The OPC Republication, Part 9

In this post, we will address the interpretation of WCF 19, a vitally important point to the whole debate. For ease of reference, sections 1-3 of chapter 19 will be reproduced here in full:

19:1 God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works, by which He bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience; promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it: and endued him with power and ability to keep it.

19:2 This law, after his fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness, and, as such, was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in ten commandments, and written in two tables: the four first commandments containing our duty towards God; and the other six our duty to man.

19:3 Besides this law, commonly called moral, God was pleased to give to the people of Israel, as a church under age, ceremonial laws, containing several typical ordinances, partly of worship, prefiguring Christ, His graces, actions, sufferings, and benefits; and partly holding forth divers instructions of moral duties. All which ceremonial laws are now abrogated, under the new testament.

I have not found republication arguments convincing on this section. For one thing, no republication advocate believes that the Mosaic economy required personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience. Of course, they usually have an answer for this difference, namely, that the works required in the Mosaic economy are typological.

For another thing, as the committee notes, the words “as such” in section 2 do not refer to “law as a covenant of works,” but rather to “perfect rule of righteousness.” So, while it is true that the three paragraphs need to be read together, and not as completely separate, this fact does not prove the republication theory.

However, I am just as equally unconvinced that this passage actively forbids all forms of republication. As the committee says, there is not enough evidence here to judge one way or the other. Not even section 6 is conclusive. I am not sure what significance the committee notices in the comma after “works” in section 6. It does not seem to me to affect the sense much, especially when one considers that the 17th century authors tended to be somewhat comma-happy, putting them in even in places where we might not.

Their conclusion is very cautious: at this point in their inquiry, they do not see the WCF as either blessing republication or condemning it.

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77 Comments

  1. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 27, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    Lane, I understand the CoW to consist in two parts

    * The commands
    * The sanctions (promise of life / threat of death)

    You give this against republication: “no republication advocate believes that the Mosaic economy required personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience.”

    In other words, you argue that the sanctions from Eden are not repeated at Sinai.

    But are not the commands?

    The words,

    This law, after his fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness, and, as such, was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in ten commandments

    seem to indicate that the content of the CoW as perfect rule of righteousness was literally republished at Sinai. “This law” given in Eden was the same law given at Sinai. The prooftexts for 19.1 seem to indicate that the same thought was in the minds of the Assembly.

    Now, that doesn’t get us to typological blessings and curses for imperfect obedience, so perhaps that doesn’t count in your mind as “republication”.

    But it would seem that at a literal level of republishing the commands, a minimalist version of republication is given here in the Confession.

    Thoughts?

  2. greenbaggins said,

    January 27, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    Jeff, what I mean is that advocates of republication recognize that perfect obedience is impossible after the Fall, and that therefore there had to be some kind of method of dealing with sin. If perfect and perpetual obedience was fully required for a national covenant with Israel in order for them to keep the land, then why did they stay in the land for so many hundreds of years even while sinning rather a lot?

    The specific requirements of the CoW, namely, the command not to eat of the tree, and to tend and keep the garden, are not repeated under anyone’s understanding.

    The moral law still requires perfect obedience, as the pedagogical use of the law tells us. However, this requirement only drives us to Christ. The third use of the law assumes that perfect obedience is a goal to be reached only at death, though progress will be made towards that perfection all through the Christian life.

  3. rfwhite said,

    January 28, 2017 at 9:20 am

    Green Baggins: I appreciate your effort to help us get our bearings. I also appreciate your effort to clarify your statement that “no republication advocate believes that the Mosaic economy required personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience.” That assertion will raise eyebrows of surprise.

    You have framed the question of the requirement of perfect and perpetual obedience from the standpoint of why Israel stayed in the land.

    Would you say that that question can also be framed from the standpoint of why they were expelled from the land? That is, would you say that everyone agrees that Israel was expelled because they did not render perfect and perpetual obedience to God?

  4. Ron said,

    January 28, 2017 at 10:03 am

    “Of course, they usually have an answer for this difference, namely, that the works required in the Mosaic economy are typological.”

    Not just works required but penalties as well, which of course leads to more inconsistencies and silly notions. Did the death penalty picture the cross? Of course not, but as soon as death penalty typology is indexed to the final judgement as its redemptive fulfillment, then what do we make of lesser crimes that required lesser penalties? What did the penalty for stealing a loaf of bread typify, purgatory?

  5. Ron said,

    January 28, 2017 at 11:51 am

    The new covenant, like the promise to Adam after the fall, renewed in the covenants with Abraham and David, is not like the Sinai covenant.” Michael Horton

    I think that quote is a fair representation of the view being discussed.

    The blessings of the new covenant do not depend on our obedience, but on God’s grace: He will put His Law within us, so that it will not only be an external command that condemns us but an inward longing of our heart; He will be our God and we will be His people – yet another one-sided promise on God’s part. Instead of always giving imperatives (like ‘Know the Lord’), in the new covenant people will know the Lord because He has revealed Himself as their Savior.

    In order to try to understand the meaning, we should be quick to acknowledge what that side (hereafter called R) clearly affirms and in doing so not let anything contradict what must be considered bedrock for them.

    R in practice is not antinomian. R appreciates that faith without works is dead. Accordingly, R is not saying that all blessings of the new covenant are received apart from good works being present in the life of the believer. Moreover, being committed Calvinists R also should appreciate that good works are never the product of libertarian free will but rather a result of God working in his redeemed both to will and do of his good pleasure. Consequently, whatever R’s point is, it cannot pivot upon the question of whether man needs grace to obey, or whether obedience will be present in those who receive blessings in the new covenant. R clearly affirms both, our need for grace and the resultant obedience that comes by grace. Moreover, certainly R appreciates through scripturally informed experience that obedience begets blessings, and that this too is a principle that transcends testaments. In other words, R appreciates that proverbs-living will generally be a means to good things bestowed (blessings or goodness if you will), even for the unregenerate.

    There are many discontinuities between the old and new covenant, yet notwithstanding I trust all would agree that there’s no break in the principle that sovereign grace effects creaturely obedience, which in turn places us in the path of additional covenant blessings.

    Maybe this next part is controversial, but I’d say no covenant operated under a pure quid pro quo, for our obedience, if it’s spiritual, is nothing other than what John Murray called the “reciprocal responses of faith.” Our obedience, which too is a grace, is necessary in order to receive many blessings that the covenants contemplates.

    On the other hand, maybe R means this:

    When the apostle says in Ephesians 1:3 that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessings in Christ, we all are struck afresh by the indicative, that these blessings are ours now – and that we are not dependent upon God’s works of future providence in order to gain them. Our task is by grace to believethe full blown reality of these blessings and when we do, we too with Paul will praise God for them – even in spite of our circumstances. The single command in the first three chapters of Ephesians is to remember from where we came. Anyway, these blessings include our election unto holiness, the forgiveness of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit, adoption as sons (not sons and daughters) and the hope of glory.

    I would like to think that those are the blessings to which R is referring that are not dependent upon obedience.

    The reason I am somewhat reluctant to read R this way is that all those blessings belonged to God’s elect under Moses. Yes, these blessings were theirs in much smaller measure, but nonetheless they were still there and they had nothing to do with obedience.

    Maybe R is just comparing the physical blessings under Moses (that came through obedience) with the spiritual blessings under Christ (that are 100% ours without remainder through union with Christ). Maybe R is just not footnoting that today we have physical blessings under Christ (through faithful obedience), just like under Moses they had spiritual blessings (upon conversion). Not sure.

  6. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 28, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    @ Ron (#5):

    Thanks for your careful efforts here.

    Speaking as a species of republicationist, let me indicate agreements first:

    R in practice is not antinomian. R appreciates that faith without works is dead. Accordingly, R is not saying that all blessings of the new covenant are received apart from good works being present in the life of the believer.

    Yes to all those. Specifically, the blessings of the new covenant come through the Spirit, who also produces good works and causes perseverance.

    So there cannot be blessings without good works, nor without perseverance, nor without faith.

    …all those blessings [election unto holiness, forgiveness, etc.] belonged to God’s elect under Moses.

    Yes.

    R clearly affirms both, our need for grace and the resultant obedience that comes by grace.

    Yes.

  7. Jack Bradley said,

    January 28, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    Lane,

    Thank you for quoting WCF 19.1-3 in full. The OPC report authors say:

    “When read together, there is at least the possibility that a republication-friendly reading was permitted or encouraged by the assembly: ‘after the fall’ the Mosaic law was both ‘a covenant of works’ and a ‘rule of righteousness’ (WCF19.1-2).”

    This is a fair appraisal, as far as it goes. Mark Jones (In What Sense?, Ordained Servant) gets to the nub of the problem—in how far the Republicationists take it:

    “To argue that the giving of the law at Sinai has similarities with the covenant of works is not, to my mind, controversial in Reformed circles. To argue that a meritorious works-principle operated at the typological level in the Mosaic covenant—because Sinai is viewed as a law covenant—is, however, a serious point of contention.”

    http://www.opc.org/os.html?article_id=199

    Lane, I’m glad to see you agree: “I have not found republication arguments convincing on this section. For one thing, no republication advocate believes that the Mosaic economy required personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience. Of course, they usually have an answer for this difference, namely, that the works required in the Mosaic economy are typological.”

    Cornel Venema (The Mosaic Covenant: A “Republication” of the Covenant of Works?) clearly shows the problem with this answer. This excerpt is a bit lengthy, but well worth the time, because it gets at the heart of the issue:

    “In Kline’s view of the typology of the Mosaic covenant, two radically opposed inheritance principles are posited, each of which is said to operate at a distinct level of Israel’s life, the earthly and the spiritual. . . because the Mosaic administration actually consists of two levels of covenant administration, one of works and the other of grace, it cannot function at both levels as a typological promise of the new covenant, which is essentially and exclusively a covenant of grace. Since the problem with this understanding of the typology of the Mosaic covenant has been summarized by O. Palmer Robertson, I will conclude with his assessment of the way it conflicts with the general nature of biblical typology:

    [Robertson]: ‘Kline’s view of the Mosaic economy as a “covenant of works” is fundamentally flawed at several points. He bases his case on the assumption that in God’s redemptive covenants a distinction can be made between the basis of temporal benefits and salvific benefits. But in scripture these two aspects of redemption are both matters of grace. He must also assume that a difference in the basis for operation may be made between the typological experience of Israel and the redemptive experience. But Vos effectively makes the point that the typological can communicate in its essence nothing different than the symbolized reality it portrays (Biblical Theology, 145–46). Kline’s definition of the Mosaic covenant as a covenant of meritorious works is also flawed by its effort to make a radical distinction between the basic nature of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants in comparison with the Mosaic covenant. The same typological images present in the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants may be found in the Mosaic, and the same type of law condition in relation to promise is found in all three covenants. David admonishes his son/successor Solomon to “keep [God’s] decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the law of Moses, so that … the Covenant Lord may keep his promise to me” (1 Kings 2:3–4 NIV). David obviously saw his covenant relation to the Lord as an extension of the Mosaic covenant and had no problem joining commandments to promises.’

    Venema: “Robertson’s point is the same one that I wish to make. Consistent with the pattern of biblical typology, the promises and demands of the Mosaic economy are ‘typical’ of the promises and demands of the new covenant economy. The redemption promised in the covenant of grace always requires the response of faith and sincere, albeit imperfect, obedience on the part of the people of the covenant. As it was in the covenant administration of Moses, so it is in the covenant administration of Christ.

    . . . The traditional formula of Reformed covenant theology, that the covenant of grace is one in substance though diverse in administration, entails that the Mosaic covenant was substantially a covenant of grace and only accidentally distinct from other administrations of the covenant of grace. This means that the distinctive features of the covenant of grace, which distinguish it in substance from the covenant of works, characterize the Mosaic administration in its entirety. It also means that whatever features of the Mosaic administration distinguish it from other administrations of the covenant of grace belong to the category of adjuncts or accidents, which do not materially affect its nature or character.

