Lee Irons, Republication, and the WCF

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Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
In this article (linked from Monergism.com), Lee Irons makes the following statement:

Although by no means exhaustive, here is a sampling of some of the evidence that
nomos in Paul means the Mosaic covenant of works.

First, there is Paul’s quotation of Lev 18:5 in Gal 3:12 and Rom 10:5, where he
sets the “Do this and live” principle in contrast with the principle of salvation by faith
apart from works. Note that these proof texts, which in their original context refer to the Mosaic economy, were cited by the Westminster divines in support of the doctrine of the Adamic covenant of works (WCF VII:2; XIX:1; WLC # 20, 30, 92, 93; WSC # 12, 40). The divines believed this was legitimate exegetically because they held, as did the majority of Reformed theologians of their day, that the Mosaic covenant included a
republication of the pre-fall covenant of works. Since the works-principle operated only
on the theocratic, typological level of Israel’s retention of the land as a picture of heaven, it did not detract one iota from the underlying unity of the covenant of grace and the reality of salvation by faith in Christ alone, apart from works, in every epoch of
redemptive history after the fall (Rom. 1:1-2; 3:21; 4:1-25; 10:6-8; Gal. 3:6-9, 21-22; Heb. 4:2; 11:39-40).

My question has to do with this statement: "The divines believed this was legitimate exegetically because they held, as did the majority of Reformed theologians of their day, that the Mosaic covenant included a republication of the pre-fall covenant of works." Who were some examples of "the majority of Reformed theologians" who help to republican during the 1640s? Also, I am not seeing this in his citations from the WCF, as these pertain to the covenant of works with Adam and his posterity, not to republication at Sinai. What am I missing?

Note: These threads of republication have a tendency to spiral out of control. Please control yourself so that posts will not have to be deleted and the thread will not need to be closed. :judge:
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
Correction: WCF 19:2 does seem to support what Mr. Irons is saying; I initially read the wrong section:

I. 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; and endued him with power and ability to keep it.

II. This law, after his Fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness; and, as such, was delivered by God upon mount Sinai in ten commandments, and written in two tables; the first four commandments containing our duty toward God, and the other six our duty to man.
 

louis_jp

Puritan Board Freshman
The divines say that the law was delivered (or republished, if you will) on Sinai; Mr. Irons is saying that the Covenant of Works was republished on Sinai. They are not the same thing.
 

Irish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
The divines say that the law was delivered (or republished, if you will) on Sinai; Mr. Irons is saying that the Covenant of Works was republished on Sinai. They are not the same thing.

Actually if you read 19:1 the 'law' that is refered to in 19:2 is the law that was given to Adam as a 'covenant of works':

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: and endued him with power and ability to keep it.

'This law, after his Fall...' in 19:2 is obviously following on the thought in 19:1.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
The Law was used in the Covenant of Works. But this same law by itself is not the Covenant of Works. God gave it as a Covenant of Works to Adam. He gave that same Law to us as a perfect rule of righteousness. I believe they are two different things. The Law is the same and is unchangeable. It's covenantal framework differs. It was in no way reinstituted or reestablished as a Covenant of Works in the Covenant of Grace.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
The divines say that the law was delivered (or republished, if you will) on Sinai; Mr. Irons is saying that the Covenant of Works was republished on Sinai. They are not the same thing.

Actually if you read 19:1 the 'law' that is refered to in 19:2 is the law that was given to Adam as a 'covenant of works':

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: and endued him with power and ability to keep it.

'This law, after his Fall...' in 19:2 is obviously following on the thought in 19:1.

Yes, that is why I included section 1 with section 2.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
Again, who were some of these Reformed theologians in the mid-17th century who held to republication?
 

louis_jp

Puritan Board Freshman
The Law was used in the Covenant of Works. But this same law by itself is not the Covenant of Works. God gave it as a Covenant of Works to Adam. He gave that same Law to us as a perfect rule of righteousness. I believe they are two different things. The Law is the same and is unchangeable. It's covenantal framework differs. It was in no way reinstituted or reestablished as a Covenant of Works in the Covenant of Grace.

