Reformed Orthodoxy in Puritanism

Open access

Abstract

This paper explores the relationship between early modern English Puritanism and Reformed orthodoxy through a fresh examination of three ministers who have been described as Puritans: John Owen, Richard Baxter, and John Goodwin. By assessing their attitudes toward the Bible and specifically the doctrine of justification, this paper uncovers an evolving consensus of orthodox thought in the period. Their attitudes and approaches to doctrine and church tradition led to diverse interpretations and directions in the codification of their religion. Their theological interpretations reflect an inherent pattern of diversity within English Puritanism, especially in its attitudes towards the formation of orthodoxy. The relation of Reformed orthodoxy to Puritanism, then, is more complex than older modes of scholarship have allowed. For the Puritan mainstream, Reformed orthodoxy served as a theological compass and thermostat that tested ideas and was to govern both the direction and temperament of Reformed doctrine. For those outside the pale, such orthodoxy and their alleged disloyalty to the Bible and Reformed church tradition was vehemently contested.

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