Question on Republication

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Douglas P.

Puritan Board Freshman
For a while now I’ve been following the ‘republication’ debate. Just when I think I understand what is being said I read something new and feel lost again. So I’ve written, in outline fashion, what I understand republication covenant theology to be, and am wondering if I am understanding it correctly.

Pre fall:

- God made a Covenant of Works with Adam, as the representative for all of humanity.

- The Covenant of Works was the basis for God’s relationship with man, and how God expressed his goodness and promise of blessed reward to man.

- Although the Covenant of Works was the basis for God’s relationship with man, it was governed by the law. The law was the legal agreement, by which Adam was to obtain by his merit (merit here, is being defined as pactum merit) the reward.

- Adam broke the covenant by breaking the law by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thus losing any ability to obtain his blessed reward, incurring God’s wrath and plunging all of humanity into utter despair.

Post fall:

- Immediately after Adam’s sin, God establishes the Covenant of Grace with Adam and Eve in promise form. This promise is the Gospel.

- The Covenant of Grace is the temporal outworking of the eternal Covenant of Redemption.

- The Covenant of Redemption is the pretemporal Trinitarian agreement, whereby God promises to redeem the elect through salvation by the Son, Jesus Christ.

- Christ secures salvation for the elect by his active and passive obedience. Salvation for the elect is through faith alone, in Christ alone, and is entirely a gracious gift. This is the Gospel.

- The covenant of grace then, is the historical administration of the Gospel.

- The covenant of grace made with Adam is renewed with Abraham.

And this is where I get a little lost:

- The covenant made at Sinai, was not the renewal of the covenant of grace, instead it was the ‘typological republication’ of the pre fall covenant of works. The covenant made at Sinai, administered through Moses, was going to govern Israel’s retention of the land.

- During the Mosaic administration, the Gospel was still administered through the covenant of grace in the form of the promise made to Abraham. Thus the covenant made at Sinai was not a covenant kept by faith, but it was a covenant kept by obedience. The covenant made at Sinai was then a ‘layer’ to the covenant of grace.

- Christ came, and is the fulfillment of both the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants. He fulfilled the Abrahamic covenant by becoming the eschalogical reality of the promise and fulfilled the Mosaic covenant by fulfilling the requirements of the law for his people.

Am I on the right track, or have I gone astray somewhere? If I am on the right track, what are the major objections?
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Douglas,
Personally, I think you've articulated the issues very well for someone like me, who's not gotten deeply into the literature, but is listening to the discussions. I don't have anything to add to your analysis, but here are some thoughts on the topic.

I think MGKline pushed a dualism between the covenants of Abraham and Moses, which totally bifurcates the OT message--a major mistake, in my opinion. There is certainly a strong element of law and works in the Old Covenant, a "glory overlay" to it. The republication idea of a "layer" or a "level" goes too far, however. Yes, the people swore to "do their part" of the covenant; but it seems to me pushing the works principle too far leads inevitably to a dispensational-friendly view of the place of the sacrificial system, as a means of returning to the opening covenantal status quo.

In other words, understanding the Law as "on one level" being (in fact) a form of works-covenant thus approves of the deeply erroneous views the people came to have, until we arrive in Jesus' day, and the Pharisees have rendered the law completely "doable," in a formalistic and external way. Sure, they'd missed the point of the law, but they'd also succeeded in getting all out of the law that it was possible to get. I can hardly think of a bigger mistaken read of Jesus' judgment of the Jews of his day. Nor do I think that a correct reading of Paul, in Gal.3-4 for instance, bears out this kind of republication thesis.

The Mosaic administration was fundamentally concerned with the Covenant of Grace; missing this point misses its core message. It's the very missed message that brought on the judgment of God in the OT every time all the way to AD70, not simply a failure to live up to the law's formal requirements (including its provisions for covenant-restoration). It's in light of David's covenant, or most especially Jesus' (the New) covenant, that looking back over the whole fabric of the covenants that we recognize how we must analyze God's covenant-dealings with us in a richly textured manner.

David understood the Old Covenant aright, Ps.32:2. And so did many others down through the generations. But to say that the Pharisees, or anyone who viewed the Mosaic covenant through legalistic eyes, were "half-right" gives them credit they don't deserve. By missing the telos or end of the law, they missed the meaning of Moses entirely.

