The document that follows is my own work and should not be regarded as an official document of any kind. It is posted here as a distillation of my own thinking, and as an expression of what I desire for the thought and life of those God has called me to shepherd.
A Manifesto for an
Orthodox Presbyterian Congregation
The purpose of this document is to establish the intended character of our congregation. A statement of faith and a statement of intended character are not the same thing. Those who wish to review our statement of faith may consult the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms as adopted by the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) in 1936, to which we wholeheartedly subscribe. We are aware, however, of the wide divergence in character (or one might say, ethos) among denominational communions and congregations that subscribe to the Westminster Standards; different Presbyterian bodies (denominational and local) have different emphases in doctrine and piety; and so for our own progress in maturity, and for the benefit of others who may wonder what sort of congregation we are, we wish to set forth particularly our distinctive emphases in doctrine and life.
EMPHASES IN DOCTRINE AND PIETY
1. Trinitarian Theology
There is no other God than the Triune God. The three Persons of the Godhead – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory; and beside this God there is no other. All other so-called “gods” are idols, lying imaginations that can neither speak nor help nor save.
This Triune God, and no other, is the object of true Christian faith, worship, and service. As He reveals Himself in His Word and works, He is the “center” around which everything in the Christian religion turns. It has been well said, “The essence of the Christian religion consists in the reality that the creation of the Father, ruined by sin, is restored in the death of the Son of God and re-created by the grace of the Holy Spirit into a kingdom of God.” Where the doctrine of the Trinity is compromised or marginalized, the faith once delivered to the saints is correspondingly perverted and diluted. We delight, therefore, to have this Triune God, and no other, as the supreme and central focus of all our doctrine and piety.
We believe that the doctrine of the Trinity is basic to all human worship and work. Humankind was created to gaze upon the glory of God, to adore and meditate upon it (Ps 27:4), and this glory of God is inherently Triune glory (Jn 17:1–5, 20–26). Moreover, humankind was created to image the Triune glory of God (especially in its familial and communal life, where the relational life of the Trinity finds a creaturely analogue, Jn 17:22), and to cultivate the world as a theater of His Triune glory (Gen 1:26–28; 2:15).
We believe that the doctrine of the Trinity is basic to the Christian worldview. We believe that fundamental to every worldview are the following questions: (1) what is real (a question at the heart of ontology), (2) what is true (a question at the heart of epistemology), (3) what is good (a question at the heart of ethics), and (4) what is beautiful (a question at the heart of aesthetics). We believe not only that the biblical answer to these four questions is and must be grounded in the doctrine of the Trinity, but also that to affirm this is but to affirm that any right and true answer to these questions must be grounded in the doctrine of the Trinity.
Because we subscribe to this high biblical doctrine of the Trinity, we reject all thinking, religious or otherwise, that devalues any part of creation. The Triune God reveals His glory in every created thing, and in creation as a whole (Ps 150:6); moreover, He has gifted the earth and its riches to His human image-bearers, to be cultivated and enjoyed in the bonds of holy stewardship (Gen 1:26; Ps 8:6; 104:14–15; 115:16) so that it may display His glory. Accordingly, every creature of God is good and to be received with thanksgiving (1 Tim 4:4). Dualistic schemes that sunder nature and grace, or the sacred and the secular, desacralize creatures by which the Triune God reveals His glory, and which He has declared good and given to humankind for holy use and enjoyment.
2. Kingdom Foundations
While we rejoice at the resurgence of interest in the “doctrines of grace,” or “Calvinism,” or “the Reformed faith” in the 21st century, we are deeply concerned about the narrowness that has sometimes attended this resurgence. The historic Reformed faith has not been shaped by reflection simply upon God’s sovereignty in the salvation of individual sinners (that is, His sovereignty in the realm of soteriology). As Abraham Kuyper said so well more than a century ago, the “root principle” or “dominating principle” of Calvinism “was not, soteriologically, justification by faith, but, in the widest sense cosmologically, the Sovereignty of the Triune God over the whole Cosmos, in all its spheres and kingdoms, visible and invisible.” To be “Reformed” is to believe the Triune God is sovereign not only in individual salvation but also in all of human life and thought, and in all the cosmos. He is King over every part of every individual life (His revealed will is the final rule of all belief and ethics), and He is King over every sphere of human enterprise and over every human institution. There is not a square inch of the cosmos of which He does not say, “It is Mine.”