    The theological problem posed by the republication thesis can be stated rather simply. If what belongs to the substance of the covenant of works does not belong to the substance of the covenant of grace in any of its administrations, it is semantically and theologically problematic to denominate the Mosaic administration as *in any sense* a covenant of works. . . In all of its administrations, the covenant of grace promises life by grace alone through faith in Christ alone. Justification and life in fellowship with God is, in every administration of the covenant of grace, freely granted to believers for the sake of Christ’s work as Savior. Because the Mosaic administration of the covenant includes everything that belongs to the substance of the covenant of grace, it communicated the same grace of Christ, albeit in the form of anticipatory types and shadows, as is communicated in the new covenant in Christ. The promises and obligations of the Mosaic economy are substantially the same as the promises and obligations of the new covenant economy.” [* Venema’s emphasis in italics.]

    http://www.midamerica.edu/uploads/files/pdf/journal/venema21.pdf

    In this light, and in light of their own later, rather stinging critiques of substantial republication, I find it difficult to understand how the authors can say, right at the headwaters of the OPC report:

    “. . . perhaps a clearer understanding of WCF 19.6 would still enable us to find a place for SUBSTANTIAL republication in our confessional standards. The paragraph begins with the statement that ‘although true believers be not under the law as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned; yet it is of great use to them…’ Proponents of substantial republication agree that believers, because they are under the covenant of grace, cannot be justified or condemned by the covenant of works, but argue that, at least in the Old Testament, believers could be ‘under the law’ for purposes other than personal justification or condemnation.” [emphasis mine]

    But this is just the problem with substantial republication. As the report itself demonstrates, the WCF makes it crystal clear that OT and NT believers are not UNDER law as the covenant of works in any way, shape or form. But substantial republication is most emphatically saying that OT believers were, in a SUBSTANTIAL way, under the covenant of works.

    Again, Venema: “…it is semantically and theologically problematic to denominate the Mosaic administration as *in any sense* a covenant of works.”

    Again, Jones: “To argue that the giving of the law at Sinai has similarities with the covenant of works is not, to my mind, controversial in Reformed circles. To argue that a meritorious works-principle operated at the typological level in the Mosaic covenant—because Sinai is viewed as a law covenant—is, however, a serious point of contention.”

    I agree with you, Lane, when you write: “I am just as equally unconvinced that this passage actively forbids all forms of republication.”

    But I think that this confessional passage, and the entire system of doctrine of the Westminster Standards, actively forbid this form: substantial republication.

  8. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 28, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    Ron,

    Now for a couple of points of disagreement or clarification.

    (1) The principle of general blessings for proverbs-living is not the same as the works-principle of Deuteronomy 28.

    You say,

    Moreover, certainly R appreciates through scripturally informed experience that obedience begets blessings, and that this too is a principle that transcends testaments. In other words, R appreciates that proverbs-living will generally be a means to good things bestowed (blessings or goodness if you will), even for the unregenerate.

    There are many discontinuities between the old and new covenant, yet notwithstanding I trust all would agree that there’s no break in the principle that sovereign grace effects creaturely obedience, which in turn places us in the path of additional covenant blessings.

    This requires some distinction. I would agree that Proverbs teaches that there is, as Mark Futato puts it, “a moral arc to the creation.” And thus, as you say, proverbs-living will be a means to good things bestowed.

    We might call this the Proverbs Principle or the Wisdom Principle.

    But this principle is different from what the committee terms the “works-principle” of Deut 28:

    Broadly defined, a works principle is merely communicating obligations with sanctions. Such a principle is seen clearly in the covenant of works (Gen 2:16–17). This principle, or something like it, has also been observed in the Mosaic covenant. As Geerhardus Vos stated, “The covenant with Israel served in an emphatic manner to recall the strict demands of the covenant of works.”[17] This law really did carry the content of the covenant of works “as made serviceable for a particular period of the covenant of Grace.”[18] Although obeying such a demand was unattainable for Israelites since they (like all humans after the fall) were only able to sin, it does not negate that there was a real operative works principle in the old covenant.[19] Indeed, such a broadly defined works principle is introduced in many places in the law, in many of the cultic rituals, and in the cultic precepts that God gave Israel to perform.

    The Wisdom Principle is different from Deut 28 in at least three ways.

    (a) WP applies, as you observe, to believers and non-believers alike. But Deut 28 was specific to Israel the nation. They have different domains.

    (b) In similar fashion, WP is non-covenantal (or only vaguely so), while Deut 28 was specifically and directly covenantal. In fact, the works-principle is specified as “the terms of the covenant” that God made with Israel (Deut 29.1).

    (c) The Wisdom Principle operates by God’s providence. When “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth”, this happens because God has constructed the universe thus.

    But Deut 28 operated by God’s direct and miraculous intervention. From Pharaoh onward, God delivered on the promises of Deut 28 by directly bringing diseases, disaster, defeat, success, triumph, health.

    (2) What is missing from the discussion is the ground of blessing and curse.

    You say, Maybe R is just not footnoting that today we have physical blessings under Christ (through faithful obedience), just like under Moses they had spiritual blessings (upon conversion). Not sure.

    It is true that through faithful obedience we have physical blessings under Christ. We could highlight here Eph 6.1-3.

    But it is also true that the ground of our blessings is Christ. Even our good works are evaluated graciously as covered in Christ’s righteousness per WCF 19.6.

    Thus, when we come to our heavenly Father and ask Him for our daily bread, we do so *as His sons*, and not as those who have sufficiently obeyed so as to avoid the curse of no bread.

    By contrast, it is not at all obvious that the ground of blessings and curses in Deut 28 is Christ. The ground appears to be the obedience or disobedience itself, AND that fact appears to be part and parcel of the nation of Israel being “under the law”, in contrast to the New Covenant.

    Hence Deut 28.45 : All these curses will come on you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the Lord your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you.

    So this is the contested point between “R”s and “anti-R”s:

    What was the ground of blessing and curse in Deut 28?

    The R will say that the ground was the obedience itself, a in accord with a form of merit pactum.

    The anti-R will rebut that the obedience required in Deut 28 was imperfect, hence could not be merit in any form; and that the curse for disobedience was tempered with great patience and had further an escape clause in Deut 30.2-3. Therefore, the works-principle in Deut 28 must have been an administration of grace.

    And the R will counter that a fair reading of Deut 28 shows that it is certainly not operating as any species of grace, but rather clearly as law.

    I don’t claim to have the matter fully worked out, but I take comfort in the fact that someone like Bavinck must resort to “on the one hand, on the other” in his own discussion of the matter.

    On the one hand, therefore, the law was subservient to the covenant of grace; it was not a covenant of works in disguise and did not intend that humans would obtain justification by their own works. On the other hand, its purpose was to lay the groundwork for a higher and better dispensation of that same covenant of grace to come in the fullness of time. The impossibility of keeping the Sinaitic covenant and of meeting the demands of the law made another and better dispensation of the covenant of grace necessary.

    — H Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics vol 3 p 226.

  9. Ron said,

    January 28, 2017 at 11:37 pm

    Hi Jeff,

    You’ve gone beyond the scope of my post with your second response. I’m glad for that as I intended it for discussion. However, I’m not inclined to go further, let alone assume a position I didn’t quite articulate.

  10. January 29, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    RE: 6 (Jeff) – //”Speaking as a species of republicationist, let me indicate agreements first:

    R in practice is not antinomian. R appreciates that faith without works is dead. Accordingly, R is not saying that all blessings of the new covenant are received apart from good works being present in the life of the believer.”//

    This seems to be a broad stroke of R. Isn’t there a wing of R that is basically New Covenant Theology (NCT) in Reformed language? Think Lee Irons. And [Irons] being NCT (essentially) there is a great lack of love for the law of God replacing it with the Law of Christ (found only in the NT under the New Covenant), this because of how they interpret Paul in Galatians and Romans and his use of ‘nomos’ (Think also T. David Gordon, Doug Moo, etc.).

  11. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 29, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    @ Andrew (10):

    I can’t speak of wings. Irons and Karlberg seem to me to speak in a polemic context and should be read in that light.

    Speaking for myself, I would argue that we should love God’s law in its three uses, but also that we should fear greatly to abuse it by adding additional uses.

  12. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 29, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    @ Jack (7):

    Here, I find Turretin to be very satisfactory. If you’ll pardon the extended quote:

    A twofold relation ought always to obtain: the one legal, more severe, through which by a new promulgation of the law and of the covenant of works, with an intolerable yoke of ceremonies, he wishes to set forth what men owed and what was to be expected by them on account of duty unperformed. In this respect, the law is called the letter that kills and the handwriting that was contrary to us, because by it men professed themselves guilty and children of death…

    The other relation was evangelical, sweeter, inasmuch as “the law was a schoolmaster unto Christ” and “contained a shadow of things to come.”…

    According to that twofold relation, the administration can be viewed either as to the external economy of legal teaching or as to the internal truth of the gospel promise lying under it. The matter of that external economy was the threefold law – moral, ceremonial, and forensic. The first was fundamental; the remaining appendices of it. The form was the pact added to that external dispensation, which on the part of God was the promise of the land of Canaan and of rest and happiness in it; and, under the image of each, of heaven and rests in him; or of eternal life according to the clause “Do this and live.” On the part of the people, it was a stipulation of obedience to the whole law or righteousness both perfect and personal and justification by it. But this stipulation in the Israelite covenant was only accidental, since it was added only in order that man by its weakness might be led to reject his own righteousness and to embrace another’s, latent under the law.

    The end of that economy (by way of negation) was not the justification of man…

    F Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Vol 2, 7.31-33

    I don’t know if you have access to a copy of Turretin, but I strongly endorse his larger discussion of the relationship between Old and New Covenants. He also discusses the subservient covenant party (Rollock et al), and he is very clear on substance and accidents.

    In particular, I want to note two points of contrast between Turretin and your quotes from Venema and Robertson above (both of whom I esteem…).

    (1) Venema and Robertson see the land inheritance as necessarily flowing from grace because of the typology. Thus Robertson

    He bases his case on the assumption that in God’s redemptive covenants a distinction can be made between the basis of temporal benefits and salvific benefits. But in scripture these two aspects of redemption are both matters of grace.

    By contrast, Turretin sees the land promises as external, accidental — and subject to the works principle.

    (2) Venema is not able to grant any kind of two-fold relation:

    The theological problem posed by the republication thesis can be stated rather simply. If what belongs to the substance of the covenant of works does not belong to the substance of the covenant of grace in any of its administrations, it is semantically and theologically problematic to denominate the Mosaic administration as *in any sense* a covenant of works. . .

    By contrast, Turretin is very comfortable in stating that there is a two-fold relation that divides out along the substance/accident fault line. The first is gracious, the second is definitely not. So he says that the Decalogue is a “new promulgation of the covenant of works.”

    I don’t have any false hope that an appeal to Turretin settles everything. After all, I’m quoting from the edition edited by Dennison, who is staunchly anti-republicationist, I think.

    However, I would like to persuade you that the center of the Reformed tradition does affirm, at minimum, that

    * There is a legitimate works-principle contained within the law, as a matter of accident and not substance, and

    * It is legitimate to speak of the Israelites as being “under the Law”, yet not as a covenant of works to be justified thereby.

    Finally, if you don’t have a copy of Turretin, I would suggest that Institutes gives a lot of bang for the buck. /advertisement.

  13. January 29, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    How do the non’republicationists interpret the ‘all this we will do’ passage? It seems that the mosaic covanent was clearly established with a people, not merely the elect among the people. Were the people required to ‘keep the covanent’, or was that merely the elect among the people who were so required? And was it perfect obedience, or merely the best efforts? If the latter, how can the non repubs accuse the repubs of antinomianism?

  14. Jack Bradley said,

    January 29, 2017 at 11:19 pm

    Jeff wrote:

    “I would like to persuade you that the center of the Reformed tradition does affirm, at minimum, that there is a legitimate works-principle contained within the law, as a matter of accident and not substance, and it is legitimate to speak of the Israelites as being “under the Law”, yet not as a covenant of works to be justified thereby.”
    Jeff, I’m trying to give the benefit of the doubt to “legitimate works-principle”—but that is a very slippery slope. I’m much more comfortable saying with Mark Jones:

    “To argue that the giving of the law at Sinai has SIMILARITIES with the covenant of works is not, to my mind, controversial in Reformed circles. To argue that a MERITORIOUS works-principle operated at the typological level in the Mosaic covenant—because Sinai is viewed as a law covenant—is, however, a serious point of contention.”

