Covenant of Redemption: Resource Available

Discussion in 'Covenant Theology' started by Travis Fentiman, Feb 18, 2017.

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  1. Travis Fentiman

    Travis Fentiman Puritan Board Freshman

    The Covenant of Redemption is:

    the eternal, inter-Trinitarian covenant between the Father and the Son whereby the Son guarantees to purchase and bring God’s chosen people to eternal life and Heaven forever, laying the foundation for the Covenant of Grace as it is offered and entered into by mankind-sinners in time through the preaching of the Gospel.​

    The Covenant of Redemption often does not receive the attention it deserves.

    For your help and growth in grace in Scripture’s exceedingly certain and precious promises, here are numerous resources on this topic (the most on the net):

    I hope it is a blessing to you.
  2. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    No Thomas Boston or Robert Shaw? :)

    "Tiers" sounds strange, since it suggests hierarchy. Maybe use the vocabulary of "two different sorts of covenanters that are in the Covenant of Grace: those who are in the covenant externally only, and those who also partake of the spiritual substance" instead?
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2017
  3. Travis Fentiman

    Travis Fentiman Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi Ramon,

    Thanks for the thoughts, and it is good to 'meet' you. It is great to hear that you are a part of the Free Church in NC. Hopefully we will be able to meet in person sooner than later as I am in the Free Church as well.

    I am not sure the terminology of 'tier' is wholly inappropriate, as there is, I think, a hierarchy in the levels, namely that the second one, of receiving Christ spiritually with all his benefits, is a higher reward than the first tier of external blessings, which everyone should seek to enter into.

    Though, I did change the terminology to two 'categories', as that term is a bit less distinctive, and hence perhaps a bit more acceptable to all.

    As far as Boston and Shaw, I am not sure if you are aware, they have a bit different paradigm, of one eternal Covenant of Grace with two orders of time (eternal and temporal). While much of the difference is semantics, I do believe the 2 covenant paradigm is more accurate.

    Also, they are leading proponents of the denial of the category of the Covenant of Redemption, so I have sought to stay away from those materials on the webpage.

    Blessings to you.
  4. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    There is only one Trinity, which means any thing ab intra to the Trinity is "intra-trinitarian, not "inter-trinitarian."

    The parties to the covenant of redemption are not the persons of the Trinity per se. If they were distinct parties then Dr. Letham's charge of tritheism would be legitimate. The parties to the covenant are God as represented by the Father and Christ as the God-man Mediator. This covenant is voluntary, not necessary; hence it is not properly "intra-trinitarian," but concerns "ad extra" works, in which case the rule applies, "ad extra indivisa." It is the justice of God which takes vengeance on sinners, not the justice of one particular person in the Godhead; hence redemption must satisfy the justice of God, not the justice of one particular person.

    Faith is not the "instrumental condition" of the covenant of grace. Faith is only required as the condition of the covenant as it interests the elect in Christ, who is the substance of the covenant. Faith itself is procured by Christ for the elect and is promised as a gift of the covenant. If faith were the "instrumental condition" of the covenant it would mean that the elect must first believe in order to receive the gift of faith, which is nonsense. Faith is the "instrument" for receiving the imputed righteousness of Christ, but regeneration precedes both faith and justification, and regeneration is a benefit of the covenant of grace. Moreover faith is not instrumental to sanctification, but is called a fundamental and actual grace of sanctification. The term, "instrumental condition," should therefore be abandoned as misleading and confusing.

    Since faith is the condition of the covenant, there cannot be two categories of people in the covenant of grace. The elect are virtually and representatively in the covenant by means of their Head, Christ, and will be personally instated in the covenant when they are brought to faith. The non-elect are never in the covenant of grace. They are in the administration of the covenant by virtue of the fact that faith itself is not essential to administration. Profession of faith is required for the administration of the covenant, which means the external administration of the covenant accidentally includes both elect and non-elect, though the administration itself is intended purposefully for the elect alone.

    In reference to Mr. Fentiman's paper, and his comment on this thread concerning Thomas Boston, (1) there are numerous divines before Boston who asserted the covenant of grace is made with Christ, and with the elect in Him. It is implicitly stated in the Shorter Catechism and expressly stated in the Larger Catechism. (2) Boston only denied that the covenant of grace was a distinct covenant. He never denied the covenant of redemption, but maintained every point of the covenant of redemption as was maintained by earlier theologians. He only maintained that the two covenants of redemption and grace are "essentially" the same. James Hog tended to move in the same direction. In his Letter against the "Snake in the Grass" he expressed the opinion that the differences among divines on the subject might be adjusted. Jonathan Edwards also taught that the two covenants are essentially the same.
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  5. Travis Fentiman

    Travis Fentiman Puritan Board Freshman


    I apologize about the imprecise language about 'inter-Trinitarian' and have removed it from the webpage (though I am not seeing the option to edit my original post above for some reason).

