Moral vs. Modern Use of the Judicial Law in the 1689 [Sam Renihan] + what Joel McDurmon said about it

Sam Renihan
Sam Renihan

Sam Renihan:

If you’re reading the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith and in 19.4 of your copy it says that the general equity of the Israelite judicial laws are of “modern” use, then you’re probably reading an edition copied from Charles Spurgeon’s 1855 reprint (found commonly in places like this). Putting aside the reasons for the change, you should know that “modern” is not the original reading. It should read “moral” instead of “modern.”

Like this:

moral modern judicial law 1689

You should also know that the following editions of the confession have “moral” in 19.4, not “modern”: 1677, 1688, 1699, 1719, 1720, 1743 (two different printings), 1773, 1774, 1790, 1798, 1809, 1818, 1829, 1850 (2LCF is copying the Savoy Declaration here, btw). To my knowledge and research, Spurgeon’s reprint is the first to make this change.


McDurmon Hall Theonomy DebateIn the McDurmon v. Hall Theonomy Debate this was brought up, in part at the 59 minute mark, by Dr. Joel McDurmon when he said:

“…it also makes a difference which one of the London Baptist Confessions you’re reading.  Are you reading the original that says the general equity of the judicial is of moral use only? Or are you reading the later edition that changed it to say they’re of modern use only? Which opens the door wide open to the same Theonomic view as the Westminster Confession. And that just so happens to be the version that got picked up by Charles Spurgeon when he did his popularized version, he said it’s of modern use not merely moral use but modern use and that was the version that got published when JD Hall published his version, and I can make the case that that opens the door to Theonomy just as easily. “

Sam Renihan concludes his post:

So if you’re going to make an argument from that wording, then appeal to Spurgeon and his reprint (if anything), but not any of the 15 (at least) editions of the confession that precede his.

Read “Moral vs. Modern Use of the Judicial Law in the Confession of Faith”.

8 Replies to “Moral vs. Modern Use of the Judicial Law in the 1689 [Sam Renihan] + what Joel McDurmon said about it”

  1. Though I do not today have access to a copy, I am very doubtful that the original text of the Philadelphia Confession errs here. An 1829 edition clearly reads “moral use,” and one would suspect that it reflects the older view. If someone has access to ECCO, they might be able to confirm. BTW, did you know that Benjamin Franklin was the printer of the 1742 edition? https://books.google.com/books?id=jqc9AAAAYAAJ&dq=A%20confession%20of%20faith%20elders%20brethren%20london%20philadelphia%201742&pg=PA48#v=onepage&q=A%20confession%20of%20faith%20elders%20brethren%20london%20philadelphia%201742&f=false

  2. I think rather than worrying about moral or modern, one should just look up what the writers of the LBCF intended to mean…being that this section was basically the same as Westminster, we should conclude that men like William Perkins should be referenced. Perkins said:

    Therefore the judicial laws of Moses according to the substance and scope thereof must be distinguished. . . . Some of them are laws of particular equity, some of common equity. Laws of particular equity, are such as prescribe justice according to the particular estate and condition of the Jews’ Commonwealth and to the circumstances thereof: times, place, persons, things, actions. Of this kind was the law, that the brother should raise up seed to his brother, and many such like: and none of them bind us, because they were framed and tempered to a particular people. Judicials of common equity, are such as are made according to the law or instinct of nature common to all men: and these in respect of their substance, bind the consciences not only of the Jews, but also of the Gentiles: for they were not given to the Jews as they were Jews, that is, a people received into the Covenant above all other nations, brought from Egypt to the land of Canaan, . . . but they were given to them as they were mortal men subject to the order and laws of nature as all other nations are.

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