Covenant and New Covenant theology from a sovereign grace baptist perspective

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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
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.

Yes, persuasive he is. And yes, many in my circles are gifted at telling you what they think is NOT the Gospel.

His camp has done a lot of good and when he sticks to some topics he is one of the most persuasive preachers I have heard. However, his thoughts are characteristic of many in my circles and this is the reason why I posted this article by him in particular, because this train of thought is a thorny problem among some of the churches with whom I have dealings.

As far as "my mentor" goes, he would be a 1689er though he would probably never admit it, due to another strain among some of my churches (anti-confessionalism).


In fact right now among those that call themselves "Sovereign Grace Baptists" this NCT issue is a hot one. I am glad that I am anonymous as I mention this.
 

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.

Could you please elaborate on that?

The Decalgoue is the moral law "summarily comprehended" -

i.e. the Decalogue is 10 principles or ten points on which sins can be hung.

Thus suicide does not get its own place in the decalogue, nor does it need to, it is summarily comprehended in "THou shalt not commit murder." Risky behavior also is summarily comprehended and hung on the same peg.

This, the 10 Words are a summary of God's moral law, but God's moral law is much more than these 10.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
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.

Yes, persuasive he is. And yes, many in my circles are gifted at telling you what they think is NOT the Gospel.

His camp has done a lot of good and when he sticks to some topics he is one of the most persuasive preachers I have heard. However, his thoughts are characteristic of many in my circles and this is the reason why I posted this article by him in particular, because this train of thought is a thorny problem among some of the churches with whom I have dealings.

As far as "my mentor" goes, he would be a 1689er though he would probably never admit it, due to another strain among some of my churches (anti-confessionalism).


In fact right now among those that call themselves "Sovereign Grace Baptists" this NCT issue is a hot one. I am glad that I am anonymous as I mention this.

Some of the same people are totally against formal church membership and any kind of association of churches. Some voiced disagreement when brother. Moore and others formed their fellowship or association (I'm not sure what it is called) a few years ago. Others, probably a much smaller group, think having a pastor is Romish.

Actually, I suspect Conrad Murrell would probably be a little uncomfortable with being labeled a Sovereign Grace Baptist or most any other similar label, although it certainly fits better than Reformed Baptist, which he and most of the others you have in mind would tend to vociferously disavow. He thinks too many ministries have been derailed by being overly identified with and consumed by a movement mentality, whether it's "sovereign grace" "NCT" (which he hints at in what you posted) etc.
 

timmopussycat

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.

Keep in mind that the "moral law" is not a concept mentioned in Scripture, nor known to the Jews who experienced the Old Covenant as a unified whole.
Rather, "moral law, civil law and ceremonial law" were subdivisions of the law that seem to have originated with Aquinas. As such, the exact divisions are in the eye of the theologian. Among the reformed, the majority view has been Moral law=decalogue, ceremonial=laws and instructions for dealing with sin and acheiving reconcilliation with God and civil laws=whatever is left over, a view found in Calvin the Westminster divines and other reformed worthies.

Now just because a divine or divines did not include a particular law in the "moral law" does not mean that the law is immoral. Rather the theologians who excluded the law did so because they classified it differently.

The Decalgoue is the moral law "summarily comprehended" -

i.e. the Decalogue is 10 principles or ten points on which sins can be hung.

Thus suicide does not get its own place in the decalogue, nor does it need
to, it is summarily comprehended in "THou shalt not commit murder." Risky behavior also is summarily comprehended and hung on the same peg.

Quite right. It is worth noting that Christ said that all the law and the prophets hang on the two commandments.

This, the 10 Words are a summary of God's moral law, but God's moral law is much more than these 10.

Sorry, but two considerations rule this idea unconfessional. First, the description "summarily comprehended" comes from qu. 98 of the WLC which asks Where is the moral law summarily comprehended?" and gives us the answer "...in the Ten Commandments". The Divines have told us where to find the moral law and it is the decalogue, not the decalogue and other places. Second the most relevant contemporary meanings of "comprehend" according to the OED were "To lay hold of all the points of (any thing) and include them within the compass of a description or expression; to embrace or describe summarily; summarize; sum up.... To include or comprise in a treatise or discourse: now more usually said of the book, etc.... To include in the same category....To enclose or include in or within limits...To enclose or have within it; to contain; to lie around."

Notice "all the points of anything" (the moral law) are included within the compass of a description or expression (the decalogue), a practice which is called "describe summarily, summarize". None of the definitions of comprehended at this date allow for incompleteness in the thing comprehended.

No: the Westminster Divines are specifically defining the Moral law as the Decalogue and the Decalogue alone.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
If the moral law IS equated with the decalogue...why not commit beastiality? How could we condemn it? It is not in the 10 Commandments ... unless we see that all the moral nature of God is summarily comprehended in the 10 commandments and then further summarily comprehended in Jesus' 2 commands to love God and neighbor.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Tim;

In Matthew 5 did Jesus give a new law or merely the authoritative exegesis of the old law?


