Kingdom Through Covenant by Gentry and Wellum


Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum's new and much-awaited book Kingdom Through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants (Crossway, 2012) has only been out for a couple of months, but it has already generated quite a bit of discussion.

Though I do not currently have the time to review it in full, I'd like to make a few comments and provide more links than one could want if you are interested.

loved the book. It is a treasure trove of systematic theology that is informed by clear exegesis and biblical theology. The introductory sections are very helpful. They clearly lay out the definitions of biblical theology, systematics, their relation, then they cover the distinctives of Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism, before turning to hermeneutical issues such as the nature of Scripture, progressive revelation, and typology. Part Two is long and rigorous. It contains 12 chapters unpacking each divine/human covenant in its own context and shows the continuities and discontinuities with what went before and with what lay ahead. Chapter 16 is a nice 60 page summary of the 12 dense chapters that preceded it. In chapter 17, they apply their proposal to the person of Christ, the work of Christ (if you are curious as to how Dr. Wellum argues for definite atonement, you really ought to listen to his recent faculty address "What does the Extent of the Atonement have to do with Baptist Ecclesiology: an Experience of Doing Theology"), the nature of the church, baptism, and the land promise. Quite ambitious, huh?

highly recommend this much needed book. They do a superb job demonstrating all sorts of theological truths important to the current discussion over biblical-theological systems: the importance of covenants for the biblical story-line  the New Testament use of the Old, typology, the conditional/unconditional nature of the covenants, the temporal nature of the old covenant, the newness of the new covenant, the fourfold nature of the seed of Abraham, the unified nature of the Mosaic law, the relationship between Israel and the church, and much more.

I realize that most folks won't read 800 pages though, so at least read Parts 1 and 3. And if that is too much, then read the summary in chapter 16. I think this book will be a key player in years to come. It is the first thorough academic work from a "new covenant theology" perspective published by a major publisher. The authors call their view a species of new covenant theology, opting for progressive covenantalism (24) or simply for kingdom through covenant.

I think Kingdom Through Covenant, much like Blaising and Bock's Progressive Dispensationalism, will be a theological game-changer. I frequently encounter students who are not Reformed Baptists, are not Dispensational, but are not quite sure where they land theologically. I think this book will help people, particularly Baptists, think through the other main option. I hope it will cause Covenant Theologians and Dispensationalists to reexamine their systems in light of Scripture as well.


On to the links:

A Review by Douglas Moo

Review by Darrell Bock

Review by Michael Horton

The authors respond.

A Review by Fred Zaspel

Andy Naselli asks 4 questions of the book.

A Review by Matthew Sims

Kingdom Through Covenant: A Biblical Middle Way? (interview with Gentry and Wellum)

Credo Magazine interviews Stephen Wellum here.

Credo Magazine interview Peter Gentry here.

The Towers interviews the authors here.

Crossway has made chapters 1 (The Importance of Covenants in Biblical and Systematic Theology) and 2 (Covenants in Biblical-Theological Systems: Dispensational and Covenant Theology) available here.

fantastic 65 page essay by Stephen Wellum on the relation of baptism and the covenants from Believer's Baptism ed. by Thomas Schreiner and Shawn Wright.

Justin Taylor interviews Stephen Wellum about baptism and the covenants.

Andy Naselli outlines Dr. Wellum's essay on baptism and the covenants.

Monergism's take on the book. Ian from the City of God blog responds. As does Alpha and Omega ministries.

Here are a few of the endorsements:

“What do you get when you cross a world class Bible scholar and a first rate systematic theologian? You get 800-plus pages of power-packed biblical goodness. You get the forest and quite a few of the trees. This is not the first volume that has attempted to mediate the dispensational/covenant theology divide, but it may be the culminating presentation of that discussion—just as Bach was not the first Baroque composer but its highest moment. Gentry and Wellum’s proposal of Kingdom through Covenant should be read by all parties, but I won’t be surprised to learn in 20 years that this volume provided the foundation for how a generation of anyone who advocates regenerate church membership puts their Bible together.”
-Jonathan Leeman, Editorial Director, 9Marks; author, Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love

“Gentry and Wellum offer a third way, a via media, between covenant theology and dispensationalism, arguing that both of these theological systems are not informed sufficiently by biblical theology. Certainly we cannot understand the scriptures without comprehending ‘the whole counsel of God,’ and here we find incisive exegesis and biblical theology at its best. This book is a must read and will be part of the conversation for many years to come.”
—Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Kingdom through Covenant is hermeneutically sensitive, exegetically rigorous, and theologically rich—a first rate biblical theology that addresses both the message and structure of the whole Bible from the ground up. Gentry and Wellum have produced what will become one of the standard texts in the field. For anyone who wishes to tread the path of biblical revelation, this text is a faithful guide.”
—Miles V. Van Pelt, Alan Belcher Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages and Director, Summer Institute for Biblical Languages, Reformed Theological Seminary

“Gentry and Wellum have provided a welcome addition to the current number of books on biblical theology. What makes their contribution unique is the marriage of historical exegesis, biblical theology, and systematic theology. Kingdom through Covenant brims with exegetical insights, biblical theological drama, and sound systematic theological conclusions. Particularly important is the viable alternative they offer to the covenantal and dispensational hermeneutical frameworks. I enthusiastically recommend this book!”
—Stephen Dempster, Stuart E. Murray Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Atlantic Baptist University

In sum, get this book!!