Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
PRJ 5:1 (January 2013) p. 259
Peter J. Gentry and Stephen J. Wellum. Kingdom through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2012. 848 pp., hardcover.
Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum have what some within the broader Calvinistic-evangelical circle consider to be a groundbreaking, theological game-changer. Certainly Gentry and Wellum have written a scholarly work that will continue to inform pastors, students, and laypeople across the evangelical spectrum.
Gentry and Wellum’s purpose in writing their book is straightforward and enticing: they hope to bridge the disciplines of biblical and systematic theology in a way that seeks a middle ground between covenant theology and dispensationalism. They have labeled their middle-ground approach “kingdom through covenant.” This approach is, undoubtedly, a large undertaking. For this reason, I can only focus on several broad aspects of Gentry and Wellum’s work as it pertains to Reformed biblical theology and systematic theology.
Anyone who picks up this book will likely find much to appreciate. The authors present their findings in a way that seeks to build up the church. Despite my broad disagreement with the authors, there are some very strong, elucidating, and erudite points throughout the whole. But because of the substantial influence this work will have on the greater evangelical world, it is necessary to focus more on a critique of their argument as it ultimately lacks biblical support and cuts against the grain of confessional Reformed theology. There are at least three major issues that reflect this.
First, the authors have a convoluted view of the unity of Scripture. One of the recurring themes of the book is that covenant theology does not appropriately deal with the context of texts before drawing
PRJ 5:1 (January 2013) p. 260
lines to the New Testament. This, they argue, results in faulty typology and a distorted view of the unfolding nature of the covenant(s). To be sure, the authors are correct that the exegete ought to always mind the context of a particular passage. yet, one should not give undue emphasis to this point. It is clear that the New Testament authors, when reading the Old Testament, were interested in understanding specific passages in light of the whole of revelation (cf. Matt. 2:15; Rom. 4). It follows that the interpreter’s primary task is to deal with each particular passage in its historical context through a Christological lens, thus avoiding superficial lines to Christ. It is only when one approaches Scripture in this manner that one searches the Scriptures for profit (...
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