A Brief Response To Gentry And Wellum’s Rejoinder -- By: Jared S. Oliphint

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 76:2 (Fall 2014)
Article: A Brief Response To Gentry And Wellum’s Rejoinder
Author: Jared S. Oliphint

A Brief Response To
Gentry And Wellum’s Rejoinder

Jared S. Oliphint

Jonathan Brack and I want to thank Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum for their response to our review article, “Questioning the Progress in Progressive Covenantalism.”1 They state their desire for “a healthy and even strong discussion” (p. 452), something we share as well. They also hope for “respect for the other’s view” (p. 452), a posture we would like publicly to affirm regarding both authors of Kingdom Through Covenant (KTC). In addition, the percentage of critique and criticism found in our review should not necessarily be understood as directly proportionate or related to the amount of doctrinal differences between the two parties; both sets of authors do have much in common, and we are grateful for that agreement.

Because Gentry and Wellum believe that some of our KTC review is misleading at points and false at other points, we would like to offer one final, brief response, hoping to clarify points within the discussion.

I. New Testament Exegesis

We admit that the phrase “excluding NT exegesis” (p. 450) could have been stated more clearly, given some NT exegetical work within KTC. However, we do believe it reasonable to expect significantly greater attention to a wide breadth of NT texts on the nature of covenant when attempting to express what Scripture teaches on that topic. That “chapters 15–17 are thoroughly NT-oriented and 33 percent of the citations of the NT are discussed within exegesis of the OT” (p. 450, emphasis added) certainly includes aspects of the NT, but in our view that slim amount of data and analysis falls short of exegetical expectations, given the sweeping nature of the biblical topic of covenant.

II. Ancient Near Eastern Hermeneutics

Gentry and Wellum also make a fair point regarding (1) Kline as a figure, and (2) his use of ancient Near Eastern sources, though we differ on whether

our argument regarding baptism includes “dependence upon Meredith Kline” (p. 450, emphasis added). While Kline makes helpful points, Kline as a figure is detachable from our overall argument. Gentry and Wellum correctly point out that Kline’s use of the ancient Near East has not avoided controversy, but we would apply toward Kline’s work the same ancient Near Eastern hermeneutical conditions as we would the work of anyone else. The reader can find those conditions explicitly stated in our review:

What is key here is not the mere study of the ancient Near Eastern background as it relates to biblical texts...

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