Covenant Theology is the dominant heological system of most main- line Protestant churches. It is a
system of theology that interprets the
Bible’s philosophy of history through
the lens of two or three covenants
and is founded on Replacement Theology, which maintains that God has
replaced the Jewish people with the
church and that Christians are now
God’s chosen people.
As a systematic theology, it attempts
to explain God’s purpose for history.
Why are things the way they are
today? Why were they different in the
past? Why was there a time when
there was no government on Earth?
Why was there a time when God gave
the Law to a particular group of people? Why is that system of law not
applied throughout the world today?
Systematic theology must make sense
of the progress of revelation. Why didn’t
God give the Epistles to Old Testament
Israel? Why did He wait to reveal those
after the church began?
Theology must provide a unifying
principle that connects these historical
differences with the progress of revelation, thus providing answers for the
past, present, and future. Most important, a valid philosophy of history will
answer these questions: “Where did
we come from? Why are we here?
Where are we going?”
Covenant Theology’s basic premise is that, in eternity past, God
determined to govern all of history
on the basis of three covenants.
(Some combine two of the covenants
into one.) These are the covenants of
works, redemption, and grace.
ISRAEL MY GLORY
The Covenant of Works. According
to Covenant theologians, the covenant of
works was established between the creation and Fall of Man. Covenants are formal, legally binding agreements in which
both parties have obligations.
The covenant of works supposedly
was established between the triune God
and Adam, in which Adam is God’s representative head of the human race and
acts for all his descendants. Covenant theologians argue that Adam’s obligation
was perfect obedience to God. God’s obligation was to provide eternal life in
exchange for perfect obedience. Adam’s
penalty for failing to keep his part of the
covenant was death to both Adam and
Where do we find this covenant in
the Bible? We don’t. It is not in the
Bible. Covenant theologians infer these
covenants based on certain Scriptures,
including the threat of death for eating
of the tree of knowledge in Genesis 2.
There must be a covenant, they say,
because God provided a warning and a
penalty. That is the logic they use.1
The Covenant of Redemption. This
covenant supposedly was established
before creation in eternity past between
God the Father and God the Son, in
which the Father made His Son the
Head and Redeemer of the elect. The
Son volunteered to take the place of
those whom God gave to Him—the
elect here on Earth. The Son’s obligation was to become human under the
Law, live without sin, and willingly
take the elect’s punishment on the
cross. The Father’s obligation was to
resurrect the Son and give Him numerous seed, all power in heaven and
earth, and great glory.
Again we ask, “Where is this covenant
in Scripture?” And again the answer is
that it is not there. It does not exist.
Covenant theologians claim it is implied
based on God’s promises and the Son’s
willingness to go to the cross.2
There are a number of problems with
Covenant Theology. First, its ultimate