The seventeenth century saw, however, a widespread English recoil from Calvinism, both supra- and infralapsarian, along the lines that Baro and Barrett marked out.  Though, in Elizabeth’s last years, it looked as if the Bezan Calvinism of Cambridge’s William Whitaker (died in 1595) and William Perkins (died in 1602), the only two British theologians of international reputation, was carrying all before it, men such as Lancelot Andrewes and John Overall, like Hooker before them, were already standing quietly apart, thinking it a provincial and un-catholic development, and their viewpoint made steady headway.  James I, though himself a Calvinist in soteriology, with a robustly Calvinist archbishop of Canterbury, George Abbot, favored “High Churchmen” who accepted his doctrine of the divine right of kings, and these tended to be Arminian in sympathy.  [William ] Laud, who became archbishop of Canterbury under Charles I, was one of them.  Led by Laud, and greatly disliking Puritans, Charles promoted many Arminians, and the net result was to set Anglican theology moving away from the world of Bezan scholasticism.  Interest in the Greek fathers, which blossomed at that time, confirmed the trend.  In the middle of the century, the Cambridge Platonists, who, interestingly, had personal links with the Dutch Arminians, began spreading their attractive combination of moralism and natural theology, and this became a fountainhead of later latitudinarianism.  Absolute personal predestination had come to be thought of as a distinctly Puritan assertion, and when, after 1660, the Restoration set the pendulum swinging against all that Puritanism had stood for, Calvinism had the status only of an oddity maintained by non-conformists.  Anglican theologians, with few exceptions, were Arminian in type as, indeed, they still are.

From: “Arminianisms” by J. I. Packer, in The Collected Shorter Writings of J. I. Packer: Volume 4: Honoring the People of God by J. I. Packer (Carlisle: Paternoster Press, 1999), pp. 288-289.  This article was originally published in 1985.

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