Monday, November 15, 2010

Baptism and the New Covenant

Recently, I have been slowly reading through A Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism, ed. by Gregg Strawbridge. While it has certainly advanced my understanding of baptism, it has more importantly opened my mind to the idea of covenant theology. What do I mean by covenant theology? I mean that: 1) There is one covenant of grace, spanning the Old and New Testaments, 2) Christ's life, death, and resurrection is the only source of salvation for all time, 3) "Israel" and the Church are synonymous in the New Covenant era, 4) the New and Old Covenants are fundamentally continuous, and 5) the means of the New Covenant are fuller expressions of the means of the Old Covenant. In essence, the New Covenant is simply the perfection of the Old Covenant.
How does this view affect one's view of church and spiritual life? First, it gives new perspective on the sacraments. Second, covenant theology reminds us of God's immutability and covenant faithfulness. Third, it gives Christians reason to study the Old Testament. If, as some Christians assert, the covenants are fundamentally discontinuous, then the Old Testament is of suspect benefit for those in Christ. On the other hand, if there is one covenant, entirely mediated through Christ, then the Old Testament is simply the first part of that one covenant and therefore points to Christ. As such, it is worthy of the study of Christians.
Is there a difference between the "Old" covenant and "New" covenant? Yes, for the New Covenant has inaugurated the last days. In the last days (church history from Pentecost to Christ's return), Jesus has brought the Kingdom of God and anointed His church with the Holy Spirit.
Why am I posting this? Primarily, because I want to grow more in my understanding of God's grace. Secondarily, I want to start an energetic, but charitable debate with those who support alternative views of the Covenants. I am, as always, very open to changing my views. Let's discuss this and grow to know the truth in a deeper and more life-changing way.