Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Thinking of the Laity in Late Tudor England

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Thinking of the Laity in Late Tudor England

Article excerpt

Thinking of the Laity in Late Tudor England. By Peter Iver Kaufman. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2004. xi + 175 pp. $40.00 (cloth); $20.00 (paper).

Thinking of the Laity seeks to examine two features of life in Tudor England that have often been considered separate areas-the theological motivation for reform, and its sociological counterpart. Peter Kaufman explores the hidden outlooks and attitudes of the "giddy common people," and also the "middlers" who undertook the practical management of parish life as Tudor England moved alternately through the Henrician reforms to Edward, the Marian counter-reforms, and the re-reformation under Elizabeth. Kaufman s thesis is predicated on the idea that regardless of the powerful convictions and certainties of faith held by "preaching-obsessed" (p. 90) Puritan clergy, the lower strata of Tudor society remained trapped by the excesses of such preaching in William Faulke's (1574) "relickes of syn," to which even the elect were evidently prone. The author's purpose is to "repossess part of that life and to discover what laymen . . . thought important and necessary" (p. 90).

The author concludes that even preeminent Puritans such as Thomas Cartwright conceded that broad participation in church governance was not something to which the purity of reform could be trusted because of lay gullibility. Jewel argued in much the same way but saw lay literacy as the proper response. Two centuries later, Wesley would come to view lay education as the necessary strategy to sustain revival. In an interesting note respecting lay participation, Kaufman (p. 41) observes Richard Hooker casting a skeptical eye upon Calvin's Genevan democracy wherein he exploited lay respect in order to perpetuate "secret dependency and awe."

Be that as it may, Kaufman has reminded us that religious reform takes place alongside a sociology of reform, political agendas notwithstanding. Elizabeth had, after all, a nation-state to run. The instability of Elizabeth's settlement was felt among the laity also and contributed to the uneven appropriation of reform where many commoners entertained the unexpressed hope for a return to the settled patterns of Catholicism. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.