Ditto. In 19:1 God gave the law to Adam as a covenant of works. In 19:2 God gave this same law at Sinai "as a perfect rule of righteousness," spelling out our duties to God and man.
 

Irish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
The Law was used in the Covenant of Works. But this same law by itself is not the Covenant of Works. God gave it as a Covenant of Works to Adam. He gave that same Law to us as a perfect rule of righteousness. I believe they are two different things. The Law is the same and is unchangeable. It's covenantal framework differs. It was in no way reinstituted or reestablished as a Covenant of Works in the Covenant of Grace.

To be fair it does not say that "the law was used in the covenant of works". It says "God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works" (19:1)..."This law..." (19:2).
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
The Law was used in the Covenant of Works. But this same law by itself is not the Covenant of Works. God gave it as a Covenant of Works to Adam. He gave that same Law to us as a perfect rule of righteousness. I believe they are two different things. The Law is the same and is unchangeable. It's covenantal framework differs. It was in no way reinstituted or reestablished as a Covenant of Works in the Covenant of Grace.

To be fair it does not say that "the law was used in the covenant of works". It says "God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works" (19:1)..."This law..." (19:2).

Can you explain the difference? Are you saying that it's only purpose and use is the Covenant of Works? In other words, are you saying the Law didn't exist before the Covenant of Works? Are you implying that its only use therefore was the Covenant of Works?
 

louis_jp

Puritan Board Freshman
The Law was used in the Covenant of Works. But this same law by itself is not the Covenant of Works. God gave it as a Covenant of Works to Adam. He gave that same Law to us as a perfect rule of righteousness. I believe they are two different things. The Law is the same and is unchangeable. It's covenantal framework differs. It was in no way reinstituted or reestablished as a Covenant of Works in the Covenant of Grace.

To be fair it does not say that "the law was used in the covenant of works". It says "God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works" (19:1)..."This law..." (19:2).

The contrast is between "as a covenant of works" and "as a perfect rule of righteousness." Notice 19.3 and 19.5: "this law, commonly called moral (3)... doth forever bind all (5)." Even us today, and yet we are not under a covenant of works.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
OK, laying aside the meaning of 19:2 for a second (and Louis' comments in post # 11 are :up: in my opinion), let's return to the question -- are there any Reformed theologians of the 17th century who would support Mr. Iron's statement of republicationism in the WCF?
 

Phil D.

Puritan Board Junior
In The Marrow of Modern Divinity T. Boston approvingly quotes the German Reformed theologian Amandus Polanus (1561-1610) as having held this view - or at least as having used that language:


[Polanus] The covenant of works is that in which God promiseth everlasting life unto a man that in all respects performeth perfect obebience to the law of works, adding thereunto threatenings of eternal death, if he shall not perform perfect obedience thereto. God made this covenant in the beginning with the first man Adam, whilst he was in the first estate of integrity: the same covenant God did repeat and make again by Moses with the people of Israel.​
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
In The Marrow of Modern Divinity T. Boston approvingly quotes the German Reformed theologian Amandus Polanus (1561-1610) as having held this view - or at least as having used that language:


[Polanus] The covenant of works is that in which God promiseth everlasting life unto a man that in all respects performeth perfect obebience to the law of works, adding thereunto threatenings of eternal death, if he shall not perform perfect obedience thereto. God made this covenant in the beginning with the first man Adam, whilst he was in the first estate of integrity: the same covenant God did repeat and make again by Moses with the people of Israel.​

Sure, Phil, throw the Marrow at me ... :p

J/K -- where in the Marrow would you find this? I have the new edition that came out a couple of years ago.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
I think it matters on how the term was used back then. The terminology was definitely used. From what I understand Lee Iron's interpretation was definitely not the majority view. This is a good review on a book about the subject actually Tim.

