Paleo- and Neo-Reformed: Hart Replies to McKnight

Darryl Hart is now writing at the Old Life Theological Society. This is a must-add to your feed/blog reader. Bookmark it. Live it. Love it.

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. Dr. Clark,

    I have been reading your posts and trying to understand all the lingo, people, history of the reformed movement. As a guy who was a dispensational arminian, but who about 7 years ago began believing in the doctrines of grace and began moving from progressive dispensationalism into covenant theology (although still baptistic), I am fairly unfamiliar with many of these controversies. I am guessing I am also pietistic, given how it has been used here. I am wondering where I can find a good summary of all of this. I read “Machen’s Warrior Children” which was somewhat helpful, but I also know you disagree with Frame. So, can you point me to a refutation of Frame’s article? Or, point me to a good book / article that can help me get a handle on your perspective? Frankly, much of the discussion and terminology is like learning a new language. Thanks!

  2. Chad,

    1. Read RRC

    2. Read everything Darryl Hart and John Muether have written.

    3. Read W Robert Godfrey’s Reformation Sketches.

    4. Read Richard Muller. Everything.

    5. Here’s a reading list:

    6. See the opening chapter of Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry.

    There’s a lot of material at

    7. You can find Hart and Muther (Fighting the Good Fight; Recovering Mother Kirk, the Van Til bio, the Machen Bio, History of Am Presbyterianism) at the WSC Booktore.

    I’m pretty sure that JMF is not where I would go to get a clear picture of history.

  3. Dr. Clark,

    Thanks very much. I just bought the items in #1,3,6. I will look up the rest. Is any of this covered in the audio from the recent Westminster Conference? I will also get whatever I can from the reading list you sent.

    Chad Vegas

  4. Chad,

    Dr. Clark’s advice is more valuable than mine, but I would also suggest John T. McNeil’s “The History and Character of Calvinism.” Even if it is somewhat dated, it is in my opinion still the best one volume introduction to the history of the Reformed tradition.

  5. Hi Chad,

    Yes the conference lectures are available as downloads from the bookstore. That would be useful. You could also read T H L Parker’s biography of Calvin.

    The McNeill volume is quite dated and wrong about a lot of things. He was a great scholar but it’s probably a better gauge of where scholarship was then than a place to begin learning about the Reformed tradition.

    Sean Lucas’ book, Being Presbyterian would also be useful. I’m a little skeptical about Leith’s intro to the Ref’d tradition, at least as a starting point.

    The first Reformed book I read was Calvin’s Institutes. That’s definitely a must. It might take a while but you won’t regret it.

    In the reading list there are a few of Mike Horton’s books but you can’t go wrong with Horton. Putting Amazing, God of Promise, Where in the World etc. That’s great stuff.

    Do you listen to the White Horse Inn? That will help.

  6. Dr. Clark,

    If you have the time, could you divulge some of the things you think McNeil was flat out wrong about? I know the work is dated, and some things would be corrected if something similar were written today, but I’d never heard that the work was that faulty.

    The major problem I see with it is its incompleteness, which is most glaring in the lack of adequate attention paid to the classical confessional tradition. This is no doubt due in large part to the state of scholarship in the mid-20th c., esp. given the fact that McNeil was writing pre-Muller. But another factor is that he was trying to give a presentation of the entire tradition from its very beginning with Zwingli to the modern period in a work of less than 500 pages. Such a task necessitates incompleteness in some areas. And it is a task no one else has undertaken (at least in a serious schoalrly piece) since him, which is why I still suggest it as a starting point even though it is dated. Most non-seminary folk just don’t have the time or theological education to bust through Muller’s massive work.

    I only have a mere Master’s degree in Church History, but in my limited studies I hadn’t noticed a multitude of errors in it besides what I mention above. (I began my study of the tradition with that work, and read through it again last Spring.)

  7. Chad,

    See also these resources:


    I’ll get back to you. I recall looking at it again (I read it first 25 years ago or more) during my grad research and disliking his account of covenant theology. He’s wrong about natural law, but I don’t know if it’s in there or in a journal article. I don’t remember what he did with Zwingli but I would check that. I’ll be out of the office all day so I can’t check my copy to refresh my memory but that’s the impression I remember.

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