Israel and the Eschaton -- By: Mark W. Karlberg

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 52:1 (Spring 1990)
Article: Israel and the Eschaton
Author: Mark W. Karlberg

Israel and the Eschaton*

Mark W. Karlberg

* Continuity and Discontinuity: Perspectives on the Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments. Essays in Honor of S. Lewis Johnson, Jr. (ed. John S. Feinberg; Westchester, IL: Crossway, 1988. xiii, 410. $27.50, paper S17.50).

The evangelical community is indebted to John S. Feinberg, the editor of the S. Lewis Johnson Festschrift, for this exceptional contribution to the ongoing dialogue between dispensational and covenantal theologians. The collection of essays is well organized, and the individual contributors are to be commended, on the whole, for their courteous and irenic presentation of opposing points of view. The subject of this volume is exceedingly complex. It is particularly encouraging to find many of the contributors anticipating and answering problems raised by others within this study. There is ample justification for Feinberg’s closing observation that “members of both sides in this discussion are listening seriously to what scholars on the other side of the issue are saying.”1

In terms of the substance of discussion among our theological disputants three major, interrelated issues occupy our attention in this review article: soteriology (including Christology, pneumatology, and ecclesiology), typology, and eschatology.2 For the purposes of this review we define soteriology as the study of the way in which believers under the old and new covenants appropriate the saving benefits of God’s redemption. Typology, as a division of hermeneutics, is the study of the Christological relationship between the Old and New Testaments (the study of the biblico-theological correspondence between OT events, persons, and institutions and the person and work of Jesus Christ as revealed in the pages of the NT). Typological interpretation is synonymous with messianic interpretation of the Bible. The crucial issue in eschatology dividing evangelicals into two schools of interpretation, viz., dispensationalism and covenant theology, is whether or not Israel is an entity (“organism”) distinct from the church. Then the question is: Does ethnic Israel have a special, distinctive future kingdom experience?

The theme of the book, stated in its title, is one which addresses a subject of fundamental importance. “The first question in the interpretation of Scripture for the Christian after acknowledging the Lordship of Jesus Christ,” writes Rodney Petersen, “is how to relate the Hebrew Scriptures to the ‘New’ Testament.”3 Douglas Moo correctly states that “Few issues a...

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