The Law of Christ: Part 2

When we say that the law of Christ is the New Covenant era version of the law of God we are saying that we are not under the Old Covenant era version of the law of God, the Mosaic Law. These two eras of law are also two different eras in terms of emphasis. In the Old Covenant era Israel was the temporary, unbelieving, picture of the people of God (Hebrews 8:7-8). When God gave them his law on Mount Sinai he gave it Israel so that their sin would increase (Romans 5:20, Romans 7:5). It was through their personal sin that Israel might see that they were in a hopeless position and that any true salvation must be all of God and by grace alone.  In saying this it should be stated that God’s plan for Israel was that they would not believe, except for a remnant (Isaiah 6:9-13). In the Old Covenant the emphasis for all to see was law. The Mosaic law is given to us in rather neat lists (ex. Leviticus 19). This is due to the fact that Israel under the Old Covenant was unbelieving and the emphasis of law was the appropriate emphasis for a works covenant and an unbelieving people.

But when we come to the law of Christ in the New Covenant era we do not find the priority of law in the teaching passages. Why is this so? I would say that this is so because in the New Covenant era the issue of primary importance is not law but the new heart. The law of Christ has relevance in that it is in the keeping of the law that we show that we have a new heart (1 John 5:3). But it is the new heart that provides the motivation to keep the law of Christ (Romans 8:5-14, Romans 7:6). It is also the new heart which is the visible evidence that Jesus died for our sins and that we are the people of God (1 John 3:9-11. This is why the teaching passages of the New Covenant era have a different flavor than that of the Old Covenant era.

In the Old Covenant era the motivation was external, the Mosaic law, whereas in the New Covenant era the motivation is internal, it is the work of the Spirit in the life of the believer. The internal motivation is also called the “law in the heart” (Hebrews 8:10-11).

76 thoughts on “The Law of Christ: Part 2

  1. Gabe,
    Steve Lehrer’s book is no longer available as he is no longer selling it. It is not available online. The only way that you could get a copy is through the used route. Geoff

  2. Jim,
    Thanks again for your interaction, but it might make your arguments more powerful if you would shorten your comments and smooth things out a bit.

    Tim,
    I agree with your assessment of the work of the Spirit. A believer without special revelation would grow slower, just look at Abraham. He had little doctrinal revelation on how to live before his Lord. All believers grow, but the rate of growth does seem commensurate with biblical tools for growth that is at their disposal (scripture, other believers, healthy church, etc.). Keep thinking the good thoughts. Geoff

  3. Although I do disagree with some NCT brothers on the nature of the law of Christ I am not aware of any of them that are truly antinomian. I may view them as biblically inconsistent or I may say that they are describing their views in a way that gives the wrong impression, but I am not saying that they believe that we are under no objective moral obligation in the new covenant era. Let’s not overstate the case.

  4. Res ipsa loquitur (“the thing speaks for itself)”, alas; that said, thanks, again, Geoff — sincerely.

    Pastor Dustin Seegers* has begun to read and “blog” THE LAW OF CHRIST: A THEOLOGICAL PROPOSAL via his Grace in the Triad blog.

    * http://www.graceinthetriad.blogspot.com (or, see his comment to previous post (“part one”) and click his name.

  5. Tim ~

    I did read ALL THINGS NEW last month; despite Prof. Hoch’s dispensational baggage, he got so much right! Anyone who understands that ethnic / national Israel was God’s “picture” people, vessels of wrath prepared for destruction (via the ministry of condemnation carved in letters on stone) and that the harlot was divorced (the exile) and stoned (A.D. 70, as delineated via Revelation) will benefit from reading ALL THINGS NEW.

    Advocates of antinomianism-by-any-other-name may (surely, should) benefit especially from reading Prof. Hoch’s analysis of legalism and antinomianism and the essential role of the Holy Spirit in directing those who don’t quench Him. I’ve — of course — marked several of Prof. Hoch’s statements; I won’t quote them now … except for one:

    “Whille the New Testament may reflect diversity, having variant theologies competing with one another is incongruent with the inerrancy of Scripture and unacceptable to this Writer.” (p.31)

    Amen; despite Prof. Hoch’s desire that his work would lead to further pu;rsuit of the issues which he thereby raised, the ensuing decade-and-a-half was marked (marred) by system-driven theologians seeking to besmirch the likes of John Reisinger as antinomian because he rightly recognizes that the Ten Commandments are not the “rule of life” for Christians (JGR did and does recognize that nine of the ten partly comprise the law of Christ). Twisting Scripture to ostensibly teach that “In the beginning was the Torah, … ” so that one can claim to be indwelt by “Jesus, the new Torah” (the “indicative”) and concomitantly disavow NT imperatives is no less specious, spurious, and / or egregious.

