In this masterful summary of covenant theology, Horton carefully shows how systematic covenant theology holds together many important biblical principles. Clear and comprehensive, this book is the ideal introduction to covenant theology.
–Dr. Philip Graham Ryken, senior minister, Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, PA
Book Excerpt:We live in a world of broken promises. The fragile web of truthful communication and practical living connects us to each other and when any part of that web comes under significant stress, the trust on which our relationships depend can easily break. It’s not just self-interest that is, outright violation of our commitments ("what we have done," in the prayer of confession), but often the pursuit of things that are in themselves worthy but subordinate goods ("what we have left undone") that tug on this web. Either way, we transgress the law of love.
As Jesus reminds us, there is an inseparable connection between "the two tables" of the Law: love of God (the vertical dimension) and love of neighbor (the horizontal). In the fall of humanity in Adam, recapitulated in the history of Israel, human relationships fray as a result of prior infidelity to their Covenant Lord. And yet in the midst of our broken promises, there is always before, during, and after the promise-making and promise-keeping, God who will not let the web fall apart.
God’s very existence is covenantal: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in unceasing devotion to each other, reaching outward beyond the Godhead to create a community of creatures serving as a giant analogy of that relationship. Created in the image of that Triune God, we are by nature outgoing, relationship-establishing, interdependent, finding ourselves in the other and not just in ourselves. Unlike the persons of the Trinity, there was a time when we were not. But when God did decide to create, it was not a decree from a lonely monarch, but Father, Son, and Holy Spirit filled with delight in establishing a creaturely, finite analogy of that eternal giving-and-receiving. It’s not just that we were created and then given a covenant; we were created as covenant creatures—partners not in deity, to be sure, but in the drama that was about to unfold in history. Covenant creatures by nature, every person has a personal relationship with God. What exactly the nature of that relationship happens to be after the fall will be taken up at some length in this book, but there can be no doubt: everyone has a relationship with God and the shape of that relationship is covenantal. If that is true, then it stands to reason that we would want to know more about the nature of that relationship.
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