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Insular ChristianityAlternative models of the Church in Britain and Ireland, c.1570–c.1700$
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Robert Armstrong and Tadhg Ó hAnnracháin

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780719086984

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719086984.001.0001

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Politics and religion in the Westminster assembly and the ‘grand debate’

Politics and religion in the Westminster assembly and the ‘grand debate’

(p.129) Chapter 7 Politics and religion in the Westminster assembly and the ‘grand debate’
Insular Christianity

Chad Van Dixhoorn

Manchester University Press

From the unpublished manuscripts of the assembly it appears that the ‘grand debate’ in the assembly was not simply a contest of presbyterial government against congregational, where parliament was initially on the presbyterian side, only to drift toward congregationalism as the army grew in power. It had as much to do with competing claims of presbyterian discipline against the congregationalist, where the majority in parliament were on the congregational side, in part because of congregational compliance with Erastian ideals. Conflict with parliament also led to a real point of continuity between presbyterians and those parishioners whom the assembly thought would tolerate (or even embrace) presbyterian church government if only the assembly could secure an effective spiritual discipline in the church by the church. Assembly correspondence shows presbyterians wanting to keep potential separatists in their congregations and hopefully recovering the ones who had left, even while condemning the gathered churches in its public pronouncements, and encouraging parliament to enforce a policy of non-toleration towards separatist preachers. It is this policy which failed.

Keywords:   Westminster Assembly, Presbyterial government, Congregationalist, Church discipline, Separatists

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