by Douglas Van Dorn
Covenant theology is often said to be the domain of infant baptists alone. But there really are such things as Reformed Baptists who believe in covenant theology as a basic system for approaching Scripture. This primer sets out to give the basics of a Reformed Baptist covenant theology.
It agrees with classical formulations of covenant theology in that there is a Covenant of Redemption, a Covenant of Works, and a Covenant of Grace in the Bible. It differs from Paedobaptist covenant theology in that it sees the the Covenant of Grace as only properly coming through Jesus Christ. OT gracious covenants are typological of the Covenant of Grace, but save people on the basis of the coming work of Christ through faith alone. This is the traditional way Reformed Baptists have articulated the Covenant of Grace.
It takes a multi-perspective approach to the Covenant of Redemption in that this covenant is the basis for the classic formula that Christ’s death is sufficient for all, but efficient for the elect. It sees the Covenant of Works for Adam in a broader context of a covenant made with all of creation, a covenant where laws establish the parameters for creation’s existence. Finally, it sees an entire covenant in the Old Testament as often (but not always) missing from formulations of covenant theology. In the opinion of the author, this “priestly covenant” is vital to a proper understanding of 1. The continuity of the the practice of baptism from OT to NT, 2. The answer to why we never find infants being baptized in the NT, and 3. A more precise way to parse the legal aspects of the OT economy, thereby helping us understand why the moral law continues today.
This volume works from the basic presupposition that continuity in God’s word is more basic than discontinuity. In this, it differs from dispensationalism and new covenant theology. The book suggests that this is the greatest strength of covenant theology, which does also recognize discontinuity.