Dr. Cornelius Venema's Damning Review ... How Damning Is Damning Enough? Part I

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jetbrane

Puritan Board Freshman
Old Life Theological Society » Blog Archive » Hide the Women and Children!

Back on 1/19 our favorite R2K'er, Dr. D. G. Hart wrote the following introductory paragraph to a piece he categorized as “Rabbi Bret,”

“As I suspected, the review that Cornel Venema wrote of The Law is Not of Faith is not nearly as damning as various and sundry critics of Westminster California have let on. I figured that if Venema had written anything really juicy – like this is view that needs to be purged from our churches – Rabbi Bret would have quoted it by now, especially that – ahem – his Advent and Christmas duties are well behind.”

Well, if Darryl had let sleeping dogs lie I might have passed on posting the really damning quotes from Dr. Venema. However, now that our favorite R2K'er has suggested, by the piece linked above, that Dr. Venema doesn’t think R2K to be that damning I thought that I would go ahead and give the really damning quotes from Dr. Venema. Besides, I wouldn’t want to let Darryl down regarding my ability at bringing the “juicy quotes” to people’s attention.

Before I do that however, I wish our favorite R2K'er would give us a sense of how damning a analysis needs to be before Darryl considers a set analysis as having damned R2K to the point that it is officially “Damned.” I mean is R2K safe as long as it is only a little damned by some critic, or does it take a heap of damning before R2K is officially damned?

However … on to the really damning quotes of Dr. Venema’s review,

“Though Ferry cites Calvin as as example of formal republication view, I will argue in what follows that Calvin does not conceive of the Mosaic administration as a republication of the covenant of works. Calvin’s view is much closer to what Ferry terms a ‘material’ republication view, since Calvin only affirms that the Mosaic law reiterates the requirements of the natural (moral) law that was the rule of Adam’s obedience before the fall. The position Ferry terms a ‘material’ republication view, is, as I shall argue below, the most common view in the Reformed tradition and hardly warrants being termed a ‘republication’ of the covenant of works in any significant sense. Ferry’s taxonomy here and throughout is rather confusing and for that reason is unhelpful.”

Now the reason this is thoroughly damning, beyond the obvious, is that Dr. Venema here takes on the whole R2K insistence that their completely innovative reading of covenant is THE Historic Reformed reading of covenant. Dr. Venema tell us here that the model pursued is not only wrong but it is only tenuously Reformed, historically speaking, having perhaps more in common with the historic Lutheran or Dispensational reading of covenant.

“Does not the freedom from the law that believers enjoy through Christ include a freedom from the moral law as well? VanDrunen does not shy away from this question, but answers it with a provocative claim that believers are not subject to the moral law as believers, so far as their conduct in relation to fellow believers within the ’spiritual’ kingdom of Christ is concerned. Though believers, so far as their conduct in the ‘natural’ or ‘civil’ kingdom is concerned, may be subject to the natural law, they are not subject to the natural law as Christians.”

People really need to read that quote several times to let what VanDrunen and R2K is advocating sink in.

“In my estimation the failure of the authors of The Law is Not of Faith to affirm vigorously the positive function of the law as a rule of gratitude in the Mosaic economy is not accidental. Because the authors of The Law is Not of Faith view the moral law of God to express necessarily the “works principle” of the covenant of works, they do not have a stable theological basis for affirming the abiding validity of the moral law as a rule of gratitude.”

I don’t know how Darryl measures “Damning,” but that quote, has to be damning to the point of the deepest regions of damnation. Now, it is true that Dr. Venema says it in a way that is as non-polemical as possible but one doesn’t have to have polemics in order to write a damning quote.

“Contrary to Fesko’s reading of Calvin, there is no basis for interpreting Calvin to teach that the Mosaic administration included at some level a kind of legal covenant that republished the prelapsarian covenant of works.”

Being interpreted this means … “I don’t know which Calvin you guys are reading but the Calvin of the 16th century doesn’t recognize the Calvin you guys are sourcing.”

“It is interesting to observe that some of the representations of the Mosaic covenant by authors of The Law Is Not Of Faith, especially in the chapter of Gordon, resemble more the Lutheran view in this respect than the traditional Reformed view.”

