Concerning the “New Calvinist” and “Truly Reformed”

 

 

“As we have argued, this attempt to recover ‘the Reformed confession’ stumbles over the fact that few of those who believe themselves to be it’s modern-day adherents would be prepared to sign the first editions of any of its theological symbols. Neither the ‘new Calvinists’ nor the ‘truly Reformed’ who interrogate them could adopt without qualification any of the sixteenth- or seventeenth-century ‘Reformed’ confessions. Guido de Bres, the author of the Belgic Confession, could not understand either party as subscribing to his statement of faith, and so would deny both parties the identity of ‘Reformed,’ and would hardly be happy with either party pretending otherwise. Had he the benefit of anticipating seventeenth-century theological development, he might also point to an irony of the ‘truly Reformed’ position–that being ‘truly Reformed’ is much closer to the historic Particular Baptist confessional position (1677/1689) than those who claim this label might be prepared to admit. Many of those ‘confessionalist’ who are pushing back on the ‘new Calvinist’ claims to Reformed identity advocate a number of key theological ideas that do not exist in the sixteenth- or seventeenth-century confessions they praise. These clarifications–sharpening the doctines of imputation and justification, the covenant of redemption, as well as the non-sacral role of civil government–are not present in the Westminster Confession, but come together as a package for the first time in the Second London Baptist confession of faith (1677/1689). Nevertheless, while, according to ‘truly Reformed’ advocates, these ideas are part of the recovery of the ‘Reformed confession,’ the statement of faith in which they were first packaged is not. The Baptist confession might be a more reliable guide to the faith of the ‘truly Reformed’ than the first edition of the Westmister Confession of Faith.

Therefore, while the Westminster standards and the Three Forms of Unity summarize the interpretation of Scripture of the first several generations of Reformed Protestants, they no longer accurately summarize what most contemporary Reformed and Presbyterians believe the Bible teaches.”

~ Chris Caughey and Crawford Gribben, On Being Reformed

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