A Celtic Model of Evangelism

It is likely important to keep in mind that the above should not be understood as the erasure of distinctions. For example, think of the early church permitting seekers, hearers, and kneelers to join them for the first part of a worship service (Service of the Word), but then sending them out with their catechetical instructors during the Service of the Table (this is helpfully illustrated from Apostolic Tradition by Hippolytus in at least 3 books by Robert Webber: Liturgical Evangelism, Journey to Jesus, and Ancient-Future Evangelism).

Keep in mind, as an example of this approach, the revival in Israel under Ezra/Nehemiah. The revival did not occur until the walls had been restored. This distinction enabled a sense of identity to be realized. Secondly, they then flung open the gates for 6 out of every 7 days and practiced hospitality. On the Sabbath, they closed the gates, a visitor or sojourner was welcome to stay but not to do business. Being in the city, however, did not mean they could move out of Solomon’s Colonnade or the Court of the Gentiles, and past the balustrade (or Soreg), which functioned in a manner equivalent to being barred from the Service of the Word in the practice of the 2nd & 3rd century Church (as referenced briefly above).

In order to think about this accurately and fairly, I would basically forget about contemporary church practice, as it is too far removed from anything biblical to serve as a useful bridge to comprehension of this conversation. The Bible cannot imagine an assembly of believers that doesn’t have a corresponding and inextricable social/civil culture, for example.

In our milieu we invite a seeker into what we tend to view as equivalent to the Holy Place because there is no other functioning representation of our belief. The biblical model could distinguish between the nochri, the ger, the ger toshav, and the ger tzedek, for example, any of whom might live in the village, but who were treated differently depending on their status. (to some degree I am collapsing development over time into a single concept here, but the point remains)

From Belong, Believe, Behave, we tend to over-emphasize Believe, under or over emphasize Behave, and practically forget about Belong because we ourselves experience very little sense of belonging. If we don’t like the congregation, we simply move to another of the 75 options in our town, unable to imagine what it means to be part of the village congregation. True belief and true behavior springs from knowing we belong, however, and this is a massive part of what is malfunctioning in our environment. (I have also just massively underserved the dynamic interplay of the three concepts, but I can’t write a book here.)

The view described above as “Roman” defies the reality of how human nature functions and asks for a declaration of belief as a credential of immediate and total inclusion. There is nothing corresponding in Scripture. I know immediately how any person of baptistic background will respond, but this fails to understand that biblical baptism is a single act among many in a lengthy—not just process—lifestyle of growing immersion into the entire culture of belonging, believing, and behaving.

Christ is the Goal | the Means | the Help

Still true; and not just for the Israelites, but also for us, who are now part of the Commonwealth of Israel. We don’t foolishly import Bronze Age applications of God’s character to the 21st century, but we do struggle with how specific case laws ought to guide our application of the same, enduring moral laws to our day.

The law of God is the application of God’s character to mankind’s circumstances, and is eternally prescriptive, through myriad examples. God’s character exists to normalize our behavior. He, in other words, is the Standard to which we norm.

He ended our condemnation so we would have the freedom to stumble after Him in imitation. Evidencing your allegiance will be to your good. Get after it. He is the Goal; He is the Means; He is the Help. (“I am the way, the truth, and the life.”)

How, Not If

In his commentary on Leviticus, Ephraim Radner points out (cf. pp 290-314) that God’s movements through history leave a wake in time like a ship through water. These wake lines point toward the world as it was intended to be, and of course, toward the wake-Maker. The chart of the trail of Christ’s actions is portended in Genesis 1:14, listed in Leviticus 23, redrawn in the book of Revelation, and fulfilled in ink across the pages of Scripture from start to finish.

Certainly, one would prefer a full-color picture to a monochromatic profile, but if the faithful enactment of scriptural instruction once portrayed Christ, they cannot cease to do so. He was, and remains, the body that produced the shadows. We note in passing that the word translated “substance” is soma, most commonly translated from Greek into English as “body.”

Too often we read this verse as if Paul meant, “let no on pass judgment on you if you ignore Scripture’s instruction regarding food and drink, festivals, a new moon, or a Sabbath.” The very idea is preposterous, but we do it nevertheless.

So what is Paul saying here? It is probably easiest to understand him as saying, “Don’t miss the forest for the trees!”

We ought to note that at the time Paul wrote there was no one—let me say that again, no one—suggesting Sabbath had been done away with, that pigs could be eaten, or that assembling together could be forsaken.

What was happening is that there was a wide variety of ways in which those commandments for life were put into practice. There were at least four competing calendars at the time, so just the topic of when a festival should be observed would have been a hotly contested debate between former Sadducees and former Pharisees, not to mention between Gentiles converted by Peter versus former disciples of John the Baptizer.

So the next time you read Colossians 2:16-17 remember that the question of judgement is about how not about if, you follow God’s instructions.

Two Sides of Desire

Capitalism predicates ambition, which is a God-given desire. The twisting of that desire is what we call “greed.” This is the case with literally everything. God creates desire; we are, in fact, desiring beings. If there was no raw ambition/desire everyone would die because no one would be motivated to rise, gather wood, and start a fire. But desire unrestrained (like fire, or the tongue) burns down the world.

We can demonstrate this with almost anything one wants to pick. We should desire a wife; we should not desire additional women. We should desire the benefit a horse provides, but we should not “multiply” horses, so that our hope is in them rather in God. We should desire to provide for our loved ones and to nurture God’s creation to greater yield (be fruitful and multiply), but we should not “love” money. We desire money (increase), rather, because we love our children and our wife, and because we are created to be gardeners, who tend in order to produce/multiply.

Nothing God created is evil; rather the twisting of what God created for good to inappropriate intent is what is evil. Desire is good; unrestrained desire is evil. Ambition vs. Greed. Hunger vs. gluttony. Love vs. Lust. etc.

The Applicability of God’s Law

The law of God, wherever it appears in Scripture, always applies the character of God to human affairs. Consequently, whether an individual command is a specific case law or an enduring principle, there is always prescriptive value to the commandment. It always tells us something about the character of Christ, and it always instructs us in whatever time or place in which we live, though sometimes by way of principle rather than in precise, direct application.


The doctrine of the republication of the covenant of works in the Mosaic covenant is inimical to Gospel understanding and application. There is a reason why Two Kingdoms proponents like David VanDrunen and Michael Horton are aligned with attempts to rewrite Reformed theological history to present the doctrine of the republication of the covenant of works as the “orthodox” Reformed perspective. Follow John Murray and Cornelius Van Til here, not J. V. Fesko or Guy P. Waters.

While the doctrine of republication is not a theological novelty, it is far from being part of the warp and woof of Scripture. Rather, it warps the loom of Scripture and distorts sound doctrine. Turretin is misunderstood to support a republication of the covenant of works, but Charles Hodge does speak in this manner. It is instructive to note therefore that some of Hodge’s most influential student descendants did not maintain Hodge’s emphasis, but rather corrected it.

Professor John Murray would have been warranted to speak with greater emphasis when he said, “The view that in the Mosaic covenant there was a repetition of the so-called covenant of works…is a grave misconception and involves an erroneous construction of the Mosaic covenant, as well as fails to assess the uniqueness of the Adamic administration. The Mosaic covenant was distinctly redemptive in character and was continuous with and extensive of the Abrahamic covenants.” (“The Adamic Administration”)