I haven’t had time to continue my response to Thomas Boston, but I would like to offer some additional thoughts on my points about Galatians in that post.
I wrote in part:
Paul contrasts Sinai to Abraham but where is the evidence that plugs this into the Covenant of Works? His argument assumes that all reference to “bondage” means a system of demanding perfect perpetual obedience as a condition of eternal life. But the Apostle Paul explains what he means by bondage and it is not what Boston presupposes:
I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
So, for Paul’s argument, the bondage is that of limitations due to immaturity. The point is that now that the new has come we must leave behind the old. Nothing is said about going all the way back to man’s state of innocence to where Adam, as a public person, was given a Covenant that demanded his perfect obedience to secure his own future and that of his posterity.
The quotation from Scripture above is from Galatians 4.1ff. I should point out that it fits with the immediate verses preceding it:
Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came [NASB: “our tutor to lead us to Christ], in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
Notice here that “faith” is virtually a synonym for Christ or the new covenant. It does not mean personal belief in most instances because such faith existed both before and during the time of the Mosaic Law. Nor does the Law “drive” us to Christ by showing us that we can’t live up to it’s demands. Nothing is said about that. Rather, the law is an evangelist. It leads us to Christ. it was our guadian. It protected us in our minority when Jew and Gentile were separate offsprings.
And while that “imprisoned” language may sound dire, as I have already pointed out, Paul says in 4.1ff that it is simply about childhood.
The fact is that reading one’s prejudices into Galatians has become a sacred tradition in recent Protestantism. We are told that the problem with the law is that it is the covenant of works which demands perfect obedience and condemns any and all disobedience, when Paul actually says that it condemns apostasy from the Law just as the Gospel condemns apostasy from the Gospel (Galatians 3.12, quoting from Leviticus 18.1-5). We are told Christ died to save everyone who believes from the consequences of their disobedience at any point, when Paul actually says that Christ died to redeem Israel in order to bring blessing to the Gentiles so that then Israel could receive the Spirit (Galatians 3.13, 14). We are told that the promise refers to an unconditional gift as opposed to a reward for works, whereas Paul says the promise is that there would be one and only one offspring rather than many different offsprings such as Jew and Gentile (Galatians 3.16-20).
Time and again all the details of the text are bulldozed and flattened to the shape of a simple story that we have decided must be what Paul is saying. Worse, in Reformed circles, the details are buried under the hypothesis of a “works covenant” that is in some mysterious way “republished.”