Interesting Upcoming Book on the Mosaic Covenant

Discussion in 'The Literary Forum' started by ChristianTrader, Nov 24, 2008.

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  1. ChristianTrader

    ChristianTrader Puritan Board Graduate

    P & R Publishing: Individual Title

    The Law Is Not of Faith
    Essays on Works and Grace in the Mosaic Covenant

    Bryan D. Estelle, J. V. Fesko, David VanDrunen

    Is the Mosaic covenant in some sense a republication of the covenant of works? What is the nature of its demand for obedience, since sinful man is unable to obey as God requires? How in turn was the law to drive Israel to Jesus? This book explores these issues pertaining to the doctrine of republication—once a staple in Reformed theology—a doctrine with far-reaching implications for Paul’s theology, our relationship to Old Testament law, justification, and more.

    This anthology argues that the Mosaic covenant in some sense replicates the original covenant with Adam in the garden, and that this notion is neither novel to nor optional for Reformed theology. The authors locate it within the fabric of federal theology in its Reformation and post-Reformation development, and more importantly, they demonstrate how it is firmly embedded in the flow of redemptive history. Finally, they explain why a thin and merely soteric Calvinism, without the support of federal theology, cannot withstand the challenges to Reformed orthodoxy today. While varying among themselves in their expression of this “republication thesis,” these authors together make a compelling and coherent argument with rich historical, exegetical, and theological insights.

    Last edited: Nov 25, 2008
  2. ChristianTrader

    ChristianTrader Puritan Board Graduate

  3. JDKetterman

    JDKetterman Puritan Board Freshman

    I'll have to check it out.
  4. RTaron

    RTaron The Grandpa (Affectionately Called)

    What is that supposed to mean? Paul's theology? Is that how they talk in the schools of higher leaning? As if what Paul wrote was not God Breathed.
  5. CalvinandHodges

    CalvinandHodges Puritan Board Junior


    Would you like to discuss the idea that the Mosaic Covenant was a re-publication of the Covenant of Works? The authors of this book take the positive side. Reformed Theologians since the 16th Century (in the majority) have argued the opposite.

    I would be interested in exploring this with anyone here.


  6. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    That is not the implication at all. There are different emphases of different Scriptural writers. God did not ignore the human differences between Paul and John when fully inspiring His Bible. One can tell the difference between John and Paul. Of course, there are no contradictions, but that is certainly not implied in saying "Paul's theology."
    -----Added 11/26/2008 at 11:27:31 EST-----
    They are merely following the WCF, which clearly says in chapter 19 that the law is continuous from Adam to Sinai. Anyone not part of the covenant of grace is still subservient to the covenant of works. Of course, the Mosaic covenant was a covenant of grace. However, that does not prevent an overlap of covenants in the Mosaic economy. From my reading, most Reformed theologians have gone the route of republication, while also recognizing that the Mosaic economy has aspects of the covenant of grace as well.
  7. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    See that is the thing Lane. I think Chapter 7 of the WCF makes it pretty clear that the Mosaic Covenant is wholly a Covenant of Grace and is in no part of a Covenant of Works.

  8. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    Saying that the Mosaic economy is of grace does not preclude a simultaneous covenant of works. Read chapter 19 of the WCF very carefully, and you fill find that the moral law is the common thread here that links the Adamic covenant with the Mosaic covenant, though, of course, in such a way that the Mosaic economy is also a covenant of grace. Nothing in chapter 7 excludes an additional layer of the Mosaic economy.
  9. RTaron

    RTaron The Grandpa (Affectionately Called)

    Thanks Lane. It is a confusing way to use words if you ask me. How could you know what "Paul's theology" was in the first place without comparing it with the rest of the scripture?

