This past week I attended the second annual “Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics” held at Baptist Bible Seminary in Clarks Summit, Pa. This year’s theme revolved around the dispensational understanding of the new covenant. For those of you familiar with the issue, you know that the church’s relationship to the new covenant has been one of the most debated issues among dispensationalists. Dispensationalism maintains a distinction between the church and Israel, leading to various ways of interpreting the church’s relation to the new covenant. These interpretations range from the church sharing in the blessing of the new covenant, to the church not sharing in the new covenant at all, to the proposal of two separate new covenants, one for Israel and one for the church.
We know that God promises a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah (Jer 31:31-34). From our new testament (or new covenant) we know that the book of Hebrews cites the new covenant (Heb 8), and we know that in the upper room the night before he died, Jesus said, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). So how does one handle such a difficult interpretive issue as the church’s relationship to a covenant made with the house of Israel?
Dr. Rod Decker presented a paper at the council titled “The Law, the New Covenant, and the Christian.” It is a treatment of Hebrews 7-10, a section which contains the longest treatment of the new covenant in the New Testament. It is an excellent paper, a model of good exegesis, and a cogent treatment of the issue. It is a bit technical but well worth the read.