There are about 60 million evangelicals in North America. Most of them assume or hold a Baptist interpretation of redemptive history, a Baptist hermeneutic (way of reading Scripture), and consequently, a Baptist view of the sacraments or signs and seals of the covenant of grace. Many evangelicals have never come into contact with the historic Reformed view of the covenant of grace. When all one has ever known is a Baptist view, when all one’s friends and relatives hold a Baptist view, when one has never seen the historic Reformed practice that view can seem implausible, even though it was the view taught by famous and respected Reformers. Often it is assumed that the Reformers must have been influenced by Romanism and that they simply had not finished the job of reforming theology and practice. As a consequence of these assumptions and this sociology (setting in which things are assumed, understood, taught, and interpreted) it can be difficult for Baptists to try to see the Reformed paradigm on its own terms. I get emails regularly asking me to explain the Reformed view. I point correspondents to the large number of HB posts explaining the Reformed view but correspondents frequently ask for something short, on the assumption that if it is true it must be easily and quickly explained. Of course that assumption rests on the assumption that, of course, a Baptist explanation of the New Testament is correct.
So, I thought it might be useful as a starter for the impatient evangelical inquirer, to try to present the Reformed view in a nutshell. Please do not take this as a comprehensive account. It’s meant to whet the reader’s appetite and to suggest areas where the Reformed view differs from the various Baptist views. It’s meant to be a stimulus to further reading and study (e.g., on the New Covenant).
The Abrahamic covenant is still in force. The administration of the Abrahamic covenant involved believers and their children (Gen 17). That’s why Peter said, “For the promise to you and to your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39). That’s a New Testament re-statement of the Abrahamic promise of Genesis 17 and in the minor prophets (e.g., Joel 2). Only believers have ever actually inherited, by grace alone, through faith alone, the substance of the promise (Christ and salvation) but the signs and seals of the promise have always been administered to believers and their children. It’s both/and not either/or.
- Support Heidelmedia: use the donate button
- How To Subscribe To Heidelmedia
- The Heidelblog Resource Page
- Heidelmedia Resources
- The Ecumenical Creeds
- The Reformed Confessions
- The Heidelberg Catechism
- Recovering the Reformed Confession (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2008)
- Resources on Covenant Theology And Infant Baptism.
- Heidelcast Series: I Will Be A God To You And To Your Children