Two Covenant scheme....again and presentation of Paedobaptism

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Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
For those who do not hold to the Covenant of Redemption in the paedo-scheme: Does your two-covenant view make it more difficult to see the federal principle (head representing his seed) with respect to believers and their children, and if not, could you please explain how?

For example, under the Covenant of Redemption scheme, it is easy to see that under the CoR, Christ represents His seed (the elect), while under the CoG, professing believers represent their seed (their children), and so both fall under the Covenant administration. But under the two-covenant scheme, it seems like this is obscured a bit. Christ is the head of the CoG and represents His seed (the elect), but it is harder to see the same principle applying to professing believers and their children because there is no other covenant for a professing believer to be the head of.
 
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PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
In both situations, no matter what, the head of the woman is man. So I guess I don't understand your question. Christ is the Head of the Covenant of Grace in either situation.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
I just have a simple question to ask. I wasn't really sure where to put this because it appears I caused a little trouble last time that I didn't mean to cause by posting in the "paedo-only" forum when I could have posted it elsewhere (and it may have been more appropriate posting it where it is now), but at the same time, this question appears to only have to do with paedobaptist thought. =/

My question for those who do not hold to the Covenant of Redemption in the paedo-scheme: Does your two-covenant view make it more difficult to see the federal principle (head representing his seed) with respect to believers and their children, and if not, could you please explain how?

For example, under the Covenant of Redemption scheme, it is easy to see that under the CoR, Christ represents His seed (the elect), while under the CoG, professing believers represent their seed (their children), and so both fall under the Covenant administration. But under the two-covenant scheme, it seems like this is obscured a bit. Christ is the head of the CoG and represents His seed (the elect), but it is harder to see the same principle applying to professing believers and their children because there is no other covenant for a professing believer to be the head of.


I realize this isn't exactly the **most** important issue around, but it is something I've been wondering about for a little while. Right now, there are things I like about both systems. I tried using the search function and found many threads on this, so sorry if this question was asked before, and I missed it! I hope I've explained my question clearly.

Good point.

Whether or not we believe in a Covenant of Redemption we have Adam as the representative head of humanity in the CoW and Christ as the representative head of humanity in the CoG.

Those who dispute the CoR or pactum salutis do so because they don't believe that there is enough biblical evidence for what they see as a possibly artificial theological construction, and maybe wonder whteher we should talk about the Holy Trinity in that way, as if Father, Son - and presumably - Holy Spirit needed to enter a covenant.

I don't see any problem as long as we remember we are talking about God analogically on the basis of what He's told us, particularly through Christ.

Parents who profess to believe are covenant heads to their offspring in a different way to Adam to humanity or Christ to his true people.

Because the parents are holy the children born to them are covenantally holy i.e. being born to these parents and in their family God has in His providence set them apart from children born in unbelieving families, laying upon them promises, privileges and responsibilities that other children don't have.

For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. (I Cor 7:14, ESV)
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Just thought I would add some sticks to the fire so that others could see a different understanding of 1 Cor. 7:14 by Alan Conner.

http://www.puritanboard.com/blogs/p...n-new-covenant-membership-ii-alan-conner-352/
Holy Children

For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. (1Corinthians 7:14)

This verse has raised many questions about the nature of New Covenant sanctification. The situation appears to be that some in the Corinthian church have come to faith in Jesus Christ, but their spouses have not. Paul tells them that both their unbelieving spouses and their children are holy. Based on this, many assume that since the children of at least one believer are holy, then they are members of the New Covenant and worthy of receiving baptism. However, to make this assumption requires a leap in thought far beyond the boundaries of this passage.

It is true that the children of a believing parent are holy. But what does this mean? Since the unbelieving spouse is also “sanctified” (same word as “holy” used for the children only in its verbal form), it seems only logical that they will be holy in the same way that the children are holy. No one in their right mind would assert that the unbelieving spouse is a member of the New Covenant. Neither should anybody think that the unbelieving spouse is worthy of being baptized. To baptize an unbeliever would make a mockery of the gospel which requires faith for salvation. But if both the unbelieving spouse and the children are sanctified and made holy by the believing spouse and parent, why do some argue that the children are members of the covenant and should be baptized, but not the unbelieving spouse? And why do some insist on calling the children “saints” (holy ones), but not the unbelieving parent? Since both are made holy by the believer, to make one a holy covenant member and not the other, and to baptize one and not the other is an inconsistency which renders this viewpoint completely unacceptable. Whatever this sanctification means, it cannot be used to argue for the paedobaptist view of “covenant children” which sanctions the baptism of infants or else, one must also argue for “covenant unbelieving spouses” and the baptism of unbelievers.

How then are we to explain the sanctification in this verse? We could take it in a similar way to Hebrews 10:29 and understand that both the unbelieving spouse and the children of believers are made holy or sanctified outwardly in some sense by the godly influences of the believer. But this verse states the sanctification of the unbelieving spouse and children as a fact, and yet this may not always be the case if it only refers to some kind of a moral influence brought to bear upon them by the believer.

A better solution is to see this sanctification as referring to their being conformed to God’s moral law so that the marriage and family unit are morally sound and holy in the sight of God. In other words, the marriage and family are legitimate and lawful, even though one spouse is still an unbeliever. Their unbelief does not make the marriage void or invalid.

One cannot help but think of a similar situation in Ezra chapters 9 and 10 in which the Israelites had married the daughters of the Canaanites. Such mixed marriages were looked upon as an abomination and the Israelites had to put away all of their foreign wives and their children (Ezra 10:3). If the Corinthian believers were aware of this, as the Jewish believers no doubt were, we could understand their concern about their own mixed marriages to unbelievers. “Is my marriage to an unbeliever an abomination? Should I put them away like God commanded the Israelites in the days of Ezra? What about my children, are they an abomination too?” These thoughts could easily be in the background of these verses to the Corinthian church.

