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Covenant Creation, Covenant Eschatology

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By Virgil - Posted on 20 July 2009

Those of us who believe Covenant Creation, are often accused of denying type vs. anti-type or the principle, first the physical then the spiritual.When I coined the term Covenant Creation, my thoughts were basically, dispensationalists accuse preterists of not taking Scripture literally, but in fact we do, often more literally than the dispensationalists do. The problem is, the early church had a different definition or understanding of various terms than we have today.

That is, the early church culture was different and understood things differently from us today.

Initially, my thoughts were not on the term "heaven and earth," but that term has become the focal point. The dispensationalists claim the term always means the physical universe. Preterists, specifically those who believe Covenant Eschatology, understand the phrase "heaven and earth" to never mean the physical universe in an eschatological passage. We have disagreements and uncertainty as to what the term precisely means, but we are pretty much in the ball park.

Does "heaven and earth" mean the covenant, the covenant people, the corporate body of people in the covenant, the temple? Is it all four? Is it something else related? Individually, we who believe Covenant Eschatology have our personal views and we accept each others nuances here as not really disagreements as much as not clearly knowing.

The majority of Christians since Augustine have accepted "heaven and earth" in Genesis 1 and Revelation 21 as the physical universe. That is, they have held the same view as the dispensationalists. During most of that time, most Christians have believed Matthew 24 was fulfilled. We can reasonably infer that this same majority accepted "heaven and earth" in that passage in the same, vague, not fully defined way as do modern preterists.

(There are cultural differences between us and those before Augustine that need to be carefully considered, as Walton is attempting to do in his work. This is the very essence of original audience context and relevance.)

What happens if we apply a preterist/Covenant Eschatology definition to "heaven and earth" and apply it to the rest of Scripture?

Does a term like "heaven and earth" have a single definition? Is "heaven and earth" always the physical universe as the dispensationalists insist? Is it always used the way preterists see it used in eschatology?

Does it have a primary definition and a secondary definition? Does "heavens and earth" primarily mean what the dispensationalists claim and secondarily mean what the preterists claim? If so, then we should take the dispensationalist meaning unless the context won't allow it. Or is the preterist meaning primary and the dispensationalist meaning secondary?

Or is the dispensationalist meaning "literal" and the preterist meaning "metaphorical?" What is literal and what is metaphorical, depends on the culture. I can imagine a "literalist" 2000 years from now insisting that a Mercedes Benz was Mr. Benz' daughter. Those claiming it was an expensive car will be accused of "metaphor."

Covenant Creation assumes that the preterist usage of a term is the primary definition. It is not a secondary metaphorical use in the original culture, but how they generally used the term.

The preterist definition or preterist understanding of each term is the primary definition or understanding throughout Scripture.

In contrast, our anti-Covenant Creation friends simply and generally hold that the dispensationalist definition or understanding is primary and the preterist definition or understanding is secondary.

Blessings.

tom-g's picture

Great JL,

I know most of the time you are just "funnin" us, but this has to be one of your best ever. Great comedy!

Tom

Barry's picture

That was helpful!
Barry

we are all in this together

tom-g's picture

Thanks Barry, I'm glad to see you agree with me.
Tom

Barry's picture

I hear you Tom. As long as you are proud of yourself I really don't have much to say really. Those are your choices after all.

Blessings,
Barry

we are all in this together

tom-g's picture

Hey Barry,

I believed what you said. Or were you "funnin" me too?

Tom

Reformer's picture

I would argue that there are three different entities in the Bible (and so recognized in OT times) that are/were termed "heaven and earth."

1) The physical creation (Gen. 1:1; Isa. 51:13; Acts 4:24-26; 14:17).

2) The OT world of Babylon (Isa. 13:13, 19-22).

3) The Old Covenant creation (Deut. 32:1; 31:28; Isa. 1:2-3; 51:15-16; Heb. 12:26-27 [from Hag. 2:6-7]).

