Sunday, August 21, 2011

Covenants and Eschatology

The Covenants of Works and Grace, taken individually, illustrate the question discussed in previous posts, whether grace came to support the establishment of justice, or whether justice came to support the establishment of grace.  I have provisionally identified much later, "orthodox" Reformed Theology as tending to be based in the former (grace comes to establish justice), and the earlier "orthodox" Reformed Theology (Calvin) as tending to be based in the latter (justice comes to support the establishment of grace and mercy).

When grace comes to establish justice, then the Covenant of Works is the lead covenant, and the Covenant of Grace comes to repair the Fall by the work of Christ, and then, by grace, to make possible the fruition of the Covenant of Works established at the Creation.  On the other hand, when justice comes to support the establishment of grace and mercy, then the Covenant of Grace is the primary covenant, and the Covenant of Works is instrumental in establishing the reign of grace, in a just manner.  In this case, eschatology is taken up with the eternally planned fulfillment of the Covenant of Grace, not the Covenant of Works.  And, since the Covenant of Grace has eternally been based in the work of Christ, the fruition of this Covenant cannot be the Covenant of Works established with Adam, but can only be the fruition of the Covenant of Grace established and administered through Christ.  This means that the fruition is not something that takes place in this age, but takes place in the age of resurrection.

Now those who believe that fruition comes through the Covenant of Works believe in the resurrection also, and in the eternal state resulting from it.  But, the main outworking of the Covenant is the outworking of that covenant that was intended to be carried unto fruition in Adam and his offspring, which is a covenant that is carried out under the auspices of the present age.  The fruition of the Covenant of Grace, being a covenant of union with the resurrected Christ, is a covenant which reaches its fruition in the age to come, not the present age.

This is a major difference in eschatology, with, in my opinion, major differences in its effect on practical ecclesiology.  Do we see ourselves primarily as engaged in carrying out a vision which conquers the present age?  Or, do we see ourselves primarily as engaged in carrying out a vision which conquers through resurrection at the return of Christ for judgment and rewards?

One would be hard-pressed to make the New Testament, which is the eschatological hermeneutic for all Scripture, say anything but the latter!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Righteous by Forgiveness

When I was in the Plymouth Brethren, one of my fellow church-members said to me that Adam was created "neither good nor evil."  This conclusion was reached because in the text of Genesis, God says that Adam, in his Fall, will become like God, "knowing good and evil."  The implication is that Adam, as created, did not "know good and evil."

This friend's sentiment bothered me a great deal, because it was always my conclusion from the Scripture text that Adam was created good, which implied a created righteousness.  If he were not good (righteous in some sense), then how could he fall?  What would the Fall mean?

I believe that I've now come to realize the source of the sentiment expressed by my friend.  I think it is embedded within the later history of Reformed Theology, with the development of the doctrine of the Covenant of Works.

Before getting into this, however, let me explain concepts about the relationship between righteousness and sin.  There are two paradigms:

1)  Righteousness is a positive good, and sin is a negative evil.  One can have ones sins cancelled, but this leaves him with no positive good.  Something else must happen to create the positive good.  To use a physical analogy, good and evil are separate substances, each handled differently, though they do affect one another.  One can eliminate the evil, but this does not create the good.  Or,

2)  Righteousness is the absence of sin.  To have a sin forgiven is to be put in the position of never having done it.  If that sin is the omission of an act of righteousness, then forgiveness makes it exactly as if that act of righteousness were done.  Therefore, forgiving all a person's sins is exactly the same as reckoning that person to be entirely righteous!  All the positive evil is reckoned as if never done.  All the failed good works are reckoned as if they were done.  The process by which this is done is identically the same in both cases.  The forgiveness of sin is the reckoning of righteousness.  They cannot be separated.

I believe it to be the case that the two paradigms shown above imply major differences in the resulting theologies of salvation.

Now back to Reformed Theology.

It is commonly said that Adam and his elect offspring need both the de-imputation of their sins (forgiveness), and the imputation of righteousness from God.  Simply by its mode of expression, this is based in paradigm #1 above.  The need for forgiveness and the need for righteousness are regarded as separate issues.  These are commonly tied to the passive and active obedience of Christ.  In the passive obedience (the endurance of punishment) Christ bore the punishment of our sin and exhausted that punishment.  Therefore, the liability is removed and the sins are canceled.  Furthermore, the active obedience of his life is a righteousness that is put to our account.  This is a separate issue.  But, in any case, having both forgiveness and a positive righteousness, we have full acceptance before God.

