The Israel-Christ-Church Typological Pattern: A Theological Critique of Covenant and Dispensational Theologies
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The purpose of this dissertation was to explore the relationship between the nation of Israel, Jesus Christ, and the church. An examination of the biblical texts with particular attention to the nature of typology indicates that the reigning systems of evangelical theology—covenant and dispensational theology—have improperly formulated their ecclesiologies with respect to the Israel-church relationship. Chapter 1 surveys the importance of typology in the covenant and dispensational debate and presents a theological resolution. Chapter 2 evaluates the various proposals for the nature of typology. After affirming that typology is to be distinguished from allegory, the specific features of the type and antitype correspondence are offered. The notion of fulfillment in typological patterns and how types are textually identified are also presented. Chapter 3 surveys the hermeneutics of covenant theology. Attention is focused on the covenant of works and the covenant of grace as an interpretative framework for the structuring of redemptive history. Covenant theologians put together the Israel-church relationship in their ecclesiology in a manner that leads to direct continuity. How they conceive of this typological relationship is also analyzed. Chapter 4 moves to the other prominent system of evangelical theology: dispensationalism. The various forms or varieties of dispensational thinking along with their hermeneutical commitments are surveyed. The distinction between Israel and the church is the hallmark of dispensationalism, which means discontinuity is emphasized. The dispensational proposals for typology and why the nation of Israel is not viewed as a type of Christ or the church receive subsequent focus. Chapter 5 argues that national, Old Testament Israel is a type of Jesus Christ in accord with the characteristics of typology as elucidated in chapter 2. Israel’s identity and roles expressed through the sonship, seed of Abraham, servanthood, and vineyard themes, among others, demonstrate that Israel is a typological pattern that reaches antitypical fulfillment in Christ. Such analysis has negative implications for both dispensational and covenant theologies since these ecclesiological systems either do not recognize this typological relationship or they do not draw proper conclusions from the entailments of the Israel-Christ typological pattern. Chapter 6 develops the Christ-church relationship first, examining the symmetry of personal and corporate union with Christ. Having analyzed Israel’s relationship to Christ (chapter 5) and the church’s union with Christ, the Israel-church relationship is explored and is found to be of a typological nature, but only through Christ. Ecclesiological conclusions for dispensational and covenant theologies are offered. Lastly, potential defeater texts from the New Testament are evaluated and shown to not unsettle the conclusion that national Israel is a type of Christ and the church. Chapter 7 summarizes the thesis and briefly presents progressive covenantalism as the solution to overcoming the ecclesiological problems found in covenant and dispensational theology.