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Title: The contribution of Hadrian à Saravia (1531-1613) to the doctrine of the nature of the Church and its mission : an examination of his doctrine as related to that of his Anglican contemporaries
Author: Smith, Luke B.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1966
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Hadrian Saravia went over to the Reformation sometime during the middle decade of the sixteenth century and soon thereafter became a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church. However, he had not served many years in the Reformed Church before he began to have serious doubts about the "Genevan-type" governments which it had, and, significantly enough, these doubts focused in the area of ecclesiastical polity because he felt a parity of authority among ministers was not capable of producing a sufficient degree of order and harmony in the Church. Although he remained a minister in, or in some way associated with, the Reformed Church for the better part of a period of twenty years after he actually had changed his views about ecclesiastical government, he apparently became more and more convicted during this time of the necessity of an authoritarian ordering of the ministry such as that which would be found in a hierarchy of ministers. Also, very early in this same period he became convinced that the three-fold ordering of ministers in the Anglican Church was the best kind of arrangement along these lines - this encouraged him to spend a large part of those two decades studying or working in England. His break with the Dutch Reformed Church came in 1367 when he took part in an unsuccessful revolt against the government in Leyden, and, subsequently, he became an English citizen and a minister in the Church of England. Saravia offered many arguments from the Scriptures and from the patristic writings in support of his views on ecclesiastical polity. Bishops and presbyters, he said, could be proved from both of these eras in Church history because they had been instituted by the Lord and established by the Apostles. Apostolic authority was seen to be essential to the Church in all ages and he felt the essence of the Apostolate could be found in the preaching of the Gospel, the administration of the sacraments, and the proper exercise of authority in ecclesiastical government. All ministers were thought to be equal in the first two of these three points, and bishops superior to presbyters in the third point. Saravia did not make any claims for an exclusive ordering of the ministry although some of the principles which he laid down in these arguments have been cited by later theologians for such claims. The reasons why he did not do so were primarily two-fold: (1) he consistently adhered to the over-riding purpose of trying to prove to his former colleagues in the Dutch Reformed Church that they differed with the Church of England only in the area of the relation of the ministry and of ecclesiastical polity, and that they would be much better off if they would adopt the Anglican system of government; (2) his prior interest in and commitment to an authoritarian structuring of the ministry did not necessarily preclude such exclusive claims, but it was of much greater importance to him than was a precise and binding definition of the ordering of the ministry. The unusual attention which Saravia gave to authoritarianism eventually led him to the point that he was willing to relativize the importance of the ministry in order to absolutize the civil power. He had been slightly Erastian even in the Elizabethan period when he had taught the Church and State to be joined in a Ciiristian Commonwealth; however, this Erastianism became much more pronounced in the last decade of his life, and surprisingly enough, this even caused, him to say that ministers representing Christ's work: as Mediator were inferior to kings and magistrates representing Christ's work as Ruler and King. This serious Christological error probably arose out of his undue emphasis on the necessity of some being in authority and others being in subjection to them. During this same period he gave full support to the contention of James I that kings ruled de jure divine. The great emphasis which Saravia gave to the necessity of Apostolic authority remaining in the Church a nd the importance of its being properly administered by the ministry also led him to develop a doctrine of Missions to the Heathen. This was entirely based on the Great Commission given in Matthew 28: 19-20 for he felt this passage to be a full summary of the essence of Apostolicity itself. It was, he said, just as important for the Church to continue carrying the Gospel to the heathen in all ages as it was to preach that Gospel or to baptize in lands which were already Christian. One of the most significant features of his interpretations about Apostolic authority, whether in regard to the ministry or to missions, was the fact that he saw this as having been given by the Lord to the whole body of the elect in all ages and not simply to the Apostles or to any one group within the Church. This meant that Saravia consistently put his ecclesiology above his doctrine of the Ministry and that he tied it very closely to his doctrine of Missions. The latter doctrine proved to be a unique contribution to Christian thought for he was actually the first Protestant or Anglican to develop such a doctrine, Saravia's doctrine of Missions to the Heathen was attacked by several theologians during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but, as far as is known, it did not exert any positive influence on a single person during this period. This factor may well explain why he mentioned this doctrine only in his earlier writings. Later we find that his interest seemed to be centered in oecumenical efforts to heal the divisions in the Churoh. He called several times for a general council and wrote Ms most thoroughly developed doctrinal treatise towards this end. Following the example set many years earlier by Martin Bucer, Saravia became convinced that the doctrine of the Lord's Supper was the most divisive doctrine of his times so he wrote his treatise 'De Sacra Eucharistia' to try to prove that there were no inherent differences between the Lutheran and Ewinglian conceptions of the Supper, Like Bucer, Saravia may well be called a pioneer in oecumenicity because of tMs far-sighted approach to this problem.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available