Paul tells us why the Old Covenant had a "glory-overlay" that covered Abraham's promises, 2Cor.3, especially vv7-16. It was given to veil, to BLIND the eyes of many reprobates in Israel, lest they should turn and be healed. The legalities, beside functioning as a kind of severe discipline for the people, were intended to drive the people to the sacrifices in desperate need for the hope the sacrifices pointed unto--not as a resource for returning to the status quo. This is the import of Heb.9:6-7; 10:1,11; 7:27-28; 9:24-26; etc.

Affirming a two-track (layer/level) covenant model demonstrates the affinities of Kline's system with the Baptist's understanding of the relations between the covenants. It undermines the Reformed and Presbyterian understanding that emphasizes an internal/external dualism of a single covenant only. The overlap with the covenantal-Baptist is not complete; they push the dualistic nature of the covenant back into Abraham himself, creating "earthly" and "heavenly" covenants. But certainly in Moses, therefore, the bivalent scheme comports very well with Baptist perceptions. In Reformed/Presbyterian classic covenant-theology, the external emphasis of the Old Covenant, and it's blinding characteristics, accounts for the outward forms that took so much "work." The removal of that yoke in Christ is one of the great blessings of the current covenant.

But the yoke of Moses was not a covenant of works, as such.
 

Oecolampadius

Puritan Board Sophomore
Katekomen (the online journal of GPTS) has just posted a paper on this topic written by three GPTS students for their Systematic Theology class:

KLHORTONIAN THEOLOGY AND THE MOSAIC COVENANT

This is not to say that I agree with everything that the authors say in their paper. I have yet to read The Law is Not of Faith. Nevertheless, I find it remarkable that the authors appear to share one of the main concerns that I have with regards to "Klhortonianism" (I prefer "Kline-Horton" even though it's longer), which is that the "Law/Gospel distinction" seems to be overemphasized. I have previously pointed out elsewhere that the Lutherans themselves had warned against such an overemphasis because it could lead to Antinomianism. The authors attribute this to Klhorton's Two Kingdom theology, which, In my humble opinion, was not given ample treatment in the paper.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
But the yoke of Moses was not a covenant of works, as such.

Very helpful, Bruce.

Since the covenant with Adam is the archetypal CoW, the Mosaic Covenant to be a RoCoW, would have had to offer eternal salvation - as with Adam - on perfect or partial obedience to the Mosaic Covenant, which it didn't.

The Mosaic Covenant if it was a real RoCoW, would also have had to throw the Israelites onto their own spiritual resources, if not for personal salvation - which thankfully the Republicationists deny - at least for their national salvation.

But in reality the national salvation of Israel depended on grace working faith and obedience in thousands of sinful individual Israelites who had already broken the CoW in Adam. That shouldn't/can't be called a RoCoW.

The revelation of Law/Torah/instruction is full of Gospel and is an advance on the revelation that Abraham had. It was by looking in faith to the Gospel revealed in the Torah rather than by trying to keep the ethics of the Torah in their own strength - as was increasingly the case in the Pharisaical streak from after the time of Ezra - that individual Israelites would know justification, adoption and sanctification, and that the nation as a whole would avoid disaster under the Assyrians, Babylonians and Romans.
 
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Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Rich,
To be fair, they do call the land-inheritance a typological inheritance. Canaan (in one sense) is a type of heaven/eternity. Staying in the land forever (as a corporate body) was the promise. We infer a better permanent status was Adam's hope, if he passed probation. I'm not sure there's a "correlate" to a further hope buried in the types.
 

Sola Fide

Puritan Board Freshman
I too have been scratching my head trying to understand these debates...

Bruce, your note that some have “pushed a dualism between the covenants of Abraham and Moses” strikes a chord. I have profited much from contemporary writers on the Law-Gospel distinction, I believe it is a vital one. But maybe a mistake that is sometimes made is to equate the CoW with the law, and the CoG with the gospel. I wonder if this lies behind viewing the Mosaic covenant as a RoCoW. But rather we can see the law as fulfilling a function within the CoG. I think Witsius calls the law an “instrument” of the covenant (of grace) - and this is true in all its administrations.
 

Douglas P.

Puritan Board Freshman
I think MGKline pushed a dualism between the covenants of Abraham and Moses, which totally bifurcates the OT message--a major mistake, in my opinion. There is certainly a strong element of law and works in the Old Covenant, a "glory overlay" to it. The republication idea of a "layer" or a "level" goes too far, however. Yes, the people swore to "do their part" of the covenant; but it seems to me pushing the works principle too far leads inevitably to a dispensational-friendly view of the place of the sacrificial system, as a means of returning to the opening covenantal status quo.

