Richard Hooker’s Biblical Defense of Reason

Much of Hooker’s concern in the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity deals with the legitmacy of natural revelation and reason.  His opponents, in order to boost their views of church government, had advocated that we could rely upon nothing but positive Biblical revelation.  Hooker argues that this goes too far, rejecting what is necessary in order to properly receive positive Biblical revelation.  He even goes further and shows that the Bible itself requires the right use of reason:

“Judge you of that which I speak,” saith the apostle. In vain it were to speak any thing of God, but that by reason men are able somewhat to judge of that they hear, and by discourse to discern how consonant it is to truth. Scripture indeed teacheth things above nature, things which our reason by itself could not reach unto. Yet those things also we believe, knowing by reason, that the Scripture is the word of God. In the presence of Festus a Roman, and of King Agrippa a Jew, St. Paul omitting the one, who neither knew the Jew’s religion, nor the books whereby they were taught it, speaks unto the other of things foreshewed by Moses and the prophets, and performed in Jesus Christ, intending thereby to prove himself so unjustly accused, that unless his judges did condemn both Moses and the prophets, him they could not choose but acquit, who taught only that fulfilled, which they so long since had foretold. His cause was easy to be discerned; what was done, their eyes were witnesses ; what Moses and the prophets did speak, their books could quickly shew: it was no hard thing for him to compare them, which knew the one, and believed the other. ” King Agrippa, believest; thou the prophets ? I know thou dost.” Continue reading

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