    That is what Kline is contending, and it is a serious departure from the confessional Reformed faith: MERITORIOUS works-principle. I think you may say, in a highly qualified way, as I think Turretin does, that there is a legitimate, accidental works-principle contained within the law, in the sense that Cornel Venema is describing:

    “The traditional formula of Reformed covenant theology, that the covenant of grace is one in substance though diverse in administration, entails that the Mosaic covenant was substantially a covenant of grace and only ACCIDENTALLY distinct from other administrations of the covenant of grace. . . whatever features of the Mosaic administration distinguish it from other administrations of the covenant of grace belong to the category of adjuncts or ACCIDENTS, which do not materially affect its nature or character.”

    Again, as I said: “But this is just the problem with substantial republication. As the report itself demonstrates, the WCF makes it crystal clear that OT and NT believers are not UNDER law as the covenant of works in any way, shape or form. But substantial republication is most emphatically saying that OT believers were, in a SUBSTANTIAL way [MERITORIOUS works-principle] under the covenant of works.

    Please note this carefully: I am affirming that the non-controversial Reformed commonplace that the Israelites were “under the law”, yet NOT as a covenant of works. You seem to be contending that the Israelites were “under the law” as a covenant of works, “yet not as a covenant of works to be justified thereby,” as you put it. You qualified this further by saying: “legitimate works-principle contained within the law, as a matter of accident and not substance.”

    I want to persuade you that because of this qualification, you really should drop “UNDER law AS a covenant of works” altogether. Because “law as a covenant of WORKS” necessarily, inescapably implies merited justification, or demerited condemnation.

    Much safer, and confessional to say, with Jones and Venema: accidental similarities with the covenant of works, and to say with WCF 19.6 “although true believers be not under the law as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned; yet it is of great use to them …”

  15. Ron said,

    January 30, 2017 at 8:27 am

    “It seems that the mosaic covanent was clearly established with a people, not merely the elect among the people.”

    Utterlyreformed,

    No matter how many covenants, all the promises converge on one promise, Christ.

    “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” 1 Corinthians 1:20

    Given that all the promises of God are yes and Amen in Christ, we may think in terms of many covenants being fulfilled in one promise, just as Ephesians 2:12 reveals.

    “That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.”
    Ephesians 2:12

    Putting this together we may rightly say, all of the post fall covenants of promise are essentially one, established with and finding their fulfillment in Christ as the second Adam. Each covenant doesn’t supplant the previous one but rather expands upon it.

    Getting closer to your observation, we must see that these promises were made ultimately to one person, Christ.

    “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is Christ.” Galatians 3:16

    By extension the promise is made to those who’ll be united to Christ, (though outwardly administered to many outside the elect).

    “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of Godthrough faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ…If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:26,27…29

    Lastly, and to your observation above, does the Mosaic Covenant set aside or in any sense at odds with the rest of the covenants of promise?

    “The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise…Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not!” Galatians 3:17, 21

    In sum, given that the promises are referred to as one and are said to be made with Christ and by extension to those elected in Him, it doesn’t seem plausible that the Mosaic economy should differ in this regard. Indeed, it was administered to the visible people of God, but that’s no different than Ishmael being circumcised or Noah’s family in the ark.

  16. January 30, 2017 at 9:01 am

    Thank you.
    I know every angle has been put down here somewhere in the last few years, but I am looking for specific answer to a question I do not think was worded well:
    How are repubs accused of antinomianism? I have more often seen the non repub side arguing that perfect perpetual obedience was never required under the MC, while most repubs hold that it was required of the covanent members. To my mind, that makes the non repubs more suseptable to the accusation. What am I missing?

    In comment to the reply, even at bare minimum, the MC was at least administratively distinct from the abrahamic, so it seems at least a bit of a gloss to just say it was as much of the CoG as the AC and the NC, without a lot of qualification and explanation, as these posts amply testify. You-know-who is in the details, as they say. If it was that easy, green aging would have been desolate long ago, instead of the lively good natured barroom brawl we have today.

  17. January 30, 2017 at 9:03 am

    Green aging = Greenbaggins

  18. January 30, 2017 at 9:32 am

    RE #11 (Jeff): I understand your personal view, but what I was saying is that R shouldn’t be so generalized as you were doing. I know sometimes it is necessary, but there are differences within the R camp that are serious differences. It’s the same thing with FV, there’s a wide range of those under that umbrella. Some are better than others.

  19. Ron said,

    January 30, 2017 at 10:33 am

    “In comment to the reply, even at bare minimum, the MC was at least administratively distinct from the abrahamic,”

    How so if the mark of inclusion was to be applied to all within a professing believer’s household?

  20. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 30, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    Andrew (#11):

    I agree that generalization is difficult, and it may well be that *some* R’s are outside of orthodoxy. To be utterly fair, the OPC found that to be the case with Irons, specifically with his teaching that the Decalogue is no longer the standard for NT believers. (I disagree with him).

    To turn your point around: because generalization is difficult, it should not be the case that critics blanketly equate republication with error.

  21. January 30, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    RE #20 (Jeff): unless it is error of course (even when generalized). The OPC R committee clearly didn’t think so, however.

  22. January 30, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    @19
    I would say the mark of inclusion was a similarity, which is compatible with the idea that the distinctions are great. My first example, I think, highlights this; all of Isreal swore obedience to the covanent under Moses, accepting the blessings and the curses. Abraham ‘believed God’.

  23. Ron said,

    January 30, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    Utterly,

    I don’t think I can help at this point. It’s right there before you.

  24. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 31, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    @ Jack (#14):

    What our exchange highlights is the importance difference in understandings of what counts as “substantial.”

    If I’m understanding you correctly, when you argue Because “law as a covenant of WORKS” necessarily, inescapably implies merited justification, or demerited condemnation, you seem to have an implied premise that it is the condition of the covenant that fully determines its substance, whether of works or of grace.

    Is that correct?

    If so, then your understanding is right in line with such notables as John Ball and others.

    On the other hand, I am approaching this from the understanding that because the substance of the covenant of grace is Christ, that which is does not go directly to the substance is accidental

    In other words, because the Law in its legal relation did not provide justification through faith to the Israelite, therefore the legal relation was accidental to the covenant.

    So you and I would differ on the interpretation of Deut 28 because we differ on what the substance of the Mosaic covenant means. We agree that that substance is the grace of Christ through faith, but for you, the substance is found in promises and conditions, so that all promises and conditions (including Deut 28) must be gracious.

    For me, the substance is found in the promise of salvation, and external and physical promises (land, outward expiation) were accidental thereunto.

    That’s the tip of a large iceberg, most of which can be found in Turretin, Vos, Hodge, and Colquoun.

    If I’m misreading you, feel free to correct my understanding.

  25. Jack Bradley said,

    January 31, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    Jeff, it may just be my 59-year-old brain, but I’m really not following your train of thought.

  26. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 1, 2017 at 7:49 am

    It might well be the fault of the explanation!

    Put simply, I’m suggesting that a different view of what the substance of a covenant is could lead to a very different understanding of the Old Covenant. Further, I’m suggesting that this difference in understanding has been a tension between Reformed theologians since the beginning.

    If one views the substance of the covenant as the stipulations, then to say that the land was retained by works is to make the OC a covenant of works in substance. The stipulation was “works”, so the substance was “works.” I believe this is your argument, in the negative — there can be no works-principle, because it would make the OC a covenant of works in substance.

    If one views the substance of the covenant as Christ, and possession of Christ in eternal life, then retention of the land was not a part of the substance; it was accidental to the substance. Hence, to say that the land was retained by works is to speak only of the accidental economy, and not the substance. This is my take on the matter.

  27. Jack Bradley said,

    February 1, 2017 at 8:57 am

    Jeff, thanks for the clarification and condensation. Much clearer to my old noggin.

    You write: “I believe this is your argument, in the negative — there can be no works-principle, because it would make the OC a covenant of works in substance.”

    Yes, no meritorious work-principle.

    You write: “If one views the substance of the covenant as Christ, and possession of Christ in eternal life, then retention of the land was not a part of the substance; it was accidental to the substance. Hence, to say that the land was retained by works is to speak only of the accidental economy, and not the substance. This is my take on the matter.”

    Jeff, I do not question that the substantial Repubs view the substance of the OC as Christ. What makes them substantial repubs is their view of a meritorious works-principle, temporally, typologically. They can call it “upper-level” and not foundational (Christ/salvation), but it remains substantial because, again, the WCF makes it crystal clear that OT believers were not UNDER law as the covenant of works in any way, shape or form, because “law as a covenant of works” *by definition* implies merited justification, or demerited condemnation.

    Substantial republication is most emphatically saying that OT believers were under the covenant of works: MERITORIOUS works-principle. It’s a clear confusion of categories to say that you can be UNDER the covenant of works temporally, typologically. That is why I cannot agree with the way you frame it: “Hence, to say that the land was retained by works is to speak only of the accidental economy, and not the substance.”

    No. This essential, constituent meritorious work-principle of the upper-typological level of the Mosaic covenant stands in diametrical opposition to the one covenant of grace.

  28. rfwhite said,

    February 1, 2017 at 9:17 am

    Jack Bradley: reading your interaction with Jeff Cagle, I’m wondering if it would advance the discussion if you defined what you understand by “meritorious.” Maybe even better, perhaps you could clarify whether merit is ever typological.

  29. Jack Bradley said,

    February 1, 2017 at 9:46 am

    RF, Thank you for the follow up questions. I’ll have to get back to you tomorrow morning because I’m going to be away from my computer until then .

  30. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 1, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    @ Jack:

    Two quick points, and then I will bow out. I am very interested to see how the discussion with Dr. White goes.

    (1) You say, I do not question that the substantial Repubs view the substance of the OC as Christ. What makes them substantial repubs is their view of a meritorious works-principle, temporally, typologically.

    So that’s actually the question under debate.

    You and I agree that substantial republication is off the table. Where we disagree is whether a temporal, typological … and I would add, “national” … works-principle, whether meritorious or not, should be properly labeled substantial rather than accidental.

    It is not a given that this is so.

    For example, Hodge: Besides this evangelical character which unquestionably belongs to the Mosaic covenant, it is presented in two other aspects in the Word of God. First, it was a national covenant with the Hebrew people. In this view the parties were God and the people of Israel; the promise was national security land prosperity; the condition was the obedience of the people as a nation to the Mosaic law; and the mediator was Moses. In this aspect it was a legal covenant. It said, “Do this and live.”

    …These different aspects under which the Mosaic economy is presented account for the apparently inconsistent way in which it in spoken of in the New Testament. … when contrasted with the new or Christian economy, as a different mode of revealing the same covenant, it is spoken of as a state of tutelage and bondage, far different from the freedom and filial spirit of the dispensation under which we now live.

    Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology vol 2 p 375.

    So while I grant that your analysis is articulated by some Reformed theologians (e.g. John Ball), it is also argued against by many Reformed theologians, Hodge being one and Turretin being another.

    I don’t think that you and I can settle that question here. I just wanted to make you aware that your statement “What makes them substantial repubs is their view of a meritorious works-principle, temporally, typologically” is not universally acknowledged by orthodox Reformed folk. It is certainly not articulated in the Confession.

    (2) You cite WCF as “WCF makes it crystal clear that OT believers were not UNDER law as the covenant of works in any way, shape or form”

    But the quote is, Although true believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified, or condemned…

    And we agree: OT believers were not under the law as a covenant of works to be thereby justified or condemned.

    What I am saying is that Israel the nation, as a type of Christ, was under the law as a picture of the covenant of works in order to depict the actual covenant of works that Christ fulfilled for us. The typology was national, not individual; it was external, not salvific; it was accidental to the covenant and not a part of its substance.

