Book review: Kingdom through Covenant (Preface)

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This post is the first post of a series of posts dedicated to walking a reader through “Kingdom through Covenant” by Gentry and Wellum as I, myself, venture through this 848 page tome.

Preface

Often times, a preface will go unobserved; but this shouldn’t be so. In a preface is where premises are laid bare, intents are explained, and shortcomings admitted. Especially in the case of a tome like Kingdom through Covenant, one should not disregard the opening pages.

While I’m not going to summarize everything, there are a few points I’d like to note that will be helpful if you’re following this review.

  1. The book is co-authored by a self-described systematic theologian (Wellum) and one who specializes in biblical theology (Gentry).
  2. Part 1 (chapters 1–3) and Part 3 (chapters 16–17) are written by Wellum.
  3. Part 2 (chapters 4–15), the heart of the book, is written by Gentry.

The most foundational premise/assumption of the authors will now be revealed, followed by a question I’d like to hear your take on.

“The design for Kingdom through Covenant is based on the conviction that biblical theology and systematic theology go hand in hand” (Gentry & Wellum 2012: 11).

Wellum goes on to clarify the relationship between the two, noting that systematic theology is always, or at least, should always be informed by biblical theology; and that the latter is to be anchored in a number of exegetical concerns, such as the larger story, the cultural setting or literary devices. He then goes on to affirm that,

“The converse is also true: exegesis and biblical theology is not an end in itself but a means to the larger end of doing systematic theology which simply attempts to bring all of our thought and life captive to Scripture and thus under the lordship of Christ” (Gentry & Wellum 2012: 11).

And herein lies my query: Is systematic theology really the “larger end” to be sought after? Is systematic theology somehow the natural fruit of biblical theology? Is one the bud, and the other the blossom? Or can biblical theology be enough?

But more importantly, is the ultimate end of studying the Bible really to bring our entire lives “captive to Scripture” as the primary means of bringing ourselves “under the lordship of Christ”? Or is there another means, a more important manner, of aligning ourselves with God’s workings?