General Equity and RP Denomination Interpretation

Discussion in 'The Confession of Faith' started by Somiyah, Sep 21, 2014.

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  1. Somiyah

    Somiyah Puritan Board Freshman

    Hello, all. Does anyone know if any RP denomination has dissent toward John Calvin's interpretation of general equity? More specifically, do any disagree with his interpretation of proving a case with witnesses? Here's what my denomination's literature states:

    "The accused cannot be convicted of any count on the testimony of a single witness."

    But it doesn't have the rest of the verse it refers to:

    “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established." (Deut 19:15 ESV)

    I would like to find out if we are allowed to follow only one part of a single verse. It doesn't seem equitable to safeguard one side of a conflict but not the other, unlike its source.

    John Calvin's commentary on Heb 10:28: "At the same time that equity ought to be observed which almost all statesman have adopted, that no one is to be condemned without being proved guilty by the testimony of two witnesses." Hebrews 10 Calvin's Commentaries

    It seems like the popularly accepted interpretation of general equity is that of John Calvin, William Ames, and Terretin. (Search word: "general equity") The Divine Law of Political Israel Expired: General Equity - The Westminster Presbyterian

    If my denomination's literature cites 2 Cor 13:1 on a page that mentions "reasonable evidence," which would otherwise be vague to me, is that what it's citing it for?

    And correct me if i'm wrong, but I think Matthew 18 also implies the one with witnesses is right because the person at fault is asked to listen to them and elders as if he is in the wrong and if he still doesn't listen, he gets excommunicated.

    Based on his commentary on other passages about witnesses, I think it's safe to say that John Calvin isn't contradicting himself, but is instead saying how the general law is being applied specifically on the topic being discussed, that it's not exhaustive (he says Paul does this in 1 Cor 7:10). Calvin on 1 Tim 5:19 "Against an elder receive not an accusation. After having commanded that salaries should be paid to pastors, he likewise instructs Timothy not to allow them to be assailed by calumnies, or loaded with any accusation but what is supported by sufficient proof. But it may be thought strange, that he represents, as peculiar to elders, a law which is common to all. God lays down, authoritatively, this law as applicable to all cases, that they shall be decided “by the mouth of two or three witnesses.” (Deuteronomy 17:6; Matthew 18:16.) Why then does the Apostle protect elders alone by this privilege, as if it were peculiar to them, that their innocence shall be defended against false accusations?" 1 Timothy 5 - John Calvin's Commentaries on the Bible

    P.S. Does anyone know if I can post this in the Calvinism group as well?
  2. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    There is no need to duplicate posts; the different categories are forums to which all full members can have access.
  3. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    Hello Somiyah, I'll try to answer a couple of your questions.

    The two sentences of the Deut. verse say the same thing, one negatively (one witness insufficient) and one positively (two or more witnesses necessary).

    The Matt. 18 verses set up a situation in which two disagreeing brothers bring their dispute before two or three others with the primary goal of resolving the issue then and there. While it is likely that the one who instigates the meeting and asks for witnesses may emerge from the meeting with his stand justified, that is not always the case.
  4. Somiyah

    Somiyah Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks to the both of you.

    Tim, thanks for the reassurance. I didn't want to make a logical statement without confirming that it's undeniable. I definitely set it up as a dichotomy.

    I agree that different situations and witnesses will illuminate who is right, but I wanted to confirm that that is its purpose. That in Matthew 18, it talks about the typical situation. Thanks.

    More confirmation from others is still welcome.
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