Continuity and Discontinuity – Chapter 1: Introduction
In 1988 Crossway published a collection of essays in honour of S. Lewis Johnson, Jr. called Continuity and Discontinuity, edited by John S. Feinberg. I know of no other book quite like it.
Feinberg chose here to focus on one particular theme, namely, the relationship of continuity and discontinuity in the Bible. Continuity/Discontinuity may seem like an abstract topic, but the issue actually is central to discussion on how we put together the Bible and largely reflects where one lands theologically regarding Covenant Theology (CT) or Dispensational Theology (DT).
However, instead of focusing just on CT and DT, Feinberg has instead chosen to broaden the discussion and notes that, “the more one moves in the continuity direction, the more covenantal he becomes’ and the more he moves in the discontinuity direction, the more dispensational he becomes” (xii). Taking this approach allows the issue to be as complex as it really is. There are not simply two monolithic positions with no variation within; in fact, not all those taking the discontinuity position in this book even fit in the Dispensationalist camp (e.g. Moo and Kaiser). Rather, there is a spectrum, with CT and DT on either ends. Seeing the issue this way allows each contributor to speak on their own terms. This broader focus accompanied by such a variety of scholarship results in a very unique book.
The Six Issues
Here are the six issues discussed, with one author arguing for a position with more continuity and another arguing for more discontinuity.
Theological Systems and the Testaments
Continuity: Willem VanGemeren
Discontinuity: John S. Feinberg
Hermeneutics and the Testaments
Continuity: O Palmer Robertson
Discontinuity: Paul. D. Feinberg
Salvation and the Testaments
Continuity: Fred. H. Klooster
Discontinuity: Allen P. Ross
The Law and the Testaments
Continuity: “Law of Moses and the law of Christ”: Knox Chamblin
Discontinuity: “Law of Moses or the Law of Christ”: Doug Moo
People of God and the Testaments
Continuity: Harten H. Woudstra
Discontinuity: Robert L. Saucy
Kingdom Promises and the Testaments
Spiritual: Bruce K. Waltke
Spiritual and National: Walter C. Kaiser
1. This is a very important book but seems to have become neglected in the years. Perhaps Crossway should update it and give it a nice new cover!? I’m surprised there are not more books quite like this. Of course there are the Multi-view books (Zondervan and others), but nothing with so many implication for CT and DT, covering so much ground, and allowing different voices to be heard.
2. There is an excellent selection of contributors here on both sides of the issue. I’m unfamiliar with a few of these names, but I know that each of these men are strong in the Word and yet they’re disagreeing on these issues! The Feinbergs are excellent examples of DT scholarship at its best. Moo of course is one of the great NT scholars today. And then to top if off we have two heavy hitters, Waltke and Kaiser, each hugely influential OT scholars in their own right.
3. It’s a real pity that these authors weren’t able to actually interact more in this book (like in the Zondervan series). In the introduction Feinberg says the authors never saw the essays of the other position before the book was published; this means the reader will have to look closely to see where the authors agree with one another, as they will surely not disagree on everything the other writer says!
4. I enjoy the fact that this is not a simple CT vs DT book, we have a very broad range of positions here. Unfortunately, this also means we won’t see a range of positions here when we only have one representative from a continuity and discontinuity position per topic. For example, a Progressive Dispensationalist sees the Israel/Church distinction slightly differently to the Classic Dispensationalist, but we only have one discontinuity position reflected in this book.
I’ll be posting reviews of each section as I finish them. I’ve just finished section 1, so it will be up soon!