Friday, February 09, 2007
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
I start to show the weaknesses of this paper with this post. A not insignificant portion of the paper is quotes. And here I include a fairly big one. Doing this is frowned upon.
The covenantal of redemption taken as a whole has its referent in Zechariah 6. Meredith Kline interprets this passage as follows:
The covenantal origins of the royal grant to Christ go back before the making of the covenant with David to the intratrinitarian counsels before the world was, back to a primal divine pact. Though the covenants made between God and man in the course of human history were determined upon in eternity in the all-embracive divine decrees, the actual covenanting between the parties does not occur until the creature party is on the scene. However, since all parties of the intratrinitarian covenant are present at the determination of the eternal decrees, that decretive predestinating is at the same time an actual eternal covenanting of the persons of the Godhead with each other with respect to their relationships in all that they decree concerning creation and redemption. It was in that eternal covenant that the cosmic kingdom of glory was granted to the Son as the reward for his faithful execution of the work the Father gave him to do (cf. Luke 22:29; John 17:4, 5). This covenantal commitment to the Son was renewed in the course of the historical administration of the Covenant of Grace. It came to earthly expression in the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants: Christ was the promised seed of Abraham to whom pertained the promise of kingship and kingdom (Gal. 3:16) and Christ was the son of David to whom the dynastic promises of the Davidic covenant were directed. What Zechariah 6:9-15 prophesies is the Father's fulfillment of the eternal covenant by bestowing the promised kingdom grant on the Son who came to earth as Jesus, the Christ of God, the son of David, the son of Abraham (Matt. 1:1), and obediently carried out the stipulated task.1
1Meredith Kline “The Exaltation of Christ” Online: http://www.kerux.com/documents/keruxv12n3a1.asp
Note that the above footnote points to the whole article.
Friday, February 02, 2007
Scriptural support for the covenant of redemption is not difficult to produce nor is it difficult to assert that the evidence thus marshaled does in fact constitute solid indicators that such a covenant took place.1 First, Scripture is replete with the predestinarian electing by the Father of sinners. Beginning as early as Genesis 3:15 God pronounces a curse on the seed of the serpent (which eons later we discover the referent to be humans2) thus immediately splitting all of Adam's progeny into two distinct groups. In Genesis 4:26 we see that God carves out of history those who, by calling on his name, are his covenantal servants.3 God's graphically displays his election and reprobation via the Noahic oracle in Genesis 9:25-274. Further narrowing continues through the genealogies of Shem, Eber and climaxing in Peleg in Genesis 10:25 where God outright states that he is dividing the earth up along these family lines5. This leads to the election Abraham and the subsequent election of Issac over against Ishmael, and of Jacob over against Esau. New Testament corroborates this electing process, most notably in Acts 13:48. The covenant of redemption asserts that God elects these as gifts to be an inheritance for his Son who agrees to earn these gifts. Scriptural support for this is found in John 6:38-40 as well in Psalm 2:6-9. Indeed, these verses are difficult if the covenant of redemption is denied.
Jesus Christ the God-Man pledged to fulfill the covenant of works in order to make the covenant of grace possible. In other words, he promised to become a man, taking on his flesh and his nature. Essentially, as the second Adam, he would assume posse peccare and posse non peccare. He also promised to obey the law – both the natural law that resides in all men and the specific law given to Israel. Finally, he promised to go to the cross as propitiation for the sins of those elect. In this way, Christ's active obedience to the law, his perfect righteousness, might be given as an act of grace to those elect whose active disobedience as covenant breakers has, as well, been forgiven. The chair passage for this in Scripture is the high priestly prayer of Jesus to the Father in John 17. In this passage no fewer than nine times Jesus refers to those whom God has given him. In John 17:4 he explicitly refers to his having accomplished the work that he was assigned; and in John 17:12 he refers to successfully guarding those for whom he was responsible - an allusion to Adam's failure to guard the garden, a charge he was given in Genesis 2:15.
The covenant of redemption spells out a pledge made by the Holy Spirit as well. It is here that we can most easily begin to see the value of the covenant of redemption as a lens into our systematic theology. Our entire doctrine of the Holy Spirit falls into place when one considers that nearly all the Spirit does is directly tied to his inter-trinitarian pledge. Drawing from Berkhof's Systematic Theology we see four primary tasks that the Spirit must perform. The first task is entirely in relation to the man Jesus Christ. The Spirit must bring him into existence as a man via the virgin Mary. He also must anoint him (Mt. 3:17 ) with the result that Jesus has the Spirit without measure (John 3:34).6 Second, the Holy Spirit inspires the writing of Scripture (2 Peter 1:21). Third, the Holy Spirit is the immediate agent of the regeneration (John 3:6-8) and the sanctification of the elect (1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:13). Fourth, he builds, guides and teaches the church (John 16:13,14; Ephesians 1:13, 2:20-22; ).7
1Steven Baugh, “The Covenant of Redemption in Galatians 3:20”, WTJ 66,1 (2004), 49-70. Dr. Baugh tackles the tough Gal 3:20 and defends his thesis that even this verse supports the Covenant of redemption.
