Covenant and New Covenant theology from a sovereign grace baptist perspective

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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Hello;

I come out of the sovereign grace baptist tradition (not those charismatic folks). Conrad Murrell is influential in their midsts. Unfortunately, many of these baptists have fallen into some measure of New Covenant Theology. Below is an article by Pastor Murrell. Could you review it and critique it. What is good, what is bad.



THE NEW COVENANT (Part I)

“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:…this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother saying, Know the Lord; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

One of the more wholesome and beneficial theological developments today is a robust interest, examination, debate, and airing of the New Covenant. It has been long in coming. Not that the theology of the New Covenant has been heretofore unknown in Christianity. It was the doctrine taught by the Lord Jesus in His earthly ministry. Not immediately comprehended by the twelve Apostles, the early church tried to mix in much of the old wine of Moses with the new wine of Christ. But when God called and separated Paul, He revealed through his preaching and epistles that the Old Covenant had been utterly abolished, its government and rituals rendered nothing and that the Christian church was an entirely new people. From those early confrontations with Judaism the fledgling church fervently pursued an entirely New Covenant until the appearance of the Constantinian hybrid of church and state, paganism and Christianity. It was not called or known as “New Covenant Theology” in those days, for “theology” was not yet an ecclesiastical word. It was simply the teachings of the Lord Jesus, the light of the Holy Spirit on Old Testament scripture. It still is. When Christ died on the Cross, rose from the dead, ascended on High, poured out the Holy Spirit, the Promise of the Father bringing in the hope of all Old Testament promises, the Old Covenant with its government and economy was abolished forever. The New Covenant became a living reality in the life and vitality of God’s elect people.

When Constantine became emperor of Rome, establishing Christianity as the State religion with himself at its head, the established church lapsed immediately back into Old Covenant sacralism. New Covenant church life survived, in bits and pieces, underground in the outlawed rival churches which were given various heretical labels. The Reformation of the 16th century stopped far short of reestablishing New Covenant doctrine and life in the church. The Reformation failed because it was an attempt to reform a religious system that was hopelessly corrupt and apostate, and the reformers themselves were not yet free from Romanism and Old Covenant mentality. Nor have any of the myriads of Protestant denominations springing up since then been able to fully grasp and implement New Covenant truth, each being obsessed with formulating, prosecuting and propagating various doctrines and creeds aimed at distinguishing themselves from the erroneous herd from which each split. To do so they are constrained to employ legalistic measures in order to assure their purity. This, of course, from the outset, excludes such a church from the spirit and life of the New Covenant.

So it is little wonder that even in the best of churches today, precious few have more than a vague idea of what Jesus meant when He took the cup after supper saying “This cup is the new covenant in My blood”. We know, of course, that He was saying the cup represents the New Covenant, and that His blood speaks of His death (I Cor. 11:25-26), but what is this New Covenant, and how does it bear on sound Christian doctrine and church life?

Nearly fifty years of gospel labor in the pastorate, in evangelism, in Bible Conferences of all sorts, wrestling with principles and teachings employed in all sorts of gospel ministries, has persuaded me that an ignorance of the New Covenant, along with an unlawful imposition of the Old Covenant on the Christian church is responsible for more abuse, impotence, deadness, unbelief, joylessness, corruption, decay, and apostasy than any other deficiency in ecclesiastical disciplines. May the Holy Spirit help us extricate ourselves from this ruinous bog!


Covenant

Our Bibles have been divided into two parts, commonly called the Old Testament and the New Testament, the former being a record of God’s divine revelation prior to the advent of Christ, and the latter being a record of that advent and the fulfillment of all that was prophesied of Him in the former. The terms Old and New “Testaments” can be misleading when we speak of an Old Covenant and a New Covenant. The Hebrew word for covenant is berith. Its Greek equivalent is diatheke, which in turn is translated, in our English Bible both “covenant” and “testament”. We commonly call the first section of our Bible the “Old Testament” and the last section the “New Testament. But we must dismiss from our minds the idea that when we speak of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant we are speaking of that literary division of the Bible into two parts. We are speaking of two different arrangements called covenants, one by which God formerly governed ethnic Israel, and the other by which He now governs His elect people, the Christian church.

The Hebrew, berith, comes from a root meaning to fetter, or bind, and is intended to express an agreement between two parties, by which they bind themselves to certain commitments to each other. It is important to note that this does not necessarily imply equality between the two. It may be, as in the New Covenant, expressly unilateral, in that God undertakes to secure the obligations of both parties. In this sense the word “testimony” or “testament” can be equated with covenant, since we are now talking about what God has testified and declared, and is therefore immutable, invincible, and perpetually binding. We see this application in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament where the ark of the covenant is also called the ark of the testimony, and the various times that law or the decalogue (God’s revealed will) is translated God’s covenant. This sometimes leads to the erroneous conclusion that abolition of the Old Covenant is equal to the abolition of God’s fixed immutable law, His revealed will and testimony, which is absurd.

Opinions vary as to the number and names of covenants, which God has made with various men or peoples in the Bible. It will not be helpful to our present discussion to examine each of these, although some of them may be referred to when profitable. Rather, we will confine our thoughts to what is called in Scripture an Old Covenant, and what is called a New Covenant. The Bible knows nothing of a so-called Covenant of Works or a Covenant of Grace. These are creedal inventions of Reformed theology, and are useful only to facilitate said creeds.

