Covenant Theology flattens out the beautiful story of the Gospel and ends up robbing Christ of his glory. I am namely speaking of their supersessionist theology that says the church (or Christ) has superseded any promises that God made with national Israel before Christ. The church has become the “new Israel.” God is done with Israel. He will not restore national Israel to salvation in the future. Everything collapses into the church and or Christ.
That sounds pious, but it is not biblical reality.
Many who subscribe to this theology have inadvertently become arrogant, a sin that Paul warned against in the immediate context of Israel’s future national salvation:
“(17) Now if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among them and participated in the richness of the olive root, (18) do not boast over the branches. But if you boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. (19) Then you will say, “The branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” (20) Granted! They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but fear! (21) For if God did not spare the natural branches, perhaps he will not spare you.” (Rom 11:17–21 NET)
The same people who subscribe to this theology come from a Reformed tradition. What is ironic is that they are not aware that Luther and Calvin—as much good they were from breaking away from Rome— inherited Rome’s Augustinian supersessionist eschatology. They have a tradition, and do not know it.
This brings me to some interesting comments on Sharpen Iron.
Covenant theology (amills and postmills) overemphasize the first coming at the expense of the second coming. This is why CT believers don’t really have much to say about the future—which is a shame and which is why I say they are robbing Christ of his glory.
The first coming of Christ was not the whole story, but you would think it was by listening to Together For The Gospel and The Gospel Coalition. The second coming is relegated as an appendix to God’s story.
This is why most CT are amillennial. Amillennialism views the return of Christ as some mere simple event. Jesus returns and in the blink of an eye you have the eternal state. They do not preach the whole counsel of God’s Word. They miss articulating Christ’s glory that will unfold at his future return: the deliverance of the church from the grip of the Antichrist’s great tribulation, the complex trumpet and bowl judgments, the final battle (We are told this is all merely a “picture.” Sure.). Then we have the glory of Christ in bringing Israel to spiritual and national restoration, fulfilling his ancient unconditional promises to Israel. Then there is the coalescing of heaven with earth, the earth’s restoration, Christ’s reign, the saints’ reign, and on and on.
What a shame that Covenant Theology/Amillennialism is shackled to such Christ’s-glory-robbing theology.
Showers is right went he says that for CT, “salvation is the thing God is doing throughout history, and that is why they don’t see any need to talk about future events.” CT is wrong to think that salvation is “the” thing God is doing. CT needs to take off the monochromatic lens and behold into the kaleidoscope of God’s future acts. The apostle Paul certainly did, and exhorted us to do the same.
Here are some of the comments from SI:
New to this year’s conference was this afternoon’s panel discussion. The topic (of course) was dispensationalism. Attendees (approximately 200 attended this inaugural event) were given the opportunity to ask questions related to dispensationalism. Sitting on the panel were: Dr. John Hartog III (FBBC & TS), Dr. Kevin Bauder (CTS, Minneapolis), Dr. Rennie Showers (FOI), and Dr. Mike Stallard (BBC & S, Clarks Summit). Several attendees took advantage of the opportunity to ask questions, and did not adhere to the dispensational topic. Questions regarding broader fundamentalism and Calvinism were asked, as were questions related to specific individuals in conservative evangelicalism and gospel-centered gatherings like Together For The Gospel and The Gospel Coalition. Several panelists made statements regarding the perceived danger of an over-emphasizing the gospel (in Stallard’s words, “One of my concerns is how my students are responding to this. For groups such as T4G to place such an emphasis on the first coming, they must deemphasize the second coming. I want my students to not diminish their interest in the second coming.”).
Showers responded by stating, “We are not saying that we are trying to downplay the gospel; we are saying that the gospel is the center of CT. That’s the whole thing God is doing throughout history [in their minds]. This is one of the reasons they are amillennial. CT is saying that salvation is the thing God is doing throughout history, and that is why they don’t see any need to talk about future events.”
Bauder appeared to temper the tone of the previous responses by stating: ”We, as dispensationalists, draw a distinction between the gospel as the center of our system, and the gospel as the center of God’s overall plan. When it comes to the system of faith, the gospel is the hub of that system—so much so, that we can use the gospel as the touchstone in providing an answer to many theological questions. The real question is this: how does God intend to bring glory to Himself? The CT: the history of redemption. The DT: the history of redemption, but there’s more than that. The DT insists that God intends to glorify Himself in many and various ways.”