A New Covenant Theology fundamental flaw

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panta dokimazete

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
A core tenet of NCT is that there is no physical aspect of the New Covenant (NC). It is purely spiritual only and is therefore composed of only the elect.

2 typical components of covenants are 1) a sign to seal it with 2) blessings and curses as consequences.

Both the elect and reprobate take on the physical sign of the NC, so both fall under the blessings and curses of the covenant.

For the elect, the physical blessings of the NC (e.g., Gal 5:22-23) and eternal communion with God.

For the reprobate, the physical blessings of the NC (e.g., Heb 6:4-6) but the curse of eternal damnation, because they are ultimately covenant breakers (e.g., Heb 10:29-30, Matt 7:22).

Thus, the NC is mixed and NCT has a fundamental flaw.
 
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brandonadams

Puritan Board Freshman
JD, can you please define "purely spiritual only" and "no physical aspect"? I'm not aware of anyone who teaches there is "no physical aspect" to the New Covenant. If you could provide a quotation to back up your claim as well, that would be helpful. Saying that only the regenerate are members of the New Covenant is not the same thing as saying there is "no physical aspect" to the New Covenant.

2 typical components of covenants are 1) a sign to seal it with 2) blessings and curses as consequences.
Note that you said "typical" not "necessary." The New Covenant, being a marriage union with the incarnate, resurrected Son of God, is not exactly a "typical" covenant.

Any argument that says the New Covenant must contain curses because covenants, by definition, contain curses is circular. Determining what covenants must or must not include must be determined by looking at all the biblical covenants, including the New. Therefore the necessary components of a covenant are determined by examining the components of the New Covenant, not the other way around.

Both the elect and reprobate take on the physical sign of the NC, so both fall under the blessings and curses of the covenant.
This does not follow. Give John Murray a read.
we must at the same time distinguish between the constitutive principle in terms of which the church is defined, on the one hand, and the de facto situation arising from the way in which Christ has chosen to administer the affairs of his church in the world, on the other. The inclusion and exclusion are in the hands of fallible men. This administration is of divine institution. Hence those who are not Christ’s gain admission.*27 Here is the anomaly. We have to recognise and contain it. It persists in its sharpness because we refuse to define the church in lower terms than the body of Christ and the communion of the saints. It is that definition that creates the anomaly and we may not revise the definition in order to relieve the tension…The resolution of the anomaly, that there are some who, from the standpoint of administration, rightly receive the sign and seal of that which in reality they do not possess, is not to be sought along the line of the distinction between an external covenant relationship and the internal spiritual relationship but rather in the consideration that there is a discrepancy between the secret operations and purposes of God in his saving grace, on the one hand, and the divinely instituted method of administering the covenant in the world, on the other. In other words, the administration of the rite that is the sign and seal of the covenant has to be conducted not in accordance with God’s secret operations and infallible purposes of grace but in accordance with certain requirements which fallible men may execute and apply. The divine method of administering the covenant in the world is that God commits to fallible men the ordinances of administration. These ordinances have to be dispensed in accordance with requirements which fallible men may apply. But the requirements that may be applied by men are not the measure of God’s secret and efficacious operations of grace.

-Christian Baptism

Give Owen a read on Heb 6:4-6 and 10:29-30. https://contrast2.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/owen-on-hebrews-63-6/

See also his Nature and Causes of Apostasy from the Gospel, which focuses on Heb 6. He notes there was disagreement in his day over how to understand the relationship between apostasy and New Covenant membership. His opinion was

Here is no express mention of any covenant grace or mercy in them or towards them.
This is in contrast to those mentioned in v9-10
For they were such he intended as were interested in the covenant of grace, with respect whereunto alone there is any engagement on the faithfulness or righteousness of God to preserve men from apostasy and ruin; and there is so with an equal respect unto all who are so taken into that covenant. But of these in the text [v4-6] he supposeth no such thing

Also give Owen a read on Heb 8:6-13. From 8:11 he says
Obs. XXIV. Where there is not some degree of saving knowledge, there no interest in the new covenant can be pretended...

Obs. XXVII. Persons destitute of this saving knowledge are utter strangers unto the covenant of grace; for this is a principal promise and effect of it, wherever it doth take place.

On v10-12 he comments on the conditionality of the New Covenant.
That covenant was broken, but this shall never be so, because provision is made in the covenant itself against any such event...

But in the description of the covenant here annexed, there is no mention of any condition on the part of man, of any terms of obedience prescribed unto him, but the whole consists in free, gratuitous promises...

Nothing, therefore, can be argued for the necessity of conditions to belong unto this covenant from the name or term whereby it is expressed in the prophet...

