More from Robinson on the Church


Both excerpts are from Stuart Robinson’s The Church of God: An Essential Element of the Gospel.

It may be proper to observe, in this connection, that one feature which is common to all the covenants pertaining to the work of redemption stands out with special prominence in the great Church-covenant with Abraham. Whilst everywhere in Scripture special pains is taken to guard against the error that the blessings of salvation, according to the covenant of grace, have any respect to natural descent, and to declare that the true elect are born not of blood nor of the will of man, yet, on the other hand, special prominence is given to the principle that, as concerning the outworking in time of the scheme of redemption, the children of those who are themselves parties to the covenant have a birthrights to the privileges or the penalties of the covenant. Thus, by virtue of the covenant of works with Adam, every child born of Adam is born to die. By virtue of the covenant with Christ as the second Adam, every mortal that dies must rise from the dead. By virtue of the covenant with Noah not to destroy again with a flood, every child born of Noah, as the second father of the race, has, as a birthright, the guarantee of God against another flood…Now, this principle stands forth with special distinctness in the great Church-covenant with Abraham.

Especially for those disinclined to admit the covenant of works, much less to ascertain the organic relationship between it and a high ecclesiology, the latter of which they seem to mean to recover, it would seem that the so-called “Federal Visionists” might do well to read more Robinson.

The successive revelations come not from God as Creator to men as creatures, but from Messiah as prophet and King over his Church to his own peculiar people. The revelations of Sinai are expressly declared to have been made to the covenant people; and when Moses wrote the words of the Lord in the book, they were formally ratified as the covenant between God and the Church. After Moses, all additional records of inspiration are given to the Church as the depository of the Oracles of God. Here, as in all other points, Rome does not invent pure falsehood, but only counterfeits the truth. The Church is in truth anterior to the Scriptures, the receiver of the Scripture, the guardian of the Scripture. Rome adroitly perverts all this to mean that the Church is superior to Scripture, the maker of Scripture, the infallible interpreter of Scripture. Less monstrous indeed, but not less deceptive, is the Rationalistic assumption that the idea of the Church is something extraneous to the Scripture,–having no other relation than that of an expedient or even a necessity superinduced upon the Scripture, simply by the outworking of a system of revelation made to the world of men at large, and when received by any portion thereof, attracting them together to constitute a School of Religious Philosophy.

True, they don’t claim the Reformed tradition. But for those inclined toward an infallible view of the church, Catholics should read more Robinson if for no other reason than to better understand that, ecclesiastically, there is more to being Protestant than not being Catholic. And to the extent that modern evangelicals are appreciably descendants of the Rationalists, they also would do well to read more Robinson if for no other reason than to better understand they mayn’t reasonably claim the Reformed tradition as so many seem wont to do.

And Reformed, who don’t know Robinson, and who are inclined to allow the contemporary Rationalist to have some purchase on the Reformed tradition, might also be well advised to pick up and read.

This entry was posted in Ecclesiology, High church calvinism, Stuart Robinson. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to More from Robinson on the Church

  1. RubeRad says:

    Good stuff.

    the children of those who are themselves parties to the covenant have a birthrights to the privileges or the penalties of the covenant

    That’s all I’m sayin…

    By virtue of the covenant with Christ as the second Adam, every mortal that dies must rise from the dead.

    This is a little confusing, because, every mortal will be resurrected, to eternal life, or eternal death. Is he saying that those resurrected to death are recipients of a flip-negative side of rejecting covenant with Christ? Or is he merely saying that all those children (adopted brothers?) of the 2nd Adam will live again? The latter would make more sense, given Rom 5.

  2. John says:

    Quite interesting…seems similar to Bannerman in his high ecclesiology (and better in examining the covenants), but I have one question about a word Robinson uses:

    When he says that the Church is *anterior* to Scripture, what is he attempting to say there? That the Church is ahead/forward of Scripture? But I’m unclear as to how this would work with the Church being the recipient of Scripture…

    Grateful for what help y’all can give, and I deeply appreciate the work done in putting up these posts; they are helpful.

  3. Zrim says:


    That’s a good question. I must admit, Robinson can be at times a bit cryptic to read. But, whatever he means by “anterior,” which is curious, the context of that statement seems to strongly suggest something otherwise classically Protestant: the Word begets and has a necessary priority to the church, not the reverse.

  4. RubeRad says:

    Hmm, you’ve got a good point. Checking some dictionaries, it seems that anterior and posterior are opposites, meaning basically front vs. back. But in his usage, he is contrasting it to superior, so I guess he means anterior=under vs. superior=over.

  5. John says:

    Thanks–the point of anterior equaling under and superior equaling over seems to make the best sense. I suppose I was too literal from my long-ago biology classes!

    Zrim, thanks again; your point on the Word being prioritized over the church is really solid and I like it. (esp. when with my youthful peers there seems to be a focus on everything but the Word as authoritatively shaping the church…Robinson provides a good antidote!)

  6. RubeRad says:

    Do you mean “postidote”, or maybe “supidote”?

  7. John says:


    I’ll have to start working those into my conversations!

    Then again, with some of my peers there is such a disparity in first principles that anti-dote may be quite apt.

  8. Do you have a link where this book might be purchased?

  9. Zrim says:


    Here it is. Scroll down a bit and you’ll see it.

  10. Pingback: Here’s to You, Mr. Robinson | The Confessional Outhouse

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