What, then, is Paul’s answer? In essence it is this – both your marriage and your children are legitimate before the Lord. They are holy and not to be discarded even though your spouse is an unbeliever and your children are descended from him as well as from you. The situation with Ezra was a different time and a different set of circumstances. Your children are not illegitimate because your marriage to the unbeliever is a lawful marriage and conforms to God’s will.

Thus, the sanctification found in 1 Corinthians 7:14 cannot be made to argue that the children of believers are covenantally holy and therefore should be baptized as infants. To do so would open the same doors to unbelievers and, as a result, greatly muddy the waters of what it means to be a member of the New Covenant.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
PuritanCovenanter said:
In both situations, no matter what, the head of the woman is man. So I guess I don't understand your question. Christ is the Head of the Covenant of Grace in either situation.
True.

In Scriptural covenants, we often come across the principle of a representative making a covenant and then all the people the person represents are considered part of the covenant too. In the specific case of the administrations of the CoG, we find this principle in that a head is taken into the covenant and the covenant is then administered to that head's children too. For each covenant made with someone, that person's seed is then made a part of the covenant too, namely, by being a part of the Covenant's administration. The principle of head and the head's seed being taken into the same covenant is seen throughout all the administrations of the CoG (well, for reformed Covenant Theology, anyway). We even see this in the CoW; Adam and his seed were taken under that covenant and have fallen under its curses. We also see this in the eternal covenant made with Christ; the covenant is made with Christ as the Head and His seed (the elect) in Him.

In the three-covenant scheme, this principle of a covenant being made with a head and the head's seed is seen quite clearly. In the CoR, we have Christ as the Head and the elect as His seed. In the CoG, we have professing believers and their seed. In the two-covenant scheme, this principle seems to be obscured. We have the CoG with Christ as the Head and the elect as His seed, but then we cannot see as clearly that professing believers and their seed belong to the covenant's administration because there is no other covenant to be made with the professing believers. It seems to get tricky having Christ be Mediator and Head of the same covenant; and to have people who are both the seed of the Head and the covenanters. My question was whether it is more difficult in the two-covenant scheme to see the professing believers representing their seed (their children), and if it isn't, how is it not difficult (how do we see this principle easily)?
 
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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
My question for those who do not hold to the Covenant of Redemption in the paedo-scheme: Does your two-covenant view make it more difficult to see the federal principle (head representing his seed) with respect to believers and their children, and if not, could you please explain how?

For clarification, those who hold to only two covenants -- works and grace -- as in the Westminster Larger Catechism and the Marrow theology, do not deny the covenant of redemption but merely insist that it is the same with the covenant of grace. In other words, the covenant of redemption is the covenant of grace as made with Christ. If one consults the Sum of Saving Knowledge, all that is claimed for the covenant of redemption under head II, is maintained by the two covenant schema. In fact, if one reads the title of head II, it becomes apparent that "The remedy in Jesus Christ for the elect" is provided "by the covenant of grace." The two authors of the Sum, David Dickson and James Durham, have individually authored two books which serve as the best commentary on the Sum. Dickson' Therapeutica Sacra and Durham's Sermons on Isaiah 53 provide thorough treatments of issues relating to the application of redemption and various casuistic questions which arise as a result of it. For Dickson, the covenant of redemption is regarded as the covenant of grace accomplished, leaving the application of redemption to the covenant of grace proper. What Dickson implies, Durham explicates -- the two covenants are in fact one and the same.

On the question of infant baptism, the point of membership and inclusion pertains to the "administration" of the covenant of grace through word and sacraments. As such, it is part of the broader locus of the application of redemption and remains unaffected by the question of whether the covenant of redemption and the covenant of grace are one and the same covenant. If anything, the identity of the two would make the headship of Christ more apparent in the administration of the covenant. Thomas Boston's work on the covenant of grace argues this as one of the reasons for identifying them. In administration Christ Himself is given as a covenant to the people.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
It seems we have the covenant made with Christ and the elect in Him. It is administered in time to Abraham. Abraham is the head of this covenant, though the head of the invisible Church is Christ. We get to the New Testament where the CoG is administered in time to families. Each family head represents his seed under this covenant, though the actual head, the head of the invisible Church is Christ. Or is it that Christ is the only head of the administration of the CoG in the NT? We don't exactly have an Abraham with whom the NT is made; it seems like Christ takes that position. Though actually, I wonder whether that is a subtle form of dispensationalism, and so we must say our head is still Abraham while Christ is still the head of the invisible Church.
 
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Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Raymond
Abraham is the head of this covenant,
It's better to think of Abraham as the Father of the Faithful and the holy nation of Israel which continues into the New Testament period as the New testament Church, consisting of Jews and Gentiles (Gal 6:16)

Christ is Covenant Head and Surety (Guarantor) and is also Head and King over the Visible and Invisible Church, and also King of kings.

The CoR/CoG is revealed in history several stages:

1. The Protoevangelium (Genesis 3:15)

2. The Noahic Covenant

3.The Abrahamic Covenant

4.The Mosaic Covenant

5. The Davidic Covenant

6. The New Covenant

The New Covenant is a further administration of the unfolding Abrahamic covenant.

We get to the New Testament where the CoG is administered in time to families.

In Scripture and history when Gentiles have been engrafted into Israel it has always been as families where they had a family - organically not atomistically - and this is what happens in the Presbyterian church today.

Israel is in the process of incorporating all nations, without them having to become Jewish.

