Friday, 8 January 2010

was the mosaic law gracious? - part 2

It would be dishonest of me to say, after the last post critique-ing Doug Wilson's views on the character of the Mosaic Law, that I don't have questions about the law as a covenant of works. These are:

First, how could Zechariah and Elizabeth walk blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord (Luke 1:6 ESV)? I thought the law was un-keepable?

Second, it says in Deuteronomy 30, in relation to law-keeping:
11"For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' 13Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' 14But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. (ESV)
Paul quotes this passage in Romans 10 in relation to the simplicity of trusting Christ. How does this fit?

In the earlier post, I quoted some Scriptures that I believe drive a truck through Doug's system. Perhaps the texts I've offered in this blog post drive a truck through mine, perhaps not. In situations like these, what we have to do is work out whether we've understood the texts or whether our systems need tweaking to bring them into line with Scriptural truth. I'd be interested in feedback.


John Thomson said...

The Deut 30 text is a difficult text. In one sense it, taken at face value, it contradicts all the NT says about the impossibility of keeping the Law. Further, it seems incongruous with Moses' predictions that the nation will fall away and be exiled. Thus its face value reading is at least suspect.

I think the context here is all-important.

In the preceding verses Moses has indicated that failure to keep the law will result in curse and exile. Moses then speaks of life beyond exile. He anticipates a time when

Deut 30:6 (ESV)
'...the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.'

In the following verses 7-10 he develops how the Lord will renew and bless Israel.

It is in this context that the Deut text you quote lies. To a people with circumcised hearts the word of the Law will not be impossible. That is the OC demand will have been transformed into NC grace. The transformation is radical it is a transformation from Law to gospel. Paul makes this clear in Roms 10. The impossible has been achieved in/by Christ. What we have is not a 'word of law' but 'a word of faith'

The truth is even Deuteronomy - the second law - recognises that law will only bring a curse and a new covenant is needed with God reaching out in grace. What that NC involves is spelled out in Deut in terms the people understood - the fullness of understanding belongs to the NT.

NB The NC is described in the OT as the law written on the heart. It is this. However, it is so in a way the OT could never conceive. The fulfilment eclipses the promise. The same is true for OT references to the new Jerusalem, the temple, the nations flocking to Jeusalem , the sacrifices etc. Unfortunately many read 'the law written on our hearts' and read it with wooden literalism, as if NC believers simply have the power to keep the Law and are obliged to do so. The NT reality in the gospel is much bigger though the essence of the promise is fulfilled.

Nick Mackison said...

That's really helpful, thanks.