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Showing 1-10 of 30 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 37 reviews
on July 28, 2012
There are two basic approaches to what is called "biblical theology." One is to identify a singular central theme that brings clarity to the structure and theological purpose of the Bible. The other is to use a generalized understanding of the structure and theological purpose of the Bible to bring clarity to a theme (which then, in turn, brings more clarity to the Bible). This latter type better characterizes the approach of "Kingdom through Covenant." (For an example of the former type, see James Hamilton's book "God's Glory in Salvation through Judgment".) Though the thesis of this book argues that the covenants tie the biblical narrative together, thus making covenants an extremely important theme, the authors do not seek to prove that the covenants constitute the "theological center" of the Bible.

The academic advance this book seeks to make is a biblical-theological support for a covenantal understanding that effectively falls between Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology. Though the authors' position is indeed unique in relation to these other two systems, it is by no means new: this book provides a defense of what I would call a "baptistic" covenant theology. This means that while they side with Dispensationalists in rejecting the Reformed teaching about the exact continuity between circumcision and baptism, they take the side of Reformed theologians in affirming that the land promise to Israel are fulfilled in Christ under the New Covenant, particularly as his work results in the inauguration of the New Creation.

What you will not find in this book is an attack on any theological position. You will not find endless rhetoric and catchy phrases that make Dispensational or Reformed theologians seem dangerous or inept. The authors certainly do not hold back from saying what they think needs to said in defense of their own position and in opposition to the other two, yet they do so in a respectable and unexaggerated manner. They are careful to recognize the similarities in the two views between which they mediate, as well as the similarities between their own view and each of the other positions. One way they are able to do this is through careful examination of the presuppositions and hermeneutical principles they and the opposing theologians use. Thus, Gentry and Wellum present, articulate, and defend a certain hermeneutic, which accounts for presuppositions about the nature of Scripture, and discipline themselves throughout the book to apply those principles consistently.

No doubt Reformed and Dispensational Christians will find the arguments of this book to be challenging, if not compelling. However, if they can make it through chapter three (the chapter which presents the authors' hermenuetical methods) without being convinced, there's a good chance they'll remain unmoved. But this is one of the things that makes this book great: usually the dividing line between two theological positions lies in an underlying hermenuetical difference. By accurately presenting their opponents' hermeneutics and showing how their own principles--or at least the application of similar principles--differs from them, they preclude needlessly talking past their opponents and vise versa. However, as Gentry and Wellum consistently apply this hermenuetic to Scripture, and as the reader can then see what clarity and relevance it brings to the text, their argument becomes that much stronger.

So is this book monumental? Is it a work that will stand at the top of the list of books every Dispenational or Reformed theologian will have to address before presenting or defending their own view? I believe the answer is yes. (That means if you're a pastor, a Christian teacher, or someone interested in theology and/or the future of the church, you should buy this book and read it.) This of course will be more true for the Dispensationalists, since they have a shorter theological heritage. But I feel comfortable saying that this work is monumental because Drs. Gentry and Wellum are accomplished theologians who have presented here what may be the finest and most notable scholarly book defending a Calvinistic/Baptist/anti-dispensational covenant theology. In addition, the hermentuetical principles they apply are simple and sensible,and thus, the reader doesn't feel like he is being proselytized into a complex system for piecing the Bible together; instead, the writers' approach is methodical, methodologically conscious, in-depth, and meticulous.

Readers will find the content easy to follow and not overly--that is, unnecessarily--technical. That's to say one does not need a degree in theology to understand this book. Nevertheless, the length may dissuaded some people from reading it. Yet, if you finish it, you will not be disappointed; a Christian who perseveres to the end (of this book) will find that they will not only have a greater understanding of the Scriptures (specifically as it relates to the progression of revelation and the covenants, as well as some other themes), but a greater appreciation for it as well.
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on September 23, 2015
My husband had the privilege of studying under the authors during seminary. While the contents of this book will not come as new and relevatory to those that are familiar with their work, this is an exceptional resource compiling years of labor and love into one semi-accessible volume. A fantastic addition to our library, and one that both of us are looking forward to digesting at more length in the near future!

(This product was a personal purchase for myself at the normal retail price. I am reviewing it solely because I want to share my experience with other potential customers. I have received no compensation for my review nor do I have any relationship with the seller or manufacturer of this product, other than mentioned above).
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on November 24, 2016
I used this book for an introduction class into the Old Testament in seminary. Dr. Stephen Wellum brackets Dr. Peter Gentry's chapters with the necessary framework in hermeneutics, biblical theology, systematic theology for immersing oneself in this book. Dr. Gentry's paintstaking, exegetical analysis of the key texts for the stated and unstated covenants within the Bible is thoroughly convincing. When I say stated, I mean the Scriptures explicitly use the word covenant with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and the New. I use the word "unstated" to refer to the covenants with creation (Genesis 1-2) and with David where the primary texts (Gen 1-2 & 2 Samuel) do not employ the word covenant. Nonetheless, Dr. Gentry shows how later OT writers view the "unstated" covenants as actual ones (Hosea 6:7 and Psalm 89). He also shows how each covenant builds and expands upon the previous ones; consequently, Dr. Gentry's book is worth reading for that insight alone. I highly recommend this book.
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on February 27, 2014
I read some of the (minor in my opinion) complaints about style and language issues between parts of this book, and I have to wonder if some of those viewpoints are more tainted by personal dogma than with content of the book. Maybe that's just me. I found the book valuable, instructive, and illuminating. Some things I already agreed with, some things caused me to reassess my thinking (you always need to be stretching yourself in theology related matters). I disagree with a few conclusions, but welcome the debate. Even if you believe yourself to be firmly in the dispensational or covenantal theology camp, you should study this book and approach the material with an open mind. Certainly there are people in both camps who fervently wish New Covenant Theology (or "progressive covenantalism" as the authors prefer) would simply go away. But, as someone who has always looked for the "better way", I can commend this book, if for nothing else, as a fresh perspective.
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on December 6, 2012
One of the thorniest theological dilemmas in my mind concerns two systems of thought, namely, Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology. God found me and saved me by his grace in a Conservative Baptist Church that was heavily influenced by Classical Dispensationalism. With the arrival of the third pastor, I learned the distinction between the church and Israel, various dispensations, two peoples of God, not to mention the so-called carnal Christian theory. These notions particular to Classical Dispensational thought were fairly commonplace at the time and I accepted them uncritically.

