Is the New Covenant new or renewed?

Discussion in 'Covenant Theology' started by Pergamum, Aug 9, 2017.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Is the New Covenant new or renewed?

    I had a baptist tell me that no Presbyterian can really believe in a "new" covenant but only a renewed one.
     
  2. Herald

    Herald Moderator Staff Member

    Perg, absolutely new. In my humble opinion this is the dividing line between Baptist and Presbyterian.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Amen Amen x 1
    • List
  3. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Can I believe it is absolutely new and still believe that the OT covenants were all administrations of the Cov of Grace?
     
  4. JTB.SDG

    JTB.SDG Puritan Board Freshman

    Here's what Presbyterians believe: What is "new" is the administration. John tells us he is giving us a "new" command. But later we realize that actually, the command to love isn't quite necessarily actually new per se. In one sense it is, in another it's not. We use the same language all the time. Did you ever see one of the first Apple computers? Like from the stone age. You call the ones today for good reason new and improved. You could justifiably say that the ones we have today are "not like" the ones they first put out (IE, Jer.31). But they are still Apples.

    Same with the new covenant. If the Covenant of Grace was a plant, the OT manifestations of the Covenant of Grace were the seed. Well, now the seed has broken through the husk and is a beautiful flower. The differences for Presbyterians and all those who adhere to the WCF between the old and new covenants all has to do with what we call "administration". The old covenant was administered differently than the new, but they are both in substance and essence the Covenant of Grace. In these ways in particular:

    1) EMPHASIS/PACKAGING. The OT manifestations of the Covenant of Grace were packaged with the external husk (eternal promises that were clothed with the temporal); now in the new covenant the husk is gone and we have the kernel.
    2) CLARITY. The OT manifestations were part of the Covenant of Grace, but in the OT those gospel promises were less clear; Calvin likens it to the light of dawn compared with the noon-day clarity of the new covenant.
    3) CONSUMMATION. The OT manifestations of the Covenant of Grace were like the shadow or a picture of a gushing fountain as opposed to the actual gushing fountain (for really thirsty people); or like the sign of an ice-cream shop for your son as opposed to actually having the mint chocolate chip in his hand; or like the picture of your fiancee' compared to actually getting to be with her face to face.
    4) ABROGATION. The OT manifestations of the Covenant of Grace contained the OT ceremonial laws, which now have been abolished in the new covenant; much like the external fuel tank of a space shuttle is disconnected from the vessel and falls back to earth once the shuttle reaches space--it's whole point was to get the shuttle to space, now it's served its purpose and isn't needed any more.
    5) FREEDOM. Which relates and expands on Abrogation. Under the OT Covenant of Grace, the ceremonial laws were gracious on the one hand, because this was their gospel (in pictures); that is, they were saved by looking to Christ as revealed in the sacrifices, etc; but also these things were burdensome; in the new covenant we are set free from them. Think of the Jews in hiding during Hitler's reign. They were thankful, I would think, for the safe place behind the bookcase, as this is what protected them; but once the country was liberated, they no longer had to stay confined in that single cell dark room.
    6) EFFECT. This is the way that makes most sense to me to interpret Jeremiah 31. In what sense is it a new covenant with the NT church? Did God not also write His laws on the hearts of His OT people? I believe He did. How then can the Lord say that what will be new about the new covenant is that He will write His Laws on our hearts? Because though He did this in the OT, the overall proportion/effect was much less. The message was exactly the same--it was the gospel revealed at Sinai and every other OT manifestation of the Covenant of Grace--but the effect was very different. On the whole, the few believed in Christ in the old covenant (just read Deuteronomy, Isaiah or Jeremiah); whereas on the whole the great majority will believe in the NT. Notice here, Jeremiah notes in 31:29-30 that there would also be those who die for their sin mixed in with the new covenant. He's not saying "every single person." He's saying, though on the whole the majority rejected the Covenant of Grace in the OT, the vast majority will embrace it from the heart in the new.
    7) COMPARISON. This is a summary of everything that has gone before; it's what Paul is speaking of in the latter part of 2 Corinthians 3. There was glory in the OT, but in light of all these things, how can we compare the glory of the old with the glory of the new? The glory of the husk with the glory of the kernel? The glory of the light of dawn with the glory of the noon-day? The glory of seeing a picture of my fiancee' with the glory of getting to be with her face to face? The glory of being locked up in a safe house behind a bookcase with the glory of having full freedom to wander the streets? The glory of a remnant that embraced the covenant from the heart by faith with the glory of an overwhelming majority in the church doing so?

    If the new covenant is "absolutely new", are you saying that it is NOT the same in substance/essence as the OT manifestations of the Covenant of Grace? If so, the analogy isn't a stone-age Mac and a new one, but rather a Mac and a pair of shoes; or a Mac and a fish. That's what you're saying if you're saying the two aren't the same substance/essence. If the OT covenants were part of the Covenant of Grace, and the new covenant is the fulfillment of the Covenant of Grace, how can you/why would you want to say that they aren't the same in substance/essence? The difference is the OT was salvation promised, the NT salvation performed. It's a difference in administration, not one of substance/essence. I see the OT/NT difference much like that of an old/new mac. I don't get how you can see it as the difference between a Mac and a goat or boat or table or garage, which is what it is if you say it's different in substance/essence.
     