This is not simply a conviction of one part of the Christian church; it is manifestly the biblical view of things. Scripture teaches us that the kingdom of God is the “story of everything.” The creation kingdom (or paradise kingdom) of God, subverted and ruined by the parasite kingdom of Satan, is being and will yet be restored in His redemption kingdom. The redemption kingdom was first revealed as a promissory kingdom in the time of the patriarchs; it was later organized into a preparatory kingdom under Moses and David; after the downfall of the kingdom in Israel, there emerged the prophesied kingdom of the exilic and postexilic periods. In the coming of Jesus Christ, we see the inauguration of the permanent kingdom of God, which will become the perfected kingdom at the consummation of all things. And this redemptive kingdom is cosmic in its scope: the Lord has set His King upon the holy hill of Zion (Ps 2:6), and all kings will fall down before Him, all nations serve Him (Ps 72:11). All the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of our God and of His Christ; there are, therefore, no gladder tidings heard in Zion than the blessed words, “Your God reigns” (Is 52:7).
Because we subscribe to this high biblical view of the kingdom of God, we affirm the kingly mandate to God’s image-bearers to construct culture from the “stuff” of creation (Gen 1:26–28; 2:15). While the question of how God’s covenant people may “plunder the Egyptians” and appropriate cultural products of the ungodly remains a difficult one, culture building as such is not to be devalued, and indeed is to be aggressively promoted for the simple reason that this, biblically speaking, is “what people are for.” Not to build culture to the glory of God is to fall short of His glory and His righteousness, and sunders His redemptive purposes from their creation roots.
We affirm moreover that all human culture building is subject to the rule of the Triune God, as that rule is now exercised and mediated through the Lord Jesus Christ. We reject all diminishment of the crown rights of Christ over the civil realm, over home and family structures, over the arts and sciences, over economics and business and education – in short, over every sphere of human thought and enterprise. Christ commissioned His church to disciple all nations, teaching them to observe His commandments in all areas of human life (Mt 28:18–20); by this means, the cultural mandate issued to humankind at creation is to be fulfilled.
3. Biblical Authority
Because the Triune God is God, and the King of Kings, when He speaks, He does so with absolute authority. Among the entailments of His status as Lord and King is His sovereignty over human knowledge of Himself. He is before we know Him; He determines the way in which He shall reveal Himself to us, the means by which He shall be known; and He graciously enables us to know who He is through what He has revealed. He is not one among many objects of knowledge which we summon before the tribunal of our intellects; He is the Lord, free in His being, free in His self-disclosures, free in His graciously giving to creatures understanding of what He has disclosed. These presuppositions must govern any proper approach to, and reception of, His Word.
The Bible in its entirety declares itself unequivocally to be the Word of the Triune God, and the authority on the basis of which it ought to be believed and obeyed is wholly that of God, its author speaking therein. If true understanding of the divine Word necessarily begins in a posture of humility, submission, and dependence, it follows that true understanding of the Bible (which is His Word) must necessarily begin in such a posture. Too many approaches to the Bible neglect the “law of the object”: that which God is must determine the manner in which we listen to Him when He speaks. In the words of one contemporary theologian, the Triune God “is Lord in the knowledge of his lordship, and can therefore be known only as he moves towards us. Only as the one he is and in the movement of his being can he be known. . . . [Theology is not] at liberty to decide that his self-presence is so indefinite or fogged over by the distortions and incapacities of his human witnesses that theology must run its own independent checks in order to reassure itself that he really is able to present himself. All such strategies, whether in biblical scholarship or philosophical and dogmatic theology, are in the end methodologically sophisticated forms of infidelity.”
The task of the church is not, therefore, to defend or corroborate the divine Word, but rather to proclaim it, to enact it, and to adorn it.
