Bock contributed a well-argued essay for progressive dispensationalism.
I disagree with Bock on a number of points:
1. I disagree with Bock’s denial of a creation covenant; I think he creates a false dichotomy between legal and relational connections to God. I disagree with his denial of a covenant of works with Adam (and with his exegesis of Hos. 6:7). Bock misreads Genesis 1-2 and thus misses the covenantal elements in these chapters (134, 223, 226). Being fruitful and subduing the earth (Bock wrongly reduces this to managing the garden) are the blessings promised, not the command. What Bock calls a warning was the command not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. When disobedience occurred, the blessing was cursed. These chapters include two parties, promised blessings, threatened curses, and stipulated obedience. These are the elements of a works covenant.
2. I disagree with Bock’s marginalization of the Noahic covenant. Bock would have done better to have adopted Progressive Covenantalism’s vision of covenant development from creation covenant to new covenant in which the Noahic covenant plays an enteral part of the plan of redemption (135).
3. I agree with Wellum against Bock that “the covenants are successive” (228-29). I don’t think that continuing covenant curses or promises negate the successive nature of the covenants. While the curses of the Adamic covenant continue, that covenant as a means of salvation is defunct. The Noahic covenant does run concurrently with the other covenants. The Mosaic covenant was fulfilled by Christ’s life and death and is no longer in force. The promises of the Abrahamic covenant still continue (as do those of the Davidic covenant), but the sign of circumcision is no longer valid, and the covenant promises of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants have been taken up by the new covenant, which is the only covenant that believers are party to today.
4. If Bock is indeed saying that regeneration (and not simply the giving of the Spirit) only occurs under the new covenant, then I disagree with him (142). Old Testament saints also needed to be regenerated.
5. I think that Bock concedes too much on Galatians 6:16 (144–145). The best position is that the Israel of God refers to elect Israelites to whom God will show mercy (in distinction from the already redeemed Jew and Gentile who walk by Paul’s rule).
I agree with Bock on a number of points:
1. I agree with Bock that redemption involves not only individuals but also the variety of creational structures that exist in God’s world. I agree with Bock that the continued existence of nations in the new creation is important for the comprehensive redemption of all creational structures that Scripture promises and that sound theology requires (116, 122, 137).
2. I agree that the Abraham, Davidic, and new covenants are the “covenants of promise” and that the Gentiles are connected to these covenants in Christ (Eph. 2). (The Noahic covenant is also a promise covenant, but Gentiles have always been included in that covenant.) I agree that the Mosaic covenant is a law covenant distinct from the promise covenants and temporary in its duration (127, 134, 141).
3. I agree with Bock that fulfillment of the covenant promises in Christ and equality of the redeemed nations in receiving covenant blessings does not cancel out specific promises made to the nation of Israel. I agree that Israel typology is fulfilled in the church and that Jew and Gentile become one new man in Christ; I further agree that these truths do not cancel or redirect specific promises made to redeemed national Israel (115, 129).
4. I agree that “church is a different kind of entity from nations or ethnicities,” meaning that the one people of God does not cancel out the diversity of nationalities or ethnicities (231).
5. I agree with Bock that the specific promises made to Abraham and his physical seed are expanded, as the promises themselves indicated, to include the Gentiles without cancelling the specific promises to Abraham’s physical seed. Thus, I agree that redeemed Jews and Gentiles are one new man, the church; I agree that both Jew and Gentile will be heirs of the new creation; I agree that within this new creation the redeemed Jewish nations and redeemed Gentile nations will coexist in distinct lands in shalom. In other words, there will be a unified people of God that exist in a diversity of creational structures (including nations) for eternity (118, 122; 129-31, 131, 132-33, 138, 224-25, 229, 232).
6. I agree with Bock that promises are of such a nature that they need to be fulfilled as promised to those to whom they were promised while also agreeing that the promises can be expanded to include redeemed Gentiles (123, 124).
7. I agree with Bock that the OT priority of traditional dispensationalism leads to “strained readings of some NT texts,” and I agree that the reign of Christ as Davidic king commenced at the conclusion of the first advent (119-20, 135-36, 233-37).
8. I agree with Bock that though Progressive Covenantalism intends to maintain the original meaning of OT texts and sees the NT as simply providing the proper understanding of those texts, Progressive Covenantalists at times fail to provide for convincing readings of the details of OT texts and fail to account for the continued teaching of Jesus and the apostles regarding future national Israel (cf. Isa. 2:1-4; 19:23-25; Jer 31:31-35; Acts 1:6-7; Acts 3:18-21; 26:6-7) (120-22, 142-43, 144, 232).
9. I agree with Bock and Progressive Covenantalists that types often “develop along the textual, epochal, and canonical horizons of the biblical covenants.” I agree with Bock and Progressive Covenantalists that “typology always has an eschatological aspect that is described as an escalation of the earlier pattern” and that “the escalation may involve an annulment or fulfillment of an earlier type in Christ’s first advent, the church or in the eschaton still to come” (recognizing that this wording is Bock’s and that Wellum may want to drop the qualifiers “often” and “may” and that Wellum emphasizes escalation in Christ at the first advent). I agree with Bock’s concern that the Israel typology not “cancel out” Israel’s reception of the promises made to her (124-26, 227–228). However, I would nuance the claim here and note that it is not Israel per se or the land per se that is a type. Israel under the Mosaic covenant and the land after Joshua’s conquest and during Solomon’s reign are the types. In the nature of the case, these have passed away. But neither the nation Israel nor has the promised land passed away in fact or redemptive historical significance.
10. I agree that in the land typology, the land of Israel in the new creation is a part of the whole rather than something eliminated by the new earth being the antitype of the land typology (231).
11. I agree that Wellum’s definition of typology may be too constrained and formulaic and thus may not account for the diversity of typology found in Scripture (228).
12. I agree with Bock that Horton’s “claim of NT priority” in practice results nullifying certain promises of God and emptying certain texts (like the opening chapters of Hosea) of their profound promises of restoration to unfaithful Israel (222, 232-33). I agree with Bock, against Horton, that the land promise continued after the conquest by Joshua since the prophets continue to speak to the restoration of Israel to the land (225).