What is New Covenant Theology?

Part One

John G. Reisinger

The following is the introduction to a message I gave at Salado, Texas, on the subject "What Is New Covenant Theology?" These are personal musings and are not to be considered as an authoritative position paper.

Someone sent an email requesting the "Five Points" or "Eight Doctrines" of New Covenant Theology (hereinafter NCT). I have neither. It (NCT) is just now beginning to be spelled out. We are like the Anabaptist in a sense. A Presbyterian asked why there are no historic Baptist works of theology from the Reformation. I reminded him that our Baptist forefathers did not write books because they were in hiding for fear of their lives.

I am sure about a few basic things but NCT does not have a completely developed theology like either Covenant Theology or Dispensationalism. Actually, we are not sure we even want such a thing! In some cases we know more about what we don't believe than about what we do believe. I was immersed in both Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology for many years, but have now left both of those camps. Many people who basically agree with us have said, "I thought I was the only one who could no longer accept either Dispensationalism or Covenant Theology." Some of these people still hold to some points of Covenant Theology, i.e. three codes of law, etc. Some, probably many more, still hold to some aspects of Dispensationalism.

There is no question that both classic Covenant Theology (Westminster Confession of Faith and Westminster Seminary) and classic Dispensationalism (Scofield Bible and Dallas Seminary) are finished as viable total systems. In both camps the dam has sprung a giant leak and all attempts to fix it have failed.

The only way Covenant Theology can continue "as is" is if Theonomy takes over in Covenant Theology circles, but this seems most unlikely, simply because they cannot secure the use and authority of the sword to enforce their theology in the same manner as did the Puritans. The sword, not open debate, is what kept Covenant Theology in force under the Puritans. The basic presuppositions of Covenant Theology are just assumed to be true; they cannot be established with texts of Scripture. Covenant Theology will only discuss issues in the light of the WCF. This attitude cannot be acceptable to anyone who really takes Sola Scriptura seriously.

There are several key players in the present debate. Master's Seminary (John MacArthur) is fully committed to Dispensationalism. MacArthur himself is a Dispensationalist but also holds to some vital points of Covenant Theology. The seminary is not nearly as Calvinistic as MacArthur himself. Both MacArthur and his seminary will exert great influence. Where they will finally end up I do not know. MacArthur has come to a clear acceptance of Particular Atonement. What effect this will have on his overall theological perspective is uncertain. I doubt the Seminary will ever leave Dispensationalism but it would not be surprising if MacArthur did.

Donald Carson and Douglas Moo are both at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. I think Don Carson is the one of the clearest thinkers and one of the most articulate teachers of biblical theology around today. In this same league are Albert Mohler, Jr. and John Piper. The teaching of these men with its attendant effect on so many is going to continue to have a great impact. Several Southern Baptist seminaries have different men holding to each of the three positions. As long as all three positions are allowed to be articulated there is little doubt as to which will ultimately win the day.

So, where are we heading and where are we going to wind up? Being 76 years old, it is safe for me to make predictions since I will already be dead when the time for being stoned to death comes. Here are a few scenarios that could occur.

One: There could be a great forsaking of Covenant Theology. I doubt this since there is too much at stake and we do not have many "here I stand so help me God" men around today. I rather suspect the implications of the system will be ignored, as they are in many cases now, except by the most radical, even as lip service is paid to the Confession. However, no one will suggest re-writing the confession. That would take a second Pentecost!

Two: There could be an open acknowledgement that Dispensational Theology is a house of cards. Again, I doubt this will happen. Too many schools, mission boards, and churches have Dispensationalism "entombed in ink" or "set in concrete" in their doctrinal statements. Some of the Progressive Dispensationalist have already, for all practical purposes, given up the foundation of the system and are re-defining things to the place that their Dispensationalism is no longer really Dispensationalism.

Three: NCT could be merged into Dispensationalism by modifying both of them. If this happens Dispensationalism will soon swallow up NCT. Some NCT advocates would love to see this happen. This happened to Calvinism in the General Association of Regular Baptist shortly after they came into existence. Many of the founding fathers in the GARB understood and believed historic Calvinism. They were also wholeheartedly committed to Dispensationalism. Unfortunately, their Dispensationalism meant more to them than their Calvinism. They passed on their Dispensationalism, in both creeds and preaching, to the next generation but they did not pass on their Calvinism. The moment Dispensationalism becomes more important than Calvinism; Arminianism is waiting at the door to become the new mistress of the house. It only takes a few generations for those who "knew not Joseph" to arise and take over. The GARB today is vehemently opposed to the truth of sovereign grace and passionately in love with Dispensationalism. If NCT becomes wedded to Dispensationalism, NCT would suffer the same fate that Calvinism did in the GARB.

