Review Of "The Precisianist Strain: Disciplinary Religion And Antinomian Backlash In Puritanism To 1638" By T. D. Bozeman

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This exhaustively researched and carefully argued study examines the theological issues involved in antinomianism. Within a Calvinist framework of solifidism, Richard Greenham and William Ames created a Puritan pietism based on precisionism, concentrating on the self and its passage through life and advocating the use of spiritual exercises designed to purify behavior and provide religious assurance. Good works helped prepare a person for conversion and then provided evidence of sanctification. John Cotton preached this precisionism in England but in Boston became obsessed with what he saw as hypocrisy based on activities; so he stressed the work of Christ before and after conversion and the passivity of the believer. The true believer would experience a "seal," almost a second act of grace. Bozeman (Univ. of Iowa) enriches readers' understanding of the causes and role of John Cotton. He demonstrates that Cotton provided the intellectual framework for the antinomians and supported John Wheelright and Anne Hutchinson until, after her imprisonment, she became more radical in claiming personal revelation, mortalism, and no value to good works. This book is a history of theology, concentrating on ministers, and will be useful to specialists. It is too difficult for undergraduates unless they have a background in theology. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, and faculty.


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