Progressive Covenantalism as an Integrating Motif of Scripture

Editor's Note: We offer this stimulating article to our readers because the central topic is a powerful demonstration of Covenant Creation. 

You will have to click on the article to read the entire presentation. It is lengthy. Our readers should also understand that the authors remain committed to futurism as can be shown in this quote:

The testimony of Scripture is that the new covenant brings to completion God’s eschatological plan for redeemed humanity and the rest of creation (cf. Rom 8:18-23). In the eternal state, “heaven and a renewed earth are joined into regained and consummated Eden” Of particular interest is “the Holy City, the new Jerusalem” (Rev 21:2) that descends “out of heaven from God”. The Lord magnificently adorned the new Jerusalem (the bride) for her husband (the groom). The implication here is that the city surpassed the beauty of everything else God had made. Some think the new Jerusalem will be a literal city where God’s people dwell for all eternity. Others think the holy city is symbol of the united, redeemed community in heaven. In either case, it’s clear that a new world is coming, and it will be glorious beyond imagination.

Can you see the oddity? On the one hand the writers affirm that "...the new covenant brings to completion God's eschatological plan..." Yet, somehow, believers who now live under the new covenant must be looking forward to something more, a "new world" that is a more fullfilled "new covenant" than the new covenant Christ brings through his completed work of redemption! Ah, the dilemmas of traditional futurism.

Note also how the conception of "the creation" in Romans 8 leads necessarily to the authors' futurist conclusions. An honest look at the text, however, leads to the proper understanding of "the Creation" of which Paul. Romans 8 simply must be understood in covenant context. (See Romans 8 in Covenant Context ) Amazing how a simple modification to that definition of "the creation," so clearly covenantal and personal in Paul's theology, transforms the futuristic eschatological expectation automatically assumed by the authors. The problem, again, is the failure to recognize covenant context.

Regardless of our quibble on that point, the following article demonstrates how mainstream Christian theology continues to drift toward the gradual awareness of the central thrust of the Covenant Creation view. We offer these excerpts from the article to highlight this most crucial point. We think they, along with the entire article, will be well worth your time.

Tim Martin & Jeff Vaughn


Progressive Covenantalism as an Integrating Motif of Scripture

By Dan T. Lioy

Progressive covenantalism is a new working model for comprehending the relationship between the Old and New Testaments. The goal is to articulate a consistent understanding of how to put together seemingly heterogeneous portions of Scripture. This integrating motif asserts that God’s progressive revelation of His covenants is an extension of the kingdom blessings He first introduced in creation. Affiliated claims are that the various covenants revealed in Scripture are interrelated and build on one another, that the people of God throughout the history of salvation are united, and that they equally share in His eschatological promises...

...This endeavor mirrors the ongoing task of theology. As König explains, “theology is not merely repeating what is written in the Bible but rather rethinking the biblical material” so as to foster greater understanding

What is the reason for introducing another approach to explain the intertextuality between the testaments? It is centered in the shortcomings associated with the concept of “dispensations”. Patton and Dyck note that over the past century, dispensationalism has focused on the discontinuity in the master plan of God. Indeed, the spotlight is on the separate ways in which the Lord has worked among His people in different periods of time. The lecturers observe that this emphasis is misplaced. Rather than accent distinctions within different portions of Scripture, it is more helpful to talk about the unity of the divine plan for the faith community throughout history. In this case, God’s covenant with His people is the basis for seeing more continuity than discontinuity between the testaments...

This essay reflects the conviction that while there is “great variety in the Bible”, the Word of God is also characterized by “meaningful coherence” in which thematic trajectories can be discerned. Concerning the integrating motif proposed in this treatise, the major premise is that God’s progressive revelation of His covenants is an extension of the kingdom blessings He first introduces in creation. Affiliated claims are that the various covenants revealed in Scripture are interrelated and build on one another, that the people of God throughout the history of salvation are united, and that they equally share in His eschatological promises...

This essay affirms the view that the covenant concept is used as an organizing and controlling principle of Scripture...

As Genesis 3:15 promises, the victory of the redeemed is assured by the Savior. Jesus’ followers triumph over the devil “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Rev 12:11). Scripture reveals that Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross overcame the forces of darkness (Isa 53:12; Luke 24:26, 46; 1 Pet 1:10-11). Moreover, at Calvary, the Son disarmed Satan by taking away his power to accuse believers (cf. Rom 8:1-4, 31-39; Col 2:15; Heb 2:14-15). Furthermore, Paul noted that the “God of peace” will “soon crush Satan” under the feet of the saints (Rom 16:20). Indeed, Jesus is the divine warrior who will triumph on behalf of His people at His return (2 Thes 1:5-10; Rev 19:11-21). From a human standpoint, the delay seems long; but from the divine standpoint it is imminent, being one of the next series of events on the eschatological calendar (cf. 2 Pet 3:8)...
 
Patton and Dyck liken God’s covenantal promise to Adam and Eve as a first installment on a long-term plan to fix what was broken when sin entered the human race (Rom 5:12). Thereafter, each covenant in Scripture builds on the one made in the garden of Eden. Similarly, each covenant increases the recipients of the divine plan of redemption. Together, these covenants are analogous to an ascending staircase that shows the direction in which God is leading His people. The inherent unity of the covenants is reinforced by the observation made by Smith that in the Hebrew sacred writings, “covenant . . . never occurs in the plural”. The idea is that “there is only one ‘covenant’ with many manifestations”...
 
The Edenic covenant is the basis for all the subsequent covenants in the Bible. Because these special arrangements are explicitly described in Scripture, they are called “biblical covenants”. Though they are distinct from one another, they are tightly interrelated...
 
Connected with the progressive unfolding of the previously discussed, interrelated covenants is the advancement of God’s revelation to His people concerning His eschatological program...
 
The post-resurrection account recorded in Luke 24 attests to this tight integration between the biblical covenants progressively revealed in the Old and New Testaments. In verses 25-26, the risen Messiah censured two disciples (who were going to a village called Emmaus) for being slow to believe all that the prophets had declared. In fact, Jesus’ reference to “Moses and all the Prophets” (v. 27) indicates that the messianic promises extend in a unifying way throughout all the Hebrew sacred writings...
 
This essay has sought to elaborate on the concept of progressive covenantalism, as broached by Patton and Dyck. It is a new working model for comprehending the relationship between the Old and New Testaments. The goal is to articulate a consistent understanding of how to put together seemingly heterogeneous portions of Scripture. This integrating motif asserts that God’s progressive revelation of His covenants is an extension of the kingdom blessings He first introduced in creation. Affiliated claims are that the various covenants revealed in Scripture are interrelated and build on one another, that the people of God throughout the history of salvation are united, and that they equally share in His eschatological promises...
  
 
 
 
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