    At no point would I suggest for a second that individual Israelites were under the covenant of works to be justified.

    Peace,
    JRC

  31. Jack Bradley said,

    February 2, 2017 at 8:50 am

    Jeff wrote: “We agree: OT believers were not under the law as a covenant of works to be thereby justified or condemned. What I am saying is that Israel the nation, as a type of Christ, was under the law as a picture of the covenant of works in order to depict the actual covenant of works that Christ fulfilled for us. The typology was national, not individual; it was external, not salvific; it was accidental to the covenant and not a part of its substance.”

    Jeff, I have no problem with your words: “under the LAW as a PICTURE of the covenant of works” Yes. That’s what Hodge, Turretin, et al, are saying. They are certainly not saying: under the law AS the covenant of works. Again, it is a clear confusion of categories to say that you can be UNDER the covenant of works temporally, typologically, MERITORIOUSLY.

    Neither Hodge or any other mainstream reformed theologian can be found to say that because, again, “under the law AS a covenant of works” *by definition* implies merited justification, or demerited condemnation.

    I do think it is worth quoting more fully from the passage in Hodge that you cite. In between your ellipses he says:

    “Secondly, it contained, as does also the New Testament, a renewed proclamation of the original covenant of works. It is as true now as in the days of Adam, it always has been and always must be true, that rational creatures who perfectly obey the law of God are blessed in the enjoyment of his favour; and that those who sin are subject to his wrath and curse. Our Lord assured the young man who came to Him for instruction that if he kept the commandments he should live. And Paul says (Rom. ii. 6) that God will render to every man according to his deeds; tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil; but glory, honour, and peace to every man who worketh good. This arises from the relation of intelligent creatures to God. *It is in fact nothing but a declaration of the eternal and immutable principles of justice.* If a man rejects or neglects the gospel, these are the principles, as Paul teaches in the opening chapters of his Epistle to the Romans, according to which he will be judged. If he will not be under grace, if he will not accede to the method of salvation by grace, he is of necessity under the law.”

    As one critique of Kline puts it: “There are certainly those in the Reformed tradition who speak of the Mosaic covenant as reflecting aspects of the original covenant of works with Adam. But even these are quite different from the view proposed by Kline, which isolates the works element to the temporal arena and describes Israel’s obedience (and other Old Testament figures) as possessing a “meritorious” character. . . Although we acknowledge that certain points of similarity between the covenant of works and the Mosaic covenant can be found in previous writers, none of them argue a works-merit formula for Israel as a “corporate Adam”, as Kline and his disciples propose.”

    http://www.wtsbooks.com/common/pdf_links/9781625646835-2.pdf

    The OPC Republication report itself, in the context of delving deeply into the Westminster divines discussion notes, says:

    “The paucity of support for a works-principle reading of these passages thus far is surprising to your committee, and striking, leading to the conclusion that however close assembly members might come to expressing some kind of substantial republication of a works principle in the Mosaic economy, there seems to be no clear association of that principle with these texts among members of the assembly. Indeed, it appears that at most divines understood these texts, when discussed in relation to the covenant of works, in just the way they have been presented above. They do not employ these texts to argue for a typological and thus pedagogical works principle unique to the Mosaic economy, but as an expression of the abiding conditions of the prelapsarian covenant of works to which all unbelievers are subject, including a threat of death for the disobedient, and perhaps an unattainable promise of life for the obedient. In other words, assembly members do not write as though these texts suggest a works-principle for old covenant believers, or a principle of inheritance for national Israel that is distinct from the principle of inheritance that operates in the covenant of grace, or as if these texts supported the attainment of temporal blessings, or the avoidance of temporal curses, BY MEANS OF WORKS rather than FAITH. . . No such principle is ever granted any typological importance in our confessional standards.” (emphases mine)

    This is a monumental mistake: Kline’s republication allows for fallen man to merit temporal blessings. That is SUBSTANTIAL.

  32. rfwhite said,

    February 2, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Jack Bradley:

    So to sum up: is it your contention that merit is never typological? If so, why must that be the case?

    Also, can you tell us where in Kline’s writings his republication allows for fallen man to merit temporal blessings?

  33. Jack Bradley said,

    February 2, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Thanks, RF, I will get back to you tomorrow morning.

  34. rfwhite said,

    February 2, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Jack Bradley: it occurred to me that it might help focus my first question better by asking it in another way. Presuming that you agree that there are blessings that are typological, on what are those blessings conditioned? I ask in the interest of trying to clear out any underbrush that might keep us from getting to the root of your concern.

  35. Jack Bradley said,

    February 3, 2017 at 7:42 am

    RF, I find this helpful in establishing a baseline for typology:

    G. R. Osborne, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology:

    “Typology. . . deals with the principle of analogous fulfillment. A symbol is an abstract correspondence, while a type is an actual historical event or person. . . biblical typology involves an analogical correspondence in which earlier events, persons, and places in salvation history become patterns by which later events and the like are interpreted.

    . . . It is well to avoid dogmatizing types. It is difficult and extremely subjective to establish doctrine on the basis of typology. Even in Hebrews, typology is utilized for illustrative effect rather than for dogmatic considerations. Therefore, only when typology has a direct doctrinal purpose may we affirm such.”

    In my reading of Kline, this is just what he has done. His has employed typology to establish his unique doctrine of a meritorious works-principle of temporal and typological blessings.

    OPC report:

    While it is highly commendable that this view seeks to limit the meritorious works principle to temporal and typological blessings, this qualification does not remove all the potential difficulties with the proposal. Those for whom the types were made continue to be depraved sinners, deserving of no blessings whatsoever—whether temporal or eternal. These types can only function in a way that is consistent with the moral nature of those who make use of them. That is why our standards regularly speak of types of the Old Testament that function with regard to believer’s “faith in the Promised Messiah” with reference to their being built up in “grace” and the “forgiveness of sins” (WCF 7.5). It is simple truism of biblical revelation and Reformed theology that no obedience of a sinner can function as the meritorious ground or basis of any blessing before God. Whether the blessing is a type or the reality, the person performing the work remains unable to perform a work that can function in this way before God. Simply relegating the blessing obtained to the earthly, temporal, or typological level does not address this underlying theological difficulty.

    Osborne: “Typology. . . deals with the principle of analogous fulfillment.” As I posted earlier, Venema gets at the difficulty for Kline’s view in this respect:

    “In the usual view of Reformed covenant theology, however, the temporal blessings promised Israel are regarded typologically as a foreshadowing of the full spiritual blessing of fellowship with God in a renewed creation. The promise to Israel of blessing and life in the land of promise represented in the state of her immaturity a picture of the fullness of salvation in the life to come. Canaan was a “type” of the “city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10, ESV). Moreover, in Kline’s view of the typology of the Mosaic covenant, two radically opposed inheritance principles are posited, each of which is said to operate at a distinct level of Israel’s life, the earthly and the spiritual. In the case of Israel’s earthly inheritance, the operative principle is one of (meritorious) works; in the case of Israel’s spiritual inheritance, the operative principle is that of grace alone. The problem with this conception is that the typology of Mosaic economy does not foreshadow or prefigure, at least at the level of Israel’s existence as a nation in the land of promise, the blessings that are granted freely and graciously to the new covenant people of God. The blessings are different IN KIND; and the principles for the inheritance of these blessings are RADICALLY DIFFERENT. To put the matter differently, because the Mosaic administration actually consists of two levels of covenant administration, one of works and the other of grace, it cannot function at both levels as a typological promise of the new covenant, which is essentially and exclusively a covenant of grace.”

    RF: Can you tell us where in Kline’s writings his republication allows for fallen man to merit temporal blessings?

    The OPC report has several quotes from Kline to this effect, but I will compile several in a following post today or tomorrow.

    RF: Presuming that you agree that there are blessings that are typological, on what are those blessings conditioned?

    Faith.

    I will let Venema and Vos answer more fully:

    Venema:

    “Consistent with the pattern of biblical typology, the promises and demands of the Mosaic economy are ‘typical’ of the promises and demands of the new covenant economy. The redemption promised in the covenant of grace always requires the response of faith and sincere, albeit imperfect, obedience on the part of the people of the covenant. As it was in the covenant administration of Moses, so it is in the covenant administration of Christ.”

    Vos, in his Biblical Theology, 127, states the matter nicely: ‘It is plain, then, that law-keeping did not figure at that juncture as the meritorious ground of life-inheritance. The latter is based on grace alone, no less emphatically than Paul himself places salvation on that ground. But, while this is so, it might still be objected that law-observance, if not the ground for receiving, is yet made the ground for the retention of the privileges inherited. Here it can not, of course, be denied that a real connection exists. But the Judaizers went wrong in inferring that the connection must be meritorious, that, if Israel keeps the cherished gifts of Jehovah through observance of His law, this must be so, because
    in strict justice they had earned them. The connection is of a totally different kind. It belongs not to the legal sphere of merit, but to the symbolico-typical sphere of appropriateness of expression.’ The
    point Vos is making can be stated more succinctly: Old Testament believers were called to receive the redemptive promises of God by faith alone, but the faith of Old Testament believers, like that of
    New Testament believers, was a faith “ever accompanied” by a sincere obedience to God’s commandments.”

    RF: Is it your contention that merit is never typological? If so, why must that be the case?

    It is most emphatically my contention that merit is never typological. The reason can be summed up in Romans 4:20: “He grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God.”

    The heart of Abraham’s faith—in the footsteps of whose faith we walk, says Paul—was giving God the glory. Sad to say, Kline’s merit-based works principle, no matter how strongly he qualifies it, does not give God the glory due Him.

  36. Jack Bradley said,

    February 3, 2017 at 7:52 am

    I should have added that those were MY EMPHASES in Venema.

  37. rfwhite said,

    February 3, 2017 at 8:26 am

    Jack Bradley: to round out your reading on all sides, you might find this paper helpful.

    http://www.upper-register.com/papers/response-to-merit-and-moses.pdf

  38. Jack Bradley said,

    February 3, 2017 at 9:57 am

    Thanks, RF, my copy is well – marked. I will try to interact with it over the weekend.

  39. rfwhite said,

    February 3, 2017 at 10:53 am

    38 JB — Great!

    For the purpose of the interaction here, let me try to narrow the focus as it relates to typological blessings. Let me also apologize for the tedium of my questions. As I hinted at above, I’m hoping to clear out underbrush so that we know better if we differ and where we differ. Even if we find that we really don’t agree, perhaps we can at least understand each other better.

    Questions: would you agree that the land (residence in it) was a typological blessing? Would you agree that, when God sent the nation into exile from the land, believers as well as unbelievers were sent into exile?

    If so, then, provided that the land was a typological blessing conditioned on faith, give us your explanation as to why God sent believers into exile.

  40. Jack Brooks said,

    February 3, 2017 at 11:41 am

    Question: is it feasible for “moral law” be understood categorically?In other words, God gave moral law to Adam. There is no evidence that God revealed to them the ten commandments, just as God did not tell them not to be naked. But moral law as a categorical obligation continued — the moral law not eat the fruit lapsed, but they and their seed still had to keep moral law, however God defined it. The confession says that moral law entailed “personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience; promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it.” But it doesn’t define what the content would be.

    I’m probably re-stating an idea that others have said before, but I wonder if it explains things better. Moral law as a category continued, but the contents of moral law changed. For instance, what did God require of the generations between Adam and Moses, and how did they know it? These debates seem to jump straight from Adam to Moses

  41. Jack Bradley said,

    February 4, 2017 at 10:56 am

    RF, I will give attention to your follow up questions, but first I want extend my rationale for saying: “Kline’s merit-based works principle, no matter how strongly he qualifies it, does not give God the glory due Him.”

