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Christ & the Condition: The Covenant Theology of Samuel Petto Paperback – 17 Jan 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 139 pages
  • Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books (17 Jan. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160178158X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1601781581
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 14 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,470,597 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Michael Brown, `Christ and the Condition: The Covenant Theology of
Samuel Petto (1624-1711)', Reformation Heritage Books (Grand Rapids:
Michigan), 2012.

This is a nicely presented and well written book. It is based on the
author's masters thesis, and so is a slim book of 139 pages. It is
up-to-date, and interacts with contemporary literature up to 2009. It
has footnotes where they belong (at the bottom of the page they are
referenced on), and a full bibliography of works quoted. It does not
have any indexes.

The book has the following structure:

Introduction
1. A Puritan Pastor-Theologian: Petto in Context
2. Petto's Covenant Schema
3. The Mosaic Covenant in Reformed Orthodoxy
4. Petto on the Mosaic Covenant
5. Implications for Justification
Conclusion

Don't worry if you have never heard of Samuel Petto, for, as Brown
explains, he is one of the seventeenth century Reformed covenant
theologians who while influential in his own day, has until recently
been forgotten - even by contemporary Reformed covenant theologians
who might have been expected to know about him.

Brown starts by giving a brief account of Petto's life, and then
explains that he worked with two covenants - a covenant of works, and
a covenant of grace. However, his account of the covenant of grace
grounded it in God's eternal plan of redemption, that is, in what
other Reformed covenant theologians have called the "covenant of
redemption."

What is particularly interesting about Petto's covenant theology is
how he understands the Mosaic covenant.
Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This book puts the Covenant Theology puzzle together. 1 Feb. 2012
By Daniel V. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Michael Brown provides a comprehensive look at the historic reformed views of God's covenants, zooming in on one particular Puritan Pastor-Theologian, Samuel Petto.

After giving a brief summary of Petto's life and doctrine, he presents a scholarly summary of the reformed perspectives on covenant theology, including the views of Calvin, Turretin, Olevianus, Sibbes, Ursinus, Owen, and many of the Puritans. What really rocked my socks off was how Brown compared and contrasted these diverse views with that of Petto concerning the Mosaic covenant and its relation to the covenant of grace.

Brown's chapter dealing with Petto's view of the Mosaic covenant is alone worth the price of the book. He unpacks very thoroughly and clearly Petto's view of the Mosaic covenant and how it is primarily the legal condition of the covenant of grace that must be fulfilled by the active and passive obedience of Christ in order to secure all of the redemptive blessings for the elect. This emphasis that Petto stresses is incredibly helpful in understanding the purpose of God in giving the Mosaic covenant within the plan of redemption. After this Brown draws out from Petto's view the implications concerning law and gospel and justification by faith alone.

As a beginning seminary student who struggles to put the theological pieces together at times, books like this help unmuddy the waters and provide a scholarly and clear framework for how to understand the bible. Read this book to be edified as you see the Christ centered view of God's covenants through the len's of Samuel Petto.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A helpful introduction to a forgotten Reformed Covenant Theologian 12 May 2013
By S. E. Paynter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Michael Brown, `Christ and the Condition: The Covenant Theology of
Samuel Petto (1624-1711)', Reformation Heritage Books (Grand Rapids:
Michigan), 2012.

This is a nicely presented and well written book. It is based on the
author's masters thesis, and so is a slim book of 139 pages. It is
up-to-date, and interacts with contemporary literature up to 2009. It
has footnotes where they belong (at the bottom of the page they are
referenced on), and a full bibliography of works quoted. It does not
have any indexes.

The book has the following structure:

Introduction
1. A Puritan Pastor-Theologian: Petto in Context
2. Petto's Covenant Schema
3. The Mosaic Covenant in Reformed Orthodoxy
4. Petto on the Mosaic Covenant
5. Implications for Justification
Conclusion

Don't worry if you have never heard of Samuel Petto, for, as Brown
explains, he is one of the seventeenth century Reformed covenant
theologians who while influential in his own day, has until recently
been forgotten - even by contemporary Reformed covenant theologians
who might have been expected to know about him.

Brown starts by giving a brief account of Petto's life, and then
explains that he worked with two covenants - a covenant of works, and
a covenant of grace. However, his account of the covenant of grace
grounded it in God's eternal plan of redemption, that is, in what
other Reformed covenant theologians have called the "covenant of
redemption."

