (Mask off: my own opinion is that Jesus is speaking of our subjective experience of forgiveness, which God may withdraw on occasion for discipline purposes, yet not withdrawing the judicial justification (cf. WCoF 18.4). I would tie this parable to John’s words: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”)

    That said, could not the NECMs experience a kind of faux subjective forgiveness which could reasonably be called “temporary forgiveness”?)

    Jeff Cagle

  18. Patrick said,

    January 6, 2009 at 9:19 am

    Pete, In 4:4:51 Witsius notes three reasons the Mosaic Covenant is not formally the covenant of works. Then in the following section he notes that this is not to say that the carnal Israelites did not pervert the Mosaic Covenant into a covenant of works. According to Witsius they clearly did because of what Paul says in Rom. 9 and Gal. 4. So in section 52, Witsius is simply stating that some Israelites turned the MC into a CW and he backs this up with an appeal to Rom. 9 and Gal. 4. He is not using Gal. 4 to show that the MC is a covenant of grace or covenant of works or even something in between. He is using it to demonstrate that some Israelites perverted the MC into a covenant of works. Hence he says that Paul does not consider the covenant of Mount Sinai as in itself in Gal. 4 but as abused by carnal and hypocritical men. I do not think it is hard to see what Witsius is saying here.

    So again, noting what Witsius says about the Mosaic Covenant: not formally a covenant of grace, not formally a covenant of works, etc. does not change the obvious fact that he took the mis-representation view of Gal. 4, which was Calvin’s view as well (according to Witsius).

  19. rfwhite said,

    January 6, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Lane, perhaps you need to state again that, for you, the Mosaic Covenant is not merely a republication of the covenant of works. I can’t think of anyone, in this discussion at least, who makes that claim — except the Pharisees and Paul’s opponents, and they’re not blogging here. :-)

  20. Reed Here said,

    January 6, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Jeff:

    Dealing with a parable, as you know. MyY take is that in view is hypothetical obedience. Jesus’ purpose is not to offer a teaching on the nature of God’s forgiveness. Rather his purpose, in response to Peter’s question, is to point the disciple to the:

    > absolute hopelessness of his situation (we all are the unforgiving servant, and thus have no hope; Peter is once again a fool thinking he can do something right), and
    > therefore to drive him to Christ, where he echos the disciples from another teaching, “then who can be saved,” to which Jesus, impossible for man, possible for God.

    I.O.W., an FV-dark use of this parable to make this point falls apart in that Jesus is not talking about the nature of God’s forgiveness. He is talking about the nature of man’s forgiveness, and how it utterly fails to serve as a means of righteousness.

  21. Pete Myers said,

    January 6, 2009 at 11:01 am

    #18 Patrick,

    I’m not sure what I think of Witsius yet, I haven’t had the time, and won’t have the time for a few weeks to address the issue.

    I’d suggest you ask Lane to comment, as he is the one who challenged your reading of Witsius. However, I was simply pointing out that it’s a little unfair to imply that Lane hasn’t addressed the issue

  22. chris said,

    January 6, 2009 at 11:03 am

    The covenant in the garden was a gracious covenant, as it was possible for Adam to have eaten from the tree of life, rather than the other one. Sin made the covenant a curse; but the covenant itself never has been. Any law is a curse to those who are under it, and a kind of “works” system, as the person outside of Christ is under God’s wrath. Thus, all commandments appear as a kind of hopeless cursing, or a challenge to obtain righteousness in the flesh. But the Mosaic covenant included the sacrificial system as well, just as the covenant in the garden did, when God killed the animals to clothe his people.

    The phrase “covenant of works” is a tragic one that has marred the whole discussion historically, IMHO. Distinguishing between the objective covenant and the disposition of the person seems a good approach.

  23. chris said,

    January 6, 2009 at 11:10 am

    “Folk who do not hold to the republication theory cannot make sense of Galatians 4:21ff, where the Sinai covenant is explicitly said to be the covenant bearing children for slavery.”

    I am not suggesting that republication theory as you call it is found in Dr. Rayburn’s writings, or that he holds to it. He may or may not do so. However, his doctoral thesis does answer the challenge you lay down here in regards to interpreting Galatians 4:21. When the subjective state of the person is distinguished from the objectivity of the covenant, many of these sticky issues are resolved, or at least there can be some headway made.

  24. Patrick said,

    January 6, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Pete, While obviously you did not believe that it did, my earlier response to Lane did take into account what he had said. Both of my latest posts make the same point: the section I cited makes it evident that Witsius’ view of the MC as a whole does not change the fact that he holds the mis-interpretation view of Gal. 4, though I do spell it out a little more in the second post.

  25. Ken Christian said,

    January 6, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Reed,

    You write in #20 concerning the parable of unforgiving servant:

    He is talking about the nature of man’s forgiveness, and how it utterly fails to serve as a means of righteousness.

    Could you flesh out how the immediate context drives you to that conclusion? And how would you compare the message of that parable to Jesus’ words in Matt. 6:14-15:

    Matthew 6:14-15- 14 “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

  26. Reed Here said,

    January 6, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Ken: sorry, but I don’t have time to do your request justice. Just a few brief observations:

    > It appears to me that these two texts are different, one being parable, the other being didactic. This means up front that I need to interpret them differently, in terms of application particularly.
    > Nevertheless, the same system that informs my interpretation of the one informs the interpretation of the other. Following the principle of Scipture interpreting Scripture, the principal that God’s forgiveness of the elect is absolute and eternal applies to both.
    > The Lord’s Prayer reference presents a fundamental characteristic of those who are enabled to offer the Lord’s prayer. Only those vitally united to Christ are enabled to give evangfelical obedience. In this way then, Jesus’ “if you don’t, then you won’t” here in the Lord’s Prayer likewise drives us out of orselves to find the only Resource through which we can do this.

    I suppose I could be accused of circular reasoning. I rather believe I am being consistent with the system of Scripture.

  27. Roger Mann said,

    January 6, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    And I think [Witsius’] interpretation is, at the very least plausible, contrary to your claim that one cannot make sense of Gal. 4 apart from republication.

    I don’t see how the “mis-interpretation” view of Galatians 4 is even remotely “plausible,” regardless of whether Witsius or any other prominent theologian promoted it. There’s simply nothing in the text or its immediate context to support such a position:

    “For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is [symbolized by] Hagar… So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman [i.e., the covenant from Mount Sinai] but of the free.” (Galatians 4:24, 31)

    The passage is quite clear. The covenant from Mount Sinai “gives birth to bondage.” The text doesn’t say that the covenant from Mount Sinai “gives birth to freedom” but was “mis-interpreted” by the Jews and therefore led to bondage contrary to its intended purpose.

  28. Xon said,

    January 7, 2009 at 1:03 am

    Paul’s use of Hagai to allegorically stand in for the Mosaic covenant is one of the more fascinating usages of the OT in the NT, for my money. (But I love typology and allegory, too, so it might just be me.)

    On the surface of the text, Paul is doing something very puzzling. For he says that Hagai and Sarah are two covenants, but then he associates Hagai with the covenant that actually came through Sarah. Sarah was the woman who bore the seed of the promise, Isaac, and Isaac is the one whose descendants are brought into the covenant nation status promised to Abraham, and that covenant that so establishes Isaac’s descendants as the nation of promise is, in fact, the Mosaic covenant made at Sinai. So Sarah “should” be the Mosaic Covenant, but now Paul says that actually Hagai is.

    So, we need to understand why it is that the covenant that actually was brought to the promised seed line is here identified allegorically with a slave line. That is the basic “issue” that puzzles interpreters.

