Republication Debate

Status
Not open for further replies.

Weston Stoler

Puritan Board Sophomore
So my presbytery is going through a bit of a republication discussion. I'm a republication guy myself; however, that's mostly because I don't have another view in mind. Could someone give me some anti-republication links or sources? Or maybe explain your view of republication?

Hopefully if discussion does come up a civil discussion can be had as I know some people get worked up over the issue.
 

JSauer

Puritan Board Freshman
Randy---I read your blog and I was curious about the charge that R Scott Clark "...is Lutheran instead of Reformed"

Is this really a valid charge? Just believing that there was a merit aspect of Israel staying in the land doesn't make a Lutheran.

I understand the importance of this, but it seems a bit overstated. Why so vehemently opposed to these guys?

What is this sinister underbelly of believing that Israel was exiled because of their behavior?
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
I was remarking about his view of the Mosaic being a mixed Covenant of Works and Grace instead of purely an administration of the Covenant of Grace. I believe his position is notably more of a Lutheran Theology than a Presbyterian Reformed Theology. I am not opposed to the position being a viable theological position. I just don't believe it is good Confessional Presbyterian theology. I hope that helps.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Watch the video I posted above Jesse. It discusses the merit issues in a very good precise way. And yes, there are varying theologies of what is meant by Republication of the Covenant of Works. Kline meant one thing. John Owen meant one thing. Samuel Bolton and John Cameron had various understandings. Clark seems to have a modified Klinean position. From what I have seen and read in the past few years it seems the terminologies have been tightened up a bit. And that is a good thing.

As far as how these teaching effect one's Christian life, it seems to have influenced people in different ways and in how they relate to others ecclesiastically, politically, and even concerning the doctrine of sanctification in the believers life. But those are all rabbit trails from the original OP and maybe as this topic is discussed more light will be shed on these topics.

I probably should personally take a back seat on most of these discussions at this time and let others hash it out. I hope the up coming discussions shed more light than cause heated angry responses. I know that I have had to have a few attitude adjustments when discussing these issues. These issues have been trying to my sanctification. And I know I have tried others. May the Lord grant us much grace. I am grateful that the OPC is recognizing there are issues here. I am praying for them as they consider what to look into and how to proceed. I personally know this is a confessional issue and something is amiss. I first started looking into the issue going on three years ago. http://www.puritanboard.com/f30/kline-karlburg-not-confessional-concerning-mosaic-69258/
 

JSauer

Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you-- I deleted my post because I didn't want to hijack this thread. But thank you for you response.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Randy---I read your blog and I was curious about the charge that R Scott Clark "...is Lutheran instead of Reformed"

Is this really a valid charge? Just believing that there was a merit aspect of Israel staying in the land doesn't make a Lutheran.

I understand the importance of this, but it seems a bit overstated. Why so vehemently opposed to these guys?

What is this sinister underbelly of believing that Israel was exiled because of their behavior?

Israel was exiled for her sinful behaviour, but she could only hold secure tenure in the Land as the gracious reward of works produced through grace.

Since the CoW was broken in the Garden it is true that sinners are still liable to the sanction of punishment, but can only attain to the sanction of reward by grace, not works.

The Republicationists posit sinful Israelites being placed under a renewed CoW by which they could attain to the sanction of reward. But how could they? They were sinners?

It was indeed possible for them, being sinners, to receive the sanction of punishment in the form of banishment, pointing to eternal banishment from God's Kingdom. They just had to neglect God's grace proferred to them in the Covenant of Grace - effectively and truly neglecting the CoG, even although they were under its administration.

Before the exile to Assyria and Babylon they neglected the CoG for blatant idolatry.

Before the Diaspora they neglected the CoG for a sinful attempt to observe the CoW on their own terms.

Both ended in judgment being meted in them, as those who neglect and despise God'.s grace have never truly entered into the life of the CoG and will be judged as those still under the CoW who have also despised grace.

The Republication thesis posits that the Israelites had to seek their personal salvation by grace, while at the same time, seek secure and happy tenure in the land by works. Yer secure and happy tenure in the Land was a type of Heaven which we obtain by grace through faith, with additional rewards and benefits being graciously given to us by God for good works produced by His grace.

The Republication thesis is hopelessly confused and confusing, not least if an ancient Israelite was having to live under this bi-furcated "word" from God.