What is particularly interesting about Petto's covenant theology is
how he understands the Mosaic covenant. Arguably the most popular
strand of Reformed teaching on the subject (which got incorporated
into, for example, the Westminster Confession of Faith), is one which
understood the covenant of grace as stetching throughout history, but
as having two principal administrations - the Mosaic and the New. The
Mosaic covenant is seen as a dispensation of the covenant of
grace. Petto, however, understood the Mosaic covenant as being
separate from the covenant of grace - although the covenant of grace
operated alongside it.

Chapter 3 of Brown's book is a wide ranging review of the principal
Reformed covenant theologians and their understanding of the Mosaic
covenant. Brown covers: John Calvin; Zacharias Ursinus; Casper
Olevianus; Robert Rollock;William Perkins; Amandus Polanus; Johannes
Wollebius; William Ames; Richard Sibbes; John Ball; Samuel Bolton;
William Strong; James Ussher; Samuel Rutherford; David Dickson; Edmund
Calamy; Johannes Cocceius; Pattrick Gillespie; John Owen; Francis
Turretin; and Herman Witsius. This chapter is excellent, and Brown's
clear straight-forward style is ideal for sketching the covenant
theologies of these theologians. Covenant theology can be notoriously
complex, and Brown does an admirable job of bringing clarity without
verbosity, or undue simplifications.

In chapter 4 Brown covers Petto's position on the Mosaic
covenant. Brown approaches this by discussing three issues: 1) the
relationship of the Mosaic covenant with the covenant of works; 2) the
relationship of the Mosaic covenant to the covenant of grace; and 3)
the relationship of the Mosaic covenant with the New covenant.

As the covenant of works operated for Adam, so Petto understood the
Mosaic covenant to operate for Christ, the true Israel. This is a more
strict understanding of the "republication" of the covenant of works
in the Mosaic covenant than was common, although it was not unique to
Petto. Brown notes Owen and Witsius were in agreement, amongst
others.

For Israel, the Mosaic covenant was not a covenant of works for
salvation - for it was not intended as salvific covenant, but a
conditional covenant concerned with temporal mercies, such as the land
of Israel. Salvation as this time was through the covenant of grace -
especially the promise contained in the Abrahamic covenant, and
fulfilled in the New. For Petto, the Abrahamic covenant and the
Mosaic covenant were of completely different types: one being a
covenant of promise, the other a law-covenant. The Mosaic covenant
also functioned to provide "types" which pointed forward to the
promised messiah - the coming Christ.

Brown explains that Petto did not see the Mosaic covenant as an
administration of the covenant of grace, but as a distinct
covenant. It differed in more than just "accidents" - it differed in
substance. However, the Mosaic covenant did not disrupt the continuity
of the covenant of grace.

In chapter 5, Brown explains how Petto's covenant theology operated to
support the traditional Reformed understanding of the believer's
justification. A believer is justified by faith alone apart from works,
and this entails not merely being forgiven one's sins, but actually
being declared righteous in God's sight. The outrageous declaration of
the wicked being righteous in God's sight is not based on the person
actually being righteous - or even on their faith being treated as
righteousness - but on the righteousness of Jesus being imputed
(counted) as the believer's. Christ fulfilled the republished covenant
of works in the Mosaic law ... for us. His active obedience is counted
as ours, and hence we are counted as righteous by God.

This is the heart of the good news of the Christian gospel, and more
than justifies us taking time to understand Petto's covenant theology.

Overall this is an excellent introduction to the subject, and a good
introduction to a forgotten theologian. It is a must read for all
those who want to develop their own understanding of the biblical
covenants with awareness of the historical debate. The book might have
been improved if it had been based on a PhD thesis, and interacted
more with other scholarship and positions. Then again, the clean
readable style would likely have been lost if that had been the case.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Samuel Petto, where have you been? 10 Oct. 2012
By Adam B - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Samuel Petto (1624-1711), educated at Cambridge, ordained in 1648, was a Puritan, a congregationalist and a faithful minister for some 50 years despite the restoration of the British Monarchy in 1660 and the passing and enforcement of the Clarendon code (1661-1665). He was a contemporary and associate of John Owen (1616-1683), a sophisticated pastor/theologian and sadly, substantially absent from the historical record. As Rev. Brown notes, "...taxonomies of seventeenth-century covenant theology omit his name altogether." The most important aspect of this study though, is that, as Brown puts it, "...an examination of Petto's covenant theology in it's historical context may also be useful to discussions regarding works and grace in the Mosaic covenant and the doctrine of republication" and to show that, while there was a definite and readily apparent continuity between Calvin and his theological progeny, "there were competing views among the successors regarding how the Mosaic covenant fit into that system."

