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Uniformity and common prayer

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Chapter Summary

The fifth book of Richard Hooker?s Of the Lawes of Eccelsiasticall Politie, printed in 1597, is at once a systematic discussion of worship in the sixteenth-century Church of England, in its liturgical and theological aspects, and a volley in the polemical wars between conformists and puritans in the reign of Elizabeth I. What we find in Hooker?s Book Five is not a work of systematic theology per se, but a sort of hybrid. It might best be described as a systematic defence of the existing liturgy of the Church of England against particular objections, a defence that at times strikes out in novel ways as it argues in support of the use of a particular worship pattern. Nowhere is this novelty more apparent than in Hooker?s discussion of common prayer. Uniformity in worship was crucial to preventing common worship, the tool of order, from itself becoming disordered.

Keywords: Book Five; common prayer; Elizabeth I; Richard Hooker; systematic theology; uniformity



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