Muller: Protestant Orthodoxy “Altered But Little” The Theology Of The Reformation

By the death of Calvin, all of these founders of the Reformed tradition had produced their major writings and had prepared their churches for the next generation—having argued the basic doctrinal positions of the Reformed faith, whether in their larger more systematic works or in the major confessional documents produced under their auspices. Orthodoxy would elaborate, refine, draw out conclusions and, in addition, make more explicit the rootage of Protestantism in the Christian tradition, but it would alter the basic doctrinal position of the Reformed churches but little: most of the presuppositions and premises of Protestant theology were enunciated during this period, but system as such was not fully developed nor had theology yet received a full Protestant treatment as an academic discipline.

Richard A. Muller | Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 1: Prolegomena to Theology, Second Edition (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003), 59.


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  1. Trueman mentions this about Muller and his predecessors during his lecture in Texas. And he is right; there was no reason for the reformers to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Some did, though and they were the radical reformers, so to speak; the Anabaptists.

    • George,

      The Anabaptists were radicals in many ways but most importantly they rejected the Reformation doctrine of salvation and many of the rejected the doctrine of sola scriptura.

    • I don’t think you understood the statement. The comparison is Reformation – Post Reformation (Protestant Orthodoxy, i.e., following developments after XVI century); not Reformation – Orthodoxy (as in the ecumenical creeds). Muller’s thesis is that the theology of the Reformation was the same that reformed churches had during subsequent centuries (as in WCF and 3FU).

    • Comparing with Catholic Church teachings by the time of Reformation, doctrinal changes brought up by the Reformation were dramatic and the position of the reformers and post reformers towards the Catholic Church would be classified by many in our days as radical. In fact, the Catholic Church preserved very little of the true orthodoxy and on that regard, there’s no sense in talking about throwing that away, since these documents are sound and biblical. It’d be like reinventing the wheel and loosing contact with the historical church, something that Calvin and others appreciated. But the radical reformation, as in the Anabaptists, is a whole other animal. And Calvin treats it extensively in the Institutes.

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