    Before getting to the Irons paper I want to deal with Mark Karlberg’s response to the OPC report. It gives a helpful backdrop.

    https://tinyurl.com/h85uhll

    Karlberg: “Kline regarded me as his ‘theological son’––it is reasonable that I should take the time to redress the issues raised in the report about Kline’s covenant theology. . . Who is better poised to clarify matters? . . . The report correctly notes:”

    OPC report: ‘In By Oath Consigned, one of Kline’s early books, he utilizes a distinction between the Mosaic order and the Sinaitic covenant itself. He affirms that the “old Mosaic order” as a whole is an administration of the covenant of grace. Nonetheless, he speaks of the Sinaitic covenant itself as a “specific legal whole,” identifying it as making the inheritance “to be by law, not by promise—not by faith but by works.” In this context he speaks of the “difference” between this Sinaitic covenant and the covenant of grace as “radical.” He also refers to Paul’s “radical assessment of the nature of the Sinaitic Covenant as something opposite to promise and faith.” Kline further states that in this way the “Sinaitic Covenant” can be viewed “as a separate entity with a character of its own.” These statements directly address the nature or substance of the Sinai covenant in itself. Taken together, they suggest that Kline does view the Sinaitic covenant as a separate covenant, distinct in nature from the covenant of grace.’ [end report]

    Karlberg: “The fact is this: Kline modified his position in the late 1970s. The faculty of Westminster was fully aware of this change. Kline rightly faulted Palmer Robertson for deliberately ignoring Kline’s reformulation in his book of covenant theology. Inexplicably, the report contends:”

    OPC report: “Kline’s later works maintain similar emphases when describing the nature of the Sinai covenant. In Kingdom Prologue, Kline argues that the “typal kingdom of the old covenant” was a covenant “governed by the works principle.” In this “Israel as the theocratic nation was mankind stationed once again in a paradise-sanctuary, under probation in a covenant of works.” Relative to their probationary experience as a theocratic nation in the land, Israel was under a covenant of works opposite in nature to a covenant of grace. In God, Heaven and Har Magedon (Kline’s last work), this same theme is highlighted. There he argues that in the Mosaic era, God superimposes over the Abrahamic covenant “a works arrangement, the Torah covenant with its ‘do this and live’ principle (cf. Lev. 18:5), the opposite of the grace-faith principle (Gal. 3–4; Rom. 10:5, 6).” Later in the work he explicitly identifies this as the “Sinaitic covenant of works” and the “Torah covenant of works.” Significantly, this works principle did not apply to “individual, eternal salvation” but “was rather the governing principle in the typological sphere.” Nonetheless, these lines of argument focus on the nature of the Sinai covenant itself, which Kline’s later writings consistently identify as being a works covenant in contrast to a covenant of grace.”

    Karlberg: “The Kline-Karlberg position insists that the Mosaic Covenant is an administration of the single, ongoing Covenant of Grace spanning the entire redemptive epoch (from the Fall to the Consummation). At the same time, the Mosaic Covenant is a parenthesis in the history of redemption, in that the principle of works-inheritance (antithetical to faith-inheritance) functions in the typological sphere, and is regulative of temporal life in the land of Canaan. The committee concludes its evaluation of Kline’s view in the following words:”

    OPC report: “The four strands of teaching adduced for this interpretation of Kline indicate to many readers that he teaches a form of substantial republication. Kline himself freely speaks of the complex relation between works and grace within the Mosaic economy. He does not deny that grace is present in the Mosaic period, nor the fact that grace underlies the Sinai covenant of works probation. He also restricts the works principle to the temporal kingdom of Canaan, and rejects the idea that there was a different way of salvation under the Mosaic era. Nonetheless this does not remove the fact that on this interpretation the Sinai covenant itself is substantially and by nature governed by a basic principle that is decidedly not gracious. It distinctively reflects the substantial principles of a covenant-of-works probation in contrast to a covenant of grace.”

    OPC report: “In the judgment of the committee “problems become more acute when obedience is said to function as the ‘meritorious ground’ or reward, and in this way the ‘basis’ or ‘cause’ of the reward proffered in the Mosaic covenant. This way of speaking is not consistent with our standards, which refer to the best works of sinful humans (so far as merit is concerned) as deserving only God’s wrath and curse, and being the basis only of his condemnation (outside of Christ).”

    Karlberg finds it INEXPLICABLE that the OPC report contends that Kline’s later works maintain similar emphases as his early works when describing the nature of the Sinai covenant, but gives no evidence to the contrary in this short paper.

    Karlberg’s is also an outlandishly slanderous paper, impugning the competency, motives and character of people of the highest caliber.

  42. Jack Bradley said,

    February 6, 2017 at 9:02 am

    RF, I will interact more fully with the Irons paper this evening, but I want to set up some context by quoting Irons against reformed authorities on the subject of merit:

    Irons:

    “The authors of MM [http://www.wtsbooks.com/common/pdf_links/9781625646835-2.pdf]
    sought to establish that for obedience to be deemed strictly meritorious, it must have two qualities: (1) it must be perfect, and (2) it must be offered by a being who is ontologically equal with God. Since Adam could only offer perfect obedience, but was not ontologically equal with God, his obedience would have been “covenant merit” but not “strict merit.” Christ’s obedience is the only obedience that has “strict merit,” because he satisfies both conditions by offering perfect obedience and by doing so as one who is ontologically equal with God.

    . . . Kline agrees with the authors of MM that the justice of God requires obedience to be perfect in order for it to be truly meritorious. This is clearly the case for Adam before the Fall and for Christ as the Second Adam. In both of these cases, their obedience must be perfect in order to be meritorious, because the justice of God demands it.

    . . . The authors of MM are right, then, when they say Kline does not agree that the one offering the obedience (or that the act of obedience itself) must be ontologically equal with God in order for his obedience to be intrinsically meritorious. The authors of MM then draw out an implication from Kline’s non-ontological, covenantal definition of merit that supposedly shows that Klinean Republication is guilty of serious theological error. They argue that because of his non-ontological, covenantal definition of merit Kline is unable to affirm the necessity of Christ’s divine nature:

    ‘Ontological considerations have been removed from the definitions of merit and justice. The infinite, eternal character of God’s being no longer play[s] any role in our understanding of justice, merit, or (by implication) sin. If God is free to “covenantally” define merit in such a way that Adam’s finite obedience could be truly worthy of an infinite reward, what absolute need is there for Christ to be truly God?’ (MM 115).

    Their charge is that the Republication Paradigm can only affirm the weaker statement that Christ’s obedience was the obedience of a divine person, not that it had to be the obedience of a divine person in order for it to be meritorious.

    . . . Why didn’t Kline accept the ontological definition of merit, the view that strict merit requires ontological equality between the one obeying and the one obeyed, or between the value of the obedience and the value of the reward? Kline didn’t accept this use of ontology rather than covenant to measure merit because in his view it leads to a dangerous asymmetry in biblical theology. It skews the two Adams structuring of federal history. For if the merit of the second Adam is the only proper and strict merit, based on ontological equality, then the merit of the first Adam is reduced to an improper merit that is only possible because of God’s gracious, voluntary condescension.

    . . . According to the authors of MM, Adam’s merit was only ‘counted as meritorious on the basis of the covenant that had been established as an expression of God’s voluntary condescension.’ It is therefore only covenant merit, not strict merit. But Christ’s merit, in contrast with Adam’s, is strictly meritorious. What is the difference between Adam and Christ? The difference is ontology: Adam’s ‘finite works of obedience’ are performed by one who is a mere creature. Christ’s merit, however, is ‘intrinsically infinite in worth and value’ because his works of obedience are performed by one who is divine. ‘Because of his divine nature, only Christ’s obedience was inherently worthy of the reward of eternal life.’ Notice how they speak of Christ’s obedience as being ‘inherently worthy.’ Adam, by contrast, being a mere creature, could only have his obedience ‘counted as meritorious’ on the basis of the covenant, which was an expression of God’s gracious, voluntary condescension.”

    WCF VII makes it clear that the MM authors are confessional, Irons is not:

    I. The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto Him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of Him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God’s part, which He has been pleased to express by way of covenant.

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

    Irons: “There is a questionable Christological assumption behind this argument. They seem to assume one of two things: either the obedience of Christ was performed in and by the divine nature of Christ, or the human nature of Christ was given the divine property of ontological infinitude. They write: ‘No mere creature can perform a work by which he can inherently obligate God’ (MM 58). But Christ, being very God of very God, is no mere creature; therefore, he can ‘obligate God’ by his ‘inherently worthy’ obedience. In order for this reasoning to work, they must assume either that the divine nature of Christ is the locus of his obedience, or that he obeyed in a deified human nature. . . Thus the authors of MM are incorrect when they say “the value of his merit is rooted in his divine nature.” On the contrary, it is rooted in his human nature as the second Adam. . . The divine person of the mediator enhances the dignity of his obedience but does not increase the merit of his obedience.”

    Again, the MM authors are confessional, Irons is not:

    Westminster Larger Catechism, 38: “It was requisite that the Mediator should be God, that he might sustain and keep the human nature from sinking under the infinite wrath of God, and the power of death, give worth and efficacy to his sufferings, obedience, and intercession; and to satisfy God’s justice.”

    It’s worth quoting several other reformed authorities here, because the point is so important:

    Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, one volume, p. 737-738:

    “The worth of any suffering is determined by the total subject who suffers, not by the particular nature in the subject which is the seat of the suffering. . . When a human nature suffers in any ordinary human person, the suffering is human and rational but finite. No mere man’s suffering can be infinite in value because the total subject or person is finite. . . But when a human nature suffers in a theanthropic person, the suffering is divine and infinite because of the divinity and infinity of such a person. The suffering of the human nature, in this instance, is elevated and dignified by the union of the human nature with the divine.”

    Charles Hodge, Vol II, p. 395:

    “. . . although the divine nature is immutable and impassible, and
    therefore neither the obedience nor the suffering of Christ was the obedience or suffering of the divine nature, yet they were nonetheless the obedience and suffering of a divine person. The soul of man cannot be wounded or burnt, but when the body is injured it is the man who suffers. In like manner the obedience of Christ was the righteousness of God, and the blood of Christ was the blood of God. It is to this fact that the infinite merit and *efficiency of his work are due. This is distinctly asserted in the Scriptures. It is impossible, says the Apostle, that the blood of bulls and of goats could take away sin. It was because Christ was possessed of an eternal Spirit that He by the one offering of Himself hath perfected forever them who are sanctified. This is the main idea insisted upon in the Epistle to the Hebrews. This is the reason given why the sacrifice of Christ need never be repeated, and why it is infinitely more efficacious than those of the old dispensation. This truth has been graven on the hearts of believers in all ages. Every such believer says from his heart, ‘Jesus, my God, thy blood alone has power sufficient to atone.’”

    Acts 20:28: “. . . the church of God, which He obtained with His own blood.”

    W. G. T. Shedd (p. 651): “Scripture speaks of ‘the blood of God’ because God is united with a humanity that has blood.”

    Donald Macleod, The Person of Christ, p. 216: “The subject of this dying—the one who dies—is God the Son.”

    Bavinck: “In the incarnation the two natures along with all their attributes were communicated to the one person and the one subject who can therefore be described with divine and human natures. Accordingly, one can say that the Son of God was born, suffered, and died.”

    Shedd: “It would be improper to say, ‘God’s nature died’ because this can have but one meaning. But it is proper to say ‘God died’. . . the humanity assumed by the Logos is the Logos’s or God’s humanity. . . Scripture speaks of ‘the blood of God’ because God is united with a humanity that has blood.”

    Marcus Dods, On the Incarnation of the Eternal Word. pp. 133:

    “He was not divested of the divinity on the cross, for he could not be divested of himself; and his divinity was himself, as much as the humanity which suffered was himself. The Godhead in him was not separated from his Godhead properties, but, inseparably united to his own humanity, sustained it to endure what would have overwhelmed any other, until he could say, ‘It is finished.’ And this was what rendered his death an exhibition of the divine perfection, from which angels learn wisdom, that he who was ‘bruised for our iniquities,’ was not a man emptied of the divinity, and dying in consequence of the sinfulness of his flesh; but was God purchasing his Church with ‘his own blood.’”

    “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Cor. 5:19) How? “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.” (Heb. 2:14) “The Word became flesh.”

