That You May Prosper
Narrated By: Devan Lindsey
Topics: Doctrinal Studies
Library: Gary North Library
The Long Neglected Covenant
To borrow from Will Rogers’ comment on the weather, “Everyone talks about the covenant, but nobody does anything about it.”
There is a good reason for this: in the history of Christianity there has never been a theologian who has explained to anyone’s satisfaction just what the Biblical covenant is. We have heard about “covenant theology” since Calvin’s day, but can anyone tell us just what Calvin said the covenant is, how it works, and what common features are found in every Biblical covenant? Can anyone describe just exactly what the seventeenth-century Puritans had in mind when they used the word? They couldn’t?
Have you read anywhere that the covenant is an inescapable concept, that it is never a question of “covenant vs. no covenant,” that it is always a question of whose covenant? Has anyone explained how all societies have imitated the Bible’s covenant model, or how Satan has adapted a crude imitation of the Biblical covenant?
Until Ray Sutton cracked the code of the Bible’s covenant structure in late 1985, no one had gone into print with a clear, Biblically verifiable model of the covenant – or if anyone did, no trace of his work has survived. Covenant theologians have never adopted it.
You may check this for yourself. Read any book dealing with the Biblical covenant. See if it explains: (1) the structure of the covenant; (2) the uses of the covenant model in Bible history; (3) the application of the same covenant model in Bible texts, Old and New Testaments; (4) the history of the covenant’s impact in the West; and (5) the continuing authority and importance of the Biblical covenant in modern life: church, state, family, business, etc.
Ray R. Sutton’s, That You May Prosper, will reshape covenant theology. Better put, it will actually define covenant theology from this point forward. At present, covenant theology has no shape, which is the whole problem. Sutton was given the opportunity of a lifetime, of a millennium, of two millennia: to take what has to be one of the four or five most important doctrines in the Bible and, for the first time in Church history, to sort it out according to what the Bible really says. Few men ever get such an opportunity; fewer still take advantage of it. Unfortunately, those who miss such an opportunity have a tendency to resent others who didn’t.
Sutton’s discovery is unlikely to be adopted by seminary professors and professional theologians in this generation. They suffer from a professional disease, NDH: Not Discovered Here. Those outside the hallowed halls of ivy are not expected to make fundamental theological breakthroughs as important as this one. This one is the major breakthrough of the last four centuries, at the very least. It had been right under everyone’s nose the whole time. Therefore: NDH. It just couldn’t be true. But it is. And the Christian world will never be the same