Home > baptism, the church (ecclesiology) > Goodwin vs. Gillespie: An Old Testament Debate for Church Polity

Goodwin vs. Gillespie: An Old Testament Debate for Church Polity

There is an interesting read over at the Reformed Forum. Jonathan Brack recounts a debate that took place at the Westminster Assembly between congregationalists and presbyterians.

 for Goodwin, ecclesiastical and civil are one and the same in the Old Testament. To this, Lord Say added that on these grounds,

It ware much better to find out those places that established a ground for this ruling elder in the New Testament wher this constitution was.[14]

What Goodwin and Lord Say failed to recognize was that this was the exact point being debated. If one were to cut loose the Old Testament ground for elder rule, then one were to cut loose the very ground for Presbyterianism, not to mention baptism.

To this Mr. Vines pressed Goodwin and Lord Say on the exact same hermeneutical point made by Gillespie two days earlier,

For that we must not looke to the state of the Jewish church, is only a warrantableness for the analogy of the Old Testament & New, granted. The brother that spake last said before we must cut loose the argument of Jewish church; [for] but how shall we prove pedo-Baptism?

Richard Vines saw the inconsistency in hermeneutical method being deployed by the Congregationalists. If we were to cut loose the Old Testament ground for church polity, then what is to stop us from the Anabaptist tenet of cutting loose our progeny as well?

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  1. July 9, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Brilliant, this:

    If one were to cut loose the Old Testament ground for elder rule, then one were to cut loose the very ground for Presbyterianism, not to mention [paedo-]baptism.”

    🙂 !!!

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    • July 9, 2013 at 4:23 pm

      Tragically funny how many can go astray delving into the O.T. ‘Tis been a sourcebook for the mischievous.

      Of course, Peter said that some had the same trouble with Paul, so it seems it’s a universal danger with sacred Writ.

      But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.

      But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

      {From Titus 3 & 1 Tim. 1}

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  2. July 10, 2013 at 4:18 am

    Congregationalism doesn’t preclude elder rule though…what am I missing?

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    • July 10, 2013 at 7:48 am

      I’m not certain what Goodwin and the other congregationalists’ particular view was. I was more interested in the argument over whether or not the Jewish nation was equivalent to the church or not. The congregationalists argued the nation of Israel was different from the church, so we can’t draw arguments from the one to the other

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      • July 11, 2013 at 7:21 am

        Haha It is funny the things we look for when we read stuff… I read this with the interest of ecclesiology. I do have a book that shows the debates during the Westminster Assembly, need to dive into this section more.

        Interestingly though that Goodwin was one of the Puritans at the Assembly which later would help pen the Savoy & Platform of Polity (whence we get lots of 1689 ecclesiology).

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