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The practical aspect of Covenant Theology

It can be thought that Covenant Theology is merely intellectual and doesn't have any practical usefulness.

This is something I think people like myself who are not necessarily attached to any church or denomination but are simply following the truth wherever it leads can wonder about Covenant Theology. We learn it, see the biblical truth in it, then search for practical application of it.

Here is a quote from Ligon Duncan that I thought was a rare statement of the practical aspect of Covenant Theology:

"Last week we said the whole function of Covenant Theology is to do what? Build the assurance of God's people in His promises."

The above from here.

In my own case I tended to articulate the practicalness of Covenant Theology in spiritual warfare terms that is nevertheless similar to the above quote from Duncan. I would write things such as: the pactum salutis is what we stand on, knowing we have legal standing in the Kingdom of God, and asserting this, or using the fact of it for boldness when confronted by the devil or his followers. In other words, if the devil questions whether any of the gospel words are really serious and real you *know* they are because of God Himself making the covenant with Jesus (and the Holy Spirit) before time, and you know God doesn't go back on what he says. I.e. it's just a way to really know what the gospel is to a concrete, practical degree. Assurance not just based on one's faith, but also having understanding of the mechanics and working out of the plan of redemption from eternity. Covenant - Federal - Theology gives you that.


Words that simply can't be countered

The persistent straw man that "kjv-onliers" are dumb fundamentalists who don't know anything about the sacred academic discipline of textual criticism, or language, or history, is a bit tired at this point. It seems those most angry at the traditional text side are stuck at the stage of the sixteen year old boy who has discovered his first seminary library (or even public library) and is living the angry, unending epiphany that his fundamentalist father or preacher or townfolk were too stupid to know such libraries existed or did know it and were keeping such knowledge away from him.

None of that maturing and psychological drama has anything to do with the fact that the Alexandrian manuscripts are more corrupt than an edition of Pilgrim's Progress that's passed through the care of an Islamic publishing house.


What Roman Catholics need

What do Roman Catholics need?

They need regeneration by the Word and the Spirit. Once a person is regenerated by the Word and the Spirit no Satanic effort or institution with whatever amount of layers of illusion or centuries of history will have any power to fool that person.

People satisfied with Roman Catholicism simply have yet to a) engage the Word of God in a serious way, or b) receive the Holy Spirit. They need to engage/hear the Word of God. This is what they need. They need to set man and ritual aside and come into contact with the Word and the Spirit.

The other aspects and issues of Romanism - the dark, murderous tyranny that Romanism is when it has power - are real and need to be always kept in mind and kept watch on; but having said that, in a time when its tyrannous power has been broken, or is in historical decline, like the time I am writing this in, people still in that church need the Word of God. They need to be regenerated by the Word and the Spirit. Nothing else will make any difference. It is the main thing for all people wherever they currently reside.

Note on aesthetically displeasing books

People who make - design, etc. - books are aesthetically handicapped. Look at the common dimensions of books to start with. Huge, gawky dimensions (I know, so they will *stand out* on bookshelves! That's the handed-down wisdom of the business, so don't ever question it...) I acquired an edition of an old theological work and the print looked like a computer print-out (Verdana or Arial or something) and the dimensions were like a kid's coloring book. Most all books are too big, even paperbacks. I use to see German books, hardback, paperback, that had handsome small dimensions, the size you wouldn't mind actually carrying around with you. Then look at Bibles. Go to a big Christian bookstore and see the wall of Bibles and see if you can find even ONE that is both aesthetically passable and also readable. Why do most all Bibles have miniscule print AND print that are shades of light gray? It's like they are saying we want your money, but we don't want you actually reading this thing. Then if you get a Cambridge with good text you still have to be satisfied with ink black or burgundy leather when most people kind of think a more tan looking, or natural leather looks best. Even when they DO offer a more natural looking leather it is usually a blood-brown type shade. I.e. the most aesthetically unattractive shade of tan. Thanks, publishers! And don't they know that if they published classic works like Calvin's Institutes in a small paperback format, like what you see with Signet or Oxford World's Classics (they can get War and Peace in that format!) they would sell zillions (relatively speaking for that work)? Anyway, even if some publisher did do something like that they'd find a way to make it aesthetically unattractive anyway. It's the same phenomena you see in internet software. Somebody develops free webpages, then they hire a mathematician to design the templates you have to choose from, so you get 17 very similar templates with various color combinations of brown and blue. Now, somebody could say, well design your own page! OK, that can be done; but I can't publish my own library of books...


