I have started to hear about "New Covenant Theology." What is this? Can you tell me more?
UK Apologetics Reply:
New Covenant theology is, in my view, literally the teaching of your Bible and mine. Here are some of its main thrusts:
- The New Covenant, as revealed by Jesus through the Gospel message, supercedes the old covenant, making it (that is, the old covenant), redundant. This is taught right through the New Testament and throughout the Book of Hebrews, but especially note Hebrews 8:13.
- The other covenants, such as the Abrahamic covenant, can now only be properly explained through the New Covenant.
- Jesus should now be seen as central to all Bible teaching. From Genesis 1 to Revelation 22, the Bible is truly all about the Lord Jesus Christ. To correctly understand it, our focus must be Christocentric.
- The law, as a legal 'sword of damocles' standing over us, is completed and fulfilled in Christ; that is, it has no power over the truly called and converted elect of God who come under grace in and through Christ (Ephesians 2:8-10). Jesus revealed a new law, 'the law of Christ' for the Spirit-led Christian who should now walk in this new way (Matthew 5-7).
- Legalism must necessarily be almost always in opposition to the New Covenant. The old covenant clearly demonstrated that a legalistic approach to obeying God cannot work which is why God offered something far better (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
- New Covenant theology is clearly different from reformed (Calvinist) theology, Arminian theology and dispensational theology. It can be claimed that all of the above either add something to the Scriptures (which is the practice of eisegesis), or do not reflect the totality of the Scriptures. Dispensationalism adds the concept of seven dispensations to the Bible, Calvinism adds a covenant ('the covenant of grace') which is unbiblical. It also has little interest in the New Covenant because it teaches that believers remain under law. In contrast, New Covenant theology insists that nothing should be added to the Scriptures.
- New Covenant theology is almost necessarily evangelical, but never 'fundamentalist,' nor liberal. Fundamentalists - all too frequently - seem to have little understanding of the New Covenant because they like to spend countless hours worrying over, and arguing over, numerous Old Testament verses, whether in the area of prophecy or legalism. They often don't get the 'big picture' of how much of that is now fulfilled in Christ Who alone is the true eschaton (end of all things). This leads naturally to our eighth point...
- New Covenant theology rejects any unhealthy Bible focus which is not a Christocentric focus. So extremes of prophecy interpretation, for example, to say nothing of the prosperity teaching, find no place. On prophecy, for instance, it is enough to say that believers await the Second Coming and the Resurrection and - while noting the 'signs and the times' - leave the rest in our Saviour's very capable hands.
Sometimes New Covenant Teachers Go Too Far...
A few, taking this teaching just a little too far, insist that there now remains little or no further need of pastors and elders, but that is in disagreement with the teaching of Paul the Apostle. However, there is no doubt that the New Covenant provides a Spirit-led dynamism which will not always be confined or restricted to the concepts of 'denominational churchianity.' Neither is New Covenant theology any excuse for going off and doing one's own thing or introducing heretical teachings. On the contrary, this theology is supremely respectful to, and consistent with the Holy Word.
Another preacher of a roughly 'New Covenant' sort, said (in an mp3 audio tape) that since we are now saved and covered by the grace of God, we are "just as holy as Jesus." I totally disagree: we can never be 'as holy as Jesus.' Such a concept has always been regarded as a Christian heresy and, in my opinion, it should continue to be so.
New Covenant Theology Is Not Really New
A few charge New Covenant theology with being a 'new teaching,' but actually it appears to be the original approach and can be noted - at least to a very large degree - among the church fathers before other philosophies started to enter the church and gain influence (Catholicism, for example, followed by Calvinism and, much later, dispensationalism).
Robin A. Brace. February 15th, 2014.