Major Review of "The Law is Not of Faith"

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ADKing

Puritan Board Junior
I just received my edition of the December 2009 Kerux: The Journal of Northwest Theological Seminary. The whole issue is one massive review (152 pages!) interacting with the book The Law is Not of Faith. Those interested in the revisionist agenda being propogated out of Westminster Seminary in California should give this work some serious consideration. As a teaser (no, I haven't read it all yet) here is a paragraph from the introduction:

The merit formulations in this book are both dangerous and irresponsible. We are sounding an alarm to the Reformed community--this book is a revisionist redefinition of historic Reformed covenant theology. And it is not coincidental that Meredith G Kline, T David Gordon and others have called for the revision of the chapter on covenant theology (chapter 7) in the Reformed confession of faith composed at Westminster Abbey in the 17th century. The revisionist thesis of this book is the key to a larger and more revolutionary hidden agenda--the revisionist redefinition of historic Reformed covenant theology and the reimaging of the Reformed Confessions in the Klinean paradigm of the 'Escondido Hermeneutic'.

There are probably a limited number of editions printed. Be sure to contact NWTS to get a copy of what is surely a substantive work in this debate. Contact NWTS

Edited 5/13/14 NWTS has placed this online free. http://www.kerux.com/pdf/Kerux.24.03.pdf

I also would recommend Cornel P. Venema's Review from Mid America. http://www.midamerica.edu/resources/journal/21/venema21.pdf
 
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arongahagan

Puritan Board Freshman
Forgive my neophyte-ness, but this really surprises me. Whence such disagreement from these two streams which I'd thought were sprung from the same Vosian spring?

Any insight would be appreciated. I'm not very familiar with NWTS...yet.

Aron Gahagan
Member, OPC
Hackettstown, NJ
 
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ADKing

Puritan Board Junior
Forgive my neophyte-ness, but this really surprises me. Whence such disagreement from these two streams which I'd thought were sprung from the same Vosian spring?

Any insight would be appreciated. I'm not very familiar with NWTS...yet.

Aron Gahagan
Member, OPC
Hackettstown, NJ

Both acknowledge Vos to be an important influence. However, both go in very different directions with what he was teaching (similarly to how different camps can give such very different interpretations to Van Til!).

Proponents of 2 Kingdom Theology and Kline's idosyncratic understanding of the Mosaic Covenant will have a very difficult time supporting his thesis out of Vos's writings, in my opinion.
 

Rogerant

Puritan Board Freshman
The revisionist thesis of this book is the key to a larger and more revolutionary hidden agenda--the revisionist redefinition of historic Reformed covenant theology and the reimaging of the Reformed Confessions in the Klinean paradigm of the 'Escondido Hermeneutic'.[/I]

A revolutionary "hidden agenda"? Sounds like this is going to be an objective piece of work. Do they think that it might be a vast conspiracy? Who many do they think might be in this cabal? :candle:

And this coming from NWTS. Aren't these the fellows who teach historical redemptive icegeses? :lol:
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
First of all, in the real world, as distinct from fantasy worlds, a major review would appear in a refereed, academic journal, not a house organ hitherto unknown to most of the academic world.

Second, when a review of such length is being prepared, it is common courtesy for the reviewers to contact the authors or editors of a volume under review to provide comment and feedback.

This is the usual procedure when the intent is to help or to get at the truth. If, however, the intent is to stir up controversy and throw sand in the air and gain fifteen minutes of fame for an otherwise obscure study center built around a single colorful personality, well then, this is the way to do that!

Third, in the interests of observing the ninth commandment, gentle, intelligent, thoughtful readers of this space will want to read the book for themselves. It's available from The Bookstore at WSC:

The Bookstore at WSC: The Law is not of Faith: Essays on Works and Grace in the Mosaic Covenant by Estelle, B; VanDrunen; Fesko

It's $14.29 + 5.00 shipping.

