New Covenant Theology: Good Teaching gets a Bad Rap.

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by asterisktom, Jan 11, 2010.

  1. asterisktom

    asterisktom
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    New Covenant Theology

    A few years ago, after becoming Reformed in my thinking, I finally have realized what my belief system is called - New Covenant Theology.


    The final paradigm lurch came courtesy of none other than R.C. Sproul! Or at least from his Tabletalk magazine. For quite a while I had been dissuaded from looking more closely into NCT because of charges from people I had respected (and still do somewhat) that this position is "Antinomian". I thought, "Boy howdy, I don't want to be an Antinomian! I guess I'll just back away from this here New Covenant stuff real careful like."

    But two or three weeks ago I read a curiously titled web page, "An open letter to RC' Sproul", by John Reisinger, which concerns an issue of Tabletalk that dealt with Antinomianism in general, and New Covenant Theology as an extension of that. The author who used up most of Reisinger's ink was Richard Barcello. A quote from Reisinger follows. After rightly praising RC Sproul for much of the good that he has done for Christianity, he goes on to say...

    " I was, therefore, greatly disappointed, but given your unreserved commitment to Covenant Theology, not at all surprised by your unjustified attack on New Covenant Theology in general and two other men and me in particular. Your magazine, Tabletalk, of September 2002 carried five articles against 'antinomianism.' One of those articles, "The Death of the Decalogue," by Richard Barcellos, applied the odious label of theological antinomian to Tom Wells and Fred Zaspel, co-authors of the book New Covenant Theology (page 55), and to me (page 16). "

    The link for the whole letter is here:
    http://soundofgrace.com/jgr/index074.htm

    I thought that this would be a good chance to see in capsule form what NCT stands for. I was surprised by two things:

    1. The basic points of belief are the same as mine.

    2. The rebuttal of the NCT - as quoted in this article - cast Tabletalk magazine in a less-than-noble light. That is, it seemed that Reisinger (and Tom Wells and Fred Zaspel) were being summarily and unfairly cast as Antinomian.

    I say "seemed" because I felt that perhaps Reisinger was doing some selective quoting of his own in his comments on the Tabletalk articles. Luckily for me I had that copy of Table talk (September 2002) and read all of the pertinent articles, five of them. I was surprised and saddened to see that there was not much substance (nor fairness) in their opposition to NCT.

    What is the main point of contention, and the main cause for Barcello to call NCT Antinomian? It is for saying that Christ is our Sabbath rest, that we are not obligated to observe the Sabbath. Of all the commandments of the Decalogue this one has not been enlarged upon by Christ. Also the accusation is made that NCT does away with the Old Testament law (Decalogue), when in fact it teaches that Christ gave a newer, richer law in the New Testament (Matt. 5- 7 and elsewhere). Part of the controversy, perhaps, is due to that old bugbear of semantic misunderstanding. But another part - an important and unfortunate misunderstanding - is a failure to fully believe and appreciate the sheer gratuity of God's grace in Christ Jesus.
     
  2. jcjordan

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    yeah, I don't agree with CT as far as the sabbath is concerned, however I think (from what I've heard argue), that NCT is wrong in denying the covenant of works. I've decided that I'm primarily believe in CT with a few NCT leanings.
     
  3. Allan

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    This is interesting. I have read a great deal on Covenant theology and have heard also the belittling of NCT and that it was or leads to "Antinomianism".
    It was for this reason I never really looked at much of their works on/about it because I didn't figure there were many who would even consider it if that were the case.

    So in point of fact they are still primarily the same with some minor differences on the sabbath worship and the non adherance to the Decalogue? I'm not sure if I understood that later.
     
  4. kyredneck

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    [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Covenant_Theology ]

    Excerpt from Wikipedia on NCT:


    To get 'technical' about it:

    Ref Acts 15

    After much heated debate the apostles and the elders from the Church at Jerusalem decided to convey [only] these commandments to the Gentiles:

    I tend to agree that "the whole Old Covenant is obsolete", "none of the commands of the Mosaic Law are binding on believers today".

    For us, the law is summed up like this; 'Agape worketh no ill towards his neighbor, agape, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.'
     
    #4 kyredneck, Jan 11, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 11, 2010
  5. Jerome

    Jerome
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    Where can one find a thorough treatment of NCT?
    What is the definitive systematic theology one should read?
     