---------- Post added at 08:21 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:18 PM ----------

Just thought I would add some sticks to the fire so that others could see a different understanding of 1 Cor. 7:14 by Alan Conner.

http://www.puritanboard.com/blogs/p...n-new-covenant-membership-ii-alan-conner-352/
Holy Children

For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. (1Corinthians 7:14)

This verse has raised many questions about the nature of New Covenant sanctification. The situation appears to be that some in the Corinthian church have come to faith in Jesus Christ, but their spouses have not. Paul tells them that both their unbelieving spouses and their children are holy. Based on this, many assume that since the children of at least one believer are holy, then they are members of the New Covenant and worthy of receiving baptism. However, to make this assumption requires a leap in thought far beyond the boundaries of this passage.

It is true that the children of a believing parent are holy. But what does this mean? Since the unbelieving spouse is also “sanctified” (same word as “holy” used for the children only in its verbal form), it seems only logical that they will be holy in the same way that the children are holy. No one in their right mind would assert that the unbelieving spouse is a member of the New Covenant. Neither should anybody think that the unbelieving spouse is worthy of being baptized. To baptize an unbeliever would make a mockery of the gospel which requires faith for salvation. But if both the unbelieving spouse and the children are sanctified and made holy by the believing spouse and parent, why do some argue that the children are members of the covenant and should be baptized, but not the unbelieving spouse? And why do some insist on calling the children “saints” (holy ones), but not the unbelieving parent? Since both are made holy by the believer, to make one a holy covenant member and not the other, and to baptize one and not the other is an inconsistency which renders this viewpoint completely unacceptable. Whatever this sanctification means, it cannot be used to argue for the paedobaptist view of “covenant children” which sanctions the baptism of infants or else, one must also argue for “covenant unbelieving spouses” and the baptism of unbelievers.

How then are we to explain the sanctification in this verse? We could take it in a similar way to Hebrews 10:29 and understand that both the unbelieving spouse and the children of believers are made holy or sanctified outwardly in some sense by the godly influences of the believer. But this verse states the sanctification of the unbelieving spouse and children as a fact, and yet this may not always be the case if it only refers to some kind of a moral influence brought to bear upon them by the believer.

A better solution is to see this sanctification as referring to their being conformed to God’s moral law so that the marriage and family unit are morally sound and holy in the sight of God. In other words, the marriage and family are legitimate and lawful, even though one spouse is still an unbeliever. Their unbelief does not make the marriage void or invalid.

One cannot help but think of a similar situation in Ezra chapters 9 and 10 in which the Israelites had married the daughters of the Canaanites. Such mixed marriages were looked upon as an abomination and the Israelites had to put away all of their foreign wives and their children (Ezra 10:3). If the Corinthian believers were aware of this, as the Jewish believers no doubt were, we could understand their concern about their own mixed marriages to unbelievers. “Is my marriage to an unbeliever an abomination? Should I put them away like God commanded the Israelites in the days of Ezra? What about my children, are they an abomination too?” These thoughts could easily be in the background of these verses to the Corinthian church.

What, then, is Paul’s answer? In essence it is this – both your marriage and your children are legitimate before the Lord. They are holy and not to be discarded even though your spouse is an unbeliever and your children are descended from him as well as from you. The situation with Ezra was a different time and a different set of circumstances. Your children are not illegitimate because your marriage to the unbeliever is a lawful marriage and conforms to God’s will.

Thus, the sanctification found in 1 Corinthians 7:14 cannot be made to argue that the children of believers are covenantally holy and therefore should be baptized as infants. To do so would open the same doors to unbelievers and, as a result, greatly muddy the waters of what it means to be a member of the New Covenant.

Good points Martin.

The unbelieving husband would find it difficult to declare his faith in the Lord and willingness to formally become a Christian, without which he couldn't be baptised.

In the OT Gentile adults who were to be circumcised would have to declare their faith in the Lord and their willingness to become Israelites.
 
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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Thanks for the reply! It seems we have the covenant made with Christ and the elect in Him. It is administered in time to Abraham. Abraham is the head of this covenant, though the head of the invisible Church is Christ. We get to the New Testament where the CoG is administered in time to families. Each family head represents his seed under this covenant, though the actual head, the head of the invisible Church is Christ. Or is it that Christ is the only head of the administration of the CoG in the NT? We don't exactly have an Abraham with whom the NT is made; it seems like Christ takes that position. Though actually, I wonder whether that is a subtle form of dispensationalism, and so we must say our head is still Abraham while Christ is still the head of the invisible Church.

I would answer along the lines Richard has suggested. Whether we consider the early "songs" of Luke or the various speeches in Acts, especially those which come from the apostle to the Gentiles, we are always led to the conviction that Christ is the fulfilment of the promises made to the fathers. Given this basic conviction we need to be careful not to fall into the errors which are addressed in Galatians and Hebrews in terms of trying to make the works or ceremonies of the Old Testament functional in the believer's faith. This includes family headship. Any commitment to headship must be restricted to a social function and should not be raised to the status of religious rite or significance. The church's ordinances are entirely dependent upon the headship of Christ for their authority and efficacy. They do not depend on the sanction of any earthly power but all earthly powers owe subjection to Christ and submission to His ordinances. When an earthly power submits to the ordinances of Christ his social position and function is not destroyed but confirmed, and possesses the light and power of Christianity to make it even more effective in the fulfilment of that purpose for which God has established it. The head of the family as a social unit thus becomes the more effective because he subjects his responsibility for governing the household to the Lordship and power of Christ.
 

J. Dean

Puritan Board Junior
I thought two covenant theology was synonymous with dual covenant theology a la John Hagee.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
I guess it would be proper to say that Christ is the head of His Church (and that includes the OT Church), being the head of the CoG. As the CoG is administered in time, Christ also Mediates for the elect. The covenant is externally made with all who belong to the Church (covenant families) and internally made with the elect in those families.

