Moses a mixed covenant? Scott Clark misreads J.H. Heidegger

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Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi all,
I was doing some readings in J.H. Heidegger's Medulla Theologiae Christianae when I came across a noteworthy misrepresentation of Heidegger's thought by Westminster California's Scott Clark. Clark posts a single paragraph excerpt from Heidegger's Medulla Medullae, ch. 13 (A yet more concise version of the Medulla) with the following title: J.H. Heidegger on the Mixed Quality of the Covenant of Grace Under Moses.
What's the issue here? For starters, Heidegger explicitly opposes the idea the Mosaic Covenant is a mixed covenant in the same-numbered chapter in the Medulla. His words are the following:
At nec Lex illa legis fidei & operum mixtura fuit, qui error Pseudapostolorum, Nazaraeorum, aliorumque fuit. Nam Lex fidei & operum ἀσύστατος in unam commisceri non potest. Si ex Lege est justitia, Christus frustra mortuus est, Gal. 2:21. Si ex Lege est haereditas, non est ex promissione, Gal. 3:18.
"But neither is that Law a mixture of the laws of faith and works, which was the error of the False Apostles, the Nazarenes, and others. For the laws of faith and works, being mutually incoherent, cannot be mixed together in one. If righteousness is from the Law, Christ died in vain. Gal. 2:21. If the inheritance is from the law, it is not from the promise, Gal. 3:18."
How did Scott Clark come to mischaracterize Heidegger's views? Three thoughts.
1) The translation he quoted from in his post isn't very good. Heidegger wrote admixtum, as in 'admixture'. The translator rendered it mixture. This is not exculpatory for Clark, given that he's the editor of the work.
2) Clark did not read the Corpus Theologiae or the Medulla Theologiae before making his post. Clark appears to be relying only on this translation of the Medulla Medullae, an abridgment of an abridgment, for his post, because in the longer versions Heidegger quite clearly states that the Mosaic Covenant is a covenant of grace through and through.
3) Clark likes to read his own views into historic authors. This should not come as a surprise to anyone.
 
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Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Freshman
Doesn't admixtum mean "mixed" or "mixture? And isn't admixture synonymous with mixture? Or am I missing something else?
Heidegger says it cannot 'be co-mixed', commisceri; rather, any legal elements are admixtum, 'admixed'. So there's a contrast in his language that doesn't show up in the published translation between the mixture of two equal elements, co-mixture, something being added to a substantially present whole, admixture. The point being that the substance of the covenant is purely one of grace, and not mixed between works and grace.
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Freshman
Also of note is that Clark misrepresents the section title. Clark has The Law-Giving Of The Covenant; Its Twofold χεσις - but the two-fold χέσις, for Heidegger, is not of the Mosaic Covenant, but of the decalogue, as is clear in the section heading from the Medulla, and separation of those two clauses in the Medulla Medullae. The Medulla has it as:
Legis illius duplex χέσις, Legalis & Evangelica fuit.
The χέσις of that law was two-fold, legal and evangelical.
And in 13.9,
Sed praeter stricturas Gratiae in eodem Decalogo Decem verba, seu sententiae Legales continentur; quae cum duplicem χέσιν habere possint, vel qua sunt causa vitae, in foedere operum: vel qua sunt norma & regula resipiscentiae in foedere gratiae; & illa ipsa verba passim verba foederis dicantur; manifestum est, posteriorem χέσιν sententias illas legales habere.
But, beyond the strictures of grace, in the same Decalogue, the Ten Words, or legal sentences, are contained: which, while they can have a two-fold χέσιν, either as they are a cause of life in the Covenant of Works, or as they are the norm and rule of repentance in the Covenant of Grace; and those very words are called the words of the covenant throughout; it is manifest that those legal sentences have the latter χέσιν.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
I enjoyed reading that translation, but there were a few points where it raised my eyebrows over potential inaccuracies; I haven't taken time to check it out in more detail.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
So... perhaps RSC is simply presenting a quote from Heidegger, one that's meant to stimulate conversation. And, rather than "reading his own view" into the past, is offered as proof that there was nuance in the past--nuance that is sometimes overlooked in today's context by today's polemicists.

Has anyone asked RSC directly if he thinks, realizes, or admits he may have mistranslated or misunderstood? Or, if he understood it as it was intended, yet has a reason why he presented it as he did?

By the way, my understanding of RSC's position is: the Mosaic covenant was not a "mixed covenant" in that it combined law-covenant and grace-covenant; but that it was a national covenant, besides being an administration of the covenant of grace. And that this position is fairly close to Witsius'.
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Freshman
So... perhaps RSC is simply presenting a quote from Heidegger, one that's meant to stimulate conversation. And, rather than "reading his own view" into the past, is offered as proof that there was nuance in the past--nuance that is sometimes overlooked in today's context by today's polemicists.
Clark clearly intimates Heidegger believed the Mosaic Covenant had a two-fold χεσις. Heidegger himself says that the decalogue had a two-fold χεσις, and only one χεσις, that of a law of faith and repentance, and not a Covenant of Works, is proper to Moses. So I don't see how the case for Clark misrepresenting Heidegger could be more clear-cut. And the way in which Clark misrepresents Heidegger happens to accord with his own views that the Mosaic Covenant is a republication of the covenant of works. I'm all for charity in reading others, Pastor, but Clark's misrepresentation is quite plain.
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Freshman
Has anyone asked RSC directly if he thinks, realizes, or admits he may have mistranslated or misunderstood? Or, if he understood it as it was intended, yet has a reason why he presented it as he did?
I'll send him a message. In my experience he often ignores criticism but if he responds I'll share it here.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
And, rather than "reading his own view" into the past, is offered as proof that there was nuance in the past--nuance that is sometimes overlooked in today's context by today's polemicists.

What I cannot seem to get anti-republicationists to understand is that saying there was a republication of the covenant of works under Moses is not necessarily the same thing as saying that the Mosaic covenant was a covenant of works simpliciter. While I hold to a pedagogical republication of the CoW as part of the legal administration of the covenant of grace, which is a fairly soft form of republication, even harder forms of republication were not ruled out of confessional bounds.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
Looking at the extract itself, it seems that J. H. Heidegger was merely teaching pedagogical republication under Moses: "This law was distinct from the mere law of faith and is called law, because it had something legal mixed, which flowing from the covenant of works, led to Christ." I would agree with the OP that the language of a mixed covenant is too strong.
 

mvdm

Puritan Board Junior
As for Clark's often confusing view, he has used mixed covenant language:

"..the old covenant (Moses-David-Prophets) was both an administration of the covenant of grace and an administration of the covenant of works.” R. Scott Clark


This is different from saying the Mosaic is a legal administration of the one covenant of grace.
 
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