2See John 8:42-45.
3It is especially important to note that being elect into God's covenant in no way obviates the sinful nature of the elect. All the elect have this in common: they all trust in the promise of God to fulfill all that as covenant Lord he has spoken.
4In addition to displaying his reprobation and election, he foretells the bringing in of the gentiles represented by Japheth into the covenantal family of God fulfilled in Acts 11:1-18.
5It is important to remember that this election is a spiritual operation and the physical ancestry that one may trace is not truly in view.
6The idea that the Spirit is the director of the drama is very apt when one considers his role as the third person of the covenant of redemption.
7Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1932), 98.
Monday, January 29, 2007
Reserving the covenant of redemption for a separate treatment is warranted because many Christian Theologians, as noted in part above, restrict the covenant concept to only those “transactions” that occur in Biblical history and therefore don't consider what is typically referred to by this covenant as a covenant in any sense at all. Consequently, it is dropped from the discussion. However, though not explicitly named a covenant of redemption, the WCF points to the intratrinitarian commitment that lays the groundwork for the works principle manifested in the covenant of works and the plan of redemption (which itself is based on Christ fulfilling his covenant of works made with the Father):
It pleased God , in his eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his only begotten son, to be the mediator between God and man, the Prophet, Priest and King, the Head and Savior of his church, the Heir of all things, and Judge of the world: unto whom from all eternity give a people, to be his seed, and to be by him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified1.
And further in the confession:
The Lord Jesus, in His human nature thus united to the divine, was sanctified, and anointed with the Holy Spirit, above measure, having in Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; in whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell; to the end that, being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth, He might be thoroughly furnished to execute the office of a Mediator and Surety. Which office He took not unto Himself, but was thereunto called by His Father, who put all power and judgment into His hand, and gave Him commandment to execute the same.2
The covenant of redemption is different from all other covenants on three counts. The first is that it is the only covenant that is made not between God and man, but between the persons of the trinity. The second is that it is the only covenant not named as such even if implicitly.3 Thirdly, the covenant of redemption, precisely because it was not initiated at some specific place and time in the history of creation is not a covenant whose defenders can point to a specific passage that details it fully.
Essentially, the covenant of redemption is a works covenant. The pledge “this I will do” forms the basis of the covenant. God the Father elects a rebellious covenant breaking people for himself which he promises to give as an inheritance to his Son. God the Son promises to work as the second Adam (and as the true Israel) in order to reconcile the rebellious elect to the Father. God the Spirit promises to effectually bring these rebellious elect to saving belief in the Son.
1WCF Ch. 8, P1.
2WCF Ch. 8, P3.
3The Davidic covenant of 2 Sam. 7 is not named a covenant during the historical event when it is announced but is referred to as a covenant in Psalm 89:3. Likewise, the Adamic covenant of works is referred to as a covenant in Hosea 6:7.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Here is part II of the paper.
You probably should not skip this part since it contains definitions of "covenant".
Meredith Kline has provided impetus in this direction in his concluding sentence in the introduction to his seminal Kingdom Prologue Genesis Foundations for a Covenantal Worldview. “By unfolding and developing that infrastructure [Biblical Theology], Kingdom Prologue performs, in part, a prolegomenon function for the program of Biblical Theology, while also serving the enterprise of systematic theology by contributing very directly to the formulations of covenant theology.”1 This paper attempts to tackle the other side of Kline's coin. He is mostly concerned with Biblical Theology. I will attempt to demonstrate how the covenant idea is a servant of systematic theology.
Before moving ahead to the proper defense of my thesis, I will conduct a brief survey of the covenant idea. This will provide a definition of covenant that I will use to discuss the thesis of this paper.
O. Palmer Robertson describes a covenant as a bond in blood sovereignly administered. Robertson is motivated by his conviction that the phrase 'to make a covenant' is literally 'to cut a covenant' and primarily via the term “cut”, carries with it a clear reference to blood. He makes a reference to such covenants where the phrase 'cut a covenant' is present in those made between men2. And he makes reference to such covenants initiated by God toward man. Significantly, Robertson neglects to include the covenant of redemption in his treatment of covenants.
John Murray holds the view that the covenant concept is all about grace. Murray arrives at this position because he essentially denies the existence of any covenant of works. The Adamic covenant he contends is no covenant at all, not having been so named in scripture.3 Further, he sees the Adamic “administration” as well as the Sinaitic covenant as fundamentally gracious.
