Old Dudes with Beards – Richard Hooker

I have posted two paragraphs from Richard Hooker’s seven volume “Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity.”  In this short selection, Hooker is discussing what role the Holy Scriptures play in understanding our faith.  This brief passage is also a wonderful example of how Hooker tried to define Anglicanism over and against both Catholicism and Puritans.

See below for my own comments and clarification of this selection.  If you have trouble with the language, please leave a comment and send me an email!

“Two opinions therefore there are concerning sufficiency of Holy Scripture, each extremely opposite unto the other, and both repugnant unto truth.  The schools of Rome teach Scripture to be so unsufficient, as if, except traditions were added, it did not contain all revealed and supernatural truth, which absolutely is necessary for the children of men in this life to know that they may in the next be saved.

“Others justly condemning this opinion grow likewise unto a dangerous extremity, as if Scripture did not only contain all things in that kind necessary, but all things simply, and in such sort that to do any thing according to any other law were not only unnecessary but even opposite unto salvation, unlawful and sinful.”

So how was that?  Kind of tricky, I know.  So, in a nutshell, this is what Hooker is getting at.

He is trying to explain why he isn’t a Roman Catholic or a Puritan (heavily reformed Protestant).  On the one hand, the Catholic Church believes that the Holy Scriptures DO NOT contain everything we need for our spiritual lives and for salvation.  That is, in order for us to be saved and to know that we will be saved, the Catholic Church adds in more traditions on top of the Holy Scriptures.

On the other hand, the Puritans think that the Bible contains all things, period.  This is just as bad as what the Catholics think because this can lead you to believe that to follow any other law (or queen, for that matter) is sinful.

The truth is actually somewhere between these two positions.  It is here, by saying “no” to both sides, and by reading the Holy Scriptures with faithfulness, that we find the truth.

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