What is Reformed Theology,
Covenant Theology and
Help in Understanding These Terms
Reformed Theology refers to the body of teaching which came out of the Reformation. Most of these teachings reflect solid Biblical truth which Bible believers should be in agreement with. The Westminster Confession of Faith is a major statement of faith representing Reformed Theology, a good part of which reflects Biblical truth. The Reformers were sound on such doctrines as salvation, justification, faith, the authority of Scripture, the Person and attributes of God, etc. However, they were weak and often erroneous when it came to church truth, kingdom truth, and prophecy. For example, they taught that the Pope was the Antichrist, probably because the Catholic Church was their greatest antagonist.
The Reformers recovered much truth which had been lost, for which we are thankful; yet, there were other truths which were later uncovered, especially by the early Plymouth Brethren (John Darby, William Kelly, etc.). The Reformers never totally freed themselves from the allegorical, non-literal method of Origen and from the church/kingdom concept of Augustine (as reflected by the “kingdom now” proponents of today). Most Reformed men deny the rapture and the millennial reign of Christ, and many embrace preterism (the belief that most prophecies relating to the tribulation and second coming were fulfilled on or around 70 A.D.).
Reformed Theology is often identified with Five-Point Calvinism, although Luther and Calvin both taught that Christ died for the sins of all men without exception. Thus, Calvin was not as Calvinistic as many who now bear his name. Today most men (though not all) who embrace Reformed Theology embrace Covenant Theology, which emphasizes two or three main covenants: the covenant of grace, the covenant of works; some add the covenant of redemption. In contrast, Dispensational Theology focuses on the covenants which are specifically mentioned in Scripture such as the Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic and New Covenants.
New Calvinism is the old Calvinism in new clothing and is very popular among the younger generation. The basic tenets of Calvinism are embraced with some distinctions: 1) New Calvinists are often worldly, especially in the areas of worship and music; 2) Many New Calvinists have been influenced by the Charismatic Movement and believe that some of the sign gifts are still operative today; 3) Many New Calvinists hold to Lordship Salvation and add to saving faith works such as requiring the sinner to fulfill the demands of discipleship in order to be saved.
The following studies might be helpful and relevant to these issues:
The Dangers of Reformed Theology
Should We Go Back to the Reformation?
Consistent Literal Interpretation--A Study Showing the
Inconsistencies of Non-Dispensationalists
Covenant Theology Analyzed by Dr. Ernest Pickering
Fundamental Distinctions Between Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism by Fred Moritz
For Whom Did Christ Die?
Saved By Grace Alone-A Biblical Analysis of Lordship Salvation
Lordship Salvation Requirements
The Westminster Confession of Faith
Problems with Reformed Theology (Various Studies)
Dispensationalism (Various Studies)
John MacArthur and Rock Music--The Merger of Calvinism With Worldliness
The Middletown Bible Church
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