Anthropology, CoW, and the Image of God

Discussion in 'Covenant Theology' started by Justified, Nov 17, 2016.

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  1. Justified

    Justified Puritan Board Sophomore

    If man is made in the image of God at creation, and part of that image consists in the indwelling of the Spirit, how does one avoid the conclusion that the Covenant of Works is not supperadded, but rather per Kline is natural to man?

    Furthermore, at the recent Reformed Forum conference (I didn't go but some of my friends told me about it), some of the speakers thought that, not only should it be said that man is made in true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness insofar as he is in the image of God, but also it should be said that he was made in union and communion with his Creator.

    How do both of these claims square with WCF 7.1? I am trying to think of an anthropology that does not imply Klinean Covenant Theology.
  2. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    The Law (Moral Law) is natural. The Covenant of Works was added with Promise.

    Robert Shaw explains this well.

  3. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Reverend Winzer noted this years ago when I started looking into this and the Republication issue which I held to during that time as a Reformed Baptist.

    This blog deals with Condescension and WCF 7.1
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2016
  4. Justified

    Justified Puritan Board Sophomore

    I am aware of the distinction. This doesn't exactly answer my question. My question regards what is at least a prima facie tension between Reformed anthropology and Covenant Theology.

    I'll try to be a bit more clear in what I am saying.
    Westminster Confession 7.1:
    Our fruition, blessedness, and reward is found only in God. The only way, however, for man to have such fruition, blessedness, and reward is by way of God's voluntary condescension, by way of covenant. Good so far. Now, our happiness comes from our union and communion with God, effected by the Holy Spirit which indwells believers (and according to Reformed anthropology, Adam and Eve because the Spirit is a part of the image of God in its original state). It seems to follow from this that, since Adam had the image of God and had the Spirit, and thus had union, communion, and happiness in God, that he must by nature had been in covenant with God. He is naturally constituted to be in covenant of God, given how the image has been defined.

    To clarify, I am not a Klinean. I am trying, however, to think this through. I know some possible ways out, but I do not like any of them so far.
  5. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Yes, our blessing is found in God. As a creation of God we were blessed to be created by him and to receive any blessing of knowing him. That doesn't require any promise or Covenant. Adam was fully blessed in knowing his creator. When does the stipulation for Covenant come to arise in that situation? The situation arises when God enters into the promise of life or death based upon Adam's response to the Promises within the period of probation. The Promise of Life or Death is only given in the Covenant of Works. The promise of Reward for one or the other is only entered into after it is stipulated to Adam. The Covenant of Works is not a creational entity. It is given in Creation. As Reverend Winzer noted, the reworking of these categories and how they operate becomes a mess when they are collapsed together.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2016
  6. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I see WCF 7.1 positing that there must be a covenant given the distance between God and Man. I don't know if it is natural to man's constitution, but that seems to be the force of the language.
  7. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Senior

    Big difference though between Adam, who was with a sin nature, and us who have one, for he actually had the means within him as fully im image of God to keep obey God, but we even after saved and indwelt by the Spirit still have no sinless perfection state attainable to us.

    Did God intend the Covenant of Works to be real offer though, as He ordained/permitted Adam to fall away in the future then?
  8. Justified

    Justified Puritan Board Sophomore

    I hope you see my concern. If all the benefits of God are mediated to man through covenant (esp., communion and union with God), and we have these through the indwelling of the Spirit, and the Spirit is a part of the image of God, then covenant would be natural to man. Hence, the Klineans are right.

