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Title: Saving faith and assurance in reformed theology : Zwingli to the Synod of Dort
Author: Letham, Robert W. A.
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 1979
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Abstract:
Reformed theology before Dort saw the development of two qualitatively distinct understandings of saving faith. One, shared by Zwingli, Calvin, Bucer and others, held that faith was equivalent to assurance of God's favour and of ultimate salvation. The other view regarded assurance as subsequent to faith, and owed its increasing popularity to the rise of the conditional covenant theology of Bullinger, Capito, Tyndale, Musculus and Ursinus. Under such a schematism, assurance of salvation was not possible until the faithful were sure that they had fulfilled the conditions required of them in the covenant agreement. Consequently, subjectivistic introspection and pietism began to emerge once the need for the discovery of 'marks of grace' was recognized. The more theocentric theology represented by Calvin, which had representatives throughout the period, in viewing gospel or covenant in unilateral, monergistic terms was able to base assurance on more objective grounds, on what God had done in Christ. Thus faith was equivalent to assurance since neither were dependent on the vacillating nature of introspection. The conditional covenant theology of Bullinger was adopted by his disciple Ursinus and through his influence it spread to the Netherlands (through Junius and Gomarus). In Britain, this theology found a ready response, through the strong ethical interest among certain English Reformers, the influence of Bullinger himself, the emergence of Ramism (with its concern for turning theology to an emphasis on ethics and sanctification) and the secular practice of covenanting in Scotland. Reacting against the supralapsarian predestinarianism of Beza and Gomarus, Arminius adopted an extreme conditionalism and, undermining perseverance, threatened assurance altogether. When Dort condemned this Remonstrant conditionalism, both above positions found expression among the delegations. Consequently, these underlying tensions in orthodox theology were left unresolved. Later they would surface in Old and New England and in Scotland.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.463103  DOI: Not available
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