Author: Philip Ross. The Finger of God. The Biblical and Theological Basis for the Threefold Division of the Law. Fearn, Scotland: Mentor, 2010. ISBN-13: 978-1845506018
Reviewers: Paul Honeycutt and Geoff Volker for In-Depth Studies ministry.
The review is found here: http://ids.org/book-reviews/
I commend the review because of its tenor: it is Christ-like. I have a particular interest in Honeycutt and Volker’s review because I went to seminary with Philip Ross. He is a traditional Calvinistic Presbyterian from northern Scotland. I say this because, as Volker and Honeycutt correctly and continuously state, Ross is a good guy, a solid believer. The review is therefore a pattern for how we should treat brothers we disagree with: with love, yet with searing biblical insight.
The great advantage of the review is that it is in audio, so that you can download it and listen to it at one’s convenience.
Another great strength is that the review is in-depth, reflecting the purpose of the IDS site. This is most refreshing and helps the reader to negotiate the arguments of a skilled theologian from a Covenant Theology perspective. The review has seven 30min sections corresponding to the seven chapters of the book: 1. Catholic Doctrine; 2. What Would Moses Think? 3. Law in Action. 4. What did Jesus Do? 5. Jesus Preaches on the Law. 6. The Law in Acts. 7.The Apostles and their Epistles. [One thing: review part 6 is cut short to 10 mins, unfortunately.]
Finally, the review keeps to the main subject: the threefold division of the Law. H&V demonstrate how the 3-fold division of ceremonial, civic, and moral is inaccurate. Indeed, H&V are very vocal in asserting that throughout the book Ross accepts that there is no direct evidence in Scripture for a threefold division. H&V disagree with the basic argument of the book, that says that the Mosaic Covenant continues to exert its influence and authority today under the category of its moral imperatives and commands. “Frustrating” is a word constantly used in the review because Ross relies on tradition to establish the three-fold division. H&R demonstrate that the Mosaic Law was given to Israel and was not a creation ordinance. As a specific example, H&R argue that the sabbath was not given until the creation of Israel. The “crux of the debate” is whether Jesus continues to reaffirm Moses or if he ‘breaks the mold’ and provides his own, new and distinctive, law. H&V opt for the latter, and critique Ross for ignoring the biblical teaching that the Law was abrogated. The strongest evidence is taken from 2 Corinthians 3, which clearly places the Law and the Ten Commandments under a negative spotlight. Indeed, H&R record how Ross’ book spends too little time in the epistles, to the great detriment of his own argument.