Archive for January, 2010

The NT on the Mosaic Covenant

January 23, 2010

Here is a short extract from Hodge on the various ways the New Testament speaks of the Mosaic covenant:

(1.) When viewed in relation to the people of God before the advent, it is represented as divine and obligatory.
(2.) When viewed in relation to the state of the Church after the advent, it is declared to be obsolete. It is represented as the lifeless husk from which the living kernel and germ have been extracted …
(3.) When viewed according to its true import and design as a preparatory dispensation of the covenant of grace, it is spoken of as preaching the same gospel, the same method of salvation as that which the apostles preached.
(4.) When viewed, in the light in which it was regarded by those who rejected the gospel, as a mere legal system, it was declared to be a ministration of death and condemnation. (2 Cor. iii. 6-18.)
(5.) And when contrasted with the new or Christian economy, as a different mode of revealing the same covenant, it is spoken of as a state of tutelage and bondage, far different from the freedom and filial spirit of the dispensation under which we now live.”
Systematic Theology, 2:376

I think this is a very helpful summary to keep in mind when trying to understand how the NT speaks of the Mosaic Economy, which, as any observer of the current reformed scene knows, is a matter of some controversy!

Sinclair Ferguson on “Evangelical Scholarship”

January 7, 2010

“…as evangelical scholarship grew strong, two things were happening.  There was a – perhaps naïve – conviction that if a new race of biblical scholars could be produced then theology – particularly systematic theology – of an evangelical kind would benefit from the knock-on effects.  What was sometimes overlooked was the fact that Scripture is not pre-theological nor is biblical interpretation a-theological.  It contains its own theological controls, its own “form of doctrine” (Rom. 6:17) to which believers are committed by the gospel.  The theology taught in Scripture in turn provides as underlying framework for exegesis and biblical theology.  The unity of Scripture makes that possible and in fact demands it.  Sadly, however, the adage that scholars were “simply following the text” did not always take account of the fact that the text ought never to be isolated from its theological framework.

Without these theological controls it was only too possible for scholars who believed that they were simply following the text of Scripture where it led not to recognize the fact that the lenses they often wore for their work were ground in the historical-critical laboratory.  Furthermore, much academic work involved entering the stream of scholarship at a particular point in the river, learning the rules, and playing according to them.  The river offered few signs warning of the danger of the rocks that lay just under the water’s surface.  The presuppositions expressed in a methodology can too easily be overlooked.

Over the decades, “new” positions have emerged in evangelical biblical scholarship.  Those who developed them continued to affirm that these approaches were consistent with a confession of evangelical faith.  What was too often overlooked was how similar were the methods now used, and the conclusions now drawn by “evangelicals,” to those of nineteenth-century scholars who were the father figures of non-evangelical and eventually anti-evangelical scholarship over a century ago.”

A sad tale to be sure – and one that many refuse to recognise but a very important warning for believers engaged in academic study, especially biblical studies.