Home > 20th Century Reformed Baptist View, abrahamic covenant, Podcasts > Two Age Sojourner Podcast: Reformed Libertarianism & 1689 Federalism (Substance/Administration)

Two Age Sojourner Podcast: Reformed Libertarianism & 1689 Federalism (Substance/Administration)

Michael Beck is a Reformed Baptist pastor in New Zealand. For some background, he has a great post on TGC called How (Not) to Plant a Church. Beck has a great podcast called Two-Age Sojourner. He is heavily influenced by Meredith Kline and that is reflected in the various episodes of the podcast (including an ongoing series with Chris Caughey called Meredith Mondays). With regards to covenant theology he is a bit unique in that he rejects the “20th century RB” view that the Mosaic Covenant is the Covenant of Grace and instead agrees with Kline that it was a typological covenant of works for life in the land. However, he also rejects 1689 Federalism’s view that the New Covenant is the Covenant of Grace. Rather, the Covenant of Grace is something distinct from every “exegetical” covenant in the Bible. From my listening you could perhaps describe his view as the 20th century RB view (that the previous administrations of the CoG included infants, but the New Covenant administration does not) with Klinean republication thrown in (Michael, correct me if I’m wrong here!).

Relevant episodes of his podcast include

  • The Jeremiah 31 Linchpin (2/8/19)
  • The Subservience of the Mosaic Covenant (1/27/19)
  • Some Thoughts on 1689 Federalism (1/20/19)
  • 1689 Federalism and the Galatians Stickler (1/21/19)

I reached out to him to offer some comments on his episodes on 1689 Fed and he asked me to just come on the podcast to just work through it with him. We wound up doing two episodes as he blindsided me with questions about Reformed Libertarianism 😉 They are

  • Brandon Adams and Reformed Libertarianism (3/21/19)
  • Brandon Adams and 1689 Federalism (3/22/19)

He subsequently had a follow-up discussion with Chris Caughey wherein he asked Caughey his view of the same questions.

  • Covenant Theology and 1689 Federalism (3/25/19)

Here are my comments on the 3/25 episode with Caughey:

Confused by Exegetical/Systematic Distinction?

Just to clarify, I was not surprised or caught off guard by the idea, as if I hadn’t heard it before (Waldron makes this argument in his Exposition of the 2LBCF). Rather, I think it is a confusion. As was demonstrated in our discussion, after Pentecost Michael sees no distinction between the CoG and the NC. So the question is very simply the question of how the NC relates to the salvation of OT saints. Michael and others want to answer that question by creating a “systematic” covenant, called the Covenant of Grace, that is not mentioned directly in Scripture but is rather a logical deduction from the fact that OT saints were saved. I would simply say that conclusion flows from an untrue premise.

P1 Men were saved by the Covenant of Grace prior to Pentecost
P2 The New Covenant was not operative until Pentecost
C The Covenant of Grace is distinct from the New Covenant

I would argue that P2 is untrue (unbiblical), therefore the conclusion does not follow. The New Covenant was operative prior to Christ’s death (prior to its legal establishment). That’s why I provided the quotes at the end of the podcast from various paedobaptists, including Horton, denying P2.

The idea that the Covenant of Grace is something distinct from the covenants in the Bible arose (in my observation) from paedobaptists who did not like the idea that the Mosaic Covenant was itself the Covenant of Grace. Rather, they want to argue it was distinct from the Covenant of Grace, but it “administered” the Covenant of Grace. So that’s where this “exegetical/systematic” divide comes from. They can’t affirm the Mosaic was the CoG, while the majority reformed opinion historically was that it was, thus they had no need for the distinction as articulated by Michael (and all the modern reformed guys he’s read). That’s why I quoted Bullinger, Calvin, and Dickson all saying the Mosaic is the New is the CoG. Here is John Ball (whose work had primary influence on Westminster’s formulation):

Most divines hold the old and new Covenants to be one in substance and kind, to differ only in degrees… Some Divines hold the old Testament, even the Law, as it was given upon Mount Sinai, to be the Covenant of Grace for substance, though propounded in a manner fitting to the state of that people, time and condition of the Church…. It was so delivered as it might serve to discover sin, drive the Jews to flie to the the mercy of God revealed in Jesus: but it was given to be a rule of life to a people in covenant, directing them how to walk before God in holiness and righteousness that they might inherit the promises of grace and mercy.
A Treatise of the Covenant of Grace (102)

Chris refers to this idea as “monocovenantalism.” Calling the Mosaic Covenant the Covenant of Grace is not monocovenantalism (they have used the label in that way in previous episodes as well). Monocovenantalism is the idea that the Adamic Covenant of Works was part of the single Covenant of God (which includes the Covenant of Grace). Michael seemed to dismiss the view of Bullinger, Calvin, Dickson, and Ball as some outliers (“the worst part of the reformed tradition”) who over-flatten redemptive history and are not sensitive to the changes in history. He said this is not a distinction between Kline and the reformed tradition but between Kline and a few of the worst. I want to make sure people understand that Kline rejected the majority view of the 17th century and that 1689 Federalism polemics are largely a critique of the majority view of the 17th century. As long as you think Ball’s view was “the worst part of the reformed tradition” held by a remote few, then of course you will dismiss and minimize 1689 Federalism’s criticism of it.

