Richard Baxter spent time in prison as a Nonconformist after his service with Cromwell’s army; he was both a leading light of the Puritan faith and someone who wasn’t easily pigeonholed, a Presbyterian who did not want to separate from the Church of England. That dream ended when Charles II tried to make him a bishop, because Baxter didn’t believe in episcopal governance. He thought the presbyterate should hold the apostolic authority collectively. At the same time, his theology of justification and sanctification included a righteousness of works, which is not the strict Protestant position. He didn’t fit in anywhere in the either/or dualities of the time. Persecuted increasingly by both sides, he suffered greatly yet did some of his finest writing; long known as a convincing preacher, he was also an effective minister over a range of pastoral duties. His most famous book, The Reformed Pastor, distilled what he learned over 20 years at St. Mary & All Saints’, Kidderminster.

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