Gordon J. Keddie
Reviewed by: Samuel Rodriguez
Date posted: 11/11/2012
Christ's Covenant and Your Life, by Gordon J. Keddie. Published by Crown and Covenant Publications, 2011. Paperback, 132 pages, list price $7.00. Reviewed by OP pastor Samuel Rodriguez.
Gordon J. Keddie, best known for his simply explained Welwyn commentaries, provides a robust primer on covenant theology. The author is a minister in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, a sister denomination of the OPC.
Keddie divides his book into eleven chapters and adds five appendixes. In his preface, he explains that his book seeks to combat doctrinal and especially covenantal neglect in our churches. His contention resonates with me as one who has come from a broadly evangelical background. Even in Reformed churches, many believe that doctrine should be minimized in the name of evangelism. Keddie does a good job combating such notions.
In chapter 1, Keddie shows how man is a covenant creature. All that man does is covenantal. He gives examples from life and the Bible. He ends the chapter by discussing three important points related to the idea of the covenant: (1) the Creator-creature distinction, (2) the unilateral divine initiative of our covenant God, and (3) personal relationships in covenant with God.
Chapter 2 is a primer on basic Westminster covenant theology. Keddie's discussion of the covenant of redemption is good, but he could have referenced other works that deal with the many issues that have complicated this doctrine. His defense of the covenant of works is well written and welcomed. Keddie then charts the covenant of grace as the way of the covenant between God and his people. He speaks of the protoevangelium (Gen. 3:15), the covenants made with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David, and finally the new covenant. He explains that these are not separate covenants, but the progressively revealed covenant of grace.
Chapters 3, 4, and 5 seek to integrate covenant theology with church membership. The covenant of grace does make claims on believers, but, being gracious, its burden is light. It manifests itself in a personal relationship with God. That involves a binding heart commitment and is lived in a corporate bond of fellowship. Keddie's critique of individualism and subjectivism is both penetrating and urgent. He criticizes the ideas of a person's "private faith," church hopping, and "inactive" church membership. God saves us as individuals, but always to be a part of the body of Christ. Thus, church membership is required! There is some excellent material for new members' classes.
Chapters 6–10 are a concentrated look at covenant theology in the church. Keddie gives good introductions to the means of grace. He could have said more about preaching, but one can only do so much in a little book.
Keddie closes his book with a chapter and five appendixes that deal with personal, public, and reaffirming covenants. The book's distinctive RPCNA perspective on covenanting may limit its use. One will not agree with all he says: note his suggestion to drop the term sacrament. However, the book is well written, and I highly recommend it.