The Old Covenant
The Old Covenant is identical with what is sometimes called the Mosaic covenant, after its administrator, or the Sinaitic covenant after the region in which it was delivered to the Israelites in their sojourn from Egyptian bondage. (Ex. 19:1-6; 24:7-8). This covenant was reaffirmed in Deut. 29: 1-15, following the graphic catalog of blessings or cursings contained in chapter 28 which God promised to visit upon the nation Israel conditioned in the event of their obedience or disobedience to the terms of the covenant. This is the heart and soul of the Old Covenant: Do these things and live. Disobey these words and perish (Romans 10:5). It was a legal covenant, and by nature required ability in will and performance to maintain a righteousness which fallen men were utterly unable to fulfil. That is why it failed and why it was abolished (Jer. 31:32). There was nothing defective or imperfect in the law. The fault lay entirely in the ability of an unregenerate people with wicked hearts to obey a holy law.

The Old Covenant was made with an ethnic nation, Israel, the natural descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. Its promises derive from those made to Abraham and to his designated descendants and no other. These ethnic people became a national political entity with a geographical possession. This Hebrew nation was sacralistic in its religion and government. That is, all its citizens were members of its religion. To be born into the nation was to be born into its “church”. Its magistrate was subject to its priests, and had the power and responsibility to enforce religious law. This, of course, was not a new arrangement, but the common one in the world. Until the advent of Christ and the New Covenant there was no such thing as “separation of church and state”. Christ’s is an inward spiritual kingdom of the heart, and co-exists peaceably with, though entirely separate from, the political entities of this world. This is a vital, though often overlooked, characteristic of the New Covenant. It is this break with the sacralistic societies of the world that Jesus was pointing to when He told Nicodemus one must be born again to see the kingdom of God. The world still cannot comprehend that, nor does a Christendom that includes unregenerate people in its covenant and communion, and which is aggressively active in shaping and controlling civil government by political process. Irrespective of the lofty sounding Christian names given such churches and denominations, its people still live under the Old Covenant, having only the restraint and constraint of outward law. They are coerced into compliance with outwardly written laws by a magistrate or ecclesiastical authority of some sort.
Deficiencies in Contemporary N.C. Debate

Unhappily, much of the polemics around the New Covenant today is not wholesome. Perhaps the fact that it can be classified as “debate” is indicative that a Christian spirit is either missing or has been rendered so weak by hot, intemperate, dogmatic and uncharitable rhetoric that precious little is set forth edifying to the soul. Even now, as I approach the subject, I feel that I cannot fully explore all the arguments on each side of the issues without entering into that debilitating spirit myself. The last thing I wish to do in these brief essays is to pour fuel on this sort of divisive and fruitless wrangling. I will, however, rehearse some of these distractions from the blessed realities of the New Covenant, and illustrate why they are false issues.


1. The law vs. grace issue. This is by far the oldest, most enduring and varied of all. John 1:17 is taken to have covenantal reference, declaring no grace to be in the Old Covenant and no Law in the New Covenant. Law is set in opposition to grace, and Moses to Christ. This is absurd. Was there also no truth in what Moses taught? Was Christ’s teaching unlawful? God’s law is always gracious and His grace is always lawful. The same gracious and righteous God is the Author of both covenants. Moses declared Christ to be a prophet “like me” (Deut. 18:15). It is true, of course, that law is more in focus under the Old Covenant, and grace more prominently displayed in the New Covenant. That is only necessarily true because unregenerate Israel, being unable to meet the law’s requirements, fell under its condemnation. And spiritual Israel under the New Covenant, on the other hand, having a Surety to make up their shortfall, exult in the grace brought us in Christ. So far from opposing the law of God, the grace of Christ magnifies its righteousness by fulfilling all its spiritual purpose in His people. Nothing is said in Jeremiah’s prophecy of abolishing the law and replacing it with grace, but a re-writing of the law in the hearts of the people rather than in tablets of stone. Nothing is said here of an “old law” and a “new law”. Nor is anything said in the New Testament of an old law or new law. There is a new commandment (not an entire legal code) given by Christ to love one another as He has loved us, and there is a “newness of the spirit” and an “oldness of the letter”, (Rom. 7:6) but the same immutable divine law is in view.

2. The antinomian/legalism debates. Intemperate zealots for the grace of God hurl accusations of legalism against those who are jealous for a righteous compliance with God’s written precepts. Those who hold a high view of moral rectitude in the people of God are horrified when those reveling in the liberties in Christ declare themselves free of legal obligation, railing against them as antinomian (against law). While Christendom certainly does include within its pale true antinomians who assert justification apart from repentance and faith, as well as legalists who trust in outward legal compliance with law letter, no true Christian can be either of these.

3. Abolition of the law. On the “grace” side of the debate it is commonly argued that the advent of Christ fulfilled all that the law prophesied and required, and rendered it obsolete and unnecessary. These usually see the Old Covenant either identical with, or inseparable from, the Decalogue. Since this covenant was made with a Hebrew nation its laws were only relevant to that particular people. They have no universal value to people in general. These hold that the law was abolished, not only in its governmental function, but its didactic purpose also. It is impotent to justify us, and of no use to instruct us in grace. Since we have Christ in the heart, it is argued, the externally written precept is superfluous, and therefore abolished from the believer’s vision. God’s law is His revealed will, intended to reflect His ineffable Person. Since God is unchanging and eternal, His law is also immutable and everlasting.

4. Moral, Civil and Ceremonial law. Those who hold a high view of the word of God in the Old Testament as authoritative for all time are obliged to confess that some parts of that law seem to have been set aside. Civil laws which applied to civil order among the citizens of that Israel would not apply to people who are neither Israelites nor living in that time. Also some laws seem to serve no moral or governmental purpose at all, and seemed to be strictly ceremonial, prophesying spiritual realities to be fulfilled in Christ. These laws also seem to have been abolished. So a division has been determined in the one entire legal code handed down by the Almighty. “Moral” law is retained. “Civil and Ceremonial” law abolished. These divisions are unscriptural and arbitrary. As reasonable as they may seem to human logic there is no Biblical authority for them.

