*The following represents Thesis #3 from our forthcoming book (March 2012): Evangelical Calvinism: Essays Resourcing the Continuing Reformation of the Church. Princeton Theological Monograph Series. Eds. Myk Habets and Robert Grow. Foreword by Alasdair Heron. Eugene, OR.: Pickwick Publications. There are a total of 15 Theses in this particular chapter (which happens to be chapter 15 in the book); and they have been co-written by Dr. Myk Habets and myself — some of them represent more of one us (as author) than the other, and some reflect more of a good blend between the both of us. To read more about how I am going to unfold some of these here at the blog, click here. The formatting in the post has all the markings required by the publisher for their type-setting process; I am too lazy to remove those for the blog. We look forward to your feedback! Here is Thesis #1 and Thesis #2 if you missed them.
There is one covenant of grace.
According to Evangelical Calvinism there is one covenant of grace, in contrast to two or more Divine covenants variously propounded by Classical Calvinism. Following Calvin, the Scots Confession of 1560 clearly teaches the unity of Scripture based around the idea of one covenant between God and humanity. It is when the covenant idea moved from being an organizing principle of Scripture to a theological principle of a system that what we now know as Federal Theology came into being. Within such a scholastic federal system the one covenant found within Scripture is now amplified to three covenants expounded in systematic fashion: the pactum salutis or “covenant of redemption,” the “covenant of works,” and the “covenant of grace.”
As I. John Hesselink stated in the Cambridge Companion to John Calvin: [EXT]Reformed theology has often been described as covenantal theology, and rightly so. However, it is Heinrich Bullinger, not Calvin, who first emphasized the role of the covenant. Nevertheless, Calvin gave classical form to the doctrine of one covenant of grace, in contrast to the later Reformed notion of the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. The covenant takes several forms…but the basic covenant promise is one: ‘I will be your God and you shall be my people’ – and the substance of all the covenants is Jesus Christ.[/EXT] Evangelical Calvinism thus rejects the theology of two or three separate covenants in Scripture because we believe that it artificially collapses the tension of God’s personal work in Christ into a schematized system that does not honor the radical and dynamic personalist disclosure of God’s redemptive history as mediated penultimately through Israel; and ultimately, in and through Christ. As a corollary, the emphasis on “one divine decree” flows from the fact that God is one; in accord with this, we should expect that God’s gracious activity towards us is consonant with who he is as the One and only living God (as per thesis 1).
For an introductory work on the Reformed understanding of the covenants see Horton, God of Promise: Introducing Covenant Theology.
 Hesselink, “Calvin’s Theology,” 85-86.
 See further in chapters 4 and 7 earlier in the volume.