4. Christocentric Interpretation
The Triune God not only speaks authoritatively, but also authoritatively gives the keys for interpreting what He has said. Those who would interpret the Word of God aright must do so as He has directed. Christ taught the church the first principle of biblical interpretation when He said that all scripture must be interpreted with reference to Himself (e.g., Lk 24:25–27, 44–47). In the words of Herman Ridderbos, what lies at the heart of scripture is not a theological system, a philosophical idea, or a religious experience, but “the eschatologically understood activity of God in Jesus Christ.”
Several things flow from this. The first is a conviction of the unity of the Old and New Covenant scriptures. It is simply wrong to think of the Old Covenant scriptures as “sub-Christian.” Everything that came to full flower with the advent of Messiah was present in seed and bud from the very first installment of divine revelation; the Old Covenant scriptures as well as the New Covenant scriptures are Christ-centered throughout. There is one plan and history of God’s redemption kingdom brought into the world by His Anointed; and this is gradually and organically unfolded in all the scriptures.
Flowing naturally from this, second, is a comfortableness with the idea that the experience of our Old Covenant fathers is instructive of our own in the New Covenant (1 Cor 10:1, 11). Were they in covenant with God? Yes, and so are we. Were they citizens of God’s kingdom? Yes, and so are we. Were they blessed as they looked in faith to the coming Messiah, and obeyed God from hearts purified by faith? Yes, and so are we. Would curses of the covenant fall on them if they turned from faith in God’s promises to false gods and pagan living? Yes, and this will be our fate if we turn away. Was it necessary for them constantly to remind themselves of their covenant history, identity, and future? Yes, and this is no less necessary for us. Did they look for and expect a worldwide reign of God through His Anointed? Yes, and so must we. It is common but erroneous to think of Old Covenant life as an “earthy” type of what are now wholly “spiritual” New Covenant realities. On this way of thinking, there is little room for land and physical seed and temporal blessings after Messiah’s arrival; what matters now is a harp, a cloud, and a crown to be enjoyed after the soul’s release from the body. To put it thus is to expose the Platonic roots of such thinking. If redemption is creation restored and glorified, then the New Covenant fulfillment of the Old Covenant promises is not “heaven” in some ethereal, unworldly sense, but the fullness of the new creation, which is already inaugurated and growing under Christ’s reign.
This being said, a third corollary is a commitment to working out the full implications of the historical arrival of Messiah. If scripture has often been read dualistically (the Old Covenant falling under “nature,” the New under “grace”), it has also at times been read monolithically, the continuity between the covenants being virtually unqualified. This is equally problematic. Christ is the end of Torah (Rom 10:4), and significant portions of New Covenant scripture are devoted to the idea that Old Covenant “Jewishness” is no longer required to be part of God’s people. This is not to deny that the law of God taught to the nations in the New Covenant (e.g., Is 2:2–3) includes the righteousness, justice, and equity of the Old Covenant law; but it is a plea for considerable care in determining what specific forms of application carry forward. Messiah has come; from Zion’s hill He publishes the divine will as the law of the nations; but the “phrasing” of the law in Gentile contexts must take adequate account of the uniqueness of Old Covenant Israel.
5. Covenantal Piety
Out of these preceding emphases flow massive implications for the piety and worship of God’s New Covenant people. Christian piety is to be covenantal piety, informed by the whole of biblical revelation. This means, first of all, that God’s people are to cultivate a lively sense of historical consciousness and identity. To be in God’s covenant is to be situated in the history, the metanarrative, the dramatic unfolding of His kingdom purposes in the earth. However different may be our contemporary scene, we share the same fundamental dramatic “space” as “our fathers” in Old Covenant Israel (1 Cor 10:1–11), the apostles and the ancient church, the architects of medieval Christendom, and the stalwarts of the Reformation.
