CoMPEEPO

The next issue I had with Jacob Moya’s FV arguments for a gracious Covenant of Works concerns his caricature of hypothetical “rote, meritorious lawkeeping by Adam” (starting at 55:20). In this scenario, Adam doesn’t really believe God, he’s swayed by the serpent, but decides to obey just in case.

On what stretch of language or logic could rote, outward, unbelieving obedience be called “meritorious”? WCF 19.1 stresses (as Jacob read), that Adam was bound to “personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience.” If God were to reward rote obedience with the promised consummation, that would not be strict justice, but quite lenient justice (indeed it would be injustice). For obedience to be meritorious, it must be entire; inward as well as outward.

By the way Jacob equates the words “rote” and “meritorious” (and by the Puzo hermeneutic), Jacob (all of the FV?) seems to think he is arguing against the position that “Man can use ‘rote, meritorious’ works to oblige God to reward him,” when our actual position is that “In the CoW, God obliged himself to reward meritorious obedience.”

Maybe if instead of calling it simply the Covenant of Works, we called it the “Covenant of Meritorious (Personal, Entire, Exact, Perpetual) Obedience,” the FV would be left with no argument?

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25 Responses

  1. You tried the “maybe you’d be left with no argument” line when you also pointed out (at the debate) that FV’s definition of grace is at odds with that of the Orthodoxy . So, there’s at least two strikes. No doubt you’ll find a bunch more.

  2. Here I didn’t mean “left with no argument” as in smiles and hugs, but as in “no leg to stand on”

    The intention of my question at the end of the debate was to ensure that the audience understood bottom line that there really is a disagreement.

  3. But see, the command given to Adam, not to eat of the tree, cut to his heart. In order to want to obey that command, he had to acknowledge God in his heart as having the right to give him a command in the first place. As soon as Adam began to question God’s authority, all bets were off, and his eating of the fruit would be imminent. And why? Because the tree is arbitrary.

    E

  4. Does inward obedience include faith?

    If you say yes, then you have a problem with your law / gospel chasm, as Clark aptly demonstrates here. If faith is not obedience to God’s Moral Law, then it cannot be seen as being included in God’s demand for Adam’s “personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience”.

    If you say no, then you own Jacob’s caricature. Adam could have merely obeyed outwardly apart from faith and still merited his eternal glory.

    Just say yes, bro.

  5. How does FV deal with WCF 7.2?

    “The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam; and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience”.

    I believe I am reading this correctly to preclude any hint of grace within the confessional standards in light of Romans 11:6:

    “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.”

    S2C

  6. How does FV deal with WCF 7.2?

    You are equivocating on the word “works”. The obedience required of Adam is the same obedience required of all men (WCF XIX.II). This is something altogether different than the mere outward national obedience Paul was referring to.

    Note how Paul frequently states that the obligations to be circumcised, keep Old Testament feast days or eat kosher no longer exist under the New Covenant. You’ll never read Paul say, “Who bewitched you foolish Galatians and told you that you have to stop committing sexual immorality?”

    The works of the law are outward obedience. Faith is inward obedience which necessarily manifests itself outwardly. Faith was required of Adam just as it is required of all men under the First Command.

    So, the name the confession ascribes to the Adamic Covenant can be confusing, but I have never seen an FV guy take exception to the confession on that point.

    Finally, we see throughout the Old Covenant that God frequently promised life and threatened death to His people based on personal obedience just as the confession says was the case with the Covenant of Works. But the confession says that the Mosaic Administration was an administration of the Covenant of Grace (WCF VII.V). Now you will, from time to time, hear folks go off on some bizarre scheme wherein the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace *BOTH* operate side by side under the Mosaic Administration. But not only is this insane, it in nowhere in the Westminster Confession of Faith.

    Think about it. The Covenant of Works requires successful independence and the Covenant of Grace forbids independence. Only a twisted senile god would place contradicting demands upon his children. But our God is first and foremost *One*.

  7. Ron,

    I am only equivocating in use of the term works in so far as you interpret how Paul used the term works.

    Actually you are accusing me of the very sin you commit, equivocation. Common brother, if anyone is being equivocal in the use of the term works it is most certainly you here.

    I am using the term works as earning or meriting salvation based on obeying conditions. Paul is stating in Romans that this is contrary to grace. Obviously, this is extremely detrimental to your position. Thus, you must invent an equivocal hermanutic to remain consistent with the apostle.

