Dr. Chafer on Covenant Theology

Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer

    A long time ago I remember an article written by Miles J. Stanford which consisted of several great quotes from Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer upon the subject of Covenant Theology. The particular article I refer to is no longer available at his old site (withchrist.org). What you find here are several of the same quotes, the text has been brought back into line word-for-word to Chafer's original statements, and I've expanded the quotes to include more surrounding context and have added some additional quotes pertaining to the subject.
    This article helps highlight the fact that Covenant Amillennialism is not merely a simple eschatological error, but rather, a dangerous heretical system which ignores a vast number of important Biblical doctrines while, at the same time, inventing a whole host of nonsensical and unscriptural doctrines of it's own.


The Apostle Paul Minimized:

    "The clear recognition of that which, through divine grace, the Church is, of the supreme position she occupies as the Body of Christ, and of the glory and exaltation which awaits her as the Bride of the Lamb, is indispensable if a worthy perspective of God's plan and purpose is to be gained. The all but universal disregard on the part of theologians for the Pauline revelation respecting the Church has wrought confusion and damage to an immeasurable degree." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.4, p.36

    "Two factors serve as paramount causes of this deplorable neglect, namely: (a) the Reformation did not recover this truth as formerly it was held by the early Church, and (b) that attitude of the theologians, being bound and confined within the limitations of Reformation truth, has been that of avoiding what to them seems new. No theology would be complete, even as viewed by the Reformers, that did not exalt the first Pauline revelation of the gospel. However, it is as true, in the light of the Scriptures, that no theology is complete that does not recognize and elevate to its transcendent place the second Pauline revelation of the Church. The two disclosures are interdependent and therefore inseparable to a large degree. Together they form that larger body of truth which the Apostle termed 'my gospel.'" - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.4, p.36-37

    "While there were occasional references to the Church universal in post-Reformation literature, it was not until the middle of the last century that this extensive and important body of teaching was wrought into a doctrinal declaration.  It was given to J.N. Darby of England to achieve this distinctive ministry. From the teachings of Darby and his associates what is known as the Brethren movement sprang; and these highly trained men have produced an expository literature covering the entire Sacred Text which is not only orthodox and free from misconceptions and disproportionate emphasis, but assays to interpret faithfully the entire field of Biblical doctrine--that which theology confined to the Reformation has failed to do." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.4, p.37

    "At this same time, other men in America and foreign countries were awakening to the fact that the Bible presents a much larger range of doctrine than that released by the Reformers, and, as a result, a widespread Bible exposition movement developed which incorporated all that the Reformation restored and very much more. There is, then, a division in the ranks of orthodox men. On the one hand, there are those who, being trained to recognize no more than that which entered into Reformation theology, are restricted in their doctrinal viewpoint and who look upon added truth as a departure from standard ideas and therefore dangerous. On the other hand, there are those who, though as jealous to preserve the purity of the divine revelation, are constructing an unabridged system of theology, and finding the way into the full-orbed harmony of truth and into the limitless field of Biblical doctrine." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.4, p.37

Israel and Church Merged:

    "Jehovah has loved Israel with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3), and concerning that people His gifts and calling are without repentance (Romans 11:29). In accordance with this eternal purpose, they are to be regathered, restored, and preserved forever (cf. Isa. 66:22; Jer. 31:36-37; Matt. 24:34). When it is once comprehended that God has an elect nation to whom He has made irrevocable covenants, which covenants are eternal in character, there will be a readiness of mind to follow the divine plan for this people through time and into eternity. Another means to clarification of mind is found in the separation in one's thinking of the Jews, the Gentiles, and the Church of God (1 Cor. 10:32; cf. Eph. 2:11 and Col. 2:11). These three classes of humanity are to be traced from their beginnings on through time and into eternity. Apart from the calling of individual Jews and individual Gentiles out from their original estate to form the Church, these groups never lose their identity, nor are they merged into something else. Israel has never been the Church, is not the Church now, nor will she ever be the Church. A form of Covenant Theology which would thread all of Jehovah's purposes and undertakings upon His one attribute of grace could hardly avoid confusion of mind in matters related to His varied objectives. Covenant Theology, in consistency with its man-made premise, asserts its inventions respecting an Old Testament church, which, it is claimed, is an integral part of the New Testament Church and on the ground that, since God's grace is one unchanging attribute, its accomplishments must be the realization of one standardized ideal.  The Covenant theory does retain Israel as such to the time of Christ's death.  The Church is thought to be a spiritual remnant within Israel to whom all Old Testament blessings are granted and the nation as such is allowed to inherit the cursings." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.4, pp.310-311

