Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Eternal Covenant of Grace

I was doing some reading on the covenants in A.A. Hodge's Outlines of Theology and ran across an argument for the existence of an eternal covenant of grace (or redemption) among the members of the Trinity. Hodge provides seven points in favor of the position.

"1st. As shown at the opening of this chapter such a Covenant is virtually implied in the existence of an eternal Plan of salvation mutually form by and to be executed by three Persons.

2d. That Christ represented his elect in that Covenatn is necessarily implied in the doctrine of sovereign personal election to grace and salvation. Christ says of his sheep, 'Thine they were, and thou gavest them me,' and 'Those whom thou gavest me I have kept,' etc. - John 17:6, 12.

3d. The Scriptures declare the existence of the primse and conditions of such a Covenant, and present them in connection. - Isa. 53:10, 11.

4th. The Scriptures expressly affirm the existence of such a Covenant. - Isa 42:6; Ps. 89:3.

5th. Christ makes constant reference to a previous commision he had received of his Father. - John 10:18; Luke 22:29.

6th. Christ claims a reward which had been conditioned upon the fulfillment of that commission. - John 17:4.

7th. Christ constantly asserts that his people and his expected glory are given to him as a reward by his father. - John 17:6, 9, 24; Phil 2:6-11." Charles Hodge, Outlines of Theology (reprint, Carlisle, PA: Banner, 1991), 371.

I also stumbled across something very unexpected in my recent readings on the topic. I was thumbing through L.S. Chafer's Systematic Theology (which I just recently purchased because it was on sale for an unbelievably low price!), and he also affirms the existence of an eternal covenant of grace among the members of the Trinity. That's right. The father of Dallas dispensationalism believed in the eternal intra-trinitarian covenant of grace. Check it out: Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol 1 (reprint, Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1976), 42 and in Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol 5 (reprint, Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1976), 27-28.


  1. hmmm...interesting.

    I recently picked back up Covenant Theology from Adam to Christ by Coxe and i'm hoping he touches on the intra-trinitarian cov. 'o' grace. By the way, i'm a member of MorningView in montgomery where your dad (and mom maybe? I'm terrible about remembering people)go to church.

    blog on broseph!

  2. Hi "el dubz!" Thanks for the note. The work you mention, Covenant Theology: From Adam to Christ, is an excellent introduction to biblical covenant theology. I highly recommend it! I've found covenant theology to be an immensely fruitful grid through which to read the Bible. I believe that's because the Bible structures itself around the covenants.

    So, what's your real name?


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  4. thanks man...coming from a background of being a book-hating musician and artist, reading is difficult enough EVEN MORE SO reading the likes of Coxe and Owen. My real name is Ryan Harrison and i'm an import from prattville. If only there was some brilliant author who could articulate Baptistic Covenant Theology in a warm, contemporary, pastoral tone :EH-HEM: sorry...cleared my throat


    By the way "El dubz" comes from my nickname since junior high -- Lurch. Now that i think about it, i'm not sure how that progression came about. hmmm...

  5. Ryan, it was great to meet you at Morningview this past Sunday. I agree with you that there is a need for a book on Baptist covenant theology. There are a number of men who are capable of doing it, but my own theological struggles and interests have given me a love for covenant theology, the fruit of which I hope one day to turn into a book, if a book on the topic isn't redundant/unnecessary by that time.

    I would love to get together with you to talk about the Lord, theology, your future, etc. We'll set it up after I get down there.

    Blessings in Christ,