    On what basis do you justify this hermaneutic of equivocation in the use of the term works?

    S2C

  8. How am I equivocating? I am saying that the apostle means something different than confession. You are saying they mean the same thing.

    What usages of the work “works” am I equivocating on?

  9. I believe that you are saying that works in Romans 11:6 does not mean works of obedience. Somehow you are asserting that works is being used to strictly refer to “national obedience”.

    You then clarify national obedience as referring to elements of the ceremonial law. This is judging from the examples you listed. Thus, I am saying your arbitrary delineation of the term works is the equivocation.

    Are you are parsing the term works into the different elements of the Mosaic Law and choosing the portions that suit your position?

    If I am not understanding you correctly then I am totally lost and have no idea on how you can say that I am equivocating.

  10. Are you are parsing… = Are you parsing…

  11. As is typical of moralists of all sorts, Ron ignores the fall. Whatever “faith” was required of Adam before the fall, as has been argued 12 dozen times since this stupid argument began 8 years ago, is not the same thing as “faith” in a Mediator.

    Fundamentally all moralists are either Pelagian or semi-Pelagian. They all want to blur the consequences of the fall, they wish to blur the lines between pre-lapsarian and post-lapsarian life and they all diminish the finished work of Christ for us and set it up so that we must contribute to our own justification.

    Post lapsum faith, in the act of justification, is nothing other the receiving, resting, leaning on Christ and his finished work which perfect active and passive obedience is imputed to those who believe.

    Ante lapsum, God having entered into a covenant with Adam, faith has no reference to any such mediatoral scheme. Adam was created with the ability to obey the covenant or works. law. or nature. He was created in righteousness and true holiness. Yes, he had to believe his Creator and law giver but he was not looking for a Mediator to obey for him. He was obligated to provide perfect, personal, whole, entire obedience for himself and all humans whom he represented as federal head.

    Like Shepherd and all moralists Ron moves from Adam to us regarding this obedience for justification. The biblical religion and the Reformed faith, by contrast, moves from Adam to Christ as the federal head and law keeper for all the elect. This is a fundamental difference between moralism (whether baptized with the adjective “covenantal” or not) and Christianity.

    Let us be clear. The FV advocates nothing more or less than a form of moralism dressed as Christianity but it’s nothing more or less than theological cross dressing.

  12. Thx Dr. Clark,

    I’ve been taking my sweet time responding to Ron’s attempted dilemma above, but you beat me to the punch!

  13. I find it a little sad that we have good honest arguments on this blog, until a professor at one of our seminaries shows up. I would expect that one that is so educated and intelligent, would be able to rely upon actual facts and arguments alone to make his point. But alas, we get to see the rhetoric of using ‘labels’ for his opponents instead, or at least mixed in.

    I have searched many posts and threads on the Internet for Dr. Clark’s comments to find his position on certain topics. And this comment is typical of him: Name Calling. Let’s call our opponents a name, and I guess that will beef up our argument. Honestly, I find this type of ‘discussion’ pathetic.

    Just take the name calling of “moralist” out of the post, and not only would you have an argument without this cheap rhetoric, but then you actually have some valid argumentation that stands alone. Please Dr. Clark, have a little respect for your opponents and stop name calling to justify your positions.

    Quoting Dr. Clark:

    The FV advocates nothing more or less than a form of moralism dressed as Christianity but it’s nothing more or less than theological cross dressing.

    I don’t know about the FV, I’m not read up on them any further than what I read here against it, but I can tell you from personal experience without a doubt that in no way does Ron believe that Ron’s justification is earned in any way by Ron’s works, which is what I ‘think’ you are saying a moralist does. Ron relies completely upon God’s Grace, through faith in Christ for Ron’s justification. And what most TR’s would say is necessary in a Christian’s life (good works as a ‘result’ of sanctification) Ron looks at and defines a little differently. But it results in the same.

    kazoo

  14. Thanks, Jeff.

    I am sorry that this argument has led to the interest of such a “great” brain as R. Scott Clark. I never meant to clog the pores of evanjellydumb in a such a way as this.

    Dr. Clark, you do little to quench the thirst of those who ask, “What was the meaning of Christ in the probationary period other than the second person in the triune Godhead?” Was he Mediator, Intercessor, joint heir, or what?