Abraham is the head of his covenant and the father of the faithful; it is odd to have two heads and two fathers in the one CoG (CoG as it is administered in time, that is). But then when we get to the NT, we don't have an Abrahamic figure (except Christ) as the head of the NT, as the person the NT is made with. It seems the problem is solved with respect to the NT by recognizing that it is a conitinuation of Abraham, and so we still have that father and head in time, though subjected to Christ as the Head and Father of the elect (in the sense that the elect are His seed); that is, it appears the problem is solved by recognizing that the families the CoG is administered to (redemption applied) are a simply structure it is administered to (as opposed to being with whom the covenant is directly made with, like in Abraham's case)--and that includes Abraham's family--and since we continue from Abraham, we can easily see the CoG being administered within the family structure continuing even in the two-covenant scheme.
 
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VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
JDean said:
I thought two covenant theology was synonymous with dual covenant theology a la John Hagee.
I've heard that person's name before, but I don't recall what he was about.

Don't spend much time worrying about John Hagee. His idea of "two covenants" is completely different--it's a variation of dispensationalism that teaches that Jews are under one covenant and gentiles are under another--in other words, two different forms of salvation. Jews are saved by obeying the Law, Gentiles are saved by faith.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Raymond
Thanks again! I'm still a bit confused, but that does help a lot! I guess it would be proper to say that Christ is the head of His Church (and that includes the OT Church), being the head of the CoG. As the CoG is administered in time, Christ also Mediates for the elect. The covenant is externally made with all who belong to the Church (covenant families) and internally made with the elect in those families.

I think my confusion arises in seeing Abraham as the head of his covenant and the father of the faithful; it is odd to have two heads and two fathers in the one CoG (CoG as it is administered in time, that is). But then when we get to the NT, we don't have an Abrahamic figure (except Christ) as the head of the NT, as the person the NT is made with. It seems the problem is solved with respect to the NT by recognizing that it is a conitinuation of Abraham, and so we still have that father and head in time, though subjected to Christ as the Head and Father of the elect (in the sense that the elect are His seed); that is, it appears the problem is solved by recognizing that the families the CoG is administered to (redemption applied) are a simply structure it is administered to (as opposed to being with whom the covenant is directly made with, like in Abraham's case)--and that includes Abraham's family--and since we continue from Abraham, we can easily see the CoG being administered within the family structure continuing even in the two-covenant scheme.

I think the reason for my confusion is that I'm used to thinking in terms of a Covenant of Grace distinct from a Covenant of Redemption being made with a person and that person's children being included in the administration of it, instead of the families merely being a social structure the CoG works within... I'm not sure how to articulate what my confusion is, so what I've said in this post is probably a bit disorganized! I did find online all the works mentioned; hopefully, they will help me to at least articulate my confusion concerning the two-covenant scheme (if it remains after reading them).

I'm not aware that Abraham is called the head of the covenant or the head of anything else in Scripture or theology - although I may be wrong. If so it would be in a very different sense than Christ.

Abraham was the man to whom God revealed the Abrahamic Covenant which was at the time a new stage in the revelation of what theologians call the Covenant of Grace. For the first time the covenant people were set apart by a sign and seal - circumcision. We are twigs and branches on Abraham's tree that goes back circa 4,000 years.

Christ on the other hand was the head, representative and surety of his elect. Of those that were elect before He came into the world and those after. He had to live and die on behalf of His elect, the true covenant people.

Our reationship to Abraham is historical and horizontal and we learn from him as an example. Abraham is one of us in a way that Christ wasn't, because Abraham had to be saved by Christ just as we do. But Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are significant because they are progenitors of the covenanted nation/church Israel that is to incorporate all nations.

Our relationship to Christ is salvational and vertical. Christ is head and representative of His people in the CoG in the same way that Adam was head and representative of the human race in the Covenant of Works. Christ fulfilled the CoW for us where Adam failed.

Abraham is one of the elect and in a different category altogether.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
Raymond, we've only brushed up against this, but I think it is essential to see Christ stepping in at Gen 3 and laying the foundation for the covenant of grace in the very midst of the fall. While I know people who hold to the covenant of redemption and those who see no covenant before Adam, I've not known any orthodox believer who doesn't see grace offered even as man descends into sin and death. Grace is further revealed in each of what, for clarity's sake, I'll call here covenant revelations -- Starting with Adam, then Noah, then Abraham and so forth. One covenant, further revealed, one people further particularized and organized by each covenant revelation.

I have a difficult time seeing headship restricted to a social function. God's having a particular covenant people was established before the Mosaic Covenant, thus before the ceremonies and rites of OT worship. This is significant in two ways, first the federal headship "Since by man came death, even so in Christ shall all be made alive ..." but also for the outworking of the fifth commandment.
They do not depend on the sanction of any earthly power but all earthly powers owe subjection to Christ and submission to His ordinances. When an earthly power submits to the ordinances of Christ his social position and function is not destroyed but confirmed, and possesses the light and power of Christianity to make it even more effective in the fulfillment of that purpose for which God has established it.
Pastor Winzer, this is brilliantly stated. However, I don't see how this conflicts with God-ordained, rather than social constructions. Christianity has long had the tough stance (at least it is for me) that we must submit ourselves rather than being subjugated. God has ordained for one generation of believers to teach the next generation, that husbands are to be heads of their houses, that children are to honor their parents, that we are to respect and honor those who have spiritual authority over us -- but these are means that God has ordained to point us to the Christ who has all authority in heaven and on earth and who has graciously brought us into his covenant people and out of the bondage to sin that we were physically born to.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Men like Abraham and Moses were mediators of their respective covenant arrangements--in the case of those two, they were the first or principal human mediators, for the bringing of those benefits to the rest of God's people. In this way--and similarly for the other prophets, priests, and kings of God's people down through the centuries of the pre-Christian era--these men were "types" of Christ in his Mediatorial office.