Sent from my HTC Wildfire using Tapatalk 2
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
It all comes down to what you argue is actually "republished". Our confession is clear that the moral law as "a perfect rule of righteousness" was republished at Sinai. But the covenant at Sinai was part of the covenant of grace, "I am the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt..."

Part of the problem in this debate is not the republication debate itself, but a debate over the actual definition of the covenant of works. Traditionally, the covenant of works was an extra promise/demand upon Adam added to the moral law he was created to follow as God's image. In the covenant of grace, the moral law continues as the standard of righteousness for those being renewed in God's image. It's curse and condemnation and promise of life are satisfied by the work of Christ on our behalf, but the moral law continues as the standard of righteousness, showing disciples how we love and obey our Father and grow in Christ-likeness.

But some today, if I am understanding them correctly, are redefining the moral law to intrinsically include the meritorious promise of life, and calling that redefined moral law the covenant of works, rather than treating the promise of life/reward as something extra added to the standard by God's voluntary condescension. Thus, when Christ fulfills the covenant of works under this new scheme, not only is the condemnation removed and the promised fulfilled, but the standard of righteousness for believers is discarded as well being intrinsically tied to the promise of life.

It remains to be seen where this new trajectory will end up if it catches on.
 

mvdm

Puritan Board Junior
The Republication thesis posits that the Israelites had to seek their personal salvation by grace, while at the same time, seek secure and happy tenure in the land by works. Yer secure and happy tenure in the Land was a type of Heaven which we obtain by grace through faith, with additional rewards and benefits being graciously given to us by God for good works produced by His grace.

Good summary. Vocal proponent R. S. Clark recently acknowledged that it is fair to call this a scheme of congruent merit, but doesn't see the problem since it is not about meriting salvation.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
It's not by condign merit or by congruent merit that the works of believers are graciously rewarded, but by pactum "merit". In Christ, God covenants to reward His people far more than they deserve:-

This from Louis Berkhof's Systematic Theology
P.542: Scripture clearly teaches that the good works of believers are not meritorious in the proper sense of the word. We should bear in mind, however, that the word "merit" is employed in a twofold sense, the one strict and proper, and the other loose. Strictly speaking a meritorious work is one to which, on account of its intrinsic value and dignity, the reward is justly due from commutative justice. Loosely speaking, however, a work that is deserving of approval and to which a reward is somehow attached (by promise, agreement, or otherwise) is also sometimes called meritorious. Such works are praiseworthy and are rewarded by God. But however this may be, they are surely not meritorious in the stricty sense of the word. They do not, by their own intrinsic moral value, make God a debtor to him who performs them. In strict justice the good works of believers merit nothing.

Our entitlement to Heaven itself is by the condign (or rather more than condign) merit of Christ Himself.

See this thread on the meaning of congruent, condign and pactum merit:

http://www.puritanboard.com/f31/condign-congruent-pactum-merit-66235/
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
But some today, if I am understanding them correctly, are redefining the moral law to intrinsically include the meritorious promise of life, and calling that redefined moral law the covenant of works, rather than treating the promise of life/reward as something extra added to the standard by God's voluntary condescension. Thus, when Christ fulfills the covenant of works under this new scheme, not only is the condemnation removed and the promised fulfilled, but the standard of righteousness for believers is discarded as well being intrinsically tied to the promise of life.

Post-Fall we are still obliged to observe the law, and we are still open to the condemnation of the Curse, but the sancion of reward is out of reach without grace and Christ. That is true for those in the OT just like us. The Republicationists posit a renewed CoW with sinners at Sinai (the Sinai Covenant as they like to call it).

See Dabney's ST on how the CoW remains/changes in relation to Man after the Fall.
 

Weston Stoler

Puritan Board Sophomore
So are their any republication people on here? Am I considered non-confessional based on my republication leaning? I'm reading more articles so that could always change; however, is it considered a major issue in most presbyterian presbyteries.
 

JSauer

Puritan Board Freshman
It seems like the guys who hold to republication can't clearly explain what they mean by it and I don't think they all agree on all points. Ligon Duncan's RTS class on Covenant Theology helped me sort it out. He covers it pretty thoroughly. You can listen to just the 2 class sessions where he covers it if you don't want to commit to listening to the whole class.

I'm sure there are other consequences of holding to it, but it SEEMS like relaxing the normative use of the law is one practical outcomes. (Although I'm sure this doesn't apply to everyone) it's just where they place the emphasis on the law.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
So are their any republication people on here? Am I considered non-confessional based on my republication leaning? I'm reading more articles so that could always change; however, is it considered a major issue in most presbyterian presbyteries.

