By Greg Gibson

Here is a brief 7 minute and 20 second audio/podcast interview I did on New Covenant Theology. (Thanks to Uri Brito for providing the audio. Below are my edited notes from the interview…

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New Covenant Theology is a hermeneutic that results in a system. First we will define the hermeneutic, then the system, and finally answer some questions…

New Covenant Theology Hermeneutic

Hermeneutic: The New Testament consistently interprets the Old Testament. We can see this New Testament hermeneutic in church history…

    A. Justyn Martyr: Called the Church the new Israel (despite being historic pre-millennial).

    B. Many apostolic fathers: Non-Sabbatarians (did not believe God changed the Sabbath to Sunday, and did not apply the 4th command to Sunday).

    C. “Pre-Anabaptists” like the Donatists and Waldensians (mostly Baptists), and Reformation Anabaptists rejected paedobaptism for credobaptism, and rejected church-state theocracy. (Agreement with their New Testament hermeneutic applied to ecclesiology is not necessarily an endorsement of all their other beliefs.)

This New Testament hermeneutic resulted in parts which were combined into a whole system by Jon Zens, John Reisinger, etc. starting in the late 20th century.

New Covenant Theology System

1. New Testament eschatology (contra Dispensationalism)
2. New Testament ecclesiology (contra paedobaptist, Covenant Theology)
3. New Testament nomology (contra paedobaptist and Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology)

IOW, Christ brought a new covenant with a new priest, new sacrifice, new temple, new land, new people of God, and new law.

New Covenant Theology Distinctives

1. Hermeneutic: New Testament consistently interprets the Old Testament (not author’s original intent/literal/grammatical-historical).

2. Scripture: Christ-centered Bible (not Israel-centered or covenant-centered).

3. God’s Purpose and Covenants: One pre-historical purpose revealed in historical, distinct covenants (not two purposes, or one Covenant of Grace).

4. Old Testament Prophecy: Promises to Israel fulfilled by Christ and believers (Jews and Gentiles) in the Church.

5. Church: Regenerate members (not believers and their children).

6. Law: Obey all that Christ commanded (not Antinomianism, or Moses’ commands).

7. Sanctification: Christ-centered growth (not law-centered).

New Covenant Theology Questions

1) In what sense is the Decalogue abolished?

My view is that Christ abolished the Decalogue for direct obedience, but not revelation and doctrine. Jesus and His apostles transferred 9 of the 10 Commandments into the New Covenant canon (New Testament), so that we obey them from the authority of the New Testament, not the Old Testament.

2) What about Matthew 5:17 in this debate?

It’s probably the most important passage on how the Old Testament relates to the New Testament. I’m not sure if New Covenant Theology has a consensus view, so I’ll explain my view.

    A. Law or Prophets means Pentateuch or Prophets (both parts of the whole Old Testament), not the Decalogue or moral law alone.

    B. Fulfill means for eschatological/typological/prophetic fulfillment, not confirm for obedience.

    C. “These commandments” are Christ’s commands, not Moses’ commands.

3) How does New Covenant Theology view the 4th commandment?

New Covenant Theology views the Sabbath command as fulfilled and cancelled by Christ. Many New Covenant Theologians distinguish between 2 Sabbaths: God’s eternal rest (salvation: Gen. 2, Mt. 11:28-29:, and Heb. 4) vs. Israel’s 24-hour, weekly rest (Ex. 16, Ex. 20, Deut. 5, etc.) We see Israel’s weekly Sabbath as a gospel picture of Christ’s eternal rest which we enter by faith. IOW, the type was Israel’s weekly Sabbath, and the antitype is Christ’s eternal rest (Col. 2:16-17) in the new creation.

4) How does New Covenant Theology view the Lutheran law/gospel distinction?

As a hermeneutic where the whole Bible can be divided into law or gospel, I’m not aware of a New Covenant Theology consensus. But for sanctification, NCTs clearly distinguish between indicatives and imperatives, especially since we see a contrast between the Old Covenant’s “if you obey, then you will be” in Ex. 19:5-6 vs. the New Covenant’s “you are” in 1 Pet. 2:9. Also in redemptive history, we distinguish between law-grace, not law-gospel (Jn. 1:17; Rom. 6:14).

5) Should we use the law in evangelism?

RE: Decalogue-evangelism, I agree with Doug Moo, “the popular notion that the Mosaic law should be preached as a preparation for the gospel, revealing sin and one’s need of salvation, has slim Biblical support. None of the examples of evangelistic preaching in the New Testament uses the law in this way” (Stanley N. Gundry, Ed., Five Views on Law and Gospel, p. 339).

Proof: Look at a Bible that shows Old Testament quotes in the New Testament. In Acts, you’ll see direct, explicit quotes from Joel 2, Ps. 110, etc., but not Ex. 20 or Dt. 5 (although they were implied).

When evangelizing, we can convict sinners by appealing to 3 different sources of law:

    1. The Old Covenant Law of Moses: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image” (Ex. 20:4).

    2. The New Covenant Law of Christ: “idolaters…their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire” (Rev. 21:8).

