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The Liturgical Calendar: The Church Remembers

Today the church remembers Richard Hooker, Priest, 1600.

The master theologian of the English Reformation, Richard Hooker was a relatively obscure person in his own day. His famous tome, The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, was a landmark in English literature, philosophy, and churchmanship. There has never been a more thorough and convincing apologist for Anglicanism, yet we know little of his life. He was an Oxford graduate and served several relatively undistinguished parishes during his somewhat short ministry (he died at age forty-six).

Some of his basic positions and arguments are so familiar to modern Episcopalians as to seem almost like clich├ęs. He argued for the reasonable and reverent use of Holy Scripture, rejecting the Roman Catholic disregard for scripture and the Puritans's literal and mechanical view of it. He saw the church as a living organism, rather like a family, and not as a static and impersonal institution that could never change, nor as a purely spiritual and intellectual association of subscribers.

It would certainly do violence to Hooker's own teaching if modern Episcopalians regarded him as the definitive teacher and final authority. But one can say that Richard Hooker best expressed, intellectually, the mind and spirit of seventeenth-century Anglicanism.

Enrich us by the teaching of your servant Richard. Amen.

Read the Wikipedia article here.

O God of truth and peace, you raised up your servant Richard Hooker in a day of bitter controversy to defend with sound reasoning and great charity the catholic and reformed religion: Grant that we may maintain that middle way, not as a compromise for the sake of peace, but as a comprehension for the sake of truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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