    Anyway, back to the topic. I'm with CH, if this book is promoting some view that the children of Israel received the promise land by works it is not confessional.
  10. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    Of course one wouldn't know what "Paul's theology" was without comparing it to the rest of Scripture. However, is such a decontextualized method being advocated simply by saying "Paul's theology?" Surely it is being used as a synonym for "the corpus of Paul's books and what they mean." That is a bit cumbersome, however, so it is not surprising that someone may use a common, conventional even, way of referring to what Paul meant (what God meant through Paul).
  11. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    What I believe the Divines to be teaching here in Chapter 19 is not that the Covenant of Works continues in the Law (because how can a Covenant continue after it is broken?) and that we are still able/supposed to fulfill act on this Covenant but that in effect the Law continues in its role as a schoolmaster just as it did for Adam. In other words the Law in the Garden fills the same role as it does for us. Also because the Covenant of Works was specifically limited to Gen 2:15-17 the rest of the law is still in effect, but the original Covenant is not, though since we are all still in Adam we all continued under the curse of Genesis 3.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2008
  12. RTaron

    RTaron The Grandpa (Affectionately Called)

    I'll give you the fact that one can tell by comparison that an epistle was written by one writer over against another writer, but how can someone say that there was some kind of distinct theology. (what God meant through Paul about himself right?) Are we talking about an emphasis of some kind? then OK. But we digress.
  13. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member


    Using the logic of republication, could we not say then that the New Covenant is a republication of the Covenant of Works also? If not, why?

    (to be fair - there is a trap waiting in the wings... :lol: )
  14. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    Christ fulfills the covenant of works, or maybe we could say He repairs the covenant of works, such that it applies to us as a covenant of grace, with Christ being the Mediator. The big problem with the lack of republication in the Mosaic covenant is that if the CoW is defunct in the sense of no longer applying, then Christ did not need to fulfill those conditions. The CoW is actually still in effect today for all those outside the CoG. If one is not in the CoG, then one is in the CoW, and still subject to its demands, broken though the covenant is. That covenant equals the moral law, which is my answer to Benjamin.
  15. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    But Lane,

    One can have a constancy in the CoW without Republication. Fisher's Marrow of Modern Divinity describes this well. In fact the CoW is still firmly in place for all outside Christ now, even though no one (I believe) would argue that the New Covenant is (in any sense) a republication of the CoW.

    The CoW continues on from the Garden; it does not need republication. I would argue that making the Mosaic Covenant a republication creates far more problems than it solves (not the least of which is pitting the OT against the NT).
  16. Casey

    Casey Puritan Board Junior

    I've used the same argument. If where ever there is law this is the covenant of works, then the covenant of grace is a covenant of works. The problem I see with those arguing for republication is that they equate the law with the covenant of works (hence their, as I see it, misreading of WCF 19 to get their republication doctrine).

    Say I have a $20 bill in my hand. That piece of paper is not a gift until I give it as a gift. I may use it at the store, and in that context, it's not a gift. When I give it as a gift then it's a gift. There's nothing inherent in the $20 that makes it a gift until I give it to someone else in that context and with that intention.

    God's law exists. That law is not a covenant of works until he attaches a promise of eternal life for obedience to it. He may give the law in the context of the covenant of grace, and if he does this, then that doesn't make it a covenant of works. When he gives the law as a covenant of works, then that's what it is because that covenant establishes one's relationship to the law. There's nothing about the law that makes it a covenant of grace or a covenant of works unless God gives it with that intention.

    God redeems Israel, then gives the law. Don't we see the very same general pattern in the NT epistles? God redeemed you, now live this way.

    This has been discussed on here a lot in the past. I think I'll sit back and watch now. :)
  17. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    I'm not arguing that the CoW somehow needed to be republished. I argue that it was in fact republished when Leviticus says "Do this and live." That is the essence of the CoW as ALL Reformed theologians have said. The promise of obtaining eternal life as the result of obeying the moral law has always existed. The Mosaic covenant says that too. For that matter, if one is not in the CoG today, even the NT tells us that we are in the CoW. The problem with eliminating the CoW from the Mosaic covenant entirely is that it obscures the close relationship that the CoW has with the CoG in Christ's person and work. Of course, here we cannot forget the pactum salutis. In the PS, the Son agreed to take on the brokenness of the CoW in order that, by the same token, it might be to us a CoG. The overlay in the Mosaic covenant speaks of this close relationship.

    Such a position does not in any way pit the OT against the NT, since the very overlay points us to Christ who fulfills the CoW for us to that God can relate to us in the CoG. There is, of course, continuity and discontinuity between the OT and the NT. The continuity is that the CoW is always in force. The discontinuity is that there is no overlay anymore between the CoG and the CoW.
  18. RTaron

    RTaron The Grandpa (Affectionately Called)

    Lane, where in the moral law are we required not to eat of the tree that is in the midst of the garden? The covenant was with Adam the first and us in him.

