The soteriology of the early English Reformers, 1525-1556
This thesis is a study of the soteriological thought of five leading English Reformers from the period 1525-56. In Part One, the soteriological aspects of the thought of William Tyndale, John Frith, and Robert Barnes are examined. These three men all came to Reformation convictions from backgrounds in Catholic Humanism. They were also deeply influenced by Martin Luther, although their writings demonstrate independence of thought, and reveal areas where they differ from him. While the three Reformers each have different emphases, two major facts emerge concerning their soteriological positions: all three exhibit a greater concern for good works than is generally evident in Luther, although their difference with him is fundamentally one of emphasis, not of substance; and all three agree that justification is by faith alone. In Part Two, examination is made of the thought of John Hooper and of John Bradford, especially in relation to two controversies over the nature of election. Hooper's position is framed in opposition to Calvinist predestinarianism, and is dependent upon both Bullinger and Melanchthon. Indeed, he even adopts the synergism of the latter in his reaction against any notion of predestination which divorces election from the actual faith of the individual. In contrast, John Bradford, in opposition to a sect holding Pelagian views, proposes a doctrine of election which reflects much of the predestinarianism of his friend Bucer. While there are tensions in his theology, which indicate that he is perhaps not entirely happy with the implications of his position, his unequivocal adherence to a doctrine of the decree, his emphasis on union with Christ, and his expression of limited atonement, demonstrate that his own position is fundamentally antithetical to that of Hooper.