Ordained Servant Online
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
In The Marrow of Modern Divinity T. Boston approvingly quotes the German Reformed theologian Amandus Polanus (1561-1610) as having held this view - or at least as having used that language:

[Polanus] The covenant of works is that in which God promiseth everlasting life unto a man that in all respects performeth perfect obebience to the law of works, adding thereunto threatenings of eternal death, if he shall not perform perfect obedience thereto. God made this covenant in the beginning with the first man Adam, whilst he was in the first estate of integrity: the same covenant God did repeat and make again by Moses with the people of Israel.​

Rev. Winzer can clarify Boston and Fisher here though. Maybe he will chime in.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
Randy, I have not read The Law Is Not of Faith, but are Guy Waters and Richard Belcher in favor of republicationism?
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
I don't think Guy Waters is. Richard Belcher is a Reformed Baptist and is in favor of it as if I remember this stuff correctly.

As a side note I thought this was really good. Not to get off topic or anything. LOL

http://patrickspensees.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/pauls-use-of-lev-185-in-rom-105/

Here is Thomas Boston on this topic from the Marrow. I do disagree with him and don't think he would have been in the majority.
http://www.puritanboard.com/blogs/puritancovenanter/sinai-mixed-dispensation-439/
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
Richard Belcher is a Reformed Baptist and is in favor of it as if I remember this stuff correctly.

Richard Belcher is an OT professor at RTS-Charlotte and is ordained in the PCA. He is also a supply pastor of one of the ARP churches in the area, If I recall correctly.
 

Phil D.

Puritan Board Junior
Here is a great quotation (from the website Louis linked to) from the Westminster divine Anthony Burgess, which speaks of the considerable diversity of thought even among the "orthodox" on this issue:


Having proved it [the Mosaic Law] is a Covenant, all the difficulty remains in declaring what Covenant it is; for here is much difference of judgments, even with the learned and orthodox: and this arises from the different places of the Scripture, which, although they are not contrary one to another, yet the weakness of our understandings is many times overmastered by some places: Some (as you have heard) make it a Covenant of works, others a mixed Covenant, some a subservient Covenant; but I am persuaded to go with those who hold it to be a Covenant of grace: and indeed, it is very easy to bring strong arguments for the affirmative; but then there will be some difficulty to answer such places as are brought for the negative; and if the affirmative prove true, the dignity and excellence of the Law will appear the more. (Vindication of the Law and the Covenants [1647])​
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
There are two Richard Belchers. I didn't know that. I got that one wrong. The Dr. Richard Belcher I have met did the Journey series books. Assumption has left me hanging out there again.

Personal Info
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
In The Marrow of Modern Divinity T. Boston approvingly quotes the German Reformed theologian Amandus Polanus (1561-1610) as having held this view - or at least as having used that language:

[Polanus] The covenant of works is that in which God promiseth everlasting life unto a man that in all respects performeth perfect obebience to the law of works, adding thereunto threatenings of eternal death, if he shall not perform perfect obedience thereto. God made this covenant in the beginning with the first man Adam, whilst he was in the first estate of integrity: the same covenant God did repeat and make again by Moses with the people of Israel.

Note carefully what is being affirmed here: that the Mosaic covenant repeats the covenant of works made with Adam - that is, it reaffirms that the man who personally fulfills the law as a condition of the covenant of works will have life. Those who are opposed to contemporary "republication" formulae affirm this wholeheartedly. Simply put, what is quoted above is not one of the points in contention between the positions. Everyone who confesses the Westminster standards confesses that the Mosaic Covenant holds forth the Covenant of Works. The questions revolve around whether the Mosaic Covenant is a covenant of grace or or works; or whether the covenant of works represented in it is personal or corporate, contingent on perfect corporate obedience or imperfect, how it is related to land promises, etc.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
When it comes to Republication the proponent of the TLNF theory has to make WCF 19 disagree with WCF 7.

Can you flesh this out a bit?

