Paul Helm was one of the first to challenge the Calvin v Calvinists thesis so his recent post on Calvin and covenant theology is a little surprising.
Though I’m quite critical of important aspects of Pete Lillback’s volume on Calvin’s covenant theology I do agree with him that Calvin’s covenant theology, though not reaching the sort of development one sees in the 17th-century writers, was probably more developed than Helm seems to allow. For example, Helm denies that Calvin held any sort of notion of the covenant of works. I wouldn’t argue that Calvin never said anything that might be in tension with a covenant of works but he did speak of the tree of life and the Noahic rainbow as “documents and seals of his testaments ” (Institutes 4.14.18). In his commentary on Gen 2 and 3 he suggested that Adam would have entered into a state of glory had he remained upright. The structure of is conception of the prelapsarian existence is at least consonant with later developments and with the Belgic Confession’s notion of the “commandment of life.” To be sure, Reformed federal or covenant theology was in transition at the end of Calvin’s life but it seems to strong to suggest that Calvin’s idea of the prelapsarian state is utterly alien to the developing notion of the covenant of works which was happening right under his nose in the 1550s and 60s.