To be crystal clear: My interest is primarily biblical, not historical. But this discussion did not begin with Kline. He adopted language and concepts used before him (even if he used them differently). We must acknowledge and properly understand what those concepts were if we are going to have any meaningful discussion of the issues involved. We can’t hermetically seal Kline off from the broader discussion.

Gen 15?

[Note: I revised this section because Michael let me know I misunderstood Chris’ – which I did. What you see below is all updated.]

@16:15 Chris: “I would see administered as a legal term. I don’t see how you can miss the Covenant of Grace being administered – Maybe not formally or as elaborately in Genesis 3:15, but I mean, if you can miss it in Genesis 15, something’s wrong, because God is ratifying a covenant that he’s making with Abraham and Paul and James appeal to Genesis 15 to argue for our justification.”

Abraham’s justification and the ratification of the Abrahamic Covenant are two separate events. The gospel was revealed to Abraham insofar as God promised that he would be the father of the promised seed of the woman who would come and bless all nations. Abraham believed that gospel revelation, and therefore he was justified. After that point God ratified the covenant, promising that Abraham would be the father of the Messiah. One of those things deals with the ordo salutis, the other deals with the historia. The ratification was that Abraham would be the father of the Messiah (historia), not that Abraham would be justified (ordo). Abraham was justified prior to the ratification. The ratification was not a means of Abraham’s justification. The ratification ceremony did not administer the Covenant of Grace to Abraham. The CoG was “administered” to Abraham prior to the ceremony when he believed the gospel that was revealed to him.

This is precisely what I would understand Paul’s point to be in Galatians 3. “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” Notice that it is a matter of the Word preached and believed. “18 For if the inheritance is based on the law, it is no longer based on the promise, but God graciously gave it to Abraham through the promise [that Christ would come to bless all nations].” (NET)

More Than Revelation?

Chris said the best part of reformed theology just wants to say by “administration” that real human beings were really saved by Jesus Christ prior to the incarnation and that happened by believing the promises because they didn’t have the substance of the promise yet. Michael pointed out that’s exactly what 1689 Federalism affirms (see this post). Michael said that what he and Kline mean by “administer” is something more than just revealing the gospel. He said they mean it “brings the substance through the type and shadow.”

Chris agreed that “Redemption doesn’t happen solely by revelation. I mean, there are means involved too. Both the spoken word and something like what we would call a sacrament.”

Of course means are involved. That’s the whole point of saying that types reveal the gospel. But what is the spoken word if not revelation? The spoken word is simply speaking revelation. Understanding and believing that (written or spoken) word/revelation is how people are saved. Through the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit (Heb 8:10-11), the elect are made to believe what is revealed, and thus they are saved through faith alone. Now, are people saved through sacraments? No, they are not. Note Isaac Backus: “The work of sanctification in believers is carried on by the ordinances of baptism and the holy supper, but they are not spoken of in Scripture as the means of begetting faith in any person; for faith cometh by hearing the word of God. Rom x. 17.” (For more, see Presbyterian vs Congregationalist vs Baptist Sacramentology)

So people are saved through revelation of the gospel, which includes the means of the Word spoken or written. Sacraments are not converting ordinances through which people are saved, though insofar as they are word pictures, they can proclaim and reveal the gospel to someone, and thereby play a role in bringing someone to saving faith.

The Blood of Bulls and Goats

Chris said that “Hebrews says the blood of bulls and goat could not take away sins, and yet, that was enough for believers under the Old Covenant before Christ had come to access the forgiveness that Christ’s blood would, in history, eventually, merit and earn for them. It’s that kernel and husk thing that you mentioned. They were accessing the real forgiveness that comes from Christ’s blood under the form of the blood of bulls and goats.” Michael: “Which we call ‘administered.’ Right?” Chris: “Yes, Christ’s blood was administered to them through the blood of bulls and goats.”

