Kingdom Through Covenant

kingdomI finally managed to wade my way through this thick and impressive tome by Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum. And having done so I’d recommend it to others. The authors’ aim is to try to steer a path between covenant theology, kingdom theology, and dispensational theology. Their proposed solution is what they term ‘progressive covenantalism.’ In other words, there is one overarching story which is progressively unfolded by a series of covenants climaxing with the New Covenant. Their answer isn’t a middle way as such – they are clearly (to my mind) far more on the covenant theology side of the discussion, and have strong criticisms and disagreement with dispensationalism.

Peter Gentry writes the chapters examining the various biblical covenants in turn (i.e. Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, New) and these chapters are thorough and scholarly. Gentry’s footnotes are worth the price of the book alone. Stephen Wellum writes the chapters which are more systematic in character and these likewise are equally thorough and nuanced. Wellum’s chapters were my favourite as they provided a good mix of description (of the various nuances in the different theological systems) and analysis of how to put the covenants together. In the interests of transparency I should say I am a baptist so naturally found their conclusions more persuasive than many of my paedobaptist friends would. Nevertheless, whichever way you go on that particular debate, there is still a mine of useful and thought provoking material in the book.

If I had a couple of quibbles they would be, firstly, the absence of any mention of the eternal covenant between the Father and the Son, and, secondly, a slightly veiled discussion of the place of OT law in the New Covenant. I’m not sure I’d presently agree with the authors on either of these things. But all in all this is a book I’m glad to have on my shelves and I’m sure I’ll return to often given its breadth and depth on the topic it addresses.

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