That Introduction to Covenant Theology You’ve Always Wanted

You’re looking for an easy, accessible, clear introduction to covenant theology but each one you try seems either too complicated or just doesn’t quite get the job done. Maybe the introduction that your friend gave you omits the covenant of works or the covenant of redemption or doesn’t explain the Old Covenant very well or it has some other failing. I know that Reformed pastors are always looking for the perfect, short, readable book to hand out to visitors and inquirers to help them get a grasp on what we mean by “covenant theology.” This is the volume for which you’ve been waiting.

Brown and Keele, both pastors, have written a lively, brief, brisk, accessible, popular but accurate introduction to covenant theology. They hit a difficult mark because, for the Reformed, covenant isn’t just a category (although it is that), rather it is the way we understand all of Scripture and all of redemptive history. Because it is a comprehensive term when people say, “I want a brief, clear, accurate introduction to covenant theology” it’s a little like saying, “Tell me everything you know in ten minutes.” “Uh, well, okay, where do I start?” “Time is up!” Yikes. It’s not easy. Because, however, the they drew on material that they’ve used in their own congregations, pastors Brown and Keele present material in a way that can be grasped by everyone. Each chapter comes with study questions so this volume will work for Christian education classes.

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  1. Years ago, I read this: “Children of the Promise: The Biblical Case for Infant Baptism” by Robert R. Booth (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1995). Yes, Booth is a Theonomist, but I still think he did a pretty good job of explaining the covenants. So, I just might check out this new volume.

  2. Scott, how do the authors handle the eternal Pactum? Do they treat it as distinct, or do they fold it into the Covenant of Grace?

    • They have a section on the covenant of redemption (pactum salutis). No, they don’t “fold it into the covenant of grace.” They treat it as related to both the covenants of grace and works. The PS is gracious with us in view and legal insofar as it has in view obligations taken up by the Son. It’s a both/and approach rather than either/or.

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