If poverty prevents you from spending $20 then you can order it easily via inter-library loan. This service is available through Public Libraries.

You can hear the editors discuss the volume for yourself here:

http://netfilehost.com/wscal/OfficeHours/11.15.09TLNOF.mp3

You can hear more such interviews at:

Westminster Audio: Office Hours - a monthly audio with faculty members of Westminster Seminary California

There are more resources on this topic here:

Office Hours Special: The Law is Not of Faith Heidelblog

Fourth, claims of some unique or identifiable "Escondido hermeneutic" are a surprise to
me and to rest of my colleagues. Bob Godfrey has been here for nearly every one of our 30 years. Dennis Johnson has also. Neither of them knows anything about such a creature. Bob Strimple, retired, taught most of us and no one has ever accused him of a secret, unknown hermeneutic. Hywel Jones has been here for 9 years. He doesn't know anything about it. Mike Horton's work is as well known as any Reformed teacher in the world. Baugh, Estelle, VanDrunen, Fesko? Just read their books. Their views are available for all to see.

Indeed, the only truiy idiosyncratic hermeneutic ever practiced on this campus by anyone with a teaching role in my 15 years here (3 as a student and 12 as a faculty member) came from a former librarian who was given a vote in faculty as a courtesy. This former librarian didn't teach homiletics but gave private instruction to small groups of students. I know I was one of them. He took Vos to homiletic extremes that Vos never envisioned but he was quite alone in this.

Here I should mention that one DMin graduate, who now teaches at another Reformed seminary, wrote an entire DMin project, at WSC, repudiating this hermeneutic and wrote as if we all at WSC agreed with this fellow. Far from it.

Our faculty is committed to preaching and teaching the whole counsel of the inerrant, infallible, inspired Word of God as confessed by the Reformed churches in our confessions. That's it. Anyone who wants to suggest that there's something novel going on in Escondido has been reading too many Dan Brown novels and certainly hasn't been
reading the stuff actually being published by our faculty.

It's not hard to find what what we're saying. We publish our chapel messages
online, for free. You can download them to your ipod:

Westminster Audio Resources

Bob Godfrey's end-of-semester chapel message is a good example of the sort of
teaching that goes on every day at WSC:

http://netfilehost.com/wscal/Podcast/MorningDevotions/09.12.03.mp3

We also publish a number of essays online at not cost to the reader:

Westminster Seminary California faculty

Scour them at will! Our teaching in done in the light of day for all to read and
hear.

You can get hold of faculty books online via The Bookstore at WSC:

The Bookstore at WSC: Faculty Books

Fifth, there is no little hypocrisy involved in KERUX now attacking WSC as a den of hermeneutical iniquity. KERUX was birthed here. Steve Baugh (our professor of NT) designed the logo way back when as a student here. He was the first associate editor. I was a student here when the first issue was published. Were it not for WSC, there would be no KERUX. At least four WSC faculty have occasionally written for it (I have as has David VanDrunen and Steve Baugh among others.

The greatest irony here is that KERUX built it's reputation, such as it is, by publishing a series of studies in Zechariah by none other than that notorious fellow Meredith G. Kline! That's right. THE M. G. Kline who taught the doctrine of republication and the current editor was once a colleague of MG Kline and never, in my hearing, once voice any opposition to the doctrine of republication.

Now, if there's a conspiracy to wreck Reformed orthodoxy by virtue of teaching that wicked doctrine of republication, MGK must be at the root of it and the editor of KERUX is complicit in it by his silence heretofore and for publishing others who have exhibited the so-called "Escondido hermeneutic" (Baugh, VanDrunen, one of the editors of the scandalous volume! and Clark who is proponent of republication. So, in fact, KERUX is really part of the conspiracy. Don't you see the beauty of it? Accuse others of conspiracy and no one will think you're a part of it.

