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"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Friday, 21 March 2014

British Calvinists: William Perkins (1558-1602)

William Perkins (1558-1602) was one of the Cambridge Calvinists. He was born in Warwickshire and graduated from Christ College, Cambridge in 1581 with a BA and an MA in 1584. In between these he was converted from idle and debauched undergraduate lifestyle. 

He was elected fellow of Christ's College. In 1585 he became a lecturer at Great St Andrew's Church, Cambridge.

Perkins has been described as a "moderate Puritan"; he was an ordained Anglican who was opposed to separatists and non-confomists as well as the Romanising of the Anglican church. He was an advocate of double predestination (God chose some to be saved and some to be condemned), limited atonement  and held to a supralapsarian position. 

R. T. Kendall in his Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649 (Oxford University Press) maintains that Perkins and William Ames took their theology from Theodore Beza rather than Calvin. The result, according to Kendall, is that the Puritan tradition became anticalvinistic and almost Arminian in many respects. It was Beza et al who developed the idea of limited atonement something, Kendall maintain, that Calvin never taught. This view was disputed by Paul Helm in Calvin Among the Calvinists (Banner of Truth, 1982). 

He was highly influential on William Ames and Paul Baynes. Baynes took up Perkins position of lecturer at St Andrew's on his death.

Perkins' Golden Chain showing the order of salvation (click to enlarge): 

Further Reading
Jonathan Long (1989) William Perkins: ‘Apostle of Practical Divinity’ Churchman 103 (1) 1989 online:

William Perkins

Joel Beeke and Randall J. Pederson (2007) Meet the Puritans. Reformation Heritage Books Section on Perkins:

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