Morning Reflections (January 13, 2006) on the Introduction to the Book
“Covenant Theology: From Adam to Christ”
James Renihan, the Dean of Reformed Baptist Studies in the Westminster Theological Seminary in California, wrote the Introduction of a book with the above title where he refers to those who are teaching "so-called New Covenant Theology" (p.3, italics his) as straying from Confessional paths into "novel ideas" (p.4). My thoughts follow.
As I read the Introduction and looked at the book's title in using the term "Covenant Theology" in contrast to "New Covenant Theology," it clearly shows that Renihan, who asserts that he, as a "full-blown adherent to Covenant Theology" from a "credo-baptist (i.e., believer's baptism) point of view" (p.2) is using a term, which other than on "credo-baptism," he openly admits that Paedobaptist theologians have historically used to explain its theological system in defense of infant baptism of covenant children. The questions that came to mind were these: "Which term, "Covenant Theology" or "New Covenant Theology" has better biblical sanction?" Is it not the latter? Does not the use of the term "Covenant Theology" lend itself to the one "Covenant of Grace" theological system which views the Covenant of Grace as one overarching covenant of biblical history having different administrations, especially as revealed in the Old Covenant and the New Covenant? Does not the term "New Covenant Theology" emphasize that the New Covenant is "new" in the history of redemption not just a final administration of one Covenant of Grace? Does not the biblical term "New Covenant" teach that the final revelation of God to man is in His Son and that the Son is a "mediator of a better covenant which has been enacted on better promises" than the Old Covenant -an Old Covenant which was made "obsolete" by the New Covenant (cf. Heb. 8:6-13)? Indeed, does not the term "New Covenant Theology" have biblical precedence over the term "Covenant Theology"?
Application: Which term in itself is more open to introducing "novel ideas"? Which term has better biblical warrant? Do the Confessional paths of the Westminster Confession and the Second London Confession have precedence over understanding the contextual teaching of Scripture itself? Which covenant, the Old or the New, is the Church, the body of Christ, under? Which use of the term "Covenant Theology" or "New Covenant Theology" is more open to causing misunderstanding in explaining the Bible's teaching of God's covenants with man? Which term is explained more upon theological (deductive) reasoning? Which term is explained more accurately by the express (inductive) teaching of the Bible itself?
Further, I do not object to covenantal relationships existing between God and man "from Adam to Christ." Why? Because the Bible teaches that God has never communed with man outside of a covenantal relationship. Further, I believe that Romans 5:12-19 demands a covenantal relationship. And I have, for more than 25 years, objected to Covenant Theology's theologically deduced system which teaches one overarching Covenant of Grace. There is a "more accurate way to explain the way of God" (Acts 18:26). It is New Covenant Theology. The need is great. Selah. (GDL 1/13/06)