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The errors of the Puritans

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  1. Introduction
  2. Scriptures at the heart of the debate between the puritans and the church of England
    1. The basis of the debate
    2. Hooker and the Puritans' reading of the scripture
    3. Hooker comparison to illustrate the idea
  3. Rhetorical work for efficient convincing
    1. Form
    2. Discrediting the opponents
    3. Arguments of authority: An irrefutable way to argue
  4. The evolution of the church
    1. Changes in the church
    2. Opposition between past and present
  5. Church and politics

The document we're going to talk about today is a set of extracts from Richard Hooker's work Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity written in 1593 (the 3 dots suggest that they were cuts in the text). Actually, this is his main work and it consists of eight books that were published during the reign of Elizabeth I (she came to the throne in 1558). In 1890, Isaac Walton published The work of Mr Richard Hooker with an account of his life and death, a book in which he gathered Hooker's written works and his biography. This very extract relates the debate opposing the Puritan wing of the Church of England and the partisans of the Church of England in the last decade of the reign of Elizabeth I. You all remember that Elizabeth was a protestant: she reformed the English Church, setting up a Via Media which is a middle way between the positions of the Roman Catholics and the Protestants.

[...] He also alludes to the Eucharist which is another Lutheran sacrament. But concerning the other rites that are blamed by the Protestants, like the Lent at l.36-37 ?abstinence at certain times from some kinds of there are probably many rites that the Protestants do not accept from the Catholics, as the phrase ?sundry Church offices? implies. But he tries to turn the meaning of those rites into sheer religious behaviors: ?kneeling at the other? implies obedience, respect and modesty for instance, so the Puritans shouldn't blame it with such vigor. [...]

[...] Obviously, he exaggerates on purpose by quoting such examples: they are too cliché, typical of the Bible to imagine that the Puritans would really like them to be realized! 3. Arguments of authority, an irrefutable way to argue About the arguments of authority, I think there is no need to talk about that in detail now because we saw them in the first part: they are Nature, because Nature is almighty, especially at this age because it has a very strong link with God and religion, as God created Nature. [...]

[...] Hooker starts asserting that the Church of England is faithful to the Scriptures (l.4-5). He acknowledges that people have to do what they are told to do by the Scriptures and on the contrary that they can't do what is forbidden in the Scriptures; but he believes that there are things that are not said in the Scriptures and so that they are left to the very decision of men. We can also see his concern to prove that the Church of England follows the Scriptures in the passage which extends from l.43 down to 51. [...]

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