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Jesu, Juva

Covenant sentence

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In his book That You May Prosper, Ray Sutton identifies five common aspects of God’s covenants, and shows how these aspects are frequently used to structure Biblical texts. We see the “cash value” of this when it gives us a deeper insight into Biblical passages: for example, Michael Bull observes this pattern in the book of Revelation and deftly rebuts the hyper-preterist reading of Revelation.

In some ways the five-point covenant model is a fresh insight, but in other ways it is just putting a name on inescapable aspects of relationships and communication, especially between a superior and an inferior, a creator and a creature. In that vein, and with tongue somewhat in cheek, I present the five-point covenant model of the English sentence.

First, let’s review the diagram of a typical sentence:

Now we apply the five-point covenant model to this sentence:

  • Transcendence: The subject of this sentence is the transcendent initiator of all action.
    • Hierarchy: The indirect object is the dependent receiver of the subject’s speech and action, blessing and curse.
      • Ethics: The verb expresses the communication and action that extend from the subject to the indirect object, which comprises laws, commands or covenant conditions.
    • Oath (Sanctions): The direct object signifies the blessings and curses that the subject is offering to the indirect object.
  • Succession: The object of the preposition describes the outcome, the future goal of the subject’s covenantal actions.

Our sentence diagram now looks like this:

Depending on how you react to Sutton’s approach, you may either feel that this proves that it is truly a hammer seeking to turn everything into a nail, or else that this validates his approach by showing it is a simple taxonomy of unavoidable aspects of covenantal relation and communication. Thus, as Gary North observed in his publisher’s preface to Sutton’s book, these five points serve equally well as a framework for understanding political theory.

Written by Scott Moonen

May 10, 2021 at 4:51 pm

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