    I agree with you that the parties are with God as represented by the Father (which I state in my paper) and Christ, in both natures since he took to Himself a human nature, and have made that more explicit on the webpage as well.

    I originally did not include 'instrumental' on the webpage, but stuck it in to prevent other misunderstandings, though I have been glad to take it out and simply use the language of the Catechism.

    As far as the rest, we may disagree on some terminology and other points, but hopefully you will be as gracious as James Hog to allow that differences among persons on the subject "might be adjusted".
  6. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    Rev. Winzer,
    Where can one learn more about this?
  7. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    If it were a matter of being gracious and allowing for differences of no importance then that would be one's duty; but James Hog was speaking of adjusting the differences. Where it is a simple matter of different ways of looking at the same thing, as with the earlier divines, I think the differences are harmless, at least prior to the Neonomian controversies. But in recent studies it seems that Thomas Boston and others are being misrepresented and treated as if they were obscuring truth, in which case it is being gracious to explain matters from their perspective and clarify their position.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2017
  8. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    See Anselm, Cur Deus Homo, or Why God became Man, especially chapters 11-15, and 19-24.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2017
  9. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    Yes, I was aware and was just having a little fun. :) But to be more serious, on further reflection, perhaps you might at least expound their view (time permitting)? Strictly speaking, their language follows that of the Westminster Standards, so a reader of the Westminster Standards might wonder about this "covenant of redemption" that is only found in a document commonly appended to them. And of course, there is no substantial difference between the views: both affirm a "covenant of redemption" but the covenant is denied to be distinct from the "covenant of grace" (and then things are formulated so as to be consistent). I personally hold to the views of those as Boston/Shaw, so I may be biased, but if you were willing to discuss the various views of the Mediatorial Kingship, it seems fair enough to at least exposit the view that denies the covenant of redemption to be distinct from the covenant of grace.
  10. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    Edit: Nevermind. I see you did this in your paper, but as Rev. Winzer noted, not fairly at some points, in my opinion.
  11. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks, Travis, for your work on this important issue.

    I think Hodge makes the most pertinent point to distinguish them, namely, that in the CoG Christ is the Mediator between the two parties while in the CoR He is a party, not a Mediator.

    The WLC seems to unite the two in 31. Hodge points out the problem that this can create:

    In distinguishing the covenants, Hodge has this application:

    Calvin makes a similar point:

    Thus, the particulars and nature of the free offer come into play as we contemplate the nature of the CoR and the CoG. This subject has come up plenty of times before and there is no need to beat a dead horse. I will continue to respectfully disagree with Rev. Winzer. I hope that people will research the issue, understanding that there are two sides that lead to different distinctions, conclusions and applications. In Travis's defense, his mode of representing faith as an instrumental condition is well grounded in reformed theology.

    Again, I offer this to promote independent study, not start a controversy.
  12. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    The controversy is already existent; there is no avoiding it if one is going to make a serious effort to understand the subject and the authors who have written on it.

    Hodge says "in a sense." In what sense? If the covenant of grace is made with all men, and all men are not saved, then the covenant of grace fails to secure salvation, and thereby fails to give the very security which a covenant is intended to give.

    It is very clear from the Neonomian controversies that it is easy to make a Saviour of faith when the two covenants are separated. One ends up with faith serving as a condition in the covenant of grace in the very same way that Christ fulfils the condition in the covenant of redemption. In the end people are required to look to their faith instead of Christ. This is another gospel which is no gospel at all.
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  13. Travis Fentiman

    Travis Fentiman Puritan Board Freshman


    Out of curiosity, what do you think of the following quotes by Rabbi Duncan (Just a Talker, pp. 47-48):

    "Controversialists should always begin by concession. It is courteous, and therefore conciliates."

    "Age rubs down a good deal the controversial spirit in a man."

    "The mere controversialist, who would always be in the thick of the fight with error, is no more worthy of respect than the pugilist [a boxer]."​

    "The controversial minds are like the lean cattle of Egypt; they are very greedy, and are none the fatter for their feeding."​
  14. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Travis, They look like good principles for you to consider should you decide to follow the course of wisdom and charity and revise your controversial statements on Thomas Boston. Were you to revise your comments in a way that properly represents his position and respects his contribution to covenant theology there would be no controversy.
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