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Kingdom through Covenant

Matt Smethurst over at The Gospel Coalition has interviewed Stephen Wellum and Peter Gentry on their new book, Kingdom through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants. You can read the interview here. Also, if you want to learn more about Progressive Covenantalism you can read part 1 (with Wellum) and part 2 (with Gentry) of the Credo Magazine interview conducted by Matthew Claridge.

Here is the first question of TGC interview to get you started:

It is interesting and a bit ironic, as you observe, that both dispensational and covenant theology employ a similar hermeneutic in regard to the Abrahamic covenant. What do you mean?

We first noticed this irony in thinking through the hermeneutical differences between dispensational (DT) and covenant theology (CT). DT often charges CT with reading the New Testament (NT) back on the Old Testament (OT) without doing justice to specific unconditional promises of the OT. So, for example, CT often claims that the land promise to Israel was conditional and thus forfeited by Israel’s disobedience, and, further, that it’s typological in the sense that it’s fulfilled in the new creation—not as a specific piece of real estate to Israel in the millennial age. Part of the biblical warrant for this view is that the NT doesn’t emphasize the land promise as DT claims, but instead stresses the dawning of the new creation in Christ. In response, DT contends the land promise is not typological. Instead, it is an unconditional promise given to Abraham and his seed that continues throughout redemptive history in exactly the same way as it’s given in the OT. DT stresses that we must not read the NT back on the OT; the unconditional promise of the Abrahamic covenant stands unless specifically abrogated in the NT.

Yet, ironically, even though DT charges CT with neglecting the OT at this point, CT utilizes the exact same argument, albeit for a different aspect of the Abrahamic covenant. When CT defends their view of the nature of the church as a mixed community, and specifically the link between circumcision and baptism that grounds their defense of paedobaptism, they charge credobaptists with neglecting the unity of the covenant of grace and reading the NT back on the OT. Regardless of the credobaptist’s argument that Christian baptism does not signify exactly the same thing as circumcision, and that baptism is only reserved for those who have been united with Christ and have entered into new covenant realities such as regeneration, justification, and so on, CT charges credobaptists with reading the NT back on the OT and failing to do justice to the unconditional nature of the Abrahamic covenant as found in the genealogical principle—“to you and your children”—which remains unchanged across the biblical covenants. On their own unique points, then, DT and CT use the same hermeneutic in how they understand the relationship between the Abrahamic and new covenant in God’s overall plan.

Read the rest here.

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