The Christ of the Covenants (Book Review)

The Christ of the Covenants by O. Palmer Robertson

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The Christ of the Covenants by O. Palmer Robertson (hereafter COC) has become a modern classic in its thorough presentation of the covenantal-framework understanding of the Bible.  Assuming the reader is unfamiliar with the distinctive points of Covenant Theology, Robertson lays the groundwork in Part One by expounding on the nature, extent, unity, and diversity of biblical covenants between God and man.  First, he defines a covenant as “a bond in blood sovereignly administered” (p 15), then argues that all of redemptive history is governed by God through such divine covenants, and finally demonstrates that each individual covenant must be understood both independently and in relationship to the others.  Parts Two and Three of COC expound each covenant in greater detail to persuade the reader that the story of redemption found in the pages of Scripture cannot be appreciated without comprehending the covenants.  According to Robertson, the covenants are the biblical frame that reveal God’s majestic plan to redeem not only man, but to restore all of creation to its proper purpose of glorifying the Creator.

The various covenants are distinguished in chronological order as Creation, Commencement, Preservation, Promise, Law, Kingdom, and Consummation.  These correspond to the following Bible characters and the covenants established through them: Adam (pre-Fall), Adam (post-Fall), Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Christ.  Robertson defines a covenant as “sovereignly administered”, therefore he excludes the classically formulated Covenant of Redemption (the pre-creation redemptive agreement between the co-equal persons of the Trinity) from his list.  This exclusion is merely asserted with the comment that the nature of biblical covenants is understood more completely today than by theologians of the past who postulated this Trinitarian agreement as covenantal (p 54).  No discussion of the Son’s submission to the will of the Father appears in this context.  Furthermore, Robertson groups all of the covenants after that of Creation under the umbrella of “The Covenant of Redemption”, thus clouding the issue.  This redefinition of historic theological terms could confuse the uninformed reader.

(Continue reading here.)

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