Friday, June 13, 2014

My Personal Deviation from the LBCF 1689

I affirm the majority of it as faithfully representing the Biblical position, but there are some points that I have a point to make, or problems with. They are listed below:

1:8 - The Old Testament in Hebrew
But because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God who have a right to, and an interest in the Scriptures, and who are commanded to read and search them in the fear of God, the Scriptures are therefore to be translated into the ordinary language of every nation into which they come
, so that, with the Word of God living richly in all, people may worship God in an acceptable manner, and through patience and comfort of the Scriptures may have hope. 

A small amount of the Scriptures were written in Aramaic, and I believe the same properties hold to those sections as well.
I think it’s also important to add that Jesus used the LXX, giving us both an example and the right to translations.

7:2 - Moreover, as man had brought himself under the curse of the law by his fall, it pleased the Lord to make a covenant of grace.

My problem here is twofold.
First I don’t believe that “as man had brought himself” God then, at that time, decided to then act through the use of grace, which is what the confession implies. God is not reactive, therefore it was at the fall God revealed His plan, not made it.
Second, I reject the term “covenant of grace” which was a popular idea in theology at the time of the WCF, set opposed to the “covenant of works” as the overarching plans of salvation. I find the notion of “dispensation for the fullness of time” or “kingdom” to be far superior in bringing clarity to the singular overarching plan of salvation. It’s my belief that the covenants in the OT point forward to the pardon found in Christ, while the NT points back to it. Calling it ‘covenant of grace’ obscures the centrality of Christ more than I am comfortable with and elevates works to a place in salvation where they do not belong.

7:3 - The covenant of salvation rests upon an eternal covenant transaction between the Father and the Son about the redemption of the elect.

I do not believe Jesus made a covenantal transaction with the Father that left out the Holy Spirit. If no more than ‘agreement’ between the persons of the Godhead is indicated then I concur, but I think the word covenant here is sloppy, and ought to be better guarded. Ultimately I find no basis for the “covenant of redemption” in the Scriptures which seems to underpin this statement, which is why I preferring a familial model of redemption instead.

8:5 - The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience and sacrifice of Himself which He, through the eternal Spirit, once offered up to God, has fully satisfied the justice of God, has procured reconciliation, and has purchased an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of Heaven for all those whom the Father has given to Him.

While I do recognize the Bible uses the words such as purchase and redemption as an analogy to understand Christ’s work, I do not like the particular choice of it here in the confession, because in this context it’s suggesting a pecuniary model in which Jesus discharges the debt of the elect upon His death. I hold to a judicial pardoning, upon which God grants forgiveness on condition of faith. The model I see in the Scriptures is that Jesus secures eternal life for the elect, by His death, by obtaining a full and sufficient judicial pardon for each and every man, by becoming sin itself, and imputing righteousness itself, not by paying for a limited or certain number of sins.

19:6 - Although true believers are not under the law as a covenant of works, to be justified or condemned by it, yet it is of great use to them as well as to others, because as a rule of life it informs them of the will of God and their duty and directs and binds them to walk accordingly. 

I do not believe in a covenant of works, but rather hold to God putting His image in us at creation, and filling us with a conscience, which then creates a demand to be perfect, just as God is. This section of the confession works better with the phrase removed.

20:1 - The covenant of works being broken by sin, and made unprofitable for life, God was pleased to promise Christ, the seed of the woman, as the means of calling the elect and bringing to life within them faith and repentance. 

This is the only part of the Confession which I will have absolutely none of.
1.       God graciously chose to make for Himself a son, and put him in the garden with creation under his feet, which means that the whole of creation is by grace, not by works. God’s command is not therefore a covenant, but an instruction, the way by which Adam could be obedient to God, since Adam was already God’s son, His vice-regent, His friend whom He walked with in the evenings. Therefore, since Adam already experienced every good thing of being with God there is no room for him to be earning additional bonus blessings through works of the law.
2.       The Covenant of Works inevitably leads to the idea of a probationary period wherein Adam would merit eternal life by being obedient for a limited amount of time, after which God would change him such that he became incapable of sin. But this is complete speculation in an attempt to cover over a perceived injustice in God. The text nowhere even implies anything like it; it’s fabrication on the order of the gap theory or dispensationalism.
3.       Nowhere in the Scriptures is a Covenant of Works ever mentioned. The closest it gets is Romans 2, but the simpler explanation of faithful holiness to God is a better fit regarding salvation. Genesis doesn’t even use the word Covenant until chapter 6, and I believe God deliberately waited until after the fall to give us the word for a reason.
4.       This statement makes it look like God had to change course; His primary plan of saving people by their own good works fell through so He had to come up with a backup plan to restore it to good working order, so He sent Jesus to fix the breach in the wall. In this instance Jesus becomes subordinate to salvation by good works, being the one who keeps the law and fulfills it for us. I find this implication unacceptable.
5.       Contrary to the assertion that the covenant of Works was always God’s plan Romans 11 is explicit that the fall was always Gods plan from the very beginning. The fallenness of all mankind was necessarily foreordained by God for the manifestation of His attributes (ie: His Glory).  Jesus was plan A, not plan B.
6.       It allows people to think Christ’s righteousness is dependent on the law. Christ is not righteous because He simply is, He is righteous because He keeps the law. But Scriptures speak of the law as bringing us to knowledge of our need for our savior, not the grounds by which we may have eternal life.

22:8 - The Sabbath is kept holy to the Lord by those who, after the necessary preparation of their hearts and prior arranging of their common affairs, observe all day a holy rest from their own works, words and thoughts about their worldly employment and recreations, and give themselves over to the public and private acts of worship for the whole time, and to carrying out duties of necessity and mercy.

I do not find all recreational activities worthy of abstaining from on Sunday, only some. Also, given that the NT does not reaffirm the Sabbath but rather explicitly states we are not under it, in my house do not use the language of the Sabbath, since that was the day Jesus rested in the tomb; we use the phrase, The Lords Day.

25:2 - Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife, for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue, and the preventing of uncleanness.

In my estimation the confession is also lacking the important point that Marriage is a figure of Christ and the church.

29:4 - Immersion, or dipping of the person in water, is necessary to the due administration of this ordinance.

I do not see this in Scripture. I think it’s the fitting and proper form, but I would not agree to the notion that if the immersion is not full then the Sacrament is not valid. I am not myself a padeo, but I find their argument about the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus “as He was coming up out of the water” to mean “as He was walking up the shore out of the water” a plausible one.

30: 4 - The denial of the cup to the people, worshipping the elements, the lifting them up, or carrying them about for adoration, and reserving them for any pretended religious use, are all contrary to the nature of this ordinance, and to the institution of Christ.

I agree with the statement in full, and this is a completely unserious objection, but the Scriptures do say, “This cup is the new testament in My blood which is shed for you"...

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