Why Not Put Some More Non-Elect People in “the Covenant”?

Kline, p362, Kingdom Prologue—”But surely there would not be a different policy on covenantal incorporation for Gentiles than for Jews within the church, where the partition wall between the two has disappeared. The holy parent/holy child principle must, therefore, apply to ingrafted Gentile branches as well as to Jews.”

mark: I guess it’s the “surely” which really sells it! Abraham is the
father of those who believe the gospel and are circumcised, and
Abraham is the father of those who believe the gospel and are not
circumcised. So far, agreed. Therefore, Abraham is the father of those who believe the gospel. Again, agreed.

Therefore, since Abraham is the father of some who are circumcised and also the father of some who are not circumcised, all who believe the gospel need to be circumcised. Well, again, we all agree that this is wrong. We know Galatians.

Well, therefore we will explain to the Jerusalem counsel what
Galatians is really saying without of course ever saying it. We will
explain to all who believe the gospel that water baptism signifies
basically (mainly, forget the details about a seed leading up one
seed, and a specific land), water baptism signifies the same
realities, therefore those who have already been circumcised will need to be water baptized (if they signify the same realities, why?) and also those who have not been circumcised will need to be water baptized which is the same thing.

I am not only repeating the basic credobaptist objection from silence
( why didn’t Paul just say what John Murray and Zwingli said and make
it easy on everybody?). I am trying to get to the logic of saying that because Abraham is the father of all who believe, that therefore the genealogical priniciple must “therefore” continue for those who
believe, both for those who are both circumcised and water baptized,
and also for those who were never circumcised but who were water
baptized. For Kline to say “surely” that principle must be carried
over is nothing but beginning where he started!

WHY must that (temporary, to begin where I start) principle continue?
I am not calling anybody an Arminian, nor am I saying that the padobaptist argument inherently leads to Rome or to Arminius, but I always think of this analogy.

Arminians insist that Jesus had to die for every sinner, at
least in some impersonal sense in which Christ has somehow made
salvation available conditioned on the sinner’s obedience to their
false gospel. But then we ask Arminians— WHY must we insist on
Christ’s death being “enough” for everybody even though it’s not effective for everybody?

In other words, we tell Arminians that they think they are reading the atonement better by making it for everybody, but in reality they are making the atonement to be something different which is not the
biblical atonement. By way of analogy (again, I am not arguing slippery slope), again I ask: why must we insist that the genealogical principle continues in the new covenant?

Why must Romans 11 be teaching that unbelievers begin in the new covenant? Do you think you are reading the new covenant better by making it for more people than only the elect? To end where I started, I think this is making the new covenant to be something different which is not what the Bible says about the new covenant.

Why? Is it because we have been brainwashed to say that, since there
is only one gospel, therefore there must be only one “the covenant of
grace”? Or is it because we are open to the inclusion of females in
the “covenant sign” but not open to a restriction, a narrowing, so
that the number of those in the new covenant cannot be (at least in
the beginning) less than those who were in the Abrahamic covenant?

Does this mean that we think everybody ever in the Abrahamic covenant
is first in the new covenant, if only in order for many of them to
then be “cut off” from the new covenant? But again, WHY do we think
this? What is wrong with saying folks were in the Abrahamic covenant
who were never in the new covenant?

Explore posts in the same categories: covenants

Tags: ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

7 Comments on “Why Not Put Some More Non-Elect People in “the Covenant”?”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    The way I see it is that CT wantS to talk about the Mosaic covenant and the new covenant, but doesn’t want to talk about the Abrahamic covenant. Fair enough that Romans 11 doesn’t use the “covenant” word. (It’s interesting to me that there are only ten references to the word “covenant” in all of Paul’s letters. But then again, he didn’t have the advantages of covenant theology.)

