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#14931 - Tue May 25, 2004 3:10 PM What impact did Baxter have?  

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What impact did Baxter have on Puritan theology. Was it the impact positive or bad.

#14932 - Tue May 25, 2004 3:21 PM Re: What impact did Baxter have?  
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Johnnie_Burgess said:
What impact did Baxter have on Puritan theology. Was it the impact positive or bad.

First of all, [Linked Image] to The Highway Discussion Board.

Baxter's influence was mixed. His best contribution is found in his teachings on the Church which included his excellent book, The Reformed Pastor. You can read about Baxter's views on the Church here: The Church. But his views on the atonement and particularly in regard to the doctrine of Justification was very damaging. You can read about this issue by going here: Justification: Getting it Right.

In His Grace,

#14933 - Tue May 25, 2004 3:38 PM Re: What impact did Baxter have? [Re: Pilgrim]  

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What would be the most damaging part of what he taught?

#14934 - Tue May 25, 2004 4:50 PM Re: What impact did Baxter have?  
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Johnnie_Burgess said:
What would be the most damaging part of what he taught?

From the afore referenced article on Justification, Everson writes:

The other movement was called Neonomianism or Baxterianism, after the famous Puritan minister Richard Baxter (1615-1691), and did much harm amongst the English Nonconformists (Independents and Presbyterians) and the Scottish Presbyterians. Baxter’s views were greatly influenced by Hugo Grotius (1583-1645), the Dutch rationalistic theologian and politician and the mediating theology of Amyraldism, named after the celebrated theologian and professor of the French Protestant Academy of Saumour, Moise Amyraut (1596-1664). The position that Baxter took on justification differed substantially from that of the Reformers, the Westminster Confession, and the teaching of his fellow Puritans.

In his work Aphorismes of Justification (1655) he states that, ‘To affirm therefore that our Evangelical or new Covenant righteousness is in Christ and not in ourselves, or performed by Christ and not by ourselves, is such a piece of Antinomian doctrine that no man who knows the nature and difference of the Covenant can possibly entertain and which every Christian should abhor as insufferable’. In place of the objective righteousness of Christ’s obedience and blood Baxter substituted the subjective righteousness of a person’s repentance and faith. In other words, he was advocating like the Arminians the belief that it was faith in the sense of allegiance and commitment which justifies because it makes us ‘just performers of the conditions of the covenant of grace’. While believing in Christ’s death as penal and vicarious, it was not strictly substitutionary because Baxter did not believe in particular redemption, that is, he believed that Christ paid the penalty for the sins of everyone, not just for the sins of the elect. What we see in Baxter is, as Packer rightly judges, an early decline in the doctrine of justification and ‘of the Puritan insight into the nature of Christianity as a whole’.

Baxter’s revision of the Reformation teaching on justification became very popular, but this and the other rationalistic elements of his theology had disastrous results on the Christian Church and evangelical Christianity. In summary, Packer presents this devastating criticism of Baxter that he ‘sowed the seeds of moralism with regard to sin, Arianism with regard to Christ, legalism with regard to faith and salvation, and liberalism with regard to God’. It is a salutary reminder to us today of where one influential and dedicated minister’s ideas can lead.


I hope that is sufficent?

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#14935 - Tue May 25, 2004 4:58 PM Re: What impact did Baxter have? [Re: Pilgrim]  

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And because of that would he advise people not to read him? Or would you recommend anything else that he wrote besides the Reformed Pastor?

#14936 - Tue May 25, 2004 5:10 PM Re: What impact did Baxter have?  
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Johnnie_Burgess said:
And because of that would he advise people not to read him? Or would you recommend anything else that he wrote besides the Reformed Pastor?

Like many authors of Baxter's kind, there is both silver and dross to be found in their writings. Thus, knowing where such men err, one can generally glean the "good stuff" and avoid the rest. The following titles are quite good overall, The Saint’s Everlasting Rest (1650), The Reformed Pastor (1657), A Call to the Unconverted (1658), Reasons for the Christian Religion (1672), A Christian Directory (1673).

In His Grace,


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#14937 - Tue May 25, 2004 5:31 PM Re: What impact did Baxter have? [Re: Pilgrim]  
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I've heard that Baxter allowed the unsaved to partake of the Lord's Supper, but now I know that was just one of the problems of his theology. Thanks for the article!


True godliness is a sincere feeling which loves God as Father as much as it fears and reverences Him as Lord, embraces His righteousness, and dreads offending Him worse than death~ Calvin
#14938 - Wed May 26, 2004 9:13 AM Re: What impact did Baxter have? [Re: MarieP]  

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SemperReformanda said:
I've heard that Baxter allowed the unsaved to partake of the Lord's Supper, but now I know that was just one of the problems of his theology. Thanks for the article!


CNM: As do we all (from time to time). So, in what sense do you mean this? Is this not the routine risk in "open communion" congregations?


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