Covenant theologians and dispensationalists differ on how much continuity and discontinuity exists throughout the progress of biblical revelation. Simply stated, covenant theologians tend to see more continuity in Scripture, whereas dispensationalists tend to see more discontinuity. The problem comes when continuity or discontinuity begins to function as the lens through which Scripture is interpreted. Put another way, the problem comes when covenant theology or dispensationalism begin to function as a system of hermeneutics.
For example, covenant theologian Robert Booth refers to continuity as “a principle of biblical interpretation” which should guide the interpreter in his handling of the Scriptures. According to Booth: “Our interpretive starting point will determine how we understand the Bible. Most people do not consistently apply any interpretive principle, yet we should all strive for interpretive consistency. The…covenantal principle of interpretation holds that we must…assume continuity and unity in God’s revelation.”
This approach could be referred to as “a hermeneutic of continuity,” because it comes to Scripture with the assumption that one will consistently find continuity in the Bible rather than discontinuity. The problem with this approach is that the unity of Scripture does not demand continuity over discontinuity in a given area. Otherwise, the unity of the Bible would preclude the possibility of any discontinuity throughout redemptive history.
Rather than using a hermeneutic which consistently assumes either continuity or discontinuity, it is better for the interpreter to set aside his assumptions and make an objective comparison between A and B in a given area to determine how much continuity or discontinuity may exist. Put another way, continuity and discontinuity in a given area should be a post-exegetical conclusion, not a pre-exegetical assumption. Otherwise, the one who looks at Scripture through the lens of continuity will tend to deny legitimate points of discontinuity, and the one who looks through the lens of discontinuity will tend to deny legitimate points of continuity.