    In what place do we see gorification, union, dominion, and damnation ante lapsum of man but post lapsum of the heavenly host.

    -JPM

  15. Sadly, Clark is right about one thing. The more he slanders Christian brothers, the more sheeple will believe him. The more he unequivocally asserts, “the Reformed have always taught…”, the more sheeple will believe him. The more he attempts to squelch discussions with, “this has been handled by the church a thousand times over – here go read this or that *slowly*,” the more sheeple will believe him.

    I doubt seriously we will have an answer to Jacob’s questions any time soon…

  16. […] Posted on July 21, 2008 by RubeRad It was recently asked, “Does inward obedience include faith?” Prof. Clark succinctly answered, “Whatever ‘faith’ was required of Adam […]

  17. The FV advocates nothing more or less than a form of moralism dressed as Christianity but it’s nothing more or less than theological cross dressing.

    I wish I said that.

    I do enjoy it when those who follow the false doctrines and works righteousness of the so-called “Federal Vision” get indignant when their charade is exposed and this time so succinctly. Also, accurate name calling is not slander, if it were Jesus’ treatment of the Pharisees (the FV’s mentors) would be sin. Besides it’s not slander if it’s in print, it would be libel — that is if kazoo or Ron charges were even remotely accurate or even defensible.

  18. I so don’t enjoy being slandered in violation of the ninth commandment by so-called Christian brethren.

    Father, forgive them, for they are ignorant of what they do.

  19. Magma2,

    Hello and nice to meet you.

    I haven’t seen you around before (but I’m coming back in after a 3 month hiatus), so just so you know about me: I’m a good friend and church member with both Ruberad and Ron. I frequently find myself in between the two of them in many of these discussions, though always closer to Ron’s side than Rube’s. I am NOT an FV adherent.

    Regarding the ‘name calling’ I referred to above, I was pointing out the frequent “ad hominem’ statements that Dr. Clark constantly uses instead of actual arguments. Just search for his name on Google with “Federal Vision” or “Theonomy” and you’ll find that it is almost impossible to find him interacting in discussions with people he disagrees with using substance. Instead it’s always “I’m tired of going around this merry go round, I won’t do it again,” or “theonomists are anabaptistic, that’s why they’re wrong,” or “The FV advocates nothing more or less than a form of moralism dressed as Christianity,” without even an explanation of “moralism” and why it’s wrong. He constantly lumps his adversaries into a group with a negative connotation, but rarely substantiates it. When asked to, there’s a reply that he doesn’t have time or he’s been over this too many times, or “just go read the thousands of pages of books I’ve read, and then you’ll see.”

    So, this type of ad-hominem fallacy does nothing to help the discussion, nothing to help the wayward in these discussions see the errors of their ways, and just serves to show how large his breast feathers can puff out. If he doesn’t have time to interact in a genuine way, then maybe he shouldn’t comment at all, that’s all I’m saying.

    Jesus called people things like “vixen” and “whitewashed tombs.” But these are not ad-hominem fallacies. There’s a HUGE difference.

    kazoo

  20. If he doesn’t have time to interact in a genuine way, then maybe he shouldn’t comment at all, that’s all I’m saying.

    Yeah I just love it when he says, “This is why I hate internet discussions…” LOL You have a BLOG! It’s for internet discussions! Oh man…

  21. theonomists are anabaptistic

    Not likely — weren’t the anabaptists anarchists and radical dispensationalists?

  22. Rube, what do you mean “not likely?” Not likely that he likens theonomists to anabaptists. Google is your friend:

    http://heidelblog.wordpress.com/2008/02/18/evangelicalism-and-the-reformed-view-of-the-law/

    That’s just one instance where he does so. I’m with you, I really can’t see how they’re even close.

    kazoo

  23. Regarding the ‘name calling’ I referred to above, I was pointing out the frequent “ad hominem’ statements that Dr. Clark constantly uses instead of actual arguments.

    That’s just it, you and Ron assert Dr. Clark have presented an “ad hominem” argument and is a nasty man, but calling FVers and their defenders “moralists,” etc., is hardly fallacious. It is a positively accurate description. Frankly, I would call men like Doug Wilson, Steve Wilkins, Peter Leithart and the rest outright heretics who fall under Paul’s anathemas against the Judaizers. It just amazes and saddens me that not one of these false teachers has been brought up on charges of heresy other than John Kinnaird in the OPC and he got off. Anyway, calling FVers moralists is no more fallacious than Jesus calling the Pharisees “white washed tombs.”