Rev. Buchanan, can you elaborate for me the problem of holding a “dispensational-friendly view of the place of the sacrificial system”.

Would you argue that the sacrificial system is the Gospel contained in the law? (I ask this out of ignorance of dispensationalism, and Reformed Presbyterianism for that matter, and how it handles the sacrificial system)


In other words, understanding the Law as "on one level" being (in fact) a form of works-covenant thus approves of the deeply erroneous views the people came to have, until we arrive in Jesus' day, and the Pharisees have rendered the law completely "doable," in a formalistic and external way. Sure, they'd missed the point of the law, but they'd also succeeded in getting all out of the law that it was possible to get. I can hardly think of a bigger mistaken read of Jesus' judgment of the Jews of his day. Nor do I think that a correct reading of Paul, in Gal.3-4 for instance, bears out this kind of republication thesis.

But isn’t the Law “doable”, not by fallen man of course, but by Christ? Wouldn’t we say that Christ ‘did’ the Law? Or am I missing something here?


This brings me to some broader questions. I ask these questions as someone who holds to republication, namely out of ignorance of other views, as it’s how I learned covenant theology. I am very eager however, to be taught more. So here we go:

1) Do we agree that Adam was created and put in the Garden from the outflow of God’s goodness?

2) And do we agree that he was to stay in paradise, as well as receive all future blessing (or curses) based solely on his obedience to the law?

3) And the reason we call this relationship a Covenant of Works, is because Adam’s relationship with God was both governed by, and to be judged by, the law?

4) Do we also agree that Israel was given the land from the outflow of God’s goodness and grace?

5) And do we agree that Israel was to retain and inhabit that land based on their obedience to the Law?

6) So why wouldn’t we say, in some sense or on some level, that Israel’s relationship with God was governed by a Covenant of Works?

I see problems with what I’ve laid out above, but I also find problems when I try and formulate it differently. Namely, if Israel wasn’t going to retain the land through obedience, then what other principle is active?

(As a side note, I greatly appreciate all of the constructive criticism. I would argue that the confusion by most of us on this issue has to do with heated rhetoric obfuscating what are most likely brilliant arguments. I’m just unable to see them clearly through such dense heat.)
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
On your first question.
1) Do we agree that Adam was created and put in the Garden from the outflow of God’s goodness?

There is a difference between the Covenant laid out before Adam than the Mosaic. The Pre-lapsarian Covenant made with Adam had no promise of grace. It was based upon merit and fulfillment.
(Rom 4:4) Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
In Adam we all die.

Some try to make the CofW one of grace proving God was gracious in his condescending toward man. But the CofW was not one of grace. The one act of sin killed all without any hope.

The Mosaic is an administration of the Covenant of Grace in that even when sin was committed it gave long suffering (patience), possibility of repentance, God's calling for the sinful to repent, and a sacrificial system that pointed to Christ and the covering of sin. Even when the people forfeited their right to the inheritance of the land God used their exile to call them back to repentance, reconciliation, and restoration. He disciplined them as sons. The CofW never never never did that. The Covenant of Grace always does. That is why the Mosaic is not a republication of the CofW. It is a restatement of God's Character and a revealer of sin. It is a tutor, govenor, to bring us to Christ and a revealer of how we are to live. The Covenant of Works never never did that in a gracious way. It only killed when the first act of defiance was made.

(Gal 4:1) Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;

(Gal 4:2) But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.

(Gal 4:3) Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:

(Gal 4:4) But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

(Gal 4:5) To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

(Gal 4:6) And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

Does that help a little?
 

Douglas P.

Puritan Board Freshman
Some try to make the CofW one of grace proving God was gracious in his condescending toward man. But the CofW was not one of grace. The one act of sin killed all without any hope.

I am with you on this point, which I why I was careful to leave out the word grace in my first question. I too would argue that grace (narrowly defined) was not necessary in the Covenant of Works with Adam.


The Mosaic is an administration of the Covenant of Grace in that even when sin was committed it gave long suffering (patience), possibility of repentance, God's calling for the sinful to repent, and a sacrificial system that pointed to Christ and the covering of sin. Even when the people forfeited their right to the inheritance of the land God used their exile to call them back to repentance, reconciliation, and restoration. He disciplined them as sons. The CofW never never never did that. The Covenant of Grace always does. That is why the Mosaic is not a republication of the CofW. It is a restatement of God's Character and a revealer of sin. It is a tutor, govenor, to bring us to Christ and a revealer of how we are to live. The Covenant of Works never never did that in a gracious way. It only killed when the first act of defiance was made.

This is helpful, thank you.