    CT will point to the discontinuity between the Mosaic and the new, and I assume some CT would also point to the
    discontinuity between the Abrahamic and the Mosaic, but the one thing CT doesn’t want to talk about is the discontinuity between the Abrahamic and the new. Even if they don’t simply equate the Abrahamic and the new, they equate “the one promise of the Abrahamic covenant” with the new covenant, ignoring the other promises of the AC. So when some of them talk discontinuity, they talk Moses, not Abraham.

    Now one question we could think about (together) is in what sense are those who are in the Abrahamic covenant (before Christ came and finished the work) and who DO believe the gospel are also at the same time, as soon as they are justified, “in the new covenant”.

    Theologically, I don’t think I have a problem with that “before the
    time”. For example, I think it’s not only possible but necessary to say that Abraham was justified (not only in his conscience) by God’s imputation of Christ’s righteousness “before the time” that Christ had brought in that righteousness. I reject “eternal justification” (not the decree to justify) and also the idea that all the elect were justified at one time at the cross, so that the reconciliation accomplished is received by imputation at that time. I reject those ideas as being unbiblical.

    So in principle it seems I should have no objection to thinking that
    the elect remnant in the Abrahamic covenant are also in the new
    covenant “before the time”. But I really can’t make much sense of that given the future emphasis of texts like Jeremiah 31 (in those days I will).

    Order of salvation “before the time”, yes. Paul was “in Christ” after some other folks were “in Christ”, Romans 16. But redemptive history, two covenants at once, or one ahistorical “covenant” transcending all the other covenants, no. (But again, I don’t object to an ahistorical, before the ages decree, the “covenant of redemption” idea, but I don’t understand just now how to conflate that (biblically or even systematically) with “the new covenant”. Maybe you can help me with that!

    I want us to be talking about the AC. There are circumcised believers in the Abrahamic covenant (Gen 17, not all of them for sure, but some of the circumcised believe the gospel)
    2. Of course my final point is that the new covenant is NOT LIKE the Mosaic and Abrahamic covenants. But the first point is for us not to forget that there are unbelievers in both the Mosaic and Abrahamic covenants, and not simply because of our lack of infallible discernment. There are unbelievers in those two
    old covenants by design, because of the temporary genealogical
    principle of those two covenants. But of course CT doesn’t think that principle is temporary because it thinks genealogy carries over to the new covenant.

    OF COURSE there were unbelievers in the two old covenants, there were supposed to be. Those who are “cut off”—were they in first then out or never “really in”?

    Of course I acknowledge the presence of circumcised believers in the new covenant, after Jesus has risen, finished the work, and I am not talking about the old believers in “before the time”,. That first generation of circumcised believers was “not cut off from the root” because indeed they did believe the gospel and are now alive to see the Seed and the new covenant enacted.

    Sure, there is the one generation. But
    1. Even they were commanded ( I think) to be water baptized. The old sign of the old covenant is not good enough. They have the old sign. Yes, it signifies the gospel (plus some other promises to Abraham). But the new sign is commanded also. The old sign didn’t point to the new sign.
    2. It’s only one generation. And I disagree with Doug Wilson’s account (have you read Unto a Thousand Generations?) about the continuing significance of circumcision for anybody, even the believers who are also the physical seed of Abraham.

    Circumcision? Doesn’t matter. Uncircumcision? It doesn’t matter either.
    And then Paul warns the Galatians—if you let yourself be circumcised, Christ will be of no profit to you….

    Surely he meant— if you let yourself be circumcised for that reason, Christ will be of no….

    1 Corinthians 7:18
    Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision.

    1 Corinthians 7:19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God.

    Galatians 2:12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.

    Galatians 5:2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you.

    Galatians 5:3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law.

    Galatians 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

    Galatians 5:11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed.

    Galatians 6:15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.