Covenantal piety means, second, that God’s people are to cultivate a strong awareness of grace as the root and source of their entire lives. At the heart of scripture lies the mystery that the righteous God is gracious to the unrighteous, that He justifies ungodly sinners through His Son and makes them His own. This means that holy living is not first a matter of getting one’s moral act together – it begins in a posture of resting; it springs from believing and receiving the love of our Father who is in heaven. And it continues as it begins. Holy living does not tolerate sin as sin, but it does understand the reality of sin in the purposes of God, and so it is patient, kind, forbearing, and gentle in dealing with sinners. In the world as God has ordained it, certain “mysteries of grace” do not fit into a simple calculus of righteousness and wickedness; the good and eternal purposes of God are often wrought in the worst of sinful contexts (Acts 2:23), and the wise will take this to heart. But this is not all: grace also teaches God’s people that His righteous demands are wholly consonant with human flourishing – that His law, its condemnation having been exhausted upon Christ (Rom 8:1), shines now in His hands with beauty, and becomes to His beloved children the very path of friendly communion with Him.
Covenantal piety means, third, that God’s people are to cultivate a robust appreciation of the fullness of their redemption. Christ saves not just part of their individual lives but the whole, and in doing so He transforms the institutional spheres in which they participate (this seems plainly to be the import of biblical metaphors such as salt, light, and leaven). Much work has been done in recent years to revive “Calvinism” for the head and heart; but historic Calvinism embraces the fullness of the salvation of God, and so no Calvinism is true to itself (or to the scriptures) which is not also for the family, the church, the culture, and the world, all for the glory of God. God’s people are called to work out the implications of their redemption in contemplation (renewed thinking), consecration (renewed worship), cultivation (renewed speech and conduct, which includes the kingly work of “doing” all of life to the glory of God, and also the priestly work of preserving all of life from the defilements of sin), and confrontation (holy engagement of the world, both missionally for the purpose of making disciples, and “militantly” in the sense of throwing down strongholds of falsehood and wickedness, 2 Cor 10:3–5).
Covenantal piety means, fourth, that God’s people are to cultivate an enthusiastic devotion to their vocations. There is no such thing as “sacred” or “secular” work – there are only “sacred” people doing all to the glory of the Triune God, and “secular” people doing all in rebellion against the Triune God. Every calling is, for God’s people, a holy calling, a sphere of discipleship, and each should be delighted in as such. Man was created, and is recreated in Christ Jesus, to engage in cultus (communion with the Triune God), community (fellowship with other humans), and culture (cultivation of the created order). In each of these spheres of engagement, man is to act as a prophet, priest, and king; and fulfillment of all of these callings is not only the very definition of human flourishing, it is also the pulse of ecclesiastical and societal reformation.
Covenantal piety means, fifth, that God’s people are to cultivate an affectionate love of, preparation for, and commitment to future generations. The baptism of our little ones does not express our wish that they may one day be God’s people; it expresses His sovereign pronouncement that they are His people, and will be so, long after we have gone to be with our fathers. There is, therefore, not a moment to lose in training them to be what they are by grace. This involves many things. It involves earnest study and enactment of biblical manhood and womanhood in our homes. It involves the (re)learning of male leadership. It involves constant reformation and strengthening of marriages. It involves family worship and catechizing, so that our little ones may learn to live by faith (Hab 2:4). It involves the cultivation of biblical discipline, godly habits, heart-to-heart communication, and a comprehensive worldview. It involves Christian education in the home and in self-consciously Reformed Christian academies. It involves, in brief, nothing less than the building up of our households (including educational communities in which the nurture of the home is extended) to be microcosms of the redemption kingdom of God. If the Lord our God declares that His love and faithfulness extend to a thousand generations, it is sheer infidelity for the church in this generation not to strive with all her might to lay the foundation of a thousand others who will love Him and keep His commandments.
6. Reformed Worship
Just as the life of Old Covenant Israel centered, quite literally, around the tabernacle and the temple, and even more specifically around the Holiest Place in which blood was sprinkled to atone for human sin; so the life of God’s New Covenant people centers around the atoning work of Jesus Christ, as the rich grace of that work is administered to them in the corporate means of grace. Corporate worship is not one among equal activities in the life of God’s people, it is the central activity around which all else turns; and for this reason we are deeply concerned with what worship is, how we are to worship, why we worship, and why we do so in this particular way. This concern is more urgent than ever in a time when “worship” is being pervasively shaped by consumerism, commercialism, and individualism. We are far too busy today asking what we want worship to be, far too little occupied in asking what our Triune God commands worship to be.
