From Social Bonds To Divine Covenant: The Rise And Development Of The Covenant Idea In Scottish Theology From The Fourteenth To The Sixteenth Century -- By: Breno Macedo

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 05:1 (Jan 2013)
Article: From Social Bonds To Divine Covenant: The Rise And Development Of The Covenant Idea In Scottish Theology From The Fourteenth To The Sixteenth Century
Author: Breno Macedo


From Social Bonds To Divine Covenant:
The Rise And Development Of The Covenant Idea In Scottish Theology From The Fourteenth To The Sixteenth Century

Breno Macedo

Scotland produced some of the finest men in the history of covenant theology. In fact, this area of theology became so prominent among Scottish divines that James Walker affirmed “the old theology of Scotland might be emphatically described as a covenant theology.”1 Among prominent names and their particular contributions are the seventeenth-century theologians David Dickson and his detailed and precise formulation of the covenant of redemption,2 Samuel Rutherford and his understanding of the covenant of works as a gracious covenant,3

and Patrick Gillespie, who wrote a five-volume work on covenant theology of which only two were published.4 In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, other important contributions were made by Thomas Boston, Adam Gib, Thomas Bell, and John Colquhoun.5 But can covenant theology or even the idea of the covenant be traced further back in Scottish church history and theology? Was this unique theological theme brought from the Continent to the Island, or was it already present there in seminal form?

The goal of this article is to trace the origins of the idea of the covenant in Scotland as a social movement and its development in theology until the end of the sixteenth century, introducing Robert Rollock and demonstrating the importance and significance of his work. This will be examined in two parts: the first dealing with the covenant idea as present in the history of Scotland in its social-political-religious context, the second dealing with the covenant idea in the context of church history and historical theology as present in the writings of the Scottish theologians of that specific period. The argument will be made that the secular idea of bonding and leaguing, abundantly present in Scotland in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries was also very much present in the religious and theological usage of the covenant theme in the sixteenth century. However, over the years there was a shift, as evidenced in Rollock’s work, from a strong emphasis on the contractual and obligatory character of the covenants

to a more elaborate system of doctrine due to the church’s faithfulness to the Reformation principle of sola Scriptura.

The...
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