The Mosaic Covenant as a Republication of the Adamic Covenant

Lane Tipton speaks about the report of the Committee to Study Republication of the General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. The report describes the impetus of the committee’s work:

The 81st General Assembly, in response to an overture from the Presbytery of the Northwest, elected a study committee “to examine and give advice as to whether and in what particular senses the concept of the Mosaic Covenant as a republication of the Adamic Covenant is consistent with the doctrinal system taught in the confessional standards of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.” The men who were elected to this committee are Messrs. Bryan D. Estelle, Benjamin W. Swinburnson (Secretary), Lane G. Tipton, A. Craig Troxel (Chairman), and Chad V. Van Dixhoorn.

For an overview of the General Assembly, read D. G. Hart’s report, “2016 General Assembly: Nothing Out of the Ordinary.”

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4 years ago

Sorry if I missed this, is there a link to the actual report being discussed?

Cris A. Dickason

4 years ago

Peter – the report is not yet “public” in the official sense. Report was presented to and received by the 83rd GA. It will become a part of the minutes of that GA when they are released. That will make it officially and formally public (or is that substantially and administratively?).
Once it is part of the minutes, it will also become one of the OPC “general assembly papers” and will have a link on that sub-page of the OPC’s web site.
The report was slightly modified when presented to the GA (fixed the wording in about 4 places, none of them major), so it’s best to wait for the formal/official release so all future references can be to the final wording and presumably pagination.
The report has been sent by the Stated Clerk of the GA to the chairmen of each Presbytery’s Candidates & Credentials Committee (maybe to every Presbytery’s stated clerk, I don’t recall). I was a commissioner, so I’ve seen the initial version. I had an e-mail, as member of Candidates & Credentials Committee (Philadelphia), from my chairman about this preliminary distribution of the final report, but have been busy with other things and did not yet take any actions.

So the remarks in the episode about the report being available should be taken, as of August 19, 2016 14:00 Eastern Time Zone, are a proleptic indicatin of the report’s availability!

Ruling Elder, Trinity OPC
Hatboro, PA

Patrick Ramsey

4 years ago

Has Tipton’s understanding of Kline’s view changed over the years? Has his own view changed? Having studied under him many years ago, it seems that it has. If so, it would be helpful to know exactly how it has changed.

Glen Clary

4 years ago

The report will be posted here on Sept. 1, 2016.

Adam McNeal

4 years ago

Is it just me or is there no link to the report on that page?

Patrick Ramsey

4 years ago

I am still left wondering how Tipton’s view of Kline comports with what Kline says about the works principle in KP, 320-ff.

Kline says on the basis of Gal. 3:10ff and Rom. 10:4ff that the Mosaic law order was a works principle in contrast to the promise-grace-faith promise of the gospel. He says that Paul “saw a principle operating in the law that was ANTITHETICAL to promise-faith.”

He also bases this antithetical (and not relative) contrast between the works principle and the grace-faith principle on Gal. 4 and 2 Cor. 3. He writes: “It was only because Paul thus recognized the presence of this works principle in the law that he could identify the old covenant as an administration of bondage, condemnation, and death in contrast to the new covenant, which he characterized as one of freedom, righteousness, and life.”

SM White

4 years ago

Sounds like the Shepherd controversy, which is based on Murray’s erroneous innovations, (Which Vos first rejected the republication view), and which is the fountain head of Federal Vision, and all the views that collapse Justification into Sanctification is being Canonized as the only orthodox position in the OPC.

From what Tipton said, it seems they were sloppy in their interpretation of the WCOF 7.6. If you note the scriptures the the divines appealed to were ones relating to the Abrahamic covenant, not the Mosaic. Also, we are told in Galatians that the law was a prison, shutting all up under sin, and a tutor leading to Christ. It was those who looked to the Promised Messiah (Abrahamic covenant) who were saved. Hebrews told us that it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin, and that God was not pleased with those sacrifices. Remember, they were a mere tutor leading to grace. It’s like burning your hand in the fire and being taught by it. The fire is not grace, it’s law, it’s consequence. If your burn a bull in fire, and are told, this Bull is what you deserve, that’s not grace, that is teaching you something. It’s teaching you your need of a savior. The law by shutting all up under sin is not grace. Grace comes outside of that system, and we escape its curse. This is the law and gospel distinction. It is no accident that people like Tipton and the rest who buy into the “it’s all grace” view have all but abandoned a law and gospel hermeneutic. It is also not an accident that pastors and teachers from that view often mix law and gospel in their sermons and teachings. It is because they have a confused view based on theological innovations of the last century, and not found in the classical reformed faith.