    Now, to take a republication position and read it into Paul’s argument certainly helps make some sense of what is going here, if one is already so inclined to hold that position. But it is hardly the only interpretation, nor a necessary one, that can enlighten us to Paul’s argument.

    The republication interpretation says “Ah ha, the Mosaic covenant contained covenant of works characteristics within it, even though it was also a covenant of grace. This is why Paul “mixes” the metaphor and identifies the covenant that in fact came through Sarah (promise/grace) with Hagai (works/slavery).

    But there are other ways to explain Paul’s argument. First, Paul says the women are TWO covenants, but he never explicitly mentions the one besides Hagai. If Hagai stands in for the covenant made with Moses, then what covenant does Sarah stand in for? The covenant of Christ. The issue here is not primarily “covenant of works” vs. “covenant of grace.” (speaking of the primary ideas Paul is communicating by the Spirit in the words he chooses to write: I’m not denying that we can make an application from these words to things like the CoW and the CoG). Rather, the issue is Covenant of Moses vs. Covenant of Christ. Whatever we think the Covenant of Moses (CoG, republication of CoW and CoG together, etc.) it is not the Covenant of Christ, and that is the primary contrast Paul is making.

    And of course, this is the whole problem the Galatians are having: like the congregation to whom Hebrews is addressed, they are seriously considering resubmitting themselves to the old creation when they have already been baptized into Christ and the new creation. In Hebrews, the problem is more exclusively about Jewish Christinas going back to Judaism. In Galatians, it is about both Gentile and Jewish Christians going back to “old creation” principles. The Jews want to return to Moses, the Gentiles want to return to paganism of one form or another, or are being led astray by Judaizers to adopt Judaism for themselves. Is one better than the other? No, both are a rejection of the new creation that has come.

    To reject the new world in Christ is to be a slave to the Old World. The Sanai covenant raises people up to slavery now that Christ has come. Hagai is a lesson now for all who would refuse to trust in God’s promise of new, greater blessings and instead want to hang their hat and take refuge in older blessings. Again, Hagai and Sarah are made to serve allegorically for an example for the Galatians who are facing a decision post-Christ. Paul’s point is not to insert information back into the Sinai covenant retroactively by telling us what it was “really” about back then (i.e., a republication of the Covenant of Works). Rather, Paul is saying that there are always two kinds of covenants you can have…the old one and the new one. In Moses’ time, the Sinai covenant was the new covenant and it would have been wrong if some hypothetical Israelite had said “No thanks, I’m sticking with the covenant I have been handed down from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” God was doing a new thing, and you always go with God and not with your desire for what you used to have. Now, today (in Christ’s reign), Moses is the old covenant, and Christ is the new. Moses is now Hagai, the woman who is blessed with children (blessing) but who is not blessed with the children of promise. Moses is no longer the location of the seed of promise. A new, higher priesthood has come. (Again, I think the connections between Galatians and Hebrews are often missed. Just another argument for Pauline authorship, if you ask me…)

    Old blessings are real blessings, but they must give way to new blessings. The immature must give way to the mature (and compare Paul’s argument, also in Galatians, that the Law of Moses was like a schoolmarm that raised us up until we reached maturity). We used to be children, and when we were children we were no different, practically, at that time, than a slave. We were heirs, unlike the slave, but as children we had not yet received our inheritance and authority. And for that time Moses was given, and it was just what we needed at the time. But now a newer, greater covenant has come in Christ. A covenant not for children, but for adult inheritors. For kings, rulers, masters. To go back to the Mosaic covenant now would be like saying “I want to still be a child.” And, of course, to be a child is just like being a slave…

    The issue, then, is not about how to understand the relationship of grace and works within the covenant of Moses as it was originally given. It is an issue of understanding the status of the covenant of Moses now that Christ has come. And now that Christ has come, Moses is Hagai. The promise is elsewhere. To be a “Sarah” today is to go with Christ, not with Moses.

  29. Ken Christian, Jr. said,

    January 7, 2009 at 7:29 am

    Reed – Thanks for taking a stab at that. Complicated issues, for sure.

    Xon – That was fantastic.

  30. Stephen Welch said,

    January 7, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Fowler thank you for your comments in # 19. This whole discussion blog has lost me because everyone is saying something different. I do not think Lane would affirm this idea of republication or at least I would hope not. I certainly would not affirm a republication of works in the Mosaic covenant. The giving of the summary of the law to Moses indicates a covenant of grace. The people realized that they saw the presence of God at Sinai and still lived. The covenant of grace is administered by the lawgiver to a people who are in covenant with Him. If some rejected the law it is to there eternal damnation. This is where the confusion lies within the FV, even though some like Doug Wilson see a clear distinction between the visible and invisible for which I am thankful.

  31. Pete Myers said,

    January 7, 2009 at 9:40 am

    #30, Steve,

    I have been struggling with this concept too. Lane has affirmed the “republication of the CoW” idea: https://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2009/01/02/law-and-gospel-or-golawspel/#comment-58106

    Read the post, and then comment 6. If you read down that thread, you’ll see some interaction I had with Dr White on the issue, and someone pointed me to a very accomplished essay arguing the case from Covenant Theology.

    It’s best case I’ve heard for such an idea, but I’m still going hhhhhmmmmmm…

    Oh – on final thing to say, would be, that when you get into the nitty gritty of what the CoW looks like in the Mosaic Covenant (since it’s “adapted”), then it’s not as bad as it sounds. I say that even though I’m still unsure about it.

  32. greenbaggins said,

    January 7, 2009 at 10:07 am

    I do affirm republication of the CoW in the Mosaic economy, though that does not take the Mosaic covenant out of the realm of the covenant of grace. I assert that the Mosaic covenant is part of the covenant of grace with a CoW overlay. The main line of the argument is that the overlay is due to its typological nature pointing to Christ, who has earned salvation for us. Once Christ came, all types are fulfilled. I am attracted to the idea that the CoW overlay is corporate, while the CoG aspect is individual, although I have not done enough study to make that judgment call in any final way. Ultimately, the reason I believe that the Mosaic economy has an overlay of the CoW is that ultimate apostasy is possible, as is judgment in terms of Exile. If the Mosaic economy had nothing of the CoW in it at all, then the Israelites could never have lost their place in the land, since the land would have been unconditionally granted. Of course, conditionality and unconditionality is not precisely the same thing as CoG and CoW respectively. However, I do think the ideas are strongly connected. The Abrahamic covenant is all of grace. The grant is completely unconditional. Not so in the Mosaic covenant.

  33. Roger Mann said,

    January 7, 2009 at 10:39 am

    28. Xon wrote,

    If Hagai stands in for the covenant made with Moses, then what covenant does Sarah stand in for? The covenant of Christ… Whatever we think the Covenant of Moses (CoG, republication of CoW and CoG together, etc.) it is not the Covenant of Christ, and that is the primary contrast Paul is making.

    Within the context of Galatians 3-4 Paul clearly associates Sarah with the Abrahamic “covenant of promise”:

    “Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise [the Abrahamic covenant of promise]. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is [symbolized by] Hagar… So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman [the covenant from Mount Sinai symbolized by Hagar] but of the free [the Abrahamic covenant of promise symbolized by Sarah].” (Galatians 4:24, 31)

    “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise [given to Abraham, cf. 3:18].” Galatians 3:29

    Thus, Sarah represents the Abrahamic “covenant of promise,” while Hagar represents the covenant “from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage.” And the reason the covenant from Mount Sinai “gives birth to bondage” is because “the law is not of faith [nor “according to grace” — Romans 4:14-16], but ‘the man who does them shall live by them’” [which is the very essence of a covenant of “works”] (Galatians 3:12). Therefore, the Sinai covenant/law is not part of God’s gracious covenant “promise” given to Abraham:

    “And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ [the Abrahamic covenant], that it should make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.” (Galatians 3:17-18)

  34. Roger Mann said,

    January 7, 2009 at 11:00 am

    32. Lane wrote,

    The main line of the argument is that the overlay is due to its typological nature pointing to Christ, who has earned salvation for us. Once Christ came, all types are fulfilled.

