Considering Exceptions: Covenant or Testament? (Steve Tipton)

In the intro to this short series of posts, we began to look at a few common differences with the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms stated by some of the elders in the PCA. The purpose of these posts is not to tread ground covered by other, more able, men regarding major issues (days of creation, paedocommunion, etc.); rather, it is to examine a few places in our standards that garner less attention. Today, we begin with WCF 7.4--which reads: "This covenant of grace is frequently set forth in Scripture by the name of a testament, in reference to the death of Jesus Christ the Testator, and to the everlasting inheritance, with all things belonging to it, therein bequeathed." The common objection to this section of the confession is due to the phrase, "frequently set forth in Scripture by the name of a testament." Most modern translations, along with most modern commentators, recognize (at most) one place in Scripture where the word διαθηκη should be translated either will or testament. Once is not frequent, not by any measure. As such, 7.4 is an inaccurate statement. Or, so this commonly stated difference goes. By starting here, I am not saying that this is the most controversial difference. Further, I don't know anyone who would argue that this stated difference is hostile to our system of doctrine or strikes at the vitals of religion - in fact I doubt anyone has been granted an exception for this difference that rises above "merely semantic." Indeed, one could argue that this is the poster child for merely semantic exceptions. Yet it is precisely for this reason that I wish to begin here. Having studied WCF 7.4, I have personally decided again stating a difference with this section of the Confession, concluding that it is important and correct both as a historical document and for continued use in the contemporary church. I will therefore look at this section from these two perspectives. When the divines originally wrote the phrase, "frequently se...

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