Kingdom through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants (A Review Article) -- By: Mark A. Snoeberger

Journal: Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal
Volume: DBSJ 17:1 (NA 2012)
Article: Kingdom through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants (A Review Article)
Author: Mark A. Snoeberger


Kingdom through Covenant:
A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants
(A Review Article)

Mark A. Snoeberger1

Kingdom through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants, by Peter J. Gentry and Stephen J. Wellum. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012. 848 pp. $45.00.

When I arrived as a student at Detroit Baptist Seminary in 1993, it was only a matter of days before I discovered a driving passion of my new mentor, Rolland McCune. Early that semester he opined in chapel that dispensational theology would never flourish as a merely reactionary movement against Covenant Theology. Dispensationalism needed to isolate and develop a “unifying center of all God’s activity with reference to the universe”—a mitte that was superior to the covenant of redemption motif proposed by Reformed Theology.2 The mere trumpeting of discontinuities would never do, he insisted; dispensationalism needed to discover the axis around which everything turned.

On that morning he handed us his twelve-page proposal of a unifying center and encouraged us to make it our enduring ambition to perfect it. I did not know it at the time, but this proposal was McCune’s personal Mona Lisa—a theological masterpiece on which he had been tinkering for decades at the behest of his mentor, Alva J. McClain. In time I became acquainted with McClain’s magnum opus on this topic, his 1959 book The Greatness of the Kingdom.3 This book was a superb venture into the field of “biblical theology” long before biblical theology became the rage that it is today. In his book McClain identified as the unifying theme of Scripture a twofold kingdom: (1) a universal kingdom that God himself oversaw via civil structures and

natural law and (2) a developing theocratic kingdom that sported a line of divinely hand-picked human mediators that would suddenly climax in Christ himself.

What struck me about McClain and McCune’s model (they are similar enough to be treated as a unity) was the fact that personal redemption did not receive pride of place at the center. I rarely heard the storyline of the Bible referenced as “redemptive history” in seminary (this would be too narrow); instead the Bible was read as a kind of doxological history: God was garnering self-glory through a complex of interrelated but more-or-less sovereign spheres.4 The pistic/redemptive sphere was surely one of those spheres, but it was by no means...

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