5. Sabbatarian and Antisabbatarinism. The above unscriptural division of the law makes for difficulties with the Decalogue for those who wish to yet hold what God wrote in stone with the Divine Finger as holy, good and permanent. The Sabbatarian holds a high view of the Fourth Commandment but does not wish to enforce it in the harsh and strict way it was applied in the Old Testament. The Sabbatarian has devised arguments for converting the Old Testament Sabbath to a New Testament “Lord’s Day”, changing it from Saturday to Sunday, and modifying to a day worship, combined with a refraining from overt domestic and commercial enterprise. Quite an undertaking with no Biblical authority. The Antisabbatarian consistently abolishes the Fourth Commandment with the other nine. He then avoids accusation of abolishing moral restraint by inventing another unscriptural principal: All the Old Covenant law is abolished except that which is reinstituted in the New Testament. Since there is no positive command in the New Testament to keep the Sabbath, the same is abolished. This makes the pro-law/anti-law debate narrow down to endless wrangling over the Fourth Commandment! Astounding! How can it be that otherwise intelligent and devout men could abandon the gospel and squander their precious time, energies and resources to quarrel over how one observes a day?

6. Defending the Decalogue. Still others have very nearly made an idol, or at least a whole Bible, from the Decalogue, and feel the word of God is rendered of no effect if those ten words are not held up as the heart of divine revelation and the sole banner of rectitude. The teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ leave those ten words graven in stone far behind in His “You have heard it said…but I say unto you” sermon on the mount. The Decalogue needs no defense, but we will need far more than those letter-words to know and live New Covenant Christianity.
One of the ironies of all this is that those devoting their preaching and writing to these controversies, on both sides, draw heavily on the writings of Reformed and Puritan writers who rejected the whole Biblical doctrine of two covenants. Rejecting the Biblical terminology of an Old Covenant and a New Covenant these worthies held to “Covenant Theology” which contends for only one “Covenant of Grace” having two administrations, one to Israel and the other to the Church. This will do very well for those holding a strong outward law ministry, but no place for the New Covenant theologian to prove the reign of grace. Rich as the legacy left us by the Puritans was, it is still principally an Old Covenant one. Using their writings to shine light on the New Covenant is to pile darkness upon darkness. The New Covenant may be discovered nowhere but in the inspired word of God.

Happily, most of the New Covenant/Old Covenant debate has been confined to conferences and writings addressed to, and appealing to those of a contentious demeanor , theologians and ministers with an itch for debate and wrestling over fine theological points. It has captured very little interest by the “man in the pew”. Up to this point that is good, because very little of it has been practically profitable to the normal and usual Christian seeking lay hold of the riches of Christ and to walk in the Spirit. But that is the very person whom I wish to help with the realities of the New Covenant.

I cannot attempt to debunk all the above piecemeal without entering into the very rhetoric I wish to silence. I would have to write volumes, and after having done so, would have done nothing but weary the saints, enflame my brethren to more fierce polemics, and accomplish nothing. Nor do I wish to cast any shadow on the sincerity and godliness of those who (in my view) have sacrificed their excellent and wholesome ministries to some of these side issues. They are some of God’s finest. Rather, I hope to simply take the scriptures and expound the glories and riches of New Covenant life in Christ. In so doing, every one of the distractions above, along with a host of others, will evaporate. This, we will begin to undertake in the next issue.
- C. M.
 

A5pointer

Puritan Board Sophomore
I am sypathetic with the NCT view. It makes sense to me. However I greatly value the privilege of being a member of this board. So I will leave it at that. :)
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
6. Defending the Decalogue. Still others have very nearly made an idol, or at least a whole Bible, from the Decalogue, and feel the word of God is rendered of no effect if those ten words are not held up as the heart of divine revelation and the sole banner of rectitude. The teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ leave those ten words graven in stone far behind in His “You have heard it said…but I say unto you” sermon on the mount. The Decalogue needs no defense, but we will need far more than those letter-words to know and live New Covenant Christianity.

I am usually trying to keep away from controversial thread these days, but I must step in here. In the New Covenant God writes his law on people's hearts (in greater abundance than he did in the old administration). Moreover, in the Sermon on the Mount, Christ is expounding the moral law and correct Pharasiacal misrepresentations, that is what is meant by "you have heard it said". Furthermore, the Reformed only teach that the Decalogue is a summary of the moral law; they do not teach that it is "the sole banner of rectitude" in the way that is being suggested here.
 

A5pointer

Puritan Board Sophomore
6. Defending the Decalogue. Still others have very nearly made an idol, or at least a whole Bible, from the Decalogue, and feel the word of God is rendered of no effect if those ten words are not held up as the heart of divine revelation and the sole banner of rectitude. The teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ leave those ten words graven in stone far behind in His “You have heard it said…but I say unto you” sermon on the mount. The Decalogue needs no defense, but we will need far more than those letter-words to know and live New Covenant Christianity.

I am usually trying to keep away from controversial thread these days, but I must step in here. In the New Covenant God writes his law on people's hearts (in greater abundance than he did in the old administration). Moreover, in the Sermon on the Mount, Christ is expounding the moral law and correct Pharasiacal misrepresentations, that is what is meant by "you have heard it said". Furthermore, the Reformed only teach that the Decalogue is a summary of the moral law; they do not teach that it is "the sole banner of rectitude" in the way that is being suggested here.