Worship is, before all else, an appointed meeting of the Triune God with His covenant people, in which He, by sovereignly ordained means, gives Himself to them and they in response give themselves to Him. “Reformed” worship is simply worship that is constantly being reformed according to this basic biblical pattern. As such, it revels in the Lord’s Day, the Christian Sabbath, God’s appointed day of worship in which creation, the exodus, the resurrection of the Last Adam, the outpouring of the Spirit, and the healing and consummation of all things are weekly celebrated. It savors Word and sacrament, by which the Triune God reveals Himself to His people in all of His nourishing glory. It adheres strictly and affectionately to the elements of worship He has ordained, neither desiring nor seeking new inventions of men. In its liturgy, it seeks to image back to Him His own order and beauty; in its fervency, it seeks to image back to Him His passionate love for His Bride and children; in its expectancy, it binds its participants to all of His covenant promises and purposes in all of history.
If Reformed worship centers upon the Triune God, it centers in particular upon God Incarnate, the Lord Jesus Christ. Apart from His mediating blood and righteousness, there could be no meeting between the holy Trinity and a sinful people. Moreover, He is the Logos of God who exegetes the Father (Jn 1:18), the One in whom the Triune God fully discloses His grace and truth, and uniquely gives Himself to His people – and in whom they present themselves, responsively, to Him. Moreover, He is the Word-become-flesh, in whom time and eternity, divinity and humanity, grace and nature, consist in perfect harmony – the deathblow to all Gnostic heresies. It is particularly significant that in the high point of Christian worship, the feast at the Lord’s Table, we receive His body and blood as bread and wine – there could be no clearer affirmation of our “embodiedness” and our materiality, of the love of our God for the whole of our humanity. The high point of worship is not escape into the ether of a disembodied “beatific vision”; it is eating and drinking in the very Presence of our covenant Lord who took to Himself all of our humanity, and who redeems it all. While the piety that flows from such worship must ever be enmity with “the world,” it can never be anything but full affirmation of the whole human life for which we have been created and redeemed. The blessed grace of God goes all the way down, and every crumb of bread and drop of wine testifies to this.
7. Presbyterian Ecclesiology
We are a self-consciously Presbyterian congregation. At the heart of Presbyterianism are the biblical mandates for mutual sharing and mutual submission in the life of the church, and we take these with utmost seriousness. It is our commitment to be a “connected” church in the full sense of Ephesians 4:1–16.
To be Presbyterian means being connected meaningfully to the church throughout history. We love the history of the church. We study that history, believing that not to do so is to slight the working of God’s Spirit therein, and wickedly to exalt ourselves above learning from those who have listened to God’s Word before us; it is to deprive ourselves of their knowledge and their pious example, and the lessons of their errors and sins.
This is no small matter. Those who fail to study history rob themselves of external reference points from which they might critically survey their own times, and their own cultural assumptions, structures, institutions, habits, experiences, sensibilities, convictions, perceptions, and prejudices. Certain ways of thinking and behaving that were commonplace in A.D. 1300 appear ridiculous or even immoral to us now, precisely because we are not in 1300; we have enough distance from the world as it was then to see it more objectively than its inhabitants. But how are we to get similar perspective on our own time? The answer must be to step back into the world of days gone by, converse with our brethren there, and try to see ourselves from that remove.
We do not, however, merely study our brethren of the past, we submit to them as well. We believe the apostles of Christ delivered to the church the deposit of the faith (e.g., 1 Tim 6:20) and that this deposit has been fallibly but faithfully handed down to us in creedal forms. While creed never rises to canonical authority, it is not to be rejected except on the basis of canonical authority; and insofar as it expresses “the system of doctrine taught in holy scripture,” it binds us to faith and obedience, and is our faithful witness to the world.
To be Presbyterian means also being connected meaningfully to the church throughout the world. In this there is both a corporate dimension (church to church) and a communal dimension (within the local church).