Here’s where I am still stuck. When I think of God’s grace towards me personally, in terms of my relationship to Him in Christ through the Covenant of Grace, I think of this relationship as unbreakable because Christ both accomplished everything that is required of me by God and because Christ bore the penalty due to me because of my sin.

I am not trying to imply that you believe or are saying anything different than what I have said above. But my understanding is that God’s grace towards me is grace because someone else has done something in my place, and is solely on the basis of another person’s obedience and not my own. In other words it’s grace, and not works, because I’m not an active participant, or the ‘doer’, in the covenant relationship. Instead I’m a passive ‘receiver’ of Christ’s ‘doing’.

My understanding of Jeremiah 31:32, “not like the covenant that I made with their fathers… my covenant that they broke” is that the Sinai covenant could be broken. If the Mosaic covenant was only a gracious covenant, then how did they break it?
 

CIT

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
could you explain what you mean by grace narrowly defined?

I ask because Owen would say that the CoW does have grace in it, because anytime that God interracts with man grace is involved. I am thinking you may be defining grace differently.
 

Douglas P.

Puritan Board Freshman
could you explain what you mean by grace narrowly defined?

Grace narrowly defined is (for me at least) something additional, which we were not created with, that is necessary to remain in a relationship with God (namely someone else’s righteousness). You could call it Grace with a capital G. This is the sort of Grace I am seeing active in the Covenant of Grace.

Adam, prior to the fall, had everything necessary to remain in a covenantal relationship with God, Adam did not need Grace (as defined above).

This is not to say that God wasn’t gracious to Adam prior to the fall in the sense that God gave Adam all that was necessary and then some.
 

CIT

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
could you explain what you mean by grace narrowly defined?

Grace narrowly defined is (for me at least) something additional, which we were not created with, that is necessary to remain in a relationship with God (namely someone else’s righteousness). You could call it Grace with a capital G. This is the sort of Grace I am seeing active in the Covenant of Grace.

Adam, prior to the fall, had everything necessary to remain in a covenantal relationship with God, Adam did not need Grace (as defined above).

This is not to say that God wasn’t gracious to Adam prior to the fall in the sense that God gave Adam all that was necessary and then some.

Thanks for clearing this up for me.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
My understanding of Jeremiah 31:32, “not like the covenant that I made with their fathers… my covenant that they broke” is that the Sinai covenant could be broken. If the Mosaic covenant was only a gracious covenant, then how did they break it?


I believe they were able to break it because they were baptized into Moses whether they were regenerate or not. They were also baptized into a Covenant that was an administration of the Covenant of Grace. It was a type and not the anti-type. Those who were baptized into Moses were graced by the giving of the oracles of God. Those who were capable of breaking it were the ones who didn't receive it with the like precious faith of Abraham but sought to fulfill it by their own righteousness as Romans 10 declares or they were just very sinful and loved this world's pleasures more than Christ as 1 Corinthians 10 states.


(1Co 10:1) Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;

(1Co 10:2) And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;

(1Co 10:3) And did all eat the same spiritual meat;

(1Co 10:4) And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

(1Co 10:5) But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

(1Co 10:6) Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

(1Co 10:7) Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

(1Co 10:8) Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.

(1Co 10:9) Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.

(1Co 10:10) Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.

(1Co 10:11) Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

(1Co 10:12) Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.


(Rom 9:3) For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:

(Rom 9:4) Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;

(Rom 9:5) Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.


(Rom 10:1) Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

(Rom 10:2) For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

(Rom 10:3) For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

(Rom 10:4) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

(Rom 10:5) For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.

(Rom 10:6) But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)

I agree with you that the New Covenant is unbreakable if we are in true Union with Christ. It was the same for those who were truly regenerate in the Old Covenant also. But they who were regenerate had the same precious faith as Father Abraham which is described in Romans chapter 4.

Have I muddied up the waters any better? They were baptized into Moses. We are baptized into Christ. From type to Anti-type
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
could you explain what you mean by grace narrowly defined?

Grace narrowly defined is (for me at least) something additional, which we were not created with, that is necessary to remain in a relationship with God (namely someone else’s righteousness). You could call it Grace with a capital G. This is the sort of Grace I am seeing active in the Covenant of Grace.

Adam, prior to the fall, had everything necessary to remain in a covenantal relationship with God, Adam did not need Grace (as defined above).

This is not to say that God wasn’t gracious to Adam prior to the fall in the sense that God gave Adam all that was necessary and then some.

