Review: New Creation Eschatology and the Land, by Steven L. James

Image of New Creation Eschatology and the Land: A Survey of Contemporary Perspectives
by Steven L. James
Wipf and Stock 2017
Paperback 182

This book provides an informative introduction and critique of the recent trend among scholars to stress earth-centeredness of the eschatological passages of Scripture rather than heaven-focused scenarios. The trend is most noticeable among amillennialists, especially since the publication in 1979 of Anthony Hoekema’s The Bible and the Future. That book called upon believers (especially Hoekema’s fellow amillennialists) not to spiritualize the OT passages that speak of a coming era of peace and righteousness on the earth. This planet, in its restored state, is the venue for the enactment of God’s eschatological promises.

The author, who serves as a Professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX, examines the works of several prominent teachers of the “New Creation” eschatology; namely, N. T. Wright, J. Richard Middleton, Russell Moore, Douglas Moo, and Howard Snyder. Not all of these writers were directly influenced by Hoekema’s work. He notes that although they correctly stress the earth’s central role in our future, he argues (again correctly) that they ignore the specificity of the land promises to Israel and thus contain a major contradiction. The contradiction is this: how can the OT promises of restoration and renewal be taken literally and every mention of Israel or Jerusalem be treated as metaphorical? It is a very good question.

In the first chapter James gives a survey of these men’s approaches. He notes that the arguments of these men are grounded in OT passages such as Isaiah 2, 11, 52; 60, 65-66; Micah 4; etc. These passages stress both the reign of justice and peace on the earth. James says that all his chosen scholars emphasize “the coming of God’s kingdom, bodily resurrection, and the reconciliation of all things.” (26).

The second chapter demonstrates that New Creation authors all believe that there is continuity between this present earth and the next. They all emphasize God’s “mode of materiality.” As he says,

The idea of transformation of the present materiality is important to new creationists. Because matter is not understood as inherently sinful, it does not have to be utterly disposed of… New creationists affirm that, instead of being annihilated, the present creation will be renewed or transformed. (31)

Several pages are dedicated to showing how New creationists tackle such dissolution passages such as 2 Peter 3:8-9 (32-36). The arguments which James records were not very convincing.

Chapter three discusses “Land Theology” as it has been presented by the likes of W. D. Davies, Walter Brueggemann, Christopher Wright, Gary Burge, and others. These influential works all contain supercessionist theology, and have been relied upon by many in the New Creation movement. The basic outlook is that the land of Israel is treated as a metaphor (77-94).

Having documented the views of New creationists, in the fourth chapter the author begins to highlight the inherent contradiction of asserting earth continuity on the basis of OT texts, while at the same time treating territorial promises to Israel as metaphors, when those promises occur in the very same passages! James states the sane conclusion:

The language in the prophets in no way suggests that the particular territory of Israel or Jerusalem somehow envelops the territory of the rest of the world. More importantly, the idea that a particular territory of the earth somehow transforms into the entire earth makes no sense in a new creation conception that envisions the restoration of the present earth. (117)

Chapter five is where the author shows that there is no need to create metaphors of the land of Israel, and that, in fact, the notion of territorial particularity and nationhood is a clear biblical teaching of both Testaments. Here he notes the work of dispensational authors Craig Blaising and Michael Vlach (131-132), who are more consistent in their attention to scriptural details. He also mentions amillennial writer Vern Poythress, who appears to accept the reality of nationhood in the new heavens and new earth (132-134).

In his conclusion the author points to a few areas of fruitful exploration, such as the study of “place,” and ends with a plea for further work in this area.

In my opinion New Creation Eschatology and the Land is a very worthwhile monograph, filled with good exposition, logical thinking, and solid argumentation. He is fair-minded and irenic throughout. I hope many students of theology will take the time to give the book a close reading.

