Adapting the Westminster Standards’ moral law motif to integrate systematic theology, apologetics and pastoral practice
Yates, Timothy Paul
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Current loci of Reformed systematic theology and applications to pastoral practice are fragmented from each other creating a dualism between faith (what is believed) and life (how we should live) that impacts pastoral practice at all levels. For example, Reformed biblical counsellors’ dual use counselling-apologetic motif for pastoral practice (exposit truth, negate error, capture reinterpreted extra-biblical knowledge) refined by Powlison is highly generalized, requiring more explicit integration with the controlling beliefs of Reformed systematic theology, better clarification of derivative epistemic foundations and new formulations of taxonomic specificity to prevent mixing theology and psychology as equals. While the doctrines of Reformed systematic theology are fairly stable, believers do not quickly grasp their inter-relatedness or their practical importance, particularly with reference to God’s attributes. Reformed authors with various practical theology specialties propose myriads of partial frameworks and practical principles based on smaller sets of biblical data that believers can quickly appreciate and apply, but lack vital connectivity with the full scope of Reformed doctrines. The Westminster Standards’ motif of righteousness as defined by the moral law, also called the Decalogue, integrates its systematic theology and pastoral practice. This thesis will adapt that motif to create a memorable summary phrase of the law of Christ (Latin: lex Christi) with 6 engagement verbs that begin with the letter “R”, derived from ways that the Lord’s covenant-relation attributes engage humanity, that can help us build a Grand Unifying Theory (GUT), called the Lex Christi Dominion of the Righteous Lord (lex Christi-DRL6R’s) together with a new definition of practical theology that helps readers see the interrelationships. This adapted Westminster lex Christi model, proposes a decalogical perspective to integrate systematic theology loci, with a particular contribution to reorganizing and renaming God’s attributes that make more obvious God’s parallel reflections in the moral law, then seeing other integrating connections in the doctrine of Scripture, Christ and man. Lex Christi will be used to integrate other systematic theology loci such as creation-fall (Gen. 1-3), consummation (Rev. 21-22), Wisdom literature and apologetics (Acts 17:22-31). Lex Christi-DRL6R’s will be used to integrate pastoral practice for parent training. In relation to extra-biblical knowledge, lex Christi-DRL6R’s will be used as way to engage worldviews, as those who can both adapt secular knowledge and culture as well as critique it under Christ’s law (1 Cor. 9:17-21), with particular focus on dissociative identity disorder in relation to trauma and the conscience in the psychologies. This adapted motif also challenges believers as well as those who teach biblical truth to all ages and levels of maturity to consider the Westminster Larger Catechism 101-151 as a micro-scalable, supra-pedagogical perspective structured under the rubric of Exodus 20:1-17, giving an example of how to reorganize the truths of Reformed systematic theology and practical principles of pastoral practice under its perspectival rubric.
- Theology