Conclusion to Chapter 1 of Recovering a Covenantal Heritage: Essays in Baptist Covenant Theology

Conclusion to Chapter 1 of Recovering a Covenantal Heritage: Essays in Baptist Covenant Theology, “A Brief Overview of Seventeenth-Century Reformed Orthodox Federalism” by Richard C. Barcellos

 

The intent of this brief survey is to introduce readers to the thought-world of the most productive era in the history of the church for the formulation of federal or covenant theology. Among the theologians surveyed above, there is both continuity and discontinuity of thought. The lone Particular Baptist, Nehemiah Coxe, clearly utilized the formulations of others in his day, yet departing at crucial points. The various Particular Baptist departures will become more evident in the chapters immediately following (2-9, but especially 2-3). However, the chapters dealing with biblical and biblical-theological issues (9-16) will pick up on some of the same issues brought up in this chapter and, especially, in the chapters that immediately follow.

As will become evident, the seventeenth-century Particular Baptists were not merely immersing Presbyterians, as a friend of mine once said. Neither did they formulate their version of federal theology in order to avert the hand of persecution. Their formulation was based on biblical exegesis and the redemptive-historical theological synthesis of those exegetical labors. Their views had much in common with paedobaptist federalism, though their formulation departed at crucial points and did so with clearly stated reasons. The chapters that follow attempt to identify and discuss some of those reasons.