Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Theological Twin, Steve Wellum

Kingdom through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants  This will be a great book to add to any library. Take look at the two part interview with the authors, Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum.
Kingdom through Covenant-Interview with Stephen Wellum, Part 1
Kingdom through Covenant-Interview with Peter J. Gentry, Part 2

Steve Wellum's response to the following question reminds me of many conversations that he and I had twenty plus years ago when he was an MDiv student and I was a PhD student at TEDS. No one else I know so closely holds my theological beliefs as does Steve Wellum. Of course, one reason for this is the mutual shaping effect we've had upon one another.

I believe one of the most striking facets of your argument is how indebted both Dispensational and covenant theology are to an inordinate focus on the Abrahamic Covenant. Could you tease out for us this common line of dependence?

As we began to think through how dispensationalism and covenant theology “put together” the biblical covenants, it was fascinating to see that both appeal to the unconditional nature of the Abrahamic covenant yet for different reasons. On the one hand, dispensational theology appeals to the “unconditional” promise of land given to Abraham, which they believe, is only fulfilled non-typologically to ethnic, national Israel in the future millennial age. Regardless of the lack of discussion in the NT on the land promise, they argue that given the unconditional nature of the Abrahamic covenant, the land promise must still be fulfilled in the future precisely because it is an unconditional promise. When covenant theology disagrees with dispensationalism on this point by viewing the land as typological of the new creation and ultimately brought to fulfillment in Christ who ushers in the new creation, dispensational theology charges covenant theology with reading the NT back on the OT without sufficiently doing justice to the unconditional OT promise. On the other hand, covenant theology appeals to the genealogical principle of the Abrahamic covenant—“to you and your children”—as unchanged throughout redemptive history, and it is on this basis that they make their covenantal argument for infant baptism. In a similar fashion to dispensationalism, regardless of the carry over between circumcision and baptism in the NT, and regardless of the fact that there is not one example of infant baptism practiced in the NT, covenant theology argues on the basis of the unconditional nature of the Abrahamic covenant that one must not read the NT back on the OT at this point. Even though dispensationalism and covenant theology differ at certain points, they both appeal to the Abrahamic covenant to make their points and follow the same hermeneutic. For us, this not only illustrates how important it is to understand properly the biblical covenants, but it also reminds us that one must not treat the Abrahamic covenant in an isolated fashion from the entire canon and particularly its fulfillment in Christ and the new covenant.

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