Finally, as to the matter of republication, anyone who knows anything about the history of Reformed theology knows that a doctrine of the republication of the covenant of works has been taught in every corner of Reformed theology beginning in the 16th century. Caspar Olevianus was teaching it in the 1560s. He called the Mosaic covenant a "foedus legale" in his commentary on Romans. Franciscus Junius taught it in the 1590s as did the Scottish theologian Robert Rollock. In the 1620s Ames connected the prelapsarian covenant of works the Mosaic covenant. In the 1640s, Cocceius followed Olevianus' by describing Moses as a "legal covenant" and by describing it as a republication of the covenant of works. Ferry's discussion, in The Law is Not of Faith, details the extensive discussion of the doctrine of republication in the 17th century among British Reformed theologians. Ussher, Ball, and Patrick Gillespie, among others, all taught some version of republication. In the 18th century Boston argued reasonably that the Westminster Standards taught a doctrine of republication.
 

ADKing

Puritan Board Junior
I trust readers of the foregoing post will take notice of the numerous ad hominem attacks, character attacks, claims that the article is irrelavent due to its lack of being a refereed academic journal and thorough avoidance of any of the substantial points raised by it. And all this by someone encouraging others to observe the ninth commandment.

More of the same old rhetoric--a handy way of avoiding the real issue. Readers of this article will be able to see through this smokescreen. The book in question the poster is asking everyone to buy is footnoted and quoted numerous times. The problem isn't a faliure to read what WSCal is saying; the problem is that someone disagrees with them.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
The problem isn't a faliure to read what WSCal is saying; the problem is that someone disagrees with them.

I would like to understand how they disagree with them. I am having a hard time understanding what is going on.

Pastor King,
Can you give us some insight into this?
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
I trust readers of the foregoing post will take notice of the numerous ad hominem attacks, character attacks, claims that the article is irrelavent due to its lack of being a refereed academic journal and thorough avoidance of any of the substantial points raised by it. And all this by someone encouraging others to observe the ninth commandment.

More of the same old rhetoric--a handy way of avoiding the real issue. Readers of this article will be able to see through this smokescreen. The book in question the poster is asking everyone to buy is footnoted and quoted numerous times. The problem isn't a faliure to read what WSCal is saying; the problem is that someone disagrees with them.

Rev. King, if you have objections to Dr. Clark's post, perhaps it would be best to take it up with him personally instead of returning accusations that are as snippy as yours. I do not think expecting Dr. Clark to interact substantively here with the KERUX review... however, as the book in question was rather ungraciously presented in your own post (in the piece quoted from the KERUX review) I don't see any reason why Dr. Clark hasn't the right and privilege to post a link to buy the book so that people can actually read it (instead of trying to glean its contents what from the introductory paragraph seems to be a rather negative review). His posting of links to interviews with the book authors also is completely reasonable. Finally, his defense in short of the historicity of a doctrine of republication is completely reasonable in the face of accusations that the doctrine is a novelty. It has MUCH historical precedent, though if you listened to some, you might buy the misleading statements made in the paragraph you quoted. That paragraph makes it sound as though the doctrine of republication was invented in Escondido, which is a laughable thought.

Secondly, if it was hoped this would be a personable exchange about the review in question, it might have been helpful NOT to post a paragraph from the review that is as snide in tone as the one you chose.
 

ADKing

Puritan Board Junior
The problem isn't a faliure to read what WSCal is saying; the problem is that someone disagrees with them.

I would like to understand how they disagree with them. I am having a hard time understanding what is going on.

Pastor King,
Can you give us some insight into this?

Randy,

In an attempt to back off from some of the tension a bit let me summarize it in this way:

1. The Kerux article is taking issue with the language used by some proponents of "...whatever you want to call it that isn't too pejorative..." that there is a possibility of merit in man after the fall. According to the article this is fundamental problem with the view that the Mosaic Covenant is a typological covenant of works. It is their contention that this (perceived) key plank among the 2 Kingdom proponents is out of line with historic Augustinainism and the Reformed tradition.

