Tag Archives: Tom Schreiner

God’s Righteousness as Forensic

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1.16–17)

This series has given some snapshots of Tom Schreiner’s arguments over “the righteousness of God” in his revised Romans (BECNT) commentary. Again, he summarizes the theme of Romans 1.16–17 saying, “The gospel is the saving power of God in which the righteousness of God is revealed” (63). I’ve looked at the arguments that God’s righteousness is his covenant faithfulness to his covenant people, and the argument that his righteousness is transformative. In his first edition, Schreiner understood God’s righteousness as being both forensic and transformative, with one aspect being emphasized more than the other in certain verses. Now he understands it as entirely forensic. God’s righteousness is a gift given to sinners so that they would be declared righteous in God’s sight. Though they are sinners, they stand not guilty before him.

He gives nine arguments for understanding God’s righteousness as being forensic, but I put a few together here.

Forensic Righteousness

1. Righteousness, Faith, and Believing

“Righteousness” (δικαιοσύνη) is placed near to the words “faith” or “believing.”

Romans 4.11, “He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well,”

Romans 10.3-4, “For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

Galatians 5.5, “For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.”

The one who believes by faith stands not guilty in God’s presence. They are declared righteous, but that righteousness won’t be seen by all until the day of resurrection.

2. To be Counted

Those who believe by faith are not “made” righteous but are “counted” righteous.

Romans 4.3, “For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.’” (see Rom 4.5, 6, 9, 11).

3. A Gift from God

This righteousness is a gift divinely granted to people.

Romans 5.17, “For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”

God is the origin of righteousness, and he gives that status to the ungodly (see again Rom 4.3, 5, 6, 9, 11) .

1 Corinthians 1.30, “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.”

Here, Jesus is wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption from God. Paul’s comment in Philippians 3.9 refers to righteousness as a gift from God. So in Romans 1.17 and 3.21-22 “God’s saving righteousness is given as a gift to those who believe” (70).

Philippians 3.9, “and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”

So “God’s righteousness may be both an attribute of God and a gift of God, but it doesn’t follow logically that it is also transformative” (70). Philippians 3.1-9 can be paralleled with Romans 10.1-5. Just as Paul couldn’t have a righteousness of his own from the law, Israel as a whole has tried to establish their own righteousness from the law. Paul received God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. Israel must do the same. It is not about keeping the law; it is about trusting in Jesus.

4. Second Corinthians 5

In 2 Corinthians 5.21, Paul writes that Jesus who had no sin became sin so that we could “became the righteousness of God.” God was not “counting their trespasses against them,” meaning he forgave those who put their faith in Christ. Christ died on the cross, and those who put their faith in him, though they are sinners, take on God’s righteousness.

5. Romans 3.21-26

If all have sinned, how can anyone be righteous? Schreiner observes, “Paul argues… that a right relation with God is not obtained by keeping the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. All people who trust in Christ are justified by God because of the redemption accomplished by Christ Jesus (3:24)” (71).

6. Lawcourts

Romans 8.33 says, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.”

Schreiner writes, “The lawcourt background here is unmistakable. Paul followed the usage of the LXX… and other Jewish Second Temple literature… in assigning a forensic meaning to δικαίουν [‘to justify’].”

2 Samuel 15.4, “Then Absalom would say, ‘Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.'”

1 Kings 8.32, “then hear in heaven and act and judge your servants, condemning the guilty by bringing his conduct on his own head, and vindicating the righteous by rewarding him according to his righteousness.”

Judges didn’t make anyone wicked or righteous. They made declarations about the wicked and the righteous. God declares us righteous, and he will transform us at the resurrection.

Proverbs 17.15, “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous
are both alike an abomination to the Lord.”

Schreiner: “Paul… does not think God violates any standards of justice, since Christ bears the curse that sinners deserve” (72).

7. Righteousness and Forgiveness

Romans 4.7-8 quotes Ps 32.1-2. David’s sins are forgiven and he stands “in the right before God” (73). David is not transformed, but forgiven.

