Time for Vos study #4!
The assigned reading is the entire small chapter #2, The Mapping Out of the Field of Revelation, which considers the fourfold division of General (Natural) vs Special (Supernatural), and pre-fall vs post-fall, Revelation.
One thing I noticed was that Vos has a category for pre-fall Special Revelation, but it is explicitly not Redemptive. This discussion of probation is interesting when balanced with FV insistence that the COW was gracious (in these quotes, emphasis is always mine):
The provision of this new, higher prospect for man was an act of condescension and high favour. God was in no wise bound on the principle of justice to extend it to man, and we mean this denial not merely in the general sense in which we affirm that God owes nothing to man, but in the very specific sense that there was nothing in the nature of man nor of his creation, which by manner of implication could entitle man to such a favour from God.
Those are strong words, but I think still completely in sync with MGK’s assessment that there was “not a gram of grace” in the COW.
In the podcast, Bucey and Tipton take their w-w shots at Natural Theology, which is probably not unexpected from avowed Van Tillians, but I think they push Vos farther than he himself would go. Here’s what Vos actually wrote :
Redemption in a supernatural way restores to fallen man also the normalcy and efficiency of his cognition of God in the sphere of nature. How true this is may be seen from the fact that the best system of Theism, i.e. Natural Theology, has not been produced from the sphere of heathenism, however splendidly endowed in the cultivation of philosophy, but from Christian sources. When we produce a system of natural knowledge of God, and in doing so profess to rely exclusively on the resources of reason, this is, of course, formally correct, but it remains an open question whether we should have been able to produce such a thing with the degree of excellence we succeeded in imparting to it, had not our minds in the natural exercise of their faculties stood under the correcting influence of redemptive grace.
The most important function of Special Revelation, however, under the regime of sin, does not lie in the correction and renewal of the faculty of perception of natural verities; it consists in the introduction of an altogether new world of truth, that relating to the redemption of man. … Nature cannot unlock the door of redemption.
Contrariwise, Bucey&Tipton made the question sound entirely closed. And immediately in the next paragraph is a tough pill for the w-w crowd to swallow, mitigating the importance of Special Revelation for natural understanding.
Another great quote:
Many new things belong to [post-fall, redemptive Special Revelation], but they can all be subsumed under the categories of justice and grace as the two poles around which henceforth the redeeming self-disclosure of God revolves. All the new processes and experiences which the redeemed man undergoes can be brought back to the one of the other of these two.
You gotta love some good strong Law&Gospel.
The bulk of the rest of the chapter deals with the Hebrew berith as covenant (I don’t recall MGK including Vos in his discussion of various definitions of ‘covenant’), and the choice facing the translators of the Septuagint and the writers of the New Testament to use either diatheke or syntheke. Ultimately, it seems syntheke was rejected because of its undue stress on the equality (syn-?) of both parties, and diatheke used even though it usually implied the death of the Testator (see Heb 9:16ff). There is apparently a less common usage of diatheke for “a disposition that some one made for himself” without regard to death, that was what the biblical writers were getting at.
However, this whole discussion raised in my mind the question of why God would ordain that the language that the NT would be written in would not offer a more suitable word to correspond with berith?