The reason why "Abraham" is so significant is because he is the opening figure of the Old Testament. Yes, there are eleven vitally important chapters of prologue before we arrive at Abraham, but God chose Abram/Abraham for the institutional beginning (not the "first believer" or even the first mediator of any kind) of his church.

Because it was "by promise" this covenant was made, the Siniatic covenant (law) coming 430 years afterward, does not supercede the former (according to Paul, Gal.3). Therefore, in the sense of the institutional beginning of the Covenant of Grace, Abraham was (and continues to be) the "father" of ALL the faithful. His position as mediator is replaced (by successive replacements) until Shiloh (the Peacemaker) comes.

So, he does not stand in that role forever. Indeed, according to the Spirit, Christ is also our "everlasting father" (our provider and defender). But there is a real sense that according to the (physical) flesh, Abraham remains our physical father (having had physical offspring, which Christ did not have).

Jesus, it should also be said, doesn't have "faith in Jesus," not even "faith in God," in the sense that we reckon saving faith. Therefore, someone must have that role, to stand at the forefront of all of us who stand back of Christ. Who better than Abraham, to type Christ in this way, saying: "Here I am, and the children whom God has given me" (Heb.2:13; Is.8:18).
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
However, I don't see how this conflicts with God-ordained, rather than social constructions. Christianity has long had the tough stance (at least it is for me) that we must submit ourselves rather than being subjugated. God has ordained for one generation of believers to teach the next generation, that husbands are to be heads of their houses, that children are to honor their parents, that we are to respect and honor those who have spiritual authority over us -- but these are means that God has ordained to point us to the Christ who has all authority in heaven and on earth and who has graciously brought us into his covenant people and out of the bondage to sin that we were physically born to.

It may be that you have read "convention" into my use of "social." Please be assured that was not my intention. In using the word "social" it was on the understanding that the social institution of the family and male headship is of divine institution. But we must emphasise that the family is a creation ordinance whereas the church and her ordinances are established on the authority of the God-man, the Mediator, Jesus Christ. Hence "fathers" are addressed together with "little children" and "young men" as sitting under the positive ordinances of the gospel. As saved by the grace of Christ they have a sanctified function as the head of their homes, but they do not in any sense stand between the ordinances of the gospel and the souls of those under their care.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
Pastor Buchanan, am I outside Presbyterian orthodoxy by seeing a fairly linear progression from the start of the covenant of grace through to the time of Christ? I'm truly asking. Clearly the cutting of the covenant with Abraham was the pivotal event of the Old Testament, but what it pictures was not entirely new -- from the outset, people seemed to understand that a blood sacrifice was required even though it wasn't formally presented until Abraham and codified under Moses. And the idea of fruitfulness unto future generations was part of the language with Noah too since he was told to be fruitful and multiply.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
JW,
I don't think you are wrong in what you are seeing.

I don't think that the progress of the revelation of the covenant of grace, starting in Gen.3:15, prevents us from recognizing that the covenant-making with Abraham is the "institutional beginning" of the church. The pieces come together at that time.

Otherwise, I'm not so clear on what you're asking me. Maybe you can rephrase.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
(1) By Abraham being "head" and "father," I meant it in that he and his seed were taken into the covenant, though the covenant was directly made with Abraham (that is, it was made with Abraham and his seed in him...though I realize that's a bit simplistic because Gentiles could come into Abraham's covenant too). Abraham did so as a type of Christ, so there is really only one Head of the CoG: Christ. [how do we see the external administration of the CoG as easily as it can be seen in the three-covenant scheme?] But if Abraham with his seed behaved as mediator and "head" as a type of Christ and His elect, what happens when we get to the NT and we no longer have a mere human as "head" and "mediator" but Christ? Doesn't the substance do away with the shadows and so make an external administration hard to see/impossible? I think the answer is that Abraham still has his function as "father" for NT believers, just as he did for OT believers. It also seems to me that the situation of NT believers with respect to this issue doesn't differ from OT believers when prophecy ceased or when the kings didn't perform their roles as "mediator" properly (and those OT believers still had an external administration anyway), and also, it probably should be noted that Christ Himself is a child of Abraham.

(2) A covenant is usually defined in old-school reformed theology as (for brevity's sake) an agreement. If the CoG is made with Christ and the elect in Him, that is one agreement (just like the CoW was made with Adam and his posterity in him). But how then is there an external administration of the covenant such that people can be considered to break the covenant or to be in covenant with God? If another agreement is made between God and professing believers, some of whom will break the covenant, then isn't that a second covenant because it is a second agreement (an agreement between God and men)? And if there is no second agreement, how can there be an external administration among professing believers (and their children, of course)?
 
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jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
what happens when we get to the NT and we no longer have a mere human as "head" and "mediator" but Christ?

I do not believe this distinction squares with scripture. There has always been one people of God under Christ and there will always be one people of God under Christ. In the Old Testament, who that Christ is and how we are to behave as God's people was slowly revealed, bringing both revelation and redemption into clearer light until if burst forth into full brightness with Christ.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
But if Abraham with his seed behaved as mediator and "head" as a type of Christ and His elect,

I've never heard of Abraham being viewed as a type of Christ, or called a mediator or head of the covenant.

Jesus as to his humanity was one of Abraham's children, one of the Covenant people, a Jew and a Christian. Remember that Jesus was both circumcised and baptised.

In order to be a suitable mediator for His covenant people, He had not only to come from among men but also to come from among the covenant people. Christ was and is one of the covenant people - albeit a unique covenant man.

Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (Heb 2:17,ESV)

I think you may be getting slighlty mixed up with the different/similar terminology, Raymond. Easy done. It can sometimes take a bit of meditation to get one's head round these things. There are places where a toddler can paddle and where an elephant can swim.

Abraham wasn't a mediator/covenant head/representative in the way that Adam and Christ are.

