In covenant theology, the covenant with Adam is called both the covenant of works and the covenant life, by the Westminster Divines for example. Interestingly, Malachi calls the Mosaic law a covenant of life, peace and fear: “…my covenant with Levi may stand, says the LORD of hosts. My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity” (Mal. 2:4-7). Those who call the Mosaic law a republication of the covenant of works usually deny the graciousness of the covenant of works with Adam before the fall. They then deny the gracious aspects of the Mosaic covenant as well. But there is continuity between the covenant with Adam and with Levi (or Levi through Moses). Adam was promised life, and so was Levi. Oddly, where Adam disobeyed, according to Malachi, Levi obeyed. And we know Levi’s obedience wasn’t perfect obedience, that a perfect sacrifice for sin was still required. Apparently Levi feared God by faith and trusted in God to save him.
Jeff Meyers, a pastor in good standing in the PCA, has recently been cleared of six doctrinal allegations regarding the Federal Vision. You can read the long gnarly final report here, or a little summary here. Three things I’d like to highlight with regard to this good news. First, this is good because Jeff is a capable minister of the Gospel and that should be every Christian’s first concern. Second, it’s also good news because he has backed off not a whit from his Federal Vision convictions which fall squarely within the Reformed tradition. This means that Jeff was cleared of things falsely called Federal Vision, which some honest and charitable people have a hard time understanding, and others not so charitable misunderstand and then bring charges. And third, this is good because it bodes well for the PCA. Every denomination, every cranny of the church, needs to be able to keep its divisive members in check. This just happened in St. Louis. It will be interesting to see if the same sanity will prevail in the Pacific Northwest Presbytery in the case of Peter Leithart. Time will tell.
For those wanting a brief synopsis of FV theology, here you go.
Look at the chess board.
Many people I talk to can’t understand how many in Reformed community misunderstand the Federal Vision, especially when there is a plain statement demonstrating it’s orthodoxy. Douglas Wilson provides more clarity, juxtaposing a statements made by the URC and those found in the Joint Federal Vision Statement.
Commenting on Ps. 119:18, Thomas Manton:
“We cannot merit of God. “Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself?” (Job xxii.2.) “If thou be righteous, what givest thou him? or what receiveth he of thine hand?” (Job xxxv. 7.) Whatever God doth for creatures, it freely, because he cannot be obliged or preengaged by us. In innocency, Adam could impetrare, but not mereri; obtain it by covenant, not challenge by desert. Therefore God conferreth as freely as he createth.”
There you go. Manton, a Westminster Divine, against pre-fall merit. God could bind himself and give Adam life, but Adam could not merit it. I wonder if Manton is outside the Standards?