The Christ of the Covenants

November 14, 2018

 

“This work focuses on two areas central to the concerns of biblical interpretation today: the significance of God’s covenants and the relation of the two testaments. By understanding correctly God’s initiatives in establishing covenants in history, a solid foundation will be laid for unravelling the complex question of the relation of the two testaments.”

 

I picked up this book because I wanted a good understanding of what biblical covenants are, and that is exactly what I got. In my notes I now have an excellent resource to refer back to that will help me see the depth and richness in a surprising (?) number of biblical passages. Clear and concise (and long; there is no contradiction here), I am delighted by what this has done for me in fuelling an appetite for biblical theology. What Robertson writes relevantly spills over into a wide range of themes and passages that I was not expecting to be confronted with.

 

Robertson strives to show the centrality of the covenant in the biblical story-arc (the arc of the covenant, if you will). In particular, he examines Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus, labelling their respective covenants commencement, preservation, promise, law, kingdom and consummation. What The Christ of the Covenants does with these is comprehensive. How they relate, their unity, their diversity and what this means for our biblical interpretation all receive the space they need. Robertson gives time to everything required (and more; there is an entire chapter on why Robertson is a covenantal theologian rather than the dispensational alternative). Matter-of-fact and persuasive, I drank it all in.

 

Perhaps the greatest impact that this book has had on me so far has linked to Robertson’s treatment of the Old Testament/New Testament relationship. In a church culture where somebody who tentatively suggests an application from Deuteronomy is met with “but that is the Old Testament”, Robertson’s covenantal framework is a breath of fresh air that explores a more complex, but by no means arbitrary, exploration of how the two interact. What this means for baptism, capital punishment and the Sabbath will require much meditation.

 

If anything, I wanted more from the “covenant of consummation”. There was surprisingly little here. For example, the New Creation is briefly mentioned only for the book to promptly finish. This might have been because of the cumulative nature of the covenants; because the new covenant is the fulfilment of all of the previous covenants, it is simply the “yes” to what has already been stated. Even if this was the case, however, there is a lack of emotional punch to some of the sublime truths expounded in this section. If this is due to the more “textbook” feel of the book, Grudem’s Systematic Theology shows this need not be the case with his unashamed stoking of our joy in Christ.

 

I strongly recommend The Christ of the Covenants to anyone who already understands how the Bible hangs together, but wants to understand it better.

 

7.5/10

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