1753 reads

There are 48 Comments

TylerR's picture

Editor

I have shared this before, but when this issue comes up I always think of Calvin's comments on the latter half of Amos 9. This is a perfect example of allegorical interpretation of promises the original audience would have naturally interpreted literally. Here are Calvin's comments:

Now, if we look on what afterwards happened, it may appear that this prophecy has never been fulfilled. The Jews indeed returned to their own country, but it was only a small number: and besides, it was so far from being the case, that they ruled over neighboring nations, that they became on the contrary tributaries to them: and further still, the limits of their rule were ever narrow, even when they were able to shake off the yoke. In what sense then has God promised what we have just explained? We see this when we come to Christ; for it will then be evident that nothing has been in vain foretold: though the Jews have not ruled as to the outward appearance, yet the kingdom of God was then propagated among all nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun; and then, as we have said in other places, the Jews reigned.

Further, what is here said of the abundance of corn and wine, must be explained with reference to the nature of Christ’s kingdom. As then the kingdom of Christ is spiritual, it is enough for us, that it abounds in spiritual blessings: and the Jews, whom God reserved for himself as a remnant, were satisfied with this spiritual abundance.

If any one objects and says, that the Prophet does not speak here allegorically; the answer is ready at hand, even this, — that it is a manner of speaking everywhere found in Scripture, that a happy state is painted as it were before our eyes, by setting before us the conveniences of the present life and earthly blessings: this may especially be observed in the Prophets, for they accommodated their style, as we have already stated, to the capacities of a rude and weak people. But as this subject has been discussed elsewhere more at large, I only touch on it now as in passing and lightly. Now follows the Prophecy of Obadiah, who is commonly called Abdiah.

Calvin's commentaries are still more valuable than much of what is written today, I believe. But, he was wrong on these passages, in my opinion.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

G. N. Barkman's picture

Tyler, I used to see things the same way you do, until I kept bumping into NT texts that handled the OT in a different manner.  There are many examples, but consider this one from Galatians 4:27 where Paul quotes from Isaiah 54:1.  Here's what he says:

1) vs. 26.  All who are saved by grace, Jew or Gentile, have Jerusalem above for their mother.

2) vs. 27.  The spread of the gospel among Gentiles is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 54:1 regarding Israel having many children.  IOW, fulfillment is in the church, spiritual Israel.

3) vs. 28.  We who are saved by grace are the children of promise;  the children who fulfill God's promise to Abraham regarding many children, a promise fulfilled by divine activity.

This does not eliminate the possibility of a future national fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy, but it eliminates the necessity.  Will there be a "double fulfillment"?  We wait with interest to see what God may have in store for the future.

G. N. Barkman

josh p's picture

Thanks for taking the time to review this one Paul. This gets at the disagreement I have with my Amellennial brothers and sisters. Often times the very same verse is interpreted with a mix of allegorical interpretation and literal interpretation. This is very often true in passages regarding the land/Israel’s physical blessing. I am going to pick this book up.

pvawter's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

Tyler, I used to see things the same way you do, until I kept bumping into NT texts that handled the OT in a different manner.  There are many examples, but consider this one from Galatians 4:27 where Paul quotes from Isaiah 54:1.  Here's what he says:

1) vs. 26.  All who are saved by grace, Jew or Gentile, have Jerusalem above for their mother.

2) vs. 27.  The spread of the gospel among Gentiles is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 54:1 regarding Israel having many children.  IOW, fulfillment is in the church, spiritual Israel.

3) vs. 28.  We who are saved by grace are the children of promise;  the children who fulfill God's promise to Abraham regarding many children, a promise fulfilled by divine activity.

This does not eliminate the possibility of a future national fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy, but it eliminates the necessity.  Will there be a "double fulfillment"?  We wait with interest to see what God may have in store for the future.

Abner Chou has done some good work on this in his Hermeneutics of the Biblical Writers. He demonstrates that what are often thought of as NT examples of non-literal interpretation of the OT are just places where we need to work harder to understand what the OT author was doing.