    "It is evident that the people are to come into divine judgments and many will be "purged out" (Ezek. 20:37-38), and 'so all Israel [that portion accepted of God] shall be saved' (Rom. 11:26-27). The fact that the Bible recognizes an Israel within the nation itself--sometimes termed 'the remnant'--has been seized upon by Covenant theologians as a ground for their contention that the Church is the true Israel of the Old Testament. The New Testament hardly sustains this idea. It is true that Gentiles become children of Abraham in the sense that they are born of God on the principle of Abrahamic faith (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:12); but salvation by faith does not introduce a Gentile in the Jewish nation, though, in this age, it does introduce a Jew or a Gentile into the Church. The essential distinction between the nation and a true Israel within that nation was declared by Christ when He said to the Jews, 'I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham.' The Apostle is evidently referring to the true Israel, who are saved as Gentiles are saved, when he said, 'And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God' (Gal. 6:16)." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.4, pp.312-313

Apocryphal Covenants:

    "Little reference has been made thus far in this work to the essential error of Covenant Theology. It may be mentioned at this point only as it bears on human responsibility before God. The theological terms, Covenant of Works and Covenant of Grace, do not occur in the Sacred Text.  If they are to be sustained it must be wholly apart from Biblical authority. What is known as Covenant Theology builds its structure on these two covenants and is, at least, a recognition--though inadequate--of the truth that the creature has responsibility toward his Creator. Covenant Theology has Cocceius (1603-1669) as its chief exponent. 'He taught that before the Fall, as much as after it, the relation between God and man was a covenant.  The first was a Covenant of Works. For this was substituted, after the Fall, the Covenant of Grace, to fulfil which the coming of Jesus Christ was necessary' (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 14th ed., V, 938). Upon this human invention of two covenants Reformed Theology has largely been constructed. It sees the empirical truth that God can forgive sinners only by that freedom which is secured by the sacrifice of His Son--anticipated in the old order and realized in the new--but that theology utterly fails to discern the purposes for the ages; the varying relationships to God of the Jews, the Gentiles, and the Church, with the distinctive, consistent human obligations which arise directly and unavoidably from the nature of each specific relationship to God." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.4, p.156

Linear Assumption:

    "A theology which penetrates no further into Scripture than to discover that in all ages God is immutable in His grace toward penitent sinners, and constructs the idea of a universal Church, continuing through the ages, on the one truth of immutable grace, is not only disregarding vast spheres of revelation but is reaping the unavoidable confusion and misdirection which part-truth engenders. The outworking of divine grace is not standardized, though the Covenant idea of theology would make it so; and as certainly as God's dealings with man are not standardized, in the same manner the entire field of the corresponding human obligation in daily life is not run into a mold of human idealism." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.4, pp.156-157

    "Judaism has its field of theology with its soteriology and its eschatology. That these factors of a system which occupies three-fourths of the Sacred Text are unrecognized and ignored by theologians does not demonstrate their nonexistence, nor does it prove their unimportance. A Covenant Theology engenders the notion that there is but one soteriology and one eschatology, and that ecclesiology, such as it is conceived to be, extends from the Garden of Eden to the great white throne. The insuperable problems in exegesis which such fanciful suppositions engender are easily disposed of by ignoring them. On the other hand, Scripture is harmonized and its message clarified when two divinely appointed systems--Judaism and Christianity--are recognized and their complete and distinctive characters are observed. No matter how orthodox they may be in matters of inspiration, the Deity of Christ, His virgin birth, and the efficacy of His death, Covenant theologians have not been forward in Bible exposition. This great field of service has been and is now occupied by those who distinguish things which differ, who, though giving close attention to all that has been written, are bound by no theological traditions whatever." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.4, p.248