My Damning-o-meter needle is buried with that one.

“There is a confusing inconsistency in Fesko’s account of the typology of Israel’s subjection to the requirement of obedience to the law.”

Confusing inconsistencies is not a good thing for Theologians to have in either their writings or in their Theology. One might say that confusing inconsistencies are "damning."

Along a similar line,

“As noted earlier (fn 41), Estelle’s position on the nature and significance of the ‘works principle’ in the Mosaic economy is difficult to interpret, since he seems to contradict himself.”

“Difficult to interpret,” and “seems to contradict himself,” are not a good things for Theologians to have in either their writings or in their Theology.

“The WCF 11:6 affirms, for this reason, that believers under the old covenant administration of the covenant of grace enjoyed the blessings of free justification: ‘The justification of believers under the OT was, in all these respects, one and the same with the justification of believers under the NT.’ Though the authors of The Law is Not of Faith do not deny this affirmation, it is noteworthy that it hardly receives much emphasis in their characterization of the Mosaic administration.”

This quote cracks the door open for questions on whether or not R2K has two different ways of salvation for the old covenant believers vs. the new covenant believers. That was always damning when Reformed suggested that about Dispensationalists.

“When Estelle, and Gordon, maintain that Leviticus 18:5 republished the covenant of works, they offer little or no explanation of how this comports with these fundamental features of the covenant as an administration of the covenant of grace.”

It is pretty damning when theologians advance a new paradigm that doesn’t take into consideration previous explanations that have long ago eviscerated their new paradigm.

“Silva rejects Meredith Kline’s interpretation of Paul’s view of the law in the argument of Galatians, noting its similarity with the views of historic Lutheranism and Dispensationalism.”

This is the second time now that Venema has made reference to R2K’s Lutheran like understanding of the covenant. This is highly damning if one purports to be doing Reformed theology.

“From the vantage point of this (Law is Not of Faith) understanding of the nature of biblical typology, it is difficult to make sense of the claim that the Mosaic administration functioned typologically as a kind of covenant of works, at least at the stratum of Israel’s inheritance of temporal blessings.”

It is quite damning when your new paradigm has a significant piece that is, ‘difficult to make sense’ out of.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Hey Acid...
I'm not aware that DGHart is a member on the PB. I don't even know if he has many fans.

It strikes me that the post on oldlife.org is probably the rght place for your comment.
Here, it just sounds like a place you dropped your "sound-off," in order to make sure it got a wider audience than over there, or your own blog.

Thanks for treating us to about two dozen "damning" and "damned" comments. DGH's lone modifier becomes the "highlight" of your screed. Nice.

Today, I had to apologize to my family, and our guests (from church) for losing my temper and raising my voice and speaking harshly to my own dear wife.
So, take this from a man who is full of failures today, and every day...
To reference your signature:
Bret L. McAtee
Pastor -- Charlotte CRC

As a man thinketh in his heart so he is

acidink.org - Christianity and Death Resources and Information. This website is for sale!
Is what you wrote in your post above reflective of your "thinking" and your "heart"?
If so, what does that say about who you are?
And do you want to keep running it out there?
 
Last edited:

WAWICRUZ

Puritan Board Freshman
“Though Ferry cites Calvin as as example of formal republication view, I will argue in what follows that Calvin does not conceive of the Mosaic administration as a republication of the covenant of works. Calvin’s view is much closer to what Ferry terms a ‘material’ republication view, since Calvin only affirms that the Mosaic law reiterates the requirements of the natural (moral) law that was the rule of Adam’s obedience before the fall. The position Ferry terms a ‘material’ republication view, is, as I shall argue below, the most common view in the Reformed tradition and hardly warrants being termed a ‘republication’ of the covenant of works in any significant sense. Ferry’s taxonomy here and throughout is rather confusing and for that reason is unhelpful.”

If the CoW prior to the Fall had as its stipulations the Moral Law, then a reiteration of obedience to these stipulations, predicated on the maintenance of tenure in the Land (in seeming parallelism to Adam's probationary status), would be a republication of the CoW, would it not?

Would Venema's refusal to brand this as a republication of the CoW be a bit constrained?