My time in a well known Christian University continued to engrain dispensational distinctives into my mind. But in 1988, the theological tides began to shift. It began with the publication of a book by John MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus. MacArthur delivered a death nell to the so called "carnal Christian theory" and distanced himself from some of the primary tenets of dispensational theology. At the same time, MacArthur was writing as a committed Dispensationalist, what we refer today as Progressive Dispensationalism. The Gospel According to Jesus not only refuted some of the errors in Classical Dispensationalism; it also introduced readers to the Puritans and spoke in positive terms about Reformed theology - both subjects that were frowned upon by several professors in the Christian University I attended.

Kingdom Through Covenant by Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum, is in many ways the book that I have been waiting for. The authors strive to forge a path between dispensationalism and covenant theology. Their two-fold purpose is set forth at the beginning of the book: "First, we want to show how central the concept of `covenant' is to the narrative plot structure of the Bible, and secondly, how a number of crucial theological differences within Christian theology, and the resolution of those differences, are directly tied to one's understanding of how the biblical covenants unfold and relate to each other" (p. 21).

The thesis of Gentry and Wellum is that "the covenants constitute the framework of the larger story. They are the backbone of the biblical narrative" (p. 138). As such, God would sovereignly choose Israel to be his covenant representatives, "a light to the world of what it means to be properly related to God and to treat each other properly according to the dignity of our humanity" (p. 138). But Israel failed. They did not keep the Mosaic Covenant. As a result they were cursed for their disobedience. However, the Scripture speaks of a new covenant; a day when it would be possible to keep the covenant. Jesus fulfilled prophecy and rescued Israel from the curse: "Then as King of Israel, he had to do what the nation as a whole had failed to do: bring blessing to the nations. He accomplished both by dying on the cross" (p. 296).

In presenting the via media between dispensationalism and covenant theology, the authors aim to strike a biblical balance while paying a certain degree of homage to each respective school of thought. In a pivotal moment, the authors appear to strike the necessary balance with a great deal of precision: "Contrary to covenant theology, which has a tendency to speak of God's one plan of salvation in terms of the `covenant of grace,' or `dispensational theology,' which tends to partition history in terms of dispensations, it is more accurate to think in terms of a plurality of covenants, which are part of the progressive revelation of the one plan of God that is fulfilled in the new covenant" (p. 602). The authors continue add, "In contrast to the other theological views, our proposal of `kingdom through covenant' wants consistently to view and apply the previous covenants through the lens of Jesus' person and work and the arrival of the new covenant age."

Kingdom Through Covenant is written by two godly men who are fair-minded in their approach and careful to accurately describe their theological opponents. While their proposal is fresh and bold, they in no way claim to have the final answer on this disputed matter. Rather, this 716 page tome serves as the entry point for meaningful discussion. Their approach is light years away from some of the mean-spirited polemics that took place between the proponents of covenant theology and dispensationalism in the 70-'s and 80′s. The church should receive the work of Gentry and Wellum as a gracious gift that will spark meaningful discussion for decades to come. A fine work, indeed!

4.5 stars
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on July 2, 2014
If you were raised in a church culture that didn't speak much (or at all) about "Covenant Theology" or "Dispensational Theology" and the like, the discussions can be confusing and isolating. Likewise, you might find it difficult to fit the Bible into established systems of interpretation.

I found Gentry and Wellum's volume to be helpful on several levels. Gentry's chapters (the middle section) offer a helpful and honest interpretation of the covenants in their contexts. Wellum's opening chapters offer a good introduction to the discussion and critique of prevailing systems.
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on October 22, 2013
Gentry's exposition of the covenants (the large middle section of the book) is extremely helpful in providing a framework to understand the meta-narrative of Scripture. He argues that covenant is the central theme that helps us understand all of Scripture. The book is a great guide to understanding how important the aspect of covenant is to God's faithful love toward us as his people.
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on September 16, 2015
An excellent, thorough guide to the significance of the Covenant idea throughout Scripture. Covenant is unfamiliar to many Evangelicals, but fundamental to Biblical teaching of Old and New Testaments. Gentry bases his thesis on good Biblical research, so this is worth working through.
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on November 12, 2015
This book contains an absolute wealth of thoughtful research and analysis of an overview of Scripture. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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on October 23, 2015
Accurate, detailed and faithful to Scripture. Simple Awesome!
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