  5. kainos01

    kainos01 Puritan Board Junior

    Very nicely put, Jon.
     
  6. Herald

    Herald Moderator Staff Member

    Sure. That is the predominant RB position. That 1689 Federalism is being debated does not negate that. Even if 1689 Federalism is what our Particular Baptist forefathers believed, it does not affect their view of the newness of the New Covenant.
     
  7. BG

    BG Puritan Board Junior

    Only if you believe that there is more than one covenant of grace. This is a good example of a place where you need discontinuity rather than continuity, you need for there to be two different covenant of grace in order to maintain a consistent position as a Baptist but that puts you squarely in the camp of dispensationalism. I am not saying that you are dispensational by the way, just the position.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
  8. BG

    BG Puritan Board Junior

    If there is one covenant of grace then it is a renewed Covenant, if there are two covenants of grace then it can be brand new.
     
  9. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    I think part of the problem here, as Jon put it SO well, is that Baptists do not distinguish between the substance and the administration of the covenant of grace. Therefore, newness has to be absolute. Presbies, on the other hand, because they distinguish between substance and adminstration, can say that the NC is new in administration, but not in substance. I agree with BG when he says that if the NC is absolutely new, then there has to be more than one covenant of grace. Jon also put this point very well. As I look at things, the only real way to have a single Covenant of Grace, different in its administrations, and remain a RB, is to posit a New Testament command that says we may no longer give the covenant sign to our children. This would thus be a change in administration from all the OT iterations of the covenant. I do not see any such negative command in the NT.

    The main reason, I feel, why the RB's want to say that the NC is absolutely new, is because they want to avoid the implication of the position of children vis-a-vis the covenant that comes when the substance is admitted to be the same. Of course, they believe they have biblical warrant for that (I'm not implying any sort of invidiousness here!) in the baptisms of Acts. However, the understanding of household would mitigate against that (and no, my argument does not depend on imaginary children. That is a common caricature of the Presbie position. The argument is more nuanced than that: if there were children in the household, they were baptized).
     
  10. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Senior

    This viewpoint then would make the CoG to be the NC itself, correct?
     
  11. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Senior

    God was saving lost sinners always by the same way in either OC/NC, as the basis for that was the death of Jesus for their sins, but the NC and church themselves had to wait until Jesus was born, and died and was raised up again.
    One can hold to the NC as a Reformed baptist would, and not be a holder of dispensationalidsm.
     
  12. BGF

    BGF Puritan Board Sophomore

    I've seen you posit this question in another thread. It was answered in the negative and fully explained. It is even carefully explained here. You can't equate absolutely the CoG with the NC. The NC is as administration of the CoG. Your mistake is similar to equating a species with a genus. All house cats are in the genus felis, but that does not mean felis is equal to house cat.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
  13. BG

    BG Puritan Board Junior

    When you say "the same way" what do you mean?
     
  14. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Senior

    The basis of any salvation would be that the Death of Jesus provided the atonement for sins for that sinner who was saved, and that faith was the means to access that grace.
     
  15. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Senior

    I believe that some reformed baptists would see them as being the same though.
     
  16. BGF

    BGF Puritan Board Sophomore

    Which brings us back to this: If the CoG is the NC then the OC is either not an administration of the CoG or a separate CoG. Either way it's hard to not see discontinuity rather than continuity.
     
  17. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Senior

    Many Reformed Baptists, as well as non confessional Baptists, do tend to see much more of a discontinuity between the 2 Covenants.
     
  18. Gforce9

    Gforce9 Puritan Board Junior

    David,
    What people are getting at here is this: at some point, you're going to have to choose what you believe. In one sentence, you argue for the NC being an "administration" of the CoG, in another, you deny it. I think the 'boys have argued well the differences in the views. If the CoG under the OC and the CoG are the same in substance, you will likely cease to be Baptist. If you see the them as different in substance, you will not likely end up in a Reformed church.
    Even the prohibitions in the OT, for example, have a gracious and salvific nature to them; to protect the people of God. I think the problem posed by Bill G, then Lane is valid and needs to be considered carefully.........
     
  19. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Freshman

    But I assert as an RB that there is greater continuity than discontinuity (we are, after all, the Israel of God), yet understand that in the massive overhaul when types and shadows were fulfilled and all sorts of ceremonies abrogated and several new ones instituted, that circumcision was one of the ones abrogated; in its place, baptism, the fulfillment of the type: when you are born for reals--born again--the sign is applied. In the OT, you were born into a physical people--that birth served as a type and shadow of the New Birth, wherein people from every kindred, tribe, and tongue are born into the family of God, and only then do they receive the sign of the covenant.
    This seems childishly obvious. Is it really that obscure?
     
  20. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Lane,
    You said, "Baptists do not distinguish between the substance and the administration of the covenant of grace."

