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The Peril and Promise of Christian Liberty
Richard Hooker, the Puritans, and Protestant Political Theology
PAPERBACK; Published: 5/5/2017
ISBN: 978-0-8028-7256-2
314 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9
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Series: Emory University Studies in Law and Religion

How do Christians determine when to obey God even if that means disobeying human authorities? In this book W. Bradford Littlejohn addresses that question, with particular attention to the magisterial political-theological work of Richard Hooker, a leading figure in the sixteenth-century English Reformation.

Littlejohn shows how Martin Luther and other Reformers considered Christian liberty to be compatible with considerable civil authority over the church, but he also analyzes the ambiguities and tensions of that relationship and how it helped provoke the Puritan movement. The heart of the book examines how, according to Richard Hooker, certain forms of Puritan legalism posed a greater threat to Christian liberty than did meddling monarchs. In expounding Hooker's remarkable attempt to offer a balanced synthesis of liberty and authority in church, state, and conscience, Littlejohn draws out pertinent implications for Christian liberty and politics today.
REVIEWS
Oliver O'Donovan
— University of Edinburgh
"It is an exciting development that Richard Hooker is being relieved of his image as a fusty ecclesiastical polemicist and rediscovered as a formative influence on the modern political imagination. He finds a committed and discriminating advocate in W. Bradford Littlejohn, who reveals how the generous Christian faith that moved Hooker equipped him with a supple and disciplined account of human freedom."
Charles Mathewes
— University of Virginia
"Littlejohn's work would have been enough if it had simply been a terrific recovery and restatement of major themes in the work of Richard Hooker—for he is, after all, perhaps the one truly great major thinker in Christian thought who lacks disciples in the contemporary academy. But, more than that, it is also a significant contribution to debates about the nature of modernity and liberalism, the relation between earlier theological notions of liberty of conscience and contemporary individualism, church and state, and arguments about the meaning of the Reformation for the contemporary world—all from a deeply underappreciated perspective. Agree or disagree, Littlejohn's work, in reaffirming a major Christian tradition, is a wonderful addition to the current tumult in political theology."

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