Progressive Covenantalism as an Integrating Motif of Scripture -- By: Dan Lioy

Journal: Conspectus
Volume: CONSPECTUS 01:1 (Mar 2006)
Article: Progressive Covenantalism as an Integrating Motif of Scripture
Author: Dan Lioy


Progressive Covenantalism as an Integrating Motif of Scripture1

Dan Lioy2

Abstract

Progressive covenantalism is a new working model for comprehending the relationship between the Old and New Testaments. The goal is to articulate a consistent understanding of how to put together seemingly heterogeneous portions of Scripture. This integrating motif asserts that God’s progressive revelation of His covenants is an extension of the kingdom blessings He first introduced in creation. Affiliated claims are that the various covenants revealed in Scripture are interrelated and build on one another, that the people of God throughout the history of salvation are united, and that they equally share in His eschatological promises.

1. Introduction

The present interest in the subject began after watching the webcast, “What Is Progressive Covenantalism,” hosted by Michael Patton and Rhome Dyck of The Theology Program (Patton and Dyck 2005). In fact, this was the first time I heard the concept introduced and explained. Admittedly, the notion of “progressive dispensationalism” has been around for a number of years, as reflected in the publication Continuity and Discontinuity (Feinberg 1988a; cf. Blaising and Bock 1993; Willis and Master 1994), but the idea of “progressive covenantalism” was different, especially as presented by individuals who did their graduate studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, an academic institution long known for its dispensational leanings.

Patton and Dyck’s intent was to come up with a consistent understanding of how to put together seemingly heterogeneous portions of Scripture. Concededly, they do not give an elaborate explanation of what they mean by progressive covenantalism. Nonetheless, the comments they make in their lecture provide a useful starting point for proposing a new working model of how to understand the relationship between the Old and New Testaments. (As a disclaimer, my elaboration of what Patton and Dyck have proposed concerning progressive covenantalism reflects my own views, not necessarily theirs.) This endeavor mirrors the ongoing task of theology. As König explains, “theology is not merely repeating what is written in the Bible but rather rethinking the biblical material” so as to foster greater understanding (1994:182; italics are his).

What is the reason for introducing another approach to explain the intertextuality between the testaments?3 It is centered in the shortcomings associated with the concept of ...

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