The heavenly pattern of the Church: Trinitarian and covenantal patterns in Richard Baxter’s association ecclesiology

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Abstract

The ecclesiology of Richard Baxter (1615–91) has long been a matter of dispute. In particular, his role in the Restoration debates over the settlement of the Church of England from 1660–2 and as a leader of the Nonconformist party thereafter has been a source of considerable confusion. In this article it is argued that from at least the 1650s onwards Baxter was motivated by an ‘Association ecclesiology’ – a desire to comprehend as many confessions as possible around the fundamentals of the Gospel – which displays marked affinities to Archbishop James Ussher’s system of reduced episcopacy. In this the twin themes of unity and discipline become rooted within a distinctive Trinitarian and covenantal framework, which unfolds in his mature ecclesiology into a moving vision of the universal Church reunited in bonds of love towards God and one another.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-75
JournalEcclesiology
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • covenant
  • reduced episcopacy
  • unity
  • discipline
  • James Ussher
  • Trinity
  • Richard Baxter

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