Some people will not like using the word "grace" about God's relations with Man before he sinned. The word "grace" can be used, as long as it is understood that it is God's bountiful goodness, not to a sinner who has demerited God's goodness but, to an innocent, holy and righteous man.

The danger is that the use of the word grace in connection with the CoW leads to confusion, and a monocovenantalism that does not distinguish between the CoW and CoG and denies human merit in Adam or Christ.

God having created Adam, and being a righteous God, had a "duty of care" to Adam because of God's commitment to His own good, holy and righteous character. E.g. He could not immerse Adam in Hell without good reason.

The fact is that the terms of the CoW went beyond the duty of care that God had to, and guaranteed Adam, by virtue of Who He is. Adam and Eve - and all their children - were offered something more than this, indeed the possibility of being raised above the angels (Psalm 8).

I would prefer to call it God's wonderful and bountiful goodness to pre-Fall Man, and reserve the word "grace" for God's wonderful and bountiful goodness to those that deserve the opposite of goodness.

---------- Post added at 08:36 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:09 PM ----------

My understanding of Jeremiah 31:32, “not like the covenant that I made with their fathers… my covenant that they broke” is that the Sinai covenant could be broken. If the Mosaic covenant was only a gracious covenant, then how did they break it?

Gracious covenants can be broken even by true believers, at least in their outward, visible, and legal aspect. E.g. if a believer commits certain gross sins against the 10C he can come under church sanctions and be prevented from partaking of the Lord's Supper. If he/she is a true believer they are not lost, but there is a sense in which they have - hopefullly temporarily - broken the covenant in an outward, visible and legal way, and it is correct that the church deal with them in the way that such sins are meant to be dealt with in the CoG. The provision for most sin in the CoG does not involve such dealings with the session and/or the congregation ( e.g. Matthew 18).

The Old Covenant and its typological husk was tested to destruction by the Israelites as a whole, and as a nation. This was shown by the fact that God split the nation in two, allowed the Assyrians to remove the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and allowed the Babylonians to remove the Southern Kingdom (Judah). Later after a long period of Pharasaic legalism - the opposite spiritual error to the blatant idolatry of the pre-Exilic period - and the rejection of the Messiah, God deemed that the Jews had broken the Covenant enough that they deserved exile under the Romans.

It would only have been by grace that the Israelites/Jews would have kept the Old Covenant by not reaching such a level of wickedness that God would have spared them division, the Assyrians, the Babylonians and the Romans.

With the New Covenant, although individuals, congregations and denominations do break the Covenant in the sense outlined above, God's true people are not ultimately lost. God's true people were not ultimately lost under the Old Covenant either, but God in Christ is committed to His New Covenant and His Church in such a way that He will not allow it to be broken or destroyed, as long as this World stands, as long as He continues tio fulfill His purposes through it, and into eternity.

The old wineskins/typological husk of the babyhood Church has been tested to destruction, broken, and dispensed with by God, but the lessons remain for the New Covenant Israel of God, the adult Church.
 

discipulo

Puritan Board Junior
I read most of the articles of The Law is not of Faith, again the so called Republication of the CoW is not a novelty on Covenant Theology,

I just recall reading Witsius affirming it, but never in the sense of a reinstauration of the CoW to the individual. In the that all Reformed

agree that the Mosaic Covenant is also an Administration of the CoG, for example Atonement for Sin was typified in the Tabernacle / Temple offerings.

The CoW is recalled as Israel, as a typological son, as Adam was also a figure of the second Adam, went trough CSER - Creation - Sin -Exile - Restoration

to use Roy Ciampa's redemptive history scheme - being the promised land a type both of the Consumation of the Kingdom and a remembrance of

the Prelapsarian Edenic Temple - the Temple and the Church Mission by Beale is also very illuminating on this subject.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
I read most of the articles of The Law is not of Faith, again the so called Republication of the CoW is not a novelty on Covenant Theology,

It's not a novelty.

There are a lot of views on what it is or may be, including a hypothetical RoCoW, which would not be a RoCoW, because it would not be a real RoCoW.

Even those who advocate a "real" RoCoW e.g. Horton, are advocating something so different from the CoW, that they should find another name for it instead of "the RoCoW" to avoid Covenantal and general theological confusion.

A real RoCoW would be where God offered the Israelites eternal salvation on the basis of their own good works without His saving grace in the Gospel.

Did He even offer them tenure in the Land on that basis?

No, because as sinful creatures and breakers of the CoW in Adam they had to look to His grace to make them right with Him i.e. justify them, and to help them obey the Ten Commandments and avoid idolatry or Pharasaism, so that they didn't become collectively so wicked that God judged them under the hand of other nations.

