In part one of this essay, we noted the ways that the anti-Covenant lobby misconstrues Puritanism. In what follows, we turn to their abuse of Anglican orthodoxy, particularly the work of Richard Hooker. We conclude that adoption of the Anglican Covenant is wholly faithful to Hooker’s claim that even as the Church must remain faithful in doctrine, it is free to construct its polity as it sees fit.
Those unfamiliar with the broad outlines of Hooker’s theology may wish to peruse the article “Law, Liturgy, Wisdom: An Introduction to Richard Hooker“ (or here, with illustrations).
Myths of Anglicanism
No Anglican Covenant Coalition (hereafter, NACC) launched its website on November 3, 2010, stating the feast day of Richard Hooker was the “ideal” day for beginning their campaign. However admirable this sentiment may be, their understanding of Hooker fails on three fronts. First, they tell us that “Hooker argued that the Church should use the full range of reasoning faculties in matters of faith and should develop in light of changing circumstances. New ideas and differences of opinion, therefore, have a proper place within the Church.” It is worth noting that NACC offers us only one citation of Hooker on their website: “The Church hath authority to establish that for an order at one time, which at another time it may abolish, and in both do well.” Regrettably, they do not offer the reference, thus disguising that they have, in the worse sense of the phrase, given us a mere “proof-text.” Second, and like MCU/IC, NACC misunderstand what Hooker and the Puritans were arguing about, especially in terms of reason. They claim that Puritans believed that the Bible “wholly transcends reason” and thus denied reason a place in the Christian life. As Hooker himself notes, this is quite wrong. Finally, they claim that Hooker “is best known for his appeal to three authorities—scripture, reason, and tradition—often described as his ‘three-legged stool.’” Yet, this latter claim has been decisively rejected by current Hooker scholarship. (more…)