    That is a very short summary of something very major. Can you unpack that a little more so I can understand it more fully. This seems huge.
     
  21. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    Ben, you need to be very careful here. The vast majority of church history is against you on the question of infant baptism. If it was childishly obvious, I do not think that would be the case. I used to fall into this trap myself, using words like "obviously" and "clearly" on the side of paedobaptism. You need to avoid those words studiously in debates like this, Ben. It makes you sound like you are insulting the intelligence of all the paedos around here. I would sincerely hope that was not your intent.

    In the OT, people were born into the family of God, yes, but that physical family also had a spiritual component (see Romans 9:6, which you need to do a bit of exegesis on, I think). You are making the same mistake so many Baptists make of practically denying spiritual components in the OT; the spiritual components of the Abrahamic covenant, of circumcision, and of covenant membership. Circumcision's ultimate meaning was circumcision of the heart. The other mistake you are making here is in seeing no continuity between type and antitype with regard to circumcision and baptism. Type has a closer connection to antitype than you are here positing. See 1 Corinthians 10 and 1 Peter 3 for examples.

    And there is NO text that says that the sign must be applied only after they are born again spiritually. So no, NOT childishly obvious.

    Sure, Perg. Baptists usually posit that there is only one way of relating to the covenant of grace, and that is being in it (roughly equivalent to what Presbies would call "belonging to the substance of the covenant of grace"). Baptists will usually deny that there is any other way of being related to the covenant of grace. Presbies say that there are two ways of relating to the covenant of grace. The substance of the covenant of grace is salvation in Christ, with all the benefits that implies. The administration is the outward structure by which those benefits are offered. This would be the means of grace offered: word and sacrament. Relating to the covenant in an administrative way is the privilege of all those who have the substance of the covenant of grace, and it is also the privilege of all those who are under the covenantal headship of those who profess faith. So, those who only possess the administrative benefits of the CoG would be elect who have not yet come to faith, and the non-elect who will eventually fall away. This dual way of relating to the CoG is how we explain the apostasy passages like Hebrews 6: such people possessed the tremendously huge privileges of sitting under the means of grace, which are called the powers of the age to come, they are so huge, and yet they fall away. They were never elect, they were never saved, but they did fall away. The Presbie position is FAR superior at explaining the phenomenon of apostasy than the Baptist position is, because the Baptists have no way of explaining what it is, in fact, that these non-elect people actually had that they lost.

    Another way of thinking about the two aspects of covenantal relation is that they correspond to the visible/invisible church distinction. The visible church corresponds to the administration of the covenant, and the invisible corresponds to the substance of the CoG. Hope this helps.
     
  22. Herald

    Herald Moderator Staff Member

    Lane, really? So, modern RB's, and our Particular Baptist forefathers did not arrive at their view of the newness of the New Covenant honestly, and only tacked on "biblical warrant" on the backside? Please tell me I am reading you wrong.
     
  23. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    I am not implying any dishonesty whatsoever in how Baptists came by their views. I do think that one reason why is what I explained. That may or may not have influenced them to read biblical passages in a certain way. Or, conversely, they may have read passages in a certain way, and then came to their conclusion. It might be a chicken/egg question. I really do not know what the relationship would be between the two reasons for coming to their conclusion. But I certainly do not mean to imply any dishonesty.
     
  24. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Baptists regularly seem to say that Presbyterians formed their version of covenant theology in order to defend paedobaptism (i.e. a desire to baptize babies drove their covenant theology instead of vice versa). We read this in Denault, for instance. So I suppose Presbyterians can also charge the baptists similarly.
     
  25. Herald

    Herald Moderator Staff Member

    Lane, thank you. I extend the same charity to my Presbyterian brethren on how they came to their own conclusion on the NC. That said, I agree that some (on both sides) probably have put the cart before the horse so-to-speak. I am sensitive on the issue if for no other reason than I struggled mightily with my own baptism position.
     
  26. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    The fact of the matter is that just about everyone forms their theology at least partly in reaction to some other form of theology they see as aberrant. Witness Turretin's Elenctic Theology, ENTIRELY formed in reaction to errors.
     
  27. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I believe that some can be under the external administration of the Covenant (sitting under preaching and the church ordinances) but not really IN the covenant. For to be IN the Covenant is to be IN Christ. We cannot know who is truly saved after all, so while baptists make much of 'regenerate church membership" it will always fail. This seems to be one of the worst baptist arguments, by the way, that "only the saved should be baptized."
     
  28. BG

    BG Puritan Board Junior

    When I was a baptist Romans ch 11 was a real puzzle to me, how can you be grafted into Christ and then be CUT OFF ( ot language for excommunication)?
     
  29. Herald

    Herald Moderator Staff Member

    You do understand what is meant by a regenerate church membership, right (see chapter 26 of our confession)? Baptists do not consider unconverted persons to be members of the body of Christ. Baptists do not deny that false professors are in the church (Jude), but they are not members of the invisible church (1689 LBC 26.1).
     
  30. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Many baptists argue poorly at this point, however, and insist that only the saved should be admitted into church membership.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page