Note, however, according to paradigm #1, Adam, put in the Garden at the beginning of his trial of perseverance, had no sin, but this did not mean that he was as fully developed in righteousness as God required for eternal life (Westminster Confession).  Adam obeys the Covenant of Works by persevering in it.  Similarly, in the analogy between Adam and Christ, this would imply that Christ needs to develop his righteousness, because in his human nature even he would be sinless but without developed righteousness at his human birth.  Therefore, in order to carry out the job that Adam failed at, Christ would need to fully create his active righteousness, and that, first, for himself.  Without this, it could not be imputed to our account.

But, contrarily, we are faced with Calvin's (and Augustine's) conviction that Christ in his human nature was entirely and completely righteous from the first instant of his human conception.  This is based in paradigm #2 above.  Reasoning back to Adam, this would imply that Adam was originally righteous, too.  But, if Adam is originally righteous, in the same way as Christ conceived as a man is originally righteous, then the process of perseverance in the state in which each was made does not create the righteousness that each already has by creation or conception.  Perseverance illustrates and confirms the righteousness, but does not create it.  This view of the relationship between righteousness and sin shows that each is the obverse of the other.  Adam, newly created, and Jesus, newly conceived, are each righteous, though they have done nothing.  In other words, sinlessness equals righteousness.  The absence of sins exactly is the presence of righteousness.  The forgiveness of sins which we receive through Christ exactly is the imputation of righteousness.  The imputation of righteousness is therefore not a separate imputation.  There is no distinction between the de-imputation of sins and the imputation of righteousness.  They are the same thing.

Following out the argument, then, there would be no distinction between the active and passive obedience of Christ.  His life and his death, but principally his death, all have the same effect upon us, taken together.  There are not two separate and independent imputations.  He was made sin for us, so that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.  But the "dual imputation," or two-way imputation is not an imputation of sins separately from an imputation of righteousness.  In the dual imputation, our sins going to Christ and his righteousness coming to us is not merely simultaneous, but two sides of the same coin.

This is why Calvin says somewhere that justfication by faith alone (ie, the imputation of righteousness to us) is defined as the cancellation of our sins.  That is, by cancellation of our sins we are righteous.  Or, he says in another place, that Christ by his righteousness (which he had from conception) caused the cancellation of our sins.  Or, that Christ's "merit" is that he created the Christian life in us.  Calvin vehemently denies that Christ's righteousness was obtained for himself first (as the Covenant of Works requires).  All that Christ did was not at all for himself, but all for us.

This needs a lot of thought.  The proper definition and explanation of the Covenants of Works and Grace, the definition of the purpose of the Creation, the real doctrine of Sanctification, and the real focus of Eschatology are all knotted together here.

I think it likely to be the case that the two paradigms of the relationship between sin and righteousness imply different theologies in all these realms.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Covenant of Works; Covenant of Grace

This post must be read in light of the previous post:

It being true that Calvin and others see mercy as the reigning motivation within the Godhead vis-a-vis the salvation of sinners, it is now important to understand how this impacts the doctrine of the Covenants of Works and Grace.

If mercy justly triumphs over curse, in principle, then it would seem to be illogical to make the Covenant of Works the reigning paradigm.  Making the Covenant of Works the reigning paradigm is to make justice preeminent over mercy.  Mercy would be a side-effect of justice, rather than justice being the means of mercy.

We understand, of course, that both justice and mercy are satisfied, when all aspects of Christ's atonement are considered.  He was given, when he did not have to be given.  He was given in mercy to sinners.  And, the reigning motivation of mercy is also just, by this atonement.  However, the function of justice is to support the ministry of grace.  Therefore, we should not "turn over" the relationship of these factors, such that justice becomes the reigning aspect, rather than mercy.

So, the question then becomes how we can see the Covenant of Works being subordinate to the Covenant of Grace.  It's worth noting, from the history of our Reformed theology, that:

1)  The Covenant of Redemption, if there was one, is clearly on the side of the preeminence of the Covenant of Grace.  If there hadn't been a need for grace, then why would anyone think about any Covenant of Redemption.

