Covenantal Research Findings

Covenantal Hermeneutic
Findings and Applications
Daniel V. Porter, 3/29/2009  

A. Findings:
1. Based on biblical Gifts (givens): the life of the believer, the covenantal life, is based on biblical givens. The “big three” givens: Creation – Cross – Judgement.

2. The Covenantal Nature of God’s Relationship with His Creation:
a. The link to ontological gap (necessary)

b. Jesus Christ is the basis for the Covenant; He is the Covenant; His real life, death and resurrection established/renewed the Covenant “once for all”

c. E.g.s in Scripture (Exo 18-24; Eph 4-6)

The above two are the foundation for all knowing, writing on any subject

3. My paper looked at the Core of the Covenant:
a. “Instructional stipulations”

b. 7 Features

c. Replication as basis for biblical universals:

given + revelation + replication = universal

B. Covenantal Hermeneutic

C. Applications:
1. Gospel/Mission:

2. Science

3. Life

A. Findings:
1. Based on biblical Gifts: the life of the believer, the covenantal life, is based on biblical Gifts. Gift/given: known fact, object, or something bestowed or enacted; real historical event, established by God as pillars of Covenant faith and community.

The “big three” Gifts: Creation – Cross – Judgement. Others include: Scripture, Original sin in the Garden?, Flood?, Abrahamic Covenant, Mosaic Covenant, Davidic Covenant, Pentecost (Mat 28:18, Olthius, James. 1970, 107-125; Douma, quoted in Greidanus 1970, 43; De Graaf, S.J. 1977; Carson, D. A. 2000, 271-72; 1991).

2. The Covenantal Nature of God’s relationship with His Creation:
a. The link to ontological gap (necessary) (author)

b. Jesus Christ is the basis for the Covenant; He is the Covenant; His real life, death and resurrection established/renewed the Covenant “once for all” (Heb 9:15-10:18; ).

c. Covenantal structure/nature in Scripture (Exo 18-24; Eph 4-6):
(1) Covenantal structure of renewal at Mt. Sinai: (author’s biblical exegesis; Averbeck 1995):
(a) Theophany (Exo 3-20)
(b) Deliverance from Egypt (Exo 9-19)
(c) Renewal “ceremony” (Exo 19-24)
(d) Covenant Instructions–Ten Words (Exo 20)

(2) Paul’s renewal of the covenant-thinking in Ephesians: (author’s biblical exegesis)
(a) Paean to God and to all blessings in Christ (Eph 1)
(b) Deliverance from enslaved condition (Eph 2)
(c) Covenant Renewal (Eph 2, 4:22-24)
(d) Covenant Instructions–Ten Words (Eph 4-6)

The above two are the foundation for all knowing, writing on any subject

3. My paper looked at the Core of the Covenant:
a. “Instructional stipulations” (author; Holtz 1984, 84).

b. Creative Role of the Ten Words:
(1) Signs of God’s deity
(2) Teach what God is like and not like
(3) Test willingness
(4) Create promise of hope
(5) Provide parameters for covenantal living
(6) Explicate what love God only and love your neighbor as yourself involves
(7) Learn in order to teach others

B. Covenantal Hermeneutic:
1. God-Creation: basis for everything, reality, all knowing; implies gap, causing ultimate human crisis and broken Covenant

2. Mediator-renewal: necessary; God must come to us, we cannot reach Him; accomplished by Christ on Cross; promise-fulfillment and grace

3. Covenant relationship: prior willingness to hear, cooperate (gift of God); repentance; mutual bond/commitment, ultimate allegiance, involving love and loyalty

4. Covenant living-framework: purpose-plan; righteousness; fulfillment: recognize text authority and work to fulfill; way of life; every area of life

5. Covenantal principles: (Davies 1997)
a. Revelational: only by knowing God know what is not God

b. Hearing: precondition: willingness (Luther: conversion)

c. Relational learning: Hebrew/Scripture best learned in hermeneutical community)

d. Covenantal: OT prophets, Jesus & Apostles & we all in covenant.

