“In the biblical drama of the living God’s works in creation and redemption,” writes Cornelis Venema, “no theme is more lustrous than that of God’s gracious intention to enjoy communion with humans who bear his image and whose lives have been broken through sin.”
This collection of Venema’s essays summarizes and defends a broad consensus view of the doctrine of the covenants in the history of Reformed theology and clarifies several areas of dispute.
Venema argues that (1) the distinction between a pre-fall covenant of works and a post-fall covenant of grace is an integral feature of a biblical and confessionally Reformed understanding of the history of redemption; (2) the distinction between a pre-fall covenant of works and a post-fall covenant of grace is necessary to preserve the sheer graciousness of God’s redemption in Jesus Christ; and (3) the doctrines of covenant and election are corollary doctrines, not opposed to each other, but mutually defining.
“In the prefall covenant, which Turretin denominates a ‘covenant of nature,’ God gratuitously conferred upon Adam the right to eternal happiness upon condition of perfect obedience. Due to the infinite difference between God as Creator and man as creature, and due to the disproportion between the creature’s obedience and the eternal life promised, Turretin clearly rejects the idea that Adam or the creature could ‘properly merit’ life through obedience, though he acknowledges that, speaking improperly, we may affirm a kind of ‘covenanted merit’ (meritum ex pacto) that derives ‘from the pact and liberal promise of God.’” (Page 88)
“Covenant describes the relationship itself in all its multiple dimensions, both legal and existential” (Page viii)
“the gospel preached in the old covenant is the same gospel preached in the new covenant” (Page 271)
“It should be evident from the foregoing that there is one obvious sense in which the language of ‘merit’ has no place in a biblical theology of the covenant: at no point in God’s dealings with man as covenant creature may we say that God, in the strict sense of justice, owes the creature anything.39 Everything God bestows upon the creature, whether in creation or redemption, is an undeserved benefit of his goodness and kindness. This holds true as much for man in his original state as in his redeemed state, though there is a difference between the favor shown sinless man and the grace shown the sinner, the covenant breaker who has forfeited any claim upon God’s continued favor. At no point in God’s dealings with man may we say that man gets what he deserves, strictly speaking, from God.” (Pages 32–33)
No one today is better qualified to address the perennially important issues of covenant theology than Cornel Venema. In this volume he considers some of these issues in the context of current discussions and debates, doing so in a particularly instructive and helpful manner.
—Richard B. Gaffin Jr., Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology, Emeritus, Westminster Theological Seminary
Cornelis Venema sheds much-needed light on issues ranging from the doctrine of republication to the Federal Vision theology. Regardless of whether one agrees with all of Venema’s specific conclusions, his arguments cannot be ignored. A must-read.
—Keith Mathison, Professor of Systematic Theology, Reformation Bible College
We have come to expect great things from Dr. Venema’s writings and this volume does not disappoint. Treatments of three major issues currently troubling Reformed churches are done with masterful analysis. Quite frankly, these pages are necessary reading from one of the finest theologians of our time.
—Derek W. H. Thomas, Chancellor’s Professor, Reformed Theological Seminary
In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.