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Richard Hooker and Emergent Anglicanism

12 May 2017Essay Samples

Richard Hooker (1554-1600) was the leading theologian of the Anglican/Episcopal religion. He was educated at Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford. In 1581, Hooker was appointed as clergyman in the Church of England. Richard Hooker wrote a number of source book on issues relating to governance of Anglican Church and interpretation of Christian religious doctrines. His famous book is called Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. It was written in the 1580s and 90s.

It was Queen Elizabeth I who appointed Hooker as Rector of Church of England to tackle the influence of the Calvinists in 1585. Hooker remained engaged in dealing with Calvinist leader like Walter Travers and others and participated in religious dialogues and debates over a number of disputed issues. The Anglican Church was introduced and patronized by the British Royal family and consists of Churches of England and Ireland. The Episcopal Church is an independent branch of the Anglican Church in North America and Scotland. The Anglican Church was given the status of the national Church in the first half of 16th century by King Henry VII. The Church of England was dissociated from the Church of Rome and the influence of Pope. This has resulted mainly from the refusal of Pope to annul Henry VII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. “He thus reaffirmed the ancient right of the Christian prince, or monarch, to exercise supremacy over the affairs of the church within his domain”.

Hooker acquired a prominent position in the clergy of his time. “He forged an epistemology based on human reason and the historic affirmations the church. He preached a tolerant and inclusive church in which a wide variety of opinions were allowed so long as the Episcopal governance was respected and a public affirmation of Christ was maintained”.

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Despite of his prominent position in the Church he became more famous because of the books written on Laws of Anglican religion and Church and that fame is continued till date. His first book was Of the Lawes of Ecclesiasticall Politie that appeared in 8 volumes. The main intention of Hooker's work was to reveal the advantages of the Episcopal form of organization of the Church of England over the Presbyterian form used by its opponents. His work also recognized that natural laws are unchangeable but the laws designed and enforced by the state authorities are subject to change in case of need or necessity.

During his association with the Anglican Church Hooker was a great advocate of fundamental baptismal faith– 'one Lord, one faith, one baptism'. He pointed out that religious belief could not be legislated for....Elizabeth reassured her subjects that she would force no one's conscience [and]...forbade that 'any of our subjects should be molested by examination or inquisition, in any matter, either of faith, so long as they shall profess the Christian faith...as long as they shall in their outward conversation show themselves quiet and comfortable....”

Hooker explained and defended every aspect of Anglican worship and religious theory and practice in his books. Hooker is also famous as a literary figure. He is known as an early proponent of the Anglo-American system of constitutional law. His writings are considered as masterpieces in English language. Hooker advocated the idea of Church that should be an open, liberal, comprehensive body and a link between Roman Catholicism and the more extreme forms of Protestantism. The main purpose of Church according to Hooker should be to make maximum people worship God. He stressed the importance of community worship and reading of the Bible. He held the Sacrament of Holy Communion as the best way for the believer to participate with Christ in God's Incarnation.

Presently Hooker is important because his teachings are simple and contain an account of the problems of a modern man. He addresses the problems of a common man in a way that is understandable to them. His interpretation of religion is to the point and contains not complexity.

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