  6. ReformedBaptist

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    Thanks for this information. I am not sure then what the real contention is between those who say they hold to CT and those who claim NCT.

    I believe the Scriptures teach that Jesus is the Sabbath. Yet I believe the Law of God is good and is relevant and has a place in the life of a Christian, but it is not necessary for their salvation.
     
  7. pinoybaptist

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    Id on't think there's anything "definitive" as yet, but read a lot of John Reisinger's and John Piper's works and papers and you'll get a bit here and a bit there.
     
  8. pasjk

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    New Covenant Theology

    It is a work in progress. Has its roots in the 1644-146 Baptist Confession.
    Bunyan's understanding of grace and the Sabbath. There is much going on within a spectrum of understanding.
    More books are being written.
    Some men like Martin Llyod Jones had leanings with some of their understanding.
    This link can take you to a lot of current papers, video and audio.
    http://fbceny.org/blog/
    Scroll down to New Covenant Meetings
    Much is posted here as well http://christourcovenant.blogspot.com/
     
  9. pinoybaptist

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    hello, there, brother pasjk, and welcome to the baptistboard.
    how's buffalo ?
     
  10. pasjk

    pasjk
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    Warmer, some sun, and decreasing snow piles. Great for this time of year.
     
  11. asterisktom

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    I would say the best single source to go to would be John Reisinger's site:
    http://www.soundofgrace.com/jgr/

    There is a discussion group here, as well.
     
  12. asterisktom

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    The big sticking point between Covenant Theology & New Covenant Theology is both the nature and extent of the Covenant. CT sees the covenant as extending in the past from the time of Adam. They believe - wrongly, I would maintain - that God gave to Adam a Covenant of Works (see Berkhof for a concise statement of this teaching). NCT says that the relation between God and Adam was not a covenant of works. If the Bible does not label it as such who are we to do so? See this article for a good refutation of this Covenant of Works assumed for Adam:
    http://www.soundofgrace.com/jgr/index052.htm

    I like the answer A.H. Strong gave to the question of when the Covenant of Works did begin.

    "In Amsterdam in 1468",he answered.
     
  13. asterisktom

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    Jesus is not only the Sabbath, He is the Covenant. Christ was given to us as a Covenant:

    "I, the LORD, have called You [Christ] in righteousness, And will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people...", Isa. 42:6

    This is the real core of contention between the two groups. Several within the CT have labeled NCT articles as antinomian and dispensational - if you can believe that!
     
  14. OldRegular

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    When God placed Adam and Eve in Eden He gave instructions as to their responsibility.

    Genesis 2:15-17, KJV
    15. And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
    16. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
    17. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.


    What do we call the above?
     
  15. kyredneck

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    .........the LORD God commanded the man.........
     
  16. OldRegular

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    I realize GOD commanded. However, there were penalties for disobedience. Doesn't that constitute some sort of Covenant. The so-called Mosaic Covenant was a series of commands with penalties for disobedience. Were the Israelites given a choice?
     
  17. kyredneck

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    Absolutely they were given a choice, and they agreed to abide by it.....

    8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that Jehovah hath spoken we will do. And Moses reported the words of the people unto Jehovah. Ex 19

    .......and utterly failed, as we all would.
     
  18. asterisktom

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    I believe the first question was whether this constitutes a covenant of works. This is the foundation of Covenant Theology (a misnomer, actually, seeing that NCT also believes in the existence of covenants).

    Here is a definition of "covenant of works" from a CTer:

    Freerepublic.com has this:
    The covenant of works is that arrangement designated by God whereby Adam was promised life and blessedness in return for absolute obedience to the word of His Creator and threatened with death for disobedience to the word of his Creator.


    He mentions Adam as being party to this covenant. Now the question is: What was offered to Adam? Life? He already had life. Certainly he had blessedness, talking with God in the cool of the day.

    Covenant Theology seem to need to have their covenant of works extend all the way to Adam. I have totally figured out why. But, at any rate, I just do not see it in Scripture. And the more I read (Berkhof, Owen, Sproul, Hodges, etc.) the less I saw.
     
  19. kyredneck

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    As far the terms of the covenant, no, they never had any say so in that. They agreed to keep it. Adam had no say so either.
     
  20. OldRegular

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    Please quote the Scripture where they were given a choice. The above simply states that they promise to obey!
     

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