The Particular Voices blog recently posted a brief article entitled A Few Thoughts for Consideration in the Modern Republication Debate. The article offers for Presbyterians a summary of points in favor and against the notion that the Mosaic Covenant is a republication of the Covenant of Works. Here is the primary portion of the post for your consideration.
These thoughts are directed primarily at members in the OPC and PCA.
For those contra republication:1. The view that the Mosaic covenant was a covenant of works is a view found among Reformed divines in the 17th and 16th centuries.2. The Westminster Confession of Faith is not the exclusive expression or boundary of Reformed orthodoxy.For those pro republication:1. The fact that a given divine at the Westminster Assembly held to a given view does not mean that the Confession itself either reflects, includes, or accounts for their view. They debated many things. The conclusion of the debates was a majority vote in one direction, not a unanimous vote.2. A covenant of works and a covenant of grace are as different as wood and stone. They are different “substances.” If the Mosaic covenant is a formal covenant of works (not just containing a remembrance of Adam’s covenant) it cannot be the covenant grace. See John Ball, A Treatise of the Covenant of Grace (London: Printed by G. Miller, 1645), 93-95. Ball is discussing John Cameron’s view that the Mosaic covenant (the old covenant) is neither the covenant of works nor the covenant of grace but a legal covenant for the nation of Israel to live life in the land of Canaan. Ball concludes that this view makes the old covenant differ from the new in substance. See also John Owen, A Continuation of the Exposition of the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews (London: Printed for Nathaniel Ponder, 1680), 324-42. Owen considers the majority view as expressed in the WCF and rejects it because he views the Mosaic covenant as a works covenant for life in the land. This is the result of the simple logic of substance as applied to covenant theology.
My thanks to Richard Barcellos for drawing this to my attention. The whole article is posted here.