    I agree with Fred, "a republication creates far more problems than it solves" the first problem I see is that the covenant of works is changed, the bar is lowered and you have to ignore the fact that you come out of the womb guilty.
  19. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    Your first question is not to the point, since, as 19.1 explicitly states the entire moral law was given to Adam AS the covenant of works. The CoW is a whole lot more than just the forbidding of the fruit. We are commanded to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind. In that one command is summarized whether God will be Adam's God (Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind). So the one command not to eat of the tree has to be set alongside the creation mandate given to Adam, and the entire moral law given to Adam.

    As to your second point, I really don't see how coming out of the womb guilty assaults my point. We are part of the CoW as covenant breakers until God changes our covenant status to members of the CoG. How in the world is that lowering the bar?
  20. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member


    There is always an overlay between the CoW and the CoG (in time, but not in who is in each covenant). There is also an overlay between the Law as a covenant of works (for those outside Christ) and the Law as a rule of life (for those in Christ). Again, by far the best treatment of this I have read is Fisher's. I find his explanation far more satisfactory than that coming out of WSC (and even more so than Klinean explanations).

    When the Law says "do this and live" it says it to the man in the CoW. It says it to him in Adam's day, Abraham's, Moses', and mine. The Law always says that to those outside of Christ. It does not need a republication to do that. The republication aspect militates against the Mosaic covenant's clear CoG aspect.
  21. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Here is something an acquaintance wrote.

    -----Added 11/26/2008 at 02:26:58 EST-----
    What did God give, when he wrote by his own hand the Ten Words on the Mt.?
  22. RTaron

    RTaron The Grandpa (Affectionately Called)

    Lane, you said:
    So, do you believe that if you kept the whole law perfectly, you would have earned a right to spend eternity with God ?

    What about the guilt of Adams first sin. How would all your righteousness erase that sin?
  23. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I love Romans 3, 4, 7, and 10.

  24. CalvinandHodges

    CalvinandHodges Puritan Board Junior


    I would like to see all those Reformed divines who claim that the Mosaic Covenant was a republication of the Covenant of Works? As Pastor Greco has pointed out the Marrow makes it very plain that the Mosaic Covenant was not a republication of the Covenant of Works:

    Consider, Lane, the very preface to the Law in Ex. 20 and Deut. 5:

    Is this not a Gracious act on God's part? He delivered His people out of slavery in Egypt. As we all know that the Old Testament held types and shadows of the realities in the New, then should we not interpret this as the Covenant of Grace?

    You refer to Leviticus 18:5, but I will submit to you that if you look at the verse carefully, then you will find that it is actually a statement of the Covenant of Grace. Consider the context:

    This is the wording of the Covenant of Grace: "I will be your God, and you will be my people." God is addressing His People as their Covenant God.

    God is commanding us to be separate from the Gentiles. When God takes a people to Himself He commands them to walk in His ordinances, and not those of the Gentiles.

    God, speaking to His People already Redeemed, gives the Law as a Rule of Life for them to live. This is the Law in the Covenant of Grace given through the hand of the Mediator to direct us how to live. I see no republication of the Covenant of Works here.

    Does Paul in referring to Lev 18:5 take this passage out of context in Romans 10:5 and Gal. 3:11,12? I hope not!

    Since Paul is speaking about Justification in these passages he contrasts the Law as a Rule of Life in Sanctification with Justification by Faith alone. Calvin clearly points this out:

    The arguemnt that Paul is making in Rom. 10 and Galatians 3 is the misuse of the Law as taught by Moses. Even to attempt to obey the Law as a Covenant of Works is contrary to Faith in Christ and the Covenant of Grace.

    I have carefully read the Westminster Confession of Faith chapter 19. What I see is that, "This Law, after his fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness, and, as such, was delivered by God on Mount Sinai.."

    I see here the Law continuing as a perfect rule of righteousness, but I do not see here that the Covenant of Works continued. That way of receiving everlasting life being shut down, God now deals with all of mankind through the Covenant of Grace. Unbelievers rejecting the Covenant of Grace have no where to go for salvation - though they fancy they are saved by their good works. Read carefully WCF 19:6.

