Monday, September 04, 2006

William Goode vs. Baptismal Regeneration

   Drug out Charismatic Confusion [1834] for some research for our children's Bible class at school, and ran across the following:
   Goode's sun rose to its public splendour in the Gorham Case of 1847. Briefly, this concerned George Cornelius Gorham (1787-1857), vicar of Penwith in Cornwall, whom his bishop, Henry Phillpotts of Exeter (1778-1869), refused to appoint to the vicarage of Brampford Speke in 1847, on the basis of Gorham's alleged unsoundness on the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. Phillpotts was an old-fashioned High Anglican with slight sympathies for the Oxford Movement, and he believed in the intrinsic regenerative efficacy of baptism. Gorham, a Calvinistic Evangelical and student of the Reformers, denied this understanding of baptism; he contended that the regenerating work of the Spiritcould not be tied down to the exact moment of baptism, although the Spirit was free to work at that point in baptised infants if He so chose. The controversy aroused immense nationwide interest. Victory finally went to Gorham when the judicial committee of the Privy Council decided in his favour in 1850.
   Some 50 works of literary warfare were published on the Gorham Case. The most devastating defence of Gorham and his baptismal doctrine issued from Gode's pen - his The Doctrine of the Church of England as to the Effects of Baptism in the case of Infants, published in 1849. Goode's mastery of the writings and theology of the fathers of the Reformed English Church proved largely unanswerable by Phillpotts and his allies, even if it must be granted that most Anglican Evangelicals in those days had somewhat higher views of baptism than their modern Zwinglian descendents.
   Itmay prove interesting - if not profitable - to review the arguments in the Gorham Case. That is, in the light of the present Federal Vision (AAPC, Monroe 4, Neonomist, Monocovenantalism, etc.) controversy.

(Also, another Goode book worthy of republication.)

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