Scholars disputing the identity of the Church of England during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries describe it as either forming a Calvinist consensus or partaking of an Anglican middle way steeped in an ancient catholicity. Debating Perseverance argues that these conversations have given insufficient attention to the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints (the belief that a person who is saved can never be lost), which became one of the
most distinctive doctrines of the Reformed tradition. In this book, Jay Collier sheds light on the influence of the early church and the Reformed churches on the fledgling Church of England by surveying several debates on perseverance in which readings of Augustine were involved.
Collier begins with a reassessment of the Lambeth Articles (1595) and the heated Cambridge debates in which they were forged, demonstrating how readings of Augustine on perseverance influenced the final outcome of that document. He then investigates the failed attempt of the British delegation to the Synod of Dort to achieve solidarity with the international Reformed community on perseverance in a way that was also respectful of different readings of Augustine and the early church. The study
returns to English soil to evaluate the Synod of Dort's effect on the supposedly Arminian Richard Montagu and his strategy to distance the Church of England from the consensus of the Reformed churches. It finishes by surveying a Puritan debate that occurred following England's civil war in which
Augustine's teachings on perseverance continued to influence the way the English made policy and drafted confessional statements.
In surveying these debates, Collier uncovers competing readings and receptions of Augustine on perseverance within the English church-one favoring the perseverance of the saints and the other denying it. Debating Perseverance recognizes England's struggles with perseverance as emblematic of its troubled pursuit of a Reformed and ancient catholicity.
Jay T. Collier is Director of Publishing at Heritage Reformation Books and Research Fellow and Colloquium Director for Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research. His research interests include Reformation and post-Reformation studies, colonial North America, and the history of agrarianism.