    How did you “find” the linked site, btw?

  6. Jim, I’m glad you read the book. I don’t hold a dispensational position whatsoever, but like you I found the book (minus the baggage) really insightful. He has much good to say. I checked out Grace in the Triad and the post in question. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on Blake’s book and reading it for myself. One thing is for sure, there is some good conversation/debate reemerging. Thanks be to God. The subjects in question need refinement yet, at least in my understanding they do.
    Thanks to Geoff and the like there are ever present forums. God willing they will continue.
    Just picking up on something in your last comment. Until a short while back I was still using the language of 9 of the 10 commandments comprising part of the law of Christ, but I have recently reconsidered. A number of the nine in question in their original context contain clauses which are so explicitly Israel dependent that I don’t think there is room to say they form part of the law of Christ, (5 would be a good example with it’s land based promise). In wider discussions with people I have found that it confuses matters to introduce this concept.
    I now speak of the imperatives within the law of Christ which resemble decalogue law. In other words it is not so much transplantation which has taken place, as it is a brand new law which happens to look like something we’ve seen before. I’d be intrigued to know what you (and others) think. The benefit is that is helps to retain the distinctiveness of the NC.
    God has actually totally annulled the OC; in terms of substance, nothing gets brought over into the NC. When we see laws which look similar to those we’ve seen before, we shouldn’t be thinking, God has brought that over. We should be thinking, here is a law which God has seen fit to make in a similar vein to something we’ve seen before. This is brand new imperative.

    Perhaps I’m overstating, but I hope you kind of get what I’m driving at.

  7. As I commented wrt Blake White’s THE LAW OF CHRIST: A THEOLOGICAL PROPOSAL, there is reason to eagerly anticipate pursuit of Truth on a broader and more significant basis ~ ~

    ~ ~ oops …. first: I should have written “THE ESSENCE OF nine of the ten [commandments] partly comprise the law of Christ”; Amen to your “spot on” comments! ~~

    ~~ as I began reading this afternoon* Jason C. Meyer’s THE END OF THE LAW: MOSAIC COVENANT IN PAULINE THEOLOGY. The reason for such eager anticipation is that what we recognize as NCT is the subject of significant focus by increasing numbers of increasingly highly regarded theologians (many, of course, “connected” in some way to Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY). I expect to learn soon what Prof. Meyer means by “eschatological intervention” wrt the new covenant (eschatological intention is much better!); regardless, based on my limited reading this afternoon, the book is quite promising.

    Alas, eager anticipation aside, Truth-stifling will, of course, continue. As much as I hope to learn that some of those who branded JGR as antinomian and who to this day insist that they have never sought to impose any aspect of the Old Covenant on Christians will confess their Truth-stifling, I hope even more that proponents of antinomianism-by-any-other-name as NCT will confess their Truth-stifling.

    * I must mention: This afternoon, I finished reading THE BLUEPRINT: OBAMA’S PLAN TO SUBVERT THE CONSTITUTION AND BUILD AN IMPERIAL PRESIDENCY by former Amb. Ken Blackwell and Constitutional Lawyer Ken Klukowski; those who want to understand what is happening to USA — ultimately, the plan is international in scope — would do well to obtain and read the book post haste.

  8. Excellent stuff…I’m glad to see people talking about Law in categories other than those given to us by Theonomic Reconstructionism.

    I understand the issues of Law that are being debated here…. what has been the response of the Lee Irons controversy in NCT circles? Do you hold something similar to the Klinean view of Law and also of Culture? I’m getting beat up on another website by some Calvinistic Baptists who can’t seem to understand that I’m arguing against both the transformationalist Neo-Kuyperian view of Culture and Pietistic Separatism. The one leads to worldliness….the other to legalism. Both misunderstand the nature of law in the Christian life….no, the Christian Life in general and the nature of Culture. I’m arguing the Klinean view that Culture is the domain of Common Grace. Christ REIGNS over the universe but not everything is part of His HOLY REALM. Are those categories NCT is familiar with or is that foreign?