Abraham is one of those men to whom and through whom the Covenant of Grace was revealed in history. His importance lies in the fact that God was beginning to set apart the institutional Church and Nation of Israel through him, which continues today.

One of his offspring, Jesus Christ, became the mediator/surety/covenant representative of the CoG.

I'm sure it'll eventually become clearer in your mind.

though the covenant was directly made with Abraham (that is, it was made with Abraham and his seed in him...though I realize that's a bit simplistic because Gentiles could come into Abraham's covenant too).

This is a bit simplistic. The covenant with Abraham wasn't made with Abraham and his seed in him in the sense that there was a covenant with Adam and his offspring and with Christ and his elect.

I'll let Bruce or someone else explain because it's starting to make my head hurt:duh:;)

Although you're thinking "outside the box" is also slightly stimulating :detective:
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
jwithnell said:
I do not believe this distinction squares with scripture. There has always been one people of God under Christ and there will always be one people of God under Christ.In the Old Testament, who that Christ is and how we are to behave as God's people was slowly revealed, bringing both revelation and redemption into clearer light until if burst forth into full brightness with Christ.
The remarks in this post are precisely why I made my remark on dispensationalism. Asking what happens when Christ only is the Head and Mediator of a dispensation of the CoG (without a mere human or nation having a covenant made with him or it) does seem to be a subtle form of dispensationalism (because it's opposing Christ's people to Abraham's people), though I am not completely certain about that because it is not a denial that Christ has always and only been the true Head of the CoG and the Church, but a question of what happens when the covenant takes a form such that it can be called Christ's covenant instead of the Abrahamic covenant or the Mosaic covenant. Yet, making that kind of opposition between administrations doesn't seem right either given that Christians are called children of Abraham and that Christ Himself was a child of Abraham.


Peairtach said:
I've never heard of Abraham being viewed as a type of Christ, or called a mediator or head of the covenant.
I'm trying to follow what Boston said. As a proof that the CoG was established with Christ and the seed He represented, Boston points to covenants typical of that arrangement in which a covenant was established with a person and the seed the person represented. Here's a copy/paste selection from "A view on the Covenant of Grace," which just so happens to have been copy/pasted earlier here.

Covenants typical of the covenant of grace were made or established with persons representing their respective seed. Thus it was in the typical covenant in our text, the covenant of royalty made with David, an undoubted type of the covenant of grace. In it David was God´s servant, having a seed comprehended with him therein, Ps. 89:3, 4. He was an eminent type of Christ; who is therefore called David, Hos. 3:5, "œAfterwards shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king." And the benefits of the covenant of grace are called the sure mercies of David, Isa. 55:3.
Thus was it also in the covenant of the day and night (Jer. 33:20), established with Noah and his sons, representatives of their seed, the new world, Gen. 9:9, "œBehold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you." And that this covenant was a type of the covenant of grace, appears, from its being made upon a sacrifice, chap. 8:20-22; and from the sign and token of it, the rainbow, chap. 9:13, appearing round about the throne, Rev. 4:3; but especially from the nature and import of it, to wit, that there should not be another deluge, Gen. 9:11; the substance of which is plainly declared, Isa. 54:9, "œAs I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee." Ver. 10, "œFor the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord, that hath mercy on thee."
And such also was the covenant of the land of Canaan, made with Abraham representing his seed, Gen. 15:18, and afterwards confirmed by oath, chap. 22:16, 17. In all which, he was an eminent type of Christ, the true Abraham, father of the multitude of the faithful, who, upon God´s call, left heaven his native country, and came and sojourned among the cursed race of mankind, and there offered up his own flesh and blood a sacrifice unto God, and so became the true heir of the world, and received the promises for his spiritual seed; the sum whereof is given by Zacharias in his account of the covenant with Abraham, Luke 1:72, "œTo remember his holy covenant:" ver. 73, "œThe oath which he sware to our father Abraham," ver. 74, "œThat he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear," ver. 75, "œin holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life."
 
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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I'm following (or trying to anyway) what Boston said, though I could have very easily misunderstood him.

I wonder if the misunderstanding is arising over the nature of a type. Two points to remember there: (1) a type is an historical person or thing which is divinely appointed to represent an antitype; and (2) bears a limited resemblance to the thing it typifies. On this basis I don't think there should be any difficulty in seeing the OT "covenants" as operating on two levels -- an historical and an eschatological. The historical level allows us to speak of different "covenants" and even of a "covenant" passing away. The eschatological level demonstrates that all of the historical covenants are in fact administrations of the one everlasting covenant of grace.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Covenants typical of the covenant of grace were made or established with persons representing their respective seed. Thus it was in the typical covenant in our text, the covenant of royalty made with David, an undoubted type of the covenant of grace. In it David was God´s servant, having a seed comprehended with him therein, Ps. 89:3, 4. He was an eminent type of Christ; who is therefore called David, Hos. 3:5, "œAfterwards shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king." And the benefits of the covenant of grace are called the sure mercies of David, Isa. 55:3.
Thus was it also in the covenant of the day and night (Jer. 33:20), established with Noah and his sons, representatives of their seed, the new world, Gen. 9:9, "œBehold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you." And that this covenant was a type of the covenant of grace, appears, from its being made upon a sacrifice, chap. 8:20-22; and from the sign and token of it, the rainbow, chap. 9:13, appearing round about the throne, Rev. 4:3; but especially from the nature and import of it, to wit, that there should not be another deluge, Gen. 9:11; the substance of which is plainly declared, Isa. 54:9, "œAs I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee." Ver. 10, "œFor the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord, that hath mercy on thee."
And such also was the covenant of the land of Canaan, made with Abraham representing his seed, Gen. 15:18, and afterwards confirmed by oath, chap. 22:16, 17. In all which, he was an eminent type of Christ, the true Abraham, father of the multitude of the faithful, who, upon God´s call, left heaven his native country, and came and sojourned among the cursed race of mankind, and there offered up his own flesh and blood a sacrifice unto God, and so became the true heir of the world, and received the promises for his spiritual seed; the sum whereof is given by Zacharias in his account of the covenant with Abraham, Luke 1:72, "œTo remember his holy covenant:" ver. 73, "œThe oath which he sware to our father Abraham," ver. 74, "œThat he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear," ver. 75, "œin holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life."