I don't have it handy at the moment, but I'll try to see if I can share an excerpt tomorrow. But just at first glance, it seems like you're making an unwarranted assumption about v.27 stating that the prophecy of Is 54:1 has been fulfilled in the church. Paul says no such thing. He simply prefaces his quote with, "It is written."

 

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I've often wondered if what Paul is doing in Gal. 4 is simply using an illustration... though, admittedly, I find the passage difficult enough to wonder how well it could work as an illustration. But I'm confident it worked well for its intended purpose with the original readers. Interested in Chou's thoughts on this.

pvawter's picture

Here's an excerpt from Chou dealing with this passage:

Certain scholars also appeal to Galatians 4:21-31 as an example of Paul's hermeneutical creativity. After all, the apostle claims he is allegorizing the text (allegoroumena, Gal. 4:24). It is difficult to see how Sarah and Hagar represent two covenants. So perhaps Paul was assigning a "new meaning" or a "deeper meaning" to the text.

Scholars have come up with a variety of ways to address these concerns. Some have argued the apostle used the method of his contemporaries for the sake of argument. According to this view, the apostle would appeal to the text and approach of his adversaries to disprove them. Hence, he was not endorsing this method but rather showing why his opponents are wrong per their own terms.

That may be possible and perhaps a factor in the solution. However, we can make some other observations as well. Initially, the term "allegory" may not contain all the baggage we assign it. As Bruce points out, allegory, as we commonly portray it, did not emerge into Christian interpretation until Origen. Furthermore, Paul's "allegory" does not correspond with what we think of as allegory. Allegory generally deemphasizes the historical data in the text and argues it is a depiction of more spiritual realities. However, as Silva notes, Paul's argument seems to be rooted in historical facts about Sarah and Hagar. Paul's allegory is not the same as modern-day allegory.

Instead, Witherington observes that Paul's allegory is a specific type of analogy or layered reading. Unlike "typology" which compares terms of similar nature (e.g. Israel's temptation and the believer's temptation), allegory compares items of different categories, in this case, history and theology. Along that line, scholars have pointed out that Paul technically did not say he read the text allegorically but rather he claims that Genesis was written in such a manner. In other words, Paul observes that Moses wrote Genesis as history that expresses theology. With that, the apostle's asssertion of allegory should not immediately lead us to the conclusion he used the Old Testament noncontextually. Paul's notion of allegory is not what we think of as allegory. Even more, Paul does not claim to assign a deeper meaning to Genesis but glean one that is already there.

The question is whether the assertion the apostle makes is valid. Does Paul's theological application stem from a legitimate implication of the Genesis account? In response, the stories in Genesis do not merely recount historical events. Instead, they record the way God founded and grounded the entire nation. As such, the narratives flesh out the nature of God's covenant with Abraham. In that context, Abram's method of obtaining the promise via Hagar (Gen. 16:1-5) contrasts his faith in God's promises mentioned earlier (Gen. 15:6; cf. vv.1-5). Ultimately, God will show his provision in Sarah is the only way to obtain the promise of an offspring; Isaac is the chosen child (Gen. 21:12; cf. Gen. 15:4). Hence, the whole episode relates to trusting God's provision alone (Sarah) versus relying upon one's own schemes (Hagar). Based upon this, Paul's contrast of faith and law/flesh fits quite well with Moses's theology in Genesis.

Even more, this is how the prophet Isaiah read Genesis. In the only other Old Testament text that references Sarah, Isaiah notes how God intervened in the life of Sarah as the foundation for how he will intervene for Israel (Isa. 51:1-2). Israel is sinful (Isa. 1:13-18; 50:1) and thereby Jerusalem is barren, like Sarah (Isa. 54:1). Nevertheless, because of God's saving work in the Servant, barren Jerusalem would give birth to many children. This would finally fulfill the promise to Abraham of having a great nation and many offspring (Isa. 54:1; cf. Gen. 12:2). The utlimate fulfillment of the promise comes by the same means of immediate fulfillment: God's work alone. Isaiah read Genesis the way Moses intended and shows the ramifications of his theology. God's work through faith in Genesis will climax in his work in the Servant and the new covenant.

