Skip to main content

Mere Orthodoxy exists to create media for Christian renewal. Support this mission today.

Know Your Historical Evangelicals: Thomas Goodwin

February 12th, 2005 | 2 min read

By Shea Ramquist

Name: Thomas Goodwin

Born: Oct. 5, 1600, Rollesby, Norfolk, England
Died: Feb. 23, 1680, London?

Bio: Thomas Goodwin was an English Puritan clergyman whose theological insight, pastoral wisdom, and expressive preaching have made him an outstanding example of
Puritan belief and principle. For those same merits, Goodwin was chosen by Oliver Cromwell to be his chaplain. While Cromwell’s Commonwealth endured, Goodwin also capably served as the president of Magadalen College in Oxford.

Goodwin is notable also as an active Congregationalist, and was present to help draft the Savoy Declaration of 1658, a confession of faith for Congregationalism. He also played a vocal role in the Westminster Assembly from which the famous Westminster Confession was produced.

The following was engraved upon Goodwin’s tombstone: 'Here lies the body of Thomas Goodwin. He had a large acquaintance with ancient, and above all, with Ecclesiastical History. He was exceeded by no one in the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures… None ever entered deeper into the mysteries of the Gospel, or more clearly unfolded them for the benefit of others ... In knowledge, wisdom and eloquence he was a truly Christian pastor.

Impact on Evangelicalism: Goodwin predates the Evangelical movement as traditionally conceived. However, he serves as an excellent representative figure for the heritage of Calvinism and Puritanism from which the Evangelicalism was formed. (Goodwin, by the way, was a five-point Calvinist.) Goodwin’s written works also had a great impact on major evangelical thinkers, such as John Wesley.

Recommended Work: ”The Glory of the Gospel”

Goodwin succeeds at portraying the great power and majesty of the Gospel in this famous sermon. The discussion is notably based on the superiority of the revelation of God’s character in His redemptive act of salvation compared to what He had revealed of Himself in all that had come before, including the creation of the universe. Before Christ, mankind’s clearest vision of God had been limited to His “glorious back-parts” (ala Moses); through Jesus life, death, and resurrection, we now are able to see God face to face.

Writings online:
Thomas Goodwin: The Readable Puritan
Index to Thomas Goodwin

Previous Historical Evangelicals:
Intro