Federalism and Reformed Scholasticism: Jonathan Edwards’s doctrine of the covenant in its reformed context

Willem van Vlastuin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


Jonathan Edwards’s understanding of the covenant is treated in this chapter. It is made clear that Edwards developed this theology in the broader context of reformed theology and in his own specific context. In his reflections on the covenant, Edwards concluded that one must draw a distinction between the covenant of redemption and the covenant of grace if one is to understand Arminianism and Antinomianism. Drawing this distinction also allows one to interpret God’s works in history. In his understanding of the covenant of grace, Edwards developed a stricter view of the covenant. In comparison with the reformed tradition and the puritan tradition of Westminster, he minimized the instrumental function that the covenant has, because he interpreted it as a marriage between Christ and his believers. The emphasis on the indwelling of the Spirit in the covenanted believers caused him to reject the preaching of law to believers. Ultimately he also rejected the Half-Way Covenant.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Jonathan Edwards
EditorsJ. Sieverman , D Sweeney
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780191815799
ISBN (Print)9780198754060
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Oxford University Press 2021.


  • Covenant of grace
  • Covenant of redemption
  • Half-way covenant
  • Indwelling of the spirit
  • Marriage covenant
  • National covenant


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