the weblog of Alan Knox

Moral, Civil, and Ceremonial?

Posted by on Aug 7, 2008 in blog links | 2 comments

My good friend Maël, from “The Adventures of Maël & Cindy“, has written an excellent series concerning the so-called tripartite (three part) division of the law. The final post in the series is called “Is the Mosaic law tripartite? (Some final thoughts)“. At the end of that post, you will find links to the other posts in this series.

In his conclusion, Maël says:

The early writers seem to have been driven by a theological motivation, versus the clear commands of Scripture, to use a tripartite division of the law, whereas the latter writers seem to rely on the early writer’s arguments. Since several convincing Scriptural arguments have been offered for the unity of the law, it makes more sense to keep the law as one.

I have found this to be very common when dealing with ecclesiology. Someone comes to a conclusion based on their theological leanings or based on a perceived heresy. Others then follow that person, without examining those conclusions from Scripture. But, when we start with Scripture… well, that’s often a different story.


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  1. 8-8-2008

    People appeal to the tripartite system of interpreting the law because they don’t have the proper categories to otherwise understand passages like Matthew 5. If Christ is understood to be upholding the law in a covenental type way, then of course one needs to develop a theological system in which we too are able to uphold the law, enter the tripartite distinction. But, if Christ is HIMSELF the fulfillment of the law, then we have to look at the rest of Matt 5 where He establishes Himself as the chief lawgiver and realize that the Mosaic Law is no longer necessary (passages like Hebrews 7:12 also help inform our understanding of this). Both Covenant Theologians and Dispensatinoalists are guilty of this mistake for different reasons. In fact, this mistake is still taught here at SEBTS in the Hermeneutics classes! So, I would agree with the author in saying that there are some pragmatic theologizings that are a result of “necessity”, but there are also those that occur simply because people don’t have the biblical categories necessary to do otherwise. Yet another reason why and another area in which we need to get back to the Bible!

  2. 8-9-2008


    I agree. People love to have a set of rules to follow. Thanks for the comment.

    By the way, there are three or four Jeff’s who comment here… I’ll try my best not to confuse you all.