    Dr. Clark ripped Ron’s silly and tired argument to shreds and rather than a refutation he whines instead falsely claiming he’s been “slandered” and the Ninth has been violated. Hogwash. He should be a man and just concede the point that Adam needed no mediator pre-fall and the belief required pre and post had a different object. “Indeed, has God said . . . , etc.” This is such a simple and basic point I find it embarrassing that Ron would continue to try and argue against it. Beside, he considers faith something more than belief. Dangerous stuff.

  24. Magma,

    I’m not sure where you think I’ve called Dr. Clark a “nasty man.” I have tried to limit my criticism to his method of “arguing,” and tried NOT to attack his character. He is, after all, an elder in a non-heretical church, so in a sense he is a father to me. If I attacked character, and not method, I apologize and retract.

    However, you say:

    but calling FVers and their defenders “moralists,” etc., is hardly fallacious.

    Sure it is, when you are Begging the Question.

    It is a fallacious ad-hominem statement of the “guilt by association” variety when you just STATE that Ron is a “moralist.” The intent of an argument like that is to discredit the person or his views by ASSERTING he is in the group of individuals that everyone knows is wrong, namely, ‘moralist.’

    So, if one wants to define moralist, and then pose arguments that prove Ron’s views are the same as the views of a moralist, only then can you come out of the realm of fallacy. But that is not what we have here, or in so many other places we see Dr. Clark posting.

    I picked this up in RubeRad’s later thread here.

    The definitions I post there that I can find in the dictionaries don’t seem to make a moralist anyone more than someone concerned with ‘morals.’ And I would venture to say that almost all orthodox Christians are concerned with morals/morality.

    ps.
    I think Ron is referring to the 9th commandment being broken because he is continually being mis-represented.

    pss
    If a man goes through a church court system and comes out of it being found innocent, why do you feel it okay to still call him guilty?

    kazoo

  25. Sure it is, when you are Begging the Question.

    It is a fallacious ad-hominem statement of the “guilt by association” variety when you just STATE that Ron is a “moralist.” The intent of an argument like that is to discredit the person or his views by ASSERTING he is in the group of individuals that everyone knows is wrong, namely, ‘moralist.’

    More hogwash kazoo. Did you even read Dr. Clark remark above, the man you call your father? Not only did he define exactly what he meant by “moralist,” but demonstrated how and even why Ron is one. Clark wrote:

    Fundamentally all moralists are either Pelagian or semi-Pelagian. They all want to blur the consequences of the fall, they wish to blur the lines between pre-lapsarian and post-lapsarian life and they all diminish the finished work of Christ for us and set it up so that we must contribute to our own justification.

    Post lapsum faith, in the act of justification, is nothing other the receiving, resting, leaning on Christ and his finished work which perfect active and passive obedience is imputed to those who believe.

    Ante lapsum, God having entered into a covenant with Adam, faith has no reference to any such mediatoral scheme. Adam was created with the ability to obey the covenant or works. law. or nature. He was created in righteousness and true holiness. Yes, he had to believe his Creator and law giver but he was not looking for a Mediator to obey for him. He was obligated to provide perfect, personal, whole, entire obedience for himself and all humans whom he represented as federal head.

    Like Shepherd and all moralists Ron moves from Adam to us regarding this obedience for justification.

    If a man goes through a church court system and comes out of it being found innocent, why do you feel it okay to still call him guilty?

    Actually, Kinnaird was TWICE found guilty, but with the help of Dick Gaffin his case was essentially retried at the GA level and there his views, which were essentially those of Norm Shepherd, were (wrongly) exonerated. The official position of the OPC now is that Shepherdism is an acceptable expression of the Gospel and may be taught in the OPC, their unadopted much praised “justification” report notwithstanding. But, I guess the question is, why on earth would you be under the assumption that I or anyone else must acquiesce to the “church court system” of the OPC — or any other “church court system” — in their errant decision in the Kinnaird case? Are the courts of the OPC some sort of infallible Magisterium?

    Further, if a murderer is found “not guilty” by a court of law, does it follow that he is no longer a murderer? Have you forgotten O.J.? :)

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