Yes, alot of this teaching by Boston - or the angle he's taking - is new to me, and I've read a reasonable amount on covenant theology.

Covenants typical of the covenant of grace
I presume he's meaning covenants typical of what I would call the New Covenant phase of the CoG, under which we now live?

I've never heard of Noah and Abraham being styled as types of Christ, but am certainly familiar with Moses and David being types of Christ.

Thanks for drawing Boston's thoughts to my attention, but there may be more straightforward introductions to covenant theology than Boston's, which sounds more multi-layered and complex than say e.g. O.Palmer Robertson's "Christ of the Covenants"

I would think first of each of the revelations of the CoG (Protoevangelium, Noahic Covenant, etc.)as stages in the progressive revelation of the CoG, whereby the pre-incarnate and incarnate Christ brought salvation to those who had faith; then only secondarily view them typologically.

The main typological covenants in the Old Testament are the Old Covenant/Mosaic Covenant made through Moses as mediator, although the pre-incarnate Christ was involved as well, and the Davidic covenant.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Peairtach said:
I presume he's meaning covenants typical of what I would call the New Covenant phase of the CoG, under which we now live?
I think he's actually referring to the eternal CoG. Although Calvin said something similar with respect to the new covenant phase of the CoG in his Institutes. But I suppose it is fair to say that it is typical with both respects, because the new covenant phase of the CoG is the phase in history after Christ fulfilled the conditions of the CoG?

armourbearer said:
I wonder if the misunderstanding is arising over the nature of a type. Two points to remember there: (1) a type is an historical person or thing which is divinely appointed to represent an antitype; and (2) bears a limited resemblance to the thing it typifies. On this basis I don't think there should be any difficulty in seeing the OT "covenants" as operating on two levels -- an historical and an eschatological. The historical level allows us to speak of different "covenants" and even of a "covenant" passing away. The eschatological level demonstrates that all of the historical covenants are in fact administrations of the one everlasting covenant of grace.
So then, I suppose a type can exist alongside its antitype? Because when we reach the NT, it seems we would need Abraham as a "type" still for there to be an historical administration of the CoG (because in the NT phase of the CoG, there is only Christ with whom the covenant is made both historically and eschatologically?)? I'm also still not sure how one covenant remains one covenant when two agreements are made: one with Christ, and the other--the historical side--made with sinners.
 
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Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
I think he's actually referring to the eternal CoG. Although Calvin said something similar with respect to the new covenant phase of the CoG in his Institutes. But I suppose it is fair to say that it is typical with both respects, because the new covenant phase of the CoG is the phase in history after Christ fulfilled the conditions of the CoG?

Sounds like Boston is taking a complicated approach and a simpler approach would be better until the basics are laid down.

Which book of Boston are you reading?

because the new covenant phase of the CoG is the phase in history after Christ fulfilled the conditions of the CoG?

No. The Covenant between the Persons of the Trinity is styled the Covenant of Redemption or Pactum Salutis where it is distinguished from the Covenant of Grace in history.

Though some Reformed people have a scheme in which the CoR and CoG are one and the same. It's another way of viewing the biblical data.

The Covenant of Grace in history commenced with the Protoevangelium, then further revelations of it were given in the Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic and New covenants.

I think he's actually referring to the eternal CoG. Although Calvin said something similar with respect to the new covenant phase of the CoG in his Institutes.

Types are prophecies in symbols or persons intended by God to point from the Old Testament forward to the New Testament and beyond.

We wouldn't talk about types of the Holy Trinity or their transactions in eternity past.

I'm also still not sure how one covenant remains one covenant when two agreements are made: one with Christ, and the other--the historical side--made with sinners.

Well the sinners that Christ lived and died for were given to Him in the Covenant of Redemption in eternity. But these sinners still have to come to faith in Christ in time, they do this through the administration of the CoG. Hence the distinction that many Reformed scholars make.

I would first forget about typology when thinking about covenant theology and only come back to typology later, as you're thinking and studying on two levels at the same time which is not a way to become au fait with a subject but rather confused.

I highly recommend O.Palmer Robertson's "Christ of the Covenants" as a straightforward introduction to covenant theology.

So then, I suppose a type can exist alongside its antitype? Because when we reach the NT, it seems we would need Abraham as a "type" still for there to be an historical administration of the CoG (because in the NT phase of the CoG, there is only Christ with whom the covenant is made both historically and eschatologically?)?

A type shouldn't exist alongside an antitype. E.g. Sacrifices were typical of Christ's sacrifice but are now abolished because the antitype of Christ's sacrifice came in A.D.33.

If Abraham was a type (shadow) of Christ, which I've never heard him called before, he was a type 4,000 years ago when he lived on this earth. If he was a type or shadow of Christ we have a record of this typology in Scripture, together with the record of the Antitype.

Abraham is now no longer a type but is one of the saints in Heaven. We have the record in Scripture of how Abraham was a type in the past, if he was(?)and, on more sure ground, how Joseph and Moses and David were types or foreshadowings of Christ.

A type is a foreshadowing intended by God. The story of Joseph points forward to that of Christ. The tabernacle points forward to Christ and His people in the New Testament and in the Heavenly Kingdom.
 
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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I was reading "A View on the Covenant of Grace" and Boston's notes on the Marrow of Modern Divinity.

