A Confessional Statement Concerning Covenant Theology Versus Dispensationalism

The following is part of an assignment that I submitted to Dr. Gerald Bilkes for his OT 142 class. Dr. Bilkes is easily the least known of the PRTS faculty, as he is the only one without a blog. Anyway, this assignment is laid out in a confessional formula; it’s not Westminster, it’s me.

Article 1
The Hermeneutical Question

WE AFFIRM that the very structure of Scripture is covenantal.

WE AFFIRM that all of God’s relationships with men are based on covenants.

WE AFFIRM that there are two distinct covenants in Scripture, the covenant of works, and the covenant of grace.

WE AFFIRM that the covenant of works, as such, was given to man in the Garden of Eden, and is binding upon all men who have ever lived.

WE AFFIRM that the covenant of grace, which was given first to Adam after he was expelled from Eden, and most prominently given in the Abrahamic covenant, is revealed with more clarity in each covenant administration (Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, New, etc.).

WE AFFIRM that the New Testament must interpret the Old Testament.

WE AFFIRM that Scripture is not always to be understood in a strictly literal fashion.

WE AFFIRM that when Scripture is interpreted in a non-literal fashion, it must only be done where the context demands, or where the New Testament authors, and Christ himself did so.

WE DENY that dispensationalism is the result of a plain, literal interpretation of Scripture.

WE DENY that the Old Testament must be interpreted apart from what the New Testament has revealed.

WE DENY that the dispensationalist can interpret Scripture consistently.

WE DENY the validity of the dispensational attempts to trace dispensationalism to early church premillennialism.

Article 2
Israel and the Church

WE AFFIRM that true Israel is and always has been a community set apart to covenant with God.

WE AFFIRM that the church, as a covenant community, began in the Garden of Eden.

WE AFFIRM that those who broke the covenant in Old Testament Israel were to be put out from amongst the people.

WE AFFIRM that national Israel was a true expression of the church in the Old Testament.

WE AFFIRM that the Abrahamic covenant is fulfilled in Christ and his church.

WE AFFIRM that there is neither Jew nor Greek; there are only the regenerate and the reprobate.

WE DENY that the kingdom of God is an ethnic kingdom.

WE DENY that Israel and the church are two entirely distinct groups to whom God made different promises.

WE DENY that modern day political Israel is in covenant with God.

WE DENY that the Abrahamic covenant will be fulfilled at some future point in the ethnic descendents of Abraham in the modern nation of Israel.

Article 3
Practical Implications

WE AFFIRM that the church is only rightly understood when the continuity of the covenant of grace is rightly understood.

WE AFFIRM that dispensational theology impoverishes preaching.

WE AFFIRM that God has one program for believers of all ages, and that all of the covenantal promises apply to that one group, namely, the church of God.

WE DENY that if one is a Christian he must necessarily support the political decisions of the modern nation of Israel.

WE DENY the assertion that covenant theology is in any way racist, or bigoted toward ethnic Hebrews.

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