    If the Sinai covenant/law was merely a “typological” CoW overlay, then on what basis did Christ earn our salvation? Scripture teaches that “God sent forth His Son, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). Christ was “born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law,” by literally fulfilling its demands. Therefore the “works” aspect of the Sinai covenant/law could not have been merely typological.

  35. Pete Myers said,

    January 7, 2009 at 11:09 am

    #32, Lane,

    That is such a unspecific position, that it’s almost impossible not to hold to republication :)

    If, basically, all you mean to say is, there’s something conditional about the Mosaic covenant… and therefore something Covenant of Works-esque to it, then I don’t know anyone who would disagree.

    I think a significant point of discussion, when I was being trained by a Modified Lutheran, was whether my personal faith was a Mosaic Covenant thing, or an Abrahamic Covenant thing. In my entangled stumbling towards Covenant Theology, I’ve also flirted with the idea that on the personal level Moses was preaching faith, but on the corporate, some form of works.

  36. greenbaggins said,

    January 7, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Roger, Christ fulfills/repairs the Adamic CoW, regardless of what position one takes on the CoW in the Mosaic economy. I also think that Christ fulfills/repairs the brokenness of the Mosaic covenant. It is in that sense that Christ fulfills the law, both for reward and for punishment.

  37. Todd said,

    January 7, 2009 at 11:20 am

    Yes, I think Roger is correct. There is a national covenant of works on the typological level, with temporary, physical blessings and curses of that covenant, but also a hypothetical covenant of works for all individuals under the Law. How else to understand our Lord’s words to the Rich Young Ruler?

    Todd

  38. Roger Mann said,

    January 7, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Lane, on what basis did Christ fulfill/repair the Adamic CoW if the CoW in the Mosaic economy either didn’t exist or was merely typological? After all, Christ “redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’)” (Galatians 3:13). He redeemed us by literally bearing the curse given in the Mosaic Law, just as he earned righteousness for us by literally fulfilling its precepts. Thus, the “position” one takes on the CoW in the Mosaic economy is essential to a correct understanding of both redemption and justification.

  39. Roger Mann said,

    January 7, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    37. Todd wrote,

    How else to understand our Lord’s words to the Rich Young Ruler?

    Excellent point! Jesus answered the question, “what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life,” by saying, “But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:16-17). Either that is true, or Jesus is a liar. Not to mention other passages of Scripture which clearly teach the “works” aspect of the Mosaic covenant/law:

    “And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.” (Romans 7:10)

    “For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, ‘The man who does those things shall live by them.’” (Romans 10:5)

    “Yet the law is not of faith, but ‘the man who does them shall live by them’” (Galatians 3:12)

  40. Patrick said,

    January 7, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    So Joe the Israelite at Mt. Sinai was to understand that God was making a true covenant of works with him as an individual so that if he kept the law perfectly as an individual he would receive eternal life. Then he was to understand that God was also making a typological covenant of works with him as part of the nation of Israel so that if they as a nation obeyed the law (perfectly or a certain measure of corporate righteousness) then they would remain in the Land. Then he was to understand that God also made a covenant of grace with him as part of the Abrahamic covenant.

    How many covenants did God establish and/or renew at Mt. Sinai? And when Joe the Israelite sought to keep the Ten Commandments, was he doing it legally so as to stay in the Land; and/or was he doing it evangelically out of gratitude for God’s salvation; and/or was he doing it legally to earn eternal life?

  41. Reed Here said,

    January 7, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Ahem, Pete, uhh this is where we demonstrate some affinity for the FV’s emphasis on covenantal reading.

    Joe the Israelite did not rightly understand Moses unless he listened via faith. By this I mean:

    > He would have understood from the CoW republication perspective that this was hopeless, and from this perspective he was nothin less than doomed.
    > He would have understood that in this sense, the CoW perspective was “hypothetical” not actual, that God’s intent was not to secure actual CoW obedience, as this is impossible.
    > He would have understood from the typological perspective that the CoW aspects were to speak to him typologically of the CoG, and it’s fulfillment in the Redeemer to come.

    Thus, by faith Joe would walk by faith in the Mosaic covenant, believing in God, being credited righteousness under the same CoG terms as Father Abraham, and would experience temporal fulfillment of the Mosaic promises, as yet another typological fulfillment that testified the CoG to both him and his neighbor, just like Father Noah building the ark.

    Does this make sense? I’m kind of the average “Joe theologian” in this stuff, but this idea of perspectives, how do each of these aspects work in terms of being used by the Spirit to produce faith in Joe, seems the simplest way to bring these things together in way that makes sense. It’s not different covenants, but dfferent perspectives, all which co-inhere to speak to the same CoG intentions.

  42. Roger Mann said,

    January 7, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Patrick, Paul answers the question of how the Sinai covenant/law related to the Abrahamic “promise” (i.e., the covenant of grace) quite clearly in Galatians:

    “What purpose then does the law serve [since it was not part of God’s gracious covenant of “promise” given to Abraham; see vv. 15-18]? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made… Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life [to those born sinners], truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” — Galatians 3:19-25

    The passage seems pretty clear to me. The Sinai covenant/law was given as a subservient covenant to the Abrahamic “promise” (i.e., the covenant of grace) in order to “confine all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” The Sinai covenant/law was used by God as “our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”

  43. Pete Myers said,

    January 7, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    #41, Reed,

    You meant to address Patrick in that comment didn’t you? But, since I’ve got a chance to jump in here – I will.

    I think I’m coming around to the position that is being articulated on this. However, is there any way to describe what “Joe Israelite” should hear, without having to postulate it’s “hypotheticalness”. Where there any indications to the Israelite, in what God said, that the Law was “unkeepable” – other than it obviously being very hard?

    I have this same problem with the Rich Young Ruler. Saying that Jesus didn’t really mean “do this and live” because “he obviously couldn’t have done it”, and not for any reason that I can cite from the text feels a lot like reading my system into the text.

    #42, Roger,

    I’d previously thought of the Mosaic Covenant as a “subservient” Covenant, thanks to my reading of Bolton on the issue – who still remains the best person I’ve read on the Mosaic Economy.

    I’d put the same question to you as I have to Reed.

  44. Reed Here said,

    January 7, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Pete, Patrick, oops. Thanks for catching that Pete.

    To answer your second question, I think Dr. White’s advice on Dt 28-32 very helpful. Even just a survey of this passage will demonstrate:

    > The CoW “terms” republication nature of the Mosaic Covenant, namely the demand for 100% heart, mind, will obedience.
    > The guarantee that this is impossible, i.e., the “hypothetical” nature.
    > The guarantee of temporal judgment, i.e., the “typological” nature.
    > The guarantee of ultimate Divine fiat redemption, i.e., the essential CoG nature.

  45. Pete Myers said,

    January 7, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    #44, Reed,

    Hmmm, yeah thanks.

    I haven’t heard a good answer on the age old argument of “But the Mosaic Covenant included sacrifices for forgiveness of sins, therefore how can it be a CoW”, yet.

    Any thoughts on that?

