The Fundamentals of New Covenant Theology
Part 14: NCT Described (VIII)
“NCT emphasizes the inductive study of the Bible.” (Long, New Covenant Theology, NCT Described)
To understand why New Covenant Theology “emphasizes the inductive study of the Bible” a brief discussion of inductive versus deductive reasoning is in order. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines deduction in the following manner: “the deriving of a conclusion by reasoning; specif: inference in which the conclusion about particulars follows necessarily from general or universal premises.” In contrast, induction is characterized by “inference of a generalized conclusion from particular instances.” Thus, to say that New Covenant Theology stresses the inductive study of Scripture is to say that New Covenant Theology strives to let the Bible speak for itself. Simply put, NCT adherents endeavor to restrict their theological terminology and conclusions to that of the Scriptures themselves. Now, although New Covenant Theology “emphasizes the inductive study of the Bible,” deductive study of Scripture is also required to accurately understand God’s Word. S. Lewis Johnson is helpful here:
One needs not only inductive study of the Bible but deductive study as well. The idea that by induction we can arrive at truth is something that has led astray many students of the Bible. It’s not true…..let me show you some other things that are wrong with induction, which means simply a gathering of all the information and then, of course, from this making certain reasoned hypotheses, and then the expressing of them as the result of your particular research….Everything comes interpreted to start with. Now, this method can never give us certainty because how do we know that we’ve not found incomplete data? How do we know that we’ve found all the data that bear on the particular point that we’re trying to study?
In summary, proponents of New Covenant Theology struggle to wholly base their theological teaching, understanding, and conclusions on the overt teaching of the biblical text; New Covenant Theology seeks to completely conform its theological paradigm to Scripture – not the other way around.
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed. (Springfield: Merriam Webster, 2012), 324.