    "Judaism is not the bud which has blossomed into Christianity. These systems do have features which are common to both--God, holiness, Satan, man, sin, redemption, human responsibility, and the issues of eternity--yet they introduce differences so vast that they cannot coalesce. . . . To the end that the Church might be called out from both Jews and Gentiles, a peculiar, unrelated age has been thrust into the one consistent ongoing of the divine program for the earth. It is in this sense that Judaism, which is the abiding portion of the nation Israel, has ceased. With the completion and departure of the Church from the earth, Judaism will be again the embodiment of all the divine purpose in the world." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.4, pp.248-249

Eschatological Neglect and Apostasy:

    "The neglect of the prophetic Scriptures on the part of theologians is all but complete, except for a limited survey of the intermediate state, the resurrection of the body, a passing reference to the second advent, and the eternal state. Theological writers, in some instances, have confessed their lack of preparation to deal with Bible prediction. In the opening of his treatise on the second advent (Systematic Theology, III, 790), Dr. Charles Hodge states: 'The subject cannot be adequately discussed without taking a survey of all the prophetic teachings of the Scriptures both of the Old Testament and of the New. This task cannot be satisfactorily accomplished by any one who has not made the study of the prophecies a specialty. The author, knowing that he has no such qualifications for the work, purposes to confine himself in a great measure to a historical survey of the different schemes of interpreting the Scriptural prophecies relating to this subject.' To the same end, Dr. B.B. Warfield in an article on the millennium (Princeton Theological Review, 1904, II, 599-617), builds his argument on the untenable idea that there is no reference to such an age anywhere save in 'so obscure a portion' as Revelation 20, without the slightest recognition of a covenanted kingdom for Israel with the fulfillment of every earthly promise. When, how, and where will these covenants be experienced? To Dr. Warfield the present blessing of the saints in heaven is the millennium. He writes: 'The thousand years, thus, is the whole of this present dispensation, which again is placed before us in its entirety, but looked at now relatively not to what is passing on earth but to what is enjoyed in Paradise' (Biblical Doctrines, p. 649). To him, also, Satan bound and then loosed again is a present experience concurrently progressing: 'But while the saints abide in their security Satan, though thus 'bound' relatively to them, is loosed relatively to the world--and that is what is meant by the statement in verse 3c that 'he must be loosed for a little time'' (Ibid., p. 656). According to this idea, Satan being bound in relation to believers cannot reach them; yet the Apostle declares, 'Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places' (Eph. 6:10-12). Thus this greatest of authorities on certain aspects of theology evinces an incomprehensible inattention to the most elementary prophetic revelations." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.4, pp.255-256

    "Similarly, Dr. R.L. Dabney, the honored theologian of the South, when asked by a former student whether certain interpretations of prophecy were correct, replied, 'Probably you are right. I have never looked into the subject.' It is needless to point out that the attitude of these and many other theologians has been an insuperable barrier to the so-called educated ministry, which precludes any attempt on their part to investigate the field of Biblical prophecy. It is natural to conclude that a truth is of little importance if the great teachers of the church ignore it. However, even the teacher himself reflects his own training with its determination to disregard all else than that peculiar to the Reformation. Over against this is the statement by Dr. I.A. Dorner: 'There can be no doubt that Holy Scripture contains a rich abundance of truths and views, which have yet to be expounded and made the common possession of the Church.' (History of Protestant Theology, II, 4). Such indifference or resistance is hardly justified in the light of the fact that over one-fourth of the books of the Bible are avowedly prophetic, and, in the actual text of all the Scriptures, at least one-fifth was prediction at the time it was written. A portion of Bible prophecy is now fulfilled, and attention will be given to the distinction between fulfilled and unfulfilled prophecy." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.4, p.256

