The intro to this series may be found here.
In a recent journal article, Kaiser explores whether the object of faith in the OT is the same as in the NT. This query is usually, as it is in Kaiser’s article, discussed along the lines of Dispensational Theology (DT) vs Covenant Theology (CT). There is not really any debate as to whether salvation is by grace through faith, but rather what the object of saving faith was in the OT. That Jesus is set forth as the object of saving faith in the NT is beyond dispute. However, Dispensationslists have often denied that Jesus is the object of saving faith in the OT. Instead, it is proffered that faith in God in general, and derivatively faith in whatever he promised at the time, is in fact the object of saving faith which OT saints possessed.
Kaiser cites Ryrie as representative of the common DT position, “The basis of salvation in every age is the death of Christ; the requirement of salvation in every age is faith; the object of faith in every age [however,] is God; the content of faith changes in the various dispensations.” Kaiser then cites the Westminster Confession (Chapter VII, section 3) as representative of the common CT position,
Man by his Fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace: wherein he freely offered unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved; and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life his Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe.
In his article, Kaiser goes on to discuss the implications of some who have gone beyond Ryrie and adopt an inclusivist approach: whereby it is argued that anyone who comes to believe in monotheism is basically exercising the faith of Abraham and the rest of the OT saints. Our interest here, however, is the continuity/discontinuity contrast between CT and DT. It should be pointed out that Kaiser’s antithesis appears to only take into account classical and revised DT. A progressive dispensationalist position would not necessarily understand the content of faith as changing over the various dispensations. As such, Kaiser’s antithesis is a false one in terms of CT vs DT.