    Is anyone here familiar with Douglas Moo’s Essay in the Point/Counterpoint series? I found it excellent….I would think???? some here would agree?

    Sorry for all the questions. I read some NCT stuff several years ago and basically figured the movement to be a credobaptist version of the Vosian/Klinean Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic….in other words a shining light in the Baptist world!

    If anyone could help me…you don’t have to give long answers if you don’t want, that would be great. I’m hoping to find some ‘baptist’ sources that maybe I could point these other folks to…and NCT is my only hope. Otherwise it would seem most Reformed Baptists are basically holding to the Westminster 3-fold division echoed in the 1689…at the very least, if not outright embracing Theonomy.

    Great website.

    God Bless,

    Protoprotestant
    http://proto-protestantism.blogspot.com/

  9. Hi Proto,

    You mentioned a topic that interests me: Kline.

    what has been the response of the Lee Irons controversy in NCT circles?

    None that I’m aware of. Can you briefly explain his view?

    Do you hold something similar to the Klinean view of Law and also of Culture?

    I’m not aware of many NCT’s who reference Kline (although I agree with his view that 2 covenants = 2 canons. Can you briefly explain his view of law? And how does he justify paedobaptism?

    I’m arguing the Klinean view that Culture is the domain of Common Grace. Christ REIGNS over the universe but not everything is part of His HOLY REALM. Are those categories NCT is familiar with or is that foreign?

    I’m not aware of an NCT view on culture. Is it relevant to NCT, which focuses on redemptive history, and the change from the OC to the NC?

    Is anyone here familiar with Douglas Moo’s Essay in the Point/Counterpoint series? I found it excellent….I would think???? some here would agree?

    Good essay. Also in that book, the Disp. essay on law was helpful, especially his distinction between the Law abolished for regulation, but not revelation.

    I read some NCT stuff several years ago and basically figured the movement to be a credobaptist version of the Vosian/Klinean Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic

    IMO, NCT’s primary herm. is that the NT CONSISTENTLY interprets the OT. NCT, CT, and Disp. are systems for structuring redemptive history from Gen. – Rev.

  10. Hello Greg,

    The Irons affair turned into a mess. He gives a full account of it at his website http://www.upper-register.com..
    Basically he made some comments regarding how we, the church ought to view Homosexuals (in the cultural context, and in light of the so-called culture wars) and the whole thing got blown out of proportion and they ran him out. I don’t agree 100% with what he said, but I understand where he was coming from. It sounds strange to modern American Christian ears, but when you’re not thinking in terms of Holy Nation/Holy Culture….our identity as the church becomes a bit more clear and we look at culture differently…and the church certainly is freed from Nationalism and being a propaganda arm for the Republican Party. Anyway, that’s another issue…….

    The issue with Irons was honed to his view of the law which he understands Redemptive-Historically. As you say, when you understand the canon principle and that the covenant forms cannot be divided up, keeping some portions and discarding others…you understand the Mosaic law has been fulfilled and in the New Covenant we are under the Melchizedekan priesthood. What’s that mean?

    Well, Westminster has always argued the 3-fold division of the law, moral, civil, and ceremonial. The moral law is defined as the Decalogue. But the Klinean view argues the Decalogue is part of Moses and thus has actually been fulfilled. Moo does an excellent job demonstrating the Law of Christ is not the Decalogue. No one’s trying to say, we can’t read and benefit from the Decalogue….it is the Bible. But the common way it is looked at is an incoherent and inconsistent way of understanding the flow of the Bible and the relationship between old and new.

    Most Reformed Baptists essentially follow the Westminster construct and are paedobaptists minus the sign. Although I would argue most paedobaptists in practice are Baptists…they give the sign, but then they don’t believe it. Their children are still in a provisional status and so later they do a dry-baptism called confirmation. Another issue…..

    Of course as you probably know, the Theonomists collapse the Moral and Civil into one category and say if the Decalogue abides, so do the civil/penal sanctions.

    Irons was arguing the whole Westminster construct is wrong and the denomination threw him out….basically over the Decalogue issue.