The Israelites needed God's grace in the Gospel to save them as individuals and they needed God's grace in the Gospel to save them as a nation, instead of which they spurned God's grace collectively - apart from a Remnant - and followed (to a large extent) idolatry in the pre-Exilic period, and followed (to a large extent) Pharasaism in the post-Exilic period.
 
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PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
I read most of the articles of The Law is not of Faith, again the so called Republication of the CoW is not a novelty on Covenant Theology,

I understand what you are saying. But as your third statement after this affirms it is an administration of the Covenant of Grace. Some are putting too much emphasis on the law not being of faith and one that kills. The Mosaic can not do something that has already happened to us once in Adam. It might reveal the deadness of our situation but it is not a redo. I still hold to some of the ideas of a republication but I think the understanding of republication is terribly scewed and misunderstood today. I had a poor understanding of it for many years. I am just recovering from that poor understanding thanks to some good men of God and their patience with this Particular Baptist.
 

Oecolampadius

Puritan Board Sophomore
How could there not be a sense of novelty in all of this when, as Mark Jones points out, the authors of TLNF are obviously influenced by Meredith Kline, whose thesis on covenant theology is influenced by George Mendenhall?

The following quote is from Mark Jones' review of TLNF.

Finally, considering the general trajectory of this book, TLNF lacks a chapter that could shed some important light on this discussion, namely, the influence of George Mendenhall on Meredith Kline—and perhaps Kline's obvious influence on many of the authors—with regard to Ancient Near-Eastern (ANE) Suzerain treaties. In short, Kline, following Mendenhall's research, argued that there are essentially two types of covenants: law covenants and promise covenants. In this schema, Sinai, particularly Deuteronomy, represents a "law covenant" on account of its striking parallels with ANE suzerain treaty formats. This covenant is almost always conditional, often involving curses upon those who fail to fulfill the terms of the covenant. Juxtaposed to this type of covenant is the Abrahamic covenant, which is an unconditional promise covenant that is modeled on a royal grant. Michael Horton, for example, follows this line of demarcation in several of his own works on the covenant. However, ANE scholars are raising many objections to Mendenhall's thesis. Recently Dr. Noel Weeks, an expert in ANE culture, has shown that both Mendenhall's and Kline's work is not without a number of serious problems, especially in the area of methodology. If the authors, particularly the editors, of TLNF wish to continue this discussion regarding the place and function of Sinai in redemptive history, they will need to reckon with the arguments of scholars like Weeks who, in my opinion, subject Mendenhall's and Kline's methodology to devastating critique.

Anyone who has read the first three chapters of Michael Horton's Introducing Covenant Theology knows that what Mark Jones is saying is true.

"The last century of scholarship has helped to strengthen the traditional Reformed homage to the covenantal motif. In the mid-twentieth century, George E. Mendenhall, consolidating a number of studies by others, demonstrated the remarkable parallels between the Hebrew Scriptures (i.e., Old Testament) and ancient Near Eastern (i.e., secular) treaties." Michael Horton, Introducing Covenant Theology, p.11
[emphasis mine]

Now, here's a question that Mark Jones raised which I believe is crucial to this issue:

4. In relation to Kline's dependence upon Mendenhall, and Horton's dependence upon them both, can we divide biblical covenants up into two categories of law covenants (e.g., Sinai) and promise covenants (e.g., Abrahamic)? How reliable is Mendenhall's methodology?
 
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Douglas P.

Puritan Board Freshman
The Israelites needed God's grace in the Gospel to save them as individuals and they needed God's grace in the Gospel to save them as a nation, instead of which they spurned God's grace collectively - apart from a Remnant - and followed (to a large extent) idolatry in the pre-Exilic period, and followed (to a large extent) Pharasaism in the post-Exilic period.

Richard, are you saying, hypothetically speaking, that had Israel believed the Gospel, that they would have stayed in the land? If so, how would this have worked, in light of a passage such as Gal 3:12?
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.(Galatians 3:12)

But did not the Israelites/Jews in the Old Covenant period who had saving faith not seek to observe God's law by faith?

It was those who sought to observe the law without saving faith that failed and led Israel into idolatry in the pre-Exilic period and legalism in the post-Exilic period.

The man that doeth them shall live in them.

