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Journal > Volumes > 40 (2009) / 2 (Summer)
The Strange Silence of Prolocutor Twisse: Predestination and Politics in the Westminster Assembly’s Debate over Justification
Chad Van Dixhoorn
Wolfson College, Cambridge

In the late summer of 1643 William Twisse, the most prominent predestinarian in the British Isles, fell silent as he presided over one of the Westminster Assembly’s most significant debates. The event prompted contemporaries to comment on his appointment to the leadership of the assembly and possible motivations for his inactivity. In this study it serves as a pointer to readings of religious discourse in post- Reformation Britain where analyses of early modern theological conversations are commonly framed in terms of the divine decrees or reduced to political dynamics. The assembly’s debate suggests that the use of predestination by historians as an explanatory device for understanding theological exchanges is overextended and that historical reconstructions of theology can benefit by moving beyond generalizations about Calvinist conflict (or consensus) based on predestination and election.

Pages: 395 - 418