Friday, March 23, 2012

Covenant Theology Is Based Upon Representative Principle

On the he 60th anniversary of the death of Dr. Klaas Schilder Wes Bredenhof writes:
"Today Schilder is controversial because some have associated his name with Federal Vision theology"
Depends offcourse wether you take Cornelis van Til and Westminster Seminary as the guardians of sound Presbyterian and Reformed theology. This would ignore the origins of the split of Westminster with Covenant. From what I have read sofar I'm reaching the conclusion federal theologians in the  Turrentin tradition can ill afford to ignore Klaas Schilder's writings on philosophy and theology.  As Nelson D. Kloosterman writes today:
"people could profit significantly from his cultural, ecclesiastical, and theological insights"
The American theologian who reminds me the most of Klaas Schilder is J. Oliver Buswell, former Dean of Covenant Seminary. Buswell's writings on Dooyeweerd and van Til show that "Old Princeton" is actually closer to Klaas Schilder then to Dooyeweerd and his Free University and "Reformatorische Wijsbegeerte" buddies. Buswell's evaluation of Cornelis van Til's "Common Grace" revolving around federal theology and Cornelis van Til's platonic realism give us a good idea of his reasoning:

"Professor Van Til’s denial of the autonomous character of man as a creature of God is, it seems to me, logically related to his statement quoted above, making God the ultimate cause of sinful actions.
Closely connected with the denial of the autonomous character of created man, is Van Til’s platonic realism exhibited in his references to the doctrine of original sin. He says of humanity since the fall:
Yet they do exist. They exist in Adam as their common representative.35
And it was mankind, not some individual elect or reprobate person, that sinned against God. Thus it was mankind in general which was under the favor of God, that came under the wrath of God.36
Buswell quotes Charles Hodge in explaining his own position:
"This realistic theory (realistic in the platonic sense of the reality of ideas, not in the creationist dualistic sense of the reality of created substantive entities) is discussed by Charles Hodge in his Systematic Theology, Vol. II, pp. 216ff. It was the view of Jonathan Edwards, and, as Hodge clearly shows, must be rejected as based upon non-Scriptural speculation. I sinned in Adam not by any means in the sense that I existed in Adam, certainly not in the sense that Adam was not a specific individual but mankind in general. Such notion is platonism indeed! I sinned in Adam specifically and precisely because he, an individual, represented me,— stood as the federal and representative head of all mankind in this original act of sin.

I sinned in Adam in precisely the same sense in which I died for my sins in Christ. Certainly the atonement does not mean that I existed in Christ, or that he was other than a specific individual, namely, the eternal Second Person of the Trinity, God manifest in the flesh. I died in Christ specifically and definitely because he is my Substitute, my Representative, the federal or covenant Head of the redeemed. Federal theology, or covenant theology, is based upon the representative principle which is logically ruled out when Platonic realism is applied to original sin,— ruled out when distinct individual created identity and a measure of genuine created autonomy is denied to individual men." 
J. Oliver Buswell (and Charles Hodge)  sounds like Klaas Schilder in this passage. Dr. J. Veenhof wrote an article on Klaas Schilder titled "Jesus Christ the substitute" in the book "Ontmoetingen met Schilder" in which he points to this exact same issue of representation.

All this demonstrates federal or covenant theology continued at Princeton after Jonathan Edwards. It also demonstrates Klaas Schilder finds himself in good company across the Atlantic. The more I read the more I get the impression Old Princeton theology is both scottish realism and covenant theology.  J. Oliver Buswell quotes here the fact that Charles Hodge was a staunch Calvinist and a strong defender of the Penal Substitutionary Theory (PST) of the atonement. Which might bring us to Paul C. Gutjahr’s new book "Charles Hodge, Guardian of American Orthodoxy" Francis Turretin Theologiae Elencticae At Princeton Seminary, R.C. Sproul says about the same thing, was replaced as a textbook by Charles Hodge's Systematic Theology in the late 19th century. John Gerstner called Turretin:
 "the most precise theologian in the Calvinistic tradition." 
John Gerstner seems to agree with Norman Shepherd, "who in some ways builds on the work of earlier Dutch theologians such as Klaas Schilder" ( writes S. Joel Garver), as we can learn from the anti-federal vision study bible:
"Regarding Norman Shepherd's paper, "The Grace of Justification," Gerstner wrote these disturbing words: "This paper is very clear evidence of his sola fideism to which only an antinomian could take exception."
In this discussion in relation to federal visionism R. Scott Clark, who is a critic of federal vision claims:
" Klaas Schilder made the post-lapsarian covenant dipleural in nature. Why? Because he was concerned about the looseness and immorality etc he saw as resulting from the Kuyperian doctrine of presumptive regeneration."
I don't know what the federal vision fight is about. But this characterisation of Schilder's position on covenant and election by R. Scott Clark doesn't sound right. R. Scott Clark attracts all kinds of controversy. RedBeetle has taken his Calvinist crusade to a new level. Haha.

What explains R. Scott Clark's treatment of Klaas Schilder is exactedly the stuff J. Oliver Buswell criticized in van Til, if I read this article correctly:
"is also a devoted follower of the late Cornelius Van Til, and, not surprisingly, is an unapologetic defender of logical paradox in Scripture. "
J. Oliver Buswell, Francis Turrentin, Charles Hodge, John Gerstner, Jonathan Edwards all seem closer to Klaas Schilder then R. Scott Clark. Which isn't surprising considering the reasons for the split of Westminst and Faith Seminary as explained by Francis Schaeffer. Let's see what Meredith Kline writes about this.

Interestingly J. Oliver Buswell also discussed presuppostional apologetics with Gordon H. Clark in 1947.

Federal Visionism, never heard of it, but sounds like a strong undercurrent. See the Presbyterian Church in America v. TE Peter Leithart case verdict october 7th 2011.

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