The Westminster Assembly is widely known for its doctrinal standards and debates on church polity. But how often is the assembly noted for its extraordinary intervention in the pulpit ministry of the Church of England? In God’s Ambassadors, Chad Van Dixhoorn recounts the Puritan quest for a reformation in preachers and preaching and how the Westminster Assembly fit into that movement. He examines the assembly’s reform efforts, tracing debates and exploring key documents about preaching in a way that both highlights disagreements within the assembly’s ranks and showcases their collective plan for the church going forward. Moreover, Van Dixhoorn reveals the rationale behind the assembly’s writings and reforms, both in terms of biblical exegesis and practical theology. Unlike any other book, God’s Ambassadors draws attention to the lengths to which the Westminster Assembly would go in promoting godly preachers and improved preaching.
Table of Contents:
Preface and Acknowledgements
Note on Sources
Part I: Blind Guides and Scandalous Ministers
Part II: A Reforming Assembly
Part III: In Theory
Appendix A: Duties of a Minister [extract from Doc 19]
Appendix B: Directory for Ordination
Appendix C: Directory for Preaching
Chad Van Dixhoorn is Chancellor’s Professor of Historical Theology and Associate Professor of Church History at Reformed Theological Seminary, Washington D.C.
“The Westminster Assembly spent more of its time on ensuring Christocentric preaching than on scriptural prescriptions for church governance. This book gets to the heart of its deliberations, instructions, and regulation. All those interested in notions of godliness in the seventeenth century and all those wrestling with what it is now to break and share the Word of God will learn much from Van Dixhoorn’s exemplary study.” — John Morrill
“The Westminster Assembly is chiefly known today for its confession of faith and related documents. The members of the assembly, however, were just as preoccupied with the need to disseminate Reformed teaching throughout the church, and this could only be done by providing an adequate supply of worthy preachers. This had been the great failing of the English Reformation, and the Westminster divines were determined to put it right. Chad Van Dixhoorn brings their work to life by detailing what their concerns were and how they set about resolving the problems they encountered. This book fills an important gap in our knowledge which must be addressed if we are to understand what the Puritans were all about.” — Gerald Bray, research professor, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University