2)  The Covenant of Works was the specification of a type of relationship between God and Adam which made no provision for sin, other than death.  And, yet that Covenant of Works, from which Adam fell by his own will, according to the ordination of God, is embedded within the history governed by the Covenant of Grace.

3)  When Adam fell, he "fell into" the Covenant of Grace, already prepared, containing the promise of the Christ to come.

4)  The Covenant of Grace is Plan A.  Putting the Covenant of Works in charge of history, and interpreting the Covenant of Grace as a side-effect of the full expression of the Covenant of Works makes the Covenant of Works Plan A, and redemption a side-effect, that is, Plan B.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Grace and Mercy, vs. Justice

The opponents of penal substitutionary atonement always complain that this view of the atonement makes the principles of the Christian life be based on justice rather than mercy.  The grace of Christ showered upon us isn't grace, because it has been paid for by the atonement.  It was earned.  It is not mercy.  Therefore, they allege, mercy simply disappears.  The notion of God's pure mercy evaporates from Christianity.

We might laugh at the distortion implicit in this threat, but Calvin and others took it seriously.  Calvin goes over this several times in the Institutes, because this serious threat was issued by the Socinians (Arians, non-Trinitarians) of his day, some of whom he knew personally, because they had passed through Geneva.

Calvin resolved the issue in his own teaching by definitely placing Grace and Mercy above Justice (Institutes, Book II, Chapter 17).  He does not deny justice.  But the satisfaction of justice is subordinate to the manifestation of God's grace and mercy.  This is clearly seen in the main "proof text" for this view, John 3:16.  God sent his only Son to perform the sacrificial death because he, God, loved the world of sinners.  It is does not say that God loved what his Son's work would make of those sinners, though, of course, he did.  The verse says that God loved the world as it was, and therefore, because of his love to a fallen world, out of a desire to show mercy, sent his Son to pay the penalty for their sin.

The fact that mercy is the reigning paradigm in the mind of God should affect quite a few things in our own religion and theology.  For one thing, we must be people of mercy expressed to the unworthy, knowing that the legal issues have been settled by the death of Christ.  This is freeing, because the efforts to express mercy to the unworthy can be quenched by legal scruples.

Another application of the primacy of mercy has to do with our understanding and presentation of the gospel.  We are accustomed to presenting the death of Christ and the gospel in legal terms, as satisfaction for sin, which it is.  But, the divine reason for providing the satisfaction is so that mercy may have free course.  Somehow this should change the way we present the gospel.  Christ died for our sins, because by this means God could show us the mercy he desired to give us.  I think this makes a difference!

In the witness to the world, the divine mercy should be "on top."

This post is continued here:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Incarnation: A Catechism of Awe

We must not forget that, according to our orthodox understanding, the Person of the Incarnate Savior is the self-same divine Second Person of the Trinity who has always existed forever and ever, and who took on flesh for our salvation.

When Jesus Christ was on earth, one never conversed with a "Mr. Jesus" who was at times only vaguely conscious of his divine mission.  One only conversed with the divine Second Person, God himself.

He is that Person through whom the world was made;
He is that Person who took on flesh and was conceived in the womb of Mary;
He is that Person who was born in the stable;
He is that Person who grew up as a child;
He is the "Lamb of God" pointed out by John the Baptist;
He is that Person who was tempted just as we are, yet without sin;
He is that Person who hungered and thirsted;
He is that Person who raised the dead;
He is that Person who is the heir of David the King;
He is that Person who died for our sins and was raised again;
He is the Second Man;
He is that Person who sits at the right hand of God;
He is that Person who says,
        "He who has seen me has seen the Father";
He is that Person who is the Word of Life;

To trust in Him means eternal life.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Church Planting

The following post is a compendium of personal ideas about church planting that have seemed to come together in my mind over decades.

These are just my views, but they are based on real life experiences of at least 3 large, successful church plants, plus several small ones, some of which have failed and some of which have succeeded, plus the fruit of observations and conclusions drawn as to why churches often cannot bring themselves to plant.

Here are my views:

1)  Churches (congregations) do not routinely plant churches.

I think this rule holds true among both the independents and in the denominations.  It is not only a truism, but perhaps is the way things ought to be, as I will explain below.  Church planting is better done in other ways than as a routine policy of individual congregations.

