Peter Ditzel, whose attempt to distort Peter Meney’s and my own doctrine of justification was dealt with in the last issue, belongs to the latter day New Covenant Theology group of para-church movements. These have radically altered their common beliefs of some dozen years ago and are now expanding their Marcionite 1 dualistic vision from their various contradictory views of the Covenant into all areas of theology. 2  They are now winning recruits from once staunch holders of Presbyterian covenant views such as The Founders Ministries who have brought new variations with them. It is thus fitting to take a new look at what some NCT adherents are saying today. So as not to meet confusion with confusion, I shall limit myself to statements placed in Theopedia, which are closer to those of NCT’s pioneer John Reisinger. I believe Reisinger is the soundest of all NCT adherents in spite of his grave exegetical, linguistic and logic errors. I hold him to be an upright, honest man and a most likeable figure. I am not interested, however, in basing my faith on false exegesis, linguistics or logic but sadly the NCT are increasingly becoming involved in dialectics based both on an analytical Aristotelian and false Antithetical logic as illustrated by Ditzel, Wells and Reisinger. One cannot smash God’s Covenant and then try to make the debris meaningful.

     This new NCT theology declares its agreements and disagreements with so-called ‘Covenant Theology’ in Theopedia on the web. However, this comparison, or false antithesis, is highly misleading and to little purpose. After the Reformation and during the Commonwealth period, each religio-political group fighting for supremacy viewed God’s Covenant differently. NCT chooses as its scapegoat a theory which had already departed from Biblical and Reformed teaching in Commonwealth times. Even then, they misrepresent these theories such as that of the Westminster Confession who split the belief in one Covenant into two separate covenants on which to build a politico-religious state under OT case-law. As other groups split off from the Presbyterians, their covenant theologies became even more divers so as to mark them off from their opponents. Different understandings of the duration of these covenants and their relation to the promises they contained caused more divisions. The NCT have picked out what suits them in this theological Babel and presented them as ‘Covenant Theology’. It is thus mostly the more complicated and more legal views of God’s Covenant on behalf of man which the NCT has chosen to combat matching them with their New Law theories. They thus ignore the true Biblical doctrine of grace as believed by the English and German-Swiss Reformers who rescued Britain and thus all English-speaking countries from the tyranny of Rome.

     It would have been a major, reforming accomplishment indeed had the NCT people led us back to a true understanding of God’s pan-Biblical Covenant as a minority of Anglicans and Independents 3 strove to do on the Westminster Assembly. Instead, NCT furthers the cult-like chaos of the seventeenth century. During these times, the Rationalist view prevailed that God’s Covenant was a politico-legal pact with nations and churches instead of the original, Biblical teaching that God’s Covenant is with Jesus Christ founded in eternity. It is still their denial of the Christo-centric, pan-Scriptural, nature of the Covenant that shows that NCT adherents have a long way to go in their search for orthodoxy. So what are the so-called agreements?

The so-called agreements

1. The Church has become ‘spiritual Israel’: This is incorrect. Reformed Covenant believers stressed that the Church was always ‘spiritual Israel’ in both testaments. The ‘Eschatological Becoming Church’ is a novelty of the NCT movement. Furthermore NCT writers invariably speak of OT Israel as an ethnic nation cast off by God and not as a nation of believers and unbelievers.

2. Gentiles are heirs to the Abrahamic Covenant: This needs further explanation. The faulty ‘four seed’ doctrine of NCT, which stands on a most shaky linguistic and Scriptural basis, confuses the issue as to who are the covenant heirs of Abraham and who are the carriers of covenant promises. The general idea that ‘Gentiles are heirs’ does not indicate which Gentiles are heirs nor why they are heirs, nor even what the term ‘heirs’ means. Nor does it say whether Jews are heirs in any way or not. The truth is that NCT is radically antisemitic as they look upon the Abrahamic covenant as having a mere materialistic, secular meaning for the Jews. God ‘is done with’ physical Israel, 4 we are told. As NCT emphasises that only those parts of the OT are still acceptable which are verbatim et litteratim repeated in the NT, they thus make OT Scripture redundant.

3. Both acknowledge the redemptive-historical hermaneutic. This is incorrect as NCT adherents, because of their Marcionism, see God’s Covenant as only having validity in a NT gentile world. They depict a Saviour in the Old Testament who cannot save because He had not yet won His laurels and been rewarded with a Lordship. The NCT shuts out Christ’s work in the OT, rejects the relevance of the Mosaic Law in Christ’s use of it and build a new ‘Legal Israel’ on a new law which they say is Christ’s law as if Christ were not the eternal Lawgiver of both the OT world which He created and the NT world. As NCT leave out the Mosaic law from the redemption process, they are always embarrassed by the question ‘Under which law did Christ die?’. As their new law, they say, came into being on the Sermon on the Mount, we can only presume that they do not believe Christ placed Himself under the Mosaic law. Indeed, they maintain strongly that the Mosaic law has no function in NT times.

4. Both are Calvinistic in soteriology. This is incorrect as the NCT has a completely different soteriological and ecclesiastical teaching to that of Calvin and our Reformers. This is because they have a different view of God’s covenant. Calvinists believe that both the Old Testament and New Testament saints were put in union with Christ in eternity. Their election, justification and salvation are jointly secure.

