Preface to Recovering a Covenantal Heritage: Essays in Baptist Covenant Theology

Recovering a Covenantal Heritage: Essays in Baptist Covenant Theology

Recovering a Covenantal Heritage: Essays in Baptist Covenant Theology can be purchased here.



This book is offered with the intent to further the discussion on covenant theology among Baptists and paedobaptists. It in no way pretends to be a fully worked-out Baptist covenant theology. It contains essays by thirteen different authors who do not necessarily advocate the fine details of every contribution, something that is quite common with multiple-author works.

A few words about the book’s structure may be helpful. After the Preface and Introduction, the first main section is historical. It seeks to set a historical-theological context for the reader. I have found it to be the case, quite often, that covenant theology is understood to be the sole property of paedobaptists. However, anyone familiar with the Particular Baptists of the seventeenth century, their writings and the Second London Confession of Faith (1677/89), know otherwise.[1] The first section of this work seeks to show this and displays some continuity with the work of non-Baptists of that era.

The second section of this work discusses various biblical issues related to covenant theology, primarily from a Baptist perspective.[2] Issues covered from a distinctly Baptist perspective include: the Abrahamic Covenant, the newness of the New Covenant, and the expositions of Acts 2:38-39 and Colossians 2:11-12, two crucial texts in this discussion. We have solicited the help of John Owen on the differences between the Old and New Covenants. The reason for this is two-fold: first, it is clear from the primary, Particular Baptist sources of the seventeenth century that Owen’s view was substantially that of the Baptists of that day; and second, Nehemiah Coxe, most likely the co-editor (and senior editor?) of the 2LCF and author of the major seventeenth-century Particular Baptist work on God’s covenants, pointed his readers to Owen on this issue. This being the case, Owen’s thesis reflects the view of the Baptist theologians behind the 2LCF.

The third section of the book, though the shortest, seeks to put things together, though certainly not in any comprehensive sense.

A word on the Introduction seems to be in order as well. Once the entire work was written, I asked Dr. James M. Renihan to write an Introduction that would help the reader understand the importance of this work in its historical and theological context.

On a personal note, as I have studied this subject over the years, I keep finding my thinking corrected many times by older writers–Baptists and paedobaptists. Several years ago, I came to the conclusion that I did not understand chapter 7, “Of God’s Covenant,” of the 2LCF properly. This may or may not be the case with the reader. Either way, let me encourage you, especially if you claim the 2LCF, to read and think carefully through the arguments of this book. I think they are crucial to understand and important to further the discussions that are presently taking place among Baptists and paedobaptists.

It is my hope that this work will both challenge and instruct Baptist readers and introduce paedobaptists into part of the thought-world of Baptist covenant theology.



The Editor

Richard C. Barcellos, Ph.D.

Grace Reformed Baptist Church

Palmdale, CA

[1] The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith (1677/89) will be abbreviated 2LCF hereinafter throughout this book.

[2] The one exception is John Owen, who was a paedobaptist.