This is a quote from a tributary passage in the Pentateuch, Leviticus 18:6. It is not at the head of the Mosaic Covenant. It is particularly appropriate for the material it is dealing with, because some of the practices listed in Leviticus 18 are inimical to physical life, having healthy children, and inimical to happy and healthy families. Observing the law - from various motives - can have benefits for this life, which point to the eternal benefits of being right with God and thus living according to His statutes.

The Apostle Paul, appropriately uses this passage to illustrate the difference between the CoG mentality and the CoW mentality. Those who seek salvation by observing ethical principles are excluding saving faith and would at most enjoy the temporary benefits of doing so.

The Judaisers clinging to the Mosaic law - now that Christ had come - and their message of Christ plus circumcision, etc, showed that they had not understood the momentous changes brought by the coming of Christ and that they were still not relying on Him solely for salvation.

If someone carefully observed all the Mosaic law - before Christ had come - this would not indicate that they were unbelievers, but a genuine love for the Torah would be the result of faith.

If so, how would this have worked, in light of a passage such as Gal 3:12?

I agree with Horton this much, that God wasn't looking for perfect obedience on the part of the Israelites, before He put them out of the Land. Both the Old and New Covenants make provision for sin. Under the Old Covenant you had to breach the 10C flagrantly before you were denied a typological sacrifice and excommunication by execution kicked in. This was probably relatively rare since the level of proof necessary was also very high.

The Israelites had to reach a certain level of wickedness - collectively - before they were put out of the Land. This wasn't a RoCoW, but a graciously given typological teaching aid to an under age Church that needed it.

The excommunication by death penalty and the threat of exile, collectively, from the Land, taught them about God's wrath, about Hell - being excluded from God's blessed presence - and encouraged them to flee to Christ revealed in the ceremonial law.

In the New Covenant we no longer have typological teaching aids because all types have fallen away, yet we still learn from the OT lessons in those types, just as an adult puts away his/her toys and reading and writing books, but still uses what has been learnt every day. So it is with the Israel of God.

Even in the New Covenant, when we're not under the babyhood system of Moses, there are however conditions - e.g. church sanctions come into play at certain points - to remaing visibly in the Covenant of Grace and the Church. Also God can withdraw His presence or send chastisements. But we don't call the New Covenant a "RoCoW".
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I heard it on the WHI--a show I love to listen to, a great show, with great hosts--(but so you know I didn't make it up) what I attributed to the strong-form of the Repub. CoW position: namely that "the Pharisees were RIGHT!" in significant ways relative to the law, that they really understood Moses covenant, provided it was considered outwardly. Their fastidiousness and meticulousness proved they rightly understood the law as an works-covenant. They had cracked the code, so to speak, on legal accomplishments. Horton seems to affirm that when that man says, "all these I have kept since childhood," this is a legally accurate statement from the man, that outwardly (though not in his heart) he had positively met the law's demands.

This, to me, seems to underscore precisely the opposite of Jesus' points against the Pharisees: namely that they were so WRONG about the law, and their treatment of it. Jesus even tells them they've all broken the law (in fact) so they can keep their traditions. The Pharisees weren't such great law-keepers, even externally. St.Paul was a FOOL when he once credited himself with "blamelessly" keeping the law. I don't think for a moment he believes (now) that in the former days he was actually perfect in legal terms--only that by their own man-made standards that he lived by, he was in the first rank.

Paul doesn't only indict the hearts of the Jews, in Rom.2; he attacks their activities as sinful. They sin because all men are sinners; they do not keep a clean slate. And in the end, no one escapes the condemnation. The appeal to heart-disobedience is only the beginning of conviction, for those who have foolishly convinced themselves that they are so disciplined they never sin outwardly. Its a bunch of nonsense. And once the blinders come off, one sees his sin everywhere and often, not simply from dedicated introspection.

Was there a covenant-of-works "motif" to the Old Covenant? Absolutely. And in that sense, the CoW was "republished" as it was connected to the ethico-religio conduct of the people. But the law was also given in the context of the great salvation-event of the OT; and that connection is not to be clouded in favor of a reified typology. It is just as important to recognize that the moral law is given as the rule of love, and is the guide of the thankful, redeemed heart from its Siniatic origin.

Furthermore, the sacrificial system is one, long, illustration of grace through substitutionary atonement. There are two sides to the lesson of the altar as well. There's work, and a return to status quo ante; but to see the death for what it really is one would have to recognize the message of the Promise in those things, and (as Hebrews points out) the interminable quality of the offerings called out for an ideal antitype.