Book review

An Analysis of Herman Witsius' The Economy of the Covenants
by Patrick Ramsey and Joel R. Beeke
Copyright 2002, 67 Pages
ISBN 1892777223
Christian Focus Publications

You're in the spirit, in a forest. You come to a clearing. There are powerful angels in the distance that you know have seen you, yet they are keeping their distance, watching you. You know they are evil angels. Why aren't they coming after you? Because you're a king. An heir of the Living God of Creation. You are of the Kingdom of Christ. The polity of that Kingdom is the Pactum Salutis (Counsel of Peace, or, Covenant of Redemption, from eternity). You come to a great walled city. You enter the court of the King. You see your Great High Priest, your Prophet, and your King. You're bound to your King by a covenant. As you approached the great walled city you were met by others like you, in the same eternal Covenant of Redemption, and a host of angels ministering to you. A scene out of a celestial version of Malory? No. Your life in the Covenant, effected by the grace of faith, which came by the Word and the Holy Spirit. You're glorified, you have armor (of light) and a sword that puts the fear of God into the most insane evil among Satan's followers. The sword, the Spirit, the Kingdom. The Eternal Covenant between God and His elect, chosen from eternity.

[Review written in 2004.]


Yes, but they get co-opted by the Village of Morality church Christians after they die

If I turn to the pages of history to find out the best men who ever lived, do you know where I find them? Not among those who were called “respectable” in their time … I see great names, Erasmus and others, mighty and learned men, but on a dirty, thumbed page I see the name of Luther associated with such epithets as these – “dog, adulterer, beast,” and everything else that the malice of Rome could suggest. And I say, “Ah, this is the man whom God chose, for he went without the camp.” That list of great divines and of schoolmen and of theologians, you may wipe them all out without much regret! But this man “without the camp,” he is somebody … Turn to another list of archbishops, bishops, deans, rural deans, rectors and curates … There is nothing special about any of them. At last I find a picture of Hogarth – a caricature of a man preaching with devils coming out of his mouth, and underneath it is written, “Fire and brimstone.” I look at the portrait and I say, “See, it is Mr Whitefield.” Ah! There is the man of the age, depend upon it; that man all black, charged with crimes that Sodom never knew … this man here that is abused, that is laughed at, that is mocked; this is the man who is somebody. - Spurgeon


Speaking of ways to read the Bible...

Speaking of ways to read the Bible (**** discussing it on his blog, and me talking about it here and there recently) I just re-read this post from my '+' blog.

It has the virtues of being concrete, doable, and thorough. Not to mention historic.

One could substitute another doctrinal work for the Decades, if need be. Even Berkhof's Manual of Christian Doctrine would work. There's something about the older, massive, historic work that seems to fit the project better though. Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion would work too.


On Puritan piety

Puritan piety... You have to think in terms of different levels of engagement. There is the philosophical level, there is the theoretical level, and there is the practical level. That's a descent in altitude to where the rubber meets the road which is the practical level. Most Christian books on practice are at the philosophical and theoretical levels. In fact, it's safe to say ALL Christians books on practice are at the philosophical and theoretical levels. To get knowledge and practices at the practical level you are getting involved in what is called 'school' knowledge. It is rare. The Puritans approached it but not to the pure practical level. Yet they approached it. Here's an example, and with it will be demonstrated an aspect of school knowledge.

The most practical level knowledge and practices the Puritans put into books was in their books in the category that is called spiritual warfare. For a regenerated Christian there is nothing more practical than spiritual warfare. (When I write that I feel I must say that heretics consider confrontation they get to be some kind of spiritual warfare, and you know what? they are right. Though they are on the devil's side of the battleline and are feeling heat from God's elect.)

Now look at how academic Christianity completely and totally ignores the subject of spiritual warfare. Maybe they will smirk and mock it if it is brought to their attention, but that is about it. You don't find the best systematic theology (Reformed, Calvinist) containing the category of spiritual warfare either, even though the Purtians have arguably written more words on that subject than any other. But because it is at the practical level of what a Christian 'does' it is invisible to the mainstream. School knowledge can be right under your nose, yet you won't see it or recognize it or value it until you've developed enough internally to see it, recognize it, and value it. And regarding spiritual warfare you have no interest in it as long as you still are what the Puritans called a 'tame slave' in the devil's kingdom. Regeneration (being born again by the Word and the Spirit) changes that despite yourself and gets you noticed in the devil's kingdom and puts you on spiritual ground where the forces of darkness and light meet.

This is, by the way, why the devil and his ministers will talk all day about 'sacraments' and ritual. They know they don't regenerate God's own. The Word and the Spirit regenerate God's own. And notice what historically anti-Christ and his various churches have suppressed, often at penalty of torture and death. The Word of God. (But if you want ritual water baptism, come on in!)

So Puritan books on spiritual warfare get closest to 'school' knowledge, which is to say practical level knowledge. But they don't really make it all the way. Mainstream influences never do. You have to prove yourself by being willing and able to navigate waters a little farther from the shore to meet up with true school knowledge. But if you have the Spirit, and you are looking for more (and you can defend yourself from all the default voices and influences that will steer you away from leaving the mainstream, saying it's dangerous or evil or whatever; i.e. if you can manage to fear God more than man and hence be able to pursue Wisdom herself), then the Spirit will guide you into more practical level teaching. It is biblical teaching, but there again, though Jesus' practical teaching is right under your nose, right there in your Bible, you don't see it or recognize it or value it. Yet.