    Obviously if the Decalogue isn’t upheld, you also lose the Sabbath, although most Klineans actually don’t seem to go quite as far as I would. They still hold to a Lord’s Day, but specify it is not the Sabbath. I know NCT doesn’t believe in the abiding validity of the Sabbath….but is it because the Decalogue is considered a fulfilled form? I used to be a sabbatarian but the argument for the eternality and immutability of the Decalogue and identifying it as the moral law didn’t make sense when the first thing they do is change it….moving the day. It led me to reconsider the whole question.

    It sounds very strange to those who are unfamiliar with Klinean thought. But basically Redemptive-History is the core of the hermeneutic and so great emphasis is placed on development and the changes in form between the Old and New while also retaining the substance. That would be the difference I think between NCT and RH Covenant Theology……we see a more radicalized continuity/discontinuity understood by an RH hermeneutic. Most Covenant Theological systems see continuity and very little discontinuity…while if I understand NCT correctly you definitely get the discontinuity (which is good!) but don’t see any substantial continuity.

    Dispensationalism has actually done much to Covenant Theology…..with Murray and others you see a big shift over to the Continuity side of things….do the point that Kline’s CT, especially his view of Moses is viewed as novel, which is odd because he’s actually, at least on the Covenant Theology part, arguing the historical position. The Puritans talk about the Mosaic covenant being a republication of the Covenant of Works…on a typological level. Modern Reformed Monism can’t grasp that.

    Dispensationalists place the church into a parenthesis category…when Israel rejected Christ as Messiah, we went to a sort of plan B, a parenthesis called the church age which ended by the Rapture. Then once that happens, the parenthesis ends and we go back to plan A, the physical nation of Israel.

    Kline argues the parenthesis concept is valid but it’s not the church, it’s Moses. In the OT, we have Abrahamic Covenant, which is proto-typical of the New…the New in substance as a gracious covenant, chronologically anticipatory and under different administrative forms. Moses is a parenthetical epoch, a temporary provisional period that is meant to bridge the chronology gap (as the Cross was yet, 14-15 centuries future), serve as tutor etc… He also argues on a typological level it was a republication of the Edenic Covenant of Works…a provisional order. Israel as a people were typologically Adam, the land of Israel is in the Biblical typology, Eden. As a corporate nation, they were given a conditional covenant that overlays, runs parallel to, but does not cancel the Abrahamic. As a nation they had to keep covenant…works. As individuals they lived under both regimes, but salvation was of grace…the Abrahamic.

    Of course in the NT sometimes Moses is treated as gospel in shadow….pre-Christ. Sometimes when it’s taken alone as a covenant itself not in light of Christ…it’s set against Christ and called a yoke, an administration of death etc….

    Paedobaptism comes from the fact that Moses is removed but the substance of the Abrahamic promise continues modified in form by the New Covenant era. However, the substance and form-core is reiterated in the New Testament. The debate then ends up being over what Paul means in Galatians about how we are children of Abraham…and how one reads Jeremiah 31. What is the unity principle at work in places live Ephesians 2 where it is stated we are members of Israel no longer strangers from the Covenants (plural) of Promise (singular)……issues like that. They ( and me too) would argue there’s a strong continuity but also a radical discontinuity.

    Sorry for all that…but it’s complicated. I don’t agree with Kline on everything but in terms of the RH structure and the huge principle which you mention…..the NT interprets the OT….that’s huge. Your absolutely right, the other camps start with OT shadow, form, idiom, etc… and then impose it on the NT.

    I was just curious about the culture issue because most people with the inverted hermeneutic are thinking in terms of Israel as a social model for nations like America rather than a true Theocracy serving a redemptive-historical purpose at a certain place and time. I guess what I’m saying is….they’re misunderstanding the relationship between Old and New and then viewing culture as a holy kingdom building institutional structure….which it was in OT Israel. But the Holy nation today is the church, not America or any other nation. Is culture building….art, music etc….Holy Kingdom activity? Or part of the Common Grace order. That’s not say we don’t still have to live like Christians and glorify God as we interact with culture. But we don’t have to conquer it (turning the City of Man into the City of God)…nor do we flee from it (degrees of monasticism).

    Maybe NCT hasn’t spent as much time focusing on it….just curious. I think all these issues play out in what happens culturally….look at the culture-war stuff over the Decalogue, the ‘Christian Nation’ discussions…or even issues surrounding war. You start hearing arguments like…hey, in the Canaanite conquest, Israel was told to wipe everyone out…ergo, America can do that in Iraq! Yikes.

    Kline deals with issues like this in his discussions of Intrusion Ethics. It seems like all these issues come together….hermeneutics, OT/NT relationship, the Law, Culture, Kingdom. I saw a good Law discussion happening….and, I just had to jump in.

    While Kline gets attacked the most over the Framework Hypothesis (which I understand but don’t agree with), it would seem the greatest hostility is generated over the Two Kingdoms issue. It just makes most Evangelicals hyperventilate. What’s really odd is that almost the entire Evangelical world has shifted in the last 30 or so years….Dispensationalists are talking in Kuyperian terms and though it makes no sense at all in light of their eschatology….they act like Post-mil Dominionists! Instead of the Christendom of the medieval order…it’s America.

    Great stuff here. I think you’re right, the NCT is basically something of the Baptist version of Redemptive Historically Theology. While we differ over the forms, whether there’s any continuity between Old and New, the hermeneutics concerning Jer. 31 etc…overall, the theology here is a breath of fresh air. The Sacralism and Monism of the American Protestant scene is rather stifling.

    What do NCT churches do with paedobaptists who might attend? Just curious…..I know there aren’t too many around. Is the movement growing?

    Proto
    http://proto-protestantism.blogspot.com/

  11. Proto, please use your name in future blogs. Thanks for your comments. NCT has no view on culture because God’s law in the New Covenant era does not speak to transforming culture. We are to be salt and light to an unbelieving world but there is no biblical agenda regarding the transformation of culture. You would have to go to the Mosaic Law of the Old Covenant era to gain a biblical agenda on culture. But, since the Mosaic Law came to an end with the end of the Old Covenant we have no marching orders from our heavenly father regarding this issue. Bye for now, Geoff

  12. Geoff,

    I completely agree with what you wrote.

    But what does that look like in the NCT movement? Generally speaking, do most go for the Christian America-type thinking…maybe without working that all out in light of what you said in your post?

    Default Conservative Politics? Just wondering. I see a little bit of that here.

    From my standpoint…this is just me mind you….I actually see a president like George Bush as being much worse than Obama because of the Sacralist language he employed…using Biblical redemptive language and applying it to the United States….helping to foster the Holy War type imagery in the middle eastern wars. I don’t know if anyone here knows what I mean? Maybe a discussion of Klinean Intrusion Ethics is in store (smile)

    With Obama…believe me I’m no supporter of him either….well, I’m a pretty zealous reader and I don’t see him being Marxist….actually the leftist writers that I read (I read a bit of everything)…they actually see him as center-right. He’s a politician, and I think he’s probably more of a pragmatist, than an idealist.

    None of this really matters…I guess what I’m saying is with him, nobody’s fooled by the Christian part with him. So for America…well his policies or Bush’s policies may be one thing…

    But for the church….he’s actually perferrable to Bush.

    I realize that will probably upset some folks…but I’m curious to see if anyone here knows what I’m saying.

    Thanks,

    John A.
    Protoprotestant

  13. if I understand NCT correctly you definitely get the discontinuity (which is good!) but don’t see any substantial continuity.

    We believe in continuity in 2 areas…
    1. Pre-history: God’s one eternal purpose in Christ
    2. Redemptive history: One saving gospel of Christ

    Paedobaptism comes from the fact that Moses is removed but the substance of the Abrahamic promise continues modified in form by the New Covenant era.

    But isn’t that inconsistent with Kline’s view that the Church’s authority comes from the NC canon, not the OC canon?

    Redemptive-History is the core of the hermeneutic

    I ask this question of everyone here: How would you define the primary herm. of the 4 major systems we’ve discussed…

    1. Covenant Theology: The unity of the covenant of grace?
    2. Klinian RH-CT: ?
    3. Disp: Literal, grammatical-historical , author’s intent?
    4. NCT: The NT consistently interprets the OT?

    How would everyone here (including Geoff) define those herm’s?

    P.S. When we consistently apply the herm. “The NT interprets the OT,” it will result in NT ecclesiolgy, NT nomology, and NT eschatology.

  14. I think the older forms of Covenant Theology saw Unity/Disunity…but since Turretin—> to Princeton—->to especially 20th century Covenant Theology there has been a progressive Monocovenantalism.

