Richard Hooker, Doctor of the Church-3rd November 2016

Richard Hooker, Doctor of the Church

Wenceslas Hollar – Richard Hooker (State 1) (author lived 1607-1677) Wenceslaus Hollar – Artwork from University of Toronto; Wenceslaus Hollar Digital Collection Scanned by University of Toronto High-resolution version extracted using custom tool by User: Dcoetzee

3 November 1600
On any list of great English theologians, the name of Richard Hooker would appear at or near the top. His masterpiece is The Laws Of Ecclesiastical Polity. Its philosophical base is Aristotelian, with a strong emphasis on natural law eternally planted by God in creation. On this foundation, all positive laws of Church and State are developed from Scriptural revelation, ancient tradition, reason, and experience.

The occasion of his writing was the demand of English Puritans for a reformation of Church government. Calvin had established in Geneva a system whereby each congregation was ruled by a commission comprising two thirds laymen elected annually by the congregation and one third clergy serving for life. The English Puritans (by arguments more curious than convincing) held that no church not so governed could claim to be Christian.

Hooker replies to this assertion, but in the process he raises and considers fundamental questions about the authority and legitimacy of government (religious and secular), about the nature of law, and about various kinds of law, including the laws of physics as well as the laws of England. In the course of his book he sets forth the Anglican view of the Church, and the Anglican approach to the discovery of religious truth (the so-called Via Media, or middle road), and explains how this differs from the position of the Puritans, on the one hand, and the adherents of the Pope, on the other. He is very heavy reading, but well worth it. (He says, on the first page of Chapter I: “Those unto whom we shall seem tedious are in no wise injuried by us, seeing that it lies in their own hands to spare themselves the labor they are unwilling to endure.” This translates into modern English as: “If you can’t take the intellectual heat, get out of the kitchen. If you can’t stand a book that makes you think, go read the funny papers.”)[link]

Source: Richard Hooker, Doctor of the Church

 


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