Conclusion

Honestly, with some of these points (#3) I do wonder why God’s righteousness being a ‘gift’ ‘from God’ means his righteousness is to be understood forensically. We can’t transform ourselves to be righteous. We need another (2 Cor 5.21). So whether it is forensic or transformative (or both), it is still from God. However, do to other points (#6) and parts of Scripture, I can still see how God’s righteousness is purely forensic.

God justifies sinners when they believe the human Christ Jesus died and was resurrected. He is currently ruling over all things, and he is the King. We are justified in the eyes of God. We stand “in the right” or “not guilty” before him because we are “in Christ.” Being justified in and of itself doesn’t transform Christians, but other aspects of the order of salvation that occur immediately (e.g., the reception of the Spirit) and other parts will occur over time (e.g., sanctification) will cause us to be transformed. God conforms us to the image of his Son by working in us through his Spirit. Through that, we are transformed “from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor 3.18), awaiting our final transformation at the day of resurrection (1 Cor 15.49, 51-53). Christians are sinners who are declared righteous now and will be made righteous in the future.


Previous Posts

Pre-order it from Baker Academic or Amazon


1 Schreiner, 40 Questions About Christians and Biblical Law, 111.

Leave a comment

Filed under Biblical Studies, Paul, Preview

God’s Righteousness as Transformative?

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1.16–17)

In my previous post I noted that in his revised BECNT commentary on Romans, Tom Schreiner summarizes the theme of Romans 1.16–17 saying, “The gospel is the saving power of God in which the righteousness of God is revealed” (63). Commentators have come to different interpretations as to what God’s righteousness is. Schreiner explains three of the different interpretations in his commentary.

Last time I wrote about those who think that God’s righteousness is his covenant faithfulness. This time I present Schreiner’s arguments for (and against) God’s righteousness being transformative.

Arguments For

1. Revealed

God’s righteousness being revealed refers to God’s eschatological (end-time) activity that has invaded history. It makes sense that God’s righteousness here means his saving activity if we ask the question ‘What is being revealed?’—a new status (forensic) or divine action (transformation)?

In fact, both God’s righteousness (v. 17) and his wrath (v. 18) are revealed.

17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

God’s wrath is actively poured out against human sin, and so it fits the parallel that his righteousness would also refer to a divine activity. Schreiner notes, “Since verses 16–17 are connected with a γὰρ (gar, for), we can conclude that the saving power of God is intertwined with the righteousness of God” (68).

So as Paul writes, the gospel is God’s power for salvation to all who believe for in the gospel God’s righteousness is revealed. The gospel is God’s salvation-bringing power. It is a divine activity, and his righteousness is actively revealed in it.

2. Old Testament Usage

Many of the uses of righteousness in the OT refer to God’s saving action.

Psalm 98.1–3

‘Oh sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things!
His right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.

The Lord has made known his salvation;
he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.

He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.’

After God brought Israel through the Red Sea and destroyed the Egyptian army, Israel praised Yahweh as a ‘man of war’ (Exod 15.3) whose ‘right hand’ is ‘glorious in power’ and ‘shatters the enemy’ (v. 6). He stretched out his right hand that the earth would swallow up the army (v. 12). He led his people safely through the waters in his ‘steadfast love’ (v. 13; Ps 98.2). God’s salvation is an active salvation that rescues his people from their enemies. See also Isaiah 45.8; Micah 6.5 and 7.9.

3. Made righteous

Later in Romans 6 Paul says, “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be rendered powerless so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, since a person who has died has been freed (δεδικαίωται) from sin” (6.7). Schreiner writes, “The use of the verb ‘to justify’ [translated as ‘freed’]… demonstrates that God’s declaration of righteousness really frees people from sin” (69). In Romans 5.19, many in Adam were made sinners; in Christ, they are made righteous. “God’s forensic declaration is effective because the Lord who was crucified on behalf of sinners was also raised from the dead (Rom. 4:25), and thus sinners now live in a new way (Rom. 6:4)” (69).

Pushback

As Schreiner explains in his commentary, there are a few problems here. I won’t list every rebuttal; you can find that in his commentary. But I will present a few of them. 