We believe, first, “one holy catholic church,” which means we are enthusiasts for a robust biblical ecumenicity. There really is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph 4:5), and we are resolved to work out the implications of this in our relations with other Christian communions. Not all Christian fellowship is ecclesiastical union, to be sure, but we grieve over the divisiveness within Christ’s Body, and pray for grace to do our part in mending it until “we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (Eph 4:13).
Our congregation not only seeks to be more biblically “connected” to other communions, it is, second, actually and formally bound to other congregations in a local presbytery, and in the OPC as a whole. We believe church bodies are biblically unified by location as well as confession (e.g., Gal 1:2), and we emphatically reject every form of independency, with the resistance to mutual submission and accountability that it entails.
It must be said, finally, that for us corporate connectedness is not enough. We believe also, with all our hearts, in the communal dimensions of biblical churchmanship. In an age when autonomy, independence, anonymity, and virtuality have overrun our social lives, the church must be the place where community under the Word is enacted. This will entangle us in all the enormous and glorious inconveniences of “life together” – hospitality, service, discipleship, accountability, confrontation, rebuke, encouragement, sympathy, exhortation, instruction, understanding, and affection; yea, the very laying down of our lives for one another, loving one another as our Savior has loved us (Jn 13:34–35). It is not sufficient to believe “one holy catholic church” if one does not also believe “the communion of saints” – that the covenant people of God commune, and are meant to commune, in one another’s gifts and graces (WCF 26:1). God grant that this communion among us may begin to image His own Triune union and communion, and that in this the world may see that Jesus is the Son of God (Jn 17:21).
8. Optimistic Eschatology
We affirm that the messianic reign of our Lord Jesus was inaugurated when He rose bodily from the grave and was seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty (Eph 1:20–21). We affirm that His reign will continue until He has destroyed all rule, authority, and power, and all His enemies are under His feet (1 Cor 15:24–28). We do not look for a future kingdom on the earth; we are living in Messiah’s kingdom now, and we look for a new heavens and a new earth when He returns.
We take with utmost seriousness and delight our King’s declaration that all authority has been given to Him in heaven and on earth (Mt 28:19) and His commission to His church to make disciples of all nations. We affirm that in His work at the cross and in His resurrection, the principalities and powers of the parasite kingdom were once and for all disarmed and vanquished (Col 2:15); that the “image” of Gentile domination toppled, never to rise again (Dan 2:44–45); that God has set His King upon His holy hill of Zion; and that all kings and nations are summoned to kiss the Son (Ps 2:1–12). We believe that all the messianic kingdom-prophecies of scripture have begun to be fulfilled: that King David’s greatest Son has been given dominion over all nations of the earth; that the church is His holy nation of prophets, priests, and kings (1 Pt 2:9); and that as the church infiltrates all nations and brings them to the obedience of faith, the whole world will experience the healing, ordering, beautifying power of the gospel. Even as individual souls and households are progressively sanctified under His rule, nations and cultures of the world will be progressively sanctified under His rule.
As the church continues to participate in the progressive victories of Christ in the earth, we expect the earth to be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Is 11:9). It is not for us to know the times and seasons set by the Father (Acts 1:7), but we look to see all nations visibly under the law of our God issuing from Zion (Mic 4:1–5); even as our ultimate hope is always the bodily parousia of Christ, at which time every expression of antichrist will be purged from the earth, every remnant of the parasite kingdom consigned to the lake of fire, creation liberated from the vanity under which it groans, and a new heavens and earth ushered in, wherein dwells righteousness.
Our future, then, is bright with hope; and in expectation of this hope we commit ourselves to vigorous worship and faithful obedience; to the songs of Zion and stories of the kingdom; to gospel proclamation, enactment, and adornment; to baptizing and teaching, faith and repentance; to cultivated souls and vocational excellence; to feasting and lovemaking, the white garments of joy and the gladsome oil of faith (Eccl 9:7–10); to cultural engagement and cultural building; to discipleship and missions – in short, to serving the purpose of God in our own generation (Acts 13:36). May the Lord our God bless us in His mercy, keep us in His favor, and make us faithful to these holy ends, even to the giving of our lives.
