Monday, July 26, 2010

0 The Marrow Theology: Adam and Us

In The Marrow of Modern Divinity, Edward Fisher (together with Thomas Boston, through his margin notes) provides an excellent discussion concerning the Covenant of Works that is particularly timely considering the on-going controversy of the Federal Vision in conservative presbyterian circles. As I have picked up The Marrow again to read through, I am only going to make a couple of brief points, before reposting some articles that I posted a year ago.

It is interesting to me, but not surprising, that Fisher's character Nomista, the legalist, is opposed to the doctrine of the Covenant of Works. His view is very like that going around in some circles today: Adam owed God consistent and perpetual obedience simply as a creature of His, and nothing more. According to Nomista, no covenant in the Garden prior to the Fall was necessary because creatures naturally are expected to obey their Creator's laws. (see p. 54 of the Christian Focus edition) While it is certainly true that obedience to his Creator is true for any creature, this merely natural creaturely obedience owed the Creator is not the point of this discussion.

If all Adam is guilty of is failing in this creaturely obedience that is naturally owed his Creator, rather than being guilty of breaking a Covenant in which he was head and we are parties as his posterity, then there is no basis for our being held accountable for that sin as Paul does hold us in Romans 5. If Adam is not covenant head over humanity, then one makes hash of Romans 5:12-21, and bad hash at that. It really is that simple.

Furthermore, if there were no particular covenant relationship requiring perfect obedience to God prior to the Fall, as Nomista asserts, then we are apparently expected to believe that Adam had set before him a life wherein he would perpetually be suspended between life and death, always hanging on the precipice of losing it... In what sense could he be secure? In what sense could he ever truly enjoy life? We know that the Christian is promised life everlasting, a life of secured righteousness. It is not a return to Eden that the Christian is promised - a return to fellowship with God, but with a mutable condition. No, no - Adam was mutable. Such is not the future the elect look forward to - and neither was it the future Adam had before him, had he obeyed.

Further, if mere creaturely obedience is what kept Adam in communion with God, and was to be his perpetual requirement, whereby he would forever be standing or falling on his own doing, what has changed after the Fall? If, as is the case in Nomista's worldview, Adam is not covenant head over humanity, what is the upshot? Are we not therefore in the same covenant as Adam, subject to the same terms? It seems to me to this conclusion is both obvious from the premises, and also shockingly bad. (and I've heard this very thing said, though usually with the gloss that Adam's covenant was really a covenant requiring faith, not works!)

If this premise is granted - that is, if Adam is not seen as our representative covenant head, as I've said, the conclusions stemming therefrom are dreadful. After the Fall, we have no hope of salvation, unless Adam's identity as our original covenant head under a covenant of perfect and continual obedience (a la Romans 5:12-21) is upheld. I don't think anyone really wants to go there... for if Adam isn't our covenant head in the sense that we fell in him, then Christ (again, referencing Romans 5) is not our covenant head in the sense that we are raised with Him. Romans 5 clearly presents Christ as the second Adam - as standing over His covenant people in the same way as head, as representative, of His people, just as Adam was. One man's disobedience (Adam's) plunged all his people into death. One man's obedience (Christ's) brought forth life for all His people. If the former is denied, the latter cannot be sustained. This is grievous.

Finally, and this, too, is no minor point, though it pales in comparison with the immediately preceding one: if Adam and we are in the same relationship with God, and therefore if he is not our head under a pre-fall covenant, then Christ is merely an example for us. Christ then becomes the "first Christian" in some sense, rather than the covenant Head of a new covenant - that promised in Genesis 3:15. This, too, is a grievous conclusion.

Thanks be to God that Scripture does in fact portray something very different than Nomista's ideas. Christ, the Second Adam, performed what the first Adam could not and did not - and brought to life - the ultimate eschatological end set before Adam in the beginning, and set before God's elect in Christ now - His people, living up to the name given Him before His birth: namely, Jesus - he who saves His people from their sins.



In Principio ... Deus Copyright © 2011 - |- Template created by O Pregador - |- Powered by Blogger Templates