Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Richard Hooker: A Companion to His Life and Work

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Richard Hooker: A Companion to His Life and Work

Article excerpt

Richard Hooker: A Companion to His Life and Work. By W. Bradford Litdejohn. (Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books, 2015, Pp. vii, 205. $25.00, paper.)

Since Richard Hooker continues to be labeled the "father of Anglicanism," Brad Littlejohn's book is a must read for those who call themselves Anglican or Episcopal. But the book does more than provide Anglicans and Episcopalians with a better understanding of where they have come from. Littlejohn's more important goal is to demonstrate that Hooker, writing mainly in the 1590s, is relevant for twenty-first century evangelical Christians, as well as for others. Indeed, the final chapter is titled "Richard Hooker: Contemporary" and suggests that Hooker can speak to the church through his flexibility, his approach to reading scripture, his ability to discriminate between theological and ecclesiastical essentials and nonessentials, and his understanding of how one's identity is rooted in theological and ecclesiastical history which is important to know and understand.

Richard Hooker: A Companion is one of many Cascade Books (an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers) that combine academic rigor with broad appeal and readability. Littlejohn's compact volume on Hooker fulfills Cascade's goal of introducing nonspecialists to major authors, themes, and movements which reflect a Reformed emphasis within the Christian theological tradition. Hooker, an Elizabethan apologist, compiled a significant tome of eight books titled Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (159497). And Litdejohn does an excellent job at lucidly (and briefly) explaining the central (and often complex) themes as Hooker responded to puritan challenges to the Elizabethan Church.

Littlejohn's prose is lively, the language informal, the work well-organized. Despite the author's description of his effort as a "quick flyover approach," the book is a scholarly introduction to the work and times of Richard Hooker. For Littlejohn, and for many other scholars who have written on Hooker over the past forty years, this apologist is a major theological and ecclesiastical figure of the English Reformation. He is best known for his criticism of puritan or "precisionist" strict biblicism and a presbyterian church order, and for his praise of Elizabethan ecclesiology and worship, and of the virtues of the Book of Common Prayer. …

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