Scripture always uses the term covenant, when applied to God's administration to men, in reference to a provision that is redemptive or closely related to a redemptive design. Covenant in Scripture denotes the oath-bound confirmation of promise and involves a security which the Adamic economy did not bestow. . . .The Mosaic covenant was distinctly redemptive in character and was continuous with and extensive of the Abrahamic covenants.4
What is notable about both of the above views is that neither is really suitable as a lens through which to view Scripture or to do theology. These views are restrictive in that they don't account for all the data. By excluding the covenant of redemption from the discussion, both Robertson and Murray truncate the broadest possible sweep of the covenants. So also, by excluding the covenant of works from the discussion, Murray seriously hamstrings the covenants, rendering them useless as a lens as well.
When all the data is accounted for, a more useful definition of covenant emerges. This is what Meredith Kline has done in providing his definition that covenant is a divinely sanctioned commitment.5 As befitting a wide-angle lens, Kline's definition is broad as it is succinct. His view stretches the scope of covenant to extend before time and into eternity. Kline then goes on to show his definition to include two basic kinds of covenants, one of works and one of grace.6
We must remember that Kline is not an innovator on the point of two covenants. His definition is useful and I commend it assured that he is in step with the reformation.7 Space prevents me from listing the work of those reformers who had a similar understanding of the covenants. In summary though, the divines who formulated the Westminster Confession attest to a broadly held view of the covenants as follows:
The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam; and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience. Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein He freely offers unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life His Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe.8
1Meredith Kline, Kingdom Prologue Genesis Foundations for a Covenantal Worldview. (Eugene Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2004), 7.
2See Gen 21:27-32. 2 Sam 3:12-13.
3John Murray, Collected Writings of John Murray Volume 2. (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1977), 49. Hosea 6:7 notwithstanding. Murray contends that this verse may have other interpretations but fails to offer any. See footnotes 6,7,8,9 and 10 starting on page 282 of Covenant Theology by Jeong Koo Jeon for a detailed exposition of Hosea 6:7. Interpreters have produced “they, like men”, “they, like man”, “they, like mankind”, “they, as at Adam”, “they, like Adam”, “they, in their land”. The Septuagint translates the Hebrew “ws anqrwpos ”. Additionally, Murray avoids discussion of Isaiah 24:5 in his treatment. This verse has been used by Meredith Kline and others to defend the works principle and the associated covenant of works. See Kingdom Prologue, page 14.
4 ibid p. 50.
5Kline, Kingdom Prologue, 2.
6For more on the covenant of works and the covenant of grace see Meredith Kline's “Covenant Theology Under Attack”, Online: http://www.opc.org/new_horizons/Kline_cov_theo.html
7Geerhardus Vos, Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 1980), 234-242. Here Vos provides an excellent tracking of the history of the development of covenant theology.
8WCF Ch. 7 P2,3.
Note that in the above section, Dr. Horton docked me for not citing all my assertions. And, amazingly, Dr. Horton caught my Greek error in footnote 3 where I failed to correct the wrong form of 's' or sigma that ends the word anthropos. He went over this paper with a fine toothed comb. Also, Dr. Horton liked my phrase "as befitting a wide-angle lens". I think that phrase all by itself rescued the paper from mediocrity.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
The Bible is a very big book.
Its sheer size, its varied genres, its obtuse nature have prevented many Christians from finding in it the special revelation that its author has intended for us to have. Is the Bible a magic book of lucky charms, a manual for successful living, a violin upon which you can play any song that comes to mind? Affirmative answers to these questions guarantee failure to truly apprehend the special revelation of God that is contained within its pages.
Many express the mantra that Christianity is not a religion but a personal relationship with God. Correlated with this view is the idea that the primary purpose of the Bible is to provide a guide for entering into this personal relationship. The idea of personal relationship then is used as a lens with which one understands the Bible.
Little better is a central dogma approach. This method accentuates one doctrine over against all others. For example, some see the Bible primarily speaking about God's sovereignty and as a result highlight so-called Calvinism. Others, recognizing the immense importance of justification settle on it as the hinge doctrine of the Bible. Other examples of this abound.
Rather than go into detail explaining why these approaches quickly fail to deliver on their promises, I suggest a different approach and a different and considerably more ambitious goal: The best way to approach Scripture and more specifically systematic theology is through the lens of the covenant because God himself is a covenantal God.
I am considering posting my Christian Mind paper in its entirety. Why? I just got it back and reread it. I like it. So did the prof.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
I was just notified that my services will not be needed at the drug and alcohol rehab center. This is the reason I was given for being dismissed: the elders decided that they wanted to keep the leadership of the Bible Study within the Crossroads' community. It's one of the places--along with Sunday evening worship--where we maintain community and communicate a vision with them, so the elders thought it right to maintain some direct relationship to that leadership.