    "In His Upper Room Discourse, the Savior, having announced the peculiar teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit in the present age, goes on to declare what precise truths the Spirit will teach (John 16:12-15), and places 'things to come' as first on that list of themes. It is safe to say that no modern teacher of the Bible, be he even an extremist in his disproportionate emphasis on prophecy, would assume to place 'things to come' as first among those important themes, and many theologians would not include this subject at all. The supreme emphasis which Christ places upon this aspect of truth should not be overlooked. Incidentally, Christ has implied in this statement that none will comprehend prophecy who are not taught by the Holy Spirit. This seems to be true to a large degree in Christian experience." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.4, pp.256-257

    "It is a common practice with some theologians to brand chiliasm as a modern theory, not remembering that, in its restored form, even justification by faith is comparatively a modern truth. Both justification by faith and chiliasm are taught in the New Testament and were therefore the belief of the early Church. These doctrines, like all other essential truths, went into obscurity during the Dark Ages. The Reformers did not restore all features of doctrine and along with justification by faith they retained the Romish notion that the church is the kingdom, fulfilling the Davidic covenant, and appointed to conquer the world by bringing it under the authority of the church. This idea has prevailed in spite of the clear, uncomplicated testimony of the New Testament that this age must end in unprecedented wickedness." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.4, p.257

    "Though the kingdom occupies so large a place in the Sacred Text, the theme of the kingdom has been more misunderstood and its terminology more misapplied than any other one subject in the Bible. This is directly due to the failure, so inherent and far-reaching in Covenant Theology, to recognize the dispensational aspect of divine revelation. Truth concerning the Messianic expectation as that is set forth in the Old Testament does not imply that the kingdom is the Church, nor does the New Testament, with its objectives centered in heaven, teach that the Church is the kingdom. Similarly, the earthly kingdom that according to the Scriptures had its origin in the covenant made to David, which is mundane and literal in its original form and equally as mundane and literal in uncounted references to it in all subsequent Scriptures which trace it on to its consummation, is by theological legerdemain metamorphosed into a spiritual monstrosity in which an absent King seated on His Father's throne in heaven is accepted in lieu of the theocratic monarch of David's line seated on David's throne in Jerusalem. Again, through careless inattention many modern writers refer to the kingdom of heaven as though it were heaven, and in spite of the absurdities and contradictions which arise when these terms are thus confused." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.5, p.315

Unacceptable Excuses:

    "The plea that the prophetic portions of the Bible present problems over which men disagree is not a worthy release from its claims. There are no more problems in Eschatology than in Soteriology. It happens that, owing to the central place accorded Soteriology by the Reformers and in subsequent theological writings, that it has had a measure of consideration not given to prophetic truth. Disagreements as divergent as Calvinism and Arminianism have never been urged as a reason for its neglect." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.4, p.258

