Archive for the ‘Redemptive-historical’ Tag

Alexander’s From Eden to the New Jerusalem

Desmond Alexander’s From Paradise to Promised land was a great biblical theology of the Pentateuch. He has followed that work up with his newest work, From Eden to the New Jerusalem. From the Table of Contents, it looks like a great introduction to Biblical theology.

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Suggested Systematic & Biblical Theologies

Here are some recommendations on Systematic and Biblical Theologies:

Systematic Theologies

  • Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology – Berkhof offers a classic Reformed systematic. His older language is worth the wade, as he addresses the attributes of God with a sense of reverence that is often missing from contemporary systematics. His section on the immensity of God is especially good.
  • Lewis & Demarest, Integrative Theology– This theology integrates historical, systematic, biblical theologies and apologetics all in one volume. The strength is its well rounded approach; however, at times it is too scientific in methodology and explanation.
  • John Frame, Theology of Lordship series – Frame is among the most cogent and clear systematicians. His triperspectival lens offers a unique perspective on systematic theology.
  • Tim Tennent, Theology in the Context of World Christianity– Tennent offers a global perspective on systematic theology, presenting various systematic doctrines from diverse cultural voices, i.e. Christology from an African perspective. Tennent is a consummate missionary-theologian.
  • Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology – lucid, readable, accessible, worshipful. Contains hymns and questions and a glossary at the end of each section. Contains a rare systematic treatment of Prayer, Spiritual Warfare.

Biblical Theology

  • N.T. Wright, History of Christian Origins Series, – an incomplete, multivolume work of remarkable scholarship, both in theological depth and historical breadth. Though demanding, these books are very rewarding.
  • Charles Scobie, The Ways of Our Goda massive treatment of major biblical themes gathered around four primary concepts (God’s Order, Servant, People, & Way) and one primary methodology (promise-fulfillment-consummation).
  • Hafemann & House, Central Themes in Biblical Theologyan oustanding collection of essays that offer various thematic studies as well as two excellent essays on overarching frameworks for BT by Hafemann and Ciampa.
  • Marvin Pate, The Story of Israel – traces the story and reconfiguration of Israel around Jesus throughout the whole Bible, paying particular attention to the role of covenant blessings and curses.

Covenants: One or Many?

Dr. Jeffrey Niehaus recently wrote an article entitled “An Argument against Theologically Constructed Covenants,” (June, JETS) in which he challenged the idea that the Bible sets forth a singular, overarching covenant in God’s relationship to man. Critiquing two main proponents of this monocovenantal approach, W.J. Dumbrell and Scott J. Hafemann, Niehaus insists that these scholars have imposed a “theologically constructed covenant” upon the Bible as a whole. Instead, he argues for an interpretation of the biblical covenants in terms of special and common grace. Hafemann’s articulation of a single covenant approach can be found in the fine, newly edited Central Themes in Biblical Theology.

According to Niehaus, the covenant with Adam and Noah is a covenant of “common grace,” affecting the whole of humanity, while the rest of the biblical covenants, Abraham to the New Covenant, are covenants of “special grace,” focused particularly on the elect of God. He states that the common grace covenants are part of the same “legal package.” The problem with Niehaus’ alternative is that it, too, is theologically constructed. In a brief email response to Niehaus’ article, Hafemann wrote: “So it is not a matter of being theologically construed or not; rather it is a matter of which theological construal is most biblical.” The notion of common and special grace, though arguably biblical notions, are in fact theological constructs.

Diving deeper, Niehaus’ main critique of the monocovenantal approach is that it does not make the proper distinctions between covenants and covenant renewals in the Bible (following ancient Near East convention). So, for Hafemann and Dumbrell, all covenants “confirm or formalize a relationship that already exists between two parties.” Not so for Niehaus. Instead, he argues that there are covenants (new relationships) and there are covenant renewals (renewed relationships).

To quicken to the implications, if all covenants confirm a pre-existing relationship, then no matter who makes it—Adam, Moses, David, etc—then God works the same way in all times with all people. As Hafemann has argued, creation is the Historical Prologue, the Grace of God that enables Adam’s obedience in the Garden. READ= no covenant of works. Meredith Kline, Niehaus and others strongly aver that there are two covenants, two new relationships between God and man, one based on works (Adamic, Mosaic) and one based on grace (Abrahamic, New Covenant).

In forthcoming posts, I will develop the deeper layers of the exegetical issues involved in answering the question: “Is there One Covenant or Many?”