Thursday, September 8, 2016

An Interview with the author of "Covenant of Revelation"

Welcome to the studio today Phil, it's nice to have you back.
Thanks, it's always nice to be here.

Okay so you're releasing a new book soon, tell us what's it about.
The Covenant of Revelation is a walk through the covenants in the Bible and what they teach us about Christ.

Sounds simple enough--although hold on, did you say a book on covenants? Covenant theology books are a dime a dozen. Not to be rude here but everyone and their sickly uncle's dog has written on it. What are you bringing to the table that a million other people haven't?
Well a few things.... I suppose the first of which is that the objective truths of God must come before the subjective man-centric application of them, and that you need to have both together to make sense of the covenants. I start with the idea that God has decreed to reveal Himself to creation, or to bring Himself glory if you like that phrase better, and that everything that's happened since He did that is a direct consequence of that. An outgrowth of it.
The second unique thing about this book would be that the covenants are about Christ, designed to reveal Him to us. I try to discuss what they actually reveal about Him as much as possible.
The third may be the approach. I tried to make the presentation as organic as possible, so that a reader could track with the story of the Bible. I also tried to show the necessity of each historical moment.
Fourth is how I break out the book of Hebrews, that was pretty neat.
And the last thing that may be unique to this book is my heavy focus on how the new covenant is really about Christ's priesthood. 

Are you offering anything categorically original here?
Oh I doubt it. In fact I was listening to one of my pastors preach a couple of weeks ago and he took a very similar approach to the Scriptures in terms of how he first found Christ in the text and then found us on the topic of covenants in Ezra. I remember sitting in the chair thinking how he was hot on the heels of this book on his own. In terms of following the logical trail of his ideas he's perhaps six months behind me, if that. If he pursues it, that is.

What was the genesis of this book?
I was studying the Bible trying to put together what the definition of a covenant was because I felt my understanding of it was inadequate. It didn't fit right. Calling a covenant a moment that defines a relationship like so many do felt like calling a violin concerto a bunch of dudes rubbing horse hair together. It felt wrong you know? As I began to piece it together I got to talking with one of my pastors about it, which led to a rebuke, which led to me bouncing my ideas off a friend. He then said I needed to write it down and make a short work out of it. So I did.

I'm looking at the table of contents here and I don't see you address the Covenant of Works. Why not?
Well... I don't have much use for it in this book honestly. I mean if by covenant of works you mean God enters into a relationship with men at their creation then that's fine. If you define covenants in that way. If however you mean there's a covenant which allows men to save themselves, I don't think that's going to fly. I don't have a problem with the concept of a covenant at creation, but to call that a covenant of works is such a misfit of a term that I can't stand it. And the notion of a republication at Sinai--don't get me started.

Do you agree with a covenant at creation?
Sure. It's sort of a special case covenant, but that's fine. As long as you're not saying it's possible for Adam to earn his way into God's favor or equating the command to not eat the fruit as a covenant. Both of those are terrible ideas. But if you just want to say that Adam was the head of his family and was appointed regent over creation by his relationship to God, then yeah, I mean I think that's biblical don't you? I just didn't think it warranted a mention because I wanted to keep the narrative tight. Besides, all this talk of implicit covenants in the Bible isn't going to interest people. You should ask about something they want to know about.

Okay fair enough, we'll do a different question. Favorite chapter?
The covenant with Abraham. It went through a lot of drafts but I think I was able to maneuver it into a good place. It's at the point now where I have to stand every time I proof read it because seeing Christ in the covenant with Abraham makes me want to jump for joy.

Least favorite?
The priestly element of Sinai. It taxed my abilities as a writer to describe the void, or the absence of a revelation. I mean, it's not often said but the absence of a direct revelation is really quite conspicuous. I didn't think I did a great job with it and I'd just as soon just leave it out. But I can't you know? Because it needs to be there to present a proper understanding of the New Covenant. 

So your central premise, or the animating idea for the book, what is it?Christ must come first. We find Him first in the text before finding ourselves. This applies double to the new covenant.

Any other examples you didn't put in the book?
Well take marriage for example. We are to understand it first as being about Christ and the church. We're then to understand it as the means for children entering in the world and restraining lusts. Or take election. What does Romans 8 say the reason is God elected us? So that His Son could be first born among many brothers. 

Do you think this book will be well received?
Probably not. It won't sell well, and I kinda doubt the ideas penetrate into people's understanding. I mean I couldn't get people to proof read beyond the chapter on Noah, so, you know. Honestly given how many people buy this genre of book and how little known I am, I'd be surprised if more than three people make it all the way to the end. I hope that didn't come off as too pessimistic because I'm just trying to be real here. If no one else reads it my kids will and one day thank me for it. Because I'll make 'em.

Does that bother you that people might not even finish the book if they buy it at all?
As long as they read the chapter on the difference between Baptist and Presbyterians at the end of the book, no. But if someone were to read the book and be strengthened in their love for Christ, that would be amazing to hear about.

What's your next project?
I promised my daughter I'd write her a story for her birthday. It's going to be a growing up tale for her and about her. It's a world of magic and monsters. After that I'm going to finish updating Animadversions, and after that, I may just get back to my moderate calvinism book. Who knows.

Alright thanks for your time brother, that's all we have time for today. Where can we buy the book if we're interested?
Amazon of course. 

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