  46. Reed Here said,

    January 7, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Yeah, that one has caused me to scratch my head as well. I think the direction of the answer is to note that foundationally the Mosaic Covenant (MC) is an expression of the CoG, not foudationally the CoW.

    I.e., the MC uses the CoW via “republication” to serve a pedagogical goal with reference to the CoG. Thus we are not to expect a one-to-one correlation between the CoW and the MC. We are to expect there to be differences, as those are fitted to the GoG pedagogical goal.

    Finally, the presence of sacrifice in the MC then serves as a key marker that the MC in its foundation IS an expression of the CoG. These point to the need for repentance, and the possibility of repentance on the basis of atonement.

    In this light, it is interesting to note that it appears that the MC sacrificial system is only sufficient for unintentional sin. There appears to be no atonement basis for intentional sin in the MC. If this is accurate (I could be wrong, any examples anyone), then this feature of the MC sacrificial system demonstrates its cohesiveness with both its CoG foundation, and its role within the CoW pedagogic role.

  47. Ron Henzel said,

    January 7, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Pete,

    You wrote:

    I haven’t heard a good answer on the age old argument of “But the Mosaic Covenant included sacrifices for forgiveness of sins, therefore how can it be a CoW”, yet.

    In my opinion, that argument is made by people who simply are not listening to the classic Reformed position (à la Witsius, Kline, et. al.) that the Mosaic Law includes a republication of the Covenant of Works, but is not merely a republication of it. This position has always maintained that the Mosaic Law was also an administration of the Covenant of Grace, and thus included sacrifices. Therefore, as Witsius so carefully explained (which those who misuse him completely ignore), the restatement of the Covenant of Works in the Law was designed to drive sinners toward the Covenant of Grace, of which the Law also contained types and foreshadowings. Those who perverted the Law into a thoroughgoing covenant of works in and of itself (or as Witsius put it, a “formal” covenant of works) were those who ignored the Law’s purpose (viz., the Pharisees). Ironically, those who would today pervert the Law into a thoroughgoing covenant of grace are committing a variation of the same error, in they, too, reduce the Law to an achievable moral standard and rob it of its function of driving the sinner to Christ out of despair over the impossibility of fulfilling its Covenant of Works aspect.

  48. greenbaggins said,

    January 7, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Ron has stated it very well. Don’t think I can improve on that.

  49. rfwhite said,

    January 7, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    45 Pete Myers, I’m trying to understand your argument. Why would the inclusion of sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins mean that the Mosaic Covenant is a covenant of grace, not a covenant of works? Do you mean to say that works of passive obedience are not works, while works of active obedience are works? Trying to understand …

  50. rfwhite said,

    January 7, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    47 Ron Henzel, thanks for this comment. Lucid and succinct, aka brief and clear.

  51. greenbaggins said,

    January 7, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    #50 nice chiasm, Dr. White. ;-)

  52. rfwhite said,

    January 7, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    51 Greenbaggins meets The X Files. ;-)

    45 Pete Myers, perhaps you mean that sacrifices point to the worshipper’s reliance on the fitness and work of another, and to that degree they are more covenant of grace than covenant of works. I wonder, though, if the sacrifices of the priests (and the nation of priests) are still his (their) works, how far do that get us in clarifying whether Moses is of works or of grace?

  53. rfwhite said,

    January 7, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    19 Xon, you say that the issue before us is the status of the covenant of Moses *now that Christ has come.* That doesn’t seem to fit with what Paul says in Gal 4.29: it is now was it was at that time, namely, in the days of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar. Moreover, it doesn’t seem to fit with Paul’s citation of Isaiah 54: it is now as it was in the days of Isaiah. Am I missing something?

  54. rfwhite said,

    January 7, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    Sorry, Xon. 28, not 19.

  55. Roger Mann said,

    January 7, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    45. Pete wrote,

    I haven’t heard a good answer on the age old argument of “But the Mosaic Covenant included sacrifices for forgiveness of sins, therefore how can it be a CoW”, yet.

    I think Reed (46) and Ron (47) have answered that question quite well. For example, Ron wrote:

    “Therefore, as Witsius so carefully explained (which those who misuse him completely ignore), the restatement of the Covenant of Works in the Law was designed to drive sinners toward the Covenant of Grace, of which the Law also contained types and foreshadowings.”

    That is absolutely correct, although I would emphasize that the “types and foreshadowings” demonstrate that the Sinai covenant/law in itself is a republication of the Covenant of Works and not part of the Covenant of Grace (i.e., it is subservient to the Covenant of Grace, but not part of the Covenant of Grace itself):

    “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect… For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.” — Hebrews 10:1-4

    In other words, since the Old Covenant rituals and sacrifices could not in themselves take away sins, but rather symbolically pointed to the true heavenly sanctuary and blood of Christ, they were not formally a part of the Covenant of Grace — they pointed away from themselves to the one true sacrifice of Jesus Christ:

    “It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience.” — Hebrews 9:9

    The Old Covenant rituals and sacrifices “sanctified for the purifying of the flesh” (9:13), but they didn’t actually cleanse the worshipers and take away their sins. That was reserved for the one true sacrifice of the Covenant of Grace, the Son of God Himself:

    “And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” — Hebrews 9:15

    “By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” — Hebrews 10:10

    “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” — Hebrews 10:14

    The fact that Christ is “the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant,” also demonstrates that the Sinai covenant/law is subservient to the Covenant of Grace, but not part of the Covenant of Grace itself. As a republication of the Covenant of Works, the “first covenant” merely highlighted our need for redemption — “for the letter kills” (2 Corinthians 3:6). That’s why Paul refers to the Sinai covenant/law as “the ministry of death” (2 Corinthians 3:7) and “the ministry of condemnation” (2 Corinthians 3:9). Thus, it is only through “the Mediator of the new covenant” (the fulfillment of the Covenant of Grace) that we can be set free and redeemed from “the transgressions under the first covenant.”

  56. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 7, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    So, Roger, do you take an exception to the WCF on this point, which states clearly that the Mosaic economy was an administration of the CoG? 7.4-6.

  57. Ron Henzel said,

    January 8, 2009 at 4:55 am

    Roger,

    I don’t know if this is what you’re saying, but have a problem with saying that the Mosaic Law can be boiled down to a covenant of works. If that were the case, it would be exactly like the Covenant of Works before the Fall. But that original Covenant of Works contained no promise of redemption, and did not try in any way to drive people to Christ, because if it had been fulfilled there would have been no need of Christ’s redemption.

    What you’re saying about the inadequacy of the Law of Moses to deliver what the ultimate fulfillment of the Covenant of Grace delivers in Christ is, of course, true, as you have demonstrated from Hebrews. However, just because something is inadequate in that respect does not mean that it’s not part of the Covenant of Grace, which you directly state. By that same logic, the Abrahamic Covenant cannot be considered part of the Covenant of Grace, because it did not take away sins either. Are you saying, then, that the Abrahamic Covenant is not part of the Covenant of Grace?

    It’s also worth pointing out that to say that the Mosaic Law is not a part of the Covenant of Grace is a sharp departure from historic Reformed theology. And as I see it, viewing the Law as an administration of the CoG is the only sound interpretation of the Scriptural data available.

  58. Pete Myers said,

    January 8, 2009 at 5:31 am

    #46-#57,

    Thanks Reed, and Ron, and all the other answers!

    Short bit of explanation of the “problem”: If the Law has the “Covenant of Works” annexed to it, then, types of the death of Christ don’t fit into that annexed framework – at they point to the sacrifice of Christ, the “righteousness of another” paradigm. This has been pointed out already.

