Excellence in Scholarship and Learning


Heretics Within

Anthony Wotton, John Goodwin, and the Orthodox Divines

David Parnham gained a masters degree from the University of Sussex and a Ph.D. from the University of Melbourne, and is an independent scholar living in Australia.

When, early in the seventeenth century, the puritan pastor Anthony Wotton started to circulate manuscript statements of his theological revision, he was courting danger. Wotton was at once bold and subtle, a provocation to clerical brethren yet a skilled exponent of their technical disciplines. He addressed matters of fundamental importance: Christ’s redemptive suffering and the imputation of justifying righteousness, God’s saving grace and the moral law, faith and works, the gracious covenant and the legal covenant. Crucially important, for Wotton, was the interpretation of St. Paul’s epistles in relation to the justification of sinners.

This book examines Wotton’s revisionary writings and the bitter doctrinal controversy that they stimulated, and traces the Wottonian complexion of the theology of John Goodwin, who became, over the course of a period of thirty years, a prolific exponent of unorthodox notions — perhaps the most provocative of England’s learned “heretics” and “blasphemers” in the age of the Long Parliament and the Interregnum.

Contemporary responses to Wotton and Goodwin reveal how fixed were the core positions of orthodoxy and how worrisome were the challenges posed to them. Wotton and Goodwin trespassed — often in the name of John Calvin — upon some of the borderlands at which unusual uses of technical language became intolerable to the custodians of Calvinist truth. At these points, the contingency of theological language was uncomfortably exposed, and interlocutors discovered how rubbery were the signifiers of doctrine and how unstable the communication of “truth” could be.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-632-5
Hardback Price: £65.00 / $79.95
Release Date: July 2014
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-691-2
Paperback Price: £35.00 / $50.00
Release Date: February 2015
Page Extent / Format: 576 pp. / 246 x 171 mm
Illustrated: No



1. George Walker’s woes: controversies with Anthony Wotton and John Goodwin
Truth and heresy
The Wotton affair (i): controversy conducted and reported
The Wotton affair (ii): discovering truth and the problems of heresy making
The Walker–Goodwin controversy: passion versus heresy
Goodwin’s truth: newly and incrementally discovered
Full circle from 1614?

PART I: Anthony Wotton and the orthodox divines
2. Masters of law and grace:Wotton’s Protestant authorities
Protestant authorities (i): law and grace
Protestant authorities (ii): conjuring with imputation

3. “Flint and steele”:Wotton’s early controversies and the specter of Socinus
Soteriological matters, c. 1600–c. 1614
Faustus Socinus
Theology in court

4. Revision in print:Wotton’s De reconciliatione peccatoris
Law, grace, and the covenants
De reconciliatione peccatoris (i): the structure of justification
De reconciliatione peccatoris (ii): faith, merit, and imputation
De reconciliatione peccatoris (iii): doctrinal controversy

5.Wotton’s soteriological revision: trajectories of thought, c. 1611–1624
George Walker: eyes open, ears closed
De reconciliatione peccatoris: assessment
Soteriological trajectories: c. 1611–1624
Calvin, Perkins,Wotton

PART II: John Goodwin and the orthodox divines
6. Goodwin’s grace: free and full
After Wotton
Thomas Edwards’ monster
Antinomian Goodwin (i): “Satisfactory Letter”
Antinomian Goodwin (ii): Christ Lifted Up

7. Goodwin’s Imputatio Fidei: the demolition and rebuilding of justification
The skirmish of 1641
Imputatio Fidei (i): the unjumbling of law and faith
Imputatio Fidei (ii): justification by covenant
Imputatio Fidei (iii): Christ’s righteousness and the unraveling of soteriology
Imputatio Fidei (iv): the “master veyne” of Adam’s sin
Imputatio Fidei (v): justifying grace
“Gravell” and “wooll” for Goodwin: the big rebuttals of George Walker and Henry
Roborough 229
Rubbery speech 233

8.Truth’s quarrels: Goodwin at war, 1642–1650
Avowing Wotton: Richard Baxter and William Pynchon
Between Imputatio Fidei and Redemption Redeemed (i): justification
Between Imputatio Fidei and Redemption Redeemed (ii): grace ministered and disputed
Between Imputatio Fidei and Redemption Redeemed (iii): debates with dogmatists

9. Of things eternal and temporal: Goodwin’s Redemption Redeemed
The impediment of William Prynne’s Perpetuitie
Redemption Redeemed (i): openings—prefatory and metaphysical
Redemption Redeemed (ii): universal redemption
Redemption Redeemed (iii): “Eate, Drink, and be Merry”—the peril of perseverance
Redemption Redeemed (iv): fearful assurance?