John Calvin, Commentary on Hebrews:
"The example of Moses ought to have been remembered by the Jews, more than that of any other; for through him they were delivered from bondage, and the covenant of God was renewed, with them, and the constitution of the Church established by the publication of the Law."

Underdog Theology: Why Was the Covenant of Works Republished at Sinai?
 

jetbrane

Puritan Board Freshman
Hey Acid...
I'm not aware that DGHart is a member on the PB. I don't even know if he has many fans.

It strikes me that the post on oldlife.org is probably the rght place for your comment.
Here, it just sounds like a place you dropped your "sound-off," in order to make sure it got a wider audience than over there, or your own blog.

Thanks for treating us to about two dozen "damning" and "damned" comments. DGH's lone modifier becomes the "highlight" of your screed. Nice.

Today, I had to apologize to my family, and our guests (from church) for losing my temper and raising my voice and speaking harshly to my own dear wife.
So, take this from a man who is full of failures today, and every day...
To reference your signature:
Bret L. McAtee
Pastor -- Charlotte CRC

As a man thinketh in his heart so he is

acidink.org - Christianity and Death Resources and Information. This website is for sale!
Is what you wrote in your post above reflective of your "thinking" and your "heart"?
If so, what does that say about who you are?
And do you want to keep running it out there?

Bruce,

Thank you for your obvious ministerial concern for the state of my being.

I put the Venema quotes out there because,

1.) Not every one has access to the quotes

2.) I had noted here that Rev. Hyde had opined on Puritan Board that

"He (Venema) doesn't say much, except to agree with the WCF that it is an administration of the one covenant of grace. He asks lots of questions of the volume, but doesn't set forth any large response (which is partly why it's a good review...he summarizes, asks questions, pokes and prods)."

Now, that thread was "closed" and I wanted to take up the thesis that "He doesn't say much ... " Quite to the contrary I have shown, in those quotes, that he says a great deal and gives a good many "large responses."

4.) I did want this to get an wider audience? Who wouldn't on a subject of this great import?

5.) The assertion was made by one of the leading lights of the R2K movement (Dr. D. G. Hart) that Dr. Venema's review was "not that damning." That was the overhaul thrust of one of the leading defenders of R2K in terms of Venema's assessment. I think Venema's assessment is very damning and I think the Church should be aware of that as far is the east is from the west. The overall thrust of Dr. Hart's response was "it is not that damning," I kept returning to that in my quotes to reveal it was that damning. As "not that damning was Dr. Hart's theme," "yes it was that damning was my theme." I trust you can understand that chain of reasoning Bruce.

Bruce, would you contend that this is not a good place to do that?

6.) Is it a requirement at PB that anything posted at PB can only be posted if the luminary in question (whether Dr. Venema or Dr. D. G. Hart or anyone else) be a member of PB. If that is a rule I beg the PB's forgiveness.

7.) I rejoice with you that the Spirit moved to cause you to apologize. That speaks wonderful things about you. However, since I have no rancor in my heart towards Dr. Hart, and since I've done nothing but to overturn Dr. Hart's thesis I will not be apologizing here since my posting was only to the end of giving the error of R2K wider publication.

Cheers Bruce,

It is, after all, a most dangerous error.
 

mvdm

Puritan Board Junior
“Though Ferry cites Calvin as as example of formal republication view, I will argue in what follows that Calvin does not conceive of the Mosaic administration as a republication of the covenant of works. Calvin’s view is much closer to what Ferry terms a ‘material’ republication view, since Calvin only affirms that the Mosaic law reiterates the requirements of the natural (moral) law that was the rule of Adam’s obedience before the fall. The position Ferry terms a ‘material’ republication view, is, as I shall argue below, the most common view in the Reformed tradition and hardly warrants being termed a ‘republication’ of the covenant of works in any significant sense. Ferry’s taxonomy here and throughout is rather confusing and for that reason is unhelpful.”

If the CoW prior to the Fall had as its stipulations the Moral Law, then a reiteration of obedience to these stipulations, predicated on the maintenance of tenure in the Land (in seeming parallelism to Adam's probationary status), would be a republication of the CoW, would it not?

Would Venema's refusal to brand this as a republication of the CoW be a bit constrained?