1. Do we have any indication that the law in the old administration written on the hearts at all? If that is what you are inferring.
2. When Christ says to hate internally is to murder is that an expounding of the law or a new meaning?
 

Coram Deo

Puritan Board Junior
The law was written in their hearts. Describing the righteous under the Old Covenant, David says, “The law of his God is in his heart; His steps do not slip” (Psalm 37:31).


The knowledge of Jehovah was theirs. Describing believers under the Old Covenant, David says, “And those who know Thy name will put their trust in Thee; For Thou, O Lord, has not forsaken those who seek Thee” (Psalm 9:10; cf 1 Samuel 2:12 and 3:7)


The forgiveness of sins was given. In Psalm 32:1, 2, David says, “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the name to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit is no deceit!”


As per Christ saying to hate internally is to murder, I believe it was the same in the old covenant... Christ was bring back the meaning of the law both externally and internally which the Jews denied the internal aspect of the law....


6. Defending the Decalogue. Still others have very nearly made an idol, or at least a whole Bible, from the Decalogue, and feel the word of God is rendered of no effect if those ten words are not held up as the heart of divine revelation and the sole banner of rectitude. The teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ leave those ten words graven in stone far behind in His “You have heard it said…but I say unto you” sermon on the mount. The Decalogue needs no defense, but we will need far more than those letter-words to know and live New Covenant Christianity.

I am usually trying to keep away from controversial thread these days, but I must step in here. In the New Covenant God writes his law on people's hearts (in greater abundance than he did in the old administration). Moreover, in the Sermon on the Mount, Christ is expounding the moral law and correct Pharasiacal misrepresentations, that is what is meant by "you have heard it said". Furthermore, the Reformed only teach that the Decalogue is a summary of the moral law; they do not teach that it is "the sole banner of rectitude" in the way that is being suggested here.

1. Do we have any indication that the law in the old administration written on the hearts at all? If that is what you are inferring.
2. When Christ says to hate internally is to murder is that an expounding of the law or a new meaning?
 

Iconoclast

Puritan Board Junior
Hi Pergamum,
I will give it a try. He says;
But when God called and separated Paul, He revealed through his preaching and epistles that the Old Covenant had been utterly abolished, its government and rituals rendered nothing and that the Christian church was an entirely new people.
I believe this is a defective foundation to try to begin to discuss the issue.His whole view of redemptive history is fragmented. The old covenant root lead to new covenant fuit. "has been abolished- should be "has come to fulfillment Hebrews 9:23-24 Hebrews 11:39-40... this is far from being rendered nothing! "the christian church was an entirely new people??
If we as wild branches are grafted into the root promise made to the seed, how are we a "entirely new people"? Ephesians 2 speaks of ONE NEW MAN in Christ.:gpl:

The Reformation failed because it was an attempt to reform a religious system that was hopelessly corrupt and apostate, and the reformers themselves were not yet free from Romanism and Old Covenant mentality.
I do not believe the reformation failed. Roman teaching was an evidently is still an obstacle to some, but the sheep hear the voice of the Shepherd and come out.

Nor have any of the myriads of Protestant denominations springing up since then been able to fully grasp and implement New Covenant truth, each being obsessed with formulating, prosecuting and propagating various doctrines and creeds aimed at distinguishing themselves from the erroneous herd from which each split.
Fully grasp/ somewhat subjective statement as we are all improving and maturing in our understanding. Doctrine , creeds , and confessions, are essential to defend and seperate truth from error. He is just not in agreement with the creeds and confessions and in reality is suggesting a New creed.
He than says;
To do so they are constrained to employ legalistic measures in order to assure their purity. This, of course, from the outset, excludes such a church from the spirit and life of the New Covenant.
This statement can have an element of truth if a believer error's in attempting to obey Phil.2 12Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

13For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. We work out our salvation as God works in us. We do not work for it with a fleshly legal spirit seeking to put ourselves and those around us in bondage as those Paul wrote to in Galatia.

So it is little wonder that even in the best of churches today, precious few have more than a vague idea of what Jesus meant when He took the cup after supper saying “This cup is the new covenant in My blood”. We know, of course, that He was saying the cup represents the New Covenant, and that His blood speaks of His death (I Cor. 11:25-26), but what is this New Covenant, and how does it bear on sound Christian doctrine and church life?
Ignorance of basic covenant truth is regrettable and unfortunatly too common.However I do not think the reason for it is the reason he is suggesting.
Again he says;
But we must dismiss from our minds the idea that when we speak of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant we are speaking of that literary division of the Bible into two parts. We are speaking of two different arrangements called covenants, one by which God formerly governed ethnic Israel, and the other by which He now governs His elect people, the Christian church.
He refers to the christian church as the elect people as seperate from ethnic Israel? Deut7:6 and every reference to the elect remnant say otherwise, not to mention Acts 7:38
38This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us. His dispensational roots are overwhelming his thoughts and he cannot clearly see what other's have been granted to see. Because of his foundational error he makes thes type of statements-
The Bible knows nothing of a so-called Covenant of Works or a Covenant of Grace. These are creedal inventions of Reformed theology, and are useful only to facilitate said creeds.
These statements and teaching are crucial to understand the theology of ramans 5:12-21, and 2 cor 5:19-21 among many other portions. The cross itself cannot be understood if you are going to evade the issue because you do not like the terms.
I personally do not like the terms visible,or invisible church but must use them to discuss key issues with other brethren if I want to communicate with them.
My response is getting somewhat long , but let me just say this. Most of these new covenant advocates are concerned not to become legalists which is not bad in and of itself. However they almost universally mis-understand the 4th commandment, and if the truth be told with such a wrong foundation I do not think they can have a proper understanding o mthe other commandments, or their bibles at this point.
I will add more later, working through the points he lists if you like::graduate:
 

A5pointer

Puritan Board Sophomore
This is what gives me the most trouble. Any thoughts.