This sets up for Paul's discussion in Galatians. Paul is dealing with some who rely upon the law to obtain the promise as opposed to relying upon the new covenant in Christ (Gal. 3:1-4). To the apostle, those who rely on the law to gain the promise correspond with Hagar. As Paul has already discussed, those who use the law in such a manner are not of faith. The law came after the promise, outside of the promised land (see Paul's allusion to Arabia in Galatians 4:25), and does not serve to achieve the fulfillment of God's promises (cf. Gal. 3:10-14, 17). Thus, to use the law to obtain God's promises parallels Abraham's unsanctioned efforts through Hagar. Both depend upon human effort to achieve what only God could fulfill. However, God only works through faith just as he has shown in the life of Sarah. Even more, Isaiah specifies such faith must ultimately be in God's work in the Messiah and new covenant. Hence, Paul declares those who have that kind of faith correspond with Sarah in Genesis and the heavenly Jerusalem found in Isaiah. Paul's analogy is completely reasonable because it not only matches what Genesis 16 teaches but also continues to precise line of thought found in Genesis 16 and Isaiah. That should come as no surprise, since he quotes from both passages (cf. Gal. 4:27).

Thus, Paul does not abuse the Old Testament text. He does not attribute a strange meaning to Genesis 16-21. His use of "allegory" is one where he compares the story of Genesis with a theological truth about God's operations in his covenant. However, that comparison is completely sound because it is based upon fundamentally how Moses wrote the story as well as upon how Isaiah uses the story. With that, Paul continues line of thought from the Old Testament to show one ultimately denies the law itself in trying to use it for God's favor (cf. Gal. 4:21). As the Pentateuch shows, God does not allow anyone to be part of his people who are outside of the promise (Gal. 4:30-31; cf. Gen. 21:10-12). Such reasoning demonstrates how Paul appeals to the Old Testament as the foundation for his own argument and logic.

G. N. Barkman's picture

I expected this analysis to counter my post.  After reading it twice, I fail to see a contradiction.  Am I missing something?  It appears that Chou's comments support my interpretation. Of course, there are elements unstated, leaving the question somewhat ambiguous, but Chou's statement that Isaiah 54:1 finds it fulfillment in the New Covenant sounds like another way of stating what I said above.

G. N. Barkman

pvawter's picture

Bro. Barkman,

The difference, as I see it, is that you assume the NC = the church. That is an assumption i do not share, so your position sounds quite different to me. 

G. N. Barkman's picture

pvawter, do you not believe that Jesus inaugurated the New Covenant when He shed His blood upon the cross?

G. N. Barkman

pvawter's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

pvawter, do you not believe that Jesus inaugurated the New Covenant when He shed His blood upon the cross?

Not sure. I wrestled with the views presented in A Dispensational Understanding of the New Covenant and I'm not exactly sure which position I would take on it. It's complicated. 

Whether he did or not, however, does not make "fulfilled in the new covenant" equal to "fulfilled in the church."

Paul Henebury's picture

I have argued that Christ is Himself the New covenant on the basis of e.g. Isa. 42:6; 49:8; 1 Cor. 11:25 and Heb. 9:15-17.  This makes the Bible Christological, but not by artificially seeing Him in passages where He is not present.  

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

pvawter's picture

Paul's view makes at least 6 distinct views of the New Covenant of which I'm aware among conservative Bible believers. It's certainly an area in which more study needs to be done. 

