Non-Dispensational, Calvinistic, Credobaptist Covenantalism Compass

How’s that for a title? A friend has asked me a few times to define or give an overview of what New Covenant Theology is and who represents it. I’ve told him it’s a bit difficult because it’s a fractured group with varying views, and some with similar views not claiming the “NCT” label. However, I thought this chart might help clarify the landscape of non-dispensational, Calvinistic credobaptists.

law = 10
Mosaic Covenant = Works Christian
law =
“law of Christ”
Reformed Baptist #1:

New Covenant Theology:

Reformed Baptist #2:

Progressive Covenantalism:

Mosaic Covenant = Grace

Be careful not to read more into this chart than is intended. Each author should be read on their own terms as each often has nuanced explanations of their position. I hesitate to place Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum on the chart as I haven’t had time to read through their new work yet, which is obviously nuanced – so I don’t want to misrepresent it. They clearly wind up on the right hand side of the chart, but I don’t know if it would be top or bottom. Given this fact, I hesitate to use the label “Progressive Covenantalism” in the bottom right because this is how they describe themselves… but I don’t know what else to call that position.

I welcome any and all comments, questions, corrections, clarifications, & additions. I hope this is helpful.

41 thoughts on “Non-Dispensational, Calvinistic, Credobaptist Covenantalism Compass

  1. If I said I thought the 10 commandments were just a specific revelation of the eternal moral law given to Israel, and the eternal substance of that moral law is repeated in the “law of Christ,” where would you put me?

    I’m guessing you’d still put me in the RB#1 category, because although you and I might differ in our understanding of the Sabbath, you yourself do not observe the fourth commandment *as revealed at Sinai*.

    Also, I believe Gary Crampton would fit under RB#2. What about James Renihan, Greg Nichols, and Richard Barcellos?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Patrick. I’m not certain where Crampton would end up. I’m fairly certain Nichols would be RB#2, but I haven’t read enough to know. I believe James Renihan and Richard Barcellos would be RB#1, but I’m trying to stick to published statements

      I think your view of the law would put you in NCT. Click on the link on Chad Richard Bresson’s name and see if you agree with his section on the law.


      1. I was basing my estimation of Crampton on things he wrote in chapter 9 of From Paedobaptism to Credobaptism. I believe you are correct about James Renihan, but I wondered about Barcellos because of some things in “A Reformed Baptist Manifesto” (co-authored with Waldron).

        I certainly would not consider myself NCT. I clicked the link and I strongly disagree with Bresson on several points. Perhaps I was not clear, or perhaps I have misunderstood your own position.

        Do you not agree that the fourth commandment has been modified from the form given at Sinai? Specifically, that we are no longer to observe the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week, but now on the first?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. In my mind, those statements from Crampton are still a little ambiguous. He also makes the following statement (though I think he mis-reads Calvin here):

          This is not to say that persons under the Old Covenant administration did not “know the Lord.” Clearly, there were many who did. There were numerous persons who had their sins forgiven (Psalm 32:1-2), the law of God written on their hearts (Psalm 40:8; 119:11; Isaiah 51:7), and who had professed saving faith in the Messiah to come (John 8:56; Hebrews 11:24-26).*

          *[footnote] In this sense, as Calvin pointed out, all persons who are saved, both Old and New Covenants (the elect), are saved under the New Covenant; that is, Christ is the only Savior of all the elect (Hebrews 10:5-18; 12:10) (Institutes II: 11:10).

          As for the Sabbath – you’ll have to refresh my memory how you interpret it. If you say that the 10 commandments are the law of God written on the hearts of all men and re-written on the hearts of the regenerate, then you’d fit in RB#1. If you then go on to say that the 4th commandment was a shadow of Christ a la Col. 2 then I would say you’re not being consistent.

          (Yes, the day of the week has changed from that at Sinai. Note the reference to “positive” law in LBCF 22.7. This is a distinction that was made between positive or non-essential elements of a law and moral. See the index to Coxe/Owen for references to positive law and Turretin here )


  2. Thanks for your time and help on this subject Brandon, as it seems to be a large one the more I dive into it. I am actually very excited about diving into Nehemiah Cox and John Owen on this as well as well as Tom Schreiner (who seems to be held in high regard in many circles as we were talking about the other day).