 Herman Bavinck, Prolegomena, vol. 1 of Reformed Dogmatics, ed. John Bolt, trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003), 112 (emphasis added).
 Abraham Kuyper, Calvinism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1943), 79 (emphasis in original).
 The phrase “parasite kingdom” is taken from Gerard Van Groningen, From Creation to Consummation (Sioux City: Dordt College Press, 1996).
 John Webster, Confessing God: Essays in Christian Dogmatics II (London: T&T Clark, 2005), 137–38.
 Herman Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology, trans. J. R. de Witt (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), 39.
 “The Gospel of Paradise is such a germ in which the Gospel of Paul is potentially present; and the Gospel of Abraham, of Moses, of David, of Isaiah and Jeremiah, are all expansions of this original message of salvation, each pointing forward to the next stage of growth, and bringing the Gospel idea one step nearer to its full realization.” Geerhardus Vos, Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation: The Shorter Writings of Geerhardus Vos, ed. Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1980), 11.
 “It is not just that the law was revealed to a certain people who ‘just happened’ to have certain customs and be in a certain situation. Rather, it is that the law was revealed at a certain stage of world-development, in terms of that stage, which stage we are no longer in, and which stage has been radically and totally surpassed. . . . This ‘change of law’ does not mean that the fundamental content of the law has changed. That fundamental content cannot change because it is grounded in the unchangeable nature of God. The ‘change of law’ does mean, however, that the law, in its Old Covenant phrasing, cannot simply be applied to the New Covenant situation. . . . [T]he New Covenant is the Old Covenant transfigured. This means that every jot and tittle of the Old Covenant is relevant to the New Covenant Christian, but by the same token it means that every jot and tittle is transfigured in Christ, and must be reassessed. We are no longer ‘in-lawed’ to Moses, but we are ‘in-lawed’ to the resurrected and transfigured Christ. . . . As regards any particular law, our hermeneutical procedure should be first to examine what this law meant in terms of the redemptive-historical context of its revelation, how it fit with the Old Covenant as a whole. Second, we need to see how it is fulfilled in Christ, for every jot and tittle was fulfilled by and in Him. Third, we need to reflect on how this law is to be fulfilled in Christ’s sacramental body, the ‘institutional’ Church. The New Testament Epistles are of tremendous help here. Finally, we should reflect on this law’s possible meanings for society today, in the New Covenant, and in terms of our present socio-political situation.” James B. Jordan, “Reconsidering the Mosaic Law: Some Reflections,” Biblical Horizons Occasional Paper No. 4, 2nd ed. (Box 1096, Niceville, FL 32578, www.biblicalhorizons.com, 1989), 8–9, 17 (emphasis in original).
 “The roots of Calvinism are planted in a specific religious attitude, out of which is unfolded first a particular theology, from which springs on the one hand a special church organization, and on the other a social order, involving a given political arrangement. The whole outworking of Calvinism in life is thus but the efflorescence of its fundamental religious consciousness, which finds its scientific statements in its theological system.” B. B. Warfield, “Calvinism,” in Calvin and Calvinism (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Co., 2003), p. 354.
 As used here, cultus pertains to the sphere of religious worship, while culture pertains to the sphere of human work.
 “What we need in these momentous times is not in the first place something extraordinary but the faithful fulfilling of the various earthly vocations to which the Lord calls his people. . . . What is needed . . . is the practice of Christian virtues, which are the cement of society. Household sense, moderation, frugality, diligence, troth-keeping, honesty, orderliness, benevolence, and the like – these are the virtues that seem to decline day by day and that can in no way be replaced by extraordinary measures of state, church, or social organizations. These traits were especially stimulated by Calvinism, and by them it became great. By them, Calvinism caused people to flourish and nations to be born. Calvinism has been . . . the Reformation of the natural.” Herman Bavinck, “Common Grace,” trans. by R. C. Van Leeuwen, Calvin Theological Journal 24 (April 1989), 63.