Paul Henebury's picture

Sorry to add to the confusion, but there you go  Wink

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

pvawter's picture

I'm inclined to agree with Elliot Johnson that Christ's death ratified the NC and that the church is a beneficiary while not being a named participant in the covenant. But Roy Beacham has given me a lot to think about arguing that the church in no way participates in the NC. Of course, I'm looking forward to reading your treatment, Paul, when your book is published. 

G. N. Barkman's picture

So when the Apostle Paul taught the church at Corinth how to observe the Lord's Table with instructions he received from Christ, and quoted Christ as saying, "This cup is the New Covenant in my blood, this do as often as you drink it in remembrance of me,"  he wasn't including the church in the New Covenant?  That's an astonishing proposition.

G. N. Barkman

Larry's picture

Moderator

Greg, Have you read the book referenced above, Dispensational Understanding of the New Covenant? If not, I would recommend it. I don't find the proposition astounding at all. I think if we read the NC seriously, no one would ever apply it en toto to the church in this present age. I think that can only be done by a radical discontinuity between the testaments. 

TylerR's picture

Editor

That book, mentioned above, is essential. It lays bare the struggle dispensationalists have always had with the NC. I believe the church is a full and complete participant in the NC, which is the view Rod Decker (I believe) ably demonstrated in that book.

I feel your pain about being astonished about the typical dispensational approach to the NC.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

G. N. Barkman's picture

that the problems most dispensationalists have with the New Covenant is driven by their inability to perceive what NT writers say about the church's fulfillment of many of the OT promises.  When your presuppositions forbid you to take these NT statements at face value, you are forced to propose elaborate alternatives that seem astonishing to those who simply read the NT for what it says.

G. N. Barkman

Steve Davis's picture

I find myself in essential agreement with GNB on many points. He must be a first-class scholar -:) Like him, I once held to fairly traditional dispensational views on Israel and the Church. I was schooled in dispensational theology and read Scripture with that hermeneutic. In seminary there were some professors teaching two New Covenants, one for the Church, one for Israel, even millennial memorial sacrifices. Over the years with further study I'm much more "oneness" in my views - one people of God, one New Covenant, one second coming. I do not consider myself supercessionist nor hold to replacement theology. I see an expansion of the OT promises to Israel. They will all be fulfilled, perhaps not in the way the original readers understood them, but even greater, more expansive fulfillment to the glory of the God. Believing Israelites receive not only the land of Palestine but the world along with co-inheritors as part of the Church. In my mind, there is a biblical simplicity that cannot be dispelled by dispensational charts or books. Dispensational theology accords Israel less than what God has revealed through the New Testament. God's designs are no longer limited to an ethnic group to inherit earthly territory but extended to all with no difference as one people, one humanity, one family by faith in Christ. There's no going back. The old covenant is obsolete and it's people now on the same level ground of any other people. I don't think we convince anyone of the soundness of our views on this site. I hope we remain open to correction. Jesus is coming again and will reign forever. On that view we can all agree (and hopefully all get along before our future correction).

pvawter's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

that the problems most dispensationalists have with the New Covenant is driven by their inability to perceive what NT writers say about the church's fulfillment of many of the OT promises.  When your presuppositions forbid you to take these NT statements at face value, you are forced to propose elaborate alternatives that seem astonishing to those who simply read the NT for what it says.

So we should take NT writers at face value (as you understand them), but not the OT writers? I mean, Jeremiah 31 is pretty clear that the NC is cut with the houses of Israel and Jacob, but it has to be the church, right?

My position, FWIW, is that we should take all Scripture at face value, to use your terminology. NT writers do not ever reinterpret OT texts apart from their intended use. That many interpreters think so is evidence of a need for more careful study of both, imo. 

G. N. Barkman's picture

Paul, now you are getting close to the real issue.  Dispensationalism takes OT texts at face value, and is thereby forced to be creative with NT texts.  (Such as those that declare that Jeremiah 31 applies to the church in the New Covenant.  Hebrews chapters eight and ten.)  Non dispensationalists take the NT texts at face value, and are thereby forced to re-interpret many OT texts.  (Dispensationalism does the same thing with the NT that they accuse others of doing with the OT.)