This is helpful in that it does pinpoint a difference in our views. 1689 Federalism does not believe that OT believers “accessed” Christ’s forgiveness through the animal sacrifices of the Old Covenant. Christ was not sacramentally present in the goats. According to 1689 Federalism and the Subservient Covenant view, Old Covenant sacrifices served an Old Covenant function separate from their function as types. God required Israelites to make sacrifices everyday and additional sacrifices on special occasions in order that God would continue to dwell in their midst and bless them temporally according to the terms of the Mosaic Covenant (Deut 28). If the sacrifices were not made, Israel would be cursed. If they were made incorrectly, the priests would be killed (and since the priests represented the people, the people would be cursed). If one became ceremonially unclean or committed certain sins, their flesh could actually be cleansed by the Old Covenant sacrifices. In short, the Old Covenant sacrifices were every bit a part of Leviticus 18:5 as the rest of Mosaic law.

Subservient view

Note that the OPC Report on Republication rightly recognized that this was the Subservient Covenant understanding.

By adding obedience to the ceremonial law to the essential condition of the covenant, the subservient covenant position gives Mosaic typology a fundamentally works-based character, rather than an evangelical one. Proponents did not deny that these various types also signified spiritual benefits, but they insisted that they only did so “secondarily” or indirectly, while their primary reference was to temporal things promised in the covenant.169

[169] Cameron put it this way: “The Sacraments, Sacrifices, and Ceremonies of the Old Testament did set forth Christ, and the Benefits by Christ; not primarily, but secondarily…but the Sacraments of the New Covenant do shew forth Christ primarily, and that clearly” (as translated by Samuel Bolton in his True Boundes, 399). Thus circumcision primarily signified the separation between the seed of Abraham and the rest of the nations and sealed to them the earthly promise. The Passover primarily signified the passing over of the destroying Angel. The sacrifices and washings primarily represented only a carnal holiness. Only secondarily did these benefits signify Christ.

See also Owen’s commentary on Hebrews 9 and Samuel Renihan’s discussion of Cameron and subservient typology in From Shadow to Substance (p. 51, etc).

Westminster view

The OPC Report continues

From a [Westminster] confessional viewpoint, the basic weakness here is that it [subservient typology] reverses the true biblical priority of Christ as the substance and primary signification of these types and shadows. According to our standards, the purpose of these various types and ordinances was to function as an aspect of the covenant of grace, being means of administering the eternal and salvific blessings procured by Christ (WCF 7.5, 8.6, 17.5). He is the “substance” of the types and ordinances (not merely their secondary referent), even as he is the substance of God’s covenant of grace (WCF 7.6), while all else remains secondary or accidental. The subservient covenant effectively reverses this in insisting that these types primarily signify temporal benefits, and only secondarily signify Christ. As John Cameron stated, the subservient covenant leads to Christ only “indirectly” whereas the covenant of grace leads to him directly. It is difficult to harmonize the idea that Christ was the “substance” of all these types and ordinances and at the same time only their secondary referent…

[A]nything that functions as an “administration” of the covenant of grace must, in fact, administer grace to those who are under it. Such it is with the other types, ceremonies, and other ordinances delivered to the Jews. The administrative aspects of the old covenant were to function as the “outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates” to Israel “the benefits of redemption” (SC 88)… [T]ypology is a subset of the broader category of the administration of the covenant… According to our standards, typology is an aspect of the administration of the covenant of grace in the Old Testament, which in turn is described as the outward means of the Old Testament era for communicating grace to the elect of that era. Saving grace was not simply administered merely as a consequence or by-product of these types.275 Rather, saving grace was present by and in these types, and in this way communicated grace to believers.276 In terms of our confessional definitions, to say that something is an administration of grace means that grace is communicated by and in that thing.

[275] This seems to be the distinctive typological construction of the subservient covenant position, discussed above.

Klinean view

Thus the two views are very clearly distinguished above. Where do Klineans fit? Right smack-dab in the contradictory middle. Klineans holds to the Subservient Covenant view that the Mosaic Covenant was a typological works covenant distinct from the Covenant of Grace, but they also holds that the sacrificial system administered the Covenant of Grace sacramentally in the Westminster sense. The Report notes “[T]he idea that the Mosaic covenant is in substance or kind a “works” covenant, but at the same time an aspect of the administration of the covenant of grace, seems to create a hybrid position that combines elements of positions that viewed themselves as alternatives to one another.”

Klineans attempt to accomplish this feat by separating the sacrificial system from Mosaic law. Chris said that “‘the law’ in Galatians 3 only refers to the commands, not the priestly system and the sacrificial system and all of that. That’s where you see the CoG run through the Mosaic Covenant is in the sacrificial system.” He made the same argument in 1/27/19 episode. Thus he retains Westminster’s sacramentology only by removing the sacrificial system from Mosaic law. But you cannot remove the sacrificial system from Mosaic law, from the Mosaic Covenant. In all honesty it seems very strange that that would even have to be argued. The whole thrust of Heb 7-10 is precisely that the sacrificial system was part of Mosaic law, the Mosaic Covenant. I’m happy to argue more thoroughly if someone wants to present an exegetical argument for the idea that the sacrificial system was not part of Mosaic law, the Mosaic Covenant (Chris mentioned Gal 5:21, but I think he may have meant Gal 3:20? I’m not seeing the argument, so if he would like to make it, I’d be happy to respond).

