Monday, September 11

Book Review: God of Promise

Introducing Covenant Theology by Michael Horton.

I'd never read a book written by Michael Horton, although I'd read a few shorter articles and was impressed with them. In addition, this book labels itself as an introduction to Covenant Theology, and understanding Covenant Theology is something I'm particularly interested in, so I was excited to receive this book for reviewing.

My opinion of the book after reading it is mixed. I loved the chapter examining the historical background of the biblical idea of covenant--the treaties and covenants as they existed already in the ancient Near East. I had many "Aha!" moments in this chapter as I recognized the different features of the ancient treaties in the Biblical covenants. Horton does an excellent job of explaining things clearly and simply in this chapter.

I also found the last chapter of the book, the one titled New Covenant Obedience, which considers the proper use of the law under the New Covenant, to be very thought provoking. Horton tackles the question of the usefulness of the law in the life of the believer. Does the law sanctify? Is it a guide for obedience? This chapter, too, was laid out in an understandable way that I found quite helpful.

And that brings me to the main problem I had with God of Promise: although it advertises itself as "introducing Covenant Theology", I would not call this an entry level book, but rather one that's more academically focused. There were large portions of it I had difficulty understanding, and I wouldn't consider myself a novice in my understanding of Covenant Theology. I did a lot of rereading, underlining and outlining as I read--these things were necessary for me to make it through this book--and yet there were places where I simply felt out of my league trying to follow Horton's argument. Perhaps that's because my version of Covenant Theology is more baptistic than Horton's, but I don't think that's the whole of it. Mostly, I think I needed to read a more basic book first (although I'm not sure there is one, either).

So if you're up to doing some real study, then I can recommend this book to you. As far as I know, it may be unique as a contemporary book that goes into depth on the system of Covenant Theology. I just wish it were more of a primer on the subject than it is.