New Covenant Theology vs Covenant Theology

Discussion in 'Covenant Theology' started by Reformed Roman, Oct 28, 2017.

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  1. Reformed Roman

    Reformed Roman Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm looking for both of these doctrines to be explained in layman's terms, and I'm also looking for the main difference and distinctions of New Covenant Theology.

    I'm taking a class on the covenants and want to better understand them. I have an okay grasp on covenant theology, but I would like a good layman's explanation if possible, and then again specifically how New Covenant Theology differ
  2. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    GENERAL NOTE TO ALL: NCT is a non-confessional view per the rules of this site:

    "3b. NCT and non-Reformed views of the Law. The Puritan Board forbids the membership of proponents of New Covenant Theology (NCT) and unconfessional views of the Law of God. The Reformed Confessions governing the board affirm a functional distinction between moral, civil, and ceremonial aspects of the Mosaic Law and deny any view that would claim 'Christians are only under the law of Jesus Christ.' Those who are proponents of this doctrine should refrain from registering and any members who embrace this doctrine should have the integrity to forfeit their membership privileges. Members who violate this rule will be suspended or banned."​

    My simple cheat sheet concerning NCT:

    The principal critics of New Covenant Theology (NCT) are actually confessional Baptists (LBCF), who see NCT as some mediating position between dispensationalism and covenantalism. NCT differs from Covenant Theology in denying the covenants of works, grace, and redemption, and in asserting the temporary nature of the Mosaic Law.

    Specific differences between New Covenant Theology (NCT) and Covenant Theology (CT) include:

    1. NCT’s denial of the Covenant of Redemption
    2. Denial of the Covenant of Works
    3. Denial of the Covenant of Grace
    4. NCT's view of the relations between the historic covenant arrangements of redemptive history are quite dispensational. There is no appreciation for the unity of the Covenant of Grace, or the fact that we belong to one and the same covenant as Abraham.
    5. Affirmation of the unity of the Mosaic Law, i.e., the Mosaic Law as a unit that cannot be divided, Thus, NCT rejects a functional distinction between moral, civil, and ceremonial aspects of the Mosaic Law.
    6. Affirmation of the expiration of the Mosaic Law which is no longer operative for Christians today
    7. Denies the threefold categorization of Biblical law: moral, ceremonial, and civil.
    8. Teaching that Christians are under only the Law of Christ, i.e., commands given by Christ and His Apostles
    9. Rejection of infant baptism
    10. Affirmation that the church began at Pentecost, that there is no church in the Old Testament, but only the elect of Israel. NCT sees the saints of the OT as being added to the church after it's built.
    11. Rejection of the normative aspect of the 4th commandment wherein "Let no one judge you," of Col.2:16, is read as the equivalent of "the 4th Commandment is obsolete."
    12. Deny the indwelling of the Spirit of believers in the OT was not the same as in the NT (as Jesus would send the comforter).

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  3. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Zachary, besides Patrick's bullet point explanation, NCT cannot properly be viewed as a cohesive systematic theology. NCT owes much of its advancement to the Internet. It is rejected by most Baptists that subscribe to the 1689 LBC (although it has adherents that hold to the 1644/46 Baptist Confession). While NCT rejects paedobaptism, Baptists reject paedobaptism anyway, so that isn't much of an issue.

    Where are you taking classes?
  4. Reformed Roman

    Reformed Roman Puritan Board Freshman

    I am in a program called the Timothy Pastoral Apprenticeship Program. Around 9 churches partner with this program, where Pastors teach seminary level classes to students for free. They still require 60 credit hours, teach Greek, Hebrew, etc. This allows a people to do seminary classes who can't afford it, and people who graduate the program are great candidates for smaller churches that can't afford a Pastor who has 60k in debt. They are primarily North American Baptist, and they are reformed. They do not endorse New Covenant Theology, it is simply brought up as an alternative that some believe to Covenant Theology.

    I'm partially supported by the church as I work there part-time, preach once a month, participate in all Elder Meetings (though not with the authority of an Elder) all as part of training. There are some other Student Pastors/Interns that are apart of the program, it's a very unique thing.

    I agree and know it is not endorsed, and those on the PB are not to endorse it per the rules. But good for me to get an idea of where NCT comes from.
  5. BG

    BG Puritan Board Junior

    NCT is an attempt to legitimize Baptist theology. For the most part it is just a reworking of dispensational theology. The main goal is to create as wide a gap as possible between the older Covenant and the newer Covenant, in order to obscure the continuity between the two.
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  6. pslagle2012

    pslagle2012 Puritan Board Freshman

    Where I live the only Calvinistic Baptist presence is NCT. It's a stronger movement around here than other places I think. I am close friends with some of the pastors although I subscribe to the WCF. Before I was Presbyterian there was a time that I was NCT as well.

    The central features of it are a denial of the covenants of redemption, works and grace and a belief that the OT as a whole is abrogated. They make sharp distinctions between the "old covenant scriptures" and the "new covenant scriptures." They strongly believe that only what is found in the NT is binding on the Christian. I had one pastor tell me that lust and anger were not sins in the Old Testament and some of their books assert that polygamy was moral in the Old Testament. Their view of moral law is progressive; it changes over time in their view. All of this is contrary to Covenant Theology which teaches the unity of scripture and the moral law summarized in the Ten Commandments.
  7. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Would the denial of the existence of the church in the OT in itself put someone in the NC camp? I know someone who doesn't seem to hold to full-blown NC but they do deny that.
  8. BG

    BG Puritan Board Junior

    Dispensational for sure, maybe NCT.
  9. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Something that is not needed. If one is looking for the legitimacy of Baptist theology, there is a 17th-century document they can turn to.
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  10. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Zachary, I enjoy learning this. I know this strays into a different topic, but I have long been troubled by the cost of a seminary education. If churches can pool their resources, they are more than capable of training men for pastoral ministry. It adds a level of accountability and practicality that is often missing in traditional seminary training. Since your program is distinctly Baptist, it should be able to drill down on Baptist distinctives.

