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Bill Baldwin
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This may be the oddest argument of the bunch. Types are imperfect by definition. What would it even mean to have a "perfect" type? If it's perfect, why would we need an antitype? I'm concerned for these brothers who, it would seem, no longer count us as friends. In their zeal to expose our error, they have seriously compromised their own teaching.
I'm curious what Biblical basis they offer for the claims about "covenant merit" versus the real kind. I think you're making a great point in this post, but I'm not sure how many will take the time to work through it. May I take a crack at boiling it down? MM Proposition 1: The first Adam could have secured eternal life for himself and those for whom he was a federal head via "covenant merit". MM Proposition 2: The second Adam could NOT have secured eternal life for himself and those for whom he was a federal head via "covenant merit". Is that a fair summary of their position on these two points? If so, two obvious questions follow. For prop 1, why? For prop 2, why not? What prevented God from voluntarily condescending to accept the "covenant merit" of a merely human second Adam on behalf of the Church? It seems to me that the MM view does not IN ITSELF require a divine second Adam. (I'm not saying they couldn't argue for that necessity on other grounds, e.g. that payment for sin had to made by a divine person.) But in their view, God could have chosen to accept the active obedience (in the Christological sense) of a merely human second Adam.
As you say, you could provide many more examples. My own favorite comes from the Westminster Divines themselves. Note WCF 7.2 "The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works". Now note their proof text. Gal 3:12 "And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them." They use a quote describing the Law of Moses to prove that the Adamic covenant was a covenant of works. What can this mean coming from men who, we are told, believed in the "Mosaic covenant as a pure covenant of grace in its substance"? How can describing Adam's pre-Fall situation in those purely gracious terms prove that his covenant was of works? Again, what can this proof text mean coming from men who supposedly thought that "the blessings and the curses of the law in the Mosaic covenant do not function in any way as a covenant of works"? Why then did they use Paul's citation of those blessings and curses as proof that Adam's covenant was of works? In the final analysis, even the Westminster Divines must be set outside the MM-defined circle of orthodoxy, hoist by their own footnote. And then it gets worse. In 1940, the OPC's 7th General Assembly set up a Committee on Texts and Proof Texts. The committee reported back to the 18th General Assembly in 1951. By the 23rd GA in 1956 everything had been approved and was sent to the Committee on Christian Education for printing. (Give me a moment here while I catch my breath.) The OPC-specific Confession retained Gal 3:12 as a valid proof text for the notion that the first covenant was of works. It also added a couple of proofs--Gen. 2:16–17 and Hos. 6:7. Take a look at Hos. 6:7. "But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me." (The translation is from the KJV, of course. I don't know if the Committee on Texts and Proof Texts would have subscribed to the translational interpretation provided by Kline, the ESV, NASB, ASV, NIV, and the Vulgate : "But they *like Adam* have transgressed the covenant." That would make this an even more powerful example. But it works either way.) The Committee on Texts and Proof Texts proves that the Adamic covenant was a covenant of works by citing a verse that talks about Israel transgressing against the Mosaic covenant. Again, how is this possible if the only orthodox position holds that the Mosaic covenant was "a pure covenant of grace in its substance," one whose blessings and curses "do not function in any way as a covenant of works"? The kicker? Guess who chaired the Committee on Texts and Proof Texts. That's right. John Murray.
It really is a pity the authors chose not to offer exegetical guidance. I suspect they wouldn't agree with your (our) interpretations of the verses you cite. But I'm not at all clear what they believe those verses mean. E.g. I suspect they have a much different take on "Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not!" I wonder if they take that to mean that the *principle* of law is not contrary to the principle of promise as a means of receiving the inheritance. From our perspective that interpretation makes utter hash of Galatians 3 and Romans 4. But maybe from their perspective it doesn't. I wish they'd tell us.
Do the authors at least acknowledge that Kline's theology, however misguided, grew out of an attempt to be faithful to the Biblical passages you cite? It'd be nice if they threw him (us) a bone. At least pat us on the head and say we were *trying* to do the right thing.
This just gets more and more depressing. So much of this could have been cleared up with an email or a phone call. I wonder where and how the communication broke down.
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Jul 16, 2015