Conclusion

I greatly appreciate Michael’s willingness to have me on to discuss these issues. I believe it has helped narrow the discussion. I would love to continue the dialogue as there is more than needs to be clarified and pressed (per the above). Kline did not simply adopt the subservient covenant view with modifications to eschatology. Rather, he adopted one aspect of the Subservient view but tried to mesh it together with Westminster sacramentology. I believe the result is contradictory and unbiblical.

For Further Reading

 

 

  1. March 26, 2019 at 1:17 pm

    Hey Brandon! Thanks so much for your time on this brother. Also, I feel very honoured to be mentioned on this blog. As I said I’ve said a few times on the podcast, there is great content here, and I really appreciate your thoughtfulness throughout.

    There are a few points where it sounds like we might have missed each other. One of the areas that brings this out for me is where you say:

    [. . . Chris argued that maybe the CoG wasn’t formally in Genesis 3:15, but “you can’t miss it in Genesis 15 because God is ratifying a covenant made with Abraham.” In other words, the Covenant of Grace was ratified as a covenant in Genesis 15. That is entirely inconsistent with the claim that the Abrahamic Covenant was not the Covenant of Grace (Michael’s view), but was something distinct from it. If they are distinct, then the fact that the Abrahamic Covenant was ratified in Genesis 15 is irrelevant to the question of the formal ratification of the Covenant of Grace. Chris says that Paul and James appeal to Genesis 15 to argue for justification. Again, in our discussion, Michael denied that the Abrahamic Covenant was union with Christ, that it included ordo salutis blessings. Chris and Michael don’t appear to be on the same page here.]

    Chris and I are on the same page, and we both meant something a bit different. Once again the issue has to do with this exegetical/theological distinction (along with the husk and kernel analogy). We would argue that ultimately/theologically, the ratification has to do with the CoG. But this only takes place through the exegetical ‘husk’ (Abrahamic Covenant).

    Added to the above, there are a few other points that I would want to work through (in terms of clarifying/disagreeing). But on the whole, fair game! Once again, I appreciate you brother. Thanks for your time on this, and your willingness to deal with the topic. Great post. If you’re keen, let’s keep talking!

    PS: I thought that this was an excellent pin-pointing of the issue, “1689 Federalism does not believe that OT believers ‘accessed’ Christ’s forgiveness through the animal sacrifices of the Old Covenant.” That is definitely a decent size problem for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 26, 2019 at 1:56 pm

      Thanks for the reply Michael!

      Once again the issue has to do with this exegetical/theological distinction (along with the husk and kernel analogy). We would argue that ultimately/theologically, the ratification has to do with the CoG. But this only takes place through the exegetical ‘husk’ (Abrahamic Covenant).

      I don’t know what that means. Can you clarify? There is a ratification ceremony in Genesis 15. Is that a ratification of the Abrahamic Covenant or a ratification of the Covenant of Grace?

      Liked by 1 person

      • March 26, 2019 at 2:19 pm

        Yeah sure. Happy to. The ratification itself refers directly to the historical covenant (AC), but this so as part of a larger an administration of the theological covenant (CoG). Make sense?

        Like

        • March 26, 2019 at 2:40 pm

          No, not really 🙂 It seems to me to be begging the question. Chris brought up Gen 15 as an argument against the 1689 Fed identification of the NC as the CoG. Perhaps this was because he didn’t adequately understand the position he was asked to respond to, and thus he was just articulating his own opinion, rather than an argument. But I fail to see how the mere fact that a covenant is ratified in Genesis 15 entails that the CoG is something other than the NC.

          Like

        • March 26, 2019 at 2:56 pm

          Hmm. Not sure what you mean there. I’m only saying that I think there is a distinction between the historical/exegetical covenant (Abrahamic covenant /AC), and the overarching theological CoG. But certainly the AC is an administration of the CoG. So in that sense it the CoG itself is being ratified in Gen 15. That is why it is indeed relevant. Just double checked with Chris. We’re on the same page as far as I can tell. And what he is saying makes sense to me. Happy to try and clarify further if you’ll help me out.

          Like

        • March 26, 2019 at 3:14 pm

          Sorry, I went back and re-listened and I had slightly mis-heard/mis-comprehended the first time.

          @16:15 Chris: “I would see administered as a legal term. I don’t see how you can miss the Covenant of Grace being administered – Maybe not formally or as elaborately in Genesis 3:15, but I mean, if you can miss it in Genesis 15, something’s wrong, because God is ratifying a covenant that he’s making with Abraham and Paul and James appeal to Genesis 15 to argue for our justification.”

