Muller On The Relations Between Reformed And Medieval Theology

The Reformation, in spite of its substantial contribution to the history of doctrine and the shock it delivered to theology and the church in the sixteenth century, was not an attack upon the whole of medieval theology or upon Christian tradition. The Reformation assaulted a limited spectrum of doctrinal and practical abuses with the intention of reaffirming the values of the historical church catholic. Thus, the mainstream Reformers reconstructed the doctrines of justification and the sacraments and then modified their ideas of the ordo salutis and of the church accordingly; but they did not alter the doctrines of God, creation, providence, and Christ, and they maintained the Augustinian tradition concerning predestination, human nature and sin. The reform of individual doctrines, like justification and the sacraments, occurred within the bounds of a traditional, orthodox, and catholic system which, on the grand scale, remained substantively unaltered.

Richard A. Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics: The Rise and Development of Reformed Orthodoxy; Volume 1: Prolegomena to Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 97.

    Post authored by:

  • 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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One comment

  1. Dear Dr Clark,

    Besides Dr Muller’s excellent PRRD, do you have other good recommendations, both books and articles, on the medieval church and its theology and their impact on the reformers?

    More often than not, I keep hearing various Christians, even Reformed folks (including ministers), make sweeping remarks that the medieval period is the “Dark Ages” whereby everything in that era was bad and nothing good came out of it. Contra to this, I fully concur with Muller’s assessment, as I believe it is important for us to understand the significance of the medieval church in order to comprehend the development of Reformed theology, piety, and practice.


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