Problem 1: Revealed

God’s righteousness (1.17) is the grounds for God’s power (1.16). The two terms are not synonymous. Simply because God’s righteousness in Christ is apocalyptic does not mean that his righteousness is transformative. “God’s declaration about sinners is an end-time verdict that has been announced before the end has arrived” (73). Referring to Linebaugh, Schreiner says, “Justification… is the final verdict, which is pronounced now” before the end has come (73).

Believers, in union with Christ, stand in the right before God, but that does not mean they are automatically transformed because of that verdict. Rather, Christians are transformed through the reception of the Holy Spirit, becoming new creations, being sanctified—conformed to the image of Christ—and ultimately by being glorified. At the resurrection we will truly be transformed. It is then that we will be like Christ—righteous and perfect.

Problem 2: Old Testament Usage

Simply because the words righteous and salvation are in parallel (as in Psalm 98.1-3) does not mean they are equivalent. Schreiner says, “Words may overlap in meaning, but it doesn’t follow from this that they have an identical meaning. The righteousness of God, then, denotes the ‘rightness’ and justice of God’s salvation in Psalms and Isaiah” (73).

Problem 3: Made righteous

“Virtually all scholars agree that in the vast majority of cases the verb ‘to justify’ (δικαιόυν) is forensic” (74). Most English Bibles translate δεδικαίωται as “freed.” Even if δεδικαίωται here held a transformative connotation, it does not mean that every use of ‘justify’ or ‘righteousness’ holds that same connotation.

Schreiner observes, “God’s declaration that sinners are in the right before him is the foundation for a changed life” (74). Because believers are justified, are in union with Christ, and are given the Holy Spirit who works in us to image Christ. We are transformed not because of our ‘not-guilty’ verdict, but because God’s Spirit works within us.

As for Romans 5.19 and people being made sinners or made righteous, 2 Corinthians 3.9 points to a forensic use of righteousness. There, righteousness is contrasted with condemnation, “a declarative term” (74). When God condemns someone, he doesn’t make them wicked. They don’t turn into wicked people. They already are wicked. Similarly, God’s declaration that someone is righteous doesn’t mean he turns him into a righteous person. “The declaration that Jesus,” vindicated in his resurrection, “stands in the right is granted to all those who belong to him, to all those who are united to him by faith” (75).

Conclusion

One of the major differences between Schreiner’s first and second editions is his move toward God’s righteousness indicating a forensic status instead of both a forensic status and transformative state. Think about this scenario. Harry and Marv rob a bank. They have committed a crime. They are bandits. They are criminals. A judge declares Harry and Marv to be guilty of their crime. The judge’s sentence does not transform them into criminals; they became criminals when they robbed the bank.

We are sinners. Yet those who believe on Jesus Christ are declared to be “in the right” by God. I am still a sinner. I am not a ‘righteous’ person. As I said above, when Christians receive their resurrected bodies, they will be like Christ (1 John 3.2; 1 Cor 15.49, 52-53). They will be righteous, and they will be perfect. God sees what they will be in the future and he declares them to be that now. Christians have the status of righteousness even though they are still presently sinners because we are now in Christ.

In my next and final post I will look at what Schreiner has to say about God’s righteousness being forensic.


Previous Posts

Pre-order it from Baker Academic or Amazon


1 Schreiner, 40 Questions About Christians and Biblical Law, 111.

1 Comment

Filed under Biblical Studies, Biblical Theology, Paul, Preview

A Scholar’s Devotion with Tom Schreiner

Going through seminary, students are taught to study the Bible and uphold its doctrines about God while also being encouraged not to neglect their devotional times with God. Yet during my own devotional time I, and probably many others, often ask, “Is this approach the best way to grow spiritually, or is there a better way? What could I do differently? Should I incorporate my studies with my devotions?”  From time to time, one can wonder how scholars and seminary professors manage to continue to grow spiritually while fulfilling their numerous responsibilities with family, work, and ministry.