    3. Conscience: “Idolatry is a sin” (no Scripture).

Summary of Christ and the Apostles’ Evangelistic Preaching on Sin:

    1. Jesus evangelized one Jew by quoting from the Decalogue, but not for conviction of sin (Mt. 19:16ff).

    2. The apostles evangelized Jews by implying, but not explicitly quoting the Decalogue.

    3. The apostles evangelized Gentiles by convicting of sin from the conscience, not the Decalogue.

Conviction of sin of unbelief in Jesus the risen Lord:
“he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment. In regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned” (Jn. 16:8).

6) What is New Covenant Theology’s eschatology?

Most NCTs are amillennial., some are historic premillennial.

Edited 4/15/10

New Covenant Theology Interview: Hermeneutic, System, and Questions
| 2010 | New Covenant Theology | Tags: , , , | Comments (9)

9 Responses to “New Covenant Theology Interview: Hermeneutic, System, and Questions

  1. Robert Creech says:

    I attend an Advent Christian church ( conditionalist, but evangelical) and we are using ALL OC LAWS CANCELLED as a Sunday school text. Even though some or most in the denom. leadership lean toward some version of NCT, I think the title of your book horrified several in the class. As one said, “The ten commandments-that’s the first thing we’re taught.” Anyway, I hope I’m presenting the material in a way that they see it is not so new or radical, but the most Christ-centered approach. You will be thrilled to know that I purchased about 14 copies of your book. We’re taking it nice and slow with much discussion.

  2. Greg Gibson says:

    Hi Robert,

    Thank you for the report. I read the history of the ACC, and found it very interesting.

    I didn’t design the book as a Christ-centered view of sanctification. Rather it’s a topical study on God’s law, with a brief reminder in the last chapter about the importance of Christ-centered sanctification. And I wouldn’t recommend it for most churches because of the polemical nature, not too edifying. The exception is churches like yours that have a historical foundation on OT laws should find it helpful. That said, I’d like to hear your church’s reaction when you’re done. I’ll pray that the Lord will help you all to understand what it means to live in the New Covenant.

  3. WoundedEgo says:

    The new covenant is with the houses of Israel and Judah. Jews. Period. That is what the scriptures plainly and explicitly say. Read Jeremiah 31, for crying out loud!

  4. Nick Mackison says:

    Greg, listened to this podcast and thought your arguments were outstanding. Really simple statements yet so powerful.

  5. Greg Gibson says:

    Nick,

    Nice to hear from you again. Thanks for the encouragement.

    The key is a consistent New Testament hermeneutic. I’ve challenged a few Covenant Theologians with this argument on their blogs, and they didn’t even try to answer.

  6. Nick Mackison says:

    They didn’t try because they can’t! Such a powerful argument, i.e. the NT hermeneutic.

  7. Brian Hyde says:

    I know this thread is a year old but I am hoping for a reply Greg. WoundedEgo above made a point that the new covenant is with the house of Israel only and not for the Gentiles Jeremiah 31:31-34 is the key text being used also by Messianic Jews who also tell me that the New Covanant is not with the Gentiles. In breif how would you refute that scripturally?

  8. Greg Gibson says:

    Hi Brian and Wounded Ego,

    You asked a complex question that requires a long answer. But to try to make a long answer short…

    Yes, Jer. 31 is a prophesy about the New Covenant for the Jews. And if our hermeneutic is that the OT interprets the NT, then we will believe that the NC is for the Jews alone. But if our herm. is that the NT interprets the OT, then we will ask, “Who do the NT apostles interpret as Israel today?”

    Most scholars have recanted the view that the NC is for Jews alone. Most believe that the NC is for believing Jews and Gentiles. Others (Biblical Theologians and New Covenant Theologians) take that a step farther and say that the NC is for the New Israel, Jesus and those IN Him, believing Jews and Gentiles. Where do they get such ideas? From the New Testament apostles’ interpretation of Old Testament prophecy.

    I don’t have time to quote all the NT verses that show the Church (believing Jews and Gentiles) included in Israel. So I’ll leave you some links if you desire to research more. Also, the day is coming when God will restore Jews in Christ, in the Church (Rom. 11).

    http://www.patheos.com/community/euangelion/2011/07/13/the-church-and-israel-part-6-five-theses/
    http://ids.org/author/author-geoff-volker/does-the-church-replace-israel-part-1/
    http://ids.org/author/author-geoff-volker/does-the-church-replace-israel-part-2/
    http://ids.org/author/author-geoff-volker/does-the-church-replace-israel-part-3/

  9. Paul says:

    The word sabbath means rest. Our rest is now in Jesus Christ. Our rest in Jesus Christ is not one day a week. Our rest is in Jesus Christ seven days a week. We are to keep EVERY DAY holy! Not just one. Going to church for a few hours on Sunday does not make it holy. EVERY DAY is the LORD’s DAY!

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