It's true that plenty of counterexamples to observation 1) could be provided.  However, I suspect that congregations that are successful, repeat planters of other congregations have special properties about them which are not typical of the usual congregation, and perhaps should not be typical.  I'm not saying by this that churches should never try to plant churches.  I'm just saying that as a rule this is not the way things work. 

I think the basic reason for churches not being able to plant churches is that individual congregations are usually strapped for support, considering all that they need to do in their own ministries.  They are therefore substantially unwilling to part with either their money or their staff time or any of their members, which is what it will take to start another church.  So, attempts which are made to start other churches as a matter of policy often fail, because the "pull" is toward the center and not out toward the periphery.

Even if the alleged "selfishness" of individual congregations were overcome, such that planting could occur as a matter of policy, one has to ask whether an individual congregation ought to truly do more along these lines, or whether first precedence ought to go toward properly maintaining the local ministries to which it is known that the Lord has already called them.

2)  New congregations are planted by individuals, or by interested bodies, at the call of the Spirit, and not by the routine policy actions of existing congregations.

a)  An "interested body" can be a significant portion of one congregation which wants to split off from an existing church and form a new one.  Or, it could be a body in a more remote location that wishes to "clone" another church which is looked upon as a model or ideal.  In all cases, this is an exceptional process and not a typical situation.  Such "splants" (split+plant) are often done in bitterness, though in my experience of certain real "splants" of decades past, this is actually a great way for a single congregation to plant a new church, if done willingly!  There is high motivation to succeed among the "splanters," and if this is accompanied by the willing support of the originating church, it can and has resulted in successful and friendly plants of new congregations.  This requires submission to the sovereignty of God.

b)  Another way in which new congregations can be planted is by intentional action of denominational policy through the organs of the "regional church."  The fellowship or presbytery can make its own plans using its own resources and personnel (including church planters) to start new works.  This approach demands sufficient resources (and authority) at the level of the regional church.  Not all regional church governments have the authority or resources (or motivation) to make this happen.  This can partly be due to the relative independence of the congregations that form a part of the regional church, a thing often seen among the newer presbyterian denominations which suffered bitterly in the old days from presbyterial authority that was too strong.

In any case, it is not possible for anyone to "plant a church" anywhere without a call from the Spirit.  There is no way that simple "authority" can make it happen.

c)  The model illustrated by the "Apostle Paul Evangelistic Association."  This kind of individual work needs supervision, since none of us is that kind of apostle any more, and therefore this approach fits pretty much under part b) above.  The reason for mentioning this at all is that Paul's procedure is so plainly written in the New Testament.  Though the churches Paul founded supplied money and some personnel to support his evangelistic efforts by their direct involvement, what he did does not illustrate church planting by the intentional efforts of local congregations to routinely plant new ones.  I would suggest that in the unwritten history of the New Testament age, that individuals who were called by the Spirit emulated the Apostle (but under the control of the churches, and not individualistically.)

These ideas are only a small part of the picture.  However, I think that thinking this through can help avoid the guilt feelings or sense of failure that can occur in churches when planting of new congregations seems inordinately difficult or delayed.  Perhaps the wrong tactics or strategy is being followed.  Therefore, I think that a Scriptural and realistic "political science" has its place in understanding how to succeed.

We must discern the practical Scriptural reasons for planting churches.  I think that "we ought to, as a church" is overplayed in today's active church-planting climate.  As I illustrated in point 2) above, interested individuals (under authority), and interested bodies who wish to move out, are a more typical source of new plants.  These are probably more reflective of the call of the Spirit, rather than individual congregations just feeling a burden to "do something."

It would help a lot to understand the historic and Scriptural ways that churches have been planted, to culturally "translate" those ways and means into today's conditions, and then to place the responsibility for church planting upon the shoulders of individuals, authorities and institutions that we believe are really tasked by the Spirit to do it.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Scripture vs. Theology

It's an old argument -- the Bible vs. "theology."

After 50 years of personal Christianity, a good deal of that time to the present spent reading theology and church history, I find that the "Bible vs. theology" issue is still very much alive.  And, I'm not talking about arguments with folks who are against "theology."  I'm talking about how Protestant theology, supposedly based in Scripture, can run amok on its own trajectory, regardless of what the Scripture plainly teaches.