    Robert Letham, The Holy Trinity:

    pp. 404-406: “In particular, let us consider the work of Christ the Son. All he did ‘for us and our salvation’ he did according to both natures. As God, he had the strength to suffer and to make atonement for us. As man, he lived an obedient and sinless life and in our human nature offered himself up to the Father as a pure and sufficient offering for us. . . His whole, undivided person brought about our salvation, both as man and as God. . . for it is only through God living as man that this could be achieved.”

    John Walvoord: “The act of redemption in which Christ offered Himself a sacrifice for sin was an act of His whole person. It was traceable to both natures, not to the human nature alone, nor to the divine. As man Christ could die, but only as God could His death have infinite value to provide redemption for the sins of the whole world.”

    William Cunningham, Historical Theology. Vol. I, pp. 317f:

    “There is one other position concerning this matter laid down in the Confession as taught in Scripture, to which, before finally quitting this subject, I may briefly advert (Chap, viii. sec. 7). It is this: ‘Christ, in the work of mediation, acteth according to both natures; by each nature doing that which is proper to itself; yet, by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature is some times in Scripture attributed to the person denominated by the other nature.’ The union of the divine and human natures in the one person of Christ, with a view to the salvation of sinners, was effected just because there were some things necessary for the salvation of men which could be accomplished only by God, and others which could be done or endured only by man. Man alone could suffer and die, and God alone could satisfy the divine justice and magnify the divine law. Christ, accordingly, being God and man in one person, did by each nature that which was proper to itself.”

  43. Jack Bradley said,

    February 6, 2017 at 9:46 am

    OK, I did throw Walvoord in there – just to show that even a dispy gets it :)

  44. rfwhite said,

    February 6, 2017 at 11:59 am

    42 Jack Bradley: I do appreciate the citations. To save time and effort, maybe just provide bibliographic info. In any case, the gist of the criticisms from these sources is well known, so much so that a kind of echo chamber has come about, it seems.

    Perhaps it would save you some time and effort for me to say that I’m not looking for your answers to Irons. I provided the link to the PDF of Irons to make sure we had a common reference point. I’ll take for granted that you have read it (and marked it well!).

    So, what I am really interested in is the question: provided that the land was a typological blessing conditioned on faith, what is your explanation as to why God sent believers into exile?

  45. Jack Bradley said,

    February 6, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    Thanks, RF, I will get to that question tonight or tomorrow morning.

  46. Jack Bradley said,

    February 6, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    RH, I think the critique of Kline that I cited has the best response to your question:

    http://www.wtsbooks.com/common/pdf_links/9781625646835-2.pdf

    “Proponents of the republication view believe that the separation of the covenant into two levels answers any concerns about the presence of merit in the post-fall world. In their system, merit applies only to temporal blessings and plays absolutely no role in Israel’s salvation. Nevertheless, we maintain that the republication construction of the Mosaic covenant not only fails to address these concerns, but also creates additional problems. What do we have in mind?

    The basic problem centers on how the same obedience of an Israelite in the Republication Paradigm could function on one level to merit a reward (apart from grace) and at the same time on another level be rewarded by grace alone. This dual role of good works leads to a dualism in God’s people—a kind of spiritual ‘schizophrenia’ in the everyday life of the believer. By this term, we intend to communicate the divided mindset and contradictory approach to life that would result from living according to these opposing views of obedience simultaneously—one of grace and one of works.

    The key point is that the personal piety involved in receiving a reward by grace flows from a completely different inner-spiritual mindset than the one associated with a reward by meritorious works. A reward by grace is received by one who knows himself to be a wretched sinner, who considers himself unworthy of even the least of God’s blessings (cf. Gen. 32:10, KJV). The reception of this kind of reward (by faith) is accompanied by a profound sense of humility, gratitude and appreciation for having obtained a blessing that he knows could never be earned by his works. To obtain a reward by merit flows out of an entirely different mindset. A reward by merit is obtained by one who believes that he has adequately fulfilled the stipulation of the covenant. It did not require the help of grace, but was performed by one’s own power and strength.

    The reward is thus obtained as wages earned for work completed (cf. Rom. 4:4), rather than as a gift of sovereign grace. Rather than having a sense of unworthiness and gratitude, a reward by merit is accompanied by a sense of entitlement—a reasonable expectation that God will fulfill his half of the bargain and pay what is justly due.

    Can the conclusion then be avoided that the Old Testament believer would have possessed such a spiritually divided mindset if—as the Republication Paradigm entails—his obedience functioned simultaneously in two opposing ways in the Mosaic covenant? Would this not have resulted in a life of personal and spiritual confusion and instability? Richard Gaffin (Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology, Emeritus at WTS, Philadelphia) expresses a similar concern. . . Gaffin comments about the instability that may result in the lives of believers in this view of the Mosaic covenant:

    “It is difficult for me to see how this way of viewing the theocratic role of Israel as God’s covenant people from Moses to Christ (historia salutis) avoids creating an uneasy tension, if not polarization, in the lives of his people between grace/faith and (good) works/obedience (ordo salutis), especially under the Mosaic economy. As far as I can see from reading the Old Testament, particularly the prophets, the reason Israel went into exile was not failure as a nation to maintain a requisite level of formal obedience to the law in all its details. Rather, Israel lost the land for the deeper reason of unbelief, because of the idolatry that was at the root of and focused the unbelieving nonremnant’s disobedience of God and his law.” (“Covenant and Salvation: A Review Article.” Ordained Servant, Vol. 18 [2009]: 146).”

    Irons tries to have it both ways: merit and grace:

    “But Kline recognized that any ‘merit’ on the part of sinners in the post-Fall situation is in a special category by itself—it is emphatically typological merit. After the Fall, the imperfect obedience of certain OT saints (sinners saved by grace incapable of truly meriting anything) could function typologically only if God ‘constituted’ those individuals as typological signs of the coming Messiah and “invested” their flawed obedience with typological significance.

    . . . Additionally, Kline made it clear that God’s appointment of national Israel to be a type of Christ’s probation under the works principle was itself a privilege of grace:

    ‘The Old Covenant order, theirs by national election, was one of highest historical privilege. And while a works principle was operative both in the grant of the kingdom to Abraham and in the meting out of typological kingdom blessings to the nation of Israel, the arrangement as a whole was a gracious favor to fallen sons of Adam, children of wrath DESERVING NO BLESSINGS, TEMPORAL or eternal’ (GHHM 128). [emphasis mine]

    I don’t know what else to call this but confused thinking. I’ll stick with the OPC reports conclusions:

    “In By Oath Consigned, one of Kline’s early books, he utilizes a distinction between the Mosaic order and the Sinaitic covenant itself. He affirms that the “old Mosaic order” as a whole is an administration of the covenant of grace. Nonetheless, he speaks of the Sinaitic covenant itself as a “specific legal whole,” identifying it as making the inheritance “to be by law, not by promise—not by faith but by works.” In this context he speaks of the “difference” between this Sinaitic covenant and the covenant of grace as “radical.” He also refers to Paul’s “radical assessment of the nature of the Sinaitic Covenant as something opposite to promise and faith.” Kline further states that in this way the “Sinaitic Covenant” can be viewed “as a separate entity with a character of its own.” These statements directly address the nature or substance of the Sinai covenant in itself. Taken together, they suggest that Kline does view the Sinaitic covenant as a separate covenant, distinct in nature from the covenant of grace.

    . . . Kline’s later works maintain similar emphases when describing the nature of the Sinai covenant. In Kingdom Prologue, Kline argues that the “typal kingdom of the old covenant” was a covenant “governed by the works principle.” In this “Israel as the theocratic nation was mankind stationed once again in a paradise-sanctuary, under probation in a covenant of works.” Relative to their probationary experience as a theocratic nation in the land, Israel was under a covenant of works opposite in nature to a covenant of grace. In God, Heaven and Har Magedon (Kline’s last work), this same theme is highlighted. There he argues that in the Mosaic era, God superimposes over the Abrahamic covenant “a works arrangement, the Torah covenant with its ‘do this and live’ principle (cf. Lev. 18:5), the opposite of the grace-faith principle (Gal. 3–4; Rom. 10:5, 6).” Later in the work he explicitly identifies this as the “Sinaitic covenant of works” and the “Torah covenant of works.” Significantly, this works principle did not apply to “individual, eternal salvation” but “was rather the governing principle in the typological sphere.” Nonetheless, these lines of argument focus on the nature of the Sinai covenant itself, which Kline’s later writings consistently identify as being a works covenant in contrast to a covenant of grace.”

  47. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 7, 2017 at 7:38 am

    Jack,

    The citation from Gaffin serves to highlight RF’s yet unanswered question: Why did believers in Israel go into exile?

  48. Jack Bradley said,

    February 7, 2017 at 8:50 am

    RH, I think the Gaffin excerpt regarding the reason for exile is to your point. On the larger subject of OT law, I want to deal with one other serious concern with substantial republication: incipient antinomianism. In my experience, this concern is not a caricature. The branches may not have bloomed, but the root is definitely there.

    OPC report:

    “Proponents of various versions of substantial republication can also run into potential weaknesses regarding the “uses” of the law. This issue was already identified by a figure like Francis Roberts (mentioned above), who identified a key antinomian error in their identification of the Sinai covenant as substantially a covenant of works. The basic problem can be stated simply: if the Sinai covenant is a covenant of works, particularly as it is reflected in the “Torah-covenant of works” made at Mt. Sinai, how can that Decalogue (the epitome of the Sinai covenant) also serve as a rule of life for those in the covenant of grace? Raising this question does not mean that all those who argue for substantial republication are automatically “antinomian.” Nor does it mean that those who argue for a substantial republication have no way to find another aspect of God’s revelation to function as the rule of life of Christians. It does mean that there is historical precedent for concerns related to how substantial republication may weaken the theological basis for the third use of the law, and create a level of instability for its consistent and vigorous affirmation.

    Below we will note two weaknesses related to this reading or appropriation of Kline’s view and our standards’ understanding of the uses of the law. While each of them is distinct, they all share in common the tendency of this view to identify the moral law itself with the covenant of works. Nevertheless, these weaknesses arise in regards to the second (i.e. convicting) and third (i.e. normative) uses of the law.
    The first weakness concerns the third or “normative” use of the law. While not enumerated as such in our standards, the Confession of Faith speaks of the moral law delivered at Mt. Sinai as the “perfect rule of righteousness” or “rule of life” for Christians in the covenant of grace (19.2). In particular, the Ten Commandments delivered at Mt. Sinai (i.e., the moral law) “directs and binds them to walk accordingly” (19:6). Moreover, the confession describes the ethical dynamic of the Ten Commandments as one that is expressive of the covenant of grace. The preface, in particular, couches the “imperatives” of the Decalogue within the gracious and redemptive “indicative” of redemption typified in Israel’s bondage in Egypt (LC 101). Even the blessings and threatenings of the Decalogue function in a way that is consistent with and expressive of the covenant of grace (WCF 19:6), and in contrast to the covenant of works.

    It is not clear how these affirmations are consistent with this view. In it the Mosaic covenant, which is epitomized in the covenant made at Mt. Sinai and expressed in the Decalogue, is a different covenant, different in kind from the covenant of grace. The ethical dynamic at the heart of this “Torah covenant of works” is not that of the principle of grace, but the principle of works. Instead of their obedience functioning as the proof and ratification of faith in God’s redemptive grace, the distinctive function or characteristic of obedience is to function as the meritorious ground or basis of retained blessing in the land. It is commendable that most proponents of republication wish to affirm the third use of the law in the life of the believer. But if the Decalogue is expressive of a covenantal dynamic covenant that is “not gracious,” or one that is different in substance or kind from the covenant of grace, it is difficult to see how it can serve as the “rule of life” of the believer in the way defined and delimited in our standards. *Simply stated, that which is intrinsically a covenant of works cannot function as a rule of life for the believer.*

    . . . Secondly, weaknesses arise when we consider the second or “convicting” use of the law. Again, this use is not enumerated as the “second use” in our standards, but it does speak of the law as a rule of life “discovering the sinful pollutions of their nature, hearts, and lives” in order to bring about “further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against sin” as well as their need for Christ’s perfect obedience. As the Larger Catechism puts it (95), the moral law in this way serves to “convince [both believers and unbelievers] of their disability to keep it.”
    It is not immediately evident how this understanding of a republished covenant or works principle under Moses is consistent with this use of the law. On this view, the works principle manifested through the Mosaic covenant and applied to Israel’s land tenure requires only sincere, imperfect obedience *without the assistance of grace.* In other instances, certain other figures (Abraham, Noah) are said to in measure succeed in fulfilling the terms of this covenant (at least temporarily) and are granted rewards on the basis of the meritorious grounds of their works without the assistance of grace. Moreover, this phenomenon is said to operate according to a principle that is opposite to or in sharp contrast to grace. Simply stated, it is not clear how a principle of “imperfect obedience” that at certain times has been fulfilled by fallen man is really a function of the “second use” of the law. Simply stated, it is not clear how the fulfillment of a principle of imperfect obedience reinforces the idea of sinful man’s inability to keep even the least of God’s commandments (i.e., the law’s “second” use).