    Obviously those who I say are holding to that….well, they disagree!

    But I would say despite some of Kline’s shall we say novel constructions?….on Covenant Theology he’s old school. The Covenant of Works framework he espouses with the Mosaic law being understood typologically as a republication of the Covenant of Works…the Puritans taught that.

    But to answer your question…I would say…..

    Modern Cov. Theology…….Monistic hermeneutics
    Varying degrees of course, depending on who you talk to. Actually most Presbyterians are really pretty much Baptists that sprinkle babies. Most of them find no meaning at all in it….won’t even speak of terms of them being ‘in covenant’. They speak of Covenant only in the eternal sense. If I’m not mistaken, isn’t that also what NCT does? Covenant is only an eternal category? That’s not an accusation…just wanting a clarification.

    Klinian……Unity/Disunity Same substance….different forms…
    the gospel stays the same….the visible covenant promises stay the same……the forms overlaying the substance change with the dispensational shift. Melchizedec not Aaron….etc…

    Dispensational…..rests on the Israel plan A, Church plan B distinction
    They don’t put it that way very willingly…but if you read the old guys, they admit it. It’s the core of their system. Take that away and it all crashes.
    They read the NT in light of the OT with the Israel Plan A presupposition in mind. After that…it’s an almost juvenile (sorry) way of reading and interpreting Bible prophecy.

    The Postmils have the same inverted hermeneutic. I think I can say that here??? There shouldn’t be any NCT postmills…..

    As far as NCT…..I’m not qualified to really answer that, but I’ll take a stab. The NT interprets the OT (like Kline) but interprets the Covenants in only visible/temporal terms???? What I as a paedo- might call forms? There’s no…visible form/eternal reality kind of category is there, or am I misunderstanding? If that’s true…well, yes, then I would say there’s no continuity.

    As far as the canon…..hmmm., that’s a good point. I think it goes back to the issue of forms. The canon is the visible/temporal form….some people just simply say Covenant and then speak of the invisible eternal category as Election. I don’t like that because I think the terms Covenant and Election can be applied visibly or invisibly….but, I think if the canon is understood as Covenant Form Document….and the substance of the gospel promise is understood as trans-covenantal…you can span the gap.

    For example in one sense…Abraham was in the Old Covenant.

    In another sense the Old Covenant is used to refer to the exclusive Mosaic Order which as we know per Galatians was the parenthetical period if I may call it that. In this sense, it’s almost like Abraham wasn’t part of it. He was pre-.

    And in another sense Abraham was in his own Covenant.

    And in another sense the Abrahamic Covenant is viewed as a sort of proto-type of the new and yet the same in substance.

    What is the substance? Well, the gospel.
    A paedobaptist simply adds a promisory element to the Form…which includes the to you and your children.

    I know everybody doesn’t agree with that….I’m just trying to kind of explain where the thinking comes from.

    I don’t know….well, I do know, the average Reformed guy isn’t thinking in quite that multi-layered fashion. They’re usually thinking in terms of oh…about 85% of the OT is still valid….but then they won’t admit Ishmael or Esau were visibly in the Covenant which doesn’t make any sense. Most of the time Baptists can make them look pretty inconsistent and foolish.

    If you don’t allow a visible/invisible…form/substance distinction then I certainly understand why you would say Ishmael wasn’t in the covenant…but it doesn’t make sense for a Presbyterian to say that.

    Have I confused anyone? Please feel free to contradict me…it’s a profitable exercise…for all I hope.

    Protoprotestant
    John A.

  15. John,
    NCT sees the covenants in terms of picture and fulfillment. The old covenant is the picture covenant, the new covenant is the fulfilment covenant. The Abrahamic covenant is an overarching covenant and is fulfilled twice, once in the old covenant (language of the picture) and once in the New Covenant (the real deal). I think, although others may disagree, that NCT is by and large baptistic and amil in it’s escatology. However, there are plenty who have other persuasians too. I suggest you take some time and have a read/listen to the resources made available on this site.

  16. Tim,

    Thanks for the note….

    I basically agree with what you’re saying…..I guess the difference would be…though I also see the New Covenant as ‘the real deal’…I also see the need for a visible form of the Covenant. We’re are indeed Already but we’re still not-yet. By disallowing a visible adminstration of the covenant I would be concerned with having an over-triumphalist view of the church.