Just to give concrete context, I've lately been reading some of the arguments about "neo-Calvinism."  But, regardless of the issue of neo-Calvinism, it's clear to me that the broad spectrum of theology in the Reformed "camp" contains many strains, from "neo-Calvinism" to "pietism," which definitely have a life of their own apart from the well-balanced interpretation of Scripture.

We have to see that our difficulty sticking with the Scripture is part and parcel of the spiritual warfare.  In that war, submission to God's Word is not optional.  Therefore, we must pay attention to the study of the Scripture, the history of the interpretation of Scripture (there has been 2000 years of it, since Christ), and, as a consequence of all this, we must understand the theology of Scripture.  We must give divine wisdom and instruction precedence over the Word of Man that passes for "theology" in our circles every day.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Covenant of Works Runs Amok!

I'm studying Herman Bavinck, preparing to teach a little class about the Covenant of Grace.  In process of writing his chapter on the Covenant of Grace, Bavinck(*) begins to wax eloquent about the significance of the Covenant of Works.  Before it's all over he falls into a common Reformed trap of making works, obedience, demands, laws and justice the primary theme of salvation history, rather than making the grace of the Triune God be that theme.  He doesn't mean to be "legalistic," and I do heartily recommend Bavinck's work, but we must always be careful.  In particular, we cannot do without Calvin.  I will quote from them both.  [my highlights and underlines; funny symbols in parentheses are "footnotes"]

Calvin(#) :

Christ [is] Rightly and properly Said to Have Merited God's Grace and Salvation for Us
By way of addition this question also should be explained.  There are certain perversely subtle men who -- even though they confess that we receive salvation through Christ -- cannot bear to hear the word "merit," for they think that it obscures God's grace.  Hence, they would have Christ as a mere instrument or minister, not as the Author or leader and prince of life, as Peter calls him [Acts 3:15].  Indeed, I admit, if anyone would simply set Christ by himself over against God's judgment, there will be no place for merit.  For no worthiness will be found in man to deserve God's favor.  Indeed, as Augustine very truly writes: "The clearest light of predestination and grace is the Man Christ Jesus, the Savior, who brought this to pass by the human nature that was in him, through no preceding merits of works or of faith.  Answer me, I beg of you, whence did that man deserve to be the only-begotten Son of God, and to be assumed into unity of person by the Word co-eternal with the Father?  We must therefore recognize our Head as the very foundation of grace -- a grace that is diffused from him through all his members according to the measure of each.  Everyone is made a Christian from the beginning of his faith by the same grace whereby that Man from his beginning became the Christ."  Likewise, in another passage: "There is no more illustrious example of predestination than the Mediator himself.  For he who made righteous this man of the seed of David, never to be unrighteous, without any merit of his will preceding, of unrighteous makes righteous those who are members of that Head," etc.
In this passage Calvin clearly teaches (in his and Augustine's opinion) that Christ was instantaneously perfect from the instant of the Incarnation.  There is nothing here about his having to obey a Covenant of Works in order to achieve active righteousness, so that he would be able to give the same to his saints.  Is Christ tempted and tested?  Of course.  Does he need to persevere in his human nature?  Absolutely.  Does he learn obedience through suffering?  Yes, yes.  But, is he "acquiring" active obedience which he otherwise did not have from the moment of the Incarnation?  Absolutely not.  The grace of the Incarnation, the grace inherent in the God-man, and which he gives to us, was perfect from the first instant of the existence of his human nature.  It is by this grace, and being crammed full of this grace, that he blots out our transgressions by his obedience (not by "acquiring merit" through his obedience, to put to our account).

The main point I'm making here, however, is not to argue principally about the covenant of works.  It is to argue that Bavinck, compared to Calvin, legalizes the grace of God in some of his concepts and language, in a way shared by many Reformed of his era.