    To reinforce a point made above, it is also difficult to see how this principle of reward for imperfect obedience really qualifies as a manifestation of a kind of “covenant of works” at all. Our standards subsume this reality under a very different category—not “works” but “grace.” The imperfect works of believers sincerely offered through faith are accepted by virtue of the grace of Christ—not as they function as the ground or basis of the reward without the presence of redemptive grace (i.e. merit). Because God has accepted our persons as righteous in Christ, he is also pleased to accept our imperfect obedience still tainted with the menstrual cloth (Isaiah 64:6) of our sinfulness (WCF 16.6). This dynamic of obedience and reward is not a manifestation of a covenant of works or a works principle that is substantially set in opposition to grace, but rather solely and only a manifestation of God’s grace.”

    Back to this crucial sentence in the OPC report: “The basic problem can be stated simply: if the Sinai covenant is a covenant of works, particularly as it is reflected in the “Torah-covenant of works” made at Mt. Sinai, how can that Decalogue (the epitome of the Sinai covenant) also serve as a rule of life for those in the covenant of grace?”

    Patrick Ramsey:

    “To establish a connection between obedience and blessing and disobedience and cursing is for many—notably antinomians—to establish in some sense a covenant of works. The divines were certainly aware of this possible misunderstanding. After all, they debated this issue for years. Consequently, they made it *explicitly clear* that such a connection does not in *any form or fashion* indicate that man is under a covenant of works (Ramsey, “In Defense of Moses.” Westminster Theological Journal 66 [2004]: 14-15).
    [emphases mine]

    I think this recent book will become a classic. It is extremely helpful on this subject, in the context of dealing with the Marrow controversy. Sinclair Ferguson, The Whole Christ, pp. 138ff:

    “So we are confronted here with an old problem. Does the gospel dismantle the law?

    . . . It should be a working principle of our interpretation of Scripture that it does not set law and grace over against each other in absolute terms . . . When (in Romans 6:14) Paul affirms that we are not ‘under law,’ he is not denying that the law continues to be relevant. He had been accused of precisely this. But already (in Romans 3:31) he had stressed that rather than ‘overthrow’ the law, the gospel functions to ‘uphold’ it. After all, ‘we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully,’ since it is ‘holy and righteous and good,’ and ‘spiritual.’

    . . . That is why he—and we—by faith can say, ‘I delight in the law of God, in my inner being.’ We must, surely, if it is holy, good, and spiritual. . . We love the law because it is ‘spiritual,’ that is, it is in harmony with the Spirit. And in the Spirit we delight in the law of God after our ‘inner being.’

    The new covenant in Christ establishes the law not only externally, but also internally. Christ died ‘in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.’ After all, the Lord Jesus, the man of the Spirit par excellence, loved and fulfilled the law.

    . . . We appreciate the clarity of the law only when we gaze fully into Christ’s face. But when we do gaze there, we see the face of one who said, ‘Oh how I love your law; it is my meditation all the day’—and we want to be like him.

    . . . turning from legalism to antinomianism is never the way to escape the husband whom we first married. For we are not divorced from the law by believing that the commandments do not have binding force, but only by being married to Jesus Christ in union with whom it is our pleasure to fulfill them.

    . . . love is what law commands, and the commands are what love fulfills. . . Love is motivation, but it is not self-interpreting direction. . . Commandments are the railroad tracks on which the life empowered by the love of God is poured into the heart by the Holy Spirit runs. Love empowers the engine; law guides the direction. They are mutually interdependent.

    . . . we are surely bound to ask: Which laws are written into our minds and on our hearts? The most obvious answer is: What other law would the first readers understand but the Decalogue? Since the author of Hebrews teaches that the ceremonial patterns of the old covenant have been fulfilled in Christ, he could not have meant them. And since Hebrews was written to those who now have ‘no lasting city’ and therefore no longer see themselves as citizens of a state with its capital in Jerusalem, they are no longer a people governed by the civil regulations intended for life in the land.

    . . . Believers have, in redemptive historical terms, transitioned from an era of being heirs but slaves, to a new epoch of being mature sons who enjoy the presence of the Spirit of adoption and use Jesus’s mode of address to God as they cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ (No Old Testament believer ever cries, ‘Abba! Father!’).

    . . . A radical antithesis is suggested: once slave, now son. Yet this is a comparative antithesis, not an absolute one. . . the Old Testament believer tasted rich blessings within the context of the Mosaic administration. But by comparison with the fullness of grace in Christ, they pale into insignificance. Grasp this, and we come to see that Paul does not deny that there is divine glory in the law. His language is not pejorative but comparative.

    . . . At root then antinomianism separates God’s law from God’s person, and grace from the union with Christ in which the law is written in the heart. In doing so it jeopardizes not simply the Decalogue; it dismantles the truth of the gospel.

  49. Jack Bradley said,

    February 7, 2017 at 8:53 am

    Jeff, I think Gaffin’s answer is clear:

    “As far as I can see from reading the Old Testament, particularly the prophets, the reason Israel went into exile was not failure as a nation to maintain a requisite level of formal obedience to the law in all its details. Rather, Israel lost the land for the deeper reason of unbelief, because of the idolatry that was at the root of and focused the unbelieving nonremnant’s disobedience of God and his law.”

  50. rfwhite said,

    February 7, 2017 at 9:10 am

    49 Jack B: I have deep respect and affection for Dr. Gaffin. I count him as a mentor of mine, especially during my doctoral studies at WTS. He and I even discussed these questions while I was in Philadelphia. The citation you provided from his 2009 book review contains the point he made to me in the mid-1980s. His words do crystallize well one issue that he has had in this ongoing discussion.

    Yet I have to agree with Jeff: those words do not answer the question that I asked: provided the land was conditioned on faith, why did God send Israelite believers into exile with the unbelieving non-remnant?

  51. roberty bob said,

    February 7, 2017 at 9:22 am

    Does the Gospel dismantle the Law?

    The Law [from Moses in Deuteronomy]: Observe all the commands I give you this day, so that you may have the strength to enter and occupy the land into which you are about to cross, and so that you may enjoy long life in the land which the Lord swore to your forefathers to give them and their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey [11:8-9]. See, this day I offer you the choice of a blessing or a curse: the blessing if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God . . . ; the curse if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God . . . [11:26-28]. Observe the provisions of this covenant and keep them so that you may prosper in all that you do [29:9].

    The Gospel [from Jesus in Matthew]: Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do the will of my Heavenly Father [7:21]. So, whoever hears these words of mine and acts on them is like a man who had the sense to build his house on rock. The rain came down, the floods rose, the winds blew and beat upon that house; but it did not fall because its foundations were on rock. And whoever hears these words of mine and does not act on them is like a man who was foolish enough to build his house on sand. The rain came down, the floods rose, the winds blew and beat upon that house; and it fell with a great crash [7:24-27].

    The Gospel upholds the Law!

  52. Ron said,

    February 7, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Dr. White,

    Is it sufficient to say God treats the visible church organically?

  53. rfwhite said,

    February 7, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    52 Ron: I’m thinking I would agree that God treats the visible church organically. Whether it suffices, I’m not so sure, unless we have spelled out the organon, right? I would take it that, in this context, the organon would be the covenant, and we have to sort out the covenant’s administrative principle(s). What principle(s) account for the fact that God sent both the believing remnant and the unbelieving non-remnant into exile? Maybe you have something else in mind.

  54. Jack Bradley said,

    February 7, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    RF, the principle is the overarching principal of corporate solidarity that we see throughout the OT.

    In the end a godly remnant will survive the exile, but the remnant is not immune from the corporate responsibility for the idolatry of the whole community.

  55. February 7, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    @53
    And are those principals the same ones that applied to the generation that died in the desert believers and unbelievers?

  56. rfwhite said,

    February 7, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    54 JB: so help us out — what was the principle governing corporate responsibility?

  57. Jack Bradley said,

    February 7, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    Corporate guilt.

  58. David R. said,

    February 7, 2017 at 7:29 pm

    //So, what I am really interested in is the question: provided that the land was a typological blessing conditioned on faith, what is your explanation as to why God sent believers into exile?//

    In my opinion, the OPC committee report answers this question particularly well, and shows precisely the sense in which the Mosaic covenant was like the covenant of works, while still being substantially the covenant of grace. In a nutshell, Canaan, like Eden was an intruded holy realm pointing forward to the eschatological inheritance. And like Eden, it therefore required holiness of its inhabitants if they were to retain its possession. The important difference, however, was that, whereas Eden was pre-redemptive and protological, and therefore required perfect and personal obedience; Canaan was redemptive and typological, and therefore required only an appropriate measure of national fidelity to the covenant of grace. Ultimately, what was actually republished (or better, recapitulated) was not the covenant of works per se, but rather Adam’s sin and consequent exile.

    As the report sums it up:

    “It is not a correlation between pre-fall Adam in Genesis 2 and the demand for flawless obedience relative to eschatological inheritance that comes into view when Kline makes the comparison between Israel and Adam. Rather, it is the correlation between post-fall Adam in Genesis 3 and the consequence of his sin leading to exile east of Eden that comes into view when Kline makes the comparison between Israel and Adam. Rather than thinking in terms of a republication of the covenant of works with pre-fall Adam, Kline brings into view a redemptively qualified recapitulation of post-fall Adam and the loss of inheritance. That is the point to grasp when it comes to the correlation of Israel and Adam in light of the works principle. Therefore, embedded within the redemptive intrusion of the typal kingdom in Canaan, Kline detects the presence of a works principle that applies to national Israel and occasions a reenactment of Adam’s sin and exile in forms adjusted to the realities of sin, grace and redemptive typology.” (emphasis mine)

  59. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 7, 2017 at 9:05 pm

    David R (#58):

    Good to hear from you. This paragraph caught my eye:

    And like Eden, it therefore required holiness of its inhabitants if they were to retain its possession. The important difference, however, was that, whereas Eden was pre-redemptive and protological, and therefore required perfect and personal obedience; Canaan was redemptive and typological, and therefore required only an appropriate measure of national fidelity to the covenant of grace. Ultimately, what was actually republished (or better, recapitulated) was not the covenant of works per se, but rather Adam’s sin and consequent exile.

    It is striking because

    (1) it allows for rapprochement between R’s and anti-R’s

    If you were to ask me to explain in what sense the CoW is republished at Sinai, I would explain it in that way.

    And, so would Kline — if the “administrative” reading of his work is taken.

    Seen in the way that you articulate, R’s and anti-R’s could agree to *ahem* the substance of the Mosaic works-principle, even if they quibble over the vocabulary.

    (2) Yet your paragraph is also striking because it reveals the portion of the anti-R argument that causes us R’s so much heartburn. You say,

    like Eden, it therefore required holiness of its inhabitants if they were to retain its possession…Canaan was redemptive and typological, and therefore required only an appropriate measure of national fidelity to the covenant of grace.

    Even if we agree to the substance of the works-principle, that it required only an appropriate measure of fidelity, it was still a works-principle. That is, like all legal works-principles, it required performance of an action as the ground for the reception of promised goods.