    "What is declared in the Scriptures respecting prophecy is as credible as those portions which are historical. The language is no more complex, nor is the truth any more veiled. It is recognized that it is a greater strain upon a feeble faith to believe and receive that which is mere prediction--especially so when unprecedented events are anticipated--than to believe and receive as true what has assuredly taken place. It is this unavoidable and requisite faith in God that He will do precisely what He has promised to do which proves to be lacking in many. In introducing his monumental work on The Theocratic Kingdom, George N.H. Peters states: 'The history of the human race is, as able theologians have remarked, the history of God's dealings with man. It is a fulfilling of revelation; yea, more: it is an unfolding of the ways of God, a comprehensive confirmation of, and an appointed aid, in interpreting the plan of redemption. Hence God himself appeals to it, not merely as the evidence of the truth declared, but as the mode by which we alone can obtain a full and complete view of the Divine purpose relating to salvation. To do this we must, however, regard past, present, and future history. The latter must be received as predicted, for we may rest assured, from the past and present fulfilment of the word of God, thus changed into historical reality, that the predictions and promises relating to the future will also in their turn become veritable history. It is this faith, which grasps the future as already present, that can form a decided and unmistakable unity' (I, 13). It is precisely this unity of divine purpose set forth in the Scriptures which is lost by those who delete the whole field of prophecy. The very diversity in antagonistic exegesis is not only deplorable because of its unfortunate testimony to the world but is evidence that something is fundamentally wrong. Rothe (Peters, Ibid., p. 21) is quoted as saying, 'Our key does not open--the right key is lost; and till we are put in possession of it again, our exposition will never succeed. The system of biblical ideas is not that of our schools...' This is a frank confession and more than one would venture to assert that until the whole Bible is considered in its unity there will be no remedy for the failure. It is not a matter of impossible barriers; it is simply and only a matter of giving attention to the things God has said, and said in understandable terms. The Bible terminology is always the simplest of any literature. Where symbolism is employed in the text, it will, almost without exception, be so indicated." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.4, pp.258-259

Humpty Dumpty Hermeneutic:

    "Whatever the prophetic message may be, it is dependent upon language--simple terms known to all--for its conveyance, and he who tampers with or distorts those terms cannot but reap confusion. The plan of God respecting future things has broken upon the mind of many worthy scholars when they have determined to let the Bible's simple prophetic terminology bear the message that it naturally conveys. At once the entire story of the future becomes clear and free from complications. It is not implied that there are not difficult situations to be confronted; but it is asserted that humble acceptance of the declarations in the natural meaning of them will yield a right understanding of the all-but-complete prophetic message." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.4, p.259

    "A phenomenon exists, namely, that men who are conscientious and meticulous to observe the exact teaching of Scripture in the fields of inspiration and the divine character of the Sacred Text, the ruin of the race through Adam's sin, the Deity and Saviourhood of Christ, are found introducing methods of spiritualizing and vamping the clear declarations of the Bible in the one field of Eschatology. So much has this tendency prevailed in the past two or three centuries that, as respecting theologians, they are almost wholly of this bold class. So great an effect calls for an adequate cause, and the cause is not difficult to identify. As previously indicated, when one is bound to a man-made covenant theory there is no room within that assumption for a restoration of Israel, that nation with all her earthly covenants and glory having been merged into the Church.  There is but one logical consummation--that advanced by Whitby with all its reckless disregard for the Biblical testimony, namely, that a hypothetical grace covenant will eventuate in a transformed social order, and not by the power of the returning Messiah but by the preaching of the gospel." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.5, p.282

Resurrection of Messiah Minimized:

    "As traced by the so-called Covenant theologians, the death of Christ is given a place of large significance but His resurrection is accounted as little more than something for His own personal convenience, His necessary return from the sphere of death back to the place which He occupied before. In other words, as viewed by Covenant theologians, there is practically no doctrinal significance to Christ's resurrection. That Christ by resurrection became what in Himself He had not been before--the federal Head of a wholly new order of beings and these the primary divine objective as this is set forth in the New Testament--cannot be incorporated into a system of which the cherished and distinctive feature is one unchangeable divine purpose from Adam to the end of time. This simple analysis accounts for the otherwise inexplicable fact that systems of theology which follow the one-covenant idea will be searched almost in vain for any explanation of Christ's resurrection. It is not implied that Covenant theologians do not believe that Christ arose from the dead; it is merely indicated that the resurrection of Christ has for them--and of necessity--no vital doctrinal import. These honored men do recognize that God wrought mightily before Christ's death and of course on the basis of that death as an expectation, and that God works mightily now on the basis of the actuality of Christ's death, but then it is averred by these men that God did the same things for His people on the basis of an expectation as He now does on the basis of reality. Thus the death of Christ, if it were a reasonable expectation, was required at some time. The supposition that God did do in past ages what He is doing now, however, will not stand the test of Scripture. Such views are fanciful and idealistic." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.5, pp.231-232

