A summary of where we've been so far: Part 1 provided a brief summary of main contours in Covenant Theology. Part 2 focused on the "seed" theme in the Bible, reaching the conclusion that the term is used in four related but distinct ways. Part 3 traced Wellum's argument that Christ fulfills ALL the OT covenants. Part 4 highlighted two of Wellum's conclusions.
Now in Part 5, I want to give a bit more attention to John Reisinger's Abraham's Four Seeds, a book that's been quite helpful to me in holding both Dispensationalism (D) and Covenant Theology (CT) up to the mirror of some pivotal biblical texts. In it, Reisinger examines four biblical usages of the theological term, "seed"—natural, physical, unique (Christ) and "special" natural (the Nation of Israel). (Regardless of your personal convictions, it's worth a read, if for no other reason than that it'll help you look at those texts from outside the comfortable confines of your theological system.) Be aware that he's primarily critiquing the D of Scofield and the CT of the Westminster Confession, so your particular flavor of revised D or CT may not overlap precisely.
Most everyone would agree that D and CT differ strikingly over the matter of continuity in Scripture, related to the covenants and the people of God. D sees less; CT sees more. So you can get a sense of where Reisinger's coming from, here's how he describes that difference:
Dispensationalism drives a wedge between the OT and the NT and never the twain shall meet as specific promise (OT) and identical fulfillment (NT); and Covenant Theology flattens the whole Bible out into one covenant where there is no real and vital distinction between either the Old and New Covenants or Israel and the Church. (p. 19)But Reisinger also notes a surprising point of similarity between D and CT. In fact, it's a recurring point of his book. (As much as I'm tempted to blog through the whole book, I'm choosing simply to quote the point rather than attempt to develop it. We'll see if I pay for that in the comments . . .) I think you'll see how it largely dovetails with Wellum's arguments:
What we are really saying is this: (1) Every promise that was made to Abraham and his seed is either now fulfilled spiritually in Christ; or will be fulfilled in the new heavens and new earth; or else it ended when the Old Covenant was done away; or there will be, in some cases, a 'double' fulfillment. (2) Every single thing given to a believer 'in Christ' is far better than anything in the natural world, including all of the land of Palestine. Every believer, whether Jew or Gentile, will ultimately be united to Christ and be part of his bride (Rev. 21) and experience the "better things" of Hebrews 11:39, 40.In the final post of this series, I plan to reproduce a helpful chart that shows how God's single goal is advanced through two different covenants and two distinct nations.
Both the Dispensationalist and the Covenant Theologian want to bring the promise of Abraham and his seed into the present age in a physical sense via the lineage of their physical children. They both insist that the promise made to Abraham and his seed is an unconditional covenant and is therefore still in effect for physical seeds. The Dispensationalist naturalizes the seed to mean physical Israel, and the Paedobaptist naturalizes the seed to mean the physical children of believers. The Padeobaptist [sic] wants to make the Abrahamic covenant to be a special covenant with believers concerning the salvation of their physical children that is still in effect today. The Dispensationalist wants the same covenant to be a special covenant still in force with Jews concerning the land of Palestine. In the end, the Paedobaptist does exactly the same thing with Abraham's seed as the Dispensationalist! He merely does it for a different purpose. (p. 94)