5. The Old Testament does have prophesies of the Church age: This is misleading and oddly put. Christ’s saving work is the same for Old Testament sinners as it is for New Testament sinners. The Old Testament saints were able to rejoice in Christ who is in all the Scriptures. The idea that Jeremiah gave our Jewish OT fathers in the faith messages that were not for them but for Gentiles who would only understand and believe hundreds of years later is weak exegesis indeed. Old Testament Theology was meaningful soteriologically to Old Testament saints. They looked forward through Scripture in faith to Christ and we of today look back on Christ’s work on the cross through Scripture by the same faith. The NCT conception of ‘realised hope’ only in the NT is Marcionite and false.

6. God’s main purpose in history is Christ and His Church (elect throughout all ages): This is not clear enough. What does Christ and His Church being God’s main purpose mean? However, looking through various NCT websites, I see that election is discussed as if it were the Father’s fiat alone. The term ‘sovereign’ is misused and misunderstood. Election, of course, means election in Christ our King. That is sovereign election. NCT adherents are so embarrassed by the concept of an eternal omnipresent God in both Testaments that they replace ‘eternity’ with ‘throughout all ages’ and argue that this does not mean never-ending. They deny God’s saving work in the Old Testament and bind Him in time in the New, but look forward to further ‘fuller realisation’ (revelation?) in some future dispensation. 5

7. Everyone ever saved is saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone: I say ‘Amen’ to this but add that our justifying faith is Christ’s faith imputed to us and our righteousness (justness) is Christ’s righteousness also imputed to us.

8. Christ offered a spiritual kingdom to ethnic Israel but was rejected. Spiritual Israel, however, accepted and continues to accept the kingdom: Again, this is a Marcionite half-truth. Abraham was not a Jew. God’s covenant with Abraham was made well over four hundred years before the twelve tribes and other ethnic groups were gathered into the Jewish confederacy and theocracy. So, too, Abraham received the name ‘Father of the Nations’. He was the international Father of the international faithful, both Jew and Gentile. Unbelieving Jews never rejected God because of ethnic reasons but because of their lack of spirituality and interest in God’s salvation. Unbelieving Gentiles do not reject Christ for ethnic reasons either. I am also wary of NCT talk concerning our accepting the Kingdom. Christ emphasises that He gives us the Kingdom rather than we accept the Kingdom. Furthermore, NCT adherents have altered the meaning of Kingdom to suit their new eschatology. Indeed, the NCT should be called the NET –New Eschatology Theorists.

9. Inaugurated eschatology: This says nothing. There are as many theories amongst post-Reformation churches on this topic as there were hairs in Aaron’s beard. Most of these are occult, Jesuit or stem from William Lilly’s book ‘The Christian Astrologer’. It was this topic that brought the Cromwell era to its knees and destroyed all the good reforms done in that turbulent age. Sadly, churches are now determining their membership on eschatological lines belonging to the Cabbalas and mysticism of ancient Eastern paganism. This is where the NET finds its eschatology. 6  The NCT rebukes others for using ‘theological words’ such as the Covenant of Grace, to describe their theology but in NCT teaching concerning ‘eschatological transcendent’ law work, they beat their opponents at coining new theological terms. All their eschatology offers is an abolishment of the old law and the creation of a new. We are told what purpose this New Covenant Law has for Neonomian saints but not how it condemns sinners and points them to Christ. Indeed, the NCT Testament appears to be for New Law-bound saints only. Evangelising sinners is greatly neglected. As Old Moses has been silenced, there is no schoolmaster to bring them to Christ. Moreover, to reduce Christ to being a mere New Moses solves no soteriological problems whatsoever.

 

Next Issue: The so-called Disagreements.

 

 


  1. Marcion: Second century Asian sect founder who taught that the OT and NT were religious opposites. The OT featured a known god of tyranny who created the world but was not omnipotent and omniscient and would be destroyed with his followers at the end of the world. The NT features the unknown god of  mercy who is only known and revealed through Jesus. This sect pervaded the Christian churches until it was condemned as a heresy after two hundred years of infiltrating the churches. It still exists in varied forms as in NCT. Their difficulty with reconciling the god of the OT with that of the New and the eternity and immanence of the Christian God and His chosen people present in both the Old and New Testaments is typically Marcionite.
  2. For example, revealed law; natural law; moral law, Abraham’s came faith; continuing usefulness of OT; abolishment of OT laws; soteriology, ecclesiology, election, justification, spirituality in the OT; the Being of Christ; and the work of the Trinity. See also Well’s criticism of Reisinger in New Covenant Theology p. 188.
  3. See WA member John Durie’s sound work on the Covenant in his Practical Divinity, recommended so warmly by James Usher.
  4. See Geoff Volker’s A New Covenant Theology of Israel.
  5. See Randy Seiver’s In These Last Days, p. 231.
  6. Read Randy Siever’s‚ New Age’ theories in his In the Last Days. See also John Reisinger’s Abraham’s Four Seeds; Grace; But I Say Unto You, . ..; New Covenant Theology, by Tom Wells and Fred Zaspel and New Covenant Theology and the Mosaic Law by Fred Zaspel. Also numerous online articles for and against.