To read this book was like a breath of fresh air. I could not put it down.
Despite the traction that has been gained in the UK among evangelicals by the so-called ‘new covenant theology’ (NCT), it is surprising that so little has been written to critique this theological framework. It is perhaps because its theologians do not have a common confession or a systematised body of truth that can be critiqued. Therefore, this author has done well to track down the key proponents and give an assessment of this somewhat amorphous movement.
In the opening chapter McGrane contends that NCT is ‘a “third way” between Reformed theology and dispensationalism’ (p.9), and its proponents seem to be most at home among Baptist circles. A key name is Jon Zens who denied the covenant of grace in the 1970s, and he is believed to be the possible founder according to McGrane.
It becomes evident that this movement is averse to Reformed confessions and also systematic theology, and often its theologians deride the logic of systematic theologians. David H. J. Gay is such a NCT proponent who does just that. He claims that ‘Reformed schoolmen’ are simply Aristotle disciples to be effectually ignored. McGrane sweeps this assertion away in one sentence: ‘Aristotle did not invent logical reasoning, he merely described it and systematised it’ (p.46).
There is a lively interaction with varied NCT supporters and their writings through the book. Perhaps the crux chapter that gets to the nub of NCT theology and its problem is chapter 6, Replacement lawgiver, replacement law. In sum, NCT rejects the Ten Commandments as a ‘rule for life’ and replaces them with the law of Christ, that no one seems able to codify. It is because it is antinomian, a departure from biblical Christianity and historic Reformed theology. This probably explains why its supporters remain deliberately unclear.
There will be many Christians in churches who have been seriously troubled by the NCT movement. This book will confirm their concerns, explain why it is a worrying trend, and call people back to the ancient paths for a love of Reformed confessions and the historic teaching of holy Scripture.