Perichoresis 13.1

Perichoresis 13.1 (2015)


‘Divine Offspring’: Richard Hooker’s Neoplatonic Account of Law and Causality

Torrance Kirby


Richard Hooker’s (1554-1600) adaptation of classical logos theology is exceptional and indeed quite original for its extended application of the principles of Neoplatonic apophatic theology to the concrete institutional issues of a particular time and place-the aftermath of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement of 1559. Indeed, his sustained effort to explore the underlying connections of urgent political and constitutional concerns with the highest discourse of hidden divine realities-the knitting together of Neoplatonic theology and Reformation politics-is perhaps the defining characteristic of Hooker’s distinction mode of thought. Hooker’s ontology adheres to a Proclean logic of procession and reversion (processio and redditus) mediated by Aquinas’s formulation of the so-called lex divinitatis whereby the originative principle of law remains simple and self-identical as an Eternal Law while it emanates manifold, derivative and dependent species of law, preeminently in the Natural Law accessible to human reason and Divine Law revealed through the Sacred Oracles of Scripture. For Hooker, therefore, ‘all thinges’-including even the Elizabethan constitution in Church and Commonwealth, are God’s offspring: ‘they are in him as effects in their highest cause, he likewise actuallie is in them, the assistance and influence of his deitie is theire life.’ PDF

The Marian Exile and Religious Self-Identity: Rethinking the Origins of Elizabethan Puritanism

Angela Ranson


This paper challenges historians’ portrayal of Elizabethan puritanism as rooted in the Marian exile of 1553-1558, through a fresh examination of three exiles who have been described as early puritans: James Pilkington, John Jewel, and Laurence Humphrey. By studying the value they placed on church unity, this paper brings out the fundamental differences between the early reformers and the later puritans. It also demonstrates that the religious selfidentity of these men pre-dated the accession of Mary. Thus, their exile was a means of strengthening their faith, not finding it, and their return meant that there was more continuity between the Edwardian and Elizabethan churches than is often allowed in current scholarship. PDF

Profit ‘That is Condemned by the Word of God’: John Jewel’s Theological Method in His Opposition to Usury

André A. Gazal


John Jewel, regarded as the principal apologist and theologian for the Elizabethan Church, was also esteemed as one of England’s most important (if not the most important) authority on the subject of usury, and therefore was cited frequently by opponents of usury towards the end of the sixteenth century and throughout the seventeenth century. One of the most sustained interpretations of Jewel as a theologian on the subject of usury was by Christoph Jelinger, who observed that the late bishop of Sarum employed the same theological method in opposing usury as he did in defending the doctrines and practices of the Church of England against its Catholic opponents, that is, by appealing to the Scriptures, the Church Fathers, Church Councils, and the example of the primitive church. This article seeks to confirm the opinion of Jelinger, and in doing so show that Jewel’s opposition to usury stemmed primarily from the conviction that it was both a vice and heresy that eroded the unifying attribute of Christian society which was love. PDF

Evidence of Things Seen: Univocation, Visibility and Reassurance in Post-Reformation Polemic

Joshua Rodda


This article reaches out to the audience for controversial religious writing after the English Reformation, by examining the shared language of attainable truth, of clarity and certainty, to be found in Protestant and Catholic examples of the same. It argues that we must consider those aspects of religious controversy that lie simultaneously above and beneath its doctrinal content: the logical forms in which it was framed, and the assumptions writers made about their audiences’ needs and responses. Building on the work of Susan Schreiner and others on the notion of certainty through the early Reformation, the article asks how English polemicists exalted and opened up that notion for their readers’ benefit, through proclamations of visibility, accessibility and honest dealing. Two case studies are chosen, in order to make a comparison across confessional lines: first, Protestant (and Catholic) reactions against the Jesuit doctrine of equivocation in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, which emphasized honesty and encouraged fear of hidden meaning; and second, Catholic opposition to the notion of an invisible-or relatively invisible-church. It is argued that the language deployed in opposition to these ideas displays a shared emphasis on the clear, certain, and reliable, and that which might be attained by human means. Projecting the emphases and assertions of these writers onto their audience, and locating it within a contemporary climate, the article thus questions the emphasis historians of religion place on the intangible-on faith-in considering the production and the reception of Reformation controversy. PDF

Catholic Communities and Kinship Networks of the Elizabethan Midlands

Laura Verner


An integral method of keeping a non-conforming community functioning is the construction and up keep of networks, as this web of connections provided security and protection with other non-conformists against the persecuting authorities. The non-conforming Catholic community of Elizabethan England (1558-1603) established various networks within England and abroad. This article is based on research that examines the network of Catholics in the Elizabethan Midlands in order to understand both its effectiveness and the relationship of the local and extended Catholic community with one another. The construction, function and result of these networks will be surveyed over several categories of networks, such as local, underground, clerical and exile. Members of the Midland Catholic community travelled to others areas of the British Isles and Europe to gather spiritual and material support for their faith, sent their children abroad for religious education, and resettled abroad creating in this wake a larger and complex international network. The main objective of this exercise is to show the dynamic and function of the network, and understand the impact it had at the local level for Midland Catholics. PDF

‘Out of Whose Hive the Quakers Swarm’d’: Polemics and the Justification of Infant Baptism in the Early Restoration

Jonathan Warren


The English Civil War brought an end to government censorship of nonconformist texts. The resulting exegetical and hermeneutical battles waged over baptism among paedobaptists and Baptists continued well into the Restoration period. A survey of the post-Restoration polemical literature reveals the following themes: 1) the polemical ‘slippery slope’ is a major feature of these tracts. Dissenting paedobaptists believed that Baptists would inevitably become Quakers, despising baptism altogether, and that the resulting social instability would allow the tyranny of Roman Catholicism to reemerge in England. Baptists for their part compared the tyranny of paedobaptist argumentation to the tyranny exercised by Roman Catholics. Anti- Quakeriana and Anti-Popery were both central ‘devil terms’ in this polemical warfare; 2) the exegesis of biblical texts underlying infant baptism revealed contrary understandings of how the bible fit together as a whole. Baptists tended to read Old and New Testaments disjunctively, whereas paedobaptists saw continuity absent explicit abrogation; 3) scholastic theology continued to undergird the arguments of all parties. Especially relevant to this discussion was debate over the proper ‘matter’ and ‘form’ of baptism. Here exegetical and hermeneutical disputes were also relevant. This study reveals that patterns of reading Scripture in each community were informed by traditions and practices, and that the search for the objective ‘literal’ sense of the text was bound to be unavailing. PDF