Dispensationalism, The Church, And The New Covenant -- By: R. Bruce Compton

Journal: Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal
Volume: DBSJ 08:1 (Fall 2003)
Article: Dispensationalism, The Church, And The New Covenant
Author: R. Bruce Compton

Dispensationalism, The Church, And The New Covenant

R. Bruce Compton1

The church’s relationship to the new covenant continues to spark debate between dispensationalists and non-dispensationalists,2 as well as between traditional dispensationalists and progressive dispensationalists.3 The implications of this debate bear directly on the core distinctives of dispensational theology.4 Specifically, the debate raises

questions regarding the consistent literal interpretation of Scripture,5 particularly in regard to the literal interpretation of Old Testament prophecy,6 and, as a corollary to this, the distinction maintained

between Israel and the church within God’s overall redemptive activity.7

The purpose of this study is two-fold: (1) to examine what the New Testament says about the relationship between the church and the new covenant, and (2) to interact with the debate over the core dispensational distinctives, as these distinctives are addressed in discussing the church and the new covenant. The major views on the relationship between the church and the new covenant are presented first. This is followed by a survey of the new covenant in the Old and New Testaments. The study concludes with an evaluation of the major views, defending the core principles of dispensationalism and identifying the correct view.

Major Views

The Church Replaces National Israel and Fulfills the New Covenant in the Present

This position, generally championed by covenant theologians and, in particular, by amillennialists,8 postmillennialists,9 and covenant premillennialists,10 argues that the church has replaced national Israel

as the people of God. Those promises given to national Israel which were not fulfilled in the Old Testament have now become the possession of the church. Thus, the new covenant prophecies in the Old Testament that were promised to Israel are presently being fulfilled by the church.11

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