    In Jesus,

  25. JDKetterman

    JDKetterman Puritan Board Freshman

    I've been sitting back and observing, and I wanted to put down a few thoughts. I find it problematic to see a covenant of works as obsolete. If the covenant of works did in fact cease with Adam, then there was no need for Christ to fulfill all the terms of the covenant of works.

    Ironically, the Westminster Divines use the Decalogue for their proof texts for the covenant of works. I agree with most in here that mosaic covenant is under the overarching covenant of Grace, but the substance or the works principle in the COW is definitely republished. Is the covenant in and of itself a covenant of works? Nope. But is the substance of that covenant made in creation republished? Yep.

    Does that mean that Israel could earn their justification before God? No, and I don't think that is what those who are at WSC are saying. What they are saying is that there are two types of covenants that are put out through redemptive history. Just as Galations 4:21-31 says:

    21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; [5] she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written,

    “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear;
    break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor!
    For the children of the desolate one will be more
    than those of the one who has a husband.”

    28 Now you, [6] brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” 31 So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman."

    The popular view that everyone seems to be advocated in here is that the covenants that were made with Abraham and Moses are not two covenants, but just one and the same covenant. The covenant made on Sinai (which most of you believe is all about Grace), Paul says bears children for slavery. This other covenant, made with Abraham, is said to bear free children. If the covenant of Sinai is not a republication of the COW, why does Paul says that this covenant bears slavery?

    Passages such as Romans 2:13 clearly says that God will justify a man by their works. If the covenant of works was still not in effect, then such passages would make absolutely no sense unless you take a Norman Shepherd, FV, or New Perspective hermeneutic.

    The Law being republished in Sinai was not meant to be a means of justification in and of itself, but it was meant to show us are inability to fulfill the terms of that covenant. If the works principle was not republished, then there is no reason to provide a sacrificial system for atonement. Israel many times broke the terms of this covenant which were provided in the Decalogue, and God many times required Sacrifice for Israel to receive blessings from God.
  26. RTaron

    RTaron The Grandpa (Affectionately Called)

    The effects of Covenant of Works go on as we live in our estate of sin and misery. Its authority is republished every minute of every day when someone dies.
  27. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    I never said that the COW was obsolete. In fact, I said the opposite. I don't think (respectfully) JD, that you understand what I am saying.

    It is (almost) funny to hear that I have a New Perspective or Shepherd hermeneutic.

    The Law was indeed still a CoW to those outside Christ at the time of Sinai. No one (in a Westminsterian view) is denying that. What some of us are questioning is the propriety of saying that Sinai as a covenant was a republication of the covenant of works. It is a very different thing from Law as a principle of works ("do this and live") and the Law as a covenant.

    I believe I gave some thoughts on that in Galatians 4: Greco_Galatians_20.mp3
  28. JDKetterman

    JDKetterman Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi Fred,

    I understand what you are saying, but I was answering to some in here who seem to think that the covenant of works is no longer binding. When I get a little time this week, I'll take a look at some of your thoughts of Galations 4.

    As far as calling it a covenant of works in and of itself, I will agree with you that it is problematic. When using covenant of works language to describe the Decalogue, the language can be confusing because one is made with before the Fall and the other after the fall. However, I do see continuity between the two when we're speaking about a works principle.

    In the beginning of this covenant, God declares Himself to be the one whom redeems Israel. In essence, I agree that this is given to redeemed people. God gives the ten words or the Decalogue to Israel for them so they can live if they are to receive blessings.

    "And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God." (Deut 28:2)

    If they are to break the terms of this covenant, curses are attached for covenant breaking.

    “But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you." (Deut 28:15)

    Paul, in Galations 4, contrasts the both of these covenants. Rather than calling them one covenant, like many in here are saying, he's calling them two covenants. One made of the slave woman and one made of the free woman. One that was made with Abraham and one that was made with Moses. This covenant made on Sinai, as Paul says, produces slavery. This other covenant made with Abraham, produces free women.
  29. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member


    When Paul contrasts the two covenants, he is doing so between the Covenant of Law (Works) and the Covenant of Promise (Grace). He is contrasting the two principles, not Mosaic and New Covenants.
  30. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Rev McMahon makes this point in a past thread:

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