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Federalism and the Westminster Tradition
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Federalism and the Westminster Tradition

Author: Mark Karlberg
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       More than any other theological tradition, Reformed federalism has recognized the importance of the biblical teaching on the covenants in its system of doctrine. This tradition came to mature confessional status in the writing of the Westminster Confession of Faith (and Catechisms). The place of the Westminster tradition within the stream of Christian history and theology is remarkable indeed. Westminster not only gained recognition as the epitome of Calvinist teaching at the close of the Protestant Reformation (the middle of the seventeenth century), it also earned the reputation for precision and comprehensiveness in doctrinal formulation. It became the measure by which biblical interpreters defended their systems of doctrine - either in agreement or disagreement with the theology of the Westminster divines. These writings are the climax of three decades of research and study, and they appear as the third in the series of collections published by Wipf and Stock, beginning with Covenant Theology in Reformed Perspective, followed by Gospel Grace: The Modern-day Controversy. The critical teaching in dispute in each of these studies is the classic Protestant antithesis between the Law and the Gospel, what serves as the basis for the Reformed doctrine of the twofold covenants, the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace. Protestant-Reformed Orthodoxy now stands at the crossroads; the plight of Westminster Seminary (East and West) is merely illustrative of the depth and the intensity of the contemporary theological dispute, one impacting the future of Protestant evangelicalism as a whole. The battle is between historic Reformed-Protestantism and modern-day revisionism of a radical sort. The rapid rise of postmodernism (or nonfoundationalism) is indicative of the rapidly changing mood and posture in ('evangelical') biblical scholarship at the opening of this third millennium of Christian interpretation. Without question, the modern church continues to loose her biblical moorings. Forsaking the basic theological convictions of the Protestant Reformation it has attempted to subject the Word of God to vigorous academic (i.e., 'scientific') investigation (the return of rationalism). In doing so, it has abandoned the Scripture principle, which recognizes the uniquely authoritative and inerrant character of the Word of God. Lost in the shuffle is the uncompromising proclamation of the one, true Gospel - the Gospel of justification by grace through faith alone. Lost also is the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture. Nothing less than a new Reformation in our day will halt travel down the road leading to destruction.


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