          I understand better what he was trying to say. My response would simply be that Abraham’s justification and the ratification of the Abrahamic Covenant are two separate events. The gospel was revealed to Abraham insofar as God promised that he would be the father of the promised seed of the woman who would come and bless all nations. Abraham believed that gospel revelation, and therefore he was justified. After that point God ratified the covenant, promising that Abraham would be the father of the Messiah. One of those things deals with the ordo salutis, the other deals with the historia. The ratification was that Abraham would be the father of the Messiah, not that Abraham would be justified. Abraham was justified prior to the ratification. The ratification was not a means of Abraham’s justification. The ratification ceremony did not administer the CoG to Abraham. The CoG was “administered” to Abraham prior to the ceremony when he believed the gospel that was revealed to him.

          Liked by 1 person

        • March 26, 2019 at 4:49 pm

          FYI, I revised the post above to correct my misunderstanding regarding Chris’ Gen 15 comment.

          Liked by 1 person

      • March 26, 2019 at 7:13 pm

        Ok got it. Yeah I suppose its pretty much what we talked about before on the podcast. Thanks man. Appreciate it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. March 26, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    On another note, a quick question: if the CoG is the NC, why would you want to hold on to the expression (CoG) at all? Especially if what is meant by it is so different from its normal usage in reformed theology. Seems a recipe for confusion. Am I missing something?

    Like

    • March 27, 2019 at 7:49 am

      Good question. Because what is meant by it is not so different from its normal usage in reformed theology. Recall the quotes I provided at the end of our discussion on the podcast. We affirm all that is meant by the majority reformed view’s understanding of the “internal” Covenant of Grace (note WLC 31; OPC WCF 17.2 scripture reference to Jer 31:31-34; WSC 20 reference to Jer 31:31-34 and Heb 9:15). The focus of Sam’s dissertation is to show precisely how the particular baptists agreed with the concept dogmatically (law/gospel distinction rooted in CoW/CoG distinction). They simply worked out inconsistencies in Westminster’s view with regards to the historical outworking of the covenants. Sam does a great job of showing the unity and diversity within covenant theology and showing where the particular baptists fit in that.

      Note that Kline saw problems with the traditional majority view and thus modified it. He rejected the “internal” CoG idea. Recall that he said that WLC 31 “leads to a definition of the covenant community (church) in Baptistic terms.” Kline also said “the Baptists argue against that Presbyterian argument that it doesn’t sound sound, and the Baptist’s are right there. Their criticism of the traditional Presbyterian argument is correct you know.” So we could ask your same question of Kline: why would he retain the language when he means something so different from its normal usage in reformed theology? I would say the answer is Sam’s answer: there is unity and diversity in reformed covenant theology.

      Liked by 1 person

      • March 27, 2019 at 4:59 pm

        Indeed! Haha. That’s one of the reasons I like Kline so much! I suppose I see the benefit of his construal of the CoG in helping to explain things like Gal. 3:17. Also, I think it is important to understand how the promise was administered in the OT (I feel it is less complicated than talking about ‘retroactivity’). Also it contributes to highlighting the great sense of unity in the Biblical story (a distinctive of RT). I realise that you and I disagree on Galatians also (so you wouldn’t need the expression CoG to help you there). Added to this, you’ve said that you don’t have a sacramental understanding (so it’s of no benefit to you there either). Finally, it seems we are saying something very similar in terms of the application of the NC to the OT saints, but the expression CoG (in its typically understood, albeit ‘inconsistent’ historical sense) just seems to to cause confusion. Not trying to be facetious here; I’m just eager to understand why you would like to hold on to the term CoG at all. It is a 1689 forefathers heritage thing? You don’t strike me as someone that would give a ton of priority to that. Is it simply so as to make use of existing historic CT language? Or is there something else that I am missing?

        Like

        • March 27, 2019 at 5:59 pm

          Thanks for pushing the question.

          I retain the language because I affirm the concept: our salvation in Christ is covenantal. All men since the fall are saved through covenant union with Christ. That is what the internal “Covenant of Grace” refers to. We affirm what is written in reformed theology on that specific point (just read Berkhof’s section on who the Covenant of Grace is made with for a brief survey). To reject the language would likewise make people think we reject that concept, which we don’t.

          What we reject is the concept of the external Covenant of Grace. We believe that is based on a misreading of the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants (and Rom 9:6).

          People are going to be confused regardless of what we say because covenant theology is a complex topic and people are always confused when groups disagree on the topic (just look at the current state of debate within Presbyterianism), so the fact that our affirmation of the Covenant of Grace confuses you isn’t a strong enough reason for us not to affirm it 🙂 Again, please review Sam’s book for all the important ways in which we agree with the concept. Kline rejects the internal Covenant of Grace concept (the part we retain). He seems to see the Covenant of Grace in strictly “administrative” (i.e. external) terms, in contrast to the CoR. So perhaps that is why you are confused as to why we would continue to use the term, since our meaning of the term (internal) has no correspondence to Kline’s use of the term and you’re looking at this all narrowly through Kline’s lens.

          Regarding Gal 3:17, I don’t think Kline’s reading is correct or helpful. I think it is self-contradictory (per my series).

          I think it is important to understand how the promise was administered in the OT (I feel it is less complicated than talking about ‘retroactivity’).

          Again, the retroactivity of the NC is no more complicated or different than the retroactivity of the atonement. The gospel was preached to Abraham, like it was preached to us. God effectually called Abraham, like he effectually calls us. That effectual call was the establishing of a New Covenant union with Abraham, just as it is with us. (The New Covenant is our marriage union with Christ). The only difference is that Abraham received all of these things in advance of Christ’s earning them in the same way that someone may get an “advance” on their paycheck prior to payday. We receive those benefits after “payday.”

          it contributes to highlighting the great sense of unity in the Biblical story (a distinctive of RT).

          How does saying that Abraham was saved in exactly the same way we are, by the same covenant, take anything away from that unity?

          Liked by 3 people

        • March 27, 2019 at 11:14 pm

          Thanks Brandon. Ok I think I see where you are coming from. And yeah I think Sam’s stuff is super helpful here. Just one more quick question for the sake of clarity: Even though I understand that this is not your ideal choice of language, would you agree that the internal CoG was administered throughout the various historical covenants of the OT?

          Like

        • March 28, 2019 at 8:02 am

          Depending on precisely what is meant by administered, I would either agree or disagree that the internal CoG was administered throughout the various historical covenants of the OT. That was my point here https://contrast2.wordpress.com/2019/02/05/was-the-old-covenant-an-administration-of-the-covenant-of-grace/

          2 LBCF 8.6. Although the price of redemption was not actually paid by Christ till after his incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefit thereof were communicated to the elect in all ages, successively from the beginning of the world, in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices wherein he was revealed, and signified to be the seed which should bruise the serpent’s head; and the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, being the same yesterday, and to-day and for ever.

          The internal CoG was “administered” insofar as Christ was revealed in promises and signified in types and sacrifices. That is, insofar as the gospel was revealed to OT saints, God making that preaching of the gospel effectual by the Holy Spirit.

          Liked by 2 people

        • March 28, 2019 at 2:01 pm

          Ok. Yes, I see. And that sounds good to me. So, why not simply say that the CoG was administered in the OT?

          Like

        • March 28, 2019 at 2:31 pm

          Isn’t that what I just did? 🙂

          The term has numerous connotations, not all of which I affirm. It is closely associated by most people with the idea that various elements of the Old Covenant (circumcision, sacrifices, etc) were signs/seals/sacraments of the Covenant of Grace. I/we reject that idea.

          Either way we will have to qualify and explain ourselves. Either we use the language and explain what we don’t mean, or we don’t use the language and explain what we do mean. I prefer the latter.

          Liked by 1 person

        • March 28, 2019 at 2:39 pm

          Just being sure we are on the same page. And yes, agreed (although I prefer he former). But that is very helpful I think. And if that’s what it comes down to on that particular issue, then it’s not a very big difference at the end of the day.

          Like

        • March 28, 2019 at 2:45 pm

          If it just comes down to using or not using the term, but meaning the same thing, then I agree it’s not a big difference. However, Chris does not mean the same thing as me, so it is a bigger difference than just a choice of words. Chris does mean that circumcision, sacrifices, etc were signs/seals/sacraments of the Covenant of Grace. We don’t mean the same thing. So if you agree with Chris, you and I are not in agreement.

          Liked by 1 person

        • March 28, 2019 at 2:56 pm

          Yes as far as I’m aware Chris would indeed follow Kline the whole way on that. Of course, being baptist I would differ there and instead side with the 20th century view (Jewett’s in particular).

          Like

        • March 28, 2019 at 3:03 pm

          Do you mind summarizing the difference between:

          -Kline/Caughey
          -You/Jewett
          -Me/1689 Fed

          as you understand it?

          Like

        • March 28, 2019 at 3:15 pm

          Sure. Kline/Caughey would see the CoG administered in the external sense (without allowance for internal/external distinction). I/Jewett would see the CoG administered in a typological sense, through the means of the AC (retaining the internal/external distinction). You/1689 Fed would also see the CoG ‘administered’ in a typological sense. But you reject the external, retain only the internal, and see it as a direct retroaction of the NC, rather than being administered through the means of the AC. How does that sound?