Christ and the Condition is a rather small study, coming in at 139 pages, though the footnotes alone are worth the purchase price alone and contribute to an overall density which belie the size of the book. The breakneck speed with which Rev. Brown contrasts the various thoughts of Petto's contemporaries regarding the significance and orientation of the Mosaic covenant is barely enough to whet the appetite but rather serves to engender the urge to look more deeply into the well Puritan (English) Reformed orthodoxy. And as the focus of the study was Samuel Petto, I think we can forgive him and take the other names that he has put before us and draw from the well ourselves.

For those who are looking to understand Reformed covenant theology a little better and wouldn't mind the history lesson, then Christ and the Condition should be at the top of the list. Through the deft hands of Rev. Michael G. Brown we're not just served a study that is at the forefront of the rediscovery of a competent, sophisticated and orthodox covenant pastor/theologian named Samuel Petto, but in my mind is also an accessible study of historic covenant theology. Samuel Petto may have died just over three hundred years ago, but his covenant theology would be right at home today. Anyone interested in Reformed covenant theology, even in passing, should pick up Christ and the Condition and embark on a journey that is sufficient to last a lifetime.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Great Help for Scholars, Pastors, and Laypeople 27 Jun. 2012
By Brad L. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The thought of a book about the theology of a man long dead may initially spark only yawns and eye rolls for some. But this little book by Michael Brown on the covenant theology of Samuel Petto (1624-1711) packs a very refreshing and useful punch.

The main thesis of the book, "...argues that Petto viewed the Mosaic covenant as a republication of the covenant of works for Christ to fulfill as the condition of the covenant of grace in order to uphold and defend his doctrine of justification sola fide." Brown makes good on that mouthwatering and theologically charged thesis statement by clearly laying out Petto's teaching from within the historical context of his day. Those who study historical theology will gain an appreciation for Petto's distinct theological contribution.

But this book does more than just that. Brown not only explains the role of Petto's covenant theology in his day and age, he also helpfully summarizes the covenant theology of over 20 Reformed theologians spanning from John Calvin (1509-1564) to Herman Witsius (1639-1708). This is very instructive for our own day and age because it proves that there has always been a diversity of thought in Reformed covenant theology regarding the relationship between works and grace in the Mosaic covenant and the doctrine of republication. This ought give one serious pause before rejecting and disdaining the doctrine of republication as novel and/or outside the pale of Reformed orthodoxy as some do.

Brown's discussion of Petto's understanding of the Mosaic covenant in chapter four will also aid Reformed pastors in their teaching about the work of Christ. Laypeople as well will benefit from this because understanding the Mosaic covenant as Christ's covenant of works to fulfill in the covenant of grace beautifully explains why he came to live, suffer, die, and rise again for his people. This leads to and highlights the importance of understanding and safeguarding the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith alone, as Brown's discussion of Petto's teaching shows in chapter five.

Christ and the Condition is concise and highly readable, which makes it even more of a great help to historical theologians, pastors, and laypeople alike. As a pastor, I highly recommend that anyone seeking to better understand and articulate historical, Reformed, covenant theology purchase and digest this book!
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A Solid and Concise Study of Samuel Petto 11 Feb. 2012
By Shane Lems - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Although Samuel Petto (d. 1711) is not a well known Puritan, his work on the Reformed doctrines of the covenants is very much worth studying. In this book, Michael Brown gives a basic introduction to Samuel Petto and his teaching about the covenants as well as how they relate to the law/gospel distinction and justification sola fide.

Here are the chapter titles: 1) Petto in Context, 2) Petto's Covenant Schema, 3) The Mosaic Covenant in Reformed Orthodoxy, 4) Petto on the Mosaic Covenant, and 5) Implications for Justification.

This book is a helpful addition to the study of the covenants in Reformed theology. Brown writes clearly, to the point, and in such a way that most Christians interested in this area of theology will be able to understand. It is only around 100 pages and contains a helpful concluding summary and bibliographies.

If you want to learn more about the covenant of redemption (pactum salutis), the covenant of works, and the covenant of grace, you'll appreciate this book. Also, if you want to see how Reformed theologians of the past categorized the Mosaic covenant (works? grace? both? neither?) this book will be helpful. As mentioned above, it will also give insight into the relationship of the covenants, law/gospel distinction, and justification by faith alone. Books like these are good resources to show us the historical-theological depth of Reformed covenant theology. Highly recommended!
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