Each week, I ask a different scholar two questions about how he or she spends time with the Lord and continues to love him with all their mind, strength, and heart. While no one method or style is “the only way,” we can draw on one another’s experiences to help us reflect on other ways we had not thought of before. This isn’t meant to hold each interviewee up as a perfect model, but to give you ideas of how to think about your devotionals from those who teach us the Scriptures. 

In this inaugural post, I have asked Dr. Tom Schreiner if he would share his thoughts.

1. How do you spend your devotional time with the Lord? 

Everyone is different, but I read two chapters in the OT in English, then one chapter of Psalms or Proverbs, one chapter usually of the Hebrew OT, and one chapter of the Greek NT. I try to read meditatively and pray about what I am reading.
.
I pray for daily concerns, for the members of our church, and through Operation World.
.

2. How do you practically seek to deepen your love for Christ? 

I have nothing dramatic to say here.
  • Bible Reading
  • Prayer
  • Regular fellowship and attendance with God’s people
  • Reading good books

Dr. Schreiner is the James Buchanan Harrison Professor of NT Interpretation and Professor of Biblical Theology (1997), the Associate Dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and an elder at Clifton Baptist Church 

He has written commentaries on Romans, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Hebrews, Peter and Jude, and Revelation, as well as a Pauline theology, a NT theology, and a whole Bible theology, and more.

Thank you, Dr. Schreiner!
Twitter: @DrTomSchreiner

4 Comments

Filed under A Scholar's Devotional

God’s Righteousness as his Covenant Faithfulness?

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1.16–17)

In my previous post I noted that in his revised BECNT commentary on Romans, Tom Schreiner summarizes the theme of Romans 1.16–17 saying, “The gospel is the saving power of God in which the righteousness of God is revealed” (63). Commentators have come to different interpretations as to what God’s righteousness is. Schreiner explains three of the different interpretations in his commentary.

Proponents

The first here is the understanding that God’s righteousness refers to his covenantal faithfulness to his people Israel. Those who argue for this position understand God’s righteousness to be “both effective and forensic” (67). His faithfulness toward Israel is due to his covenant with them and it is seen in his saving activity—that is, it is seen when he saves them from their enemies.

In his commentary Romans 1–8, James Dunn says, “God is ‘righteous’ when he fulfills the obligations he took upon himself to be Israel’s God, that is, to rescue Israel and punish Israel’s enemies” (41). God’s righteousness is to be understood as his covenant faithfulness (Rom 3:3–5, 25; 15:8). It is “God’s act to restore his own and to sustain them within the covenant (Ps 31:1; 35:24; 51:14; 65:5; 71:2, 15; 98:2; 143:11; Isa 45:8, 21; 46:13; 51:5, 6, 8; 62:1–2; 63:1, 7)” (41). 

In his book, Pauline Perspectives, N. T. Wright says, “God must be true to his covenant” with Abraham who would be the father of a great nation and who, by following God, would be a blessing to the world. He continues, “Paul [in Romans 4] quotes extensively from Genesis 15 and 17 to prove that covenant membership always depended on grace and faith” (31). Wright notes that “as God ‘redeemed’ his people from Egypt with the covenant blood, so now the blood of Jesus Christ becomes the blood of the new covenant, shed for the worldwide forgiveness of sins, achieving the redemption (3.21) of the true family of Abraham. God has dealt with sin; he has renounced partiality; he is true to his covenant. The Gospel of Jesus Christ reveals that God is in the right (Romans 1.16f.)” (31). Through the death and resurrection of the Son, God has saved Israel, Jew and Gentile—“the true family of Abraham”—from their ultimate enemies: sin and death.

Finally, Wright says, “The ‘righteousness of God’ is the divine covenant faithfulness, which is both a quality upon which God’s people may rely and something visible in action in the great covenant-fulfilling actions of the death and resurrection of Jesus and the gift of the Spirit” (74-75).

Old Testament References

Schreiner says, “God’s saving actions are rooted in his faithfulness to the covenant enacted with his people. That the righteousness of God involves his loyalty to the covenant is defended by OT and Second Temple antecedents” (75).

Psalm 36.5–6

“Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
your judgments are like the great deep;
man and beast you save, O Lord.”