    However, the problem is that, because the “works” required by the Law include these sacrifices… I simply can’t see how we say that the Law is requiring “perfect & permanent” obedience (which was mentioned in the “Law and Gospel or Law and Glawspel” thread). Clearly, the Law doesn’t require perfect obedience.

    Here, therefore, appear to be the limits of how to understanding what the Law is requiring. I’m struggling with anything that sounds as if it goes beyond the bounds of one of these:

    1) It’s breakable…
    2) It’s making allowances for sin…
    3) It’s calling for obedience…
    4) It’s calling for faith…
    5) It’s compatible with the Promise, in that it isn’t intended as an alternative route to righteousness…
    6) It should convict us of our sin when we attempt to obey it, driving us to the righteousness of another (otherwise it’s not pedagogical)…

    There’s probably more, but that’s all I got in the space of 45secs.

    There are complexities to a lot of things mentioned in this discussion, and the discussion over at the “L and G or GLspel” thread. These complexities are:

    A) Israel & Moses not being allowed to enter the land appears to be more due to a lack of faith, than a failure to “obey perfectly”.
    B) How the Law was to be applied doesn’t seem to be clear – David should be killed by the Law. Of course, his ultimate salvation is based on his faith, a faith that was clearly evident, but if the Law dealt with people in temporal terms on the basis of works, then David’s sin was deserving of death – and indeed was deliberate, therefore couldn’t be covered by the sacrifices. In fact he tells us in the Psalms that God requires a repentant heart, not sacrifices, but how does this “get him off the hook” in temporal terms?
    C) The prophets, when calling Israel to repentance, are saying to Israel “you have turned away from the Lord” – i.e. – “you are showing evidence of a lack of faith in the Lord”, rather than “you may be trying your hardest, but you’re still not good enough”. Even in Malachi – by which time the worship of YahWeh was at it’s most pure, and the cleanest it could be (no obviously idolatry or synergism)… still even then, Malachi does not appear to be preaching to Israel “your works aren’t perfect, therefore your obedience is flawed, despite trying your best”, but rather “your imperfect works are demonstration of your unrepentant hearts”. 3v16 is a key demonstration that the real issue behind all the problems is lack of a “fear of the Lord”.

    The arguments for the republication system are based upon (1), (3) and (6), with explanations gives for (5). I’m feeling the force of the arguments for the republication position, but I’m struggling to adopt it because of (2), (4) and (A), (B), and (C).

    Does that help clear up some of the confusion about my confusion?

  59. GLW Johnson said,

    January 8, 2009 at 7:51 am

    Over at his blog Wilson can’t seem to address any subject without once againt yelling at his window shield about how unfairly he and the FV have been misunderstood. This time in a brief glowing assessment of David Wells and his recent book ‘The Courage to Be Protestant’. If only he knew…

  60. Todd said,

    January 8, 2009 at 7:52 am

    Roger,

    I didn’t read Ron as saying the Mosaic covenant was not part of the covenant of grace in the sense that it was not an administration of the covenant of grace, as a classic dispensationalist would say, for he did write “it is subservient to the Covenant of Grace.” I took the “subservient” as another way of saying “an administration of,” though Ron may correct me.

    Todd

  61. Todd said,

    January 8, 2009 at 8:09 am

    # 60 sorry! I think switched the names around

  62. rfwhite said,

    January 8, 2009 at 8:31 am

    58 Pete Myers, I appreciate your effort to think this through. Your attempts to identify the stumbling blocks for you are useful, at least to me. You assert that it is clear that God did not require perfect obedience under the law. Let me ask this: did God require that the sacrifices be perfect?

  63. rfwhite said,

    January 8, 2009 at 8:37 am

    57 Ron Henzel, I agree with your statement, “viewing the Law as an administration of the CoG is the only sound interpretation of the Scriptural data available.” Can you spell out briefly how you recognize that the Law is an administration of the CoG? In what ways can this truth be seen?

  64. rfwhite said,

    January 8, 2009 at 8:48 am

    58 Pete Myers, allow me to pose another consideration. How does the fact that God shows grace to any sinner prove that He does not require perfect obedience from that sinner?

  65. Roger Mann said,

    January 8, 2009 at 9:04 am

    56. Joshua wrote,

    So, Roger, do you take an exception to the WCF on this point, which states clearly that the Mosaic economy was an administration of the CoG? 7.4-6.

    No. I agree with the Confession that the substance of the Covenant of Grace refers to “the death of Jesus Christ, the testator, and to the everlasting inheritance, with all things belonging to it, therein bequeathed” (WCF 7.4). I only meant that the Old Covenant “types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all fore-signifying Christ to come” (WCF 7.5) were not part of the substance of the Covenant of Grace properly speaking. That’s why I wrote,

    “In other words, since the Old Covenant rituals and sacrifices could not in themselves take away sins, but rather symbolically pointed to the true heavenly sanctuary and blood of Christ, they were not formally a part of the Covenant of Grace — they pointed away from themselves to the one true sacrifice of Jesus Christ.”

    I don’t deny that the Old Covenant was part of the “administration” of the Covenant of Grace in the sense that it was used by God to lead men to Christ — “through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation” (WCF 7.4).

  66. Roger Mann said,

    January 8, 2009 at 9:24 am

    57. Ron wrote,

    It’s also worth pointing out that to say that the Mosaic Law is not a part of the Covenant of Grace is a sharp departure from historic Reformed theology. And as I see it, viewing the Law as an administration of the CoG is the only sound interpretation of the Scriptural data available.

    Hopefully my answer to Joshua (65) explains what I meant a little better. When I said that the Mosaic Law was “not a part of the Covenant of Grace” I was referring to the “substance” of the Covenant of Grace properly speaking, not the “administration” of the Covenant of Grace. That’s also what I meant when I said that the Mosaic Law was a “subservient” covenant — i.e., it served God’ purpose to lead His elect people to the “substance” of the Covenant of Grace, redemption in the blood of Jesus Christ.

  67. Roger Mann said,

    January 8, 2009 at 9:41 am

    60. Todd wrote,

    For [Ron] did write “it [the Mosaic Covenant] is subservient to the Covenant of Grace.” I took the “subservient” as another way of saying “an administration of,” though Ron may correct me.

    Perhaps that’s where the confusion crept in. I was using “subservient” in the dictionary sense of: “serving or acting in a subordinate capacity; useful in promoting a purpose or end.” In that sense, the Mosaic Covenant cannot be “subservient” to the Covenant of Grace and “part of the substance” of the Covenant of Grace at the same time. It’s either one or the other.

  68. Pete Myers said,

    January 8, 2009 at 9:52 am

    #62, #64, Dr White,

    Good questions.

    A – “Did God require that the sacrifices be perfect?”
    B – “How does the fact that God shows grace to any sinner prove that He does not require perfect obedience from that sinner?”

    I don’t think I’m “arguing” B. Or at least, if that’s the underlying logic to what I’ve put forward, I’ve been unable to see it myself.

    “A” gets more to the heart of it. Hmmm.. why don’t I punt for “yes”, because I can’t immediately think of an example of where he accepted an imperfect sacrifice. So, saying “yes” to A, I’ll then go on and try to anticipate where you might be going:

    Because God required perfect sacrifices, he is requiring “perfect obedience” to the Law. However, the Law, then, is not requiring a perfectly righteous life in order for man to obey it. Man could, theoretically, obey the Law perfectly, while himself not being perfect.

    Aside from all the confusions that then brings me, whatever the Law is, it’s been moved out of the realm of the Covenant of Works – which requires absolutely perfect righteousness, and the penalty for disobedience is immediate and absolute.