The clearest and simplest explanation is perhaps found in Robert Shaw's Exposition of the Confession, 7.3. I usually recommend Shaw as a first reader on covenant theology, so in retrospect I should have mentioned his Exposition in the first place.
 

Todd King

Puritan Board Freshman
I know I'm a little tardy chiming in here, but the first two things I think we need to keep in mind when considering covenant are: what constitutes a covenant, what are the defining characteristics of covenant; and what are the conditions of covenant?

A covenant always begins with blessing, which we are able to see in every instance that God condescends to man to initiate covenant. He blesses him. To put this in modern perspective, if I wish to enter covenant (or contract) with you to buy your house, I offer you a blessing- the offer to buy. The covenant then is infused with conditions of the covenant along with blessing and cursing: blessing if kept, and cursing if violated. Of course, the only way to know whether or not the covenant is kept is through the conditions. So, again in our modern example, when I offer to purchase your home for $100,000 on time, you place conditions that I will pay 10% interest with payments due on the 15th of each month for a term of 10 years. If I keep my portion of the covenant, then I receive blessing- I own a home, but if I don't keep it then I receive cursing- I don't own a home and I am out the money I have payed you up to that point. If you keep your end of the bargain, then you receive blessing- you get my money, but if you don't then you get cursing- I sue you in court and get my money back plus some fair amount of compensation.

Covenant also always has a definite fulfillment which ensures that both parties are aware of when the covenant is completed.

Scripturally, God condescended to man in the garden and entered covenant with him- if you will walk with me daily, obey me, and refrain from eating of my tree, then we will have eternal relationship. If not, then you will die. As we all know, man did not fulfill his end of the covenant when the serpent tricked him into eating of the tree, so he had to die. However, in order to prevent the serpent from defeating God's will, God amended the covenant. Man still died spiritually, but was allowed to continue to live physically. God also added some other conditions and cursings to the covenant- toil, pain, death, disease. When man continued to violate God's covenant by refusing to be obedient to God's will, God amended the covenant one last time with Noah when he instituted the death penalty. This covenant was with all mankind and is, to this day, still binding on all mankind. The terms are essentially, love the Lord your God, and love your neighbor as yourself, if you kill man, by man shall your life be taken. If not, you will die spiritually.

Then, when Abraham came along, God chose him out of all the people on earth to enter into covenant with again. In this covenant, Abraham and his seed were the only one's included in the covenant. This covenant had as it's terms that God would provide an innumerable seed, that God would provide a special land, and that God would provide an eternal king. In this particular covenant, Abraham was required to believe and nothing more. This is illustrated when God chooses to sign the contract for both himself and Abraham by walking through the blood between the pieces of animal flesh. Abraham, we are told, believed and it was accounted to him for righteousness. When the ten commandments are given to this same people, it is God's way of letting them know that the terms of the original covenant, with all mankind, still apply to them.

However, Abraham's seed continually broke this covenant with God until one day God had enough and wrote Israel a bill of divorce. Shortly thereafter, God sent Christ to fulfill the law. When this happened, Christ became the eternal king to fulfill that portion of the covenant. God opened the way for Gentiles to become adopted into the family which fulfilled the innumerable seed part of the covenant. Finally, Christ will return someday and create a new heaven and a new earth with a new Jerusalem which will fulfill the land portion of this covenant. So, we can see that God had not, nor will violate his covenant with Abraham, but someday it will all be completely fulfilled.

Regarding what is often referred to as the new covenant, we can see that it is really not a new covenant at all, but way for all of mankind to become partakers of the covenant made with Abraham.

I don't know if this helps at all, but thought I would give my thoughts. Also, I hope that this isn't confusing as I have attempted to keep it brief instead of writing a book.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
(1) What precisely do we mean when we say the Abrahamic Covenant, etc., are administrations of the covenant of grace? What precisely does it mean to administer an agreement between two parties to other people?

(2) What precisely do we mean when we say "Abrahamic Covenant," "Davidic Covenant," and "Christ's Covenant"?

(3) Related to 2, if all the other covenants are administrations of the covenant of grace, wouldn't they also be "Christ's Covenant?"


With respect to 1, Shaw: "The Scriptures, indeed, frequently speak of God making a covenant with believers, but this language admits of an easy explication, in consistency with the unity of the covenant. "The covenant of grace," says a judicious writer, "was made with Christ in a strict and proper sense, as he was the party-contractor in it, and undertook to fulfil the condition of it. It is made with believers in an improper sense, when they are taken into the bond of it, and come actually to enjoy the benefit of it. How it is made with them may be learned from the words of the apostle,—Acts xiii. 34: "I will give you the sure mercies of David,' which is a kind of paraphrase upon that passage,—Is. lv. 3: "I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.' God makes the covenant with them, not by requiring anything of them in order to entitle them or lay a foundation for their claim to the blessings of it, but by making these over to them as a free gift, and putting them in possession of them, as far as their present state will admit, by a faith of his own operation.""
But it seems strange that giving blessings to people from a covenant can be seen in such a way that people can be said to break the covenant. Or maybe it shjould be thought of as parallel to Adam...



Interesting quote from Shaw.

"Man is naturally and necessarily under a law to God. This results from the necessary and unalterable relation subsisting between God and man, as the one is the Creator, and the other his creature. God might, therefore, if he had pleased, demanded all possible obedience of man, without making any promise securing his establishment in a state of innocence and enjoyment, and his advancement to a state of still higher felicity, as the reward of his obedience. And though man had gone through a long course of obedience, without a single failure, he could not have laid his Creator under any obligation to him, or been entitled to any recompense. But God graciously condescended to deal with man by way of covenant, and thus gave him an opportunity to secure his happiness by acquiring a right to it - a right founded upon stipulation, or upon the promise."
 
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