Merrill does terrific service in illustrating the manner in which the Evangelical community of the decade of the 90s put confidence in an Old Covenant model of relying on Law to manage society. The decade since publication only serves to magnify the illustrations!
The Old Covenant focused on external behavior with centuries of divinely inspired evidence as to the failure of such focus.
Paul tells us The Law was a schoolmaster in God’s program with Old Covenant
Early in His ministry, Jesus would say, “…but, I say unto you…” (Matt. 5) laying the initial groundwork for the coming New Covenant in which His saints would live lives functioning as illuminators and preservers with a leavening influence, so manifesting the power of the Gospel.
Spurgeon said it best:
“…The practical point is, brothers and sisters, since we want to do good, let us preach up our Lord Jesus Christ as the sovereign balm for every sinner’s wound. If you want to be philanthropists, be Christians. If you would bless your fellow-men with the best of all blessings, convey to them the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Do not believe that there is anything you can do for your children which will be more effectual than teaching them about Jesus. Do not think that anything in the workshop can soften the vulgarities, silence the blasphemies, and end the profanities of your fellow workmen, like setting Jesus Christ before them.… Oh, let us keep on with the subject of Christ crucified! Whatever there is not in our shop window, let us always have Christ as the chief article of our heavenly commerce. Whatever there may lack of grace and beauty in our speech, and our outward appearance, may there be no lack of Jesus Christ, set forth among the sons of men; for “men shall be blessed in him,” and not without him. (Jesus: ‘All Blessing and All Blest,’” No. 2187, MTP 37 (1891), 92–93.)
The thesis of the book seems best expressed in James’ admonition in James “…for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God…”