So, which one was to pass away and be made new? Which two were to end?

mazuur's picture

John,

"1) The physical creation (Gen. 1:1; Isa. 51:13; Acts 4:24-26; 14:17)."

I would say you have an assumption that Genesis 1:1 is talking about the physical world.

According to John Walton's book, that assumption is very much misplaced. Of course that has huge ramifications on you other assumptions concerning the other verses you listed. ie. Isa.51:14, Acts 4:24-26, 14:17.

Rich

-Rich

Reformer's picture

Rich,

I have no idea who John Walton is or why he should be singled out on this. But using your same logic here, multitudes of "well-known and respected" biblical writers, scholars, etc. have recognized Genesis 1:1 as talking about the physical creation.

What they haven't recognized are the identities of the other two "heaven and earth" entities.

Barry's picture

That may be a good point John.
Of course in the end the point is what acctually harmonizes the scriptures so that there is not contradiction at the end of the day. We are looking of consistency IMO.

IMO the view that the bible does not address directly the creation of "physical matter" (as we tend to think of it from our scientific, western mind set) but rather the organization of chaos into order, has much merit. Such would not mean that physical matter was eternal, only that the subject is not addressed directly because it was never the topic.
This also could make less defining lines drawn between covenant and so called none-covenant creation. And could help explain why Paul for example can move from one to the other in some instances such as in Acts 17.

Barry

we are all in this together

Reformer's picture

Barry,

Harmonizing while usually admirable, is not always so, in and of itself. There are also dichotomies, trichotomies, and perhaps even more non-harmonizible entities in Scripture.

I suggest that the "heaven and earth" topic we are discussing here is a trichotomy.

mazuur's picture

John,

"I have no idea who John Walton is or why he should be singled out on this."

If you were to have an idea who he is, and if you had read his new book, you would.

In any event, he was singled out because as a "well-known and respected" scholar on the OT and other ANE religions, in his new book "The Lost World of Genesis One" he presented a very compelling case for Genesis chapter one having nothing to do with the physical creation at all (he basically presented CC without realizing it nor grasping the ramifications of his presentation. All in good time). You should get it and give it a read.

with his new understanding of the Genesis 1:1 H&E, your list will probably completely change.

Your #1 (Genesis 1) is one and the same as your #3 (Rev. 21).

Your #2 was destroyed when Babylon fell.

"multitudes of "well-known and respected" biblical writers, scholars, etc. have recognized Genesis 1:1 as talking about the physical creation."

I would venture to say that list over the next few years is going to become very short.

I do agree with your overall sentiments. "they" haven't recognized the identities of other "heaven and earth" being addressed in the Scriptures, just as they (you) don't recognize the Genesis 1:1 world properly.

-Rich

-Rich

Islamaphobe's picture

Rich,

With some misgivings, I have ordered the book by Walton and hope it lives up to the promotion that you and other posters have given it. I am familiar with Walton through his endorsement of what I regard as a mistaken interpretation of Daniel's four kingdoms. It is Walton's view, according to a journal article published quite a few years ago that although there was a real prophet Daniel, his four kingdoms were Babylonia, Media, Medo-Persia, and Greece. I dealt with that treatment in my four kingdoms book and continue to deny its plausibility.

John S. Evans

mazuur's picture

John,

I don't know about Walton's treatment of Daniel, but his work on Genesis is amazing! You will not be let down after you read his new book.

I agree, if what you stated concerning Walton's presentation on Daniel, he is wrong. The forth Kingdom is clearly Rome. I just don't understand how anyone can get around this.

-Rich

-Rich

Reformer's picture

Rich,

I have been and still am unconvinced by arguments put forth by Tim Martin ("Beyond Creation Science" book) and others re: their assumption that the "heaven and earth" in Genesis and Revelation are synonymous and both covenantal in nature.

JL's picture

Actually John,

It was never our assumption. It was our conclusion after some 400 pages of exegesis.