    The anti-R position would take the condition of the covenant to be faith, and the reason for eviction from Canaan to be faithlessness.

    Putting these two things together, the definition of works-principle and the anti-R understanding of condition, we are led to believe that

    anti-R’s hold that our faith is the ground of blessing in the covenant of grace.

    And this is precisely contrary to WCF 11.1 and WLC 73.

    So assuming we agree that this would be an undesirable conclusion, how do you hold that the possession of Canaan required “an appropriate measure of national fidelity to the covenant of grace” without also making faith into the work that satisfies the works-principle articulated in Deut 28?

    Another way to ask this question is, “In what precise way is Deut 28 ‘like the covenant of works’, yet still different from it?” If the only difference is the perfection of obedience required, I fear that the this is not enough to preserve the law-gospel distinction.

  60. David R. said,

    February 7, 2017 at 9:57 pm

    Hi Jeff! Good to hear from you too. And since we’re both older and wiser now, perhaps we can resolve any disagreements in less than 800 comments! :)

    Before I attempt to answer, let me ask: Did you read the report and if so, do you agree with it?

    I ask first of all because if your answer is yes, that could save us both some time, but secondly because any answer I give you will likely be my attempt to paraphrase or summarize parts of the report. I do have a few minor quibbles over a few things but those are nonessential and in the main I agree with it 100 %.

  61. Ron said,

    February 8, 2017 at 4:21 am

    53 Fowler,

    It’s my contention that God established His covenant with the elect in Christ, yet administers it to the elect and non elect. (Supported by Genesis 17, Romans 9 and Galatians 3.) This administration, I’d say, is not confined to sacramental administration but also extends to covenant blessings and cursings. This principle applies even to the epistles and letters to the seven churches. I don’t see how it can’t.

    There are many things we probably cannot know. What was the obedient-threshold that unfaithful Israel needed to cross in order to be exiled? Was that threshold weighted in any sense? In other words, did God take into account and weigh more heavily the disobedience of the regenerate with regard to sanctioning His covenant?

    Those questions don’t matter much to me. I do think, however, that although circuitous at times we should find greater fidelity in the new covenant. Indeed we are promised it (Jeremiah 31; Ezekiel 36). I don’t think this fidelity is to come by limiting the covenant community to those who make a credible profession of faith like maybe our baptist brethren might think. Rather, it’s a result of many things such as the pouring out of the Spirit; the completed canon received by the church; and God with man upon the throne. (And as Lane intimated to you a bit ago and I concurred, I think the visible and invisible church will share closer numerical identity as we approach eschatological consumation. That, however, is speculative and although related in one sense, doesn’t contribute much here.)

    So, in sum I don’t we need to know the details in order to see the principles. God treats the covenant community organically and not according to the remnant, which is not to say He doesn’t consider the remnant in His treating of the community.

  62. Ron said,

    February 8, 2017 at 6:23 am

    The way Greg Bahnsen might have explained some of this still works for me…

    Conditional aspects of the Mosaic covenant aren’t all that unique. We find them in the Abrahamic too. Conditions, in particular obedience, needn’t be seen as causesof blessings bestowed. They can be seen as belief-responsesto promises. Responses in faith without which the promised blessings cannot be received.

    Moreover, when God heard the groaning of his people, the deliverance from Egypt toward the land was linked to the promise to Abraham God had remembered. Seen in this light the giving of the law was a gracious provision that followed from a covenant that was *already* in place. Obeying the law doesn’t trigger a willingness by God to covenant with a people. Rather, the requirement of obedience – to the end that God’s people might enjoy Him, presupposes a covenant that’s already in place. Obedience on the part of God’s people wasn’t a condition for God entering into covenant with them, but rather it was the condition by which the *already* established covenant would be enjoyed.

  63. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 8, 2017 at 7:47 am

    Hi David,

    Yes, I have read the report. I am re-reading it more carefully as Lane goes along.

    I am generally appreciative and agree with much in it. In particular, if we take the report’s definition of “substantial republication” to mean that the Mosaic Covenant held out the Law as a non-hypothetical promise of life upon perfect and perpetual obedience, then I am in agreement that substantial republication is contraConfessional. At the same time, I find some of the omissions puzzling. One of those is a seeming failure to clearly explain my question to you: How can a legitimate works-principle be gracious of itself, without creating law-gospel confusion?

    If it’s OK, I would like to clear the field to give space to RF, Jack, and Ron. Can we move our discussion here?

  64. Ron said,

    February 8, 2017 at 9:07 am

    Sorry, that last post of mine might’ve been confusing. That wasn’t a quote from Bahnsen. He gave a lecture – about seventeen tapes worth, which I listened to nearly twenty years ago. I found his thoughts quite compelling….

  65. Jack Bradley said,

    February 8, 2017 at 9:08 am

    Thank you for the continuing discussion, brothers. I hope to get back to it later today.

  66. rfwhite said,

    February 8, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    57 Jack B: so “corporate guilt” for what? Please explain.

  67. rfwhite said,

    February 8, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    61/62/64 Ron: from what I can tell, I think we’re pretty well tracking. Your statement — with which I agree — is striking: God treats the covenant community organically and not according to the remnant, which is not to say He doesn’t consider the remnant in His treating of the community.

  68. rfwhite said,

    February 8, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    58 David R.: Yes, the report summarizes a republicationist answer to that question. Jack B. is not buying that answer. Fair enough. I’m encouraged by our interaction. I hope he is.

  69. Jack Bradley said,

    February 8, 2017 at 8:56 pm

    I am encouraged, RF. Back to your question, in the context of the exile: “What was the principle governing corporate responsibility?”

    The OPC report interprets Kline’s answer to such a question. (I think Kline is all over the map, in general, but I can readily agree with this part of his thinking):

    “The typical-symbolic message of Israel is that, although graciously redeemed and given an inheritance in Canaan, Israel spurned the typical indicative—the gracious provisions of God under the covenant of grace—and engaged in long-term apostasy and faithless rebellion and disobedience against God.

    . . . Israel is warned ‘over and over again’ to express appropriate fidelity to the Lord. Sustained apostasy on a massive scale leads eventually to the implementation of the curse in the form of exile.”

    According to Kline– at least this manifestation of Kline—the principle governing corporate responsibility is “long-term apostasy and faithless rebellion.”

    Jeff wrote:

    “The anti-R position would take the condition of the covenant to be faith, and the reason for eviction from Canaan to be faithlessness. . . how do you hold that the possession of Canaan required ‘an appropriate measure of national fidelity to the covenant of grace’ without also making faith into the work that satisfies the works-principle articulated in Deut 28?”

    This would be a good question for Kline.

  70. rfwhite said,

    February 9, 2017 at 11:44 am

    69 Jack B.: would you also agree that the long-term apostasy and faithfless rebellion were measured against the law of God?

    (Not ignoring Jeff’s question.)

  71. Jack Bradley said,

    February 9, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    Absolutely, RF, as per WCF XIX.

  72. rfwhite said,

    February 9, 2017 at 5:36 pm

    Jeff Cagle, David R., Jack Bradley:

    As I meant to imply by my response in 68, I would agree that the report’s recap of Kline’s republicationist answer regarding the requirement for the retention of Canaan and the parallels to the retention of Eden provides an answer to the question I’ve been pressing. Yet I would assess the difference between the retention of Canaan and the retention of Eden differently. Let me explain.

    I would maintain that both administrations required perfect and personal obedience, and I would say this because both anticipated the obedience of a representative, whose obedience would be surety for retention by the many he represented.

    So … to use David R.’s words, yes, Eden was pre-redemptive and protological, and therefore required perfect and personal obedience. I would add that Eden was also typological (in that Adam was a type of Christ both before and after the fall), requiring perfect and personal obedience and securing it only through a representative.

    Further … again to use David R.’s words, yes, Canaan was redemptive and typological, but I would argue that its retention required perfect and personal obedience and secured that obedience only through a representative. (In my view, this is why Moses speaks of both the righteousness of the law and the righteousness of faith, contrasting the two. This is also how the confusion of principles that Gaffin identifies in Kline is resolved.)

    So … it looks to me that the abiding lesson of Eden and Canaan was that surety of retention would not come through the obedience of the many; it would come only through the obedience of a representative. This requirement of obedience both by the many and by their representative was codified in the law. In this way, both situations were typological of the one, Christ, and the many, His seed; both anticipated the justification of Christ for His own obedience and the justification of Christ’s seed for an obedience not their own but imputed to them, namely, His obedience alone.

    So … yes, ultimately, what was actually republished [or better, recapitulated] was not the covenant of works as it was given to Adam. To be sure, Adam’s sin and consequent exile were recapitulated in the nation’s sin and exile. Yet another, crucial component was recapitulated: Adam was in Eden as the representative of his descendants, and that role was also recapitulated in Canaan, particularly in the provision of the messianic offices. In fact, the retention or exile of the many was conditioned on the conduct of the messianic officers, particularly the king. The promised provision of surety in the obedience of another was, in my view, what made Moses an administration of the Covenant of Grace. Yet it was also a critical difference between Israel under Moses and Adam. Before the fall God never pointed Adam to the obedience of another: it was of him, Adam, as representative of his descendants, that He required personal, perfect, perpetual obedience. It was only after the fall, in the introduction of the Covenant of Grace, that God pointed Adam and his descendants to the obedience of another, in His promise of the Seed of the Woman to come.

    At the root of my observations above is that our effort to identiy the level of national fidelity that led to exile might be beside the point: I expect we all agree that God’s requirement of perfect, personal, and perpetual obedience points us beyond our first representative Adam, and beyond the representatives under Moses, to Christ.

  73. David R. said,

    February 11, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    RF,

    Thanks much for the helpful feedback. I appreciate most all of what you say and the way you say it, and especially your underscoring of the point that the law demands perfect obedience, either that of the sinner, or of his Surety. I would certainly never want to suggest otherwise. And when you say, “I would argue that [Canaan’s] retention required perfect and personal obedience and secured that obedience only through a representative,” I would completely agree with you if by that you mean to say that Israel, in order to render acceptable obedience to God, needed to trust in the Surety to come who would satisfy the law’s demands.

    However, if what you mean to say is that the Israelites could only retain possession of Canaan if they themselves perfectly obeyed, on top of trusting in the perfect obedience of the Mediator to come, then I don’t see how that could be true, for at least the following reasons:

    1. If it were true, then how could the godly (though obviously imperfect) kings of Judah be described as “doing right in the eyes of the Lord and turning neither to the right nor to the left” (e.g., 2 Kings 22), or David be held up as the standard for receiving blessing (e.g., 1 Kings 9:4-5), or how could Israel be the recipient of blessings during the reigns of David and Solomon, and Judah during the reigns of Josiah and Hezekiah, whom we’re explicitly told God blessed in consequence of their faith and obedience (e.g., 2 Kings 18:7)?

    2. If it were true, this would entail (if I’m not mistaken) that the law was given to Israel not only as a rule of righteousness but as a subservient (or third) covenant, i.e., substantially distinct from both the covenants of works and grace, and thus would be contrary to the Reformed consensus (not to mention the WCF, according to the OPC study committee) that the Mosaic covenant was substantially the covenant of grace, which is the position I believe to be the correct one for the reasons given in the committee report.

    Anyway, I would certainly welcome any clarification or correction if you have the time and/or patience!

  74. rfwhite said,

    February 11, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    73 David R. — Thanks for the interaction, but let me beg out of the discussion just now until sermon prep is done!

  75. David R. said,

    February 11, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    RF, please take your time!

  76. rfwhite said,

    February 13, 2017 at 8:36 am

    73/75 David R. — Thanks for waiting. Yes, I agree with you that the Israelites, in order to render acceptable obedience to God, needed to trust in the Surety to come who would satisfy the law’s demands. And, for clarity’s sake, does it need to be emphasized that, at least until that Surety arrived, trust did not secure the believers’ retention of Canaan?

  77. David R. said,

    February 14, 2017 at 2:26 am

    RF, thanks for the clarification.


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