Shepherd writes attempting to avoid future misunderstanding about the nature of reprobation:
And please note carefully the way in which I’m stating this point because it could be very easily misunderstood. I want to block out the possibility of misunderstanding more specifically at a later point, but even here I want to warn you not to misunderstand what I am saying. Reprobation from within the context of the covenant–please underline with about four lines that expression–reprobation from within the context of the covenant, that is to say, reprobation from the point of view of the covenant, is not incontrovertible…but that does not mean that God’s election has fallen to the ground. God accomplishes his purposes.
Unfortunately, Shepherd and many who espouse some form of consistent covenantalism have not been understood. Much of the controversy surrounding Norman Shepherd would have been avoided if advocates got a hold of this important distinction.
Bavinck affirms Shepherd years earlier:
Accordingly, those who misrepresent God’s counsel in general, and the decree of reprobation in particular, as if it were merely the divine purpose respecting a person’s eternal destiny, are guilty of serious error. No one has the right to interpret the decree of reprobation as an iron decree, determining only the final destiny of those lost, who are then viewed as inexorably shut up in this eternal state of perdition no matter what penitent efforts may be put forth (Doctrine of God, 399).
This distinction appears to have not been taken into account consistently in the many documents listed by Hewitson in Trust and Obey.