Blessings,

JL Vaughn
Coauthor Beyond Creation Science

Blessings,

JL Vaughn
Beyond Creation Science

Reformer's picture

Okay, JL. "conclusion" it is. But I remain unconvinced by your 400 pages of "exegesis."

My exegesis leads me to a conclusion of three different entities termed "heaven and earth."

And this is a significant difference.

Starlight's picture

John,

We just put serious doubt on two of your three H & E applications. Looks like your options are dwindling.

Norm

Reformer's picture

No, it's not that easy to dismiss, Norm. I must disagree with this assumption or conclusion of yours as well.

Starlight's picture

John,

Neither is it easy to assume your understanding without appropriating preconceived suppositions.

You assume we need to prove our position. The same goes for you to prove your assumption. Just saying it is so doesn't carry much weight any more in the Preterist community. Church history is well noted to be derelict. Older (2000 year) writings seem to bear out the CC understanding though. One just need to be interested in checking these things out.

Kind of like has happened in Revelation. :)

Norm

Reformer's picture

Norm,

Normally (no pun intended), the burden of proof is on the one attempting to unseat an established view. This has always been the burden of the preterist view opposing futurist views. IMO -- the same require holds here in your endeavors to convince me and others that "heaven and earth" in Gen. and Rev. are idential and covenantal.

Again, I'm not convinced by what I've seen presented so far. You have not unseated the traiditional view here.

Starlight's picture

John,

That might be true if the futurist hadn't disloged the correct understanding in the first place. Since the Preterist understanding is standing upon historical precedent then the futurist are the ones who should have to explain their deviations. The same goes with Genesis.
But we are arguing now over who's on first. LOL

Norm

Reformer's picture

I have no idea what you may mean here by "historical precedent."

But there is no argument. Preterists MUST be "first." The burden in upon the challenger.

And again, IMO, I am unconvinced by the arguments or exegesis that I've seen presented so far.

Starlight's picture

John,

Historically Preterism was first,then came futurism.

Norm

Reformer's picture

That is not right, historically, if you read the writings of the early church fathers -- they were split -- some were partial prets but most were futurists.

Starlight's picture

John,

I'm talking about those circa AD70:)

Norm

mazuur's picture

John,

You really need to get Walton's new book. I think you'll begin to see and understand not only Genesis 1 differently, but with the concepts he presents, you begin to see the entire Bible (both OT and NT) differently, especially the various references to H&E throughout.

And, remember Walton is part of the current evangelical world of today (not a preterist for sure), and recognized as a leading OT scholar, with an emphasis on Ancient Cosmologies.

You really should get the book. It's pretty short and a very easy read. You'll be done in 2 or 3 days (assuming a 1 or 2, at the most, hour sitting each day). Of course I'm a slow reader, so with your intellect you may be done in 2-1/2 hours. :)

-Rich

-Rich

JL's picture

John,

Have you read the latest edition of Beyond Creation Science? Last we conversed, you had not and said you were not interested. Have you actually gotten the book since and read the first 400 pages?

If you don't have a copy, my offer of a free review copy still stands. Send me your physical address, and I'll send you a copy pronto.

Blessings,

JL Vaughn
BeyondCreationScience@gmail.com

Blessings,

JL Vaughn
Beyond Creation Science

Reformer's picture

JL,

I read your 2007 third edition. And thanks for your offer. Can you highlight the new parts?

My address is: John Noe, 5236 East 72nd Street, Indianapolis, IN 46250

Thanks and blessings,

John

JL's picture

Thanks John,

That is the latest. That is the book I was offering. Outside of Chapters 7-9 and one appendix, everything in that book was new.

If you've got some specific comments on where we failed to be convincing, we would like to see them. Tim and I have noted a few arguments that we need to upgrade and a couple we need to discard.

Since you've read the previous booklet and the new book, you know what is new, but for the benefit of others, this appears to be a good place to briefly mention what the book covers.

Chapters 1-4 develop preterism. Technically, they leave people with a Gary DeMar-type partial preterism and do not press the issues that preterists and partial preterists differ on (yet).