    So, let me put things starkly. I don’t think the Mosaic Law describes perfect righteousness – many of the laws set the floor (the minimum standard), rather than the ceiling (true 100% righeousness). As such, just like the Law is pointing to Jesus as the perfect sacrifice, and does so with a sacrificial system which is less than perfect… so also the Law is pointing to Jesus as the perfect righteousness, and does so with a legal system which is less than perfect.

    The 10 commandments are perfection, however, they are expounded by Moses in a way that requires less than perfection.

  69. greenbaggins said,

    January 8, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Pete, I’m curious. How do you understand Galatians 3:10? It would seem to me that the passage advocates complete obedience to everything written in the law of God. Second question: do you believe that the law reveals the character of God? If so, then how can the law be describing the floor rather than the ceiling? There has always been the hypothetical “Do this and live.” If anyone could obey perfectly, he would live. But then no one has that ability, because we lost it in the Fall. However, that does not meant that God lowers His standards. Instead, He sent Someone Who would obey the law perfectly: He did this, and we live.

  70. rfwhite said,

    January 8, 2009 at 11:06 am

    67 Todd and Roger Mann, I took it that the word/concept of “subserve,” which has precedents among Reformed interpreters of the old covenant, expressed the role of the Mosaic covenant as a pedagogue.

    68 Pete Myers, a detail: in what way, if at all, would you say that the penalty for Adam’s disobedience was immediate and absolute?

  71. Roger Mann said,

    January 8, 2009 at 11:42 am

    70. Rfwhite, if the concept of “subserve” expresses the role of the Mosaic covenant as a “pedagogue,” doesn’t that support the point I’ve been making? A pedagogue was “a personal slave-attendant who accompanied a freeborn boy wherever he went and exercised a certain amount of discipline over him.” Isn’t that equivalent to saying that the Mosaic Covenant was “subservient” in the sense that it served God’ purpose (as a “pedagogue” would have) to lead His elect people to the “substance” of the Covenant of Grace — redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ?

  72. greenbaggins said,

    January 8, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Pete, I’m also curious about this idea: just because God was longsuffering in some way doesn’t mean that God granted *life* to the person. Otherwise, if an imperfect obedience was possible to obtain *life,* then Jesus really didn’t need to come, did He? I think that if you examine those cases, such as David not immediately dying after Bathsheba, and Israel not being expelled immediately, you will find a typological element that points to Christ. Such does not lower the bar of the law one bit. Again, does the law portray God’s character? If so, then it cannot be a floor instead of a ceiling.

  73. Roger Mann said,

    January 8, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    By the way, Edward Fisher, in his Marrow of Modern Divinity (1645), expressed the essence of what I’ve been saying:

    The apostle, speaking of the covenant of works as it was given on Mount Sinai, says, “It was added because of transgressions,” Gal. iii.19. It was not set up as a solid rule of righteousness, as it was given to Adam in paradise, but was added

    You are not so to understand the apostle, as though it were added by way of ingrediency as a part of the covenant of grace, as if that covenant had been incomplete without the covenant of works; for then the same covenant should have consisted of contradictory materials, and so it should have overthrown itself; for, says the apostle, “If it be by grace, then it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace: but if it be of works, then it is no more grace; otherwise work is no more work,” Rom. xi.6. But it was added by way of subserviency and attendance, the better to advance and make effectual the covenant of grace; so that although the same covenant that was made with Adam was renewed on Mount Sinai, yet I say still, it was not for the same purpose…

    God made it with the Israelites for no other end, than that man, being thereby convinced of his weakness, might flee to Christ. So that it was renewed only to help forward and introduce another and a better covenant [i.e., the covenant of grace]… to discover sin, to awaken the conscience, and to convince them of their own impotency, and so drive them out of themselves to Christ. Know it then, I beseech you, that all this while there was no other way of life given… than the covenant of grace. All this while God did but pursue the design of his own grace; and, therefore, was there no inconsistency either in God’s will or acts; only such was his mercy, that he subordinated the covenant of works, and made it subservient to the covenant of grace, and so to tend to evangelical purposes. (Marrow of Modern Divinity, pp. 61-64)

  74. Pete Myers said,

    January 8, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    #69, Lane,

    Excellent questions Lane. I’d just point out again that these sorts of questions haven’t even sprung from the FV… but from good guys in the UK who call themselves “Reformed” (and who, indeed, have nothing to do with the FV).

    Let me try and take your questions:

    Galatians 3v10 – When I moved away from the church where I did my pre-seminary training (where they put forward the Modified Lutheran position, that has many similarities [& differences!] to your position on this), I said to a friend “It feels like they’re right about Galatians, but wrong about the rest of the Bible.”

    I’ll be honest – everyone I talk to who is “Reformed” in the way we mean it over here is confused on Galatians 3v10… the best I can do is give you what I thought was the Reformed argument, that, Paul is dealing with a misunderstanding/misapplication of the Law by the false teachers. The Judaizers were using Leviticus 18v5 as a “slogan” to preach works-righteousness, but they weren’t understanding it.

    To be honest, I sit uncomfortably with this explanation, but, my big problem with the Law/Gospel debate is that I’m uncomfortable with all of the positions for one reason or another. I feel like a real idiot, but, I’d rather be an idiot, than just punt for one position and advocate it more strongly than I feel it is.

    I thought the Reformed explanation of Leviticus 18v5, and Ezekiel 20, was that “do this” was “live under my authority, rather than the authority of other gods” (Leviticus 18 offers a contrast between YHWH’s statutes, and the statutes of the gods of the Canaanites)… therefore the “do this” was actually “repent”, and wasn’t calling for perfect pristine obedience, rather a fidelity that demonstrated faith.

    I haven’t gone there yet, but I believe that is the line at Oak Hill – our best Theological College. It’s certainly the line at the Cornhill Training Course (if you know anything about the UK, you’ll know what that is).

    Character of God: Again, in some ways stumped – well at least because the guys I respect haven’t been able to answer this. I have my own solution, but, it’s my own solution from my own head, so, I don’t trust it very far.

    I think that when people normally talk about the Law revealing the “character of God”, they actually just mean a subset of his character – his righteousness. But, if we postulate that the Law reveals the full character of God.. then we could say that it is a revelation of what happens when the righteous awesome God pastors a sinful, weak people. And so we see his gracious mercy and patience demonstrated as well as his righteousness and justice. This is the only way I can explain floor passages, such as the laws about slavery (Exodus 21v1-32). Surely if this was revealing God’s pure righteousness, then slavery would be abolished (i.e. the “ceiling”). But slavery is permitted and controlled, because, God is patiently “raising the standards” of his people from the mire around them – he knows, in his grace, that they simply wouldn’t be able to take the expression of his full righteousness at that moment.

    This is Jesus’ argument, I believe, in Mark 10v1-12. He argues that Moses’ application of the 10Cs to Israel, was gracious, Moses made allowances for their hardness of heart. Interestingly, Jesus shows how a Law that is written as a concession for sin, still acts as a guardian to bring people to the righteousness of Christ – so even though this particular Law isn’t the “ceiling standard”, but the “floor standard”, it still convicts of sin.

    Jesus’ fulfilling the Law
    Errr… I think I’ve answered your questions in that mess above. You didn’t label this as a question – but it needs to be answered.

    Frankly – I don’t have a good answer. Though I do think there’s something in the difference between the Moral Law (e.g. 10 Cs), and Moses application of the Moral Law (i.e. the Mosaic Covenant).

