Responding to a negation of the Ten Commandments as The Moral Law

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awretchsavedbygrace

Puritan Board Sophomore
Recently I was speaking to a pretty well known "Calvinistic" pastor and he said:

" I see no language in the Bible that would convince me that the ten commandments constitue the moral law.....Those are theological constructs that are the result of hermeneutic systems, not the result of solid exegesis."

He went on to say:

" Now, I agree wholeheartedly with the London Baptist Confession of Faith, which states the commandments cannot save, but they do inform us concerning the nature amd character of God. And to, that degree, they are valuable and important. I am not dismissing the ten commandments. I am merly putting them in their historic and theological place"

My question is- how does one go about in responding to a negation of the ten commandments as "the moral law"? I have a few ideas, but I wanted to see how the brethren would go about it. I really don't know why anyone would be unwilling to call them the moral law, unless one is promoting Anti-nomianism

In advance, thanks!
 

louis_jp

Puritan Board Freshman
There are good books out there on this subject. Patrick Fairbairn's "Revelation of Law in Scripture" deals with the issue and is free on the internet. I don't think it's a "theological construct" to read your bible theologically, but exegetically speaking I guess you could point him to Romans 13:8-10 with 1 Jn. 5:1-3, among other things.
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
Is your friend arguing that there is no moral law or just that the 10 commandments aren't it? If he's arguing the latter, what does he believe constitutes the moral law?
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
This passage seems clear enough, however one wishes to "define terms."
[BIBLE]1 Timothy 1:8-11[/BIBLE]
I will say that I've heard of some who deny that the law is properly sub-dividable, that is susceptible to a proper breakdown into categories such as "moral" or "judicial" or "ceremonial." My response is: take a look at the above passage! Are these not plainly related to the 10C? Are they not strictly "moral" in nature? Why is there no specifically judicial or ceremonial (as we divide the law) rules present, in this or other such lists in the New Testament?

The category of moral law is analytical. It is a reasonable judgment. It corresponds neatly to the Law's own "special status" that it accords the 10C itself, as the specific content of the stone tablets, and as summarized by our Lord himself.
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
Recently I was speaking to a pretty well known "Calvinistic" pastor and he said:

" I see no language in the Bible that would convince me that the ten commandments constitue the moral law.....Those are theological constructs that are the result of hermeneutic systems, not the result of solid exegesis."

He went on to say:

" Now, I agree wholeheartedly with the London Baptist Confession of Faith, which states the commandments cannot save, but they do inform us concerning the nature amd character of God. And to, that degree, they are valuable and important. I am not dismissing the ten commandments. I am merly putting them in their historic and theological place"

My question is- how does one go about in responding to a negation of the ten commandments as "the moral law"? I have a few ideas, but I wanted to see how the brethren would go about it. I really don't know why anyone would be unwilling to call them the moral law, unless one is promoting Anti-nomianism

In advance, thanks!

You might point him to him that the term "moral law" was used in the WCF to define the element in the Sinai covenant that remained fully valid in the new covenant, then show from Scriptures such as Rom. 1: 18-32 which shows that several commandments remain applicable as moral axioms in the presently valid New Covenant. The list is as follows: commandment 1–v.25 and 28, 2–v.23 and 25, 3–v.21, 5–v.30, 6–v.29, 7–26,27, 9–v.30 and 10–v. 29 which since we know from Jesus that the thought is judged as the active sin, establishes the contemporary valididty of the eighth commandment as well.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Also you might point that the Sabbath was set in Creation per Moses. I imagine that is his sticking craw.

(Exo 20:10) But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

(Exo 20:11) For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Also you might pick up Rich Barcellos' book In Defense of the Decalogue. It is a critique of New Covenant Theology and it sounds like that is what you are discussing. Julio, if you are dealing with New Covenant Theology get a hold of me. I know some resources I can direct you to.
 

awretchsavedbygrace

Puritan Board Sophomore
Is your friend arguing that there is no moral law or just that the 10 commandments aren't it? If he's arguing the latter, what does he believe constitutes the moral law?

Andrew! =)

He really isn't a friend, per se, hes a preacher whom I contacted about a related topic. He simply told me he doesn't have time to debate this issue, and referenced me to his website where he has some sermons on the matter.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
It's clear from their use in the OT and NT that the Ten Commandments are essentially a summary of the moral law.

People ususually have agendas when they deny this.

They may be generally theoretical (and practical) antinomians with respect to the Ten Commandments i.e. with respect to the moral law.

They may be dispensational antinomians with particular respect to the Fourth Commandment.

It is true that in their Old Covenant context the 10C have ceremonial and civil/judicial aspects.

E.g. Ceremonially-speaking they were written on stone and placed in the Ark of the Covenant. II Corinthians 3 emphasises the fact that this ceremonial aspect has ceased. But we still learn from the typology that has passed away, and it is not without significance that they were written on stone in particular.

E.g. Civilly and judicially speaking since the nation-state of Israel was typological of God's Kingdom, any sin in breach of the 10C was also potentially a crime against God and His Kingdom, which if severe enough precluded one from the sacrificial system and led to death (e.g. Numbers 15).