Chapters 5-6 are the history of dispensationalism (or as I prefer, your pet name of dispenSENsationalism) and modern young-earth creationism.

Chapters 7-9 make the case for a local Genesis flood. This covers the case Tim made in his earlier booklet, but with more detail.

Chapter 10 covers the tower of Babel incident.

Chapters 11-12 cover the fall and the death/curse. Here we start the development of the corporate body resurrection.

Chapters 13-18 cover creation. It is here that we develop the idea that the beginning must match the end.

Chapter 19 explains our epistemology, our theory of knowledge. Very pragmatic. Somewhat arbitrary. But it is the way people think and work things out.

Chapter 20, we show how the content of Chapters 11-18 requires the rest of preterism.

Chapter 21, we answer, "What's next?"

Blessings.

Blessings,

JL Vaughn
Beyond Creation Science

Reformer's picture

JL,

This is not something that I have the time or interest in going back to and re-reading and critically interacting with (again) at this time. Sorry.

I still maintain: 3 different entities in Scripture termed "heaven and earth." Two would end. One would be made new. One would never end.

mazuur's picture

John,

"Can you highlight the new parts?"

Oh, man, that's like asking for the highlights between "The Spirit of Prophecy" and "The Cross and the Parousia". :)

-Rich

-Rich

Reformer's picture

Yes, Rich,

Both of which are good but yet highly problematic.

mazuur's picture

"and others re: their assumption that the "heaven and earth" in Genesis and Revelation are synonymous and both covenantal in nature."

Who are the "others"? I hope you aren't including Walton in that group as Walton does not make any assumption (he doesn't even know CC exist), as his work deals with the text of Genesis itself. Now he also, using his vast expertise/knowledge of the other ancient cosmologies in the near east (contemporaries of when Genesis was written), present words and concepts in the manner they would have been used in their historical context. A real breath of fresh air. Kind of like finally reading the NT in light of their historical setting (thanks to Preterism).

For a pretty good review go here: http://bbhchurchconnection.blogspot.com/2009/06/lost-world-of-genesis-on...

But, even with this review, to understand what he presents one just has to read it.

-Rich

-Rich

davo's picture

OR… as a teaser, you can read the first 22 pages of Prologue – Introduction and Proposition 1 right HERE.

davo

mazuur's picture

Davo,

ah, that's excellent. I will have to bookmark that for future use.

-Rich

-Rich

mazuur's picture

Davo,

Hey, I just found an audio lecture from John Walton on "Genesis One as Ancient Cosmology".

http://www.logos.com/media/lecture/walton.mp3

This is from June 23, 2008

Haven't listen to it yet, but I will tonight.

-Rich

-Rich

davo's picture

Thanks Rich will check it out too.

Reformer's picture

Rich,

Well, I took your advice and got and read Walton's book.

But I see no support for CC in it. So help me here.

Also, you say that "he presented a very compelling case for Genesis chapter one having nothing to do with the physical creation at all." With all due respect, that is not accurate. His whole position is focused on Gen. 1 being the creation of the functions of the physical creation not its material substance.

So where I'm I wrong on this or missing out on something here?

John

Starlight's picture

John,

If I understand the Isa 13 prophecy correctly; Babylon would fall into the hands of Cyrus the Mede after hosting God’s Heavens and Earth peoples for 70 years. It called this fall a shaking of the H & E similar to the one at Mount Sinai mentioned in Heb 12:26 which did not see the H & E destroyed but simply shaken. Since the Temple instruments were taken to Babylon during this 70 year epic then we might look at Isa 13 a little differently than you might think.

I think what was destroyed was Babylon “the glory of kingdoms”

Norm

Windpressor's picture

*************

Hey Ref,

For a good intro, check Walton's Power Point presentation
"Genesis and Cosmology" --
Scientific Cosmology and Christianity [click on the lower Walton icon]
That symposium segment has been touted here on PP in previous posts.

G1

...............

G-Juan Wind

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