    In a nutshell, Lane, I totally admit that I’m still baffled by the Law/Gospel thing… I’ve found the stuff you guys have said really helpful (especially that essay someone linked to). But I haven’t found a “clean” position yet that I’m really happy with.

    I’m open to correction.

    #70 Dr White,
    I think I feel a bit more confident answering this, than I did answering Lane :)

    I think the warning in Gen 2v16-17 implies immediacy… with the “same day”. I think the penalty for their sin begins immediately (Gen 3v7). They are immediately cursed, and the curse affects everything of their humanity (their “image of God”-ness).

    The only reason why they’re not instantaneously cast down into Hell upon eating the fruit is because the Covenant of Grace immediately kicks in. It is announced with the first curse, implying it’s immediate efficacy from the moment they ate. God hadn’t told them about the Covenant of Grace in the warning, for obvious reasons (when I’m warning my child about a potential danger, I just warn him, I don’t go through all the possible caveats ‘cos that’s dumb).

    I think this is Witsius’ position – because he’s the one I got the idea off. I only say “I think”, because, you lot are all irritatingly clever, and claiming anyone before 1999 as support for one’s position is a dangerous thing on Green Baggins :)

    Lane & Dr White
    Is there anywhere online I can download your sermons? Same goes for Reed, too. My wife and I like to listen to sermons together in the car on long journeys, it would be good for us to get a healthy dose of this Presbyterian stuff…

  75. Pete Myers said,

    January 8, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    #72,

    I’ve posted a massive response already… how about you respond to that, and then re-iterate any of these questions that still apply. Otherwise we’ll get in a mess.

  76. rfwhite said,

    January 8, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    72 Roger Mann, yes; I offered my comment in support of your thesis. Sorry if that wasn’t clear. It seems to me that Gal 4.1-5 is an all-but-explicit declaration that those under the Law were the equivalent of servants.

  77. Ron Henzel said,

    January 8, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Dr. White,

    In comment 63 you wrote:

    Can you spell out briefly how you recognize that the Law is an administration of the CoG? In what ways can this truth be seen?

    Briefly? I’m not sure that I can, but I’ll try.

    The first thing that comes to mind for me as I read these questions is Galatians 3. I believe this passage spells out with great precision how the Mosaic Law functions as a republication of the Covenant of Works and yet within the context of (and thus as an administration of) the Covenant of Grace. There Paul speaks of being under the Law as a kind of imprisonment (3:23), but it is the kind of imprisonment that is designed for the ultimate benefit of the prisoner, as Paul wrote, “So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:24, ESV).

    Had N.T. Wright paid closer attention to how Reformed theology has handled this passage he might have avoided his fundamental error of believing that the only way to reconcile the “discrepancies” he supposedly found between the way Galatians and Romans present the Law was to redefine the phrase “works of the Law.” But, as R. Scott Clark recently pointed out in The Confessional Presbyterian, Wright freely admits that he conducted all of his study of the relevant Pauline texts in splendid isolation from any knowledge of the history of Reformed exegesis. Given the damage he’s done to much contemporary evangelical theology, it’s a terrible pity.

    The specific function the Mosaic Law serves simultaneously for the Covenant of Grace and yet as the republication of the Covenant of Works is also spelled out in WCF 19:6:

    Although true believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified, or condemned; yet is it of great use to them, as well as to others; in that, as a rule of life informing them of the will of God, and their duty, it directs nature, hearts and lives; so as, examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against sin, together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and the perfection of His obedience. It is likewise of use to the regenerate, to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin: and the threatenings of it serve to show what even their sins deserve; and what afflictions, in this life, they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law. The promises of it, in like manner, show them God’s approbation of obedience,and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof: although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works. So as, a man’s doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourages to the one and deters from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law: and not under grace.

    The way the WCF goes out of its way here to declare that believers are not under the moral law (which is identified with the Mosaic Law in 19:2) as a covenant of works clearly implies that unbelievers remain under its threats and condemnations, and thus under it as a covenant of works, until they heed its prefigurings of Christ and trust in Him. And yet WCF 19 repeatedly demonstrates how the Law today serves the Covenant of Grace.

    In the social studies classes I teach at the middle school level students learn about the “push-pull theory” of human migration. We can also speak of the “push-pull” features of the CoW and CoG: the CoG pulls men to Christ with mercy and forgiveness while the CoW pushes them with threats and punishments. And even when people become believers, as the WCF points out, those threats and punishments still play a role as an administration of the CoG, since they remind believers of what their sins truly deserve and the terrible consequences they can have in this life.

    I’m not sure I succeeded in responding to your questions briefly…

  78. rfwhite said,

    January 8, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    74 Pete Myers, with regard to 70, I think you made the point that I was seeking to surface, namely, that, though God penalized Adam, in your words, “immediately and absolutely,” He did not do so fully. That is, the death to which Adam was liable was death of multiple sorts — spiritual, moral, social, physical, et al. — and death in all its dimensions did not fall on Adam at the conception of sin in his inner man. He did not, as it were, drop dead (physically), in fact, until he was long out of Eden. I would submit that in the administration of the Law, God applied His penalty to Israel similarly. The question, it seems, is why is the penalty applied in this way?

    I would also add to this: it sems to me that there are applicable lessons from God’s judgment of the earth in Noah’s day and His judgment of the Canaanite nations (aka the Amorites). That is, God’s judgment did not fall on all the earth until all flesh had been filled with violence and corruption (Gen 6.11-13), and on the Canaanites “until the iniquity of the Amorites was full” (cf. Gen 15.16). Judgment came to the earth when the violence and corruption of the earth was full, but not until then; judgment came to Israel when the inquity of the land was full, but not until then (cf. Lev 20:22). In describing Israel’s judgment, the prophets draw analogies to the days of the flood and the days of the Canaanites. The apostle Peter also cites these judgments in 2 Pet 2-3. In so doing, he has to answer the problem of delay in judgment by reminding folks of the patience of God, which provides opportunity for repentance.

    With regard to Gal 3.10, the same idea appears in Lev 20.22, “You shall therefore keep all my statutes and all my rules and do them, that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out.” As for the so-called error of Paul’s opponents and the Pharisees, their error, as I see, was not that they misinterpreted Moses by mistakenly believing that he had written of the righteousness of the Law. Their error was that they did not listen to Moses when he contrasted the righteousness of the Law with the righteousness of faith. They sought to become heirs of Abraham by the righteousness of the Law of which Moses had written, but neglected the fact that that inheritance was only attainable by the righteousness of faith (cf. Romans 9:30-10:11).

  79. rfwhite said,

    January 8, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    77 Ron Henzel, thanks; that’s helpful. I posed that question because I find it easy to talk past others by presuming that I know what I myself mean or that they know what I mean when I invoke certain expressions.

  80. Pete Myers said,

    January 8, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    #77, Ron,

    Thanks, lots of that was really helpful.

    On this:

    But, as R. Scott Clark recently pointed out in The Confessional Presbyterian, Wright freely admits that he conducted all of his study of the relevant Pauline texts in splendid isolation from any knowledge of the history of Reformed exegesis.

    Did you know that a friend of mine has done a similar thing with Dunn on Luther:
    http://www.theologian.org.uk/doctrine/hesitation.html

    Lee Gatiss is an Anglican Evangelical minister over here. He’s an awesome chap, and his website is well worth a visit.

