It is a common view that the Westminster Assembly was dominated by Scots pursuing their nationalistic goals to the disadvantage of a desperate English Parliament. But in Covenanted Uniformity in Religion, Wayne R. Spear reassesses the Assembly from the standpoint of the Scottish commissioners and their influence in the drawing up of the Form of Church Government.
Spear begins by placing the Assembly in its historical setting and giving an overview of how it conducted its business. Then, following the order of the Form of Church Government, he traces each significant expression from its origin in a committee, through its debate and modification in the Assembly, to its final placement in the document. Finally, Spear evaluates the significance of this document by considering the responses it received in England and Scotland.Here we see how the Scots failed to achieve some of their most cherished goals in the Assembly debates, which demonstrates that the Assembly operated as a truly deliberative body.
This book gives us a more accurate picture of the Westminster Assembly as it debated the proper structure and function of the Christian church.
Table of Contents:
Part 1: The Westminster Assembly in its Historical Setting
1. The Historical Background of the Westminster Assembly
2. The Organization and Operation of the Assembly
3. The Scottish Commissioners and Their Work
Part 2: The Composition of the Westminster Assembly’s Form of Church Government
4. The Church and Its Officers
5. The Local Church
6. Governmental Assemblies
Complementing the primary source material in the Principal Documents of the Westminster Assembly series, the Assembly studies provides access to classic studies that have not been reprinted and to new studies, providing some of the best existing research on the Assembly and its members.
Wayne R. Spear is professor emeritus of systematic theology at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, Pa.
“Dr. Wayne Spear’s study of the discussion of church government at the Westminster Assembly has for decades remained hidden in the relative obscurity of scholarly libraries. It is a cause for rejoicing that it is now being made available to a wider public. Carefully researched and written with a gracious clarity, it is enormously helpful in walking us through the long and complex debates on church government in which the Westminster divines engaged. Dr. Spear brings out the role of the small group of unusually gifted teaching and ruling elders sent to the Assembly as commissioners from the Church of Scotland. The value of Covenanted Uniformity in Religion extends far beyond the world of academic study and discussion, where it will certainly be welcomed. It also has a special relevance and value to the large number of ministers and other leaders of churches who today are thinking for the first time, or rethinking, the significance of the structures of church life. Wayne Spear has given us a study of historical ecclesiology with considerable practical value for the contemporary church.” — Sinclair B. Ferguson, professor of systematic theology, Redeemer Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas