Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 18:3 (Fall 2014)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Covenant Theology: A Baptist Distinctive. Edited by Earl M. Blackburn. Birmingham, AL: Solid Ground Christian Books, 2013, 163 pp., $18.00 paper.

In recent Evangelical scholarship, scholars have discussed much the biblical covenants. This is especially true in regard to how the covenants should be interpreted in relation to covenant and dispensational theology. Covenant Theology: A Baptist Distinctive is one such example written from a Reformed Baptist viewpoint. The book’s main purpose is to demonstrate from Scripture and church history that Baptists, at least until recent days, have embraced covenant theology without accepting Reformed theology’s commitment to paedobaptism (7-8). With the renewed emphasis on the “doctrines of grace” within evangelicalism, the authors are concerned that people will mistakenly think that there are only two options available: either paedobaptist covenant theology or a rejection of covenant theology for some form of dispensationalism. However, the authors insist on a third alternative: namely a Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology. The book seeks to describe and promote this alternative position as the biblical view.

Given its size, the book is not a complete exposition and defense of the Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology position. Its five chapters and three appendices function more as a primer than as an exhaustive defense of the authors’ position. Pastors and informed lay Christians are the book’s primary audience, which is why a detailed analysis of the relevant complex issues is absent in the book. The chapters and appendices were originally lectures, articles, and blog posts, all of which have now been compiled into one book in order to commend to a wider audience the authors’ respective view.

Chapter 1, “Covenant Theology Simplified,” by Earl Blackburn, pastor of Heritage Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana, serves as an overview of the basic tenets of covenant theology. This chapter nicely describes differences between Reformed Baptists and their paedobaptists.

Blackburn argues that covenant theology “is the view of God and redemption that interprets the Holy Scriptures by way of covenants” and that “there is only one way of salvation: by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone” (17). After an introductory discussion, Blackburn gives a review of covenant theology’s understanding of the covenant of redemption, works, and grace. He also seeks to unpack the unity and diversity of the biblical covenants as they culminate in the new covenant. Unsurprisingly, a major focus in the chapter is on how the new covenant is different from the old, especially in regard to children (50-51), t...

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