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The Shape of Reformed Orthodoxy in the Seventeenth Century: The Soteriological Debate between George Kendall and Richard Baxter

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Chapter Summary

This chapter surveys the debate between George Kendall and Richard Baxter that mirrors the threefold topical arrangement of their exchange, which is first set by Kendall and followed by Baxter: the eternality of immanent acts of God, the conditionality of the covenant of grace, and the instrumentality of faith. Baxter is in fact attempting to guard against a synergistic doctrine of justification, which for seventeenth-century Calvinists is considered a hallmark of Arminian heterodoxy. Baxter's theology is simply not identical with either the "high" Calvinism of a George Kendall or the Arminianism of a John Goodwin. Figures such as Kendall do not, however, have an absolute monopoly on Reformed confessional orthodoxy, which can accommodate some variety of theological perspectives. There remains a great deal of work to be done to understand both Baxter's soteriological views in particular as well as the broader shape of Reformed orthodoxy in this period.

Keywords: Arminian heterodoxy; George Kendall; reformed orthodoxy; Richard Baxter; seventeenth-century Calvinists; soteriological debate



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