This review is somewhat difficult for me to write. As someone with a passing familiarity with covenant theology (a system of biblical interpretation which sees the various covenants between God and Man as an organizational structure for all of Scripture) who hoped for a good primer in order to better understand the system on its own terms, I was glad to find a book by Michael Horton that appeared to be what I was seeking. I have enjoyed other books by Horton, as well as his blog and radio show, and know that he is a very well-respected theologian within Reformed circles (and in Horton’s words, “Covenant theology IS Reformed theology“).
Unfortunately, this book is not as “introductory” as I had hoped. Horton draws extensively from the writings of several other authors, and his writing seems to assume that readers will have a little more prior knowledge of covenant theology than I possess. I suppose I may have been looking for more of an “overview” for the uninitiated, and this is not that book. Also, I honestly don’t know whether or not Horton’s position represents the “majority report” among covenant theologians, or whether his views are unique.
That being said, this was a very helpful book, even if it was a little more academic than expected. I feel like I at least have a firmer grasp of the basics of covenant theology, though I was hoping for greater clarity on a few points: particularly the covenantal view of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
The greatest strength of this book was Horton’s clear separation between Law and Promise. I was also fascinated by some of the history of covenant terminology used in the suzerain-vassal treaties of the ancient Near East, and their similarities with the language of the covenants used in the Bible.
I’ll have to do more reading to verse myself more thoroughly in covenant theology (though I’m quite happy to do so). All-in-all this was useful in my quest for information, but it certainly does not stand on its own as a study tool for laypersons interested in learning a new system of theology. Less determined readers will likely not want to wade through all the rigorous academic writing… though there are some truly great words in here for language-lovers such as myself! Buy it here.