Four: NCT could be demonstrated to be just as impossible to unite with Dispensationalism as it to unite with Covenant Theology. In other words, NCT could stand alone in clear contrast to both classic Covenant Theology and classic Dispensationalism. NCT does indeed agree with both systems on some points and disagrees with both on some other points. Basically, NCT could finally finish the Reformation in the areas where the Reformers and Puritans stopped. I make no prediction as to which of the above things will happen. I pray it will be the last one.

While I have tipped my hand and admitted that I cannot deliver the goods on the topic assigned; it is essential that we understand where we must start and what the real problems are that we must answer.

What then is NCT?

The answer must involve some interaction with both Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism. Unfortunately, both Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism are being greatly redefined today and in some cases changed to the point that the terms are no longer definitive. To illustrate: the footnote in the Scofield Reference Bible on Mt. 5:2 shows, as many other Scofield notes show, what all Dispensationalists used to believe, namely, that the words kingdom and millennium were interchangeable terms. The "coming kingdom" and the "earthly millennium" were one and the same things. The kingdom had been offered to the Jews, they rejected it, and it was postponed and awaited the second coming for its establishment. Today, so-called "Progressive Dispensationalists" argue that the Kingdom has indeed come but the Millennium has not come. The Millennium is said to be only an aspect of the Kingdom and not synonymous with the Kingdom. This is changing the rules and redefining terms in such a way that allows one to deny the basic foundation of Dispensationalism while still wearing the label Dispensationalist. The word millennium in old line Dispensationalism was used only to describe the time length (1,000 years) of the "coming kingdom." The term is now being used to describe the different nature of the Kingdom in the "Millennial state." This is kind of like the old shell game. I have yet to hear a progressive Dispensationalist clearly spell out where the old line Dispensationalist was wrong in either his basic presuppositions or his application of them.

I. There are three different theological positions. Most people assume that there are only two positions and you must be one or the other. You must either be a Dispensationalist or hold to Covenant Theology. If you are not one then you must, of necessity, be the other. This is why people like me can be labeled Dispensational by a Covenant Theologian and also be labeled a Covenant Theologian by a Dispensationalist. The basic point that demonstrates that there are clearly three distinctly different positions lies in understanding and clarifying some simple questions that are all related.

1. Exactly what is the Old and what is the New Covenant?

2. Exactly what is the relationship of these two covenants to each other and to the rest of Scripture?

3. Specifically with whom were each of these two covenants made?

4. What is the exact status and function of each of these covenants today?

When I answer these questions biblically, it becomes impossible for me to fit into either a Dispensational or a Covenant Theology camp. I answer all four of these questions differently than both a Dispensationalist and a Covenant Theologian. Let's begin with the first question.

What is the Old and what is the New Covenant?

Hebrews 8:6 is a good place to start. Read the text carefully. We are looking at the words inspired by the Holy Spirit and not the 'logical' statements of a theologian.

But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

There are three distinct comparisons in this text. Notice how they all go together. In order to understand a comparison you must understand both of the things that are being compared. If one says, "Oranges are sweeter than lemons," that would be meaningless to you if you had never tasted a lemon. Likewise, if we do not understand the first part of each of these comparisons in Heb. 8:6, we will never get the writer's point. The overall point of the passage is to show how much greater Christ's ministry as a Priest is when it is compared to the ministry of Aaron.

What was Aaron's ministry? Why did it have to be replaced? What does Christ's ministry accomplish that Aaron's ministry could not, and why could not Aaron accomplish the same thing? The answer to all these questions involve comparing the two different covenants under which each of the two Priests ministered.

1. First comparison: Christ has a more excellent ministry than Aaron.

1.1. Question: What is the basic thing that makes Aaron's ministry so inferior and Christ's so superior?

1.2. Answer: The answer is shown in the next comparison.

2. Christ's ministry is better because it is based on a better covenant. Christ is the "mediator of a better covenant."

2.1. Question: What was the covenant under which Aaron ministered?

2.2. Answer: The "old covenant" given to Israel at Mt. Sinai that established their nationhood (Heb. 8:6-13)

2.3. Next Question: What is the covenant under which Christ ministers?

2.4. Answer: The new, and better covenant based on grace that was established by Christ in His obedient life and vicarious death. It is "not like" the old covenant (Heb. 8:6-13).

2.5. Next question: Why is the new covenant so much better than the old covenant? The answer to that involves the third comparison.

3. The new covenant under which Christ ministers is superior to the old covenant under which Aaron ministered because it is based on "better promises".

3.1. Question: What is the basic difference in the promises upon which the old covenant, under which Aaron ministered, was based, and the "new and better" covenant, under which Christ ministers, is based?

3.2. Answer: The old covenant was a covenant of law based on works that said "do and live - disobey and die," and the new covenant is based on the atoning work of Christ and says, "it is finished - believe."

There you have laid out in one verse the heart of the message of the New Testament Scriptures and the foundation of New Covenant Theology. It is the same clear truth set forth in the rest of Scripture. Let's look at the verses that clearly establish these points.

The first question we sought to answer was, "Exactly what is the old and what is the new Covenant?" So far we have not spelled out exactly what constituted these two covenants. When we look at what Scripture says, we learn that the foundation document of the 'old covenant' was the Ten Commandments. We must grasp the following biblical facts.

1. The Ten Commandments, or Tables of Stone was a covenant document.

2. The Ten Commandments, or Tables of the Covenant, were the specific covenant terms of the covenant that God made with Israel at Sinai.

3. This covenant document, containing the Ten Commandments, was given only to the Nation of Israel.

Can we prove these three statements from Scripture? Yes, we can. We will look at passages in both the Old Testament and the New Testament that clearly show that the Ten Commandments were a covenant document.

And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel. And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. (Ex.34: 27, 28)

This passage explicitly calls the Ten Commandments "a covenant" and refers to them as the "words of the covenant." It is impossible for the Holy Spirit to state any more clearly that the Ten Commandments are the actual covenant terms, or covenant document, that God made with Israel at Sinai.

And the LORD spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice. And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone. (Deut. 4:12, 13)

Again, the text is clear. This passage refers to the second giving of the law. Moses is reminding the people of exactly what happened at Mount Sinai. Notice exactly what Moses wanted the children of Israel to remember. Again, we must remember we are looking at words inspired by the Holy Spirit.

1. God "declared unto you his covenant."

2. God commanded them to "perform," or keep the terms of His covenant.

3. The specific terms of the covenant they were to keep were "even Ten Commandments."

4. These Ten Commandments, or covenant terms, were "written on the tables of stone."

Can anyone doubt for a second that these texts prove that the Ten Commandments are a covenant document? What do the New Testament Scriptures have to say in this regard?

The third chapter of II Cor. is a comparison of the old and new covenants. Paul's point is to highlight the great superiority of the new covenant over the old covenant.

He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! (2 Cor 3:6 NIV)

First of all, the New International Version correctly uses covenant instead of testament. Secondly, the letter/spirit contrast is not "the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law." That may, or may not, be a valid distinction in other passages but it has nothing to do with Paul's argument here. The letter is not a "spiritual application of the tables of stone;" the letter is law itself written in stone as a covenant (verse 3) as opposed to the new covenant written in the heart. Thirdly, the God-ordained purpose of the old covenant was to bring condemnation and death (verse 7). Fourthly, the ministry of the new covenant brings life and righteousness. The new secures what the old demanded but could not produce. This is the heart of the new covenant message!

Lastly, when you put all of these things together then the contrast in verse 6 becomes even sharper. Look carefully at Paul's argument: He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

1. "Not of the letter" is a specific contrast to the "new covenant" just mentioned with the old covenant. It is not possible to read a contrast between a "letter" and "spirit" preaching of the law into this text. This is comparing two distinctly different covenants.

2. It is not the "letter of the law" that kills; it is the law itself that kills every hope of life. In no sense whatsoever can a 'spiritual' preaching of the law "give life." The Holy Spirit of God, through the proclamation of the gospel, can alone give life. Moses put us in the grave, and justly so, but nothing Moses can say or do will get us out of that grave. We need someone with the power to give life to dead people.

3. We are very confident (verse 6) that this new covenant we preach can not only raise men out of death and the grave, it can keep them in grace for eternity. There are no ifs or buts in the new covenant.

Another study of this passage is required show the real reason that Moses put a veil over his face. For now, the only point has been to show that the Scriptures clearly teach that the Ten Commandments are a covenant document. If the reader wants more proof from the New Testament Scriptures, he need only look at Heb. 8:6-13.

Let us now look at the second statement that must be proven from Scripture: The Ten Commandments, or Tables of the Covenant, were the specific covenant terms of the covenant that God made with Israel at Sinai.

First of all, Scripture is clear that the old covenant was (1) made with Israel alone, (2) it was made with them at Sinai, and (3) the specific covenant terms of that old covenant was the Ten Commandments. The Scripture is just as clear that the new covenant will "not be like the old covenant."