    I don't think the Klineans are right, but I am trying to work through this.
  9. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    We can also see Van Tillian and Vosian elements: man is either covenant-breaker or covenant-keeper. I'm not a Klinean myself, either.
  10. Justified

    Justified Puritan Board Sophomore

    What about not seeing the Spirit as part of the image and, if I may dare to say it, thinking of the Spirit as a kind of donum superadditum? I heard that, though he didn't use the language, Edwards thought of the Spirit as a kind of donum superadditum. Man would still be born in righteousness, which is not superadded; however, he would need the Spirit superadded for union and communion with his Creator.
  11. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    I can't see this in the Confession. There must be voluntary condescension, and God has been pleased to voluntary condescend by way of covenant, but there is no statement which says that there must be a covenant between God and men. In fact, the Confession has two previous chapters demonstrating voluntary condescension without reference to a covenant. Those chapters are on creation and providence.

    The Standards teach that the covenant of life is "a special act of providence." We need to beware of what has been called "covenant overload," which has arisen through neo-Calvinism making covenant a metaphysical category. Historic Calvinism did not operate on the basis that covenant theology subsumes everything.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2016
  12. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I'm certainly not going for covenantal overload. I find myself agreeing more with Shedd these days, and he isn't overly covenantal. But I note the following:
    1. "So great a distance"
    2. There must be voluntary condescension.
    3. Whatever else (2) could have been, we see it as covenant.

    I guess I just can't see man in an abstracted sense.
  13. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    See chap. 4:2, "Beside this law written in their hearts, they received a command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which while they kept, they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures." Compare with 7:2, "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. Compare also 19:1, "God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works, by which He bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience; promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it."

    Genesis 2:17 is the proof text in each instance.

    The image of God in man is an act of creation. The law written in the heart is an act of creation. The covenant of works is a post-creation, special act of providence. It is articulated in these precise terms in the Larger and Shorter Catechisms. LC 20, entering into a covenant of life with man was the "providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created," along with placing him in the garden and ordaining marriage for his help, among other things. SC 12 specifically and explicitly calls it a "special act of providence," which God entered into when he "had created" man.
  14. Justified

    Justified Puritan Board Sophomore

    Rev. Winzer, do you have anything to say about the OP (my OP). I am struggling with the connection between man's constitution in the image of God and its relation to the CoW.
  15. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    1st consideration -- By right of creation man owes obedience to his Creator irrespective of reward. It is God's goodness which annexes blessedness to obedience. The covenant promised blessedness to obedience and stipulated the terms on which the promise would be obtained. Since man owed obedience prior to the covenant it is obvious that the covenant was not co-natural with man.

    2nd consideration -- The covenant of works set forth a temporary probation leading to a confirmed state of blessedness. The natural came first, then the spiritual. If Adam obeyed, he and his posterity would have been confirmed in blessedness forever. None of the posterity would have been subject to the terms of the probation, and would have received the reward by grace. That being the case the covenant of works is obviously a means to an end and is not co-natural with man.

    3rd consideration -- If the image of God were intrinsically tied to the covenant of works, as something co-natural with it, the image of God could not be restored by the grace of the second covenant. What is essential to nature cannot be removed without destroying nature. The fact that God freely saves and restores sinful man by the grace of the second covenant demonstrates that the first covenant was not co-natural to him.

    4th consideration -- Even the covenant of grace shall be consummated and Christ shall deliver up the kingdom to the Father. The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in the consummated state, and His servants shall serve Him. There the promise has been swallowed up in fulfilment. Creation will have been entirely subdued to the rule of righteousness and redeemed man will be thoroughly renewed in the image of God. Then it will be clearly seen that the covenant of works is not co-natural with man.

    Knowing your interest in philosophy it might help to distinguish ontology and teleology, or being and well-being. Creation constitutes being; providence conserves being; covenant comes in as a special means to lead being to its end or goal, i.e., well-being.
  16. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Senior

    man was not created to be in the Image of God as to the attributes of God, but more as to His personailty, and ability to think/have emotions/relate to God in a way distinct from all other created beings?

