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The Grand Debate: The Reasons Presented by the Dissenting Brethren against Certain Propositions concerning Presbyterian Government (Coldwell)

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Naphtali Press & Reformation Heritage Books
Hardcover with Dust Jacket


This monumental scholarly work contains primary documents that address one of the most controversial issues amongst the Westminster Assembly of Divines: church government. Discontented with the majority’s Presbyterian views, the Congregationalist members produced dissenting papers to which the Assembly replied. Thoroughly edited by Chris Coldwell, these polemical papers provide Presbyterians and Congregationalists alike with the strongest arguments and chief concerns in discerning a Reformed ecclesiology. Includes an appendix that presents an updated version of research into the theological resources available at the Westminster Assembly.




The Propositions as Voted in the Assembly of Divines 

  • Presbyterian Government: Jerusalem
  • Presbyterian Government: Ephesus
  • Subordination of Synods
  • Ordination
  • Committee for Accomidation

Appendix: Westminster Abbey Library 




“There is the need for Reformed and Presbyterian works that speak to the question not only of salvation but also to the church and its organization. . . One might wonder why dusty old historical artifacts such as these merit our attention. They do because the church needs to be Reformed in all its doctrine, including ecclesiology. This beautifully produced and well-bound volume should garner interest and pay rich dividends to those who study it. . . This is the perfect volume for any who would see the biblical roots of Presbyterianism. Examine the Westminster Assembly’s Grand Debate carefully, and you’ll learn more than you’ve ever known about why we are Presbyterians and not Independents.” 

—Alan Strange, professor of church history, registrar, and theological librarian, Mid-America Reformed Seminary, Dyer, Indiana 

“I commend it to the teachers and pastors of the church. For everyone who believes that God loves the church and gave her gifts, this book is well worth the read. . . If we believe that the gospel message is primarily communicated through the church, then her well-being in all respects is essential. One cannot be for preaching the gospel to the world and care nothing for the church and her decency and order. The Grand Debate displays the concerns of Congregationalists and Presbyterians as they were debated during the Westminster Assembly. The twenty-first-century reader will learn not only history here but ecclesiology that touches matters of the soul. This book will force patient and discerning readers to examine their hearts and their love for the brethren, even those with whom they may disagree.” 

—C. N. Willborn, adjunct professor of historical theology, Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary 

“Presbyterians and Congregationalists should especially appreciate the publication of these papers, as they shed much light on the concerns (e.g., Christian liberty and the limits of ecclesiastical authority) that animated both movements in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This first edition of The Grand Debate since 1648 of those papers circulated at the Assembly, with its excellent introduction by Rowland Ward, is much to be welcomed by all who would know the background of the language adopted by the Assembly and who wish to take a peek through this window into the working of the Westminster divines.” 

—R. Scott Clark, professor of church history and historical theology, Westminster Seminary California

About the Editor

Beginning in 1987 through Naphtali Press, Chris Coldwell has published high-quality editions of Puritan, Presbyterian, and Reformed literature in partnership with Reformation Heritage Books. He is also the general editor of The Confessional Presbyterian journal (2005– ).