The Relationship of the Mosaic Covenant to the Work of Christ
"The covenant with Moses was neither the Covenant of Works, nor the Covenant of Grace, but a super-added covenant... [Owen] argued that the Mosaic Covenant cannot be the Covenant of Works, because that covenant passed away under Adam when he fell, but the same Law is present and its curses proclaimed against those who are outside of Christ... [Owen said] Israel is not directly related to the Covenant of Grace by virtue of the Mosaic Covenant, so what they [the Israelites] have is the Law proclaiming the perfections of God and that they're dead in Adam, but you also have the primary idea that Christ the Mediator would one day fulfill the Law, and so the primary aim, then, of the Mosaic Covenant is to present the legal conditions that Christ would fulfill in [bringing about] the Covenant of Grace to save His people from their sins....
"This entire construction comes out of [Owen's] wrestling with Hebrews 8-9, and trying to figure out how to contrast the Old and New Covenant... the Covenant of Works could not be, strictly speaking, re-administered of republished under Moses, because that era is gone. But, at the same time, there is such a strong contrast between the New Covenant and the Old Covenant that it can't be the Covenant of Grace either. So the only [option] we're left with is something of a parenthesis in redemptive history that's setting forth the legal conditions for Christ to fulfill....
"The 17th century Baptists tended to pick up this particular view."
1. In the above quotes, Dr. McGraw presents John Owen's view on the relationship between the Mosaic Covenant and the work of Christ. I know that this is controversial within Reformed circles. However, Dr. McGraw's reading of Owen reflects my own reading of Owen. Also noteworthy: Dr. McGraw says that, in direct contrast to Owen, he tends to view the Mosaic Covenant as an administration of the Covenant of Grace, so he is not bending his presentation of Owen to fit his own view. So, I tend to believe that Dr. McGraw is accurately reflecting John Owen.
2. Even if those who disagree with Dr. McGraw's understanding of Owen's view can be proven correct (even if it can be shown that Dr. McGraw is misunderstanding Owen or that Owen changed his view over time), I believe that the relationship between the Mosaic Covenant and the work of Christ that is presented above is itself correct, reflective of the Bible's presentation of this issue.
Labels: Reformation Theology