6But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.

7For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8But God found fault with the people and said:
"The time is coming, declares the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.
9It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers

when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.
10This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
11No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,'
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more."[c]

13By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.
 

Coram Deo

Puritan Board Junior
9It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,

and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.

Notice the bold line.... What was the covenant made with their forefathers that was old? It was the covenant that was made when God took them out of Egypt which they did not remain faithful..

Jeremiah 31 says the same thing.. The New Covenant is better and more superior to the Mosaic Covenant made at Sinai....

The New Covenant is also a greater expansion of the Covenant of Grace which was given to Abraham...


This is what gives me the most trouble. Any thoughts.


6But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.

7For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8But God found fault with the people and said:
"The time is coming, declares the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.
9It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers

when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.
10This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
11No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,'
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more."[c]

13By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
anyone want to pick this apart (concisely) paragraph by paragraph?

Off topic,
But do you know Conrad Murrell? I visited his assembly a time or two.

He runs a good bible camp I have heard. Also he is closely associatd with many of the churches that fellowship with my church. He is a gifted speaker, but often people are attracted to his critiques (i.e. his negative comments) about things. He has become known as sort of a critic and a firebrand.He influences many people among the churches that fellowship with my home church.
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
6. Defending the Decalogue. Still others have very nearly made an idol, or at least a whole Bible, from the Decalogue, and feel the word of God is rendered of no effect if those ten words are not held up as the heart of divine revelation and the sole banner of rectitude. The teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ leave those ten words graven in stone far behind in His “You have heard it said…but I say unto you” sermon on the mount. The Decalogue needs no defense, but we will need far more than those letter-words to know and live New Covenant Christianity.

I am usually trying to keep away from controversial thread these days, but I must step in here. snip... Furthermore, the Reformed only teach that the Decalogue is a summary of the moral law; they do not teach that it is "the sole banner of rectitude" in the way that is being suggested here.

I too try to avoid controversial threads but I cannot let this by. Historically the Reformed do not teach that the Decalogue is an incomplete summanry of the moral law but the complete summary of the same. As WCF 19:2 puts it, the moral law "was delivered upon Mount Sinai in ten commandments. Those who argue that the answer to WLC 98 renders this view untenable have failed to recon with the force of the word "comprehended" in that question. At that date the word meant ": “trans. To grasp with the mind, conceive fully or adequately, understand, ‘take in’. (App. the earliest sense in English.).” A review of the OED makes it clear that it was never used in the sense of an incomplete comprhension of something. Thus, their use of the word “comprehend” to describe the moral law rules out the idea that the Divines were referring to an incomplete summary. For the Divines, anything not "comprehended" in the Decalogue was not understood or included within the essential moral will of God.

Which is why, historically, the decalogue does tend to be seen as "the sole banner of rectitude" as suggested.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
6. Defending the Decalogue. Still others have very nearly made an idol, or at least a whole Bible, from the Decalogue, and feel the word of God is rendered of no effect if those ten words are not held up as the heart of divine revelation and the sole banner of rectitude. The teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ leave those ten words graven in stone far behind in His “You have heard it said…but I say unto you” sermon on the mount. The Decalogue needs no defense, but we will need far more than those letter-words to know and live New Covenant Christianity.

I am usually trying to keep away from controversial thread these days, but I must step in here. snip... Furthermore, the Reformed only teach that the Decalogue is a summary of the moral law; they do not teach that it is "the sole banner of rectitude" in the way that is being suggested here.

I too try to avoid controversial threads but I cannot let this by. Historically the Reformed do not teach that the Decalogue is an incomplete summanry of the moral law but the complete summary of the same. As WCF 19:2 puts it, the moral law "was delivered upon Mount Sinai in ten commandments. Those who argue that the answer to WLC 98 renders this view untenable have failed to recon with the force of the word "comprehended" in that question. At that date the word meant ": “trans. To grasp with the mind, conceive fully or adequately, understand, ‘take in’. (App. the earliest sense in English.).” A review of the OED makes it clear that it was never used in the sense of an incomplete comprhension of something. Thus, their use of the word “comprehend” to describe the moral law rules out the idea that the Divines were referring to an incomplete summary. For the Divines, anything not "comprehended" in the Decalogue was not understood or included within the essential moral will of God.

Which is why, historically, the decalogue does tend to be seen as "the sole banner of rectitude" as suggested.

Yes Tim I have noticed how you pass by controversial threads. :rolleyes: But this is simply not true, the Decalogue is a summary of the moral law, not the moral law itself. Because we have to go beyond the Decalogue to define what is meant by adultery etc.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
So how would you charactize Murrell's summary; mostly bad, mostly good, mixed, or very off the deep end...
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
I am usually trying to keep away from controversial thread these days, but I must step in here. snip... Furthermore, the Reformed only teach that the Decalogue is a summary of the moral law; they do not teach that it is "the sole banner of rectitude" in the way that is being suggested here.

I too try to avoid controversial threads but I cannot let this by. Historically the Reformed do not teach that the Decalogue is an incomplete summanry of the moral law but the complete summary of the same. As WCF 19:2 puts it, the moral law "was delivered upon Mount Sinai in ten commandments. Those who argue that the answer to WLC 98 renders this view untenable have failed to recon with the force of the word "comprehended" in that question. At that date the word meant ": “trans. To grasp with the mind, conceive fully or adequately, understand, ‘take in’. (App. the earliest sense in English.).” A review of the OED makes it clear that it was never used in the sense of an incomplete comprhension of something. Thus, their use of the word “comprehend” to describe the moral law rules out the idea that the Divines were referring to an incomplete summary. For the Divines, anything not "comprehended" in the Decalogue was not understood or included within the essential moral will of God.