I thought Moses and Christ would have been good friends? Why are you trying to make them into enemies?
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
If the moral law IS equated with the decalogue...why not commit beastiality? How could we condemn it? It is not in the 10 Commandments ... unless we see that all the moral nature of God is summarily comprehended in the 10 commandments and then further summarily comprehended in Jesus' 2 commands to love God and neighbor.

This either/ or argument fails to consider another answer.
It is easy to condemn beastiality if the moral law is decalogue alone and that for two reasons. 1) Because bestiality violates the moral law's command "thou shalt not commit adultery", and 2) beastiality also violates God's pre-Sinai command to all men to "Be fruitful and increase in number."

The normal subdividing of the Mosaic Law into civil ceremonial and moral has an unintended consequence. It has no easy place to place standing law type commands given to all mankind after the fall but prior to Ex. 1. Because these commands are given to all mankind by God and have never been revoked, they remain valid today. Yet although they could be called moral laws because of their continuing validity, they were not so defined by the Westminster Divines and other Reformers. Although I disagree with his attempt to redefine "sundry" in WCF 19:4, see F. Nigel Lee (Are the Mosaic Laws for Today? http://www.dr-fnlee.org/docs4/atmlft/atmlft.pdf (15 December 2004) for a useful discussion of this point.

In Matthew 5 did Jesus give a new law or merely the authoritative exegesis of the old law?

Christ is doing a number of things in Matt. 5 WRT the Law. First, by calling his disciples the light of the world in v. 16, he is applying to them a metaphor which had been famously used of the law (Ps. 119:105,130). If his disciples, rather than the law, are now the light of the world, his hearers will wonder why that is so and just what Christ's relationship to the Mosaic Law is. Is he about to seduce Israel from its required covenantal obedience, or does he have something else in mind? If he was a seducer, the Babylonian captivity or worse would be repeated. Yet there is another possibility that was not an attack on the Law. Rather it is the fulfillment of Jermiah's promised new covenant (Jer. 31:31) which would make Christ the prophet like Moses (Deut. 18:17ff).

With vv.17-20, Christ answers these qustions. He tells us that he is come not to destroy the the Old Covenant but to fulfill it, (the Law or the Prophets). Fulfill should be taken primarily but not exclusively in the sense of "completing a time limited condition" (this meaning of the word "fulfill" is documented in BAGD but has been entirely overlooked in Reconstructionist discussions). Yet, although Christ has come to fulfill the Old Covenant by inaugurating the New, there will be no changes to the Law whatsoever until he does so, v. 18, and anyone who breaks any command of the Old Covenant while it remains in force is least in the kingdom of heaven v.19), and that the Pharisees were outside the kingdom v.20). From v. 21 on Christ does two things. By adducing alterations of the law that the Pharisees had taught, contrasted with the true understanding thereof, Christ proves his case that the Pharisees are outside the kingdom, and he also gives the true understanding of these points of the moral law, and rules out any double standard in application between friend and enemy.

I thought Moses and Christ would have been good friends? Why are you trying to make them into enemies?

I'm not. Moses knew very well that the covenant he inaugurated was temporary and would be superseded. Nor do I say that all Mosaic judicial laws are inapplicable today. With the WCF I hold that those laws whose general equity still requires, should be promoted, instituted and enforced today.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
... unless we see that all the moral nature of God is summarily comprehended in the 10 commandments and then further summarily comprehended in Jesus' 2 commands to love God and neighbor.

Actually, this is exactly the view of the West. divines, and (I think) timo's assertion. With this qualification: due to the theocratic nature of the Israelite state, there is in the "laws of the land" (the case-laws) an applicatory factor, a particularizing principle that had to do strictly with them, and with no other nation before, concurrent, or since. This separation within the law of Moses itself, a division it recognizes of itself, that affects our own analysis.

Of course, that doesn't mean that the judicials were not moral, derivatively. Rather, even Israel understood that their judicials had an explicit grounding in the foundational Ten Words, which were the identifiable cornerstone of the whole law. But it is just that unique quality of the Decalogue that makes it the foundation--it is the MORAL law, not derivatively but essentially.
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
... unless we see that all the moral nature of God is summarily comprehended in the 10 commandments and then further summarily comprehended in Jesus' 2 commands to love God and neighbor.

Actually, this is exactly the view of the West. divines, and (I think) timo's assertion.

Although I haven't made that assertion, it is exactly my view.

With this qualification: due to the theocratic nature of the Israelite state, there is in the "laws of the land" (the case-laws) an applicatory factor, a particularizing principle that had to do strictly with them, and with no other nation before, concurrent, or since. This separation within the law of Moses itself, a division it recognizes of itself, that affects our own analysis.

Careful here. You will have the Reconstructionists jumping to the conclusion that you think because there is this particular, applicatory principle, then the judicials will no longer apply elsewhere than ancient Israel. To dodge the resultant flame war, you'd better mention that the Confession's general equity clause brings over into the New Covenant any and all Mosaic stipulations that can be proved just in the New Covenant setting.

Of course, that doesn't mean that the judicials were not moral, derivatively. Rather, even Israel understood that their judicials had an explicit grounding in the foundational Ten Words, which were the identifiable cornerstone of the whole law. But it is just that unique quality of the Decalogue that makes it the foundation--it is the MORAL law, not derivatively but essentially.

:amen:
 
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