Critiques of Pascal Denault?

Discussion in 'Covenant Theology' started by Taylor Sexton, Nov 14, 2015.

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  1. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    Hi, everyone.

    I have been searching this forum and Google for some critiques of Pascal Denault's The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology, and it hasn't really turned up anything yet. All I have found are several forum threads, but those can be particularly hard to follow due to the absence of thesis statements and purposeful, ordered, clear and logical presentation (because a forum is, by definition, a place for dialogue, not dissertations).

    Anyway, I was wondering if someone knows of or has written themselves a critique or response of Denault's book (not exhaustively, of course, but perhaps a few major points) from a Westminster position. I read the book, and was convinced for a while (note my signature), but I find myself confused and struggling over the issues again, seeing that I find convincing arguments on both sides, and I desperately desire relief of some sort. I do not ever want to go into ministry after seminary having not figured out my stance or belief on baptism.

    Could anyone direct me to anything they find to be particularly convincing? Any and all help is greatly appreciated, brothers.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015
  2. puritanpilgrim

    puritanpilgrim Puritan Board Junior

  3. reaganmarsh

    reaganmarsh Puritan Board Senior

  4. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    Agreed; thanks for the link. I will give it a listen at some point, for sure. I would like to reiterate, though: I am looking for critiques of Denault's book, not defenses or further explanations.

    Thanks, everyone!
  5. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    The Westminster position is that there is one covenant of grace differently administered in OT and NT. Certain strains of "reformed baptist" thought have accepted this overall continuity, e.g., Waldron's exposition. This would be in keeping with certain strains of "particular baptist" thought in the past. Denault's thesis challenges this view of continuity, and introduces elements which are regarded as dispensational from the Westminster perspective.
  6. SeanPatrickCornell

    SeanPatrickCornell Puritan Board Sophomore

    Particular Baptists of the 1689 Federalism variety believe in one covenant of grace administered in the same way in all times and in all ages. Namely, by the New Covenant, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus.

    How does that correspond to being "dispensational" with respect to Westminster?
  7. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    According to Denault's reading of the sources the Old Testament covenants were shadowy and conditional in contrast to the monergistic new covenant. They are not considered to be historical administrations of the covenant of grace, but only to announce the covenant of grace in some way. This means, so far as this particular interpretation is concerned, there is no formal covenant of grace being historically administered in the Old Testament.

    Now a covenant dispenses something. If the Old Testament covenants were not dispensing the covenanted grace of God, what were they dispensing? When that has been answered you will have a clear statement which cannot conceal dispensational teaching.
  8. puritanpilgrim

    puritanpilgrim Puritan Board Junior

    They were a republication of the covenant of works.

    The Mosaic covenant was a covenant of works. If they obeyed the covenant they would stay in the land. If they disobeyed the covenant they would be removed. Their staying in the land was contingent upon their obedience. Obedience was also required by Adam and Eve in the garden. If they obeyed they would stay, if they disobeyed they would live.

    It was an act of grace for Adam and Eve to be in the garden. And it was an act of grace for the Israelites to be in the land. However, their staying there was contingent upon their obedience. Which is a covenant of works, not grace.
  9. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    And there we have a clear statement which cannot conceal dispensational teaching.
  10. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    Surely you do not think that the OT covenants were only a republication of the CoW! Do you not see the grace dispensed alongside the law?
  11. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    I haven't fully read Pascal's book, but from what I've read, Matthew's succinct criticism seems fair. I wouldn't call my brothers on this issue "dispensationalist," but that is only because of how the term is loaded these days.

    And as a Confessional Baptist, I agree that the quoted question above is legitimate. I can't get on board with the idea that the Mosaic was solely a republication of the covenant of works.

    In fact, I've expressly taught the opposite. For one thing, consider the type found in the sacrifices. It is for atoning of sin--an innocent animal being offered to pay a penalty justly imposed on a transgressor. That's substitutionary and can only fall under the rubric of grace. It's not a works-fulfillment as near as I can tell.

    Sure, the Mosaic had plenty of law to follow, but it was in the context of demonstrating (and I dare say, administering) God's continuing grace.
  12. puritanpilgrim

    puritanpilgrim Puritan Board Junior

    I wasn't saying that I was talking about the Mosaic Covenant. My post wasn't clear.
  13. puritanpilgrim

    puritanpilgrim Puritan Board Junior

    No, not what I am saying. In the OT they were savedby faith in promise of the Messiah who would come. The great promise in Gen 3:15. That is the point of Heb 11.
  14. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Why did you say they were a republication of the covenant of works? The promise of the Messiah to come is a promise of the covenant of grace.
  15. sojournercp

    sojournercp Puritan Board Freshman

    I don't remember how thorough it is, but there is a critical discussion on Denault's book over at the Reformed Forum podcast:

    p.s. - I've heard great things about your pastor, Taylor!
  16. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    Interesting! After doing a little Google stalking, it seems that you are working around Irvine, CA. Is this true? If so, how have you heard of Pastor Ryan?
  17. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Exodus 32:
    7 And the Lord said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves:

    8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

    9 And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:

    10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.

    11 And Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?

    12 Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.

    13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.

    14 And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.​

    Is there any mediation, mercy, or giving of second chances in a covenant of works?
  18. sojournercp

    sojournercp Puritan Board Freshman

    Ha. Yup, that's me. My friend Joe Thorn mentioned Ryan in a recent conversation we had.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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