Is There a Covenant of Grace? | Jon Zens

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Jon Zens observes that many Baptists have been undergoing a reformation of doctrine, mainly as they come into contact with Covenant Theology. This reformation generally includes an acceptance of Calvinism and a rejection of Dispensationalism. While Zens applauds this reformation, he sees in it a corresponding danger. Many of these Baptists, having seen their prior errors, have gone so far as to embrace infant baptism. This is because, in their reforming, they have come to accept all of Covenant Theology. In short, the Baptists are moving from one extreme to the other.

Zens wishes to end this extremism, and to that purpose he has written this article. His approach is a bold one: to refute the very basis of Covenant Theology, the “one covenant of grace” (i.e., the belief that the Old Covenant and the New Covenant are actually different phases of the same exact covenant). In refuting this foundation, he allows Baptists to remain Calvinistic and non-Dispensational without ceasing to be Baptists. In our view he successfully accomplishes his objectives.

This article will obviously be the most helpful for Baptists who are experiencing the reformation described above. Zens certainly presupposes that his readers have some familiarity with Covenant Theology. So, this may not be the best article to read first if you are new to that whole issue. (In that case, Zens’s article “An Examination of the Presuppositions of Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology” would be better.) Nevertheless, this article fundamentally deals with how the whole Bible fits together into a single plan of God, and any Christian wondering about this may benefit from reading this paper.

One word of caution: We do not necessarily endorse the views of Jon Zens in matters outside the articles we have posted by him. In recent years, despite his own different views, he has increasingly become more publicly associated with those who insist on the house church format. We are less comfortable with the direction of his ministry than we used to be, but the articles we have by him on this website are exceptional and deserve a wide readership.