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Jonathan Edwards and the Church$
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Rhys S. Bezzant

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199890309

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199890309.001.0001

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The Dynamic Church Shaping Its Polity

The Dynamic Church Shaping Its Polity

5.3 The Dynamic Church Shaping Its Polity
Jonathan Edwards and the Church

Rhys S. Bezzant

Oxford University Press

This section argues that Edwards moves away from traditional congregational polity in the course of his ministry to espouse a Presbyterian form of church government in which the clergy has associational authority as an agent outside the congregation, though elected from within. This was consonant with increasing centralization and order more generally in imperial society, to which the growth of the Church of England in New England also attests. Such a shift in Edwards’s ecclesiology may give new reasons for understanding Edwards’s dismissal from Northampton, not least because it reflects distance from received Puritan notions of primordial purity and from covenantal toward contractual understandings of Gospel unity.

Keywords:   Polity, Presbyterianism, Elders, Congregationalism, Episcopacy, Deacons, Primitivism, Leadership, Membership

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