Psalm 88.11–12

11 “Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,
or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
12 Are your wonders known in the darkness,
or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?”

God’s righteousness is compared to his faithfulness and steadfast love to his people Israel seen through his wondrous works.

Psalm 142.1 (LXX)

In the Septuagint, the psalmist draws a parallel between God’s truth and his righteousness when he says,

“O Lord, hearken to my prayer.
Give ear to my entreaty with your truthfulness.
Hear me in your righteousness.”

God is both truthful and righteous to his covenant people.

Pushback

Yet just because terms such as ‘righteousness,’ ‘truthfulness,’ ‘faithfulness,’ and ‘steadfast’ are paralleled does not mean that they all denote the same thing. Even though the idea the idea of God being faithful to his covenant is present in the broad context of the above psalms, Schreiner points out elsewhere that “God’s salvation of his people is also the right thing to do; he vindicates his people in saving them.”

Israelite judges were to “acquit the innocent and condemn the guilty” (Deut 25.1). Schreiner notes the forensic aspect of their judgments saying, “Judges do not make someone righteous or wicked. They render a forensic declaration based on the reality that is before them.”1

While in Romans 3.1–8 Paul links God’s ‘righteousness’ (3.5) with his ‘faithfulness’ (3.3), ‘reliability’ (3.4), and ‘truth’ (3.7), Schreiner points out that Romans 3.5 speaks of God’s judging righteousness. The Jewish opponents ask if God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on them. God, in his righteousness, judges guilty sinners and pours out his wrath upon them (1.18). God is right and just to judge sinners.

Because God is righteous and doesn’t “pervert the right” (Job 8.3), he faithfully and steadfastly fulfills his OT saving promises and his covenant promises. However, “it is quite another thing to say that God’s righteousness is his covenant faithfulness” (75). Schreiner writes, “The righteousness of God, then, denotes the ‘rightness’ and justice of God’s salvation in Psalms and Isaiah,” which displays itself in his faithfulness to his covenant people (73).


Previous Posts

Pre-order it from Baker Academic or Amazon


1 Schreiner, 40 Questions About Christians and Biblical Law, 111.

1 Comment

Filed under Biblical Studies, Biblical Theology, Paul, Preview

What is the ‘Righteousness of God’?

16For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1.16–17)

After explaining how eager he is to preach the gospel of the resurrected Jesus Christ in Rome, Paul tells the church in Rome that he is not ashamed of the gospel (Rom 1.16). Why? It is the power of God that brings salvation to all who believe it. In the upcoming second edition of his Romans (BECNT) commentary, Tom Schreiner summarizes the theme of Romans 1.16–17 as, “The gospel is the saving power of God in which the righteousness of God is revealed” (63).

But just what is the ‘righteousness of God’? This is an important question to ask because “in the bulk of the letter, Paul fills in the content of this gospel so that the Romans will understand why he is so desirous to preach the gospel in Rome and Spain. The letter as a whole focuses on the content of the gospel because the gospel gives Paul boldness to preach in places where Christ is not named (Rom 15:20–21)” (63).

Yet many commentators understand God’s righteousness differently. In a series of posts, I will look at three different understandings of the righteousness of God from Schreiner’s new commentary. Commentators understand God’s righteousness as: 

  1.  Covenantal faithfulness
    1. God’s faithfulness toward Israel is due to his covenant with them and is seen in his saving activity—that is, it is seen when he saves Israel from their enemies.

    2. N.T. Wright says, “The ‘righteousness of God’ is the divine covenant faithfulness, which is both a quality upon which God’s people may rely and something visible in action in the great covenant-fulfilling actions of the death and resurrection of Jesus and the gift of the Spirit” (Pauline Perspectives74-75). 

    3. Proponents: James Dunn, Robert JewettN.T. Wright, etc.
      .
  2. Transformative
    1. On this view Schreiner says, “God’s forensic declaration is effective because the Lord who was crucified on behalf of sinners was also raised from the dead (Rom. 4:25), and thus sinners now live in a new way (Rom. 6:4)” (69). In his first edition he says that God’s declaration of righteousness is a gift that “is an effective declaration, so that those who are pronounced righteous are also transformed by God’s grace” (67).

