Federalism and the Westminster Tradition
172 Pages

Federalism and the Westminster Tradition



More than any other theological tradition, Reformed federalism has recognized the importance of the biblical teaching on the covenants in its system of doctrine. This tradition came to mature confessional status in the writing of the Westminster Confession of Faith (and Catechisms). The place of the Westminster tradition within the stream of Christian history and theology is remarkable indeed. Westminster not only gained recognition as the epitome of Calvinist teaching at the close of the Protestant Reformation (the middle of the seventeenth century), it also earned the reputation for precision and comprehensiveness in doctrinal formulation. It became the measure by which biblical interpreters defended their systems of doctrine - either in agreement or disagreement with the theology of the Westminster divines.
These writings are the climax of three decades of research and study, and they appear as the third in the series of collections published by Wipf and Stock, beginning with Covenant Theology in Reformed Perspective, followed by Gospel Grace: The Modern-day Controversy. The critical teaching in dispute in each of these studies is the classic Protestant antithesis between the Law and the Gospel, what serves as the basis for the Reformed doctrine of the twofold covenants, the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace. Protestant-Reformed Orthodoxy now stands at the crossroads; the plight of Westminster Seminary (East and West) is merely illustrative of the depth and the intensity of the contemporary theological dispute, one impacting the future of Protestant evangelicalism as a whole. The battle is between historic Reformed-Protestantism and modern-day revisionism of a radical sort. The rapid rise of postmodernism (or nonfoundationalism) is indicative of the rapidly changing mood and posture in ("evangelical") biblical scholarship at the opening of this third millennium of Christian interpretation. Without question, the modern church continues to loose her biblical moorings. Forsaking the basic theological convictions of the Protestant Reformation it has attempted to subject the Word of God to vigorous academic (i.e., "scientific") investigation (the return of rationalism). In doing so, it has abandoned the Scripture principle, which recognizes the uniquely authoritative and inerrant character of the Word of God. Lost in the shuffle is the uncompromising proclamation of the one, true Gospel - the Gospel of justification by grace through faith alone. Lost also is the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture. Nothing less than a new Reformation in our day will halt travel down the road leading to destruction.
--From the Preface



