I’m aware that some might see my thoughts on the New Covenant as mere doctrinal pin-dancing. I strongly disagree.
This is important for a number of reasons. Briefly (and not exhaustively):
- There are important connections between God’s promises given to Abraham and the Genesis prologue, which are crucial for a correct appreciation of creation theology. Indeed, much foundational theology orbits around these promises. If the church sees a radical disjuncture between OT and NT, then a lot of this foundational theology is neglected and we cease to correctly understand the gospel itself. I would argue that the neglect of creation theology in the church, and the tendency to dissociate creation from redemption in eschatology is partly down to this kind of problem.
- If the foundational links between the gospel of Christ and the promises given to Abraham are not recognised, God’s covenant dealings with human beings are not adequately reflected in the church’s life. This is especially true in the sacraments, and specifically baptism, where God’s covenant commitment to the children of his people ought to be recognised. This spins out in how our young people relate to the church into which they are born. So, it gets very practical indeed.
- Paul makes clear in Ephesians that the maturity to which Christians ought to aspire involves understanding God’s historical acts through the OT nation of Israel, and his revelation to Israel. Whereas some Christians think that a 2-minute 5-point gospel presentation is what the world needs, it is in fact this rich view of God’s historical dealing with humans that we need to grasp and express. The gospel of Jesus embraces an expansive, comprehensive explanation of both the history and future of the world. This is the gospel that people need to hear, if they are to understand why God became a human being in order to redeem them. It’s the gospel that people want to hear, as they struggle to understand the world and their place in it. That’s Paul’s approach, and it ought to be ours.