          Like

        • March 28, 2019 at 3:40 pm

          Sounds like a fair summary. To push for further clarity in trying to understand in what way circumcision was a “means of grace,” do you believe circumcision was a sign and seal of the Covenant of Grace?

          Like

        • March 28, 2019 at 3:50 pm

          On this we are back to the exegetical/theological distinction. I.e., I believe that circumcision was a sign and seal of the AC directly. But then, secondarily, the AC itself was a typological/pre-eschatological administration of the CoG. So, I would be on exactly the same page as Jewett/Malone on this. Pretty much the stock-standard 20th century view, you might say. In fact, I think that this is where their hard work within the context of wider reformed covenant theology really shines.

          Like

        • March 28, 2019 at 4:09 pm

          I really don’t want to be annoying, but I just don’t know what that means. I’m not aware of any “20th century” guys really elaborating on this point (explaining how “administer” refers to something more than revelation and something less than sacrament). I’m trying to understand in what sense the AC was an administration of the CoG.

          Caughey says it was an administration of the CoG in the sense that the Abrahamic and the New are the same covenant and thus circumcision was a sign of the Covenant of Grace, along with the Old Covenant sacrifices.

          As best I can tell, you disagree with that. You want to say circumcision was a sign of the Abrahamic Covenant, and thus directly about typological things (physical offspring, land of Canaan, etc).

          What is the role of circumcision directly in the Abrahamic Covenant? What is the role of circumcision as a typological administration of the CoG?

          Like

        • March 28, 2019 at 4:20 pm

          No, I don’t think Chris would say that that the AC=NC. I’m sure that he, together with most other adherents of reformed CT, hold to an exegetical/theological distinction too. Then re. question, . . . to me it sounds like you would appreciate Jewett’s book. Just checking: have you read it (‘Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace’)? Prior to the 1689 fed view, this has really been the main focus of the debate (one essence, different administrations / continuity vs. discontinuity).

          Like

        • March 28, 2019 at 4:25 pm

          The role of circumcision in the AC was to create an external covenant community and point forward to the need for bloody rite (judgement ordeal) that removed the sinful flesh. As people believed in the Saviour to come, they were included through this means (AC covenant sign) into the CoG.

          Like

        • March 28, 2019 at 4:24 pm

          I read it 10 or 12 years ago. Yes, I’m aware that was the debate. The argument was that kiddos used to be part of the administration of the CoG, now they’re not. In the Old Cov, some members were saved. Now in the New Covenant, all members are saved. I’m pressing for more detail and explanation than what I have read. Do you mind providing a page reference for Jewett on this specific point?

          Like

        • March 28, 2019 at 4:42 pm

          Thanks.

          The role of circumcision in the AC was to create an external covenant community

          By this do you mean a covenant community of Abraham’s physical offspring to whom the promise of the land of Canaan was made, the kingdom of Israel? Just clarifying what you mean by external covenant community.

          and point forward to the need for bloody rite (judgement ordeal) that removed the sinful flesh.

          Can you clarify precisely what you mean by “point forward”? I.e. it was a word picture that visually taught that the sinful flesh needed to be removed through judgment?

          As people believed in the Saviour to come, they were included through this means (AC covenant sign) into the CoG.

          Again, can you clarify what you mean here? Do you mean that as circumcision “pointed forward” to the gospel, and people believed the gospel that was pointed at, they were brought inwardly into the CoG?
          Or are you saying that being circumcised brought them into the CoG (inwardly, or outwardly)?

          Like

        • March 28, 2019 at 5:24 pm

          How did circumcision relate to Abraham’s physical offspring? How did it relate to the promise of the land of Canaan? Did it mean anything regarding the status of the individual who was circumcised? If so, what?

          Like

        • March 28, 2019 at 5:32 pm

          Yes it did. It meant that they were included among the seed of Abraham, and had access to the covenant promises both temporal and spiritual (if they believed).

          Like

        • March 28, 2019 at 5:37 pm

          So the Abrahamic Covenant promised spiritual blessings (justification, sanctification, glorification)?

          Like

        • March 28, 2019 at 6:34 pm

          No the CoG promises those things. The AC is the administrative typological means through which some in the AC accessed those promises.

          Like

        • March 28, 2019 at 6:41 pm

          Well, thanks so much for the engagement on this topic brother. I’ve appreciated your time. Hopefully we’ve taken some steps forward in understanding the various points of agreement/disagreement. Perhaps it would be a good idea to let the dust settle and keep an ear to the ground for new thoughts/developments. Would love to have you on the show again to talk some more about it down the road. Will be in touch. Blessings!