In other words, it is an impossible task to disentangle (for the purpose of compartmentalizing) the legal and spiritual, works and grace principles of the Mosaic economy. How convenient if only grace would stay confined in Abraham's covenant, and works ran freely and exclusively all over the Mosaic. But it just isn't that easy. And the Pharisees did not have the right idea of legal merits, and certainly did not have a (true) handle on the law, even if we granted "substance" to the typological. They were as mixed up (albeit in a different way) as the people were in Jeremiah's day. The latter were about priestly cult, with almost no regard for ethics. The Pharisees were all about ethics and ceremonies, and were less concerned for priestly cult.
 

Douglas P.

Puritan Board Freshman
I think I'm starting to get it. So is it fair to say the following;

1) Israel's retention of the land was governed by their obedience to the Law

2) But! This obedience was impossible if Israel did not first believe God, and have faith in the One whom the Law was pointing to.

3) So the problem of calling the Mosaic Covenant a republication of the Covenant of Works, is that it could insinuate that Israel, like Adam, had an ability to keep the Covenant without Grace (as narrowly defined in #12). Also, that it misses the point that without faith in Christ, the keeping of the Law was going to be impossible.
 
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Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
I don't see how those that hold to RoCoW can avoid positing a bifurcation in the hearts of the (godly) Israelites. On the one hand they were looking by faith to the grace of God for personal justification and sanctification.

On the other hand they were to look to their own resources for national temporal salvation (?) But secure tenure in the Land was a type of Heaven, so it would be quite wrong of the Israelites to seek it (and what it pointed to) by the keeping of the works of the law.

Quote from Bruce
Rich,
To be fair, they do call the land-inheritance a typological inheritance. Canaan (in one sense) is a type of heaven/eternity. Staying in the land forever (as a corporate body) was the promise. We infer a better permanent status was Adam's hope, if he passed probation. I'm not sure there's a "correlate" to a further hope buried in the types.

Of course the types of God's favour and Heaven and the types of God's wrath and Hell, being shadowy types, were less than perfect.

E.g. Some people that were going to Heaven like Daniel and Ezekiel were removed from the Land. Maybe some true believers were excommunicated by temporary exile or execution from the Land. And maybe some unbelievers prospered in the Land.
 
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Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Douglas,
I do want to acknowledge that this is an intramural debate. There are arguments for the other position, and I don't want to imply that those who see the issue that way are somehow being dishonest in their formulations.

My attitude is that drawing a bright-line between the Mosaic-covenant and the Covenant of Grace is not the best way to defend a "republication" idea. demanding a two-teir system, where the lower register is law, and the upper register is grace, Moses and Abraham, is a formula fraught with error.
 

mvdm

Puritan Board Junior
Douglas,
I do want to acknowledge that this is an intramural debate. There are arguments for the other position, and I don't want to imply that those who see the issue that way are somehow being dishonest in their formulations.

My attitude is that drawing a bright-line between the Mosaic-covenant and the Covenant of Grace is not the best way to defend a "republication" idea. demanding a two-teir system, where the lower register is law, and the upper register is grace, Moses and Abraham, is a formula fraught with error.

If the evidence shows the Klinean republicationists are closer to the Lutheran or Amyraldian positions on the Mosaic covenant vis a vis majority Reformed position, I would suggest this is not an"intramural" debate.
 

Oecolampadius

Puritan Board Sophomore
If the evidence shows the Klinean republicationists are closer to the Lutheran or Amyraldian positions on the Mosaic covenant vis a vis majority Reformed position, I would suggest this is not an"intramural" debate.

It's interesting that you mentioned the Amyraldian position. I was reading a paper by Peter Wallace yesterday, ‎"The Doctrine of the Covenant in the Elenctic Theology of Francis Turretin" and I came across this:

Cameron, the teacher of Amyraut, had introduced the idea that the Sinaitic covenant was distinct from the covenant of nature and the covenant of grace. Amyraut adapted and developed this in his threefold scheme (see above). Admitting that the Sinaitic covenant was different in dispensation, Turretin rejects the notion that it is different in substance on three grounds: (1) Scripture only allows for two covenants: the legal and the evangelical; (2) there are only two scriptural ways to obtain happiness: by works or by faith; and (3) the Sinaitic covenant declares itself to be a covenant of grace.

There's a footnote just right after the last sentence which says:
Turretin, XII.xii.1-9, appealing to Deut. 7:11-12; 29:10-13.

Even though I have yet to read Turretin's Institutes of Elenctic Theology, I think it would be good to study how he defends the unity of the Postlapsarian covenants as the various administrations of the Covenant of Grace. (This reminds me of Van Til: "unity in diversity")
 
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