Old & New Covenant Stipulations
I am nearing the halfway point in my reading of Progressive Covenantalism: Charting a Course between Dispensational and Covenant Theologies. I knew when I requested the book that I would be taking it slowly to allow myself time to dwell on the different essays contained with the volume. The writing does reveal minor differences between the authors and some of these require time just contemplating what has been read.
One of the latest chapters that intrigued me was "Covenantal Life with God from Eden to Holy City" by Ardel B. Caneday. The essay looks at historical construals of covenant stipulations. It states at the start that many "represent the Abrahamic covenant and the gospel as unconditional but the Mosaic covenant as conditional. This essay challenges this as too stark and simplistic" (101).
This essay is particularly interesting to me as a Presbyterian because it dips its toes into the "intra-Reformed debate" stating "the Mosaic covenant is not to be construed as entailing merit in any sense" (110). Whether Caneday is correct to toss aside the law-gospel distinction of Lutheranism (105) and Reformed Republication (106-107), he remains an interesting source of light on an old issue. He makes a strong case for covenant stipulations in the New Covenant through analysis of Hebrews (111-117) concluding that,
"The difference between the old and new covenants is not how the stipulations are grammatically structured or formed or that the former stipulates obedience and the new does not. Nor is the difference that the law covenant threatens divine curses and promises divine blessing with conditional stipulations but that the grace covenant in Christ issues no stipulations. Clearly the New Testament is filled with gospel threats and promises addressed to believers, which if heeded in viably lead to eternal life but if ignored will end in condemnation." (117)
So it would seem that Caneday is closer to John Calvin and historical Reformed thought than many today who have drifted further and further into the universal Lutheran law-gospel dichotomy. This essay is one of the most valuable in the book so far.