2. If there is no possibility of merit then an idea such as a republished covenant of works (albeit typical) is not possible.

3. No one is arguing that many reformed individuals haven't used language such as "republication". The real question is what is meant by such language. There is a detailed historical analysis in the piece mentioned which seeks to give their interpratation of the data.

4. They are concerned that this question has major ramifications on covenant theology and ethics.

5. There is an attempt to offer an exegetical alternative.

6. This is not a mere academic exercise but has present bearing on the eccelsiastical situation in the courts of multiple NAPARC denominations.

Does this help?
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
This thread will quickly get out of hand if people do not back down. Adam, the language in the original post from the quotation is quite incendiary, and that's my judgment (I'm currently undecided about republication: I see strengths and weaknesses). But there is ZERO doubt in my mind that WSC falls WELL within the boundaries of confessional orthodoxy, nor is their view a novelty, as Clark as pointed out. If Kerux is right, then WSC is completely heterodox. I have read the book, and reviewed it on my blog. The authors are the farthest thing from unconfessional. This is an in-house debate. From what I've seen so far, proponents of the republication typically do not exclude aspects of the covenant of grace in the Mosaic economy. It is not an easy subject, and Kerux is doing no one any favors by inflating the level of rhetoric. This is one of the most complicated issues in Reformed theology, as the taxonomy of views in the book in question amply demonstrates. Any further inflammatory language against WSC or republication will be moderated. Let's discuss the issues without the heresy charges flying thick and fast.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Furthermore, Adam, proponents of republication theory can point to Vos. See his "Doctrine of the Covenant in Reformed Theology," (in Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation, p. 255):

At Sinai it was not the "bare" law that was given, but a reflection of the covenant of works revived, as it were, in the interests of the covenant of grace continued at Sinai.

This is preceded by such contextual statements as "Even after the fall, the law retains something of its covenantal form. The law was not included in the federal relationship without having been affected by it" (p. 254). The above is precisely what republication advocates argue.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Is there going to be any word speaking of Dr. Clark's incendiary comments and denigration of NWTS and the personal attacks against the authors of the Kerux review?

Given which direction the attack started from, I would expect Dr. Clark to defend his seminary. Given Dr. Clark's nature, I thought his post actually fairly measured. No doubt people from the other side won't think so. But this thread will blow up if it is not closed.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
The problem isn't a faliure to read what WSCal is saying; the problem is that someone disagrees with them.

I would like to understand how they disagree with them. I am having a hard time understanding what is going on.

Pastor King,
Can you give us some insight into this?

Randy,

In an attempt to back off from some of the tension a bit let me summarize it in this way:

1. The Kerux article is taking issue with the language used by some proponents of "...whatever you want to call it that isn't too pejorative..." that there is a possibility of merit in man after the fall. According to the article this is fundamental problem with the view that the Mosaic Covenant is a typological covenant of works. It is their contention that this (perceived) key plank among the 2 Kingdom proponents is out of line with historic Augustinainism and the Reformed tradition.

2. If there is no possibility of merit then an idea such as a republished covenant of works (albeit typical) is not possible.

3. No one is arguing that many reformed individuals haven't used language such as "republication". The real question is what is meant by such language. There is a detailed historical analysis in the piece mentioned which seeks to give their interpratation of the data.

4. They are concerned that this question has major ramifications on covenant theology and ethics.

5. There is an attempt to offer an exegetical alternative.

6. This is not a mere academic exercise but has present bearing on the eccelsiastical situation in the courts of multiple NAPARC denominations.

Does this help?

Thanks Adam,

That is what I figured some of this was about but wasn't sure. BTW, I do hold to the view that Edward Fisher and Thomas Boston seem to advocate. They understand that there is no possible merit in it's republication. From what I have heard the WSC guys think the same thing.

I appreciate your explanation because I wasn't totally sure what the issues were. But you have voiced it in a way that I now see the concerns even though I sense they may be unfounded.
 
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