Using ‘Covenant’ as Heremeneutic

If God’s life can be construed as the Covenant of Grace (in His act to be for us in Christ, first in creation itself, then its exemplification and elevation in the Incarnation of Christ), then to suggest that because ‘Covenant’ as in ‘Covenant theology’ is not explicitly present in the text, and thus we should not employ the Covenant of Grace as regulative for how we read Scripture; would be the same error of arguing or suggesting that because the ‘Trinity’ is not explicitly stated in the Bible, we should thus not read the Bible through the grammar of Trinity.

I have had at least one person (a former prof) argue against classical Covenantal theology this way, as a heremeneutic. His concern would equally be applied to a Barthian or Torrancian or a Evangelical Calvinist employment of ‘Covenant’, but unless he would be willing to jettison the reading of Scripture through Trinitarian lenses, then he cannot jettison reading Scripture through the ‘Covenant of Grace’ if this is understood, as it ought to be, as grounded and understood to be God’s life in Christ by the Holy Spirit for us (the Trinity in act).

I wanted to write a more extensive treatment on this particular topic. But you can at least get the gist of how I might have proceeded from what I have just offered.

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5 comments

  1. Bobby,

    I’m having a little difficulty here with the application of covenant as hermeneutic. Do you see a difference in using covenant as hermeneutic in how scripture is interpreted, and using covenant as hermeneutic to the point that we need to see covenant as a theme in all human (and devine) relations? As an example of this distinction I could for the former mention that much NT interpretation by the writers of the epistles interpreted OT passages in light of a covanant of grace, while I could for the latter mention the invention of the doctrine of the covenant of works. I see no “covenant of works” mentioned in Scripture despite having read the bible for 25 years and Berkhof’s systematic theology from cover to cover. Does this make sense?

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  2. Steve,

    In this brief post I attempted to define what I mean by ‘covenant’, really as a doctrine of God as Triune. So Covenant is not so much an ‘invention’ as it is an identification of what has been revealed in God’s life in His Son, Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit. I agree, other employments of ‘Covenant’ are artificial because they do not arise from Revelation itself, but from an ad hoc attempt to order Scripture per a certain progressive theory of revelation.

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