e. Righteousness: not classical virtues, but character

f. Blessing: creational, broader than gifts

g. Fulfillment: assume textual authority; work to fulfill

C. Applications of Covenantal Hermeneutic (Relationships-connectivity): (Porter 2008)

1. Covenantal critique of Hellenism/Westernism:
a. Monist mental habit (integration, accommodation, allegorical reasoning) = anti-God lie

b. 1 non abstract or immanent God over, in & through all confounds ideal-material dualism

c. Allegorical reasoning = pseudo text/worldview assumption + broken metaphor warrant + moralizing = futile thinking/lie
d. “Man can” achieve, be autonomous, measure of cosmos: speak truth before words kill

e. Deterministic formation violates the created subject and conscience

f. Imposition/conformism leads to anger and murder

g. Yearning for the Ideal = covetousness, seeking God’s place = idolatry and theft.

2. Ten Word worldview assessment/hermeneutic: 21st century unchurched speak the same as descriptions of 2nd millennium B.C. nations and disobedient Hebrews

3. Covenant and Scientific Methodology Complementarity: (author)
a. Hebrew-biblical wisdom leads to such things as iterative tacking for knowledge development, problem-solving, etc.

b. Priority in reality: knowing subject to Creator before knowing object, takes reality seriously

c. Biblical concreteness and real-life bases for exploration and conjecture

d. Let texts speak for themselves (Gilstrap 1988, 1)

e. “Warts and all” approach to truthing, storying

f. Triangulation for reliability

g. Replication demonstrates local, concrete to universal biblical pattern:

4. Gospel/Mission:
a. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1)

b. “What I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ (was incarnated and) died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared . . . to more than five hundred brothers” (1 Cor 15:3-6; Jon 3:16)
c. It is appointed to Man first to die and then face judgement (Heb 9:27)

d. One person placed faith in Christ during our online survey

6. Covenants in Life:
a. Marriage

b. Church membership

c. Talent/Work

d. Person’s relationship to work and his client/supplier/ buyer/employer/ employee

e. Commerce

f. Ownership, of land, etc.

g. Family and schooling

h. Church and
(1) Presbytery/synod
(2) Seminary
(3) Agency

i. Government/political
(1) Citizenry
(2) Government
(3) Diplomacy

j. Scientific method

k. Internet

In commonwealth OR dispersed throughout human cultures

Works Cited

Averbeck, Richard E. 1995. Law. In D. Brent Sandy and Ronald L. Giese, Jr. Cracking Old Testament codes: A guide to interpreting Old Testament forms. Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers.

Carson, D. A. 1991. How long, oh Lord: Reflections on suffering and evil. Grand Rapids: Baker Books.

. 2000. Reflections on assurance. In Still sovereign: Contemporary perspectives on election, foreknowledge and grace. Ed., Thomas R. Schreiner and Bruce A. Ware. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.

Davies, Lloyd. 1997. Covenantal hermeneutics and the redemption of theory. Christianity and Literature, 46, no. 3-4 (Spring): 357-397.

DeGraaf, S. D. 1977. Promise and deliverance, Vol 1. St. Catherines, ON, CN: Paideia Press.

Douma, J. Teacher’s Bible commentary.

Gilstrap, Michael R. 1988. The paradigm is shifting. Dispensationalism in transition Vol 1, no. 7; available on the Internet at www.garynorth.com/freebooks/docs/ a_pdfs/newslet/dt/8807.pdf

Greidanus, Sidney. 1970. Sola Scriptura: Problems and principles in preaching historical texts. Toronto: Wedge.

Barry Holtz, ed. 1984. Back to the sources: Reading the classic Jewish texts. NY: Simon & Schuster.

Olthius, James. 1970. Out of concern for the Church. Toronto: Wedge.

Porter, Daniel V. 2008. Covenantal hermeneutic of Hellenism. Unpublished Ph.D. Paper. Jackson, MS: Reformed Theological Seminary.

About dbporter

Dan Porter, living in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Married to Bonnie, an artist. We have three grown sons, all married to wonderful women, and in turn have eight children.
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