  81. Pete Myers said,

    January 8, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    #78, Dr White,

    oooo… thanks, there’s some helpful stuff in your answer there too. I will meditate on the Canaanite connection – in fact just thinking about it there are numerous analogies drawn between the Canaanites and Israel… in fact (thinking while typing – usually bad, ho hum)… in fact, didn’t Manasseh finally push YHWH’s buttons by sinning in a greater manner than the Canaanites – and that was the last straw. Hmmm…

    As to Adam – I think there’s a slight issue. For Adam the CoG wasn’t announced until after he’d broken the CoW. So, this is why the full terms of the CoW can be given in Genesis 2, but then they are graciously held back in Genesis 3, because the previously unannounced CoG kicked in.

    This is in contrast to Israel, for whom, the CoG was announced before the Law that they received…

  82. rfwhite said,

    January 8, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    81 Pete Myers, I’m not sure if we’re tracking with one another. I don’t disagree that the circumstances in which the commandments were introduced to Adam differed from those in which the commandments were introduced to Israel. Perhaps it would help to summarize how I see their similarities as well as their differences. Israel was like Adam insofar as the nation was the blessed son of God by the unconditional and unilateral benediction of the Lord. Israel was unlike Adam, however, insofar as Adam was blessed in his original state of sinlessness, while the nation was blessed despite its original state of sinfulness and according to the principle of representative righteousness exemplified in Abraham. Like Adam, Israel was commissioned to serve the Lord and to keep His commandments, and each commission in turn occasioned transgression. Unlike Adam, Israel did not receive that law in the state of posse non peccare; instead, Israel was in the state of non posse non peccare. Israel was born in bondage to sin and was not morally competent to serve their God and to keep His commandments. Both failed their probations. Perhaps this will give us some common ground to relaunch our discussion …

  83. Pete Myers said,

    January 8, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    #82, Dr White,

    Yeah, thanks for that. I must admit, I think there’s a few things on the table we could pick up to discuss on this, but I’m slightly lost now as to where the different threads of conversation have got to.

    What do you make of some of the things I raised with Lane in #74?

    How about if I highlight the issues of slave laws in Exodus 21… a good example for me of a “floor” law, rather than a “ceiling” law. So, the Mosaic Law is not God’s “perfect” standard. Thoughts?

  84. greenbaggins said,

    January 9, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Pete, my sermons are on sermonaudio.com. The quality isn’t the best, but my page is as follows:

    http://www.sermonaudio.com/source_detail.asp?sourceid=greenbaggins

  85. rfwhite said,

    January 9, 2009 at 11:02 am

    83 Pete Myers, regarding your comments to Lane in 74, I would say these things. So as not to make this post inordinately long and to manage my time, let me break my responses into more than one.

    On Gal 3.10 — The same idea appears in Lev 20.22, “You shall therefore keep all my statutes and all my rules and do them, that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out.” So the basis for the idea that God’s law required perfect obedience is found not only in Paul but in Moses.

    As for the claims of the misinterpretation view of Paul’s opponents, there are differences among Paul’s interpreters, to be sure. With others I would say that the misinterpretion analysis is mistaken. It is alleged that the error of Paul’s opponents was that they misinterpreted Moses by mistakenly believing that he had written of the righteousness of the Law when, in fact, he had not. My response is that, no, Moses had written of the righteousness of the law, but he had done so by contrasting it to the righteousness of faith. The error of Paul’s opponents, then, was that they did not listen to Moses when he contrasted the righteousness of the law with the righteousness of faith. This is, arguably, the burden of Paul’s argument in Rom 9.30-10.11, which with Phil 3 provides context to interpret Gal 3.10. Paul’s opponents and their followers sought to establish their own righteousness (and hence their justification by works of the law) not because Moses had not written of the righteousness of the law, but because they neglected Moses’ teaching that the blessing of Abraham was only attainable by the righteousness of faith.

  86. rfwhite said,

    January 9, 2009 at 11:27 am

    83/74 Pete Myers, the core of your comments on the character of God and the law is found, I gather, in the words, “he [God] knows, in his grace, that they [His people] simply wouldn’t be able to take the expression of his full righteousness at that moment.” So isn’t the implication of your proposal that God tailors His standard of righteousness to the sinner’s ability (hardness of heart)? Do you mean to say that the sinner is able to meet any standard of righteousness that God might set? If not, what do you mean to say about the sinner who is hard of heart? Incidentally, if Israel as addressed by Moses is hard of heart, does that make them spiritual Egypt?

  87. Pete Myers said,

    January 9, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    #86, Dr White,

    I think I’m on much safer ground to point to the slavery laws in Exodus 21 and say “That Law does not reflect the absolute standard that God would like to set on the matter, if he were dealing with righteous beings.”

    How you then work that out and explain it in terms of the Law being an expression of God’s character is then an issue that is a problem for both those who see the Law as an absolute expression of his righteousness, and for me.

    So, looking at how I answer the question of “How does your view of the law fit with it as an expression of God’s character?” I would ask you to make sure that you’re not just passing over the underlying issues here – the “Moral” portion of the Mosaic Law does say stuff that isn’t God’s perfect standard for morality. And I think Mark 10 proves that, even.

    I’m not holding my position up as “watertight”. And I really see amazing value and hermeneutical strength in the position you’ve outlined. However – I’m at a loss to see how any of the positions on the Mosaic Law are “watertight” at the moment.

  88. rfwhite said,

    January 9, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    87 Pete Myers, fair enough … though we on this side of the pond like our theological positions “airtight” v. “watertight”! ;-) Kidding aside, I concede there are points of weaknesses to shore up in every view. As usual, we tend to favor the view that handles best the questions we are asking. When the questions change …

  89. Pete Myers said,

    January 10, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    #88, Dr White,

    Thanks for pulling up my liberalism in pointing out that I should be failing to reach airtight views rather than watertight ones :)

    But this exchange has got me pondering on… slavery. Someone pointed me to Doug Wilson’s article on this. Maybe I’m just too English, but I’m in one of those situations where my head can’t find a reason to argue against slavery (other than some limp arguments using Genesis 1v27, but I’m already sure there’ll be obvious answers to that)… but my gut won’t let me consider slavery – no matter how nicely it’s dressed up – as something that’s “good”.

    Hmmm… dangerous… when the gut wins over the brain, that truly is liberalism.

  90. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 11, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    The only way to make a positive case for slavery from the Scripture is to argue that it was permitted and enjoined in the Mosaic Law. So already, we need to decide whether we are going to accept the Mosaic Law as normative for us in the Church — the Kline/Murray debate. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that we decide that the Mosaic Law concerning slavery does apply.

    American and British slaves were kidnapped Africans or their descendants. On the basis of Ex. 21.16, I would argue that slavery as practiced in America and Britain consisted of fencing stolen people.

    Additionally, most American slaves were (at least nominally) Christians, so they should have been freed by their fellow Christian masters at least after the period of time prescribed in Deuteronomy 15.12 – 18.

    Slaves who were beaten excessively were to be freed (Ex. 21.26-27). Etc.

    None of this happened in America.

    Some would say, “Well, OK, American slavery was bad — but it could have been done better.” I ask, “How?” Given human nature, was there ever really a way for slavery to work on the mass scale in America so that slaves would be treated well instead of exploited?

    Nope.

    Jeff

  91. Pete Myers said,

    January 11, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    #90 Jeff,

    Thanks. Do you disagree with Doug Wilson on this then?

  92. January 21, 2009 at 10:42 am

    […] Calvin’s Institutes added to the AAPC conference. So, just to help him remember where we are, this is my last post in the series, which is as yet unanswered. In the current post, I will examine the […]

  93. Reed Here said,

    January 21, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    No. 91, Peter, I do (at least what he and Wilkin’s published. Seems there is a whitewash of the things Jeff brings up.)

  94. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 21, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Yes, I do.


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