Thomas Grantham’s Theology Of The Atonement And Justification -- By: J. Matthew Pinson
JBTM 8:1 (Spring 2011) p. 7
Thomas Grantham’s Theology Of The Atonement And Justification
Dr. Pinson is President of Free Will Baptist Bible College in Nashville, Tennessee.
Thomas Grantham, the foremost English General Baptist of the latter half of the seventeenth century, is the quintessential representative of Arminian Baptist theology, combining classical Arminian soteriology with a distinctly Baptist view of church and state.1 To say, however, that Grantham’s or his General Baptist contemporaries’ soteriology was Arminian requires much qualification. This is not because it differed exceedingly from Arminius’s own soteriology, but because of the shape Arminian theology took in the early part of the seventeenth century and in the centuries that followed. A study of Grantham’s theology of the atonement and justification serves not only to enable one to understand the nuances of that unique Arminian Baptist stream of theology, but also to help one grasp the diversity of Arminianism (or, as some have quipped, “Arminianisms”2) as a theological phenomenon.
To study Grantham’s views in the context of the whole of Arminian theology prior to him would be a daunting task.3 But to examine them in the context of a representative English
JBTM 8:1 (Spring 2011) p. 8
Arminian in the half-century that preceded Grantham would serve at least two purposes. It would not only uncover Grantham’s unique middle ground between orthodox Calvinism and what has come to be known as Arminianism since the time of Arminius, but it would also serve as a starting point for the discussion of doctrinal Arminianism in the seventeenth and succeeding centuries. Thus this study will comprise an exposition of Grantham’s doctrines of atonement and justification with reference to John Goodwin (d. 1665), the Arminian Puritan.4
Thomas Grantham was born in 1634 in Halton, near Spilsby, in eastern Lincolnshire, the son of a farmer and tailor.5 Grantham made his living, like his father, as a tailor and farmer. Grantham recalled that the “Lord wrought faith and repentance” in his heart when he was around fourteen or fifteen years of age, and at age nineteen (1653), he joined a small General Baptist church in Boston, Lincolnshire, and was baptized by immersion, as had been the practice of the General Baptists since approximately 1640. Three years after his baptism, in 1656, Grant...
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