4 years ago

That’s a lot of back flips with contorted twists to basically protect the practice of infant baptism.


Richard Lindberg

4 years ago

I was a WTS student in the late 1970s. I don’t remember that republication was much of an issue then. Why is it a big deal now.


4 years ago

Richard Lindberg, because in the late-70’s, Kline was teaching at Gordon Conwell and Murray’s covenant theology ruled the roost. Republication (of any flavor) had such a ‘minority’ status that there was no reason to make a stink about it. What’s changed? A lot more people in the OPC and other NAPARC denoms have been taught by Kline since 1980.

Richard Lindberg

4 years ago

Kline was required reading in Frame’s Introduction to the Word of God. His Structure of Biblical Authority was most helpful to me. Murray’s covenant views were taught but the theology profs made clear when they disagreed with him.

David Rothstein

4 years ago

While I think the report is quite good, it leaves me wondering if there might be some unresolved tension with respect to its conclusion concerning Kline’s view. On the one hand, the report as a whole appears to label it a species of administrative republication. But on the other hand, the chapter that deals specifically with this interpretation of Kline’s view appears to conclude that it is NOT actually an administrative republication of the covenant of works. For some evidence I refer you to the citations that follow (with key sentences emboldened):

“It is not a correlation between pre-fall Adam in Genesis 2 and the demand for flawless obedience relative to eschatological inheritance that comes into view when Kline makes the comparison between Israel and Adam. Rather, it is the correlation between post-fall Adam in Genesis 3 and the consequence of his sin leading to exile east of Eden that comes into view when Kline makes the comparison between Israel and Adam. Rather than thinking in terms of a republication of the covenant of works with pre-fall Adam, Kline brings into view a redemptively qualified recapitulation of post-fall Adam and the loss of inheritance. That is the point to grasp when it comes to the correlation of Israel and Adam in light of the works principle. Therefore, embedded within the redemptive intrusion of the typal kingdom in Canaan, Kline detects the presence of a works principle that applies to national Israel and occasions a reenactment of Adam’s sin and exile in forms adjusted to the realities of sin, grace and redemptive typology.”

Kline does not advocate a republication of the covenant of works with Adam within the theocracy of Israel; rather, he advocates a works principle adjusted to the realities of sin and redemption. This principle is redemptively recalibrated through Abraham and ends up reenacting the sin and exile of Adam when applied to (apostate) national Israel.”

Kline’s viewpoint is perhaps best described as an administrative re-enactment within national Israel of the outcome of the covenant of works with Adam, adjusted to the realities of sin, grace and redemptive typology, resulting in exile from the inheritance-land of Canaan.”

So, is Kline’s view (on the admin repub reading of it) truly a species of administrative republication, or isn’t it?

John Calvin

4 years ago

“It is a fact that the law of God which we call the moral law is nothing else than a testimony of the natural law and of that conscience which God has engraved upon the minds of men” Calvin, Institutes :4,20,16


4 years ago

I do think it funny, the OPC, of all groups, permitting a post-modern interpretive methodology: if you read Kline This way it’s bad, but if you read Kline This way, it is good. It seems to me the committee is saying that it doesn’t matter what the author thought himself, just what the reader takes away from the work. Compromise at its best?


3 years ago

While I tend to agree that the mosaic administration is primarily a Covenant of Grace, this view seems to require NT exegesis that appears to somewhat ameliorate the law/gospel distinction? (For example, Dr. Tipton’s own exegetical reflections in this episode from Galatians 3 & 4 as the law of Moses being – only in hyperbolic, rhetorical terms – sin and death as compared to the eschatological fullness of Christ.)

In what sense is it accurate or fair to be concerned that reading law/gospel NT distinction in this way (hyperbolic, relative contrasts) may do damage to NT soteriology? It seems to me that one of the critiques of New Perspective on Paul regarding “works of the law” is that it flattens law/gospel distinction too much and is this a concern now with this view taken by the committee?

Any help or thoughts on this would be much appreciated!


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