The Peril and Promise of Christian Liberty: Richard Hooker, the Puritans, and Protestant Political Theology

The Peril and Promise of Christian Liberty: Richard Hooker, the Puritans, and Protestant Political Theology

by W. Bradford Littlejohn


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How do Christians determine when to obey God even if that means disobeying other people? In this book W. Bradford Littlejohn addresses that question as he unpacks the magisterial political-theological work of Richard Hooker, a leading figure in the sixteenth-century English Reformation.

Littlejohn shows how Martin Luther and other Reformers considered Christian liberty to be compatible with considerable civil authority over the church, but he also analyzes the ambiguities and tensions of that relationship and how it helped provoke the Puritan movement. The heart of the book examines how, according to Richard Hooker, certain forms of Puritan legalism posed a much greater threat to Christian liberty than did meddling monarchs. In expounding Hooker's remarkable attempt to offer a balanced synthesis of liberty and authority in church, state, and conscience, Littlejohn draws out pertinent implications for Christian liberty and politics today.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802872562
Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
Publication date: 05/05/2017
Series: Emory University Studies in Law and Religion Series
Pages: 314
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

W. Bradford Littlejohn serves as director of the Davenant Trust, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the renewal of Christian wisdom for the contemporary church. He is also the author of Richard Hooker: A Companion to His Life and Work and numerous articles and book chapters in Reformation studies and Christian ethics.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Abbreviations and Notes on Citations xii

A Note on Spelling and Punctuation xv

1 "Different Kings and Different Laws" 1

Christian Liberty and the Conflict of Loyalties since the Reformation

2 Freedom for the Neighbor 51

Christian Liberty and the Demand for Edification

3 "Exact Precise Severity" 87

The Puritan Challenge to Prince and Conscience

4 Richard Hooker and the Freedom of a "Politic Society" 125

Between Legalism and Libertinism

5 Harmonized Loyalties 153

Conscience, Reason, and Corporate Moral Agency

6 The Soul of a Christian Commonwealth 191

Politics in Submission to the Word

7 "The Truth Will Set You Free" 238

The Peril and Promise of Christian Liberty

Bibliography 272

Index 293

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