    "If as has been said Covenant Theology ignores the doctrinal aspects of the resurrection of Christ, it is due to the fact that according to that idealism the Church is not a new creation with its headship in the resurrected Christ, but has existed under a supposed uniform covenant from the beginning of human history.  Thus for that system the great reality of a heavenly purpose peculiar to this age is ruled out completely. . . . The doctrinal aspects of Christ's ascension and present ministry in heaven mean but little to those who are committed to the theory of an unchanging covenant. According to this assumption, the Church obtained without a headship in heaven, even before Christ came; therefore, the inauguration of that headship as something sprung out of His resurrection could not be of any great moment. The Covenant theory cannot be broadened to allow for Christ's new, priesthood ministry in heaven, nor for His immeasurable ministry as Advocate, and for the same reason.  Therefore, all this incalculable truth is not included in their system by Covenant theologians." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.5, pp.232-233

Special Ministry of the Paraclete Minimized:

    "The advent of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost constitutes a transformation as vital and far-reaching as any could be. Not only did He take up His residence in the world as definitely as did the Second Person when born of a virgin, but He undertook to form the tabernacle or temple in which He dwells--the whole body of believers, each one of whom is saved to infinite perfection in Christ--and become the indwelling source of life and power in each of those who are saved. By joining each believer to Christ, the Spirit is forming a wholly new thing unforeseen in ages past--a new humanity, a new creation, the realization of a wholly new divine purpose. The advent of the Spirit into the world and His residence in the world cannot be made to conform doctrinally to an unchangeable-covenant theory. Wherever this theory is stressed, there must go along with it a neglect of the most vital truths respecting the present age-characterizing ministries of the Holy Spirit. The same reason may be assigned for this neglect, namely, that if the Church existed and progressed in Old Testament times apart from these ministries of the Spirit, they cannot be of vital import in the present dispensation." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.5, p.233

Linear Assumption Recap:

    "The disannulling of all Jewish purposes and distinctive features for an age renders a continuous-covenant conception objectionable. The Old Testament history leads on to its consummation in a glorious earthly kingdom in which the elect nation, Israel, will realize her covenants as promises fulfilled. It is, therefore, disruptive to a one-covenant theory to the last degree that a situation should be set up as it has been in this age in which it is said respecting Jew and Gentile that 'there is no difference' (Rom. 3:9; 10:12)." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.5, p.233

    "The introduction of an age as an intercalation into the midst of the predicted ongoing Jewish and Gentile programs and the new heavenly purpose which characterizes this age cannot be made to conform to a supposed single covenant.  Thus it is seen how, to maintain the basic idea of a covenant theology, much that is vital in the whole divine purpose must be renounced and excluded in the interest of that which at best is only a theory; and among the neglected truths is the resurrection of Christ. However, in spite of an almost universal influence of the Covenant theory upon theological thought, the resurrection of Christ is, when seen in its true Biblical setting, properly recognized as the very ground of all the purposes of this age and the basis upon which the new positions and possessions of those in Christ are made to rest. There is a wide doctrinal difference between those who see no special consequence in Christ's resurrection and those who see its momentous significance. Those who observe this significance are not in error, nor do they need to be rebuked as those who have not followed a man-made theological standard. There is little probability that the theologian who by his training has been run into the restricted mold of a Covenant theory would venture far afield in independent Bible research, nor be sympathetic toward those who through years of untrammeled study of the Sacred Text have come to discover more of its meaning." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.5, pp.233-234

    "Due thought should be given to the need of divine wisdom in introducing to earnest men the successive steps in the greatest transition the world has ever experienced, namely, one from Judaism to Christianity. The stupendous change which demands the new birth of Nicodemus and the regeneration of Saul of Tarsus is not clarified or even approached by a Covenant theology which, while embracing a unifying idealism respecting a supposed single divine purpose, can ride unconsciously over these mighty changes as though they did not exist." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.5, pp.239-240