    I’ll get my head bit off here…but I think that’s the issue with Jer. 31. I think that’s too often being read in a Triumphalist manner.

    It’s just like the Isaiah 65 passage. We see that fulfilled provisionally now…but ultimately that’s a picture of heaven. Or I could even say…it’s actually fulfilled rather than provisionally…but there’s a tension between this age and the age to come.

    I would see something of the same thing with the Abrahamic arrangement. On the one hand in a comparitive sense Abraham had salvation just as we do and thus despite the anachronism was in the New Covenant.

    On the other hand, in a chronological sense he was 2000 years before Christ and not in the New Covenant.

    So the substantial reality due to the chronological delay had to be administered through a visible administration.

    That’s where it get tough…is the visible administration just an abstraction? I would say no. Visibly Ishmael and Esau were in the covenant….invisibly, of course not. But we don’t have the invisible perspective for individuals today (and only for a few in the Bible)…we have only the revealed will, the administrative sense.

    So, on the one hand yes, I agree we can speak of fulfilment…we can speak in terms of a sort of actualized eschatology. All has been fulfilled…but we’re still in the not-yet.

    Despite all that….we’re still largely on the same page because almost everyone else has compressed the two covenants into one.

    I greatly appreciate this site…..

    When you say by and large baptistic……isn’t it all baptistic? What I mean is…..Isn’t NCT by definition a baptist theology?

    Thanks.

    John A.
    Protoprotestant

  17. John,
    Regarding your comments above on Abraham. NCT, as far as I am aware universally considers the New Covenant a distinctly new entity at the cross. Christ’s words at the last supper – “this is the new covenant in my blood” – nail it down as a brand new covenant. Indeed the future tense language of Jeremiah 31 gives us at least a sense that the new covenant had not yet been inaugurated. It was yet to come.

    The ‘visible’/’invisible’ language is unnessasary and more confusing – especialy because it is non biblical. Abraham was a believer, but in order to be a believer he did not need the new covenant to be active in an invisible sense. The work of the cross need only be applied retroactively in order for Abraham to receive his full forgiveness of sins.

    The bible speaks nowhere of the New covenant opperating in administrations or invisibly. Abraham was a believer with whom God entered into covenant. David, for example was a believer under the old covenant. Paul, a believer under the new covenant. All of them have saving faith in common and the work of Christ imputed to their account either retroactively or in advance of their faith. Hence we read in Hebrews at the end of the passage on faith in chapter 11, “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”

    The acomplishement of their perfection and our perfection was a simultaneous event which occurred in Christ at the cross, however our lives were/are not [being] lived out under the same covenant.

    True believers pre the cross were new covenant believers in the sense that they were the recipients of the same new covenant work that we are the recipients of, but they lived as either old covenant saints or no-covenant saints.

    Covenant Theology has big problems with the idea that people could be saved outside of the new covenant because it recognises the new covenant as being inherantly gracious. In order to harmonise the newness of the new covenant with the perpetuity of salvation throughout the history of mankind, it introduces a phony covenant (covenant of grace) with administrations. Thus it allows for people saved by grace throughout all time, whilst maintaining the evident discontinuity in the bible. The problem is that this discontinuity is only a token gesture. It is expressed only in terms of two administrations and not in terms of the two covenants which Hebrews is at pains to make clear.

    Hope this helps.

  18. Thanks for the comments.

    You’ve hit the core issue here that separates the camps so to speak.

    It’s a question of how we read the Bible and how our logic interacts with the text. I contend starting the Incarnation we see continually an interplay between categories like eternal/substance/invisible and temporal/form/visible. If we don’t recognize this we’re going to pick one side of the scale and filter all of our theology though it.

    Standard Covenant Theology focuses on Unity….which is the substantial relationship between the Covenants.

    NCT and Dispensationalism focus on the Disunity or Development which focuses on the shift in forms.

    Paul says in Romans they’re not all Israel who are of Israel.
    or to re-phrase that if I may…they’re not all the covenant people who are of the covenant people.

    You he says those who are not True Israel are not actually in covenant right?

    …in some form. They are still Israel (covenant people). Ishmael and Esau were circumcised….they were in covenant, but also not in covenant. Two fold application….dynamic tensions between visible forms and eternal realities. It’s everywhere in the Bible.

    But they’re not actually IN the covenant.