You can view previous threads on the topic. There have been different guys at various times arguing for Republicationism on the PB. Since the Republicationism thesis is often presented as Republicationism "in some sense", some of the senses may be held by non-Republicationists to be compatible with the WCF. Maybe someone could list the various "senses" and defend each one from Scripture in turn.

For instance the teaching that the law was presented to the Israelites as a CoW hypothetially to drive them to grace is not controversial. It is still, and should be, under the Gospel.

The sense that the Israelites had to earn the sanction of reward in the Land by their own good works without grace, while seeking personal salvation by grace through faith is pretty far out and confused and there's no hint of it in the WCF.

How seriously this teaching will be viewed will depend on the milieu you in and how it influences your view of the use of the law, including its civil use, and re thevtwo kingdoms debate.

I'm not in the American Reformed milieu but I sometimes wonder if people are over-reacting to FV and theonomy.

Sent from my HTC Wildfire using Tapatalk 2
 

mvdm

Puritan Board Junior
On congruent merit and false covenant theology:

Of course the medieval church had a sort of escape clause. While they said that to be justified one must do one’s part, one must cooperate with grace, one must be filled with condign merit, they also recognized that perfection does not usually happen in this life and thus they developed a doctrine of “congruent merit” whereby God is said to have promised to impute perfection to our best efforts. Some late medieval theologians spoke of a divine covenant: “To those who do what lies within themselves, God will not deny grace.” This was the sort of covenant theology that Luther was taught before he rebelled against the entire system of justification through sanctification.


The Protestant Reformers utterly rejected congruent merit and this false covenant theology. In its place they taught a covenant theology flowing from their doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. The Reformed covenant theology taught an eternal covenant between the Father and the Son, covenant of works before the fall, and a covenant of grace after the fall. Repeatedly, however, various forms of covenant moralism have resurrected the old congruent merit scheme. Even today some of our covenant moralists have resurrected the old congruent merit scheme. They recognize that our cooperation with grace is imperfect and thus, like the medieval theologians, they say that God has promised to impute perfection to our best efforts.
~ R.S. Clark, writing in context of the Federal Vision controversy.

So schemes of congruent merit were "utterly rejected" by the Reformers. But Klinean republication says it is resurrected for O.T. Israel for meriting retention of the land.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
But some today, if I am understanding them correctly, are redefining the moral law to intrinsically include the meritorious promise of life, and calling that redefined moral law the covenant of works, rather than treating the promise of life/reward as something extra added to the standard by God's voluntary condescension. Thus, when Christ fulfills the covenant of works under this new scheme, not only is the condemnation removed and the promised fulfilled, but the standard of righteousness for believers is discarded as well being intrinsically tied to the promise of life.

Post-Fall we are still obliged to observe the law, and we are still open to the condemnation of the Curse, but the sancion of reward is out of reach without grace and Christ. That is true for those in the OT just like us. The Republicationists posit a renewed CoW with sinners at Sinai (the Sinai Covenant as they like to call it).

See Dabney's ST on how the CoW remains/changes in relation to Man after the Fall.

I am not disagreeing with you. Just pointing out that the reason many are reinterpreting Sinai as a covenant of works is because they have a different working definition of the covenant of works and the moral law, one different than that articulated in our Confession. This especially comes out in some of their exegetical treatments of Sinai in the NT. Cornelius Venema's review of "the Law is Not of Faith" is very helpful in pointing out this departure from the historic confessional hermeneutic.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Patrick
I am not disagreeing with you. Just pointing out that the reason many are reinterpreting Sinai as a covenant of works is because they have a different working definition of the covenant of works and the moral law, one different than that articulated in our Confession. This especially comes out in some of their exegetical treatments of Sinai in the NT. Cornelius Venema's review of "the Law is Not of Faith" is very helpful in pointing out this departure from the historic confessional hermeneutic.

Thanks.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Patrick
Just pointing out that the reason many are reinterpreting Sinai as a covenant of works is because they have a different working definition of the covenant of works and the moral law, one different than that articulated in our Confession. This especially comes out in some of their exegetical treatments of Sinai in the NT. Cornelius Venema's review of "the Law is Not of Faith" is very helpful in pointing out this departure from the historic confessional hermeneutic.

Yes. I see Venema points out this important point between about pp. 60-63 of his paper.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top