Richard Hooker and Reformed Theology: A Study of Reason, Will, and Grace

Richard Hooker and Reformed Theology: A Study of Reason, Will, and Grace

Richard Hooker and Reformed Theology: A Study of Reason, Will, and Grace

Richard Hooker and Reformed Theology: A Study of Reason, Will, and Grace

Synopsis

Richard Hooker (1554-1600) has traditionally been seen as the first systematic defender of an Anglican via media between Rome and Geneva. Revisionists have argued recently, however, that Hooker was in fact a thoroughly Reformed theologian. Dr Voak takes issue with this interpretation, arguingthat Hooker over time became highly critical of numerous Reformed positions. Beginning with philosophical principles underlying Hooker's theology (e.g. free will, resistibility of grace), the book then considers issues such as original sin, justification and sanctification, merit and the religiousauthority of scripture, reason, and tradition. Finally, Hooker's late manuscripts are examined, in which he defends himself from the charge of heresy.

Excerpt

Any discussion of religion in late sixteenth-century England requires some description of the opposing groups within the Church at that time. This task has been complicated by the fact that the traditional binary pairing of 'Anglican' and 'puritan' is now generally considered unsatisfactory, since 'Anglican' is, in this context, an anachronism that carries with it many connotations inapplicable to the then Reformed consensus in the English Church. 'Puritan' is itself not an entirely satisfactory term, but most historians have been reluctant to dispense with it entirely; although it was a term of abuse, it was at least current in the period. a study of Hooker's theology is not, however, the place for a detailed discussion of such terminological controversies. the important point is that the reader know how religious terms are being used, not that that use be here defended in detail. Peter Lake has examined these issues in depth, and has provided both a careful definition of the term 'puritan', and the suggestion that 'conformist' be used as an accompanying term for those on the right of the English Church in this period. His definitions, taken from his book Anglicans and Puritans?, are adopted throughout the length of this study, as is his useful definition of the term 'presbyterian':

In what follows 'presbyterian' will be used to refer to those men who can be shown to have espoused or defended the presbyterian platform of church government. the term 'puritan' is used to refer to a broader span of opinion, encompassing those advanced protestants who regarded themselves as 'the godly', a minority of genuinely true believers in an otherwise lukewarm or corrupt mass. It is therefore used as a term of degree, or relative religious zeal rather than as a clear-cut party label. Thus, while all presbyterians were puritans, not all puritans were presbyterians and the usage adopted here is designed to reflect that. the term 'conformist' is used to refer not to all those who can in some sense be said to have conformed to the rites and ceremonies of the English church, but only to those men who chose to make a polemical fuss about the issues of church government and ceremonial conformity and who

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