Darryl Hart writes: â€œby this point in the blog, surely you can see â€˜how I get around the fact that the cultural mandate was reaffirmed as part of the redemptive promisesâ€¦â€™ I donâ€™t know how I could be clearer. You disagree, of course. But really, you donâ€™t see how I separate the cultural mandate from redemption?â€
Of course, I see what you are doing. I just donâ€™t see how it can be sustained from Scripture. At some point W2K theologians are going to have to admit there are laws operative within the economy of grace. The third use of the law, including the cultural mandate, flows from, and is determined by, the new covenant established by Christ. We are not obeying the terms of the CoW (we are no longer in that position), we are obeying laws that have been transferred over into the CoG. As Q.44 of the Shorter Catechism states, we are to obey Godâ€™s commandments because â€œGod is the Lord, and our God, and Redeemer.â€
Darryl writes: â€œthe Westminster Divines do not regard the cultural mandate as part of redemption. Questions 21 to 38 of the Shorter Catechism teach about Christâ€™s work and the application of it by the Holy Spirit. There the cover effectual calling, justification, adoption, etc. I look in vain for anything that approximates the cultural mandate or its subsidiaries.â€
I have two questions in response: First, did Christ fulfill the cultural mandate or not? Second, why would duties of Christians be included under questions relating to Christ and the Holy Spirit? Shouldnâ€™t they be included in the questions relating to our moral duty (Q.39-Q.81)?
Darryl writes: â€œWhy would the Divines be silent? It could be they ran out of time or room. It could also be that they saw how to distinguish between the perishable and imperishable.â€
The cultural mandate was not a question the Westminster Divines were concerned with. They assumed the possibility of Christian culture: it was all around them. It is only in recent times, due to pervasive secularization, that the cultural mandate has become an urgent question.
However, there are questions that touch upon aspects of the cultural mandate:
Q.49: God shows disfavor unto the third and fourth generations of those that hate him & shows mercy unto thousands (of generations?) of those that love him and keep his commandments. Doesnâ€™t W2K deny that this is how God still works?
Q.59: The Divines affirm the perpetuity of the Sabbath ordinance, thus implying that all work carried out in the week should be done for Godâ€™s glory in anticipation of the Sabbath rest (the eighth day). The Sabbath was moved to the first day of the week to show that we now pursue our vocations on the basis of gratitude for redemption & the power of Christâ€™s life. We do all things (not just cultic activity) by Christ who strengthens us. (Of course, many take exception to the Confession on this point because they have been allowed to. Nevertheless, Sabbath observance is confessional while non-observance isnâ€™t.)
Q.66: The Divines affirm that the keeping of the Fifth commandment is attended with the blessings of â€œlong life and prosperityâ€ with the qualification: â€œas far as it shall serve for Godâ€™s glory and their own good.â€ St. Paul affirms this in Eph. 6:1-3. I happen to know that W2K people donâ€™t believe this either in the sense it was intended by the Divines.
Q.102: The Divines affirm that we pray for the coming of Godâ€™s kingdom, the destruction of Satanâ€™s, and for the â€œhastening of the kingdom of glory.â€ W2K men transgress the spirit of this petition when they deny we should endeavor to take every thought captive to Christ.
Q.103: The Divines affirm that we pray for Godâ€™s kingdom to be â€œon earth as it is in heaven.â€ W2K men transgress the spirit of this petition when they work to keep the city of man oriented toward the love of self for selfâ€™s sake.
W2K is not true Augustinianism because St. Augustine spoke of two cities with two loves, while W2K speaks of two cities without reference to the driving motivation of each. As soon as it is admitted that there are only two loves, the question becomes how (and not whether) Christians are to influence the earthly city for a higher purpose. Since Darryl likes to refer to St. Augustine so much, hereâ€™s a quotation:
â€œ[A] good and honest life is not produced in any other way than by loving, in the manner in which they should be loved, the proper objects of our love, namely, God and our neighbourâ€¦ Here also is security for the welfare and renown of a commonwealth; for no state is perfectly established and preserved otherwise than on the foundation and by the bond of faith and of firm concord, when the highest and truest common good, namely, God, is loved by all, and men love each other in Him without dissimulation, because they love one another for His sake from whom they cannot disguise the real character of their loveâ€ (Letter 137, 5.17).
Finally, I deny that the Christianâ€™s obedience is perishable. Our labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58).
Darryl writes: â€œIf you think the Divines were wrong, Andrew, what revised questions do you propose adding to the Shorter Catechism?â€
I donâ€™t favor revising any historic confession, which seems to be the (to my mind unfortunate) practice of American denominational Christianity. Rather, a new document should be drafted which addresses this particular issue.