Thursday, March 11, 2010

Vos and Republication

This post thanks to a post from my friend Nick Batzig at:

No, republication does not mean the act of creating a republic. Rather, it has to do with the idea that in the Mosaic Covenant, the covenant of works was republished. As an example of this idea, consider the quote from Geerhardus Vos: (We can also explain why the older theologians did not always clearly distinguish between the covenant of works and the Sinaitic covenant. At Sinai it was not the ‘bare’ law that was given, but a reflection of the covenant of works revived, as it were, in the interests of the covenant of grace continued at Sinai.)

In my comments on that statement, it may be simply that I'm really dense (always a possibility). It may be that I'm dealing with the quote out of context (and it's true that I don't have the full essay before me).

But consider carefully what Vos says. "It was not the 'bare' law that was given." What kind of law was it then, dressed? Some explanation here would have been very helpful. Second, notice that Vos does not say that the covenant of works was restated, or republished, at Sinai. Instead, he says something much more subtle. What was given at Sinai was a reflection revived. The covenant of works itself was not revived at Sinai, it was a reflection of the covenant of works (whatever that means). Furthermore, this revival of a reflection was not done in the interest of the covenant works, but in the interest of the covenant of grace. And not only in the interest of the covenant of grace in general, but in the interest of the covenant of grace as it (the covenant of grace) was continued at Sinai. So there is no affirmation here of Sinai being a republication of the covenant of works. At most, Vos appears to be affirming some sort of "covenant of works" overtone to the Sinai covenant.

Or maybe he's just being obtuse.

1 comment:

Nicholas T. Batzig said...

I agree with the general sentiments of your post Dr. Shaw. I do think that Vos is saying that the Law, if it were extrapolated from the context of the Mosaic Covenant, is the form of the Covenant of Works. This is what William Strong and Edmund Calamey state in their expositions of Covenant Theology. I know this is a tough subject, but I cannot help but think that the law functions in the various ways that the Divines explain. They expressly say that it is the "Covenant of Works" for the unregenerate. (Larger Catechism questions 94-96.) Am I reading this correctly?