God's Irishmen: Theological Debates in Cromwellian Ireland

By Crawford Gribben | Go to book overview

3
Baptism

In May 1653, John Murcot, a well-connected graduate of Merton College, Oxford, traveled to Cork to preach at the request of local clergy.1 As a minister adhering to the Independent system of church order, he had already faced a series of challenges to the fulfillment of his clerical calling. In the 1640s, his studies had been interrupted when Royalist troops occupied his university; on his first journey to Dublin, in 1651, he had narrowly escaped capture at the hands of pirates in the Irish Sea.2 In Cork, Murcot’s ministry met with much success until he became entangled in a controversy that threatened to tear apart the local administration and, more widely, the Cromwellian reformation in Ireland.

The tension was focused in the relationship between two leading members of the Cromwellian elite. Dr. John Harding, a former Anglican clergyman who had retained his position as trustee and senior fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, responded to the polemics of one of the most reputed local churchmen, Dr. Edward Worth, by agitating local puritans on the proper subjects of Christian baptism.3 The impact of their debate, if we are to believe Murcot, proved more deadly than the effects of Royalist soldiers or Irish Sea pirates, for it grew so serious as to actually impede “the free progress and passage of the Gospel” in the city.4 As the debate spiraled out of control, Murcot and Harding plunged into discussion about the validity of syllogistic reasoning, while Worth sought to bring closure by publishing his Scripture evidence for baptizing the children of Covenanters.

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God's Irishmen: Theological Debates in Cromwellian Ireland
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - The Religious Dynamic of the Cromwellian Invasion 21
  • 2 - Conversion 55
  • 3 - Baptism 79
  • 4 - Church Government and Social Control 99
  • 5 - The Possibility of the Extraordinary 129
  • 6 - The Ecclesiastical Role of Women 151
  • Conclusion 175
  • Notes 183
  • Bibliography 237
  • Index 265
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