    "To many the only body of interpretation which is orthodox is that which was recovered by the Reformers, or that contained in an ancient doctrinal statement. There is, however, a great body of truth which the Reformers were unable to consider and which is lacking in ancient creeds. It is this which worthy expositors have brought to light in subsequent days. Since these expositors are as capable in the field of analysis of revealed truth as were the Reformers, the results of their labors should at least have some consideration. Two schools are developing among orthodox men: one which restricts all doctrine to the findings of men from the very early days of Protestantism, and one which, while accepting the sound teaching of the Reformers, recognizes that much added light has fallen (by reason of the Spirit and His continued ministry) upon the Word of God in later days and that this is as worthy of consideration as the findings of men of former times. Of these two schools, the first-named has too often looked upon the essential truth presented by the other as speculative, precarious, or perilous. The present ministries of Christ, like His resurrection and the Pauline doctrine of the Church, however, must be recognized, weighed, and given a full place regardless of the theories or prejudices of men in any work on theology which purports to be at all complete." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.5, pp.261-232

Old Covenant Retained:


    "Covenantism, which has molded the major theological concepts for many generations, recognizes no distinction as to ages, therefore can allow for no distinctions between law and grace.  This dominating attitude of Covenantism must account for the utter neglect of life-truth in all their works of theology.  No more representative theological dictum from the Covenant viewpoint has been formed than the Westminster Confession of Faith, which valuable and important document recognizes life truth only to the point of imposing the Ten Commandments on Christians as their sole obligation, and in spite of the teachings of the New Testament which assert that the law was never given to Gentile or Christian and that, as said before, the latter has been saved and delivered from it (cf. John 1:16-17; Acts 15:23-29; Rom. 6:14; 7:1-6; 2 Cor. 3:11, 13; Gal. 3:23-25)." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.6, p.167

Pseudo-Sabbath:

    "It was to be expected, when Covenant Theology has so neglected the fact and meaning of Christ's resurrection, that there would arise much misunderstanding about the reason for the celebration of the first day of the week rather than the seventh.  A recent article in a reputable religious journal is entitled, 'The Sabbath Permanent but Moveable.' By this caption the writer intends to draw attention by stating what after all is a contradiction. The impossible task to which he has appointed himself is to prove that the Jewish Sabbath idea remains intact even though the precise day of the week is changed. His thesis, as for all Covenant theologians, is that the structure of the Jewish Sabbath remains in force--for there is but one covenant--whether it be observed on one day or another. Such blindness respecting the discriminating teaching of the Bible can be accounted for only on the ground that a man-made scheme of supposed continuity is embraced and followed without an unprejudiced examination of the Scriptures." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.5, p.253

Infantile Baptism:


    "It is believed by a large percentage that there is some connection between the rite of circumcision as required for the Jewish child according to the Old Testament and the baptism of children according to the New Testament. In the attempt to establish and magnify its one-covenant idea, Covenant Theology has contended for the supposed relationship between the two dispensations." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.7, p.176

Gospel of the Kingdom Misconstrued:


    "In the present time there are those who, misapprehending the prediction that the Gospel of the Kingdom must be preached in all the world (Matt. 24:14), assert that Christ cannot return until the missionary enterprise has reached to all the inhabited earth, not recognizing that the passage in question is found in a context belonging to the future great tribulation and that because of the unending cycle of birth and death there could not be a set time in this dispensation when the missionary endeavor would be completed." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.5, p.282

    "Strong objection is offered by Covenant theologians to a distinction between the Gospel of the Kingdom as preached by John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Disciples, and the Pauline Gospel of the Grace of God. One Covenant theologian states that to make such a distinction is 'unfortunate,' and 'dangerous.' He with others contends that the Kingdom Gospel is identical with the Gospel of divine Grace. Here nevertheless will arise an absurdity which does not deter this type of theologian, namely, that men could preach the Pauline Grace Gospel based as it is on the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ when they did not believe Christ would die or be raised again (Lu. 18:31-34)." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.7, p.176


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