Saturday, August 6, 2016
Book Review: Progressive Covenantalism
If you are already confused, don't worry, you are not alone in this matter. In fact, if you really want to study New Covenant Theology and what they believe, you will find there are various beliefs in New Covenant Theology. Has anyone taken aspirin yet? If you have not, keep reading.
One belief on New Covenant Theology is a belief called, which is also the title of this book edited by Stephen J Wellum and Brent E Parker, Progressive Covenantalism. What is in the world is progressive covenantalism? Here is how it is defined in the book:
Progressive seeks to underscore the unfolding nature of God’s revelation over time, while covenantalism emphasizes that God’s plan unfolds through the covenants and that all of the covenants find their fulfillment, telos, and terminus in Christ. We strongly argue for the unity of God’s plan-promise culminating in the new covenant. Our focus on the new covenant is not to exclude the other covenants since in God’s plan each covenant is significant. In order to discern that significance, each covenant must be placed in its own covenantal location and then placed in terms of what covenant(s) preceded it and follow it before we can rightly discern how God’s entire plan is fulfilled in Christ. By doing this, we interpret Scripture on its own terms and discover God’s glorious plan unveiled before our eyes. We learn how in Christ all of God’s promises are yes and amen (2 Cor 1:20).
The editors want to make it absolutely clear that they do not want their view to viewed in the light of New Covenant Theology, in which, they made reference to Kingdom Through Covenant (KTC), which Wellum was one of the authors:
In KTC we said that our view was a subset of new covenant theology (NCT), but we did not prefer that label, hence the reason for the title of this present work. Even though we respect many who are identified with NCT, our hesitation to use the label was because we were not in full agreement with the diverse views fitting under its banner. For example, some in NCT deny a creation covenant and Christ’s active obedience and imputation of righteousness and hold little instructive place for the Mosaic law in the church’s life—all points we reject. In addition, some distinguish the old and new covenants merely in terms of the categories of external and internal, or that the old covenant was not gracious, or follow the “unconditional-conditional” covenantal distinction—all ideas we cannot endorse. Yet some who embrace NCT also resonate with our proposal, although we prefer to use the “progressive covenantal” label.
Progressive Covenantalism is another view of how God has fulfilled his covenant to his people without denying the previous covenants, but from what I can tell, it seems this view sounds like God is unveiling his revelation through various parts of history. I hope I am understanding this correctly because I am still trying to understand what this view is suppose to communicate. Where is that bottle of aspirin?
The rest of book contains subjects from various authors which include Wellum and Parker themselves along with Jason Meyer, yes, the same guy that replaced John Piper at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis as preaching pastor, and Thomas Schreiner. As I looked through the book, the more I thought this was taking a Reformed Baptist view point of the covenant yet they are not. However, I do agree with their standings on dispensationalism.
Those who hold covenant theology, whether Baptist or Presbyterian, can agree that dispensationalism is not the best way to read the Bible especially when it communicates that Israel is separate from the New Covenant. Yet, there are some Baptists that don't want to hold the covenant theology view because of the stigma (for lack of a better word) that you believe in paedo baptism.
There were a lot of points of agreement in this book as well as some points of disagreement. I think it would have been better if I have read KTC prior to reading this book to have a better understanding of progressive covenantalism. Each author do communicate their points very well. Should believers read this book? Yes. As I have said before in various posts, it is important to know all views of different theological beliefs as long as we hold the central truths of the gospel that Jesus lived on our behalf, died in our place for our sins, rose from the dead, and one day will return to make all things new.
Thanks B&H Publishing Group for letting me review this book.