Review: Progressive Covenantalism

25802608The nuanced differences between Dispensational and Covenantal theologies have stirred conversation for over a century. There have been numerous attempts to find common ground that encompasses the far-reaching nature of these differences, but unfortunately, most of the attempts have failed to be more than subtle modifications of an already deficient system. Progressive Covenantalism: Charting a Course between Dispensational and Covenantal Theologies edited by Stephen J. Wellum and Brent E. Parker has in many ways changed that trajectory for the better.

Progressive Covenantalism is a curated collection of essays that “seek to underscore the unfolding nature of God’s revelation over time, while . . . emphasiz[ing] that God’s plan unfolds through the covenant and all of the covenants find their fulfillment . . . and terminus in Christ” (p. 2). Furthermore, the essays included here exegetically and theologically underscore the substantial work of Stephen J. Wellum and Peter Gentry presented in Kingdom through Covenant (Crossway, 2012). Chapters 1-4 are targeted at various topics considered crucial to putting together the biblical covenants, including the relationship between Israel and the Church and the function of the Mosaic Law. Chapters 5-8 are more specifically concerned with issues related to covenant theology, including a fascinating essay by Thomas R. Schreiner on the Sabbath and an essay on the warning passages in Hebrews and the New Covenant Community. Finally, chapters 9-10 are concerned with issues that tend to arise within the framework of progressive dispensationalism, such as the appeal to Romans 11 concerning nature of future Israel and a captivating essay by Oren R. Martin on the nature of the Promise Land.

There is much to be praised about Progressive Covenantalism. All of the essays are well-written and appropriately targeted. Additionally, I think that most readers will find the exegetical and theological treatment of the various topics therein satisfying. There are some essays that readers will find to be more informative than others, but it will largely depend on one’s exposure to the ongoing dialog. That said Progressive Covenantalism is also an appropriate entry point for many readers looking to engage the issues at hand, as the interaction therein is both up-to-date and academically honest. Those who disagree with the essays presented in Progressive Covenantalism will be unable to simply dismiss the effort of the contributors. There is serious exegesis and biblical theological reflection that demands interaction at numerous levels. At the very least, Progressive Covenantalism has accomplished exactly what is set out to accomplish: to chart a course between dispensational and covenantal theologies.

Progressive Covenantalism: Charting a Course between Dispensational and Covenantal Theologies edited by Stephen J. Wellum and Brent E. Parker is a must-read resource for anyone interested in the discussion between these two theological camps. It offers readers a fresh presentation of an increasingly popular view while building upon the work of others in the process. It comes highly recommended!

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