Thursday, July 25, 2013

Covenant Theology Clarification


In listening to the interview with Pascal Denault on the Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology  Part 2 (see The Confessing Baptist Podcast #3), I found it interesting that Mr. Denault recommended Christ and the Condition:  A CovenantTheology of Samuel Petto.  As a typist for the Puritan Board, I recently typed two books by Samuel Petto called Infant Baptism of Christ's Appointment and Infant Baptism Vindicated.  Petto's main argument is:

"There is no express Scripture against infant baptism; if there was, the controversy would be presently at an end.  Therefore, infants may be baptized, for “where there is no law, there is no transgression,” (Rom. 4:15)."

I've only read reviews of Petto's Covenant Theology book, but it appears that Mr. Petto argues that the Mosaic Covenant is the primary legal condition of the Covenant of Grace:

“The main thesis of the book argues that Petto viewed the Mosaic covenant as a republication of the covenant of works for Christ to fulfill as the condition of the covenant of grace in order to uphold and defend his doctrine of justification sola fide.”

From Part 2 of the on-line interview, Mr. Denault restated Petto's covenant theology view:  "The Old Covenant adds a different function for (1) Israel--a national covenant of conditional sorts, but it wasn't an absolute Covenant of Works; the law of works required perfect obedience from every man; therefore, there was a republication of the Covenant of Works conditional on obedience with earthly typological blessings; and for (2) Christ--an absolute Covenant of Works (the original did not offer redemption); the Old Covenant was based on the Levitical system of sacrifice (typological of Christ's sacerdotal work).  God republished the law of works so that Christ could come and pay for the elect's sins."

So I sent in my question to the Confessing Baptist podcast (very nicely edited by the moderator Jason):  How does Petto's view of the Mosaic Covenant as a Covenant of Works relate to the 1689 Federalism view of that same Mosaic Covenant since Petto is a paedobaptist?

This question was answered on The Confessing Baptist Podcast #15 (around 48:45).  From Mr. Denault (mostly quoted with slight editing for reading):

"In the New Testament (John 7:22-23; Gal. 5:3; Acts 15:10-11), circumcision encompasses all the acts required in the law; it does not allow, but forbids the separation of the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants.  These covenants are kept separate by the paedobaptists in order to keep a mixed Covenant of Grace and an old Covenant of Works.  However, in 1689 Federalism, these covenants are cumulative steps of the full establishment of what the New Testament calls the Old Covenant.  That Old Covenant was not an administration of the Covenant of Grace, but a Covenant of Works upon which the blessings were conditional.  It had a typological value for Israel as a nation, but was absolute for Christ who accomplished it; fulfilling God's promises and establishing the New Covenant that endures forever.  Therefore, we can share the same idea regarding the Mosaic Covenant without holding the same federalism."

As I continue to read and study, I think I'm getting a clearer picture of Covenant Theology; however, I've almost reached my saturation level, so I think I'm going to be satisfied with just a slight working knowledge of this subject.