Monday, June 18, 2007

Covenantal Prolegomenon

"The doctrine of the covenants," writes David VanDrunen, "can itself unite the various strands of theology into a unified, coherent, and harmonious whole." The Bible, after all, is more than an ecclectic and hasily-thrown-together gaggle of battle accounts, prophecies, parables, and personal letters. It is the story of the creation, fall, redemption, and consummation of all things, the playwright and director of which is God, and the lead character in which is his Son.

So let's unpack this idea that "all of the basic realms that systematic theology investigates are defined in covenantal terms," shall we?

VanDrunen begins with Prolegomenon, which is basically a fancy codeword for our method of doing theology, the various tools we need in order to begin our task. Building upon Michael Horton's work, VanDrunen argues that we should allow the Bible itself to provide us with our theological and hermeneutical method, rather than our bringing our own preferred method to the table.

A "covenantal prolegomenon," therefore, would begin with the biblical insistence, echoed in WFC vii.1, that the relationship between the Creator and his creatures occurs through a "voluntary condescension on God's part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant." In other words, we do not relate to God in a purely individual capacity, but collectively and covenantally.

As passages like Jeremiah 31:35-36, 33:20-26, Psalm 19, and Romans 1 demonstrate, "Man's first contact with nature, both that within and outside of himself, confronts him with the powerful Deity who is none other than covenant Lord.... In this light," VanDrunen concludes, "prolegomenon is thoroughly covenantal."

So what think ye? A worthwhile project? A stretch?