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Published 15 October 2006
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Federalism and te Westminster Tradition
Federalism and te Westminster Tradition Reformed Ortodoxy at te Crossroads
M W. K
Copyrigt © 2006 Mark W. Karlberg. All rigts reserved. Except for brief quotations in critical publications or reviews, no part of tis book may be reproduced in any manner witout prior written permission from te publiser. Write: Permissions, Wipf & Stock Publisers, 199 W. 8t Ave., Suite 3, Eugene, OR 97401.
ISBN 10: 1-59752-904-4 ISBN 13: 978-1-59752-904-4
Cataloging-in-Publication Data:
Karlberg, Mark W.  Federalism and te Westminster tradition: reformed ortodoxy at te cross-roads / Mark W. Karlberg.
xiv + 158 p.; 23 cm.
Includes bibliograpy
ISBN 10: 1-59752-904-4 ISBN 13: 978-1-59752-904-4
1. Covenant teology. 2. Ortodox Presbyterian Curc. 3. Vos, Geerardus, 1862– 1949. 4. Kline, Meredit G. 5. Elliott, Paul M. 6. Westminster Seminary. I. Title.
BT155 K36 2006
Manufactured in te U.S.A.
In memory of tHe faculty hat served at (Old) Westminster WHose voice is still Heard
Soli Deo gloria
Table of Contents
Preface / ix Acknowledgments / xiii  he Significance and Basis of te Covenant of Works / 1 1  Exegetical and heological Factors  New Vistas in Old Testament Narrative / 25 2 Geerardus Vos and Meredit G. Kline as Exemplary Reformed Interpreters  Westminster Seminary / 36 3 A Fractured Foundation—A Divided House WitH Addendum—A response to te 2006 OPC study report on justification/ 48 Paul Elliott’sCristianity and Neo-Liberalism/ 61 4 Drama in te Ortodox Presbyterian Curc  Westminster and Wasington / 82 5 Curc and State in American Calvinism
Appendix ABook review of Sandlin / 101 Appendix B107Book review of Horton (wit Addendum) / Appendix CBook review of Moore / 124 Appendix DBook review of VanDrunen / 131 Appendix EBook review of Matison / 136 Appendix F142Book review of Engelsma /
Table of Contents
Supplemental Bibliograpy / 151
Name Index / 155
 “federalism” is te synonym for Reformed covenant te-T ology, one tat igligts te representative principle of eadsip associated wit te First and Second Adams. Biblical istory opens wit te account of te creation of te world—wit particular attention to te origin of umankind, fasioned in te likeness of God. It closes wit te arrival of te Escaton, te eternal kingdom of eaven. Hence, biblical istory is escatological, looking forward to te consummation of God’s purposes in creation and recreation. As te account of God’s relationsip wit umankind, biblical istory is also covenantal. hese two features, covenant and escatology, are of signal importance in te interpretation of God’s revelation. he unfolding of te istory of te world is distinguised by various events—and is, accordingly, subject to several divisions or scematizations. here is “te world tat once was” (from creation to te great flood in te days of Noa) and “te world tat now is” (from te flood to te close of te age). Never again would God destroy te eart as e did in te days of Noa. Rater, God would preserve te world until te final Day of Judgment. he rainbow is te covenant sign of God’s pledge (in te Covenant of Common Grace). here is also te treefold division between Creation, Fall, and Redemption. he fall of our first parents resulted in te abrogation of te first covenant, te Covenant of Works. God’s gracious provision in te offering up of te Savior of te world as substitute for te sins of umanity required te making of a new covenant, te Covenant of Grace, extending over te entire course of postlapsarian istory. Equally important is te division between old and new ages, te latter inaugurated in escatological glory (toug not yet consummate fullness) wit te first advent of Jesus Crist. (Hence, te new covenant age is, properly speaking, “semi-escatological.”) On any of tese scematizations, te divine cov-enants occupy a central role in te unfolding of biblical istory, te account of God’s engagement wit umanity. he pivotal figure in tis istory is te incarnate Crist, te Second and Last Adam—te Alpa and Omega. ix
More tan any oter teological tradition, Reformed federalism as recognized te importance of te biblical teacing on te covenants in its system of doctrine. his tradition came to mature confessional status in te writing of te Westminster Confession of Fait (and Catecisms). he place of te Westminster tradition in te stream of Cristian istory and teology is remarkable indeed. Westminster not only gained recogni-tion as te epitome of Calvinist teacing at te close of te Protestant Reformation (te middle of te seventeent century), it also earned te reputation for precision and compreensiveness in doctrinal formulation. It became te measure by wic biblical interpreters defended teir systems of doctrine—eiter in agreement or disagreement wit te teology of te Westminster divines. Wit little exception (te Puritan doctrine of te sabbat being te notable one), te Westminster documents bear testimony to Reformed catolicity. And tey continue to speak for istoric Reformed ortodoxy (i.e., international Calvinism) down to te present day. his is not to sug-gest tat Westminster Calvinism is not open to revision and correction—in places. And, to be sure, te Westminster teology as found its ardent crit-ics. Today, no were are te Westminster standards faulted more tan in te doctrine of te covenants (including te juridical interpretation of jus-tification and te law of God). he cief focus of tis collection of essays is te doctrine of te law of God—law as covenant. More specifically, our teological concern is te relationsip between te Law and te Gospel. Of equal interest is te subject of te divine institutions of curc and state, wic introduces us to te important and perennial question concerning te relationsip between curc and state in te postlapsarian world. (Prior to te Fall, tere was only teocracy—God’s immediate rule over is peo-ple. he institutions of curc and state arise after te Fall.) Wile te first capter lays out te biblical warrant for te Reformed doctrine of te Covenant of Works, te second features te work of te lead-ing modern-day exponents of federalism, Geerardus Vos and Meredit G. Kline. Division witin te Westminster Seminaries over te doctrine of cov-enant, justification, and election—including its impact upon te Ortodox Presbyterian Curc—is te subject of te tird and fourt capters. he closing capter takes up te subject of te relationsip between curc and state, pointing out differences in teological viewpoint based upon divergent and conflicting understandings of te doctrine of te covenant. Central to all tis discussion is te teacing concerning te spiritual nature of te curc as te gatered saints, te covenant people of God called out from te world as te instrument of God’s reconciliation and redemp-