Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Richard Hookder


Richard Hooker (April 1554-2November 1600)

Hooker, born near Exeter was an apologist for the Church of England.  Little is known of his childhood, and sources thereof are held in question.  His father, Roger was largely absent due to work, but his uncle, John Hooker was a strong influence in his life. 

After grammar school in Exeter, he entered Corpus Christi College, Oxford in or about 1569, where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in January, 1574.  He went on to receive his M.A, in 1577.  Corpus Christi college emphasized, Greek, Rhetoric and the early fathers, and it is apparent from his writings that Hooker mastered these as well.  At this time, he also became familiar with the works of Calvin and other continental reformers.

He was ordained deacon in 1579, and became assistant professor of Hebrew as well.  In 1585 he was appointed as master of the Temple Church.  His most important work, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, which was intended to be a defense of the Elizabethan settlement.  This book is also important for its theology. 

Hooker is best known, especially in Anglican Circles for his three legged stool.  Often this is misquoted so as to state that scripture, tradition and reason are all equal.  Actually what Hooker said was,
“What Scripture doth plainly deliver, to that the first place both of credit and obedience are due; the next whereunto, is what any man can necessarily conclude by force of Reason; after this, the voice of the church succeedeth.”  In other words, no three legged stool.  Scriptures according to Hooker come first, then reason, then the traditions of the church.  This statement was to dispute both the Catholics, who said the Bible did not contain everything necessary for salvation, and the Calvinists who said everything is contained in scriptures and there was no need for human reason.  So Anglicans take heed.  Scripture does come first.  We cannot decide that our reason overrides it. 

He is also said to have inspired some of John Locke’s ideas.

Collect:  O God of truth and peace, who 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.

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