    Patrick, I am also curious as to your position on this subject as I am just really starting to get familiar with this topic.


    1. Schreiner is definitely worth reading, but he’s not going to give you a complete system or overview of the bible in any of his books to date (though it appears he is working on that). Wellum and Gentry’s book is more directly dealing with covenant theology. Here’s a snippet from Jim Hamilton’s blog:

      My book appeared in 2010, Gentry and Wellum’s appears now in 2012, and Schreiner’s The King in His Beauty is set to appear in 2013. That means that three of the four larger (600+pg) evangelical attempts at Whole Bible Biblical Theology published in this century have been written by members of the faculty of Southern Seminary.


  3. Brandon, how is that different from what I said above?

    “…the 10 commandments were just a specific revelation of the eternal moral law given to Israel, and the eternal substance of that moral law is repeated in the ‘law of Christ…'”


    1. I thought I had read Bresson or some other NCT describe their position using similar language (ie 10 commandments are a specific application of the eternal law of god – love god & love neighbor – but not all of those commandments are relevant applications of that eternal law to all people and/or Christians). So I just wanted clarification/confirmation as to where you stand vs. what they wrote. Thanks

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Hugh,

      RB#2 is more similar to what you will find in presbyterianism. An over-arching covenant of grace, of which the biblical covenants are merely administrations of. Sam Waldron argues:

      The Bible, however, never uses the word ‘covenant’ to refer to an overarching covenant of grace which spans the whole of human history. Each use of the term to refer to a divine covenant in the Bible refers to a covenant made by God at some specific historical epoch. None of these covenants may simply be equated with what the Confession describes as ‘the covenant of grace’. Presbyterians have often spoken as if the covenant with Abraham were the covenant of grace, but this identification ignores its typical elements and its beginning in the life of Abraham, not immediately after the Fall (note chapter 29). The New Covenant has sometimes been equated with the covenant of grace.

      His last sentence has reference to the views of RB#1 – the New Covenant is equated with the covenant of grace. The Renihans note:

      There is one uniting and driving force in redemptive history, and that is the Covenant of Redemption. Although it is not accomplished in history until Christ comes, we see the gathering in of the elect who believe in Christ from the fall onward. Where we see that in-gathering of the elect who believe in the gospel as it is revealed progressively in types and shadows, there we see the retro-active New Covenant, and that is the Covenant of Grace… The Covenant of Grace is the retro-active New Covenant…

      RB#1 do not see the Mosaic Covenant as an administration of the covenant of grace, RB#2 do.

      (FWIW, both the Renihans and Waldron are commenting on the 1689 LBCF – I think the Renihans more accurately explain what the confession says)

      Does that help?


  4. hughmc5

    A bit…

    How about a schematic showing the differing views/ adherents of the CoG, CoR, & CoW?

    And/ or succinct representative quotes from each of the four boxes? 🙂


  5. From Wellum and Gentry: “This text (Deut. 19:4) is clear: the old covenant is based on grace, and grace motivates the keeping of the covenant, just as we find in the new covenant. God had protected them on eagles’ wings, so to speak, and had so arranged their itinerary as to bring them to himself, that is to sinai, the mountain of God.” — Kingdom Through Covenant, p. 312. For the record, I find their subsequent explanation of the conditional elements of the Mosaic Covenant (p. 312-313) to be unconvincing. Overall, though, the book is an excellent resource for understanding New Covenant Theology, or their term, Progressive Covenantalism.


  6. One other disappointment with Wellum and Gentry. Regarding the Mosaic, they simply didn’t interact with Kline. Given Kline’s place in contemporary CT scholarship and W & G’s self-designated contribution to that scholarship, their argument would have been stronger (though still, most likely, unconvincing) had they included discussion of Kline.


    1. Thanks Chad. I haven’t had a chance to read more than 2 pages in the book. I noticed in the Scripture index there was no mention of Romans 10:5 or Leviticus 18:2, so that kind of made me scratch my head as to how thorough the book is going to be in dealing with pertinent issues.


