Craig Seminar #3 | Joel Zartman

The third Craig Seminar of the 2020-21 Academic year will occur January 21st, 2021 at 4:30p-6:10p. Joel Zartman, a PhD candidate at Westminster Theological Seminary, will lecture on a lesser-known Westminster Divine, Peter Sterry (1613-1672). You can access the lecture on January 21st, 2021 at 4:25p by clicking here.

       The nonconformist Peter Sterry, who is often situated among the Cambridge Platonists of seventeenth-century England, exemplifies for historians of Christianity a significant broadening of the contours of reformed theology. He was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge beginning in 1619, ending his academic training with a fellowship in 1637. After his academic training he served as chaplain to Robert Greville, and having become increasingly prominent, Sterry became preacher to parliament in the 1640s. Additionally in the 1640s, Sterry was named to the Westminster Assembly, where he identified as an Independent dissenting Brethren. In the 1650s Sterry became an adviser to Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658). Sterry's theological positions are quite intriguing, for he incorporated neoplatonic mysticism into his puritan reformed theology. Sterry ventures far from mainstream reformed orthodoxy in posthumously published manuscripts where he constructs a “reformed” doctrine of apokatastasis (universalism). These manuscripts show a confluence of Neoplatonist and Origenian thought in which Sterry indicates “the Son of God will be brought forth in the whole creation,” and “each particular Creature” will return to the state “before they descended into this shadowy Image”, since God’s indefatigable and abounding love will pursue souls until “all return to their Original.” [1] Peter Sterry, in certain respects, is indeed a true outlier of reformed orthodoxy in the seventeenth century.

[1] Sterry, “That the State of Wicked men after this Life is mixt of evill, and good things,” MS. VI, Emmanuel College Library, Cambridge, pp.107-117.

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