John Calvin, Commentary on Hebrews:
"The example of Moses ought to have been remembered by the Jews, more than that of any other; for through him they were delivered from bondage, and the covenant of God was renewed, with them, and the constitution of the Church established by the publication of the Law."

Underdog Theology: Why Was the Covenant of Works Republished at Sinai?

Warren, did you not read Venema's review? The *covenant* being renewed at Sinai was not the COW, but the one Covenant of Grace. There is a significant difference between saying {as the Reformed do} that the *law* was formally published and the saying that the *Covenant of Works* was republished.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Jet,
1) Venema's quotes don't have all YOUR "damns". So spare us your sanctimonious self-righteousness. Your post (and mine) ISN'T all about the quotes, but about your commentary on the quotes.

2) Yes, this isn't the place for all that. You're ordained a minister of the gospel, so "Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity." 1Ti 4:12

3) If you think that my post was generally about preventing any criticism of some person's views, then you misread a very short post worse than you accuse me of missing the point of your lengthy one.

4) I prefaced my admonishment to you with a personal confession, not because I crave your admiration for my "spirituality," but because
a) Jesus told me to take the log out of my own eye, before I tried to remove the speck from yours, Mt.7:3-5, and
b) such a move is meant to prevent perception of the comments as coming from a self-styled "superior," being conceited, provocative, or envious, Gal.5:26-6:5.
I will not be apologizing here
After discharging my duty, I'm not responsible for how you receive any of what I've said, Rom.14:4.
 

jetbrane

Puritan Board Freshman
Contra,

1.) I never contended that Venema ever used the word "Damning." That was
Dr. D. G. Hart's word. Are you reading what I'm writing or are you typing before digesting what has been said?

And sanctimonious self-righteousness? You show up here with a story that says since you apologized to your wife for yelling at her I should therefore apologize to Dr. Hart for refuting his thesis that Venema's review was not that "damning." My friend if that isn't bathing in self-righteousness (not to mention confusion) I don't know what is.

My commentary on the quotes is intended to reveal how damning the quotes are. Nothing more.

2.) I pray to God daily, that people would follow my example in speech, in conduct and in love, in faith and in purity. Indeed, I pray that they would exceed me on those matters. I pray that they will grow to hate that which is evil and to cling to that which is good. I pray that they will not be afraid to rebuke where rebuke is warranted. R2K warrants rebuke.

3.) There seems to be all kinds of misreading going on here.

Imagine how glad I am that you believe you've discharged your duty to me.

Now earlier you asked,

Is what you wrote in your post above reflective of your "thinking" and your "heart"?

My answer is "Yes."

"If so, what does that say about who you are?"

It means I am a man who desires R2K not to infect Christ's Bride.

"And do you want to keep running it out there?"

My answer is "Here I stand I can do no other."
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Closed. For now, take the subject up on the blog in question where the affected party may respond. The moderators will review this meantime.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
If admission of sin is "self-righteousness," then no one should admit his sin before proceeding to offer restoration.
How "self-righteous" would it be to presume to correct your filthy language when my own words of the same day were known to have been vile?
I'm not sure how I could otherwise have "taken the log out of my own eye" in that case.

So I guess you don't know what "self-righteousness" is. I wasn't the first to be disturbed by YOUR comments (nevermind Venema's critique). Your repeated "damning" of DGH is THE most memorable thing about the post, not the citations of Venema. You took Hart's one characterization against himself ('not nearly as damning') and used it as a stick to beat him with. It's an ugly display, and I'm sorry you can't see that fact.

I understood Venema's points just fine, without any added comment. I could have removed or deleted the post entirely, if I had intended to censor him, or you. But I didn't want to insinuate the message that his content was offensive, or give you the right to accuse the PB of censoring--as you practically did anyway simply for calling you out on your abusive language.

So, next time you do it (the abusive language, not offering a critique), it'll simply be one of the Moderators or Admins slapping you with an infraction and silencing you. And you can go and misinterpret that as "taking sides" all you like. We get the SAME accusations from one side AND the other side all the time. Old news. Our responsibility is not to either side to provide them a venue for verbalizing as they please. It's to make a place where Christians have a civil interchange.
 
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