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Chapter 7 - The Westminster Reformation and the Parliamentarian Church of England

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 October 2021

Anthony Milton
Affiliation:
University of Sheffield
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Summary

Chapter 7 traces the emergence of the Reformation implemented by the parliamentarian side in the Civil War. After noting the ambiguous status of the Westminster Assembly, the chapter analyses the drawing up of the Westminster Confession, the Directory for Public Worship, the Catechisms and the form of Presbyterian church government. In each case, it is argued that these represented more sweeping changes than the limited reforms originally contemplated by Parliament. But in each case, it is also demonstrated that the new formularies reflected many pre-war ideas and forms, while the orthodoxy of the Thirty-nine Articles and the Book of Common Prayer was still partly maintained. The reform of church government reflected the continuing determination of Parliament to retain ecclesiastical control. The second half of the chapter describes how these reforms were presented and understood, noting how shared discourses of anti-Laudianism, the covenant, fellowship with the foreign Reformed churches, providentialism, and biblicism both justified the changes but also created a language that could be turned against fellow parliamentarians. It is concluded that, for all the radical changes being contemplated and (partly) implemented, the Westminster Reformation encompassed a mixture of change and continuity with the pre-war church.

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Chapter
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England's Second Reformation
The Battle for the Church of England 1625–1662
, pp. 217 - 260
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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