Interview #67 – Fred Malone & Sam Waldron – Covenant Theology [Podcast]

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How you define a covenant and how you determine the structure of a covenant has all to do… with your view of Justification.

On episode 67 of our interview podcast, we hand over the mic to Sam Waldron [who we first got to know on episode 14] to interview Fred Malone about an upcoming Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary class on Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology.

We get to know Fred Malone then we get into questions such as:

  • Important of the Law & Gospel structure and its relation to Covenant Theology?
  • What is the relation between Believer’s baptism and a proper covenant theology?
  • Should Reformed Baptist have a distinct covenant theology–how distinct?
  • What challenges does Dispensationalism present for in developing a proper covenant theology?
  • What are some of the major questions being debated among Baptists today about covenant theology?
  • What are some of the major questions being debated among Reformed theologians with regard to covenant theology?
  • + more

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11 Replies to “Interview #67 – Fred Malone & Sam Waldron – Covenant Theology [Podcast]”

  1. Sounds like it will be a good course. I’m very thankful for their firm commitment to the law gospel contrast found in the covenant of works and the covenant of works. Dr. Waldrons book was very good in that regard. Thanks for the podcast

  2. Good questions, Jason! Brother Malone was key to me moving from Dispensationalism to Covenant Theology when I was struggling through these issues a number of years ago. Founders.org used to have a preaching series of his on the covenants that was very good!

  3. I appreciate the ministries of Waldron and Malone. However, I must say that one aspect of the interview perplexed me. If I recall correctly, Waldron and Malone said (in almost these words) that it is a sign of deviancy or error if someone sees a distinction in how the Lutheran & Reformed see Law/Gospel issues or Justification issues.

    This perplexes me.

    1. If my Lutheran friends are correct: Not even Lutherans agree on Law/Gospel issues among themselves. For instance: Ask a bunch of Lutherans, is Gerhard Forde an antinomian?.. and see the answers you get! Even conservative Lutherans vary a lot about the third use of the law. Doesn’t that make it absurd to think that there are no differences between the Reformed and the Lutherans on it?

    2. It seems to be a mainstay of large portions of historic Reformed thinkers to see such a distinction in these areas between Reformed/Lutheran approaches. Yes, they both agree with justification by faith alone.. but there are pretty important differences in how to view faith, the place of justification, and also the nature of the law.

    For instance, Warfield: “[Justification by Faith Alone] is as central to the Reformed as to the Lutheran system. Nay, it is only in the Reformed system that it retains the purity of its conception and resists the tendency to make it a doctrine of justification on account of; instead of by, faith….Lutheranism, sprung from the throes of a guilt-burdened soul seeking peace with God, finds peace in faith, and stops right there. It is so absorbed in rejoicing in the blessings which flow from faith that it refuses or neglects to inquire whence faith itself flows. It thus loses itself in a sort of divine euthumia, and
    knows, and will know nothing beyond the peace of the justified soul. Calvinism asks with the same eagerness as Lutheranism the great question, ‘What shall I do to be saved?’ and answers it precisely as Lutheranism answers it. But it cannot stop there. The deeper question presses upon it, ‘Whence this faith by which I am justified?’”

    Geerhardus Vos: “Whereas the Lutheran tends to view faith one-sidedly – only in its
    connection with justification – for the Reformed Christian it is saving faith in all the magnitude of the word. According to the Lutheran, the Holy Spirit first generates faith in the sinner who temporarily still remains outside of union with Christ; then justification follows faith and only then, in turn does the mystical union with the Mediator take
    place. Everything depends on this justification, which is losable, so that the believer only gets to see a little of the glory of grace and lives for the day, so to speak. The covenant outlook is the reverse. One is first united to Christ, the Mediator of the covenant, by a mystical union, which finds its conscious recognition in faith.”

    The OPC Q&A: “The Reformed, while affirming fully this purpose of the law, also teach other uses of the law. For instance, the Law is a guide even for the unbeliever. Luther seems to dismiss this use of the law. He also seems to believe that since the Christian is free from the law for his justification, somehow he is also free from the law for his
    sanctification.

    Calvin believed that the Law was a way in which God administers his common grace, using the law to suppress wickedness even among pagan peoples, and also promoting righteousness and social orderliness. And for Calvin the third use of the law is the “principal use, which pertains more closely to the proper purpose of the law [and] finds its place among believers in whose ‘hearts the ‘Spirit of God already lives
    and reigns” (Calvin’s Institutes, II. vii. 12). This is in keeping with the Psalmist’s statements, “I find my delight in your commandments, which I love” (Ps. 119:47, English Standard Version) and “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Ps. 119:97, ESV), and with the Apostle Paul’s statement, “I delight in the law of
    God, in my inner being” (Rom. 7:22, ESV).

    So, to summarize this point, for Luther the covenant God make with man seems to be completely one way. God makes covenant with man to save him and that’s it. The covenant has no stipulations for man, whereas in Calvin’s view of the covenant, it is a two-way street. Yes, God sovereignly administers his covenant to his people by grace alone, but every covenant has obligations. Every covenant has, in other words, Law
    and Gospel. So the Reformed tend not to separate Law and Gospel as dramatically as do the Lutherans.”

    3. I don’t really understand how one can read Owen on the threatenings of the law. Or Witsius. Or Samuel Rutherford. Or John Knox. And then think a Lutheran (or Luther) would agree with that. Just to name a couple…

    4. I know this could be see as anachronistic… but would Malone and Waldron seriously believe that Luther would sign on to the LBC and WCF say ““The aforementioned uses of the law are not contrary to the grace of the Gospel, but they sweetly comply with it, as the Spirit of Christ subdues and enables the will of man to do freely and cheerfully those things which the will of God, which is revealed in the law, requires to be done.”..? But if they can’t.. then how could they imply there are no differences between Luther and the Reformed on an approach to Law/Gospel?

    Anyways… Sorry for the long comment and thanks for giving me an ear :-)

    1. Just for a clarification: If all they are saying is that both Reformed and Lutheran/Luther held to some form of law/gospel distinction (with differences between them on some of the specifics)… and Lutherans/Luther and Reformed agreed on justification in abstract (but disagreed on its relation to other topics, had some differences in emphasis on it)… then I am in agreement with them. But they seemed to be saying far more than that and that’s the main area I am questioning. ie. I question whether it really historically plausible to maintain that we can’t see distinctions in how Luther/Lutherans and Reformed handle Law/Gospel or in how Reformed and Lutheran organize/prioritize justification.

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