As we noted earlier, the first reference to the Ten Commandments in Scripture is Ex. 34:27, 28.

And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel. And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. (Ex. 34:27)

Verse 27 reads, after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel. This covenant was not made with the Egyptians and the Caananites. It was made with the Nation of Israel exclusively. Of course, that is the same thing as saying, "The law (Tables of the Covenant—Ten Commandments) was given only to Israel."

When God instructed Moses concerning the Sabbath being the "sign of the covenant," He made it very clear that both the covenant and the sign of that covenant were given to Israel alone. Look at the passage carefully. It is so clear it needs no comments at all.

Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed. And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon Mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God. (Ex. 31:12-18)

Both the New Testament Scriptures and the Old Testament Scriptures make it very clear that the old covenant was not only made at Sinai with Israel alone, those same Scriptures emphasize that the new covenant made with the church would be radically different than the old covenant made with Israel. Look first at the prophecy (Jer. 31:31-34) and then at the fulfillment (Heb. 8:8-11).

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jer 31:31-34)

For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. (Heb. 8:8-12)

I can hear the guns cocking and see the big canons being rolled out in the Dispensational camp. Sorry fellows, that battle will have to wait for another day. I will stick with the absolute certainties in the texts for now.

All agree that Hebrews 8:8-12 is quoting Jer. 31:31-34. I bolded some identical phrases in both passages to prove beyond question the one is a direct quote of the other. Jer. 31:31-34 promises (1) God would make a "new covenant" with the "house of Israel." (2) This covenant was not going to be like the old covenant that he made with the "house of Israel" at Mount Sinai when God delivered them out of Egypt. (3) The law would be "written in the heart" or every person without exception under the new covenant. (4) The new covenant community would be made up of believers only. Everyone in the new covenant would "know the Lord," or be regenerate, from the "least to the greatest." This text is more than sufficient to prove that "children of believers" are not in the new covenant by birth. (5) Forgiveness would be for all sin without exception, as contrasted to the old covenant system, and (6) the forgiveness would be forever as opposed to one year under the old covenant.

The primary point of disagreement is whether the "new covenant" described in Hebrews 8:8-12 is the same "new covenant" that the church celebrates at the Lord's Supper. If the new covenant in Hebrews 8:8-12 has indeed fulfilled the promise made in Jer. 31:31-34 then the church, in some sense, has to be viewed as at least part of the "house of Israel" if not actually the true spiritual fulfillment of the promise of Jer. 31:31-34. So the real question is this: Is the writer of Hebrews telling us that, (1) the new covenant has been established in the atoning work of Christ and the church is partaking of the blessings of the new covenant, or (2) is the new covenant made with national Israel and is still waiting a fulfillment in the future, or (3) are there two different new covenants, one with Israel and one with the church?

I did not quote the last verse in Hebrews 8. It is crucial to our discussion. It is amazing how this text has been either ignored or distorted.

In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (Heb 8:13 NKJV)

Some folks cannot see, because they are as blinded by their system of theology as the Jews were by the Talmud written by their 'experts,' that a distinctly new and different covenant was going to replace the old covenant. It is impossible to make these verses say, "A new administration of the one and same covenant of grace." Two distinctly different covenants are not in any sense the same thing as two administrations of one and the same covenant. The Word of God never once speaks of a "new administration" replacing an "old administration" of one and the same covenant. That is pure theological lingo without a single text of Scripture to back it up. The Word of God does often speak of a new and different covenant replacing the old covenant given at Sinai.

According to Hebrews 8:13, our Lord's blood did not merely bring in a new administration of an existing covenant, He established a totally new covenant. We do not pick up the communion cup and say, "This cup is to remember the new administration of the same covenant God gave Israel." No, no, no! This text is talking about a specific covenant that has become obsolete and needs to be replaced with a radically new and different covenant.

Another group finds it difficult to fit the church into these texts of Scripture. Granted, the word church does not occur in either Jer. 31 or Heb. 8. However, as noted above, these verses are either speaking specifically of the church, or at least including the church in this new covenant, or else there are two different new covenants. You may decide which one you choose to believe.

Another group that grossly misuses this text is a group called Preterists. They believe the second coming of Christ took place in AD 70. They combine Heb. 8:13 with Heb. 9:8 which says, "the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing" (NKJ). They claim that Heb. 8:13 is showing that the old covenant was only "ready to vanish" but was still in force when the Book of Hebrews was written. Heb. 9:8 is then used to prove the "tabernacle" was not destroyed until AD 70, therefore as long as it was "standing" the old covenant was still in force and there was "no entrance into the Most Holy Place."