10. Copernican Goodwin; or, walking with Arminians
Universal obligation
Battling brethren
Arminian Goodwin

11. Felling “Goliah”
The “Spirit of Errour” exorcized
“Machinations” rejoined: Goodwin engages his enemies

12. “Unbroken, yea, undaunted”
Back to justification
Obscure intricacies and idolatrous prelates
Concordance with God’s mind: retrospect


Heretics Within charts the theological controversies surrounding two London Puritan pastors, Anthony Wotton (c. 1561–1626) and John Goodwin (c. 1594–1665). The doctrine of justification links these two divines, who both opposed the imputationist consensus of the Reformed tradition. Parnham dubs Goodwin a ‘disciple’ of Wotton, continuing his master’s fight against legalism (an inherent danger of the imputation of forensic righteousness), and antinomianism (an immanent threat among the godly). By fighting on these fronts, Wotton and Goodwin take turns as public enemy number one for the heresy hunter George Walker. Parnham’s vivid prose captures the aggression that accompanied these debates as Walker fought off Wotton the ‘wolf’ and then Goodwin the ‘red dragon’. An introductory chapter attempts a brief placement of the book amidst the burgeoning secondary literature on Puritan theology in general and these two divines in particular. Part I then charts the discourse and debates of Wotton who sought to use reformed authorities (the Fathers and the Reformers), to modify the commitment of Reformed Orthodoxy to imputationism. Part II traces the contours of Goodwin’s early writings, especially the Treatise of Justification and argues for significant continuity with Wotton. Parnham then continues beyond justification to a wider-ranging discussion of Goodwin’s soteriological writings, including a long chapter on his magnum opus: Redemption Redeemed. These chapters give extensive description of both the theological texts and their controversial reception by other divines. The style of Heretics Within is like that of a cartographer moving through primary sources to trace the contours of theological argumentation. Parnham accurately maps these complex texts, which include intricate scholastic logic and extensive use of the trium linguarum in the marginalia. As such, Heretics Within makes an original contribution by exceeding the level of detail achieved to date, including that of Coffey’s intellectual biography of Goodwin. … Heretics Within is a thorough and accurate guide for those wanting a local read around two controversial Puritan voices on justification.
Andrew Ollerton, Journal of Ecclesiastical History

This is a lengthy and detailed work of historical theology which examines the significance and influence of two preacher-scholars, Anthony Wotton and John Goodwin, who were firmly ensconced and respected members of the puritan brotherhood in seventeenth-century England, who nonetheless found themselves identified as heretical – particularly for their revisionary work on the core Reformation doctrine of justification by faith … This study offers much of value, not only to the field of historical theology, but also for scholars of rhetoric, politics, literature, and sociology in early modern England. Parnham’s analysis of how Goodwin’s theology ‘eased pressure on the self-interrogatories of the weakly faithful’ by ‘insisting that the apostate may be reclaimed’ and thus expelling the need for the trope of the ‘hypocrite’ or ‘pretender’ in his evaluative lexicon, is a case in point.
Alison Searle, Journal of Religious History

Books can be ordered by phone or online

Ordering in the UK, Europe, Asia, Australasia, South America and Rest of the World

Gazelle Book Services
Direct sales tel.: +44 (0)1524 528500; email:
Web ordering:

Ordering in the United States and Canada
Independent Publishers Group (IPG)
Direct sales tel.: (800) 888-4741
Web ordering:

Bookseller Ordering
Information is provided under the Resources tab.

eBook Ordering
e-Book type availability can be sourced via by book title. Kindle availability is via Amazon .com and sites.