For Christ's Crown and . . .
- Dear Jerry,
>"For Christ's crown and.....hmm, maybe, nearly there."Okey-dokey. ".....Covenant." But just saying it is not good enough,
>Just say it! SAY IT!!!
you may be thinking.
So, what's stopping me going all the way with you Covies?
Some time ago I told you that I agreed with the doctrinal contents
and sentiments of the National Covenant and the Solumn League,
and I still do. This is because these are Reformed, and therefore
Biblical. They oppose Rome; they promote the True Religion,
according to the Westminster Standards. That's fine by me.
Notice, however, that I am seeking to be Biblical first and foremost;
placing everything else subordinate to this our only true Standard.
What is given by inspiration of God, must always be our Rule. Sola
So, I believe the Westminster Standards, and anything else
(including the Covenants), insofar as they are Biblical. The
authority of such documents, as I see it therefore, is no authority of
their own, but is a derived authority insofar as they are Biblical.
It is therefore the Bible, and the God of the Bible, that I seek to be
committed to, not any man-made Covenant.
But, I do not forget that the Covenants, so I believe, are true
Reformed and therefore Biblical doctrine. I too, for instance, am
committed just as the Covenanters were, to opposing, more: to
extirpating the heresies of Popery and all false religion. This is
none other than the flipside of the Great Commision, and I am
committed to the Great Commission. We as Biblical Christians
should teach the observance of all things that our Lord Jesus Christ
has commanded -- in His word, thereby making Christian disciples
of all the nations.
So then, what (you may ask) do I believe concerning the perpetual
obligation of the Covenants among God's people who have vowed
and committed themselves themselves to these Covenants, seeing
them as Reformed and therefore Biblical?
Well, insofar as the doctrine contained in the Covenants as
Reformed and therefore Biblical, herein lies the basis of their
perpetual obligation: The Bible teaches us the Truth and the Truth
is always true, and we are perpetually obliged to believe the Truth.
Ergo, insofar as the Covenants are Biblical, we are perpetually
obliged to be committed to the Biblical truths that they contain.
So then, what is stopping me embracing the Covenants, seeing
that I believe thay contain Biblical truth, and that I am committed to
these truths to such a degree that I wish to see the extirpation of
all that is false and unBiblical both in myself and in all who fall
within the scope of the Great Commission, namely, in all the
nations of the world?
In a word, if this is all there was to consider, nothing.
However, I'm not quite there with some Covenanters, on their side
of this "line in the sand". It seems to me that to accept the whole
Covenanter package-deal, I may be asked to abandon going to a
church or abandon being a member of a church that is not a
Covenanter church. Well, I am not in a position where I can
emmigrate to Scotland or Northern Ireland or the USA or Canada.
So, you would be asking too much of me there.
I must seek to move my family toward the most Reformed church
that I can, and in this case, I am already doing so, in that I have
spent my time since February joining membership with a Reformed
church, a Westminster Sandards believing church, a hundred miles
away from where I now live, and about a week ago I recieved an
offer for a job in that area, which I accepted. And on Monday,
someone put in an offer to buy our house, which we accepted. This
weekend I am hope to look around some houses in the vicinity of
that Reformed (a conservative presbyterian) church.
You may say I am in grave error here, inasmuch as this church can
trace its roots back to the Scottish presbyterian churches that
accepted the Revolution Settlement, and that therefore my new
church is historically based on Erastianism. And you may also say
that therefore I am joining membership with a church full of
Covenant-breakers, because their spiritual ancestors accepted the
Revolution Settlement and thereby broke with the Solumn League
and National Covenant, which things, howbeit, most people in the
church have never heard of.
But I am making the choice to seek out and join the best Reformed
church that I can find near where I live in England, where both my
family and my wife's family reside. Inasmuch as I believe that God
is merciful, and inasmuch as I believe that the Christians in this
Reformed church are real Christians, and have therefore not had
their branch of God's family tree (the olive tree of Romans 11) sawn
off by their spiritual, covenant-breaking ancestors, therefore I do not
percieve that I am in grave error in joining myself with these
On a similar note, likewise do I not see myself as being in error if I
sit under the preaching of someone who is not part of the
Cpvenanted Reformed Presbyterian church, such as I will be doing
once we have moved, God willing. Surely you would not argue that
this is sin. If you do, you would have to argue that it is likewise
wrong to even read books by non-Covenanters. And you can name
better than I can which of the Puritans and Scots Presbyterians
and Dutch and French and German Reformers, etc., were not
Covenaners. And I read and benefit from and agree with these
worthies, inasmuch as I believe that they are Biblical.
- Dear Simon,
What you write concerning Sola Scriptura is true. If our doctrinal
standards are not founded on the Word of God, then let them be
rejected outright. We ask no one to believe anything merely based on
the words of men. "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak
not according to this word, it is because there is no light in
Now, concerning covenants, the Word of God does say,
"Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man
disannulleth, or addeth thereto" (Galatians 3:15). This, of course,
speaks of human covenants, between mere men, concerning whatever the
matter. Now, how much more binding is a covenant which binds the
Christian to the adherence and defense of the True Religion of God?
No Reformed Christian ought to have any problem with the content of
the Covenants. The question is, are they binding on us today? If
not, how do you explain this in light of the Biblical teaching on
covenants? If so, what does this mean for us today? Could it mean
that we would need to do some things that are not at all convenient?
Yes: "He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.... He that
doeth these things shall never be moved" (Psalm 15:4,5).
