Book recommendation on Covenant Theology

I come from a dispensational perspective but would like to challenge my thinking by reading about the covenant perspective. I was wondering if anyone has any books they would recommend on covenant theology.

Thanks
Brandon

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scottgreening's picture

Writing from my hotel while at the GARBC Annual conference featuring Renald Showers (and Kevin Bauder) reminded me of a good resource as you are challenging your thinking regarding Covenant theology. Showers has published a book entitled "There Really is a Difference." I gather from your post you are asking for books from a covenant position but this would be helpful as you consider Covenant thinking.

Scott Greening www.gcbc.info

Dennis Clemons's picture

There are a number of good critiques of Dispensationalism that shed light on CT but you might do better to just read the Canons of Dort and the Westminster Confession of Faith, London, Philadelphia and New Hampshire Baptist Confessions and see if you believe they err. Dispensational defenders tend to claim distinctions that really aren't distictions at all as CTs will just as heartily embrace them (i.e. the concept of dispensations in Scripture; the literal interpretation of Scripture; the glory of God vs. redemption of man; straw men all of them) Read the resources above and I think you'll agree.

If you are curious about the critiques, you might consider Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth, by John Gerstner, Prophesy and the Church by Oswald T. Allis, and Dispensationalism: Rightly Dividing the People of God? by Keith Mathison.

Best Regards,

Dennis

The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him. ~ Proverbs 18:17

Greg Long's picture

Dennis Clemons wrote:
There are a number of good critiques of Dispensationalism that shed light on CT but you might do better to just read the Canons of Dort and the Westminster Confession of Faith, London, Philadelphia and New Hampshire Baptist Confessions and see if you believe they err. Dispensational defenders tend to claim distinctions that really aren't distictions at all as CTs will just as heartily embrace them (i.e. the concept of dispensations in Scripture; the literal interpretation of Scripture; the glory of God vs. redemption of man; straw men all of them) Read the resources above and I think you'll agree.

If you are curious about the critiques, you might consider Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth, by John Gerstner, Prophesy and the Church by Oswald T. Allis, and Dispensationalism: Rightly Dividing the People of God? by Keith Mathison.

Best Regards,

Yes, it's a good thing CT proponents don't "claim distinctions" that aren't found in Scripture, such as the Covenants of Works, Grace, and Redemption. Smile

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Charlie's picture

To the OP, I've found that reading books specifically on covenant or dispensational theology is only so useful. Really, there are a number of questions that these macrohermeneutics ask - how does the Mosaic law relate to the new covenant, how do the promises of Abraham affect the concept of the church, when did/will the kingdom of God come and how does it proceed, etc. - that are being answered by many people who do not subscribe wholeheartedly to either system.

The major hermeneutical system at work today in the university/seminary is "inaugurated eschatology," also known as "already/not-yet." Inaugurated eschatology is a wide rubric that brings together progressive dispensationalists, covenant theologians, and a host of unafilliated theologians (Kaiser, Schreiner, Carson, Moo, etc.). It includes pre- and post- millennialists of different sorts. It does exclude traditional Dispensational theology.

To get a feel for how inaugurated eschatology works, you can read many works, some of which will vary in theology -

  • Christ and Time by Oscar Cullmann (classic mainline work)
  • New Testament Theology by George Ladd (a bit dated, but really published inaugurated eschatology throughout the evangelical world)
  • New Testament Theology by Thomas Schreiner (fantastic and massive update on Ladd)
  • Biblical Theology by Geerhardus Vos (standard redemptive-historical work for Reformed theology)
  • The Pauline Eschatology by Geerhardus Vos (in case you can't make it through his larger work)
  • Paul by Herman Ridderbos (Dutch redemptive-historical school; shows the progression of the Bible as understood by Paul)
  • The Promise-Plan of God by Walter Kaiser (eccentric yet engaging biblical theology mediating between dispensational and covenant theology)
  • New Covenant Theology by Wells and Zaspel ("Baptist" version of covenant theology; new testament emphasis)
  • Gospel Centered Hermeneutics by Graeme Goldsworthy (historical and systematic treatment of hermeneutics from a covenant perspective)

There are also some classics which show the Protestant positions before the advent of Dispensationalism:

The Marrow of Modern Divinity by Edward Fisher (available through google books)
Biblical Theology by John Owen
A History of the Work of Redemption by Jonathan Edwards (available through ccel.org)
The Economy of the Divine Covenants by Herman Witsius

Really, though, if I had to recommend one popular level work for making sense of the storyline of the Bible, it would be According to Plan by Graeme Goldsworthy.

Greg Long wrote:

Yes, it's a good thing CT proponents don't "claim distinctions" that aren't found in Scripture, such as the Covenants of Works, Grace, and Redemption. Smile

I think he meant claim distinctions between covenant and dispensational theology that aren't really distinctions. Both CT and DT recognize dispensations, the glory of God, and literal interpretation (as opposed to normative allegory).

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Dennis Clemons's picture

Greg Long wrote:
Yes, it's a good thing CT proponents don't "claim distinctions" that aren't found in Scripture, such as the Covenants of Works, Grace, and Redemption. Smile
Either I'm misunderstanding your point or you misunderstood me. Charlie understood.

The things I listed are things that don't set DTs apart from CTs. DTs say they do but since CTs agree with them, they are not distinguishing marks of DT.

If I were pointing out where DTs diverge from Scripture, I would have mentioned their true distinctive, but I did not. 0:)

Dennis

The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him. ~ Proverbs 18:17

CPHurst's picture

I would not recommend reading Showers book "There Really Is A Difference". It is not a fair or accurate treatment of CT by any means. I listened to Showers' critique of CT with his Dispensational response and I was appalled at his irresponsible caricature of CT. I wondered who he was even quoting for their side as he did not even give references or citations of any kind. I found the whole thing to be disconcerting. If I were intellectually irresponsible I would have let those lectures drive me away from Dispensationalism.

thomas15's picture

If there is a shortcoming to Showers book is that it is a little too general. But that makes it a good introduction to the disp/cov debate. If Mr. Hust finds Showers treatment of Covenant theology off center he only needs to contact the author for an explanation as Dr. Showers is a most accessable fellow.

The OP is over a year and a half old and yet only a few posters have answered the actual question. This question is a good one by the way and is one that I have also asked myself. So over the last few years I have assembled a collection of books on covenant theology and have most of the books suggested. The question though is not can anyone suggest books that debate covenant vs. dispensational theology, rather it is a request for books on covenant theology. I assume that the author of the OP is mature enough and educated enough to be able to know the differences and is looking for resources to expand his horizons.

May I say that in my case, a study of covenant theology has not shaken my dispensational core beliefs and in fact it has increased my appreciation for dispensationalism. One book that I have read 3 times written by a covenant theologian, while actually not a covenant systematic theology text per se is a book by Kim Riddlebarger titled A Case for Amillennialism. This book has numerous high power recomendations and is marketed as a clear concise treatment. I have about 10 pages of rough notes where I find the author to be not so clear and concise. If anything, to the careful and patient reader, A case for Amillennialsm really makes a better case for further study into dispensationalism.

But really, no one should care or be influenced by what I used to believe or currently believe. We should study these matters for ourselves. I have said this on other forums and would repeat it here also, dispensationalist stand accused of distorting or misinforming the world the teachings of covenant theology. The same could be said of covenant theologians treatment of dispensationalists. As an example, Dr. Riddlebarger wastes no time informing his readers that he grew up a dispensationalist but upon maturity became a covenant theologian. It is, to the careful reader a shame that he states this as an informed dispensationalist will find little to agree with Riddlebarger as he discusses dispensationalism. Apparently his dispensaionalism is unique, yet I have not seen any of his fellow covenant theologians correct him on these matters.

Thank you all for this opportunity to share .
Tom

Thomas Chew

Lehighton, PA