          Liked by 1 person

        • March 28, 2019 at 7:12 pm

          You said that being circumcised “meant that they… had access to the covenant promises both temporal and spiritual.” That sounds to me like either a) the Abrahamic Covenant promised spiritual blessings, or b) circumcision was a sign of the Covenant of Grace – but you have denied both, so I’m still confused as to what you mean.

          But thank you for the prolonged engagement!

          Like

        • March 28, 2019 at 8:08 pm

          Ok yeah I feel like perhaps you’re not quite picking up what I’m saying, and so it we’re going in circles. But I’m happy to leave it there for now if that’s ok. Like I said, I’ll keep processing and hopefully when we talk again we’ll be able to make some more ground. Again thanks so much Brandon. Really appreciate you brother!

          Liked by 1 person

      • March 28, 2019 at 4:32 pm

        Ok yeah totally. That sounds like a good wrap-up to me. So, where did you need more detail? (Just posted second answer above). But yeah, I’ve been meaning to back and give it another read again. Will do that as soon as a see a bit of a clearing (but don’t hold your breath on that 🙂 ).

        Like

        • March 28, 2019 at 4:47 pm

          Sure. To the first question: yes exactly. To the second question: yes again. To the third question: yes (the first option).

          Like

        • March 28, 2019 at 4:49 pm

          Sorry I see my replies are going to the wrong sub-thread. A bit confusing. Not sure how to rectify that.

          Like

  3. Pascal
    March 27, 2019 at 6:42 am

    Thank you all for your conversations brothers! They are very useful and interesting!

    Liked by 2 people

    • March 27, 2019 at 5:00 pm

      Hey Pascal, thanks so much brother. I really appreciate you and your ministry!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. March 27, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    I enjoyed the talk. Michael seems to be a nice guy and provides a soft environment for discussion. But honestly, with all due respect, it seems to me that Michael is the one who’s a little bit confused. I don’t think you can nearly agree with all Brandon is saying on the one day, then on the very next day second all that Chris is saying. I may be off the target, but it seems to me that this deep necessity for the “administration” idiom, which Michael brought back to the discussion, reflects the strive to spiritualize the Old Covenant, which, in itself, shows that little attention has been given to the temporal aspects of the covenants of old.

    Like

    • March 27, 2019 at 4:36 pm

      Hey Pedro. Thanks for the kind words brother. And I think you’re right. Perhaps I should have made it clearer that I disagreed with Brandon up front. I suppose I was going on our prior conversations, and what he and I already knew concerning our disagreements. But this isn’t totally fair to the listener. I should have mentioned that I had him on the show, not to refute him, but to let him talk me through it, and begin the discussion. Also, I am very keen on understanding the 1689 fed view as closely as possible. I truly do appreciate it, and so want to give it the air-time that it deserves. So hopefully I’m not too confused 🙂 but I am sorry for the confusion this may have caused. If you are interested, stay tuned and hopefully we’ll arrive at some clarity (even if only re. our points of disagreement).

      Like

      • March 27, 2019 at 5:01 pm

        I will definitely stay tuned, brother. Thank you for this clarification.

        My suggestion, though, would be for you to put Brandon and Chris for some real conversation. I thought the assessment episode rather loose and imprecise, since none had exactly what was said by Brandon. I’m all for clarity and a good talk.

        Like

      • March 27, 2019 at 5:10 pm

        Taken on board. Thanks Pedro. Also, it might be worth mentioning also, that it probably would have been a bit clearer for regular listeners — they certainly get enough of my ranting about this. Brandon lists some of the relevant episodes in the post above.

        The Jeremiah 31 Linchpin (2/8/19)
        The Subservience of the Mosaic Covenant (1/27/19)
        Some Thoughts on 1689 Federalism (1/20/19)
        1689 Federalism and the Galatians Stickler (1/21/19)

        By the time I had the privilege of getting Brandon on, I wanted to try and make sure that I didn’t get in the way (as he explained the position). But again, that said, I hear ya! Once we’ve worked through this a bit more, it would be great to keep talking.

        Like

  5. André Beck
    March 28, 2019 at 1:52 am

    Hi Brandon and Mike

    Thanks for the discussion. It’s challenging my thinking in a number of ways. I’m fairly new to the whole discussion about 1689 fed so please forgive me if I’m missing something basic here but I would really appreciate clarity on two of the issues mentioned above…

    1. It sounds to me that 1689 Fed is using the term “New Covenant” to mean all that has been typically understood as the “Covenant of Grace”. However, 1689 Fed wishes to retain the language of CoG so as to demonstrate unity with other reformed groups. Is this fair?

    2. Does 1689 Fed view the Abrahamic Covenant as part of the “New Covenant”?

    Liked by 1 person

  1. March 28, 2019 at 4:14 pm
  2. March 30, 2019 at 5:30 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: