Blog

My View of Dispensationalism: Progressive Covenantalism

I am a dispensationalist . . . I think. Below is my explanation of my view. While the term “Progressive Covenantalism” suggests a hybrid between Covenant Theology and Progressive Dispensationalism, it is not really meant to. My view is simply Progressive Dispensationalism with two changes: 1) The emphasis is on the continuity brought about by the single covenant of redemption, not made between the members of the Trinity (as in Covenant Theology), but between God and mankind, represented by Adam. 2) The change of name. I don’t like the word “dispensationalism.” Sadly, it has lost its effectiveness due to the increadible amount of misrepresentation due to ignorance of its history and development. Therefore, I think it should be superseded (oh yeah, how was that for a play on words my young replacement theologians?). Anyway, here is a brief video clip describing what Progressive Covenantalism is. I have inserted the charts so that you can see them better.

Dan Lioy has written on this in Theological-Research. His article is helpful.

18 Responses to “My View of Dispensationalism: Progressive Covenantalism”

  1. I like it… I’ve read Dan’s paper too, and think that this idea does address numerous continuity/discontinuity issues I’ve felt that neither system handled too well.

    So – when does your paper come out on it? When does your book come out? ;^)

    I’d like to know more, more details, etc…

    -steve

  2. Michael,

    In this view, how were OC saints saved and empowered to live holy lives?

    Or, more specifically, what was different about the OC saint and the NC saint? Did the OC saint have all the same spiritual resources as the NC saint within this view?

    Thanks,

    -steve

  3. Steve, all systems must see some advancement in the church age as the Holy Spirit came in a particular way with the establishment of the church. According to Jeremiah 31:31, this time introduces a time when God’s law would not come as an outside force of rules and regulations, but because of a change of heart. The Holy Spirit plays an important and distinct role as the other “comforter” who comes as a representative of Christ.

    Yet at the same time Christ clearly says that regeneration is the same in the Old Testament and the New Testament in John three, “unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” Therefore, all OC saints had to be born of the Spirit.

    It would seem that the indwelling power of the Spirit is functional in a more effective way under the NC.

    These issues are very difficult, but I would not see any of them as discontinuous but an advancement in God’s covenant of redemption.

    Both dispensationalism and CT are coming closer together on these issues. Both would say that people under the OC and NC are saved by grace through faith through the blood of Christ. The content of that faith would obviously be different since prior to Christ, people did not know about His death burial and resurrection.

  4. “stevemoore on 31 Aug 2007 at 3:10 pm #

    Michael,

    In this view, how were OC saints saved and empowered to live holy lives?

    Or, more specifically, what was different about the OC saint and the NC saint? Did the OC saint have all the same spiritual resources as the NC saint within this view?”

    I think some of this answer lies here in romans 1:20

    “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,”

    I believe the oc saints recognized Gods devine nature, His faithfulness, kindness, and graciousness. These things are what lead them to live holy lives.

    I don’t believe there is much difference between the oc/nc saint aside from JC Himself, who confirms them with what they already believe.

    They both have the same resource in my opinion.

    djohn

  5. Michael,

    Thanks for the follow up – you touched on the issue that I’ve been chewing on for some time:

    I don’t see evidence in the Scriptures that Old Covenant saints were enabled to live consistently holy lives as compared to their New Covenant counterparts. (Just look at the hero’s of the old testament and see how few of them would even qualify as New Testament leaders). However, to assert that they had faith but were not regenerate is to contradict the reformed ordo salutis. I’m struggling to reconcile the two.

    From reading Dr. Hamilton’s book regarding the Holy Spirit, he describes a viewpoint that agrees the OC saints were saved by faith, but would not consider them regenerate (a new, circumcised heart like in the new covenant). (If you’ve read the book, this is viewpoint #4 in chapter 2 and I believe that Dr. Bock holds this view?) What I’m wondering is what would the ordo salutis be for an Old Covenant saint according to this viewpoint? Is it possible for faith to precede regeneration, while still holding to election? Would they view the Old Testament ‘circumcision of the heart’ passages as references to the future New Testament, New Covenant experience of regeneration/new creation, rather than being an Old Covenant parallel to this experience? Did Old Covenant saints have the real, actual ability to “reckon themselves dead to sin” as Paul says is true of NC believers in Romans 6?

    I’m trying to work my way through the Old Testament canonically. One of the things that have struck me is the lack of ability to resist sin these Old Covenant saints seemed to have. I’m reminded of Moses in Deut. 29 telling the people that God has still not given them a heart to know or see. Then there is Joshua, telling the next generation that they too won’t keep the covenant (chapter 24). Then Judges, even David, the exiles, and so on. There are some positive exceptions, but not many.

    To me the evidence seems to better fit that they did not have circumcised hearts, both from the explicit references in the text and from observing what is recorded about their behavior. Obviously others have come to a different conclusion and I’m looking to understand, where I have gone wrong in my assessment of the Old Covenant saints?

    Thanks,

    -steve

  6. If I may suggest, that it was counted to Abraham for his faith” He believed God and that was if you will an insurance of his salvation. Knowing this was before the law, it begs the question did the other entire OT saints do like wise, believe in gods promises. I can not help to wonder if when Jesus gave up the ghost in John and the spirits (the OT saints) where flowing thru the city, if this has something to do with there release if you will of there belief and thus became saved only to await us of the New Covenant to join them.

  7. I just finished Hamilton’s book and I thought he argued that OT and NT saints were regenerated in the same way “circumcision of the heart” to allow for faith, but only NT saints were subsequently indwelt by the Spirit

    I’m not well educated on the Covenental Theology thing. I just picked up Michael Horton’s “God of Promise, an Introduction to Covenental Theology” I’ll see what happens.

    Also Michael will enlighten me with Ecclesiology and Eschatology in the The Theology Program this fall!!

  8. Chad,

    He does indeed argue that view. And, though I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I felt the argument for the OT saints was based on scant evidence. (not Dr. Hamilton’s fault, I just don’t think there is much if any.) For example, I still cannot find a single OC saint that is referred to as having a circumcised heart in either the old or new testament. When I went looking through the evidences, it seemed to indicate the contrary in fact.

    For example:

    The book listed several passages, the first being Jeremiah 9:25-26:

    9:25 The Lord says, “Watch out! The time is soon coming when I will punish all those who are circumcised only in the flesh. 9:26 That is, I will punish the Egyptians, the Judeans, the Edomites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, and all the desert people who cut their hair short at the temples. I will do so because none of the people of those nations are really circumcised in the Lord’s sight. Moreover, none of the people of Israel are circumcised when it comes to their hearts.”

    http://net.bible.org/bible.php?book=jer&chapter=9#n52

    In reading this, it would seem that it indicates the opposite – there were no Jews within the Old Covenant that had circumcised hearts.

    Now, I’ve not made my mind up about this – I am wanting to let the Biblical evidences drive my conclusions. I’m just having trouble finding any. ;^) The bigger problem then is if I assume the OC saints were not saved in the same manner then it contradicts the reformed view of salvation. I clearly think people were saved by grace through faith under both covenants, but I have problems saying the OC saints were regenerate based on the lack of supporting evidence and the explicit evidences to the contrary. So I cant seem to get out of this contradiction. I also wonder as I’ve asked various people is if I get the “systematic” answer – meaning a CT will answer this one way and a Disp. will answer it another way, merely based on their systems rather than the Scriptural evidence. Thus, I am still trying to get to a better understanding…

    -steve

  9. So are you saying that God did not know that Adam would sin? Is he not all
    knowing and soveriegn? To say that God did not know Adam would sin is to
    Limit God’s power. If God knew that Adam would sin doesn’t it mean that
    God would have had a plan for redemtion already in place? We need to not
    limit the soverienty of God by thinkining that He is there correcting mans
    errors by redirecting man with new covenents. The object of creation is for
    the glorification of God through His deminstrating His nature. So we need to
    see God’s justice and mercy as the deminstration of his Glory. The cross is
    solely to glorify God not to save man.

  10. Who? I never suggested such. Of course God knew. I am not open theist.

  11. Socrates,

    I don’t know if you were responding to me or to Michael but I would echo Michael’s sentiments. If it was to me, I think that my question and comments have been misunderstood – if that’s the case, I can try again.

    Am I the only one who I sees (or understands my questions -posts #5, #8)? It’s possible it’s all in my head, but for me it’s a glaring question that is nagging at me.

    -steve

  12. Paige-Patric Samuels August 9, 2010 at 5:56 am

    I think most theologians debunk Dispensationalism, as been mere 19th century nut cases. However I beg to differ I believe Dispensationalism has an excellent way to explain Eschatology and and Soteriology. It see Israel in light of the biblical revelation of the scared scriptures, It see the body of Christ the church, its place, its goal, this is clearly seen in the NT Testament. However this is not the case with Covenant theology . as it fall shy of really understanding that it is the Nation of Israel that God gave the Covenant of circumcision, this is not the case with the Gentiles, who are the ecclsia the body of Christ.
    Patric

  13. I find no biblical evidence for the OT saints to have any of the NT positional truths:

    Crucified with Christ? Gal 2:20
    Buried with him in baptism Col 2:12 (i.e. not water but spirit 1 Cor 12:13)
    Risen or resurrected with him? Rom 6:1-13
    Old man crucified with him and put off Rom 6:6; Col 3:9
    Raised to sit in heavenly places Eph 2:6
    Having forgiven ALL trespasses Col 2:13
    We are adopted predestined to be conformed to the image of his son Rom 8:23 and the adoption as sons Gal 4:5

    None of these positional truths are anywhere stated, taught or implied of OT saints.

    Even the fact of being regenerated is suspect as how can an OT saint be regenerated by the holy Spirit and then the HS leave them??? We are sealed by the Spirit until the day of redemption Eph 1:13, 14 and Eph 4:30

    Lastly, was there a single person prior to the resurrection that was listed as being “in Christ”?

    Being IN CHRIST is an almost exclusive Pauline positional truth

  14. I have some difficulty in trying to apply Romans 6 to OT saints, who were apparently not baptized into Christ. However, it is notable that John the Baptists parents (OT saints) “they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless [ἄμεμπτοι (amemptoi)]. Would I could say that of myself!

    However, I don’t take amemptoi to mean amomoi. I take it that amemptoi (blameless) means that persons who observed them could not perceive disobedience. Cf. < Rev 14 "These are they that follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were purchased from among men, to be the firstfruits unto God and unto the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no lie: they are without blemish [ ἄμωμοί]."

    Were OT saints trans-form-ed, meta-morph-o-cized? (new morphe, new form)? King Saul had some kind of transformation that the start of his anointing. Is this man untransformed who said, " As the hart panteth after the water brooks, So panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God"?

    But could an OT saint say, "I have been crucified with Christ, and it no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me"?

  15. Does not Covenant Theology postulate covenants which do not exist in the Bible?

    The Dispensational principle of interpretation must be used by anyone who claims that the Mosaic Law does not apply to him (or cherry-picks that Law, discarding some of it as not applicable to himself). The Disp principle of interp is merely that while all scripture is God’s Word, some of that Word is directly to particular persons, groups, and time periods. Adam was told to be a gardener; that is not a rule for myself. Peter was told to go fish & get a coin from the fish; that rule was not made for me. I don’t observe any sabbatical year. I don’t tithe to Levites nor observe any sabbath.

    Rules for the 12 in Mat 10, how do do a missionary journey are not to be followed by missionaries today. I don’t live in boothes once a year.

    Now one may not like the system of Scofield & Chafer, but nonetheless, if one is honest, one probably does follow a dispensational hermeneutic.

    You may differ as to how the dispensations are defined or what scripture is dispensational & what is universal, but you still have to follow that system. Is anyone looking for ashes of a red heifer after touching a dead body? Anyone gathering dust to make his wife drink if he is jealous?

  16. Robert Eaglestone September 2, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Does “New Covenant Theology” help at all? Or does it just use the word “fulfillment” as a code word for “replacement”?

  17. Mr. Patton,

    I very much appreciate your video “Session 3: The Church and Israel: A defense of Dispensational Theology”. It was very helpful to me in presenting, what I considered, balanced view of the unity between the testaments but also still noting some distinction between Israel and the church. I would like to read more about this particular point of view, do you have additional articles elsewhere?

    Also, I read the article by Dan Lioy that you linked to, however he seems to frame your position withing\ the Covenant Theology framework with its theological covenants of Redemption, Works, & Grace. I appreciated your presentation because I felt it was more “biblical” and less “theological”. Is Dan Lioy’s presentation consistent with your view?

    Thanks!
    //eric

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Rabbit Trails (Part 2) | Nequient Troll - June 15, 2012

    […] and Covenant Theology) and proceed to construct an emerging view he decided to name “Progressive Covenantalism.” He says that though it suggests a ‘hybrid between the two theologies, it really […]

Leave a Reply