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Title: Nature, grace and religious liberty in Restoration England
Author: Billinge, Richard
ISNI:       0000 0004 6062 0826
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis demonstrates the importance of scholastic philosophy and natural law to the theory of religious uniformity and toleration in Seventeenth-Century England. Some of the most influential apologetic tracts produced by the Church of England, including Richard Hooker's Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Robert Sanderson's Ten lectures on humane conscience and Samuel Parker A discourse of ecclesiastical politie are examined and are shown to belong to a common Anglican tradition which emphasized aspects of scholastic natural law theory in order to refute pleas for ceremonial diversity and liberty of conscience. The relationship of these ideas to those of Hobbes and Locke are also explored. Studies of Seventeenth-Century ideas about conformity and toleration have often stressed the reverence people showed the individual conscience, and the weight they attributed to the examples of the magistrates of Israel and Judah. Yet arguments for and against uniformity and toleration might instead resolve themselves into disputes about the role of natural law within society, or the power of human laws over the conscience. In this the debate about religious uniformity could acquire a very philosophical and sometimes theological tone. Important but technical questions about moral obligation, metaphysics and theology are demonstrated to have played an important role in shaping perceptions of magisterial power over religion. These ideas are traced back to their roots in scholastic philosophy and the Summa of Aquinas. Scholastic theories about conscience, law, the virtues, human action and the distinction between nature and grace are shown to have animated certain of the Church's more influential apologists and their dissenting opponents. The kind of discourse surrounding toleration and liberty of conscience is thus shown to be very different than sometimes supposed. Perceptions of civil and ecclesiastical power were governed by a set of ideas and concerns that have hitherto not featured prominently in the literature about the development of religious toleration.
Supervisor: Mortimer, Sarah Sponsor: Magdalen College
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Scholasticism--History--17th century ; Religious tolerance--History--17th century ; Great Britain--Church history--17th century ; Philosophy and religion--History--17th century