18.2.11

Keep on listening says Richard Hooker

Richard Hooker! He helps us in a church without a tight confessional doctrinal package.

We have the 39 articles, the confessional creeds of four councils, a book of Common Prayer, or Common Worship, (which does not quite replace the prayer book) and a lectionary so that we might read the Scriptures together and in order. We also have the ordinal to govern the ceremonies pertaining to the offices.

Richard Hooker's was a generous orthodoxy in which he argued that those mistaken were unlikely to be damned. He insisted very much on something rather akin to indaba - a listening process, so that we might all learn from each other and together. He was less antagonistic and more optimistic. Scripture is infallible but it doesn't pertain to governing every detail of our life with prescription, we need reason to work out how our lives might be led according to the supernatural duties of scripture. We understand what is morally right by looking at human nature as God has created it. Hooker is less enthusiastic about tradition and holds fast to the supremacy of Scripture but he expects us to be thinking beings and rather like Tom Wright's five act play idea, asks that we work out how the church conducts itself based on what has been revealed to us by God with the understanding that the church will change as it adapts to new times and different cultures. There are, of course, some absolutes, particularly pertaining to salvation.

I have a feeling that his method will impact my thinking regarding what today threatens to pull the church apart. Forces are not coming in at us from the outside as they did at the Reformation, Puritans on the one hand and Catholics on the other but from the inside. Factions within the church disagree over the ordination/consecration of women and the place of those in same-sex relations. I wonder what Hooker's Lawes of Ecclesiastical Polity reveal about what his stance would have been on these two issues and what he would have proposed as solutions. 

Even if these debates can at times make us miserable, (in Hooker's words) one thing's for sure:

... we are happy, therefore, when fully we enjoy God, as an object wherein the powers of our souls are satisfied even with the everlasting delight; so that although we be man, yet by being unto God united we live as it were the life of God.

1 comment:

Thecurateswife said...

Thank you, your post made so much sense to me. I should have found it before I posted my blog today.

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A little background reading on the two theological integrities in the Church of England regarding women in ministry.