Is the Mosaic covenant a republication of the the key Reformation doctrine of the covenant of works? Inability to obey the law has implications for the doctrines of grace and justification.
Here is a serious and compelling summons to realign ourselves with both Scripture and, as it turns out, the Christianity of the Reformation, on an issue central to the Churchs current struggle over the meaning of justification by grace alone through faith alone. I commend this fine book for its courage, insight, wisdom, and biblical faithfulness.
Diverse proposals about the place of the Mosaic administration in the covenant of grace have been suggested by Reformed theologians, including the suggestion that the Mosaic administration in some sense re-published the covenant of works, which teaches that only perfect obedience to the requirements of the law is sufficient to secure the covenant promise of life in communion with God. The authors of the chapters in this provocative volume offer an historical and biblical-theological case for this understanding of the Mosaic covenant. In addition, they ably refute recent attacks upon the classic Reformed understanding of the grace of free justification on the basis of the entire obedience and sacrifice of Christ alone. Though I am not persuaded by some formulations of the authors, this volume deserves the careful attention of anyone who prizes the biblical teaching that the believers justification rests solely upon the full obedience of Christ, and not upon any human works performed in obedience to the requirements of Gods holy law.
Some theological controversies are esoteric squabbles that properly belong only in the academy. The debate about republication and our Lords active obedience is not one of them; the life of the church and daily Christian discipleship as well as our reading of Holy Scripture are directly affected. This volume sketches a history, thoroughly explores key biblical material, and thoughtfully explores important theological and ethical implications. The subject is demanding but rewarding as the essays together insist that the Christian life remains a life of obedience to Gods law. Overwhelming evidence is presented here that the covenant of works republished at Sinai is Biblical teaching. An additional unintended but invaluable contribution to Reformed circles is the exemplary display of differences in Reformed theological understanding presented in a respectful and non-condemnatory manner.
The contributors to this volume are to be commended for their rigorous defense of the doctrine of the republication of a works principle in the Mosaic covenant from exegetical, theological, and historical perspectives. In covenant theology, the disobedience of Adam and Israel to the law of God shines a spotlight on the spectacular obedience of Christ. The true significance of this work, therefore, is that it reminds us of what Christ has done for us. Without the law, there is no Gospel!
A wonderful, thoughtful, and important set of essays on the relation of the Covenant at Sinai to the Gospel, a topic which has been at the center of controversy in the guild and in the pews. Estelle, Fesko, and VanDrunen have laid out a coherent argument in this collection that the original covenant with Adam in the garden has been republished in the covenant with Moses at Sinai. Future discussions of faith and obedience controversies will be indebted to the argument here laid out. This is a highly competent and pastorally rich collection by some of the finest minds in the Reformed community today.
The Law is Not of Faith is not an easy book to read for the busy pastor. Every page evidences careful, methodical, exploration into one of the thorniest brambles of biblical-theological discussionthe relationship between the old and new covenant. Yet, like a great detective story, these authors of this essay through diligent spadeworkbiblical, theological and historicaluncover and expose to light of day the great lost truths of the Reformed faiththe doctrine of the republication of the covenant of works in the Mosaic covenant. The effort expected will yield rich reward in the end. You will not only learn how to preach Christ from Scripture, but to preach Christ better.
I am delighted with this book. I plan to require it in my hermeneutics class.
Nearly two decades ago, the pioneering biblical theologian Meredith G. Kline warned that covenant theology was under attack. Kline rightly feared that the theological landscape was threatened by the baleful effects of the modification and even abandonment of the covenantal structure of redemptive history. While subsequent theological developments have confirmed Klines remarkable prescience, The Law is Not of Faith provides the reassuring news that a robust covenant theology, firmly anchored in the Reformed tradition, is alive and well today. This anthology argues that the Mosaic covenant in some sense replicates the original covenant with Adam in the garden, and that this notion is neither novel to nor optional for Reformed theology. The authors locate it within the fabric of federal theology in its Reformation and post-Reformation development, and more importantly, they demonstrate how it is firmly embedded in the flow of redemptive history. Finally, they explain why a thin and merely soteric Calvinism, without the support of federal theology, cannot withstand the challenges to Reformed orthodoxy today. While varying among themselves in their expression of this republication thesis, these authors together make a compelling and coherent argument with rich historical, exegetical, and theological insights.
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