Friday, April 13, 2012

The Covenantal Nature of Christianity (Part 2)

2. The Bible cannot be properly understood unless it is viewed within a covenantal frame.

My challenge to those who do not see covenant as the internal framework of Scripture is: Do you not interpret the Bible atomistically? The Bible is never truly understood until it is seen as a unity. In any good story there is a main plot that tells the protagonist's adventures and/experiences. Many other subplots may intrude along the way, but they are not the main story and any one of them could be included or excluded without damage to the storyline itself. Likewise, the Bible is the story of God's covenant of grace with His people and how Christ brings this to fruition. All of the historical narratives are there to illustrate God's faithfulness to His promise. Getting sidetracked by subplots is faulty exegesis.

Edgar Allen Poe, in his The Purloined Letter, has his Dupin describe a game in which the players name places on a map and the others try to locate these places. Dupin relates how, very often, the most obvious places are the ones most easily overlooked. If I name some small island in the South Pacific, you will likely scour the map with such minute scrutiny that you will not notice the words PACIFIC OCEAN plastered across the map in 4 inch letters. We can, in similar fashion, study things like faith, repentance, the death of Christ, the plan of salvation, the person of the God-man, the relationship of the Old and New Testaments, the work of the Spirit, etc and not even notice that all these things are covenantal in nature.

The whole storyline of the Bible is how man's covenant relationship with God was ruined and restored. Understanding Scripture covenantally informs us how all the pieces fit together. The Bible is a unity, not a scrapbook of interesting bits and pieces. We will never understand, and therefore never exegete Scripture properly, until we see its covenantal framework.

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