    And that we no longer have the fullness of even that as Adam/Eve have remaining, more like a rsidual of that glory they once had in their natures?
  17. Warren

    Warren Puritan Board Freshman

    I'd say the faithful have a greater glory than Adam and Eve. Adam (Mankind) received God's promises in their flesh. We receive God's promises in the Spirit.
  18. Justified

    Justified Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thank you, especially for that last distinction. What do you think about the idea that in addition to man being made in true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, that he was also made in union and communion with his Creator. Apparently, that was what was being set forth at the most recent Reformed Forum Conference. It gave me pause.
  19. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    Maybe I'm missing it here, but I see a difference between Question 17 of the WLC and question 20.

    How did God create Adam? "made ... after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness and holiness, having the law of God written in their hearts"

    What was the providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created? "...affording him communion with Himself...".

    I'm curious how "affording him communion" is used here.
  20. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    Also, what I find interesting is that it seems Union with God is a work of Grace, and not of creation.

    I could be wrong here. But that's what the Catechism seems to be saying.
  21. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    It is difficult to answer without knowing the exegetical and theological basis for the claim, but Andrew points in the right direction by referring communion to providence. Knowledge, righteousness, and holiness capacitated man for communion, but the terms on which it would be enjoyed were marked out by special providential administration, and this is clearly set forth in Gen. 2:16-17, after man had been placed in the garden.
  22. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Something more is held out to even unfallen Man by the Sabbath, also, in that he could look forward to entering God's rest once his earthly work was complete.

    Sent from my C6903 using Tapatalk
  23. hammondjones

    hammondjones Puritan Board Freshman

    I assume that it was Dr. Tipton who said this. In the lead up to the conference, there were at least a couple of podcasts on this very issue, in which he said similar things, if I remember. Though I cannot recall any particular phrases from memory, my recollection was that he was positing a sort of internal eschatological movement in the creation of man that made it more or less unthinkable that Adam might be created and then left without covenant or, shall we say, possibility of advancement. Perhaps some of the comments in that podcast can clarify. I believe it was in one of the more recent podcasts found here:
  24. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Senior

    We will have a gretar glory when Jesus returns and glirifies our bodies into His own Image/body, but still see Adam being better position than we are right now in the sense that he had the Full image of God in him, and wjen he fell, we now have a distorted version in us...
  25. Justified

    Justified Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thanks for the context! That clears up a lot of issues. I am fine with saying that man was constituted such that he was made to be in covenant with God, so long as that covenant is not natural to him. Tipton seems to maintain that, for which I am thankful.
  26. TheologiaCrucis

    TheologiaCrucis Puritan Board Freshman

    Personally I am always a bit hesitant to begin any theological proposition with whatever the image of God implies about the nature of man. Genesis 1 tells us about the function of the image--to subdue the earth and exercise dominion--but the actual nature of this image is not precisely defined. I would start there.
  27. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    I took several classes with Dr. Tipton, and in one of those, he explained the image of God in man as consisting of two main parts: moral agency and moral excellence. I personally think that there might be more to it than that (elements of rational thinking and dominion might be arguably included in the image of God as well), but I certainly agree that the image of God includes moral agency and moral excellence. He was explaining this in relation to the Lutheran view of the image being completely lost in the Fall, and in relation to the Romanist view that the image is retained, only the donum superadditum being lost; whereas the Reformed view is that the moral agency is fully retained while the moral excellence is wholly lost.

    If one wants to extend these thoughts into the realm of covenant theology, a couple of points need to be firmly maintained. A covenant is a contractual agreement. The words of the Lord establishing the covenant in Genesis 2 make it quite plain that the creation of mankind does not automatically imply a covenant with him. I don't see how any ontological considerations regarding the image of God in man could force a contractual agreement on God's part, or inherently imply a covenant. Ontology is not inherently contractual. God establishes a covenant with man by His words, and it is always a condescension on God's part, never something that humanity can force upon God. However, the covenant of works most definitely did have everything to do with the moral excellence component of the image of God. The moral excellence of Adam, being part of the image of God, was put on probation. However, the moral excellence component of the image of God is not inherently covenantal. This is how I would parse the considerations you brought up. I think this is how many Klineans would, as well.
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