Obedience and Life

Lane begins to interact with the Joint Federal Vision Profession here. The place he begins is with the issue of bi-covenantalism.

“However, I will seek to prove one example where I believe that the FV statement is thoroughly non-confessional. As we all know, the PCA study committee report roundly reinforced a bi-covenantal structure to the WCF.”

But, as we should have realized by now, there is a difference between denying bi-covenantalism and having a different take on the nature of the two (bi) covenants. For example, I am not mono-covenantal. I signed the JFVP Lane is interacting with here, and I hold that there are two covenants — the covenant of creation and the covenant of grace. One, two.

“The Covenant of Works, in chapter 7 of the WCF, plainly says that eternal life was promised to Adam upon condition of personal and perfect obedience. The JFVP says plainly that ‘the gift or continued possession of that gift was not offered by God to Adam conditioned upon Adam’s moral exertions or achievements’ (see under the section ‘The Covenant of Life.’ Now, I am not sure what else Adam’s moral exertions or achievements could be other than his obedience to God’s law, or personal and perfect obedience. So the condition of obtaining eternal life was works, according to the WCF, and not works according to the JFVP. The PCA has decided that this is not going to be an allowable exception to the Standards.”

But here are some terms that one ought not be allowed to interchange as though they were synonyms — obedience and works. Not one of us believes that the WCF was wrong to say that Adam had to obey. He disobeyed, and here we are in a sinful world. Had he obeyed, we would not have been. We all hold to the necessity of that obedience, as the Confession says. So when we deny that the gift was conditioned upon Adam’s “moral exertions or achievements,” we are denying the idea of autonomy. We are not denying the idea of trusting obedience, upon which continued bliss absolutely depended. For proof of this, consider another part of that same section in our statement, a passage which Lane failed to cite. We said, “We affirm that Adam was in a covenant of life with the triune God in the Garden of Eden, in which arrangement Adam was required to obey God completely, from the heart.” Try to find a contradiction between that and the section Lane quoted from the WCF. There is no conflict between “personal and perpetual obedience” and “required to obey God completely, from the heart.”

The question is not whether we hold to the requirement of obedience. We all hold to that. We are all confessional on this point. The debate is over the nature of that obedience. Was it an aspect of God’s grace to man, or was it to be autonomously rendered by man? That is the point of debate, and on that the Westminster Confession requires nothing of us, one way or the other. So Lane is simply wrong to say that we are not confessional here. The only part of the confession he quotes is the part that says obedience is necessary. I quoted a section from out statement that clearly shows we believe obedience to be necessary. If he wants to show us out of conformity with the Confession, Lane needs to pick another place and try again.

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