An Introduction to New Covenant Theology

Dennis M. Swanson | May 21, 2010

New Covenant Theology (NCT) is a relatively new system which, though not yet well defined, attempts to combine strengths of Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology and to eliminate the weak points of the two. Its founders have come from Reformed Baptist circles who reacted against key tenets of Covenant Theology in rejecting such doctrines as the Covenant of Redemption, the Covenant of Works, and the Covenant of Grace. The movement has a strong emphasis on study of the Scripture in attempting to derive a biblically based theology. For the most part, NCT’s origins have been local churches rather than academic circles. Though its growth continues to be substantial, it has come about mostly through the channel of the internet rather than works published through major evangelical publishing houses. Leaders of NCT include John Zens, John G. Reisinger, Fred G. Zaspel, Tom Wells, and Steve Lehrer. Among various programs promoting NCT are Providence Theological Seminary, Sound of Grace Ministries, The John Bunyan Conference, and In-Depth Studies. The progress of NCT’s growth is most obvious in the number of churches that have adopted the movement’s approach to Scripture, but the impact on mainstream evangelicalism has been minimal because of a lack of exposure through mainstream publishers, a lack of full endorsement by a noted evangelical scholar, its doctrinal differences from well-known historic documents of Covenant Theology, its newness historically, and its failure to produce a published systematic or biblical theology. NCT’s most notable peculiarities include a rejection of Covenant Theology’s superstructure, its granting of priority of the NT over the OT, its rejection of OT ethical standards for Christians, and its rejection of infant baptism and the distinction between the visible and invisible church.

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