Which is why, historically, the decalogue does tend to be seen as "the sole banner of rectitude" as suggested.

Yes Tim I have noticed how you pass by controversial threads. :rolleyes:

And I have noticed how you do likewise :rolleyes:

But this is simply not true, the Decalogue is a summary of the moral law, not the moral law itself. Because we have to go beyond the Decalogue to define what is meant by adultery etc.

That statement that the Decalogue canot be the moral law itself because we have to go beyond it to define its terms confuses apples and oranges. Even thought we have to go beyond a given writing to define concepts used in it, that fact does not make the source of our definitions a component of the thing defined. Although a dictionary defines the words used in the Wesminster Standards, dictionaries are not made an inherent component of the Westminster Standards by being so used.

The Westminster Divines did not fall into this category error.

Finally, I am not sure that the Israelites who heard the Ten Words spoken needed to go to a dictionary. The words God used had meanings that were known to them from their history: (incidents in Genesis illustrate all the key words of the decalogue).
 
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A5pointer

Puritan Board Sophomore
Question, NCT people tell us that a division of the siantic code is unnatural and unwarranted. Some see the code in the form of a Suzerain treaty, Great king/vassel king. Seeing the decalouge as a the main stipulations with those stipulations clarified later kind of like our modern contracts. Can and do those who hold to covenant theology agree with this observation of it's form? Thanks.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
I too try to avoid controversial threads but I cannot let this by. Historically the Reformed do not teach that the Decalogue is an incomplete summanry of the moral law but the complete summary of the same. As WCF 19:2 puts it, the moral law "was delivered upon Mount Sinai in ten commandments. Those who argue that the answer to WLC 98 renders this view untenable have failed to recon with the force of the word "comprehended" in that question. At that date the word meant ": “trans. To grasp with the mind, conceive fully or adequately, understand, ‘take in’. (App. the earliest sense in English.).” A review of the OED makes it clear that it was never used in the sense of an incomplete comprhension of something. Thus, their use of the word “comprehend” to describe the moral law rules out the idea that the Divines were referring to an incomplete summary. For the Divines, anything not "comprehended" in the Decalogue was not understood or included within the essential moral will of God.

Which is why, historically, the decalogue does tend to be seen as "the sole banner of rectitude" as suggested.

Yes Tim I have noticed how you pass by controversial threads. :rolleyes:

And I have noticed how you do likewise :rolleyes:

But this is simply not true, the Decalogue is a summary of the moral law, not the moral law itself. Because we have to go beyond the Decalogue to define what is meant by adultery etc.

That statement that the Decalogue canot be the moral law itself because we have to go beyond it to define its terms confuses apples and oranges. Even thought we have to go beyond a given writing to define concepts used in it, that fact does not make the source of our definitions a component of the thing defined. Although a dictionary defines the words used in the Wesminster Standards, dictionaries are not made an inherent component of the Westminster Standards by being so used.

The Westminster Divines did not fall into this category error.

Finally, I am not sure that the Israelites who heard the Ten Words spoken needed to go to a dictionary. The words God used had meanings that were known to them from their history: (incidents in Genesis illustrate all the key words of the decalogue).

So according to this logic, the laws against homosexuality and bestiality are not moral laws. Any reader of the footnotes of either the WLC are even WSC will easily recognise that the moral law is "summarily comprehended" in the ten commandments, not that the Decalogue alone is the moral law. It is comprehensive summary, but not an exhaustive summary.
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
Yes Tim I have noticed how you pass by controversial threads. :rolleyes:

And I have noticed how you do likewise :rolleyes:

That statement that the Decalogue canot be the moral law itself because we have to go beyond it to define its terms confuses apples and oranges. Even thought we have to go beyond a given writing to define concepts used in it, that fact does not make the source of our definitions a component of the thing defined. Although a dictionary defines the words used in the Wesminster Standards, dictionaries are not made an inherent component of the Westminster Standards by being so used.

The Westminster Divines did not fall into this category error.

Finally, I am not sure that the Israelites who heard the Ten Words spoken needed to go to a dictionary. The words God used had meanings that were known to them from their history: (incidents in Genesis illustrate all the key words of the decalogue).

So according to this logic, the laws against homosexuality and bestiality are not moral laws.

That is correct. The laws against h and b are not part of the moral law. But both are necessary consequence deductions from the moral law's prohibition of adultery, and violations of the still applicable pre-Mosaic command to be fruitful and replenish the earth.

Any reader of the footnotes of either the WLC are even WSC will easily recognise that the moral law is "summarily comprehended" in the ten commandments, not that the Decalogue alone is the moral law.

As you should know, the Scriptural footnotes were not part of the original Westminster Standards but were added later at the request of Parliament. Consequently they cannot be used to prove that the explicit statements of the standards are not what the Divines meant when they wrote the standards. In addition a careful examination of the footnotes proves nothing more than that in given cases, the Divines believed a given Mosaic judicial remained valid by general equity. As Ferguson long ago noted, "in this context, one cannot reason by synechdoche, as though holding to capital punishment for some serious crimes implied holding to the entire Mosaic judicial system. For many writers both before and during this period held that sins against the so-called first table of the law were capital offenses, yet they also believed that the Mosaic judicial law as such was no longer binding." (Sinclair Ferguson, An Assembly of Theonomists? in Theonomy: A Reformed Critique pp.337, 338). It can also be shown that only two Divines (Cawdrey and Palmer) held to Bahnsen's hermeneutic that all Divinely unamended Mosaic judicials remained valid today. That their formulation was not adopted and that of Anthony Burgess was, is another strong indicator that the Divines did not wish to carry over all unamended Mosaic judicials to the New Covenant era.