My conclusion, after wrestling back and forth with this conundrum for years, is to allow the NT to guide my interpretation of the OT.  After all, OT interpretation is human, which is fallible.  NT interpretation of the OT is inspired, which is infallible.  Either way you go, something's got to give.  I've chosen to let the inspired writers of the NT tell me how to understand the OT.

G. N. Barkman

pvawter's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

Paul, now you are getting close to the real issue.  Dispensationalism takes OT texts at face value, and is thereby forced to be creative with NT texts.  (Such as those that declare that Jeremiah 31 applies to the church in the New Covenant.  Hebrews chapters eight and ten.)  Non dispensationalists take the NT texts at face value, and are thereby forced to re-interpret many OT texts.  (Dispensationalism does the same thing with the NT that they accuse others of doing with the OT.)

My conclusion, after wrestling back and forth with this conundrum for years, is to allow the NT to guide my interpretation of the OT.  After all, OT interpretation is human, which is fallible.  NT interpretation of the OT is inspired, which is infallible.  Either way you go, something's got to give.  I've chosen to let the inspired writers of the NT tell me how to understand the OT.

How do you know you're properly understanding the NT writers? Isn't that just fallible human interpretation? 

And I disagree that I read the NT noncontextually in order to "fit" a normal interpretation of the OT. I apply the same hermeneutic to every passage I study, regardless of the Testament. If you think Hebrews 8 & 10 say that Jeremiah 31 is talking about the church, then you need to read Heb more closely. Wink

G. N. Barkman's picture

Scripture alone is infallible.  Interpretation is always fallible and subject to correction.  So how do we reconcile our fallible interpretation of OT prophecy with the surprising manner in which most NT authors interpret it?  We can read the NT in a straightforward manner, and adjust our previous interpretation of the OT to conform to the NT, or we can stick with our straightforward reading of the OT, and adjust the NT to conform.  I choose to do the former, you choose the latter.  I understand the dilemma you face.  I struggled with it for years.  I won't fault you for your chosen method, and would expect you to do the same for me.  But what I will do, is point out the misrepresentation of thinking you are not "fiddling" with a straightforward reading of the NT in the same manner you object to others "fiddling" with the OT.  (I have read Hebrews very, very closely, and am convinced that Hebrews 8 and 10 are indeed talking about the church.  I am unwilling to adjust my straightforward reading of those texts to make the square peg of Jeremiah 31 fit into the round hole of Hebrews.)

G. N. Barkman

Paul Henebury's picture

I have to agree with Brother Barkman that Dispensationalists have not done themselves any favors in their erratic dealings with the New covenant.  In my view this is because they have not observed their own rule regarding progressive revelation.  It's a fact that Jeremiah refers the New covenant to Israel.  It's also a fact that Paul says the Church declares itself a party to the NC every time it observes the Lord's Table.  To deny this is to ignore what Paul says and to depart from the stated hermeneutic.

 

  

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

pvawter's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

Scripture alone is infallible.  Interpretation is always fallible and subject to correction.  So how do we reconcile our fallible interpretation of OT prophecy with the surprising manner in which most NT authors interpret it?  We can read the NT in a straightforward manner, and adjust our previous interpretation of the OT to conform to the NT, or we can stick with our straightforward reading of the OT, and adjust the NT to conform.  I choose to do the former, you choose the latter.  I understand the dilemma you face.  I struggled with it for years.  I won't fault you for your chosen method, and would expect you to do the same for me.  But what I will do, is point out the misrepresentation of thinking you are not "fiddling" with a straightforward reading of the NT in the same manner you object to others "fiddling" with the OT.  (I have read Hebrews very, very closely, and am convinced that Hebrews 8 and 10 are indeed talking about the church.  I am unwilling to adjust my straightforward reading of those texts to make the square peg of Jeremiah 31 fit into the round hole of Hebrews.)

