Elliot Vernon
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‘They agree not in opinion among themselves’
Two-kingdoms theory, ‘Erastianism’ and the Westminster assembly debate on church and state, c. 1641–48
in Church polity and politics in the British Atlantic world, c. 1635–66
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This chapter seeks to analyse the debates between presbyterian political theology and the Long Parliament in the mid-1640s. It sets the background of this debate in continental Reformed theology and argues that the clash between parliamentary ‘Erastianism’ and the presbyterian perspective of two-kingdom theory reveals some of the underlying contradictions within the parliamentarian project of godly rule. The slightly different version of two-kingdom theory held by the congregationalists is also explored. The chapter shows how the Long Parliament grasped its way to an ‘Erastian’ solution by reference to differing ideas of the church–state relationship found within the Reformed tradition. In conclusion, the chapter looks at how the presbyterian clergy conceded to Parliament and how interregnum governments retreated from a fully Erastian position.

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