It is evident that the first grace of the covenant, or God’s putting his law in our hearts, can depend on no condition on our part. For whatever is antecedent thereunto, being only a work or act of corrupted nature, can be no condition whereon the dispensation of spiritual grace is superadded. And this is the great ground of them who absolutely deny the covenant of grace to be conditional; namely, that the first grace is absolutely promised, whereon and its exercise the whole of it doth depend...

Let it be granted on the one hand, that we cannot have an actual participation of the relative grace of this covenant in adoption and justification, without faith or believing; and on the other, that this faith is wrought in us, given unto us, bestowed upon us, by that grace of the covenant which depends on no condition in us as unto its discriminating administration, and I shall not concern myself what men will call it.

 

panta dokimazete

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
First off, thank you for your detailed and thoughtful response.

JD, can you please define "purely spiritual only" and "no physical aspect"? I'm not aware of anyone who teaches there is "no physical aspect" to the New Covenant. If you could provide a quotation to back up your claim as well, that would be helpful. Saying that only the regenerate are members of the New Covenant is not the same thing as saying there is "no physical aspect" to the New Covenant.

To be clearer - NCT claims there are no reprobate in the NC. That, unlike the OT covenants, the NC has only spiritual members. This is the NCT error I address in the OP.

Any argument that says the New Covenant must contain curses because covenants, by definition, contain curses is circular.

The argument that conditional covenants contain blessings and curses is not circular, it is factual. Unless you can give me a Scriptural example of one that does not. For example, Jesus identified the conditional nature of the NC when He said, "If you love me, keep my commandments." John 3:16-18 and Rom 10:8-10 are other examples of the conditional nature of the NC.

Here is a good article on the subject.

I am not arguing the unconditional spiritual aspect of the NC for the elect, only the conditional physical aspect of NC mixed membership.

As it regards your other quotes - please show me a Scriptural example of where a person that takes on the physical sign of a covenant is not considered in the covenant until proven a covenant-breaker.
 
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brandonadams

Puritan Board Freshman
Unless you can give me a Scriptural example of one that does not. For example, Jesus identified the conditional nature of the NC when He said, "If you love me, keep my commandments."
Please read John Owen addressing this. https://contrast2.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/owen-new-covenant-conditional-or-absolute/ Noting that covenants have requirements does not entail that every covenant has curses.

Poythress says "We should also say that joining the church brings a person into a kind of covenantal relationship with God." That is what is denied as lacking biblical warrant. The Bible does not teach that everyone who professes faith or is baptized is therefore a member of the New Covenant. Rather, the Bible teaches that those who have the Spirit and are united to Christ are members of the New Covenant.

I am not arguing the unconditional spiritual aspect of the NC for the elect, only the conditional physical aspect of NC mixed membership.

Again, read Owen.

please show me a Scriptural example of where a person that takes on the physical sign of a covenant is not considered in the covenant until proven a covenant-breaker.

Your language is nebulous. "Considered" could mean different things. Yes, we consider everyone who is part of the visible church to be in the New Covenant. But as Murray explains, our perspective is fallible and our consideration may be mistaken. Just because we consider them to be members of the New Covenant doesn't mean that they are. Again, read Owen in the link and on the passages I listed above, as he addresses this at length.
 

panta dokimazete

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Yes, we consider everyone who is part of the visible church to be in the New Covenant.

The point is, does God consider them to be a part of the NC, if only in a temporal sense?

Hebrews 10:29–31
How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (ESV)
 

panta dokimazete

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
No, He does not. As I've said already, please read Owen on Heb 10:29. I'm getting the sense that you haven't considered Owen's comments :)

Well, it is a little tldr; :) - particularly since he ignores the NC temporal component and shapes his rationale appropriately.

No, He does not.

Case in point: Judas was received as a NC disciple by Jesus. Judas was a covenant-breaker.
 
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brandonadams

Puritan Board Freshman
Well, it is a little tldr
If you have time to post on here and argue, you have time to read.
particularly since he ignores the NC temporal component and shapes his rationale appropriately.
In other words, your mind is made up and you're unwilling to even consider an alternative exegesis of the relevant texts.
Case in point: Judas was received as a NC disciple by Jesus. Judas was a covenant-breaker.
Yes, Judas was a disciple. That does not mean he was a member of the New Covenant.

Have a good day.
 

panta dokimazete

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
If you have time to post on here and argue, you have time to read.

I did read through it, and summarized my response. I am a big believer that “brevity is the soul of wit”. :)

I am perfectly willing to be convinced.

Scripturally, where is a person who takes the physical sign of a conditional covenant not considered a real member of said covenant by man and God until considered a covenant-breaker?

Owens hasn’t proven that and neither have you.
 
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