Anko Scholtens: Lay Leader of Reformational Movement (3)

I’ve been using this forum to introduce my grandfather’s uncle, Anko Scholtens who, though a layman, was somewhat influential in the development of covenant theology in the Netherlands. His most important contribution is probably a booklet he wrote (which I recently acquired) entitled, Verbond and Kenmerken Prediking, which was published in 1936. In the coming weeks I’ll be translating and reproducing this booklet on my blog with the goal of eventually publishing a complete English translation of this important historical document. Here’s the first section . . .

In all the differences of opinion which have become apparent in our churches lately there appears to be one thing with which people are still inclined to agree—namely, the desirability of so-called covenant-preaching. This unity, however, is only apparent because whenever people are asked what is meant by this we encounter quite diverse opinions. Clearly there's little agreement about what this notion, in fact, entails.

Warnings are often expressed against one-sided covenant-preaching and against covenant-methodism in which it's clarified that textual covenant preaching is really what's desired. This one-sided covenant-preaching appears to be only a caricature of covenant-preaching and not something actually proclaimed from any pulpit in our churches. Regarding covenant-methodism, about which people warn, I have yet to hear a reasonable definition, while the character of textual covenant preaching, which people crave, is not clearly demarcated. These popular terms in use among us often obstruct the clarity of expositions and viewpoints.

Is this notion of covenant-preaching in fact so obscure? Not in my opinion. And I want to try in this article to say in simple terms how I see covenant preaching, especially in connection with so-called discriminatory (Kenmerken) preaching . Regarding this, I understand the impulse to seek personal assurance of salvation through the investigation of certain marks (kenmerken) of grace by means of which people can discern whether faith is really true.

Covenant-preaching is about the reality that God has established covenant-loyalty, his marriage-covenant, with his bride-church (see, e.g., Ezekiel 16:20-21), such that the children of believing parents are God's children, which God signifies and seals to them by baptism. God therefore says to his bride-church in her entirety, to us and our children: "You are mine."

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