The OPC Report on Republication, Part 7

The OPC report speaks of a variety of views that were on offer with regard to republication. By the way, we are looking at Part I, Chapter 2, sections II and III-A in this post. The fact that the Westminster Assembly only explicitly rejected Tobias Crisp’s covenantal notions (Crisp believed that the New Covenant was substantially different than the Old Testament iterations of the Covenant of grace, such that they could not be considered as the same covenant in substance) does not tell us much more than that. This leaves us without clear standing on the question of whether more views than Crisp’s were either condoned or condemned.

However, support of an allowance of some forms of republication can be found in two points, according to the committee: 1. The presence of covenantal conditions in WLC 93 (the committee argues that bare precepts are more usual with the moral law per se, whereas the presence of conditions usually signals a covenant); and 2. The prooftexts underlying WCF 7.2’s description of the covenant of works are verses that apply to the Mosaic covenant. As the committee says, “How could the assembly think these passages relevant if a majority of its members did not see substantive continuities between the prelapsarian covenant of works and the Mosaic covenant?”

This leads us straight to a consideration of how the prooftexts function. While they are not a confessional issue per se, they do offer a window into the interpretation of the Westminster Standards, since they were carefully chosen, according to the extended quotation of Chad Van Dixhoorn. Hence, they make it into the report as part of an argument.

It seems clear that the committee is concerned to ensure that at least some views of republication are consistent with the Westminster Standards. Which ones are and which ones aren’t remain to be seen, but I am certainly in agreement with this assessment, even though I don’t think my own views would be described fairly as republication.


  1. January 25, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    I know you said explicitly, but it does matter that the Subservient view (which is most like the Klinean view) was in its essence rejected by the Assembly and their peers:

    Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology (ed. James T. Dennison, Jr.; trans. G. M. Giger; Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1994), 2:262-69

    Samuel Rutherfurd, The Covenant of Life Opened (Edinburgh: Robert Brown, 1655), 57-65.

  2. greenbaggins said,

    January 25, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Andrew, rejection by Turretin and Rutherford does not mean it was rejected by the Assembly. You need quite a bit more evidence than this that the Assembly rejected it. Furthermore, you have not answered the actual arguments of the committee.

  3. January 26, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    It isn’t explicit, as in, “The subservient covenant is rejected…” What I gave were two examples of those who rejected it. Further, the Standards themselves reject the Subservient view, in the words and phrases we find therein, especially WCF 7.6, “There are not therefore two covenants of grace, differing in substance, but one and the same, under various dispensations.”

    Westminster’s view of the Mosaic covenant can’t in anyway fit with the Subservient view. If you want evidence, there’s many others who have written on this topic. For example, Patrick Ramsey in WTJ 66.2.

  4. greenbaggins said,

    January 26, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    Andrew, in my view, Patrick Ramsey is not a reliable interpreter of Kline. In the article you cite, he mistakes Kline’s earlier views as saying whole hog that theonomy is the view of the Westminster Standards (page 374, note 8). Kline’s view is far more nuanced that such a simplistic broadside would suggest (see WTJ 41.1, p. 173). Furthermore, in describing the “subservient view” Ramsey is constantly flattening out the distinction that Kline and Karlberg both make between the essence and administration, particularly in his critique on pages 381-382. Earlier, Ramsey more correctly describes their view, but when he comes to critique, he does a bait and switch, creating a straw man. He also critiques Kline and Karlberg by way of critiquing Owen, and the views of Kline/Karlberg are not the same at all as Owen’s. Furthermore, he doesn’t seem to see that his exposition of the fifth commandment is right in line with how Kline and Karlberg see the overlay principle (pp. 388-389). In short, I find Ramsey’s article profoundly unhelpful and downright misleading.

    Furthermore, you are not distinguishing between a subservient view that addresses a mere adjunct to the Mosaic economy versus a subservient view that claims to be describing the substance of the Mosaic economy. The former is consistent with the portion of WCF that you describe. The latter is not. Just because the Westminster standards reject the view of subservience that makes claims about the substance of the Mosaic economy does not in any way mean that they rejected a view of subservience concerning the administration.

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