For any parties interested, be it paedobaptist or credobaptist, Pascal Denault’s new book The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology is a must read. It traces (from the sources) the Baptist roots in Covenant Theology and how it differs and where it differs from paedobaptist Covenant Theology.
It is a very much welcomed addition to the upswing in Baptist Covenant Theology. Far too long our paedobaptist brethren are uninformed concerning what historic Baptists, and what has come to be known as Reformed Baptists, have always believed in regards to Covenant Theology. Couple that with the profound ignorance of many that label themselves as Baptist or Reformed Baptists and I’m convinced this new book will help keep many young Baptists from abandoning ship, since they are so often tempted join the paedobaptist camp out of a lack of understanding Baptist Covenant Theology.
This book and Jeffery Johnson’s The Fatal Flaw of the Theology Behind Infant Baptism will be the two books that I give to those interested in the matter.
Here is a small portion from Denault’s book:
“By rejecting the notion of a Covenant of Grace under two administrations, the Baptists were in fact rejecting only half of this concept: they accepted, as we have previously seen, the notion of one single Covenant of Grace in both testaments, but the refused the idea of two administrations. For the Baptists, there was only one Covenant of Grace which was revealed from the Fall in a progressive way until its full revelation and conclusion in the New Covenant… If the Westminster federalism can be summarized in “one covenant under two administrations,” that of the 1689 would be “one covenant revealed progressively and concluded formally under the New Covenant.”
The Baptists believed that no covenant preceding the New Covenant was the Covenant of Grace. Before the arrival of the New Covenant, the Covenant of Grace was at the stage of promise. According to Benjamin Keach, the expression “the covenant of promise” that can be found in Ephesians 2.12 refers back to the Covenant of Grace. If we are talking about a promise, this implies that it was not yet accomplished and was not yet in the form of a testament or a covenant. The Baptists believed the the New Covenant was the accomplishment of the promise, or in other words, the accomplishment of the Covenant of Grace. This doctrine is expressed in the following way in the 1689: “This covenant is revealed in the gospel; first of all to Adam […] and afterwards by farther steps, until the full discovery thereof was completed in the New Testament.” The New Testament brings the full revelation of the Covenant of Grace since the New Covenant is its accomplishment. The Baptists considered that the New Covenant and it alone was the Covenant of Grace.
…This distinction: [revealed/concluded] summarized the difference between the Covenant of Grace in the Old Testament and the Covenant of Grace in the New Testament. In the Old, it was revealed, in the New, it was concluded (fully revealed according to the expression of the 1689). John Owen comes to exactly the same understanding in his exegesis of Hebrews 8.6 where we read: “But in fact the ministry Jesus received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is the mediator is superior to the old one, since the New Covenant is established on better promises.” *
*Pascal Denault, The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology (Birmingham, AL: Solid Ground Christian Books, 2013), pp. 61, 63, 64.