    Yes. Pastoral candidates should know about the theological landscape they are likely to encounter.
  11. BG

    BG Puritan Board Junior

    Bill, if all Baptists held to the 1689 the world would be better off. Most Baptists cant stomach the similarities between the LBCF and the WCF and you know as well as anyone that when they stray from those two documents legitimacy along with consistency becomes an issue.

  12. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    Could you tell us what you've been reading on covenant theology?
  13. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    I'm not really concerned about "most Baptists". Especially on the Puritan Board, the emphasis is on confessional Baptists who are a distinct minority among Baptists. Confessional Baptists don't have a problem with the similarities between confessions. After all, we don't consider Presbyterians to be rank heretics even though we have pronounced points of disagreement. In fact, I think there is an unrecognized benefit of Baptist confessionalism that only some of my Presbyterian brethren have discovered. Considering the non-confessional trend that is taking place in some Presbyterian denominations, the trend towards confessionalism in Calvinistic Baptist churches should be viewed as refreshing. Confessionalism, although small, is not dying. I've had one Presbyterian friend on this board tell me that the move towards confessionalism in many Baptist churches is a source of encouragement for him. He believes too many Presbyterians grow up in their church and fail to appreciate the benefits of confessionalism. For most Baptists, confessionalism is new and refreshing. It helps them grow in their faith and understand the major doctrines of the church.
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  14. zsmcd

    zsmcd Puritan Board Freshman

    This was my intro to NCT/Progressive Covenantalism.

    The whole thing is revealing but this especially at 17:00:

    “As a Christian I am not bound to keep the Ten Commandments...”
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2017
  15. zsmcd

    zsmcd Puritan Board Freshman

    This may be more helpful.
  16. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    I was curious what you are reading that is consistent confessionally.
  17. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Christ's response to Antinomianism in statements like this is not unclear. "But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. "Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!"(Mat. 18:6-7).
  18. koenig

    koenig Puritan Board Freshman

    NCT is also basically the default position among New Calvinist types. Their primary association with dispensationalism is the premil rapture, which they reject. On the other hand, they will keep some of the common one-liners, like "all the Ten Commandments are restated in the NT except the Sabbath", or at least the idea that the Sabbath just means that one should not burn oneself out.

    Upon leaving such a church, the realization was that even my pastors had never heard our continuity-of-the-covenants language.
  19. zsmcd

    zsmcd Puritan Board Freshman

    In my estimation, the SBC is going to become largely NCT/PC if it is not already. The big gun PC guys teach at Southern Seminary and the school pumps out PhD grads who are learning from these men, writing books, and planting churches with explicit leanings in that theological camp.

    It is attractive to New Calvinist guys because, as was previously mentioned, it allows them to ditch the bad taste of classical and even traditional premil dispensationalist, for a theological system that promotes itself identifying a redemptive thread through Scripture. Whereas they view dispensationalism being unfaithful to Scripture because it breaks apart God's one plan of redemption in Christ, they also view classic covenant theology as being unfaithful because it does not account for the (enormous) discontinuities that they view as being pretty explicit.

    This is precisely why they identify themselves as "progressive dispensationalists." They view God as having one plan of redemption (though they won't call it a covenant of grace) that was laid down in the garden and was further revealed and worked out in history through various covenants. However, these covenants are not as related to one another as the confessional position says. In reality, they do not have much in common with one another except to be pointing forward, almost exclusively in a typological manner, to Christ. Thus, they are able to get to the New Covenant and say "well, we are definitely not in the old covenant under Moses, therefore the commands, promises, etc. serve only a typological function for us unless Christ has explicitly said otherwise."

    If I may be so blunt, I believe this to be attractive to many new young Calvinists because it tends towards a soft-antinomianism - if not hardline antinomianism in some cases. Thus, we need not keep the Sabbath as a part of God's transcendent and perfect moral Law because it was only a typological aspect of a covenant that Christians are not a part of - though they often say resting may be a good idea.
  20. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    By trying to create a third/middle theology between Covenant and Dispensational though, they seemed to have created a system right now that neither Covenant nor Dispensational can agree at all with, as even those such as Dr Macarthur reject it outright.
  21. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    There is also that tension between reformed Presbyterians and baptists in regards to baptism and what the New Covenant is really, as in how new is the new, and the NCT seems to take those tensions and go full on Baptist on their end viewpoints.
  22. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    This is why those holding to NCT go the way of the law of Christ, as to them, loving God and others fulfill all of the Commandments, but hard to see how the Lord decided to cancel out His Moral law after Calvary, as Jesus fulfilled but did not cancel it.
  23. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator Staff Member

  24. Reformed Roman

    Reformed Roman Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm reading God's Kingdom through Covenants by Peter J. Gentry and Stephen J. Wellum. Also reading Covenant and God's Purpose For the World by Thomas R. Schreiner
  25. BG

    BG Puritan Board Junior

    Only read dead guys!
  26. JesusIsLord

    JesusIsLord Puritan Board Freshman

    I second this motion!

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  27. Timotheos

    Timotheos Puritan Board Freshman

  28. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Samuel Davies — 'The venerable dead are waiting in my library to entertain me and relieve me from the nonsense of surviving mortals."
  29. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Are they NCT then, as know Thomas Schreiner is a respected NT scholar.
  30. Reformed Roman

    Reformed Roman Puritan Board Freshman

    The books I mentioned are books I am reading about covenant theology. In regards to studying new covenant theology I am reading the book New Covenant Theology by Tom Wells and Fred Zaspel
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