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New Covenant Theology

New Covenant Theology

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Published by David Salazar
New Covenant Theology (NCT) advocates have correctly abandoned the non-biblical covenants of Covenant Theology (CT). However, with few exceptions,they have inconsistently maintained CT’s eschatologies, which usually reject a future premillennial kingdom on earth, ruled over by Christ for 1,000 years in fulfillmentof OT unconditional promises made to Abraham and David. After surveying thecurrent theological landscape among prominent NCT writers, seven compellingreasons for embracing Futuristic Premillennialism (FP) are discussed: (1)Hermeneutics Is a Presupposition, Not a Theology, (2) Careful Exegesis Is Required,Not a Presupposed Theology, (3) Unconfused and Separate Identities for Israel andthe Church, (4) Preservation of the Jewish Race and Israel, (5) Unconditional Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants, (6) Proper Order of Christ’s Return and Christ’s Reign, and (7) Promises of an Irreversible Restoration for the Nation. Because of these seven determinative, biblical facts, the only eschatology which would be consistent with NCT’s denial of the non-existent covenants espoused by CT would be FP.
New Covenant Theology (NCT) advocates have correctly abandoned the non-biblical covenants of Covenant Theology (CT). However, with few exceptions,they have inconsistently maintained CT’s eschatologies, which usually reject a future premillennial kingdom on earth, ruled over by Christ for 1,000 years in fulfillmentof OT unconditional promises made to Abraham and David. After surveying thecurrent theological landscape among prominent NCT writers, seven compellingreasons for embracing Futuristic Premillennialism (FP) are discussed: (1)Hermeneutics Is a Presupposition, Not a Theology, (2) Careful Exegesis Is Required,Not a Presupposed Theology, (3) Unconfused and Separate Identities for Israel andthe Church, (4) Preservation of the Jewish Race and Israel, (5) Unconditional Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants, (6) Proper Order of Christ’s Return and Christ’s Reign, and (7) Promises of an Irreversible Restoration for the Nation. Because of these seven determinative, biblical facts, the only eschatology which would be consistent with NCT’s denial of the non-existent covenants espoused by CT would be FP.

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Published by: David Salazar on Sep 13, 2008
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221
TMSJ 
18/1 (Fall 2007) 221-232
NEW COVENANT THEOLOGYAND FUTURISTIC PREMILLENNIALISM
Richard L. MayhueSenior Vice President and DeanProfessor of Pastoral Ministries and Theology
 New Covenant Theology (NCT) advocates have correctly abandoned thenon-biblical covenants of Covenant Theology (CT). However, with few exceptions,they have inconsistently maintained CT’s eschatologies, which usually reject a future premillennial kingdom on earth, ruled over by Christ for 1,000 years in fulfillment of OT unconditional promises made to Abraham and David. After surveying thecurrent theological landscape among prominent NCT writers, seven compelling reasons for embracing Futuristic Premillennialism (FP) are discussed: (1) Hermeneutics Is a Presupposition, Not a Theology, (2) Careful Exegesis Is Required, Not a Presupposed Theology, (3) Unconfused and Separate Identities for Israel and the Church, (4) Preservation of the Jewish Race and Israel, (5) Unconditional  Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants, (6) Proper Order of Christ’s Return and Christ’s Reign, and (7) Promises of an Irreversible Restoration for the Nation. Because of these seven determinative, biblical facts, the only eschatology which would beconsistent with NCT’s denial of the non-existent covenants espoused by CT would be FP.
*****This essay builds upon the four previous articles in this issue of 
TMSJ 
,dealing with
 New Covenant Theology (NCT): A Critique
. If you have not yet readDr. Barrick on how NCT relates to OT covenants and Dr. Vlach on how NCT relatesto Covenant Theology (CT), please do so before proceeding here. NCT is to be commended for having recognized the absolute lack of biblicalevidence for the three covenantal mainstays of CT, i.e., Covenant of Grace, Covenantof Redemption, and Covenant of Works. NCT has advanced the theologicaldiscussion by limiting their studies to covenants that are clearly and repeatedly taughtin Scripture, e.g., the Abrahamic, Davidic, and New Covenants.We interact here with NCT in that they limit God’s promises for Israel in the
 
