The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Posts Tagged ‘New Covenant Theology

Review: “From the Finger of God: The Biblical and Theological Basis for the Threefold Division of the Law”

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From the Finger of God: The Biblical and Theological Basis for the Threefold Division of the Law

Philip S. Ross

Christian Focus (Mentor), 2010, 448pp., paperback, £12.99

ISBN 9781845506018

With wit, verve and insight, Mr Ross sets himself against the apparently-growing consensus that the threefold division of the law is without basis in Scripture and illegitimate in theology, taking in as he does so some of the typical corollaries of such a position. He begins with a demonstration of the historical validity of this perspective, before leading us on a sequential trawl through the Scriptures, beginning with Moses, heading swiftly and surely to the New Testament and the experience and teaching of Christ and his apostles, reaching satisfying and searching conclusions, not least in the central matters of the gospel. While the scholarly depth and breadth of research is readily evident, the book is straightforward to read (helped by that lively style). Those who themselves hold to the author’s perspective will find much to encourage, instruct and stimulate, not least in those areas where there may be different nuances of understanding. Those who disagree must face and reckon with the gracious but forthright challenge that Mr Ross holds out. An excellent book, and warmly recommended.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 11 March 2011 at 08:42

Baptists, baptism and covenant theology

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Walter Chantry has posted on the above subject at the Reformed Baptist Fellowship blog.

The brevity of the post (still longer than many blog entries – is there an average?) means that not every nuance can be teased out, not every point fully expounded, but it is still a very helpful overview of the typical Reformed Baptist’s understanding of baptism and covenant theology (i.e. there are a few things that I would want to add or nuance if in personal discussion with someone).  It is clear, bold, earnest, and sets out a very helpful framework within which to go on working on the nuances and teasing out the issues.

Read it all.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 4 April 2009 at 08:23

True spirituality?

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Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 11 February 2009 at 15:17

The end of the conference

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Gary Brady – among others – has been blogging the Affinity conference on The end of the law? It sounds like an interesting if not entirely encouraging environment.  Here are Gary’s reports on the various sessions (with some alternative views), and his summary:

  1. Robert Letham
  2. Iain D Campbell (who also comments here)
  3. Douglas Moo (who is very tall)
  4. Paul Helm (see here also)
  5. Chris Bennett (a variant view here)
  6. Michael Horton
  7. Summary

According to Adrian Reynolds (who also blogged the conference, more sympathetic to NCT than Gary, and who would like to see the moniker Bovinian applied to adherents of NCT), a straw poll taken over the meal tables suggests that the conference was split about 50-50 between NCT and more orthodox perspectives.  Whether or not that also reflects a generational gap I am not sure is clear, but it does seem de rigeur among many younger pastors.  If this is so, I do think it is a potentially devastating problem.  Adrian also quotes the staggeringly unhelpful comment from Chris Bennett when someone forthrightly suggested that without the law people will not know how to live: “We just need to trust the Spirit and chill out a bit.”

Unrelatedly, I think, Kim Riddlebarger gives us the Canons of Dort on the inadequacy of the law, and comments upon it, with some helpful insights from Professor John Murray as to what the law can and cannot do.  He also does jokes (Riddlebarger, that is, although I am sure that Professor Murray also did the funnies at times).

Also floating around are some comparisons between the Heidelberg Catechism and the Larger Westminster Catechism on the Lord’s day, with the implication that the Heidelberg is to be preferred:

Heidelberg Catechism

Question 103. What does God require in the fourth commandment?

Answer: First, that the ministry of the gospel and the schools be maintained; and that I, especially on the sabbath, that is, on the day of rest, diligently frequent the church of God, to hear his word, to use the sacraments, publicly to call upon the Lord, and contribute to the relief of the poor. Secondly, that all the days of my life I cease from my evil works, and yield myself to the Lord, to work by his Holy Spirit in me: and thus begin in this life the eternal sabbath.

Westminster Larger Catechism

Question 115: Which is the fourth commandment?

Answer: The fourth commandment is, Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Question 116: What is required in the fourth commandment?

Answer: The fourth commandment requires of all men the sanctifying or keeping holy to God such set times as he has appointed in his Word, expressly one whole day in seven; which was the seventh from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, and the first day of the week ever since, and so to continue to the end of the world; which is the Christian sabbath, and in the New Testament called the Lord’s day.

Question 117: How is the sabbath or the Lord’s day to be sanctified?

Answer: The sabbath or Lord’s day is to be sanctified by an holy resting all the day, not only from such works as are at all times sinful, but even from such worldly employments and recreations as are on other days lawful; and making it our delight to spend the whole time (except so much of it as is to betaken up in works of necessity and mercy) in the public and private exercises of God’s worship: and, to that end, we are to prepare our hearts, and with such foresight, diligence, and moderation, to dispose and seasonably dispatch our worldly business, that we may be the more free and fit for the duties of that day.