It is comprehensive summary, but not an exhaustive summary.

Given the contemporary meaning of "comprehend", this is a distinction without a difference. Any claim that the the Decalogue is not an exhaustive summary of the moral law runs afoul of the Divines who went out of their way to specifically define it to the contrary. As previously noted, the contemporary definition of the Divines word "comprehended" meant that all the moral law was included in the decalogue. Any claim to the contrary should be regarded as highly unlikely without decisive evidence, since it makes the Divines guilty what Bahnsen, in another context, called "“…blatant self contradiction...(even though the Confession is recognized as the most cautiously worked out and carefully worded creed of the Evangelical Church.)” (TiCE p. 517)
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
Question, NCT people tell us that a division of the siantic code is unnatural and unwarranted. Some see the code in the form of a Suzerain treaty, Great king/vassel king. Seeing the decalouge as a the main stipulations with those stipulations clarified later kind of like our modern contracts. Can and do those who hold to covenant theology agree with this observation of it's form? Thanks.

Those who hold to CT should affirm that the Sinaitic code was indivisible while it was in force in Israel before the crucifixion. The question really is: which if any parts of the Sinai covenant remain valid in the NT era. The Sinai stipulations can be subdivided into three subjets, moral, civil and ceremonial laws depending on the subject matter. Since the moral law was given to all men and not just Israel pre-Sinai, and has never been repealed for all men, it remains valid. Since Christ has provided one sacrifice for sins for ever, all ceremonial stipulations (Bahnsen's "restorative" stipulations) are fulfilled in him. This leaves what are usually called civil (and family) stipulations open to question and the answer is that they may or may not be valid depending on whether or not general equity therof still requires. (WCF 19:4).
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
I really do hope some of the moderators step in here; the idea that the Decalogue alone is the moral law is a grave error. I will not give legitimacy to such a ridiculous idea by continuing to argue the point any further.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Daniel: Thanks for your insights. Before you go, do you see anything else good or bad about this article. This sort of thinking holds some of the churches that I fellowship with in the States pretty tightly and many people seem confused over these issues.

Based upon this article as representative of the views of a large minority of my supporting churches in the States (maybe 25% of them) how would you summarize the relationship between the OC and the NC and explain it to my people?

This error seems clear to you, but not to them (or to some even in this thread)..give us a easy to understand response to Rev. Murrell's article. Rev. Murrell is very highly respected in my circles and his writings are read by many. I therefore need to know his presuppositions and an easy way to amiable counter these views as needed.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Daniel: Thanks for your insights. Before you go, do you see anything else good or bad about this article. This sort of thinking holds some of the churches that I fellowship with in the States pretty tightly and many people seem confused over these issues.

Based upon this article as representative of the views of a large minority of my supporting churches in the States (maybe 25% of them) how would you summarize the relationship between the OC and the NC and explain it to my people?

This error seems clear to you, but not to them (or to some even in this thread)..give us a easy to understand response to Rev. Murrell's article. Rev. Murrell is very highly respected in my circles and his writings are read by many. I therefore need to know his presuppositions and an easy way to amiable counter these views as needed.

Perg

Thanks for your kind words. For what it's worth I actually have a lot of respect for many of the men who hold to NCT, but I do not think that I have the ability to fully answer their arguments (I only responded to what I thought was a misrepresentation of the Reformed view). It would be better if a Pastor could extensively respond to this article.
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
I really do hope some of the moderators step in here; the idea that the Decalogue alone is the moral law is a grave error. I will not give legitimacy to such a ridiculous idea by continuing to argue the point any further.

Actually, the idea that the Decalogue alone is the moral law has long been regarded as Reformed orthodoxy (except among Theonomists). Among others, it has been put forth by: William Perkins (A Discourse of Conscience(1596), in Works (Cambridge: John Legate, 1608), 1:513), John Ball (A Treatise of the Covenant of Grace Simon Ashe, London 1645 p.165), Westminster Divine Anthony Burgess, a member of the committee that drafted chapter 19 which defines the moral law in the confession, (Vindiciae Legis or a vindication of the morall law and the covenants, from the errors of Papists, Arminians, Socinians, and more especially Antinomians in XXX lectures preached at Laurence-Jury London, (London, 1647), pp. 147, 148.), David Dickson, the first commentator on the Confession (Truth’s Victory over Error or, the true principles of the Christian religion, stated and vindicated., Kilmarnock, John Wilson, 1787, pp. 117, 118), Herman Witsius (Herman Witsius, The Economy of the Covenants between God and Man, Utrecht 1693 reprint 1990 Den Dalk Christian Foundation Escondido CA vol. 2, p. 162.), all specifically name the Decalogue as moral law, and (as Dr. Scott Clark also tells me, Martin Bucer made the same point in De Regno Christi but I have yet to track down the page number). So the idea that the moral law is the decalogue alone can hardly be considered a grave error in reformed circles, particularly when Calvin (Institutes 4 xx 14-16), and Charles Hodge (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol. 3, (New York, Scribner 1872, p. 271) make the same point indrectly. Although Calvin does not name the moral law as the Decalogue, this passage makes it clear that it is the decalogue he is using to judge civil laws. Likewise Charles Hodge does not explicitly name the Decalogue as the moral law, but he did say that he Decalogue is "a perfect rule of duty" and that "perfect obedience to the decalogue in its spirit, would be perfect obedience to the law."
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
I really do hope some of the moderators step in here; the idea that the Decalogue alone is the moral law is a grave error. I will not give legitimacy to such a ridiculous idea by continuing to argue the point any further.

