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Title: Rethinking Puritanism : the pursuit of happiness in the pastoral theology of Ralph Venning (1621-1674)
Author: Roberts, Stephen Bryn
ISNI:       0000 0004 2737 634X
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis proposes to make an intervention in two scholarly debates in respect of puritanism: firstly, that concerning puritan identity; and secondly, that on the nature of the puritan experience and inner life. In this thesis the importance of the pursuit of happiness in puritan pastoral theology will be explored, particularly as it is illustrated in the thought of Ralph Venning. Venning’s ministry is investigated in its social, cultural, political, economic and religious context in order to explore his puritan identity and it will be proposed that he is defined, not by his opposition but by irenicism. Influences upon Venning’s thought are identified and it is noted that he illustrates elements of continuity as well as discontinuity with Medieval theology, particularly that of Thomas Aquinas and Thomas à Kempis; as well as Reformation and Post-Reformation sources: both puritan and anti-puritan. The significance of humanism in his University education at Emmanuel College, Cambridge is likewise identified including the influence of Cambridge Platonism. Ultimately, it is argued that Venning’s pastoral theology, having been shaped by each of these formative influences, is defined not by an agonised interiority but by the pursuit – and temporal enjoyment - of happiness. Indeed, this theme constitutes the unifying principle of Venning’s pastoral theology shaping as it does its three key elements which are in respect of the nature of sin, godliness and spiritual growth.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Puritans