Robertson vs Horton

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MRC

Puritan Board Freshman
I have read Roberton's text on CT and am currently plowing through Horton. One observation so far is that Horton sets a clear delineation between CoW and CoG, where Robertson seems to overlay them more viewing the Mosaic covenant as an administration of the CoG. Would it be fair to say that Horton does not view the Mosaic covenant as administering the CoG? Does Robertson see two covenants in scripture? My reading of Robertson is that Abraham, Moses, David and Christ were all different administrations of grace (he uses some different terminology for the covenants), implying that the law is one method that God used to administer the CoG at that time (and continues to in a sense). In my view Horton delineates the two more clearly, viewing the CoG as God's intention for salvation and the CoW as God's intention for land promises (and general corporate blessing continuing into the NT).

To those CT experts out there: am I understanding the contrast between Horton and Robertson fairly?
 

torstar

Puritan Board Sophomore
Moses and the two covenants is.... kinda.... complicated....

Horton's book requires at least 3 readings to fully grasp. Quite the "introduction" it is.
 

Miller

Puritan Board Freshman
I've read Horton's book twice and some of Robertson. I'm looking forward to reading some differences.
 

nnatew24

Puritan Board Freshman
I have read Roberton's text on CT and am currently plowing through Horton. One observation so far is that Horton sets a clear delineation between CoW and CoG, where Robertson seems to overlay them more viewing the Mosaic covenant as an administration of the CoG. Would it be fair to say that Horton does not view the Mosaic covenant as administering the CoG?

I've read both books very carefully, and I have seen the same thing. Horton makes a much sharper distinction between law and promise than Robertson. However, I found Horton to be a bit obscure at times. It's tough for me to really nail down what he believes. I read the book twice and still had a number of questions about his position(s). But from all I've read of him, it seems to me that he does see the Mosaic Covenant as a CoG; how this works out in his theology is a little uncertain.

Does Robertson see two covenants in scripture? My reading of Robertson is that Abraham, Moses, David and Christ were all different administrations of grace (he uses some different terminology for the covenants), implying that the law is one method that God used to administer the CoG at that time (and continues to in a sense). In my view Horton delineates the two more clearly, viewing the CoG as God's intention for salvation and the CoW as God's intention for land promises (and general corporate blessing continuing into the NT).

Robertson seems to advocate one overarching CoG with each particular covenant contributing to a small piece of the whole. Commenting on Ezekiel 37:24-26. Robertson states:

“The new covenant, promised by Israel’s prophets, does not appear as a distinctive covenantal unit unrelated to God’s previous administrations. Instead, the new covenant as promised to Israel represents the consummate fulfillment of the earlier covenants. Now all three ancient covenants combine into a single divine ordering. By the new covenant, all the promises of God find their consummation.”​

I'm not sure this helps you, but I'd agree with you that Horton's emphasis is a little different.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
The question is a bit more complex.

Both Robertson and Horton are frequently listed as the "best" intro to covenant theology. But, in my opinion, only you complicated Presbyterians would select books that have so many idiosyncratic features as the exemplar! :lol:

Robertson is (in my opinion) the easiest book to read. He does have an odd habit of renaming things. Why can't he just speak about the covenant of works and covenant of grace like a "normal" Reformed theologian? But, he is an expert on this subject and writes quite simply and understandably. He also covers the territory of the various texts and how they advance the covenantal drama of Scripture.

Horton has the virtue of being more recent, more attuned to the style of Christian books these days, etc. However, what keeps him from being THE exemplar of covenant theology for the beginner (in my opinion) is his inclination towards Kline. The Klinean elements are not "wrong," just characteristic of a certain segment of the Reformed community, rather than the whole. It would be like reading a book written by a theonomist on THE Reformed view of the civil magistrate, for example.

With both Robertson and Horton, you are getting very good books by very solid conservative scholars (Robertson is stronger as a biblical theologian and Horton is stronger as an historical or systematic theologian).

I did some reading in this area recently (Peter Golding, John Ball, Thomas Boston, Herman Witsius, Rowland Ward, Mark W. Karlberg, O. Palmer Robertson, Peter Lillback, Jeong Koo Jeon, and The Law is Not of Faith). The books (besides the ones you mentioned) that I have found helpful are . . .

God and Adam: Reformed Theology and the Creation Covenant – Rowland S. Ward (a great survey book to cover what various thinkers have said over the centuries)

The Binding of God – Peter A. Lillback (a PhD dissertation by the prez of WTS; it is a wonderful treatment of covenant theology in Calvin; it has rightly been called the “most exhaustive and convincing consideration of Calvin’s understanding of the covenant to date.”)

The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man – Herman Witsius (a magnificent GIFT to the Christian community. Old, but CLASSIC! A virtual systematic theology seen through the lens of the covenant. Highly recommended!!! (approx. 900 pages).

If you want to get a grip on where Kline is coming from, The Law is Not of Faith is a GREAT collection of essays. The taxonomy chapter by Ferry was pointed out to me as helpful by Pastor Winzer and it lived up to its billing. The chapter by Gordon is a VERY clear statement of the position with biases showing, undisguished by scholarly obfuscation.

Frankly, if you want to get the behind-the-scenes perspective of what is going on that leads the partisans of Murray and Kline to battle so, I would recommend Jeong Koo Jeon’s doctoral dissertation at Westminster Philadelphia, Covenant Theology: John Murray’s and Meredith G. Kline’s Response to the Historical Development of Federal Theology in Reformed Thought. In the space of little more than 330 pages, he put the issues in order for this dumb Baptist, anyhow, so that reading Horton, or Murray, or Karlberg, or Gordon, or Kline started making sense to me.

For a quick and dirty overview of what covenant theology is, read Robertson. If you have done that (as you have) and are struggling because you get the impression that everyone knows the inside joke except for you, Jeong Koo Jeon's book will make it all make sense. Then, you can see WHY the Klineans say what they do and the supporters of Murray go in a different direction.

It has been my observation during my limited time on the PB, that many/most of the posters seem to have an encyclopedic knowledge of Reformed theology AND Presbyterian polity. So, on some of these intramural disputes (Clark vs. VanTil; Kline vs. Murray, Theonomy, the civil magistrate, the free offer of the Gospel, republication of the covenant of works, Federal Vision, etc.), everyone seems to know the background except outsiders like me. That is why I love a good taxonomy chart (Ferry) or a clearly reasoned book like Jeon's. If you read Jeon, you will then understand where everybody is coming from (on the covenant issue anyhow).
 
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