Calvin goes on:

Hence it is absurd to set Christ's merit against God's mercy.  For it is a common rule that a thing subordinate to another is not in conflict with it($).  For this reason nothing hinders us from asserting that men are freely justified by God's mercy alone, and at the same time that Christ's merit, subordinate to God's mercy, also intervenes on our behalf.  Both God's free favor and Christ's obedience, each in its degree, are fitly opposed to our works.  Apart from God's good pleasure Christ could not merit anything; but did so because he had been appointed to appease God's wrath with his sacrifice, and to blot out our transgressions with his obedience.  To sum up: inasmuch as Christ's merit depends upon God's grace alone, which has ordained this manner of salvation for us, it is just as properly opposed to all human righteousness as God's grace is.
As a consequence, one sees that Calvin places God's grace "on top."  And, since there is a need for the sacrifice to meet the terms of justice, that is provided, too, but subordinately.  There is nothing here to interfere in any sense with the preeminence of grace.  Even the justice of God, which is met by the Mediatorial death on the Cross, is subordinate to the divine intention to display grace from all conceptual angles.


...  The doctrine of the covenant of grace first emerged for the purpose of maintaining the essential unity of the Old and the New Testaments.  In keeping with this, also the relation between God and humans before the fall was portrayed as a covenant, specifically a covenant of works.  Reflection on the similarity and difference between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace then led to the insight that the covenant of grace, insofar as it was made with Christ, was a covenant of works. ... 
What Bavinck is saying here is that justice is "on top" in the picture of God's saving operations, not mercy.  Mercy is a secondary benefit for us.  Whereas Calvin brought in justice and the sacrifice of Christ as subordinate to God's mercy, Bavinck has described this saving transaction as entirely a matter of justice, with mercy as a side-effect (for us).  The fact that grace comes to us through Christ then becomes strange, in view of the fact that all the internal "mechanism" of salvation is presented in the covenant of works as a matter of obedience, works, law and justice.  But, if the legal side, and not the merciful side, is the preeminent thought, then in spite of all the assertions that there is mercy for us, things are going to ultimately turn around and become legal for us, too.  Bavinck does not personally intend this, but it still happens.

There is a lot more of this in Bavinck than I can quote here.  But, this doesn't mean that Bavinck is an ungracious person.  The rationalistic and justicial passion has just captured him in this connection and he is running "amok" with it, along with most of his fellow 19th century Reformed theologians, I suppose. 


...  In Scripture there are only two covenants, two ways to heaven for human beings, the covenant of works, and the covenant of grace.  The covenant of works is the way to heaven for the unfallen, the covenant of grace that for the fallen humans.  The covenant of works was made with humankind in Adam, the covenant of grace was made with humankind in Christ.  He, and he alone, is the substitutionary and representative head of humankind.  ...  Just as the Father had ordained the kingdom for him, so he ordains it for those who have been given to him.  He distributes the benefits he has acquired(@) as an inheritance. ... In both cases [the covenant of redemption and the covenant of grace] it is the mystical Christ, Christ as the second Adam, who acts as the negotiating party (%). ... And, since (as is evident from 1 Cor 15:45ff) Adam was a type of Christ even before the fall, so the covenant of grace was prepared, not first by Noah and Abraham nor first by the covenant of grace with Adam, but already in and by the covenant of works.  God, who knows and determines all things and included also the breach of the covenant of works in his counsel when creating Adam and instituting the covenant of works, already counted on the Christ and his covenant of grace(&).
The exhortation I leave you with is to begin to see and perceive whether squeezing soteriology through the mold of the Law, while making grace subordinate, truly comports with the tenor of the teaching of Scripture, or Reformation theology.  Isn't it rather the case that mercy and grace triumph, and that justice must be satisfied so that mercy and grace may triumph?

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

The "giving" of the Son (for the satisfaction of justice) was motivated by love for the world, which is the preeminent motive in the mind of God.  As a consequence we are delivered from legalism in our Christian lives.

(*) Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, v 3, ch 5, p 227-8 and elsewhere, Baker Edition.
(#) John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, book 2, ch 17, McNeil Edition.
($) Calvin is reconciling mercy and grace by subordinating one to the other instead of leaving them parallel with one another, which causes the conflict he describes.
(@) He didn't have them by nature, because he had to earn them by obedience to the covenant of works.  Compare with Calvin and Augustine discussed previously.  There is both an anthropological and Christological distinction between these two views, and therefore the distinction between Calvin and Bavinck is likely not a minor matter, but may have ramifications as yet unsounded.
(%) I.e., negotiating with God the Father.  Are "negotiations" required?
(&) He means the "covenant of grace" towards us, but as far as Christ himself was concerned it was all covenant of works.