The Hermeneutics of Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology stirred up a maelstrom of resistance from Protestant reviewers when it was first published in 1980. The response from Reformed reviewers was perhaps the most vehement. Covenant Theological Seminary’s (P. A.) journal Presbyterion published a duet of reviews criticizing Gospel & Law. These reviews were followed by a rejoinder from Fuller himself, which was in turn followed by more articles criticizing Fuller’s position. This exchange is emblematic of the backlash that ensued after the appearance of Gospel & Law.
He writes, “there [can] no longer be any antithesis in biblical theology between the law and the gospel.
Fuller presents a rather superficial historical analysis.
He gives inadequate definitions of the key terms law and gospel.
The Law cannot justify; only the Gospel offers righteousness.
Yet with respect to sanctification, covenant theology has always insisted upon the “resulting works” that flow from faith.The present reviewer regards Fuller’s conclusions as antithetical to the Reformation.Conclusion Fuller’s critique of dispensationalism is incisive and helpful.If Fuller is not clear on this point in Gospel & Law, he is very clear in subsequent debates about the book that “good works” are the “instrumental cause” of Justification. How can these statements be regarded as anything less than a renunciation of sola gratia and sola fide?The bottom line is that the only difference between Fuller’s view and the Roman Catholic view is that Fuller does not conceive a roll for the sacramental administration in the “good works” required by the believer. He states that, “although today’s dispensationalism explains the relationship between law and grace in wording that is different from that of covenant theology, there is not substantial difference in meaning. .today’s Dispensationalism has reverted to a virtual covenant theology in the way it handles the law-gospel problem” (pp. Because both systems introduce this improper distinction between Law and Gospel, Fuller introduces an alternative way to approach this question. Reprint, Pasadena, CA: Fuller Seminary Press, 1990. According to Fuller, both Dispensational and Reformed theology posit an unbiblical discontinuity between Gospel and Law.Thus The Westminster Confession (1646) states, “Faith. ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love” (Westminster Confession XI.2). One wonders if Fuller really understands the Reformed position on this issue.Also, Fuller often speaks of Calvin as if he is the representative of Covenant theology.The law that Paul refers to “came four hundred and thirty years” after the promise to Abraham (Gal ).So how could law in Galatians 3 be understood as anything but the covenant God made with Israel at Sinai.