Note carefully what is being affirmed here: that the Mosaic covenant repeats the covenant of works made with Adam - that is, it reaffirms that the man who personally fulfills the law as a condition of the covenant of works will have life. Those who are opposed to contemporary "republication" formulae affirm this wholeheartedly. Simply put, what is quoted above is not one of the points in contention between the positions. Everyone who confesses the Westminster standards confesses that the Mosaic Covenant holds forth the Covenant of Works.

Right. The article from Ordained Servant that Randy linked above says this:

The suggestion that the Mosaic covenant given at Sinai is "in some sense" a covenant of works originally made with Adam is not really disputed in the history of Reformed covenant theology, if by that we mean that the moral law first given in Eden is revived and declared at Sinai on tablets of stone. Few in Reformed circles would disagree with "that sense." The more significant question centers on how precisely the Mosaic covenant may be viewed as a covenant of works. ....

One should note that a simple appeal to WCF 19:1-2 does not establish all forms of republication. There is a significant difference between formal and material republication. The law first given to Adam was certainly "revived" or "republished" at Sinai (and even in the New Covenant), but most Reformed divines did not make the moral law coextensive with the covenant of works.[3] Critics of republication normally have in view the so-called Klinean version, and not the more typical view that states the moral law was republished on tables of stone. In other words, one may hold to a version of republication and still raise concerns about certain versions of republication, particularly those versions that include the language of merit and works in opposition to grace.

Do you think this is all Irons is saying, or is he (like the Republicationists) saying more than this?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
My question has to do with this statement: "The divines believed this was legitimate exegetically because they held, as did the majority of Reformed theologians of their day, that the Mosaic covenant included a republication of the pre-fall covenant of works."

The emboldened word demonstrates the equivocation which is made by those who teach the republication theory today. They say the Mosaic covenant was a republication of the covenant of works. When it comes to providing historical precedent for this theory, they point to divines who said that the Mosaic covenant included a republication of the covenant of works. As noted on previous threads, the modern theory teaches a co-ordination of the covenant of works with the covenant of grace whereas traditional covenant theology taught a subordination of the covenant of works to the covenant of grace. The modern theory makes the covenant of works an act of creation; the traditional theology taught that it was an act of providence. The modern theory equates the law of works with the law of nature and calls this the covenant of works; the traditional theology taught the moral law is written on man's heart by nature but the covenant of works was a positive enactment super-added to it. The modern theory equates works and merit; the traditional theology denied all merely human merit. There are numerous points of diversity which suffice to show that the modern theory is in fact a novelty which finds no precedent in traditional reformed theology.
 

mvdm

Puritan Board Junior
Irons, a follower of Kline, was brought under discipline in the OPC for his views of the law and the Mosaic Covenant. You can read the charges, the defense, and some trial testimony online. It provides a fairly clear picture of how the modern republicationist view is, as Rev. Winzer put it so kindly, a novelty.
 

louis_jp

Puritan Board Freshman
Right. The article from Ordained Servant that Randy linked above says this:

The suggestion that the Mosaic covenant given at Sinai is "in some sense" a covenant of works originally made with Adam is not really disputed in the history of Reformed covenant theology, if by that we mean that the moral law first given in Eden is revived and declared at Sinai on tablets of stone. Few in Reformed circles would disagree with "that sense." The more significant question centers on how precisely the Mosaic covenant may be viewed as a covenant of works. ....

One should note that a simple appeal to WCF 19:1-2 does not establish all forms of republication. There is a significant difference between formal and material republication. The law first given to Adam was certainly "revived" or "republished" at Sinai (and even in the New Covenant), but most Reformed divines did not make the moral law coextensive with the covenant of works.[3] Critics of republication normally have in view the so-called Klinean version, and not the more typical view that states the moral law was republished on tables of stone. In other words, one may hold to a version of republication and still raise concerns about certain versions of republication, particularly those versions that include the language of merit and works in opposition to grace.
Do you think this is all Irons is saying, or is he (like the Republicationists) saying more than this?

I believe his is the Klinean version. They see the covenant of works as operating at a typological level -- the "level of Israel’s retention of the land" -- sort of superimposed on the "underlying" covenant of grace.
 
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