I had the pleasure of receiving a copy of “Discontinuity to Continuity” by Benjamin Merkle in exchange for a review. The book is put out by Lexham Press and is 212 packed pages. The book seeks to outline, survey, and explain positions ranging in Dispensational and Covenantal theologies. Given the rise in such discussion, I personally found that the timing of this book to be excellent.
Merkle’s introduction outlines his method of evaluation and how he organizes the various systems of; Classic Dispensationalism, Revised Dispensationalism, Progressive Dispensationalism, Progressive Covenantalism, Covenant Theology, and Christian Reconstructionism. He places these various systems on a scale of Discontinuity to Continuity with Classic Dispensationalism being at the far end of the former while Christian Reconstructionism reaches the end of the latter. This initial evaluation sets the framework for the book as Merkle walks through each system examining four categories with their own set of questions. They are as follows (Primary category in bold):
- What is the basic Hermeneutic? Is the system literal or symbolic? What is the role of typology in this system? How does the system view and handle the Old Testament passages of Israel’s restoration?
- What is the relationship between the covenants? Are the covenants seen as conditional or unconditional? How were Old Testament saints saved according to these systems? How does each system view and apply the law today?
- What is the relationship between Israel and the Church? Does the church replace or fulfill Israel in this system? Are Israel and the church distinct or the same? How are Romans 11:26 and Galatians 6:16 interpreted in each system?
- What is the Kingdom of God in each system? How does the system understand the inauguration and the consummation of the kingdom of God?
At the end of each evaluation, Merkle gives a concluding paragraph in which he discusses the strengths and the weaknesses of each system. While I could find a hint of bias for a particular system and against another, I thought Merkle did extremely well with being objective and with finding things worth commending in the various systems.
The book is clearly laid out, well organized, and handles the systems fairly. I honestly think this is the go-to book on dipping your toes into the worlds of dispensationalism through Covenantalism. I also think this book is very much needed given that it addresses misconceptions regarding each system very well while also, initially, breaking the misrepresentation that any system which is not covenant theology is dispensationalism and any system that is dispensationalism must be classical dispensationalism.
This is all to say that this book is well written and worth referencing again and reading again. The biggest downfall, at this point in time, is the price. While I have no doubt that there was a lot of work put into the book, the price is steep for a 212 page paperback. I do think that it is a good resource and would be much better if the price dropped. I think that most people who are wanting to be introduced into these topics will find this particular book helpful. I think Benjamin Merkle has done something great here and will help individuals discuss these topics on a more meaningful level.
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