Concerning your decision to attend or join the Revolution Church, I
do not condemn you for this. Simon, you are aware as well as I of
the decline we see all around in Churches that once faithfully upheld
the principles and practices of the Reformed Faith. The Revolution
Settlement was near the beginning of the downward slide. Sitting at
the bottom of the slide, looking up to where we once were, I must
confess I would find it refreshing if the Revolution Settlement was
the only problem in the churches today. For many churches, for many
people, heading to the Revolution Church would, in a sense, be a step
in the right direction. When surrounded by darkness, the children of
light sometimes grasp for any glimmer they can find. I believe the
Revolution Church is in error in light of the Covenants which bind
them, and in light of the Standards they hold, but I do not count
them to be my enemies, nor do I dare assert that they are no
Christians at all. That would be foolish and unchristian. Honestly,
if, when I became convinced I had to leave my unfaithful church for
one that adheres to the Westminster Standards, I very well may have
jumped at joining a church like the Revolution Church. I am no
longer in a position where I can in good conscience do such a thing.
But I certainly understand you doing so under the circumstances.
Others may not like me saying this, but it's my opinion nonetheless.
I will give you no more advise at this time then this: Follow your
conscience as guided by Scripture. And when in doubt as to which
path to take, follow the path of the faithful flock that has gone
Gracious Simon, I've told you this before, but I truly do enjoy
having you in this club. I am glad that we have so many beliefs in
common, and I am looking forward to continuing our dialogue and our
Sincerely and humbly,
- Dear Jerry,
I believe that what the Covenanters did in committing themselves
the the Covenants was binding upon them, since they deliberately
vowed a vow to God himself.
I am not sure that I fully accept the thesis of the perpetual
obligation of the Covenants, as though there was a perpetual
obligation that is binding upon me that arises for the nature of the
Covenants being covenants. For, in what way were those who
committed themselves to the Covenants federal representatives of
me, that they could covenant with God on our behalf?
On the other hand..............
I do believe that the National Covenant and the Solumn League
were the means whereby those who committed themselves to
these covenants were vowing a vow before God that *they* would
uphold and defend and propagate the Reformed religion, according
to their abilities and opportunities.
I do believe in the very same Reformed religion.
Certainly I should want to uphold and defend and propagate the
Reformed religion too.
Certainly I should want to commit myself to this end, even by
vowing a vow to God.
There's no good reason that I can see why such a vow should not
be the Solumn League. Does anybody who believes in the same
Reformed religion know of any....? No, of course not! Why bother
asking whether and Reformer can see a good reason not to believe
in, uphold, defend and propagate the very Reformed religion that he
himself believes in.
Now, please consider..............
Whether or not one believes in the perpetual obligation of the
Reformed Covenants, as though such perpetual obligation resides
in their very nature of being covenants tha somebody else vowed
who allegedly federally represented me, is, as I see it, a surplus
argument in the case of these Reformed Covenants. It is a surplus
argument because, whether or not perpetual obligaion is true:
inasmuch as the content (or, better, the substance) of these
covenants is a vow of personal commitment (at least) to upholding,
defending and propagating the Reformed religion, which very same
Reformed religion I also believe in, it stands inescapable that the
substance of any vow to uphold, defend and propagate the
Reformed religion is a substance that is agreeable to me as a
Reformed Christian. And this stands inescapable, I say again,
whether or not it can be legitimately claimed that the Covenants
have a nature that is perpetually binding upon me through
somebody else having vowed them, allegedly on my behalf.
One can therefore commit oneself to upholding, defending and
propagating the Reformed religion according to one's ability and
opportunity, that is, one can vow the vow of the Covenants and
Covenanters, whether or not one believes in perpetual obligation.
Whether the perpetual obligation of these Covenants is true or not,
the substance of the Reformed Covenants is agreeable to anyone
who seeks to be a Reformer, which Reformed religion, as I have
said, I should certainly want to covenant myself to upholding,
defending and propagating.
The Reformed Covenants are surely, at least, an outward,
formalized, communal expression of what everyone who seeks to
uphold, defend and propagate the Reformed religion should commit
themselves to. This fact remains inescapably true, whether or not
the Covenants have a nature that is perpetually binding upon a
person through someone else vowing them, who allegedly federally
Yours sincerely, Simon Padbury.
You're asking the right questions. Forgive me for doing this, but
I'm going to ask a couple questions right back at you.
1. According to Scripture (even according to light of nature), can
civil magistrates make covenants which bind posterity?
2. According to Scripture, can ecclesiastical bodies bind themselves
and their posterity to a covenant?
- S.P. wrote, "Why bother asking whether and Reformer can see a good
reason not to believe in, uphold, defend and propagate the very
Reformed religion that he himself believes in."
I wanted to emphasize something Simon touches on a bit. The articles
of the SL&C, being agreeable to the Word of God, contain nothing in
essence that the Christian is not already bound to do by the Moral
Law. Defense of the True Religion, obedience to the lawful
magistrate, mutual defense of our brothers and sisters in Christ
against the enemies of Christ and His Church, etc, are things
Christians are bound to do anyway. As I gather, Simon's dispute is
NOT that the things contained in the Covenants are not binding on
Christians as Christians, rather, his questions (if I'm understanding
him correctly) are regarding whether or not the Covenants bind us
with an additional bond.
We, as Christians, are bound to tell the truth by the Moral Law. But
when standing as a witness in court we may be required to swear to
tell the truth. Having sworn, we are now not only liars if we do not
tell the truth, but we are guilty of perjury as well.
The question is not that Christians are obligated to the duties
outlined in the Covenants, the question is whether or not the
Covenants themselves bind as Covenants.
Important distinction to make.