The Reward in the Covenant of Works

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py3ak

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Mark Jones (Thomas Goodwin redivivus) has a really fascinating post on an area of disagreement among the Reformed Orthodox. Turretin argues that the reward for keeping the covenant of works was heavenly eternal life: Goodwin that it was earthly eternal life.

What are your reactions to this disagreement? On what side do you come down?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I don't have time to review the different perspectives at present, but I would venture a guess that Goodwin's Christological supralapsarianism has something to do with his rejection of heavenly reward. The heavenly reward was always destined to come through the heavenly man, Jesus Christ. Given this emphasis, I doubt there is any substantial difference between Turretin and Goodwin. At some point Turretin will also explain in his infralapsarian way that heavenly life was destined to be obtained through Christ. Goodwin is seeing Adam purely as earthly type pointing to heavenly blessing obtained through Christ, whilst Turretin is seeing the heavenly destiny as in some sense hypothetically obtainable through the administration with Adam but only really secured by Christ.
 

py3ak

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Thanks for the comment, Mr. Winzer. One of Goodwin's arguments was that Christ is the Lord from heaven, and so only he could bring us to an heavenly inheritance. That would certainly line up with the Christological supralapsarianism.

I wonder, though, if there is anything else that plays in to the different understanding, perhaps not so much of what would have happened had Adam obeyed, as rather what was promised on the condition of obedience.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I wonder, though, if there is anything else that plays in to the different understanding, perhaps not so much of what would have happened had Adam obeyed, as rather what was promised on the condition of obedience.

Ruben, In the interests of historical theology I think it is worth pointing out that the ordo decretorum probably has some influencing factor in the different views. Like Rutherford, Goodwin is careful to maintain that Adam was predestined with all God's elect to eternal life in Christ. This means that his fall subserves the interests of his election in Christ -- supralapsarianism. The infralapsarian view has to allow the fall some priority in the purpose of God and in some sense a failure of God's original intent for the creation. Hence it can sit comfortably with the idea that God held forth eternal life to Adam and he failed to enter into it.

I think Vossian eschatology helps with the tensions between the two ideas. If we acknowledge that the developed plant exists in germ within the seed then it is possible to affirm that YHWH Elohim typically held forth eternal life in the Adamic administration even though He did not actually promise it to Adam. Hence there is a reward of eternal life in the covenant of works, but one which required further act-revelation to bring it into actual existence. The fall was not a failure, but a necessary element in the purpose of God to bring His people to everlasting blessedness in Christ.

Heb. 2-4 illustrates this eschatological principle. Man was made for a little while inferior to the angels (AV margin). In Christ we see man exalted above the angels. Again, the land of Cannan is paralleled with the creation rest of God, which is also identified with eschatoloical rest in Christ. Man's creation and the eschatological rest of creation were both typical of the Firstborn over creation and the heavenly inheritance He would receive as the obedient heir of all things.
 

py3ak

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Thanks, Mr. Winzer, that's a lot chew on. And, as Mark Jones pointed out on his blog, it would appear that Owen would agree with you and Marty about keeping silent on this point.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Thanks, Mr. Winzer, that's a lot chew on. And, as Mark Jones pointed out on his blog, it would appear that Owen would agree with you and Marty about keeping silent on this point.

I should note that I'm in agreement only in reference to the exegetical level. On the dogmatic level sytematisation takes in all of Scripture and is therefore an extra-scriptural abstraction. And as eternal life is clearly set forth as that which Christ came to give His people, it can hardly be construed as speculation to speak of eternal life being envisaged in some sense in the prelapsarian administration, especially given the reformed commitment to the two-Adam construct.
 
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