I'm not trying to insult your study of Hebrews, as you've had many more years than I to wrestle with it. My argument throughout this thread has been that those NT readings that many think are surprising are not, imo, that surprising after all. Rather than being a closed conversation, there is ongoing study bringing light to the text. That's all. 

Paul Henebury's picture

But...Bro. Barkman is not making a proper comparison when saying that he lets the NT (re)interpret the OT, since dispensationalists can't agree on what to do with the New covenant.  In practice Barkman (I'm not sure of his first name) probably does not hold to the plain sense of the Olivet Discourse, or 2 Thess. 2 or the Book of Revelation.  In addition to that, passages like Isa. 2, 11, 32, 62; Jer. 33; Ezek. 36-48; Hos 2; Zeph. 3; Zech. 8, 12-14 get the same spiritualizing treatment. 

We're not playing the same game.  

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

G. N. Barkman's picture

NT prophetic passages are not interpreted in the same manner as non-prophetic passages.  (Using prophetic in the sense of future events.)  But I don't see this as being inconsistent with my NT based hermeneutic.  All prophetic passages, both OT and NT are handled differently.  Just as we don't really know what OT prophecy means apart from NT interpretation, so we have difficulty with details of NT prophecy.  We will not know those details until the second coming.  The first coming revealed many details of OT prophecy.  The second coming will reveal details of NT prophecy.  That doesn't mean we can know nothing.  But it does mean that we are cautious and tentative in our understanding until additional light is given.  (Just as we should be cautious and tentative in our interpretation of OT prophecies, yielding to NT inspired interpretation.)

And Paul H., my name is Greg.  At one time there were at least four Greg's posting fairly regularly, so G.N. seemed a better designation.  (Just like I am now responding to two Paul's.)

G. N. Barkman

TylerR's picture

Editor

It's been a very long time I've read any old-school dispensational interpretations about two New Covenants. I know Chafer held that view, and I'll dust off his systematic soon and re-read it. But, I appreciate the honestly that led him to propose that viewpoint. The NT passages, in the Lord's Supper and Heb 8, are quite clear. Add to it, Peter's application of Exodus 19 to the church in 1 Pet 2:9f is very interesting. It supports the idea that there are two, parallel peoples of God. Thus, I see why you could get "two NCs out of it." I don't support the view, but I get why some people believe it.

What seems to be more common today is the church as a "soteriological participant" in the NC. I think that stops far short of the evidence.

Regarding Christ Himself as the NC, I've read Bro. Henebury advocate it here but haven't spend time thinking about it, yet. I suppose I'll wait for his book! Off the cuff, I'm not sure how the God-man can be the literal covenant promise. What He does can be the promise, but Christ Himself?

I haven't examined the texts Paul cites, so I'm writing extemporaneously. It's a very intriguing idea, to be sure. If Paul could point me to an article or lecture where he fleshes it out, I'll read or listen.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

pvawter's picture

Tyler,

I think you are right when you say

What seems to be more common today is the church as a "soteriological participant" in the NC. I think that stops far short of the evidence.

Beacham argues that the church enjoys New Covenant-like blessings, but that they are not participating even soteriologically in the NC which has yet to be ratified. I'm not sure if I agree with him, but his view upholds the inviolability of the divine covenants. Those who argue for some sort of redefinition or renegotiation of the NC to include the church are treating the covenant idea too lightly, imo.

It certainly is easier to go the reformed route and just replace Israel with the church. Then you don't have to wrestle with these issues at all. 

 

TylerR's picture

Editor

My NT Greek professor didn't believe the church was a participant in the NC. It brings me back to some fun discussions in exegesis class! He placed great emphasis on Heb 8:13; that the OC was READY to pass away but quite done so, yet. Thus, the NC wasn't yet in effect.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Pages

Help keep SI’s server humming. A few bucks makes a difference.