An Introduction

John VanDyke

Having been born in the covenant and raised on covenant theology one might assume that one's grasp of the concept and its meaning for the people of God would be reasonable enough. Not necessarily so. The past few months have been an education in awareness that not everyone is on the same page when it comes to understanding the ins and outs of "covenant theology. "

On a basic level the covenant is simple yet profound. Simply put, the Almighty God stoops down to establish a relationship with His creature, man. Understanding and grasping the hows, whys, wherefores and whatfors, however, reminds us that like Paul, "we see through a glass, darkly."

The covenant, as one of the writers in this FORUM describes it, is "a doctrine that distinguishes Reformed churches from others. " The "others "presumably refers to churches under the banner of evangelical, baptist, Catholic, etc., and not to churches that share the name "Reformed."

However, time, circumstance and tradition have a habit of resulting in subtle changes among denominations that embrace the same confessions, and that maintain a high view of God's Word. T1-ying to understand those differences, the subtle nuances, the various emphases, is the purpose of this special supplement to Christian Renewal.

Assembled for the sake of educating and enhancing discussion among us, this supplement is published with a view to aiding the readership in its understanding of the divergent strands that have been weaved in church history on the subject of the covenant. We seek to do this by giving a voice to particular writers among us who have given considerable study to these matters for the sake and benefit of the Church of Jesus Christ.

To promote understanding we have asked for contributions from representatives of various Reformed denominations while limiting their writing to 2000 words. Some have been more faithful in adhering to this instruction than others. Space limitations also restricted participation on a broader scale. Yet we wish to thank each writer for participating in this forum.

May we together continue to not only be willing to educate but also to be educated in these matters for the sake of greater unity among us. We conclude with the Apostle Paul's inspired words to the Ephesians, "Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love" (Ephesians 6:23-24).