222
The Master’s Seminary Journal 
1
J. I. Packer, “Introduction: On Covenant Theology,” in Herman Witsius,
The Economy of theCovenants Between God and Man
, vol. 1 (1677; reprint, Escondido, Calif.: The den Dulk ChristianFoundation, 1990) 12-13.
future and miss the futuristic aspects of the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants. Inthis, they unnecessarily and erroneously rejoin their CT brothers in proposing that the NT church has replaced OT Israel and thus inherited God’s land, ruler, and kingdom promises from the supposedly disobedient and disinherited Jews. As a result, theeschatological options for NCT are essentially no different from those of CT.
Bed-Rock Hermeneutics
Why would NCT rejoin CT at the point of eschatology? Dr. Barrick’sassertion that their presupposed eschatology drives their hermeneutic rather than theother way around needs to be reasserted. By putting the theological cart before thehermeneutical horse, NCT slips back into the CT error that they avoided in their soteriology where the hermeneutical horse is rightly ahead of the theological cart.Most NCT adherents have not completely abandoned CT as they rightfully should.A somewhat surprising explanation of hermeneutics made by a well-knowntheologian illustrates this point.What is covenant theology? The straightforward, if provocative answer to that questionis that it is what is nowadays called a hermeneutic—that is, a way of reading the wholeBible that is itself part of the overall interpretation of the Bible that it undergirds. Asuccessful hermeneutic is a consistent interpretative procedure yielding a consistentunderstanding of Scripture that in turn confirms the propriety of the procedure itself.Covenant theology is a case in point. It is a hermeneutic that forces itself upon everythoughtful Bible-reader who gets to the place,
 first 
, of reading, hearing, and digestingHoly Scripture as didactic instruction given through human agents by God himself, in person;
 second 
, of recognizing that what the God who speaks the Scriptures tells us aboutin their pages is his own sustained sovereign action in creation, providence, and grace;
third 
, of discerning that in our salvation by grace God stands revealed as Father, Son andHoly Spirit, executing in tripersonal unity of single cooperative enterprise of raisingsinners from the gutter of spiritual destitution to share Christ’s glory for ever; and
 fourth
,of seeing that God-centered thought and life, spring responsively from a God-wroughtchange of heart that expresses itself spontaneously in grateful praise, is the essence of trueknowledge of God. Once Christians have got this far, the covenant theology of theScriptures is something that they can hardly miss.
1
According to the highly respected Dr. Packer, “Covenant Theology … is ahermeneutic.…” Amazing! If one’s hermeneutic is one’s theology, then one’stheology determines one’s hermeneutic; that is what logicians call “circular reasoning”—a catastrophic logical fallacy. Traditionally, one’s hermeneutic hasapplied to the entirety of the OT and NT, text by text, which then resulted in one’s
 
 New Covenant Theology and Futuristic Premillennialism 223
2
Donald Hochner, “A Comparison of Three Systems: Dispensationalism, Covenant Theology, and New Covenant Theology” (online at www.angelfire.com/ca/DeafPreterist/compare.html, accessed9/2/07).
3
Gary D. Long, “New Covenant Non-Premillennialism—Part 2” (online atwww.soundofgrace.com/v7/n.9/glpart2.htm, accessed 9/2/07).
4
O. T. Allis,
 Prophecy and the Church
(1945; reprint, Nutley, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed,1977) 238.
5
Floyd E. Hamilton,
The Basis of the Millennial Faith
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1942) 38.
6
Loraine Boettner, “Postmillennialism,” in
The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views
, ed. RobertG. Clouse (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1977) 95.
theology, not the reverse as stated by Packer. NCT advocate Donald Hochner similarly writes, “There are three mainsystems of interpreting Scripture.… [T]he author of this comparative analysis wishesto state his preference for New Covenant Theology, as being a more balanced systemfor interpreting Scripture.…”
2
Gary D. Long likewise notes, “If the
non- premillennialism
aspect of prophecy is on the right track then it must be part of a better hermeneutic. I believe New Covenant theology presents a better biblicalhermeneutic.”
3
If a consistent hermeneutic that leads to one’s theology is the proper way toapproach Scripture, then some of Futuristic Premillennialism’s (FP’s) staunchestcritics recognize the consistent nature of and outcome when the historical-grammati-cal approach is taken to interpret all Scripture, including prophetic portions. For example,O.T. Allis—“…the Old Testament prophecies if literally interpreted cannot be regardedas having been yet fulfilled or as being capable of fulfillment in this present age.”
4
Floyd E. Hamilton—“Now we must frankly admit that a literal interpretation of the OldTestament prophecies gives us just such a picture of an earthly reign of the Messiah as the premillennialist pictures.”
5
Loraine Boettner—“It is generally agreed that if the prophecies are taken literally, theydo foretell a restoration of the nation of Israel in the land of Palestine with the Jewshaving a prominent place in that kingdom and ruling over the other nations.”
6
However, each one asserts that consistency does not necessarily yield the eschatolog-ical truth of Scripture, because the fruit thereof does not agree with his hermeneuticof CT.Perhaps the great writer Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894) summed it up best.I cannot understand how you theologians and preachers can apply to the Church—or the

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