Hebrews 8:13 is not making a prophecy about 70 AD. The writer is not predicting that the old covenant was going to pass away at some future date from the time in which he was speaking. He is saying that when something is obsolete it is ready to pass away and be replaced. Exactly when did the old covenant become obsolete? When were its terms fully met? When was its curse fully endured? When was it "finished"? When was the "new and living way" into the Most Holy Place opened up? Even a sophomore should answer without hesitation, "At the Cross!" What in the world does the destruction of a physical building in Jerusalem have to do with the payment of sin by shedding of blood? What does any and all of the horrible things that happened to the Jewish nation in 70 AD have to do with the sufferings of Christ through which we have forgiveness of sins?

But what about Heb. 9:8? It specifically says the way into the Most Holy Place was "not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing." Does that mean that Heb 10:19-22 was not yet, at that time, in effect? It has to if the Preterists are correct. Look at these words and see if they are talking something then present or something future.

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Heb. 10:19-22 NKJ)

Did our Lord enter into His priestly work at the time of resurrection and ascension or did that work have to await the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD? Why would the Holy Spirit say "tabernacle" instead of "temple" since the tabernacle had not been standing for many years? The Preterists misuse these verses and the meaning of the word stand. Look at the definition of the word translated standing in Heb. 9:8 and then some other verses that use the same word.

Here is Stong's definition:

2476 histemi (his'-tay-mee); a prolonged form of a primary stao (stah'-o) (of the same meaning, and used for it in certain tenses); to stand (transitively or intransitively), used in various applications (literally or figuratively).

Strong then gives the various words used to translate this word.

KJV—abide, appoint, bring, continue, covenant, establish, hold up, lay, present, set (up), stanch, stand (by, forth, still, up).

Notice the word has both a literal and a figurative meaning. The word means to continue or establish as well as to literally stand. It is impossible to give it the literal meaning of stand in Heb. 9:8 without contradicting many other verses. Other verses that use the identical word in the same figurative sense as Heb. 9:8 are:

And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? (Matt 12:25-26)

The house "standing" does not mean a physical building literally standing on a plot of ground. It is referring to a family being discontinued. Likewise a "kingdom" does not literally "stand" in a given spot.

By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Rom 5:2)

This does not refer to standing on two legs. Here the word stand must refer to our position before God. We stand in grace before God. Notice the tense. Paul said, "we have" and "we stand." That was written in around 57 AD. That means that Paul, and all other believers had, by personal experience, access into the true Most Holy Place for at least 20 years while the "tabernacle was still standing." The tabernacle system of worship, Judaism, and everything that the tabernacle system typified ended when the veil of the temple was rent from top to bottom. The building remaining erect has nothing to do with adding something to the crosswork of Christ that was essential to bring in the new covenant.

(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) (Rom 9:11)

Here stand means to demonstrate or prove. As long as the tabernacle system was in force, and it was until the veil was rent from top to bottom, it was proof that man could not approach God in the Most Holy Place. What demonstrates and proves beyond question that the situation has forever changed has nothing to do with destroying a physical building in a place called Jerusalem but the destruction of a holy body at a place called Calvary. By the way, how could the destruction of the temple open up the way into the Most Holy Place? There would not have been a Holy Place left to enter into if the temple was destroyed-and if the Preterist tries to spiritualize it and make it refer to a heavenly Most Holy Place then he is denying his basic premise.

I remember discussing this subject with an ardent Preterist. I asked him if he still celebrated the Lord's Supper. He got a bit sheepish and admitted he was not sure. If the second coming of Christ took place at 70 AD and we are now in the kingdom, then the Lord's Table is passé. We were instructed to observe it "until the Lord came." So the only people who could have celebrated it were those from the time of Christ's death until He supposedly came in 70 AD. But wait! The Lord's Table is a celebration of the Lord establishing the new covenant and, according to Preterism, the new covenant did not come into force until the temple was destroyed in 70 AD! If the Preterists are correct then (1) nobody could take the cup and celebrate the new covenant before 70 AD, when the new covenant came into being, and (2) since the Lord's Supper was only to be observed "until Christ came," and He came in 70 AD, then no one could take the Lord's Supper after 70 AD. If the Preterists are correct, then no one ever took the Lord's Supper!

In the next article we will finish answering the four basic questions that we have raised. I trust everyone has seen the importance of knowing exactly what both parts of a comparison are before we can understand why one is so much better than the other. It is impossible for us to see why the old covenant was so inferior until we understand exactly what that covenant was and what its specific terms and blessings were.

Copyright 2004 John G. Reisinger. New Covenant Media