  2. markmcculley Says:

    Kline on the obedience of Abraham—Though it involves a kind of conditionality and has a certain kind of necessity, obedience thus originating and thus functioning is agreeable with the principle and guarantee of grace…. the grace that produces it being sovereign grace which infallibly accomplishes its purpose. More than that…. such obedience is itself one of the promised blessings. mark—no matter, faith in the gospel is a necessary result not a condition, because faith was purchased for all the elect by Christ’s death. It makes no difference if you say that grace causes us to work, or if you say that our working is a blessing of grace, if our work and our working are needed for a “conditional covenant”, then we come into the picture alongside Christ’s finished death and resurrection. The Abrahamic covenant was “conditional” in a way that the new covenant never is. http://www.upper-register.com/papers/works-principle-mosaic-economy.pdf

  3. markmcculley Says:



    Kline sees this principle of vassal authority continued from the Abrahamic Covenant (the pre-Messianic administration of the covenant of grace) into the New Covenant (the fulfilled, Messianic administration of the covenant of grace). Although Kline sees discontinuity between the Mosaic/Old Covenant and the New Covenant, he sees fundamental continuity along the underlying substratum of the one covenant of grace as it moves from promise (Abrahamic Covenant) to fulfillment (New Covenant).

    Kline’s case for continuity in the administration of the sign of the covenant on the basis of parental authority rests on the following pieces of evidence:

    a. Paul’s teaching that our children are “holy” (1 Cor 7:14)
    b. The parents who brought their children to be blessed by Jesus
    c. Paul’s instructions to parents and children (Eph 6:1-4)
    d. The oikos formula

  4. markmcculley Says:

    Luke 3: 8 And don’t start saying to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones!

    Lots of folks want to trust in the Jesus their grandma trusted in, the one who died for everybody but whose death saves nobody without something besides…In other words, they want to trust in a Jesus who does not exist, and they don’t need to be born again to believe in this false Jesus who does not exist, because you can easily be not elect and not regenerate and believe in this idol Jesus.

  5. markmcculley Says:

    the short version of Galatians—-if you have been circumcised, you don’t need John’s water baptism or any other water baptism. If you have not been circumcised, then you need water. Infant water baptism has come in the place of circumcision, and if you missed it, too bad, because infant baptism is best at showing that grace is sovereign, but some pagans slip through the cracks in the second generation, and if that has happened to you, we can baptize you with water after you are effectually call but that’s second best and makes it looks like you believe in free will. No more physical circumcision. End of Galatians. None of that other nasty castration stuff about “let the knife slip”… God is still your God and your child’s God and promises them all salvation.

  6. markmcculley Says:

    not saving grace, not condemnation, no antithesis, a third thing, they call it “common grace”
    Mike Horton, review of Kingdom Through Covenant
    Hebrews 6 assumes a category of covenant members (Jewish Christians) who are in some sense beneficiaries of the Spirit’s common work in the church through the means of grace, but revert to Judaism. Hardly an empty set, they are covenant members “who have once been enlightened” (ancient church documents use “baptized” and “enlightened” interchangeably), “who have tasted the heavenly gift [the Supper], and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God [preaching] and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away” (vv. 4-6a).
    Specifically, they have fallen away from the new covenant, reverting to the old. “For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned” (Hebrews 6: 7-8). Through their covenant membership they have shared in God’s common grace, and now, if they respond in unbelief, they will bear the curses of the new covenant.
    A Baptist interpretation cannot account for this category of common covenant beneficiaries of grace who spurn the objective common grace delivered to them and fall away, while an Arminian interpretation cannot account for the distinction of this group from those who were in fact united to Christ. If our theological system cannot account for this third group—not elect but not without covenant grace either—then we need a different theological paradigm.
    It’s covenant theology that accounts for this tertium quid between “foreigners to the covenant” and “elect members.” Some non-elect share the new covenant in common with the elect. In fact, the warning is emphatic in chapter 10 against “the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified.”
    All of this fits well with Jesus’s distinction in his parables between a seed that at first begins to grow but is choked by weeds, or weeds sown among the wheat, or fish caught in the net and sorted out (Matt. 13).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: