Friday, December 07, 2007

Full of promise

I've been eagerly awaiting the arrival of this book, Covenant and Salvation: Union with Christ by Michael Horton. It is the third part of a four volume project on covenant theology.

The book interacts with the New Perspectives on Paul, Radical Orthodoxy, Eastern Orthodoxy, and the New Finnish Perspective.

Here's a taster:

Modern biblical scholarship has frequently shown itself equally capable of offering a central dogma from which all exegesis is deduced. In the NPP, this thesis can be covenantal nomism, Israel's exile and restoration, or Gentile inclusion. So the question is not systematic theology versus mere exegesis, but a matter of evaluating different accounts of the coherent patterns that we find in Scripture. (p. 5)

Biblical scholarship no less than systematic theology can engage in central dogma deductivism. (p. 6) was precisely from classic covenant or "federal" theology that many Christians recognized the redemptive-historical and eschatological character of revelation long before the advent of the New Perspective.

Barth's criticism of this covenant theology of the Reformed scholastics was not that it reduced the historia salutis to "timeless truths" as Wright suggests, but the very opposite; namely, that it represented "a theological historicism"...For these older theologians, as for Paul, the question is not whether to place justification in its covenantal, eschatological, and historical context. The real difference between classic covenant theology and its newer rivals is the actual content, not the field of horizon. (p. 7)

Simply to endorse the importance of this theme or to advocate covenant theology does not necessarily specify its content. When N.T. Wright, for example, champions "covenant theology," he sharply distinguishes his account from sixteenth- and seventeenth-century versions. Nevertheless, elsewhere Wright concedes, "Like many New Testament scholars, I am largely ignorant of the Pauline exegesis of all but a few of the fathers and the reformers. The Middle Ages, and the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, had plenty to say about Paul, but I have not read it." Classic covenant theology has therefore been, in my view, too lightly dismissed without serious firsthand evaluation. (p. 11-12).

The burden of this chapter [Sinai and Zion: Two Covenants] is to demonstrate that the basic lines of thought that underwrite the distinction between law and gospel and the specific types of covenant advocated in confessional Reformed theology can be sustained on exegetical grounds. (p. 12)


Anonymous said...

What is "Radical Orthodoxy" and the "New Finnish Perspective?"

Martin Downes said...


Have a look here for RO,

The Finnish school have argued for something like a "Luther vs. the Lutherans" thesis with justification not being (in Luther) an imputed alien righteouness but an actual participation in Christ's inherent righteousness.

I'm guessing though that the interaction with the NPP will be of most interest to readers.