    You would be right to say that…..but again Paul says both. They’re both true. In time as the covenants are administered by form…the status is real….even though it might not be real at the eschaton.

    Is that contradiction? Well, if you’re going to employ Rationalist hermeneutics.

    It’s supra-logical, because it deals with metaphysical eternal categories interacting with time. Why is it supra logical and not illogical? Because we’re fallen…we can’t understand Metaphysics. We have to be regenerated to do begin to understand it…and only then with God’s Revelation to us. Our fallen nature uses two-dimensional logic which is fine for building bridges, governments, medicine, and things like that. But when we employ it is the standard in interpreting the Bible…we can get into trouble. If we don’t use it we can get into trouble too….mysticism.

    If we read all of the Bible through the lens of the Eternal/invisible perspective…then all externals are basically meaningless or as you put it…a token gesture. On one level that’s true…..at the eschaton the visible forms won’t mean much anymore…everything will be reconciled and integrated. But we’re not there yet.

    We have to hold both sides…and understand Christ was Human and Divine…we live in the Already and the Not yet….we are definitively sanctified, we are being progressive sanctified, some can be in the covenant and yet not be in the covenant. We can be in God’s will and yet out of His will. Baptism saves, it doesn’t save at all. We are eternally secure, our salvation is condition, This world is God’s Kingdom, it’s not His Kingdom..The Scriptures speak in all these terms. I don’t want to explain away portions to fit my grid. I know you don’t want to either.

    A point of the Abraham argument in Romans is that he was saved just like us. The Holy Spirit regenerated him…even though the Holy Spirit chronologically had not yet been given. The New Covenant is mediated by the Prophet-Priest-King Jesus Christ…and the Old was mediated by Moses…but all those who were saved including Moses were in the New Covenant…even though they were also in the Old.

    These dynamics are everywhere in Scripture. If we don’t see them we end up either focusing on the visible/administrative side of things….and end up Roman Catholics or Anglicans who are sacerdotalists, or a nuanced way of applying it gives you Arminianism.

    Or we focus exclusively on the invisible/eternal side of the things and end up often Hyper-Calvinists… and mono-covenantal….and Baptist.

    Arminian Baptists are the most inconsistent. Soteriology is all constructed in visible terms and yet their ecclesiology is all invisible.

    NCT is very interesting because as a theology it is grasping a little of the interplay I think….you certainly see the disunity…the two kingdoms, the already-not yet.

    It’s all in Romans and Hebrews my friends and I used to say. They both deal with the OT/NT and Invisible/Visible interplays. I’m sorry you don’t like the terms but the concepts are very much there.

    I find most arguments between Credos and Paedos end up being something of a waste of time. They usually don’t address these fundamental issues. Most Paedos today are not thinking in categories like I just laid out and thus do indeed come across looking pretty bad when they’re debating Baptists. They see something of the visible/forms in the Scripture, but they won’t ascribe them any meaning and thus their system doesn’t make much sense.

    I don’t expect to change your mind. But I do hope maybe some will benefit from the exchanges and recognize some of the larger issues.

    It’s about the place of logic in our hermeneutics. Do we allow the Bible to speak…and leave the tensions or are we required to synthesize and systematize? Are the contradictions real or apparent?

    I’m immediately suspicious of systems that have lots of problem texts…

    Great discussions……

    John the Protoprotestant

  19. Wounded Ego, Thank you for participating but I need you to give your real name for this blog. I would see the law of Christ as everything that we are to do or not do in this era (New Covenant era). I would certainly agree with you that the sermon on the mount is part of the law of Christ. Thanks again for writing. Geoff

  20. As to the new covenant, like the law of the Jews, it is only relevant to the Jews. See Jeremiah 31 (the whole chapter) and you will see that you gentiles have no part of that covenant.

  21. Cebu,
    Thank you for attaching the article. There does seem to be a movement of some within the NCT camp to say that law has no place in the believer’s life this side of Pentecost. I do not agree with that. The primary emphasis in the New Covenant era is not law because that is not what transforms us. It is the work of the Spirit that Jesus purchased on the cross that provides the power to transform us. But once we have said that we must go on to say that as a God-lover I need to know how to show my love for my Lord, and the answer is the law in the New Covenant era (1 Cor 9:20-22). Law is still there and necessary but it is not primary in the life of the believer in the New Covenant era.

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