Audio: With The Sinners League On The Reformation

Lex Lutheran and Calvinist Coulson (it’s a Twitter thing) were gracious to invite me to talk about the Reformation.

Here’s the episode.

Here’s their website.

Here’s their Twitter page.

Here’s the HB archival version.

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    • I have not done a great deal of work on this but my perception is that there were not great differences between the Lutherans and the Reformed on the Abrahamic covenant. The major difference is that the Lutherans were reluctant to work out a “covenant theology,” at least in the 16th century. There were some attempts in the 17th century, in light the the several Reformed covenant theologies that appeared by then. The reason for the reluctance was that Luther emerged from and rejected the covenant theology of the nominalists, namely G. Biel, that said that God has covenanted to reward those who do their part: “to those who do what lies within themselves, God denies not grace.” Luther rightly identified this as a Pelagian doctrine. He called it a “moral sin” and hated it as a Protestant. The Reformed, by contrast, sought to develop a covenant theology as a redemptive-historical explanation of God’s gracious redemption of his people. They correlated the covenant of works with the law and the covenant of grace with the gospel. For the most part, the Lutherans remained unimpressed. They seemed to suspect that there was legalism lurking in there somewhere. E.g., they generally don’t like even a prelapsarian covenant of works. Nevertheless, Luther’s explanation of the Abrahamic covenant, in his lectures on Genesis (about which there are some text-critical and source questions), was very similar to ours.

    • Thanks Scott,
      I thought that might be the case, seeing they’re paedobaptists, thanks for the
      additional info (I was actually thinking about the latest 1689 “reformed” Baptist
      theology, & knowing that they see the Mosaic as a Covenant of Works much
      like the Lutherans, was curious of the Lutheran Abrahamic Covenant view).

      My thoughts on the non acceptance of the prelapsarian covenant of works is
      that the early Protestants both Reformed & the Lutheran were just plain
      Augustinians who held to the doctrine of original sin but no covenant of works,
      the Lutherans as you’ve stated didn’t develop their covenant theology any
      further, or much further than Luther (guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the
      tree), whilst the Reformed side did, this original augustinian view vs the latter
      Covenant theology that developed is basically one aspect of the calvin vs the
      calvinists thesis, even though later covenant theology was a consistent
      outgrowth of augustinian theology, there obviously was tension there between
      Voetian orthodoxy and Cocceian federalism (I personally see no conflict with
      Supralapsarianism and a Federal Covenant Theology approach whether it is
      presented Dogmatically or in Redemptive-Historical methodology). As a side
      note hasn’t Augustinian Mono-Covenantalism has been held by such persons
      as W.G.T. Shedd, Herman Hoeksema, John Murray & the baptist A.H. Strong!

      • Robert,

        It is not accurate to speak of the “non-acceptance” of the covenant of works in early Reformed theology. The earliest such may be Bullinger’s De Testmento and his intent is not to explain works but to refute the Anabaptists by defending the unity of the covenant of grace. The covenant of works emerges clearly about 1561 (Ursinus) and continues apace from there. Is it implied in other writers before Ursinus? I think so but it’s debated.

        As to the adjective “monocovenantal,” we should distinguish between orthodox and heterodox forms. Many orthodox Reformed writers wrote of one covenant with two aspects, i.e., the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. Those in our tradition who have obliterated the distinction between works and grace, e.g., Baxter, are not orthodox.

        It’s not accurate to set “Cocceian federalism” v Voetian orthodoxy. The issue between Cocceius and Voetius was not federalism but the consequences the progress of redemptive history for understanding continuity and discontinuity between Moses and the New Covenant.

  1. Hi Scott,

    Agreed “non-acceptance” wasn’t the right word to use, meant it more-so for the
    Lutherans, with the early Reformers should have just said that Covenant Theology
    had not been fully developed as yet, the Augustinian Mono-Covenantalism that I
    was referring to was indeed the Covenant of Grace, which differed from a full-orbed
    Federal Theology at a number of places, such as The Covenant of Redemption, a
    Covenant of Works in the Garden of Eden, Federal Headship of Christ & Adam,
    being the most obvious whilst the Origin of mans soul being another the Federal-
    ist school tended to teach Immediate creation whilst the Augustinian Mediate
    creation (Traducian), there was also a differences in how we all sinned in Adam
    and its effects on his progeny.

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