New Covenant Theology Compared With Covenantalism -- By: Michael J. Vlach

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 18:2 (Fall 2007)
Article: New Covenant Theology Compared With Covenantalism
Author: Michael J. Vlach

New Covenant Theology Compared With Covenantalism

Michael J. Vlach

Assistant Professor of Theology

New Covenant Theology has arisen as an alternative to Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology. It differs from Covenant Theology in denying the covenants of works, grace, and redemption, and in asserting the temporary nature of the Mosaic Law. It differs from Dispensationalism and agrees with Covenant Theology in endorsing a hermeneutical approach to the OT and the NT that abandons the historical-grammatical understanding of certain OT passages. In agreement with Covenant Theology, it also adopts supersessionist views regarding Israel and the church. The eight specific differences between New Covenant Theology (NCT) and Covenant Theology (CT) include NCT’s denial of the Covenant of Redemption, its denial of the Covenant of Works, its denial of the Covenant of Grace, its affirmation of the unity of the Mosaic Law, its affirmation of the expiration of the Mosaic Law, its teaching that Christians are under only the Law of Christ, its rejection of infant baptism, and its affirmation that the church began at Pentecost. NCT agrees with CT hermeneutically in accepting the NT logical priority over the OT and a typological interpretation of the two testaments, in holding that the NT church is the only true people of God, and in exhibiting a vagueness about the nature of the future kingdom. NCT shows some improvement over CT, but still has its own shortcomings.

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The purpose of the following discussion is to examine the relationship between New Covenant Theology (hereafter NCT) and Covenant Theology1 (hereafter CT). Such an examination is justified for three reasons. First, New Covenant theologians have openly identified NCT as an alternative to the theological systems of Dispensationalism and CT. Thus, a comparison of NCT with either of

those two systems is a worthwhile endeavor. Second, at the time of this writing, New Covenant theologians have focused significant effort on showing how their system contrasts with CT. Though also interacting with Dispensationalism, they have devoted most of their attention so far to explaining and defending their system in contrast to CT. Third, some of the key theologians of NCT received their theological training within an environment of CT. Thus, NCT appears primarily to be a movement away from CT.

The following will contrast and compare NCT with CT, focusing on significant differences and similarities between the two theological systems. Since NCT and CT deal primarily with theological issues of continuity and discontinuity, the focus will be mostly on t...

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