A House of Cards? A Response to Bingham, Gribben, and Caughey

  • R. Scott Clark
Part of the Christianities in the Trans-Atlantic World book series (CTAW)


One of the great philosophical questions of the Middle Ages concerned the relationship between names and things. The question taken up in this chapter concerns the relationship between the name “Reformed” and what the Reformed churches have historically understood, believed, and confessed as the Reformed theology, piety, and practice. Does that thing exist or is it a mere convention, a way of speaking that is subject to endless revision with as many definitions as definers? This chapter argues that, considered historically, there was a recognizable body of beliefs, a piety, and way of practicing the Christian faith among the Reformed, which emerged first in the 1520s and which continued to develop through the seventeenth century, and that it was its theology of the biblical covenants that gave it coherence. Despite the historical improbability—it was not wiped out by the French Wars of Religion, the Spanish Inquisition, the Thirty Years War, nor by the Enlightenment and Higher Criticism—the essence of that theology, piety, and practice continues to find adherents even in the late modern world.


Reformed Presbyterian baptism Confessionalism Covenant theology Historical theology 


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Scott Clark
    • 1
  1. 1.Church History and Historical TheologyWestminster Seminary CaliforniaEscondidoUSA

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