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‘Theological Conversations’ releases ‘Redeeming Covenant’

Lee’s paper is a critical reflection on ‘covenant theology, democracy and racism in U.S.’

 by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

Hak Joon Lee. (Photo provided)

LOUISVILLE – In the eighth installment of Theological Conversations for 2017, the Theology, Formation & Evangelism ministry of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) presents Redeeming Covenant: A Critical Reflection on Puritan Covenant Theology, Democracy and Racism in the U.S.

 Written by Hak Joon Lee, the Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary, Redeeming Covenant reflects on the influence Puritans had on theology, democracy and racism in the United States.

“During the anniversary year of Reformation 500, Lee draws our attention to the promise and pitfalls of covenant theology in the U.S., while we have just adopted The Belhar Confession,” says the Rev. Michelle J. Bartel, who recently served as coordinator of Theological Education and Seminary Relations in the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

“It’s a great resource for us to consider our teaching on sin and forgiveness, while addressing the present and persistent problem of racism in our country and congregations.”

In Redeeming Covenant Lee examines the mistake Puritans made because of their inability to understand that the essence and core of covenant theology always has a liberating message. “Covenant theology is not racism,” he writes, “because it coincides with the basic narrative of the Bible that essentially moves to the axis of ‘liberation-restoration.’ In other words, it always has a structure from liberation to restoration.”

Bartel hopes Redeeming Covenant will help Presbyterians think about baptism, worship and other elements of our shared Christian life, “to renew and sustain us as Christ’s disciples who seek justice.” Bartel added that “authentic grounding in covenant theology that reflects God promise for freedom provides a way to address racism’s religious origins in the founding of the U.S.”

To download Lee’s paper and other studies in the series visit the Theological Conversations webpage. Redeeming Covenant is available in its original Korean language, English and Spanish.


Hak Joon Lee, Ph.D. is the Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary. Lee has published several books, including Covenant and Communication: A Christian Moral Conversation with Jürgen Habermas (University Press of America, 2006), We Will Get to the Promised Land: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Communal-Political Spirituality (Pilgrim Press, 2006), The Great World House: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Global Ethics (Pilgrim Press, 2011), Shaping Public Theology: The Max L. Stackhouse Reader (coedited, Eerdmans, 2014), Searching for a Creative Space: Race, Identity, and Culture in the Spiritual Life of Young Asian Americans (Cascade Books/Wipf and Stock Publishers, forthcoming), as well as numerous articles and two books in Korean: Bridge Builders (Doorae Media, 2007) and A Paradigm Shift in Korean Churches (Holy WavePlus Press, 2011), which in 2011 was awarded one of the most outstanding books in religion by South Korean Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Sports. Lee’s The Great World House was the featured subject for a panel discussion at the 2014 American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting. Additionally, he served as co-editor of the Micah 2 project (funded by Fuller’s Ogilvie Institute for Preaching), an ethics curriculum used by a thousand pastors in ten countries.

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