Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2001


Business, Accounting, and Economics Department


theology, Cornelis Graafland, doctrines, William Ames, Johannes Cocceius


In this essay we first offer some general comments about Cornelis Graafland's work, leading up to and including his gloss on the covenant/predestinarian thought of key representatives of the Puritan tradition. Then comes a brief exposition of the views of John Calvin and William Ames on the relationship of these two heads of doctrine, followed by a more detailed examination of the unique theology of Johannes Cocceius. We assess the earlier (1957) groundbreaking work of Charles S. McCoy and the more contemporary (1988, 1997) scholarly investigation of Willem Jan van Asselt in order to determine whether these scholars perceive the predestination/covenant dialectic to create theological polarity in Johannes Cocceius's development of covenant doctrine. How does Cocceius himself deal with the decree in his development of covenant doctrine? If any opposition between these two loci is discovered, is there a particular way in which Cocceius resolves this tension? Following this, William Ames's unique fusion of decretal and covenantal theology is closely examined, a simple yet marvelous concurrence of doctrines that aptly denies any legiti­macy to those strong voices advocating doctrinal polarity or single dogma theory on the basis of doctrinal antipathy. Further, William Ames, teacher of Johannes Cocceius at the theological academy at Franeker, is shown to be the clear forerunner of his student's much more fanciful doctrine of covenant. Although the seminal idea of covenant thought had currency prior to the post-Reformation epoch generally and the Nadere Reformatie period in par­ticular, we have chosen to examine the contributions of William Ames and Johannes Cocceius because these two individuals, more than any other theolo­gians in the history of the development of Reformed orthodoxy, have been responsible for the construction of the early architecture of what we now des­ignate the federal theology. Any study of the development of covenant theology and Reformed orthodoxy that fails to consider the substantial contributions of these two theologians must come up short, finally. An adjudication of the thesis promoted by Cornelis Graafland is provided in the closing section.

Source Publication Title

Westminster Theological Journal


Westminster Theological Seminary





First Page