    2. Romans 5.19, “For just as through one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”

    3. Proponents: Ernst Käsemann, Eberhard Jüngel, Adolf Schlatter, Tom Schreiner 1.0 (he advocated for both the forensic and transformative meaning in his first volume). 
      .
  3. Forensic
    1. God’s righteousness is a gift given to sinners so that they would be declared righteous in God’s sight.

    2. Philippians 3.8b-9, “so that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith.

    3. Proponents: Martin Luther, John Calvin, C.E.B. Cranfield, Doug Moo, Tom Schreiner 2.0 (he now advocates for only the forensic understanding).

Following Posts

Pre-order it from Baker Academic or Amazon

Leave a comment

Filed under Biblical Studies, Biblical Theology, Paul, Preview

Review: Progressive Covenantalism

prog-cov

If you missed the boat, or didn’t even know there was a boat, back in 2012 SBTS professors Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum write the massive Kingdom Through Covenant (KTC), a slightly different way of putting together Bible’s storyline from how both Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology view it. Progressive covenantalism (don’t let that title scare you away) seeks to answer questions about how the Mosaic law applies to Christians, what the relationship between Israel and the Church is, and how these work out in the life of God’s people. 

Progressive seeks to underscore the unfolding nature of God’s revelation over time, while covenantalism emphasizes that God’s plan unfolds through the covenants and that all of the covenants find their fulfillment … and terminus in Christ” (2). The way to properly determine how God’s plan is fulfilled in Christ is to place each covenant “in its own covenantal location … in terms of what covenant(s) preceded it and follow it” (2).

As massive as KTC is, one volume can’t cover everything. Progressive Covenantalism was written to unpack certain points that weren’t given much space (if any at all). Those specific points will briefly be laid out below.

Outline

Chapters 1–4

These essays develop topics usually brought up in discussions between DT and CT.

  • In chapter 1, Jason DeRouchie provides exegetical warrant for NCT in the OT by examining texts that deal with the “seed” of Abraham. His descendants are those who physically come through his line, but his true descendants are those who place their loyalty in Christ. As DeRouchie states, “It is those who are in Christ who are ‘sons of God,’ those who have put on Christ who are baptized, and those who are Christ’s who are counted ‘Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise’” (38).
    .
  • In chapter 2, Brent Parker examines “how Jesus typologically fulfills Israel and how the Church, through Christ, inherits the promises of Israel” (47). Israel is not displaced by the Church. Rather, Parker puts forth that the church is the “new covenant community that Israel looked forward to” (47).
    .
  • In chapter 3, Jason Meyer, who wrote The End of the Law, works through how DT and CT influence the way we think about the Mosaic law, how PC understands the Mosaic law, saying that “love for neighbor is the primary lens through which the Christian views the law of Moses” (87). The lens every Christian should read the Mosaic covenant through is love because the varied instructions given to us in the law give concrete examples of what love should look like.
    .
  • In chapter 4, Ardel Caneday disagrees with the idea put forth that the Bible is split between law (“God’s commands”) and gospel (“God’s gracious giving”). Instead, covenant stipulations remain the same across covenants while the content of those stipulations change. While God unconditionally established his covenants with people, “each covenant entails provisions with stipulations that both promise blessings to all who obey … and announce curses upon the disobedient” (103).

Chapters 5–8

These essays target issues that arise in CT.

  • In chapter 5, John Meade examines circumcision of the flesh to that of the heart. After briefly looking at the Ancient Near Eastern view of circumcision, he explains the development of circumcision through the Bible as it moves from external circumcision to “internal heart (un)circumcision” and its relation to baptism (128).
    .
  • In chapter 6, Tom Schreiner looks at the Sabbath in the OT and NT and it’s place in the believers’ life.
    .
  • In chapter 7, Chris Cowan presents an “alternate … paradigm for understanding the warning passages” that are given to the NC community in Hebrews and responds to some objections to this view from those in the DT and CT camps.
    .
  • In chapter 8, Stephen Wellum asks, “How should Christians apply the whole Bible as our ethical standard?” He says that “the entire OT, including the law covenant, functions for us as the basis for our doctrine and ethics. Although the Christians are not ‘under the law’ as a covenant, it still functions as Scripture and demands our complete obedience” (217). Wellum ends his chapter with a few illustrations on ethics under the New Covenant with the whole Bible.

