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For Christ's Crown and . . .

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  • S.P.Padbury
    Dear Jerry, ... Okey-dokey. .....Covenant. But just saying it is not good enough, you may be thinking. So, what s stopping me going all the way with you
    Message 1 of 11 , Oct 2, 2002
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      Dear Jerry,

      >"For Christ's crown and.....hmm, maybe, nearly there."
      >Just say it! SAY IT!!!
      >:)
      >gmw.

      Okey-dokey. ".....Covenant." But just saying it is not good enough,
      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
      Scriptura.

      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
      Christians.

      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.

      Yours sincerely,

      Simon Padbury.
    • Jerry
      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
      Message 2 of 11 , Oct 2, 2002
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        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
        them"(Isaiah 8:20).

        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
        before you.

        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
        long-distance friendship.

        Sincerely and humbly,

        gmw.
      • S.P.Padbury
        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
        Message 3 of 11 , Oct 3, 2002
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          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.

          Likewise...............

          I do believe in the very same Reformed religion.

          So...............

          Certainly I should want to uphold and defend and propagate the
          Reformed religion too.

          Furthermore................

          Certainly I should want to commit myself to this end, even by
          vowing a vow to God.

          And...............

          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
          represented them.

          Yours sincerely, Simon Padbury.
        • Jerry
          Simon, 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
          Message 4 of 11 , Oct 3, 2002
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            Simon,

            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?

            gmw.
          • Jerry
            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
            Message 5 of 11 , Oct 3, 2002
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              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.

              gmw.
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