Richard Hooker's Doctrine of the Royal Supremacy


In the eighth book of his treatise Of the Lawes of Ecclesiasticall Politie, Richard Hooker defends the royal headship of the Church of England in a remarkable series of theological arguments. His apologetic intention was 'to resolve the consciences' of the Disciplinarian-Puritan critics of the Elizabethan Settlement by a demonstration that the Royal Supremacy was wholly consistent with the principles of doctrinal orthodoxy as understood and upheld by the Magisterial Reformation. This study commences with a look at some current problems of interpretation and then examines Hooker's apologetic aim and methodology. Subsequent chapters demonstrate Hooker's reliance on the teaching of the Magisterial Reformers in the formulation of both the soteriological foundations of his political thought and his ecclesiology. Hooker's appeal to the authority of Patristic Christological and Trinitarian Orthodoxy in support of the Royal Supremacy is also discussed. The purpose of this book is to uncover the theological roots of a central aspect of Hooker's political thought, and thereby to attempt to shed new light on an important Elizabethan controversy.


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Review Quote

' ...Dr. Kirby seeks to establish the questions to which Hooker himself was addressed, and the result is worth the effort of intellectual adjustment which is required.' Lo, Archive for Reformation History, 1992.


students of Tudor history, the history of Political Thought, ecclesiastical History, historical theology and reformation studies.