Calvin and the Federal Vision: Calvin's Covenant Theology in Light of Contemporary Discussion

Overview

John Calvin (1509-64) was the pinnacle of the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation in Europe. As we celebrate the five hundred-year anniversary of his birth, it is worthy to explore Calvin's covenant theology, which may be one of the best windows to understand and evaluate his theology as a whole. In recent years, the Federal Vision has been surfaced in the American conservative Reformed and evangelical circles. It has strong hermeneutical, theological, and practical attachment with Calvin. Although Calvin ...

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Overview

John Calvin (1509-64) was the pinnacle of the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation in Europe. As we celebrate the five hundred-year anniversary of his birth, it is worthy to explore Calvin's covenant theology, which may be one of the best windows to understand and evaluate his theology as a whole. In recent years, the Federal Vision has been surfaced in the American conservative Reformed and evangelical circles. It has strong hermeneutical, theological, and practical attachment with Calvin. Although Calvin was a covenant theologian, he firmly maintained the evangelical distinction between law and gospel, especially in his exposition of justification by faith alone (sola fide) and salvation by grace alone (sola gratia) with a balanced emphasis of believers' covenantal obedience. Moreover, we will find out that Calvin not only applied the distinction between law and gospel to soteriology but also in the depiction of redemptive history. In Calvin, the distinction between law and gospel was foundational for the depiction of biblical vision of eschatology in the Garden of Eden before the Fall and under the Old Covenant. However, the exponents of the Federal Vision deny any validity of the distinction between law and gospel in hermeneutics, theology, and practice while they identify themselves with those of Calvin. In that sense, we may identify the Federal Vision not with the Protestant Reformation and Calvin but as consistent monocovenantalism in which they deny the distinction between law and gospel and apply that monocovenantal principle consistently to their understandings of hermeneutics, soteriology, the doctrine of double predestination, and sacramental theology.

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Meet the Author

Jeong Koo Jeon is Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology at Chesapeake Reformed Theological Seminary in Maryland. He is the author of Covenant Theology (1999 & 2004) and Covenant Theology and Justification by Faith (2006).

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