Chapters 9–10

These essays target issues that arise in PD.

  • In chapter 9, Richard Lucas argues against the dispensational understanding that Israel will be “restored” in the millennium as a nation which is separate and distinct from Gentiles. Lucas argues that these “implications” are not found in Romans 11:26–27, especially when viewed within the larger canon of Scripture.
    .
  • In chapter 10, Oren Martin, having written Bound for the Promised Land, looks through the OT and NT and shows, contra to DT and CT, how PC says the OT land promises will be fulfilled in Christ.

As a whole, this is a fantastic resource that draws out the implications of the larger work of KTC (see also the concise work God’s Kingdom Through God’s Covenants). No chapter is worthless; they all take on issues that arise between CT and DT, although the best chapter in my opinion was that by Jason DeRouchie. DeRouchie (along with the end of Meade’s chapter) argues exegetically against the long-standing and widely held belief of infant baptism. Those who disagree will have to work closely through his chapter to disprove his exegesis of Scriptures.

Unfortunately, Cowen’s chapter didn’t add much more to the discussion of the warning passages in Hebrews besides what Schreiner argues for in his Hebrews commentary, and what Schreiner and Caneday have argued for. And while much of Martin’s chapter could be found in his book, he brings out many good points (such the use of Psalm 37.3, 9, 11 and more in Matthew 5.5) and gives those readers who haven’t read his book a taste of how the land promise is fulfilled in Christ (it’s also a more succinct reading than if you read through Beale’s New Testament Biblical Theology as well).

Recommended?

Why does this matter? Why nitpick so much? We should never become stagnant in our faith and think that we now know enough. God is infinite, and his Word has more depth than we can ever plumb. A book that seeks to tie Scripture together is worth reading, especially for the student and the pastor, and you can use this (and KTC) so show the glory of God’s plan in Christ to your people. When it comes to ethics, as Wellum says, “Most Christians, regardless of their commitment to covenant or dispensational theology, will arrive at similar conclusions. But, as noted above, where the important difference lies is in how we get there” (233). Our doctrines and beliefs have consequences. They have meaning. They affect how we will. Because we have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, let us strive to know him more that we may be like him and awaiting Christ’s return when we will be transformed. 

Lagniappe

  • Editors: Stephen Wellum and Brent Parker
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: B&H Academic (April 15, 2016)

Buy it on Amazon or from B&H Academic!

Disclosure: I received this book free from B&H Academic. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

4 Comments

Filed under Review

October Updates

leaving-norway

All packed and ready to go

After spending a year in Norway, we packed up the house and left for Louisville, Kentucky (by way of Louisiana first).

Our cat didn’t want us to leave (for those of you who know me, can you believe I owned a cat? and liked it (eventually)? and wasn’t allergic to it??).

catn-crunch

We left this wonderful backyard

backyard

. . . for tobacco!

tobacco

Not quite. That’s actually in Southern Ohio . . . and we didn’t leave for tobacco either. We left for this place below.

buildings-2

Norton Hall, where we have all of our classes (this semester)

buildings

Our large lawn and some dorms

By now school has started (and is almost finished). In my first draft we were just into our fifth week. The next time I updated this we had five weeks left. Now we only have just over three weeks left. Mari is taking an MDiv with a concentration in Biblical Counseling, and I’m taking an MDiv with a concentration in Christian Ministry (and this one has six free electives which I plan to use for the languages-hopefully). This semester we each have four classes, and three of those classes we get to attend together (Systematic Theology I, Personal Spiritual Disciplines, and Biblical Hermeneutics). I have Elementary Hebrew and Mari has Elementary Greek. The two languages are the most demanding, but they are definitely our favorite classes (usually).

new-couch

Me posing with some hideous pillows on our first couch

Biblical Hermeneutics

A big word for how to study the Bible. Rather than examining how to approach the text according to its genre, in light of the entire canon, in light of Israel’s history up to a certain point (e.g., when you read Lamentations, you should know that Jerusalem had just been destroyed and Israel has been exiled out of the land God promised them because of their utter wickedness), etc. In this class, Dr. Jim Hamilton, the professor, takes a look at the broad storyline and the small details which connect the story. I’ll be writing about some of the small nuggets Dr. Hamilton has talked about.