"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery."

It is also true that although we may as New Covenant Israelites be motivated by the fact that God through Moses took our spiritual forbears out of Egypt, we will be more motivated by Christ's fulfillment of this in taking his people out of sin and slavery to the Devil.

There are some other minor adjustments to be made to the 10C as they are fulfilled in Christ e.g. the change of day of the Lord's Day, and the fact that in Exodus 20:12 the Land is mentioned. In the New Covenant the whole earth is God's Land.

But the fact is that the 10C are a summary of God's moral law which are taken into -fulfillled in Christ in - the New Testament era with no moral changes.

So what's the agenda? Does he want to downplay the 10C as a pattern of life generally for the believer (Third Use - Normative) and non-believer (Second Use - Civic), and also as a agency in bringing conviction (First Use - Pedagogical)?

Does he want to deny the morality of the Fourth Commandment?
 

awretchsavedbygrace

Puritan Board Sophomore
It's clear from their use in the OT and NT that the Ten Commandments are essentially a summary of the moral law.

People ususually have agendas when they deny this.

They may be generally theoretical (and practical) antinomians with respect to the Ten Commandments i.e. with respect to the moral law.

They may be dispensational antinomians with particular respect to the Fourth Commandment.

It is true that in their Old Covenant context the 10C have ceremonial and civil/judicial aspects.

E.g. Ceremonially-speaking they were written on stone and placed in the Ark of the Covenant. II Corinthians 3 emphasises the fact that this ceremonial aspect has ceased. But we still learn from the typology that has passed away, and it is not without significance that they were written on stone in particular.

E.g. Civilly and judicially speaking since the nation-state of Israel was typological of God's Kingdom, any sin in breach of the 10C was also potentially a crime against God and His Kingdom, which if severe enough precluded one from the sacrificial system and led to death (e.g. Numbers 15).

"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery."

It is also true that although we may as New Covenant Israelites be motivated by the fact that God through Moses took our spiritual forbears out of Egypt, we will be more motivated by Christ's fulfillment of this in taking his people out of sin and slavery to the Devil.

There are some other minor adjustments to be made to the 10C as they are fulfilled in Christ e.g. the change of day of the Lord's Day, and the fact that in Exodus 20:12 the Land is mentioned. In the New Covenant the whole earth is God's Land.

But the fact is that the 10C are a summary of God's moral law which are taken into -fulfillled in Christ in - the New Testament era with no moral changes.

So what's the agenda? Does he want to downplay the 10C as a pattern of life generally for the believer (Third Use - Normative) and non-believer (Second Use - Civic), and also as a agency in bringing conviction (First Use - Pedagogical)?

Does he want to deny the morality of the Fourth Commandment?

No clue why he would deny the ten commandments as the moral law.

The person I am speaking of is Jim McClarty. We had an exchange on his facebook page and that is what he said.
 
Last edited:

Iconoclast

Puritan Board Junior
http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/a-baptist-catechism-with-commentary/6135589....the download is only 5$
Here is a section from this book by W.R.Downing
used by permission of the author;
Quest. 124: What is the moral standard for the believer’s life?
Ans: The Moral Law of God is the moral standard for the believer’s
life.
Psa. 119:97. O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
Rom. 7:12. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy,
and just, and good.
Rom. 8:4. That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us,
who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
See also: Ex. 20:1–17; Deut. 6:4–5; Matt. 5:17–18; 22:37–40. Jn.
13:34–35; Gal. 3:24; 1 Tim. 1:5–11; Heb. 4:9; 1 Jn. 2:3–5; 5:1–3.
COMMENTARY
The nature and relevance of the Moral Law are set forth in Questions 39–
42. An exposition of the Moral Law as epitomized in the Decalogue is set
forth in Questions 43–63. In summary, several issues can be noted: first, the
prologue to the Decalogue reveals that the Law was given, not as a means of
salvation, but so a redeemed covenant people might reflect the moral
character of their God and Redeemer. Legislation always accompanies
redemption. This remains true in both the Old and the New or Gospel
Covenants (Matt. 22:36–40; Rom. 7:12; 8:1–4; 13:8–10; 1 Tim. 1:8–11; 1 Jn.
2:3–5).
Second, the Moral Law is not limited to the Decalogue or Ten
Commandments, but is inclusive of all the moral commands of Scripture. This
is exemplified in the coherence or non–contradictory nature of Scripture itself.
The various summaries of the Moral Law (Ex. 20:1–17; Deut. 6:5; Matt.
22:36–40; Rom. 13:8–10; 1 Tim. 1:5–11) epitomize what is expanded in its
fullness in both the Old and New Testaments. Indeed, the Moral Law is
unfolded or amplified and interpreted explicitly and implicitly in and by the
New Testament.
Third, the Decalogue as the epitome of the Moral Law is a series of case
laws which may be expanded coherently to cover every moral issue (e.g.,
Matt. 5:27–28; 1 Jn. 3:15). In the Decalogue, as the epitome of the Moral
Law, God legislated morality. He has not changed in these precepts. The
Moral Law of God is the Law of Christ.
Fourth, sin must be viewed in terms of God’s law. All and every sin is
heinous in God’s sight. It is a transgression of his law or lawlessness (1 Jn.
3:4). See Question 36. The Moral Law keeps us from misrepresenting and
misinterpreting sin or excusing it. Remember, the absence or opposite of law
is not grace; it is lawlessness.
Fifth, There is necessarily a moral Law for God’s moral creatures. The law
is internalized or written in the believer’s heart in the operations of Divine
grace, answering to the law ontologically embedded in man’s heart at creation
as the image–bearer of God, and is now renewed with a regenerate mind–set
239
(Rom. 8:1–9; Eph. 4:22–24; Col. 3:9–10). God’s grace through the work of
the Spirit leads to a love and desire to conform to God’s moral character and
commandments (Psa. 1:1–3; 119:159; Rom. 6:14; 8:1–9; 1 Jn. 2:3–5).
Sixth, the very work of salvation, especially sanctification, is to produce a
holy people. This holiness reflects that of God’s own moral character (Jas.
1:18; 1 Pet. 1:15–16; 2:9). God’s grace produces “a peculiar people, zealous
of good works” (Titus 2:14). It is not God’s purpose that his people be unholy
or unrighteous. Any subjective or indefinite standard would be out of keeping
with the objective simplicity of God’s Moral Law and character, as would the
absence of any moral standard!
Seventh, the weakness of the Old Covenant was that the heart remained
unchanged and religion was merely external, except for an elect remnant of
true believers. Under the New or Gospel Covenant, the heart or inner being is
transformed through regeneration [the impartation of Divine life, the re–
creation of the image of God in righteousness, holiness of the truth and
knowledge, the breaking of the reigning power of sin and the removal of the
natural heart–enmity to the Law of God] to conform in principle to the Moral
Law. Grace conforms us in principle to love and obey the precepts of God.
Thus, the Law is not merely external, but also internal as to its content and
motivation (Jer. 31:31–34; Ezk. 11:19–20; 36:25–27; Rom. 2:11–16; 6:14; 2
Cor. 3:3, 17–18; Eph. 4:22–24; Col. 3:1–10; Heb. 8:8–11).
It must be noted in Rom. 6:14 that the definite article [“the”] does not occur
before the word “law” in the Greek. Thus, it refers to a principle of law, i.e., a
principle of mere outward command, as contrasted with the inward principle
and dynamic of grace. Legalism is not spirituality; it is external. It is of works
[human ability], not of grace. Divine grace sanctifies inwardly; it reflects
God’s righteous character. Any denial of this reality is a denial of Divine
grace in regeneration, conversion and sanctification—and this strikes at the
very heart of antinomianism. Although the Moral Law can neither justify nor
sanctify, it remains the Divine standard.
Eighth, most of the errors in Christianity can be traced to either a neglect or
denial of the relevance of the Moral Law—Wesleyan perfectionism,
mysticism [Quakerism], self–righteousness [mere legalism], the defective
view of depravity inherent in Socinianism and Arminianism, antinomianism
and the modern errors of the “carnal Christian” heresy and “decisionism.”
Extreme Dispensationalism is inherently antinomian, as it erroneously
replaces Law with grace and fails to see the grace of law.
Ninth, as the law is fulfilled in love, so is love defined by the Law (Rom.
13:8–10). If we do not unlawfully take our neighbor’s life, steal from him, act
immorally toward him, diminish him in any way, or seek his harm in thought,
word or deed, or lie about him or to him and do not covet what he has, and
when we seek his good—then we are biblically loving our neighbor. Only in
the context of biblical law and love—an objective, obedient, intelligent
love—can we consistently love others, even our enemies. See Question 164.
240
Tenth, faith does not render the Law of God void, but rather establishes it
(Rom. 3:21–31). As believers, we “died to the law” as an instrument of
condemnation. By virtue of our union with Christ and faith in him the Law is
established, not abrogated (Rom. 3:21–31; 7:4; Gal. 2:16–21
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
No clue why he would deny the ten commandments as the moral law.

The person I am speaking of is Jim McClarty. We had an exchange on his facebook page and that is what he said.

The moral law as summarised in the 10C was given to Old Covenant Israel, the childhood Church. We are New Covenant Israel, the mature Church.

So the 10C were given to us, the Church/Israel, in our childhood state, and couched in an appropriate childhood way e.g. it was written on stone and laid up in the Ark of the Covenant, rather than being written on paper and "on the fleshy tables of our hearts".

It was also the criminal code of the childhood church and nation which was constituted with a "body politick" which was typological of the Kingdom of God.

In Christ these things are fulfilled in various ways, but the 10C themselves remain essentially unchanged.

The 10C are only a summary of the moral law the details of which are to be found throughout the Torah and throughout Scripture.
 

kvanlaan

Puritan Board Doctor
I actually dealing with someone who's in the same boat - they say that Hebrews 8:13 negates the entire Ten Commandments, and only the ones that Christ specifically reiterated hold any sway. And that 1 John 2:13 supports such a view. Baptists. Go figure.
 
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