Monday, November 18, 2013

Baptist Distinctives (Chapter 3)

After reading Pascal Denault's The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology:  A Comparison Between 17th Century Particular Baptist and Paedobaptist Federalism, I decided to collect my thoughts and make some chapter-by-chapter observations.  You can find my post on the Introduction here, Chapter 1 here, and Chapter 2 here.  For a general overview of the covenants found in the Bible, see my post on Redemptive History here.  Now let's look at Chapter 3 called 'The Old Covenant'.

In order to reconcile the view that the Old Testament is an administration of the Covenant of Grace, Presbyterianism holds that either (1) the Mosaic Covenant is an unconditional covenant by explaining that the conditions are the effect and not the condition of the promises or (2) the Abrahamic Covenant is isolated from the Mosaic Covenant which preserves the notion that the Covenant of Grace is mixed in nature and includes the natural posterity of its members.  Baptists contend that the Old Covenant is not the Covenant of Grace, but a conditional covenant of works that gives Christ a covenantal frame to bring about redemption. 

The Old Covenant covers the period from the Fall to the establishment of the New Covenant; it reaffirmed the Covenant of Works (but it was not the Covenant of Works) by demanding perfect obedience to the Law of God based on a sacrificial system for the redemption of sinners.  The sacrifices of the Old Covenant were temporary and a type (or foreshadow) of the work Jesus Christ would accomplish on the cross.  Christ was born under this law; He fulfilled the law by His obedience and endured the curse of the law by His death.

Blessings under the Old Covenant were earthly, while the blessings under the New Covenant are heavenly (or spiritual).  The goal of the Old Covenant was to preserve Abraham's lineage until the coming of Christ, which also preserved the promise of the Covenant of Grace.

Pascal Denault concludes:
"Therefore, the Old Covenant was, for the people of Israel, a figurative covenant, earthly and conditional, that had to lead them to Christ and not the Covenant of Works as such.  The Old Covenant, while being different from the Covenant of Works, reaffirmed it, not so that Israel would look for life by this means, but so that Christ would accomplish it.  The Old Covenant was, therefore, not only necessary to lead to Christ but it was necessary so that the later could accomplish salvation for God's Israel."