Personal Spiritual Disciplines

What is fasting? What does it mean to pray? To meditate? To pray the Bible? To even read the Bible? To be held accountable? Even to journal? It’s one thing to look at what the Bible says about these topics; it’s another to live them out. We do both in this class. I’ll write a bit about this too, because there are some things I’ve learned that have been tremendously helpful (like with prayer and meditating on the Bible).

Systematic Theology I

Who is God? What is Scripture? Why do people arrive at such strange conclusions about these topics? This is an brief introductory course to these two topics, and the teacher loves what he teaches.

Elementary Hebrew

This one is basic. Dr. Peter Gentry, a brilliant scholar, called by some as a “true Hebraist,” teaches us how to understand Hebrew. Next semester we’ll get into the Bible itself. It’s great. It’s difficult. It’s my favorite class.

The Kentucky State Fair

You can’t live in Kentucky and not attend some kind of fair. And what do you know? Just mere weeks after arriving in Louisville, Kentucky held it’s state fair, and nothing says “America” like putting fried sugar-glazed bread on both sides of a greasy burger.

living-in-america

Nothing except deep-fried Funnel Cake Oreo Sundaes. Just how many things can you fit into one dessert? It’s like going to a Ryan’s desert buffet.

living-in-america-2

And then we needed to find a church . . . without having a car.

which-church

But we didn’t really need to look. I had heard of Clifton Baptist Church back when I was in York. Tom Schreiner was the teaching pastor then, and John Kimbell has since taken his place. Plus, it’s only a 20 minute walk from our apartment, which is only a 7 minute walk from school (also good when you don’t have a car).

I managed to pull a muscle/obtain a pinched nerve in my shoulder over a month ago. The pain subsided a few weeks ago, but the shoulder itself is still pretty weak. It’s difficult to lift something up or to the side with my arm stretched out (even to push some doors open), so I’m borrowing a exercise band to work it back to what it was before and not look like some poor guy who can’t open doors.

tfs

The Far Side

Reviews

I have some reviews in the pipeline too, but I’m busy enough that I can’t make much time for doing anything else besides on Sundays. Mari and I have tried to make one day out of the week open to do anything else besides school. It usually works well, but sometimes we have too much schoolwork to do so that idea doesn’t work. No rest for the weary.

I’m trying to make it sounds like we’re drowning, but for the most part we’re not. Usually.

Something I’ll start doing with upcoming reviews is to write shorter reviews which focus less on summarizing the book and more on the benefits of the book itself. It’s much easier to only summarize the book, but it’s also not so exciting. It might be helpful before one reads a book, but what would be better would be to interact with the book itself to show why you should read this and how it will (hopefully) benefit you in your walk with Christ and in your knowledge of him.

There are other websites which summarize Christian books better that I can, and really, the average person who reads my reviews would rather know why they should read this book and how it will benefit their thinking rather than what is in the book. Since most of the books I read lean toward the academy, it’s better to show both how reading such books is beneficial and why you might want to.

I should also start reading more fiction. Correction: I should start reading fiction period. Maybe that can be my New Years Resolution. Though I have started moving toward that direction. But believe it or not, I’ll be reviewing a few non-theological books too. I’ve asked for (and received) another book on Norway, The Nordic Theory of Everything, and I’ve also asked for a few books on Apache Indians and the early days of the US Postal Service. So it’s a start.

In the mean time, I’ll write up a few posts about where I got the name for this blog and how I’ve used it within my blog itself.

fair

Later, skater

5 Comments

26/10/2016 · 19:40