      1. Bingo. They simply do not see those passages (or Luke 10:28) as significant. They ground Christ’s active obedience in the first covenant, but not the Mosaic. They spend over six pages on Christ’s active obedience, but it is not in reference to the Mosaic, but what they call the creational covenant. They attempt to maintain distance from the phrase “covenant of works”, both in terms of Adam and Moses. While they affirm some conditional elements of the Mosaic, “works”, “conditions”, “obedience” (which are characteristic of “republication”), they deny these are fundamental to understanding the Mosaic economy. IMHO, this weakens the defense of Christ’s active obedience. Nowhere in their treatment of Christ’s active obedience is his obedience to the law ever mentioned (pp. 663-670). The treatment is exclusively in terms of Adam. They don’t even interact with the idea of Christ’s Active Obedience in terms of the law in disagreement. It’s simply missing. And what’s interesting…. they quote Murray and Van Court and Grudem favorably in defense of Christ’s active obedience, but fail to note whether the context of those quotes included the law.


        1. Their quote of Grudem: “(Christ) had to obey the law for his whole life on our behalf”. But there’s no interaction with that part of Grudem’s statement. Murray’s quote cites the Hebrews 2 passage (Christ “learned obedience”). The context for Hebrews is “the Mosaic covenant”, not Adam. But this is nowhere discussed in G&W. They simply note that all of the covenants had some “obedience” component to them with a blend of bilateral and unilateral characteristics.


        2. Thanks Chad. Just to clarify, I don’t believe that Christ’s active obedience is tied to the Mosaic Covenant. I agree with Lee Irons’ explanation of these allusions in Galatians and elsewhere as typological (unless I have misunderstood him).

          Let us be clear then: what we have been delivered from by union with Christ in
          his death, is the Mosaic Law given to Israel at Mount Sinai in thunder and thick cloud, with its blessings and curses, as a typological republication of the covenant of works made with Adam. The Law is abrogated as a covenant of works in the sense that Christ has fulfilled the requirements of the covenant of works for us by his active and passive obedience


        3. I can’t speak for Lee, but when he says “The Law is abrogated as a covenant of works in the sense that Christ has fulfilled the requirements of the covenant of works”, he is suggesting that Christ’s active obedience does intersect with the Mosaic. “The Law” is abrogated by Christ in his active obedience. Yes, it is typological, but in typology, there is an “essential” correlation between the shadow and the reality. Then again, I can’t speak for Lee. 🙂


      2. Yes, but the shadow is not the reality. I think I do read Lee correctly, but regardless, my view is that the Mosaic Covenant did not offer eternal life upon the condition of obedience. It offered life in the land upon the condition of obedience. In that sense it reflected the covenant of works with Adam. Christ fulfilled what Adam did not and what Israel, typologically, did not.

        I don’t intend to get into a full discussion here, but merely to clarify that in the chart above “Mosaic Covenant = Works” is not intended to mean “Mosaic Covenant = The Covenant of Works”


        1. The shadow is not the reality, but does have *real* correspondence to the reality. That’s the essence of typology (and keeps typology from simply being “metaphor”. I agree with Schreiner that the law did offer eternal life to anyone who could keep it. Life in the land simply points to what is offered as a possibility in the law: perfect obedience = eternal life. That’s the point of Luke 10:28. I believe the Mosaic Covenant is a republication of the Covenant of Works, not simply an allusion to it. In that sense, both Adam and Moses are in view in Christ’s active obedience.


  7. I should add that their section on Christ’s active obedience (663-670) is a welcome read, especially when many of their friends don’t find that doctrine to be of much value. My comments are aimed specifically at the question of the Sinaitic Covenant’s role in Christ’s active obedience.


  8. Hey! Since you’re all here at one time: Could someone tell me what are the two or three overarching convenants in Ref. Baptist theology?
    And the difference ‘twixt the Cov’t of Redemption & that of Grace? Many thanks!
    (Please forgive my ignorance!)


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