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Title: The theology of John Tillotson (1630-1694) and Latitudinarianism in England
Author: Joo, Euidon
ISNI:       0000 0004 7967 7320
Awarding Body: Bangor University
Current Institution: Bangor University
Date of Award: 2019
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Early academic writings on John Tillotson (1630-1694), a clergyman of the Church of England, and Archbishop of Canterbury, tended to argue that he was a rationalist who undermined the influence of traditional religious views and that Tillotson shared his secularising ideas with a group of clergy called Latitudinarians. Some more recent historians, on the other hand, have described him as a defender of orthodox Protestantism. The present study was stimulated by seeing these divergent opinions about Tillotson, so one of the main questions is the relationship between reason and religion in Tillotson's theology. What did Tillotson mean by the word 'reason'? How important was the role of reason in his theology? This thesis seeks to shed a new light on Tillotson's theology through a deep analysis of his sermons. It will be shown that though Tillotson employed his own 'rational' methodology, his 'rational' strategy was used to defend supernatural elements of traditional Christianity. Thus, one of the arguments of this study is that it may be misleading to see Tillotson's rationalism as undermining the mysterious aspects of revealed religion, which were beyond human comprehension. More importantly, however, this study shows that Tillotson endeavoured to promote the practice of Christian love, rather than a 'rational' defence of traditional doctrines. Tillotson's stress on behaviour was revealed in his theology in general. The practice of charity was central in constructing his soteriology and ecclesiology: both centred on encouraging benevolent virtue and condemning religious persecution, and crucially shaped attitudes to Catholics and Protestant Dissenters. Tillotson's political theology also served these ends: a belief in providential and de facto authority supported insistence on a public peace which could promote charity and moral reform, but concern that Catholicism undermined these objectives permitted some forms of resistance to government in particular circumstances. This study argues that Tillotson's charity-based politics and ecclesiology, which have received little scholarly attention, was an important part of his theology and it also may have been a common feature shared by his fellow Latitudinarian clergy. Tillotson and Latitudinarians, by promoting virtuous and tolerant Christian behaviour, may have contributed to making British society more polite and benevolent, and have contributed to the culture and religion of the eighteenth century in under-appreciated ways.
Supervisor: Claydon, Anthony ; Betenson, Toby Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: John Tillotson ; Lutitudinarains ; 17th century of the Church of England ; Restoration England