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Covenant Theology Paperback – September 20, 2008
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"A grasp of covenant theology is indispensable to knowing suchessential themes as the Christian and the law of God, baptism,the relationship of old covenant with new, our relationship withAdam and with Christ, the dynamics of the history of redemption,the light cast on the Bible by archaeology and ancient Near-East treaties. The ordinances, the evangelism of children, confessions of faith, the rise of denominations within Protestantism, and even the ministries of John Bunyan and Charles Haddon Spurgeon cannot be appreciated without a grasp of the momentum of covenant theology....Peter Golding has performed an inestimable service in surveying this whole field of theology in such a safe and fascinating manner." (Geoff Thomas ~ Conference Speaker and author, Aberystwyth, Wales)
About the Author
Peter Golding trained at London Bible College and was Pastor at Hayes Town Chapel for 32 years. He was awarded PhD by Greenwich School of Theology for a thesis on Covenant Theology. He has served on the Board of Governors at the London Theological Seminary since 1984. He is married to Hilary and is engaged in a ministry of itinerant preaching and writing.
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The book is a very thorough review of the development of covenant theology, also called federal theology, especially during the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, with a concentration on Calvin and his associates in the first, and the Puritans in the second. but he also includes sources in the modern era, such as John Murray. I especially appreciated the section where he reviewed the controversy over the consistency, or lack thereof, between Calvin's views and those of his Puritan successors. Golding defends a classical orthodox Westminster view of the covenants.
In addition to the "council" problem, I disliked the placing of all the notes in an appendix, instead of as either footnotes or endnotes. That choice makes the notes difficult to access as I read through the respective chapters. On the other hand, in addition to the meaty, concise, but thorough presentation, I love the exhaustive bibliography. It gives an extensive listing of both modern and historical works on the Covenant, plenty of material for further study.
He states in the Introduction that "Reformed orthodoxy has been generally looked upon as espousing Covenant theology, and its hermeneutic has endeavoured to do justice to the covenantal structure of the whole of revelation in such a way as to exhibit the underlying unity of the plan of salvation..." (Pg. 10) He quotes J.I. Packer, who defined Covenant Theology as "a hermeneutic... a way of reading the whole Bible that is itself part of the overall interpretation of the Bible that it undergirds." (Pg. 11)
He argues that when the New Testament writers speak of the "new covenant," they are "simply taking over a concept familiar to ... Old Testament Scriptures," and filling it with a new significance in Christ. (Pg. 81) He notes the disagreement among Reformed theologians about whether the original covenant should be called the Covenant of Nature; the Covenant of Life; the Edenic Covenant; or the Covenant of Works (which Golding, following Berkhof, adopts in this book).
He notes that in biblical theology, special revelation "had a history... God did not reveal himself to man in one great and all-embracive disclosure." (Pg. 143) The "New Covenant" of Jeremiah 31:31-34 is contrasted with the Mosaic, not the Abrahamic covenant, as the Messianic age "does not involve the establishment of a new covenant in relation to the Abrahamic covenant, but only to the Mosaic." (Pg. 161)
This is an excellent, fairly brief overview of Covenant theology.