Actually, the idea that the Decalogue alone is the moral law has long been regarded as Reformed orthodoxy (except among Theonomists). Among others, it has been put forth by: William Perkins (A Discourse of Conscience(1596), in Works (Cambridge: John Legate, 1608), 1:513), John Ball (A Treatise of the Covenant of Grace p.165), Westminster Divine Anthony Burgess, a member of the committee that drafted chapter 19 which defines the moral law in the confession, (Vindiciae Legis or a vindication of the morall law and the covenants, from the errors of Papists, Arminians, Socinians, and more especially Antinomians in XXX lectures preached at Laurence-Jury London, (London, 1647), pp. 147, 148.), David Dickson, the first commentator on the Confession (Truth’s Victory over Error or, the true principles of the Christian religion, stated and vindicated., Kilmarnock, John Wilson, 1787, pp. 117, 118), Herman Witsius (Herman Witsius, The Economy of the Covenants between God and Man, Utrecht 1693 reprint 1990 Den Dalk Christian Foundation Escondido CA vol. 2, p. 162.), all specifically name the Decalogue as moral law, and (as Dr. Scott Clark also tells me, Martin Bucer made the same point in De Regno Christi but I have yet to track down the page number). So the idea that the moral law is the decalogue alone can hardly be considered a grave error in reformed circles, particularly when Calvin (Institutes 4 xx 14-16), and Charles Hodge (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol. 3, (New York, Scribner 1872, p. 271) make the same point indrectly. Although Calvin does not name the moral law as the Decalogue, this passage makes it clear that it is the decalogue he is using to judge civil laws. Likewise Charles Hodge does not explicitly name the Decalogue as the moral law, but he did say that he Decalogue is "a perfect rule of duty" and that "perfect obedience to the decalogue in its spirit, would be perfect obedience to the law."

I am not debating this any further. The idea that the Decalogue alone is the moral law is preposterous.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Saying that the Decalogue is a summary of God's moral law is a lot different from saying it IS the moral law - isn't it?

If sometimes the Puritans used the word "Decalogue" to mean the whole moral law, who can blame them?

We use expressions like "All hands on deck" and we know that more than hands are involved.
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
Saying that the Decalogue is a summary of God's moral law is a lot different from saying it IS the moral law - isn't it?

If sometimes the Puritans used the word "Decalogue" to mean the whole moral law, who can blame them?

We use expressions like "All hands on deck" and we know that more than hands are involved.

Not a good analogy. In "all hands on deck" hands means "all seamen", it doesn't just mean their hands alone. The moral law is either the Decalogue alone or the Decalogue plus. The writers I cited specifically define the moral law as Decalogue alone.
 

danmpem

Puritan Board Junior
I read the Point/Counterpoint book on Law & Gospel, and I didn't understand a word of it. While I know this wasn't the case, it sure sounded like everyone was saying the same thing! This thread ought to help some.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
How about the acorn and the tree analogy.

Obviously the Decalogue is quite short, therefore it MUSt be a summary of the moral law only and not the moral law itself. Poor Moses if he had to carry down all the possible implications of the Decalogue for society rather than the ten words alone.
 

danmpem

Puritan Board Junior
How about the acorn and the tree analogy.

Obviously the Decalogue is quite short, therefore it MUSt be a summary of the moral law only and not the moral law itself. Poor Moses if he had to carry down all the possible implications of the Decalogue for society rather than the ten words alone.

Could you please elaborate on that?
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
anyone want to pick this apart (concisely) paragraph by paragraph?

Off topic,
But do you know Conrad Murrell? I visited his assembly a time or two.

He runs a good bible camp I have heard. Also he is closely associatd with many of the churches that fellowship with my church. He is a gifted speaker, but often people are attracted to his critiques (i.e. his negative comments) about things. He has become known as sort of a critic and a firebrand.He influences many people among the churches that fellowship with my home church.

I attended the church Conrad Murrell pastored for about two years. brother. Murrell is indeed a gifted speaker and can be very persuasive. If I were to listen to him even today he would probably have me almost persuaded of some of his distinctives simply due to the authoritative manner in which he expresses them. I will respond to the series of articles generally as the portion Pergy posted is only the introductory article, although in the summary of the controversy he did get a few parting shots in.

He has an essentially anabaptist view of history, as seen with this piece and probably goes beyond Verduin (who is a huge influence on him) in seeing them in the best possible light and at times seeing the Reformed in the worst possible light (i.e. the idea that only reason the Reformers retained infant baptism was "sacralism".) With this piece on the New Covenant, which was originally published his newsletter (which can be found online) and later published in book form, in my opinion he does a much better job of saying what he's against than what he's for. In the process he arguably raises more questions than he answers, especially if you're not familiar with the rest of his teaching. He is adamantly against any kind of confession or creed but in the same work on pp. 18-19 he gives us 12 "Given Parameters of Biblical Interpretation" which appear to me to constitute something similar to a basic confession in that they are a lens through which he interprets the scriptures. These parameters are also given to us with little or no justification. Without naming names of other writers he does appear to back away from some NCT excesses i.e. says that there is no NT legal code contra his friend J. Reisinger & co. and criticizes some of the more radical antisabbatarians.

I met Pergy's mentor (who is not NCT) on his last two trips to that bible camp and remember his preaching fondly.
 
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