Eternal Covenant

I just finished reading my first book of 2007, Eternal Covenant: How Trinity Reshapes Covenant Theology by Ralph Smith. From the back cover we read: "Though many Reformed theologians have recognized and agreement between the Father and Son for the salvation of the human race, few have explored the vast theological possibilities of an eternal covenant that involves all three persons of the Trinity." In his book, Smith seeks to answer three questions related to Trinity and covenant: Is there a covenantal relationship among the persons of the Trinity? What is the nature of that relationship? What are the implications of such a covenant?

I found the book to be thought-provoking and helpful in several areas. For instance, Smith's summary and discussion of the history of Reformed thought regarding the relationship among Father, Son and Spirit is very helpful. (He discusses thinkers such as Herman Hoeksema, John Murray, O. Palmer Robertson, L. Berkhof, Samuel Rutherford, John Owen, Francis Turretin, Charles Hodge and Abraham Kyper, just to name a few.)

Those familiar with the Westminster Confession of Faith, will find certain areas in which Smith's views stand in contrast to the Confession. For instance, Smith (following the lead of Meridith Kline) Smith argues that "the Confession is wrong when it speaks of God condescending to give Adam a covenant. Rather, contrary to the Confession, the covenant relationship is essential to what it means that man is God's image, a matter of no little importance in the larger system of theology (p.101)."

So, who should read this book? The general reader will probably find this book to be very slow (and at times, boring); therefore, it will mainly appeal to those pastors/students/teachers who are already familiar with the detailed discussions involving covenant theology.


Patrick said...

In reading Waters' The Federal Vision and Covenant Theology, Waters takes Smith to task for some of his assertions about the intra-Trinitarian covenant. Waters lists 4 main contentions of Smith, that I have to admit (not having read Smith or any other contemporary writers on this subject) I agree with just in my own formulation of what the Bible means when it talks about covenant relationship. I find Waters' arguments against Smith weak and thus, I think I might need to borrow your copy for a good read on this.

Bethany said...

Hey Eric! I know I already missed it but, Happy late Birthday!! Sorry!

Travis said...

Eric, hey man, I hope everything's well with you all. I meant to call you this weekend and catch up, but I got busy with work at the ski resort the last 2 days. Talk to you soon man.