Question 118: Why is the charge of keeping the sabbath more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors?

Answer: The charge of keeping the sabbath is more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors, because they are bound not only to keep it themselves, but to see that it be observed by all those that are under their charge; and because they are prone ofttimes to hinder them by employments of their own.

Question 119: What are the sins forbidden in the fourth commandment?

Answer: The sins forbidden in the fourth commandment are, all omissions of the duties required, all careless, negligent, and unprofitable performing of them, and being weary of them; all profaning the day by idleness, and doing that which is in itself sinful; and by all needless works, words, and thoughts, about our worldly employments and recreations.

Question 120: What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment, the more to enforce it?

Answer: The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment, the more to enforce it, are taken from the equity of it, God allowing us six days of seven for our own affairs, and reserving but one for himself, in these words, Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: from God’s challenging a special propriety in that day, The seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: from the example of God, who in six days made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: and from that blessing which God put upon that day, not only in sanctifying it to be a day for his service, but in ordaining it to be a means of blessing to us in our sanctifying it;Wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Question 121: Why is the word Remember set in the beginning of the fourth commandment?

Answer: The word Remember is set in the beginning of the fourth commandment, partly, because of the great benefit of remembering it, we being thereby helped in our preparation to keep it, and, in keeping it, better to keep all the rest of the commandments, and to continue a thankful remembrance of the two great benefits of creation and redemption, which contain a short abridgment of religion; and partly, because we are very ready to forget it, for that there is less light of nature for it, and yet it restrains our natural liberty in things at other times lawful; that it comes but once in seven days, and many worldly businesses come between, and too often take off our minds from thinking of it, either to prepare for it, or to sanctify it;and that Satan with his instruments much labor to blot out the glory, and even the memory of it, to bring in all irreligion and impiety.

The end of the law?

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This week, Affinity will be hosting a conference under the title, The End of the Law? It is a clever title – clever in its calculated ambivalence.

I had hoped to attend, but am unable to do so because of other pressing commitments.  As regular readers of this blog will know, I have profound concerns over what is called New Covenant Theology, and the antinomianism which I am persuaded is inherent in it.  I am concerned that the calculated ambivalence of the Affinity conference points to a talking shop in which various perspectives on the law of God will be propounded.  That is not to say that there is not some scope for discussion about the precise nature of the covenant of grace (for example, while it looks as if there will be a robustly Reformed Presbyterian perspective delivered, I am not sure that an equally robust Reformed Baptistic view will be presented), but the enduring validity of the moral law must not be put up for grabs.  The abiding nature of God’s law is not an in-house discussion: it is a matter of truth and error (albeit not, in every manifestation, heresy).  That said, I have a book by a ‘New Covenant’ theologian on my shelf in which his best arguments against bestiality are that you cannot have sex outside marriage, you cannot marry an unbeliever, it is almost universally illegal in the eyes of the civil magistrate to marry an animal (or vegetable), and therefore the latter two considerations make sex with an animal a breaking of God’s law (because those latter two principles of marriage to an unbeliever and obedience to the civil magistrate are mentioned in the New Testament).  However, if you and your sister are both Christians and you live in a country which permits marriage between siblings, then there is apparently nothing in the ‘new covenant’ to keep you from marrying.  I kid you not.

I am not suggesting that this is where all participants in the Affinity conference are heading, or even those who will be setting forth a less than Scriptural perspective.  However, it indicates the trend and tendency of this teaching, and where the next generations will be taking it.  We are already seeing a casual and widely assumed antinomianism characterising evangelicalism: the working assumption seems often to be that the ten commandments are passé.

Over the last few weeks, several blogs have been quoting from the great believers of the past.  Again, there is not absolute uniformity, but – despite the various currents – there is a plain river of orthodoxy which we must not pollute.

Gary Brady on Calvin and the third use of the law.

Martin Downes on Thomas Boston; Calvin on being confronted by the law; Calvin on the first use of the law; on the righteousness of the law; Bolton on law and gospel and assurance; Bolton again on the substance of the moral law.

R Scott Clark on Calvin and the law and gospel; Ursinus on the same; a pan-Protestant scan on the same; and points us to some Marrow theology.

This is a point for holding fast in our day, with a love and affection for those with whom we differ, but with a love and reverence for the heavenly Father whose character is made known in the law; for the Son who obeyed and honoured and fulfilled the law in his life and death; and for the Spirit, whose office is to write that law upon the fleshy tablets of our renewed hearts.  This is no time for ambivalence, clever or otherwise.

light-through-clouds-2

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 3 February 2009 at 10:55

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