Constructing a Godly society: the template for a Reformed community in the writings of John Hooper (c.1500-1555).
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Brodie, Brent James
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Ever since John Hooper (c.1500-1555), the future Bishop of Gloucester and Worcester, made his famous stand against wearing vestments that placed him in opposition to the leading English clergy, he has been branded in the history of the English Reformation by many as a renegade and a radical. However, this thesis presents Hooper as one who saw himself as a conformist who sought to create the reformed community he desired within the established political and religious customs of his day. To explore this idea, this thesis examines how Hooper imagined a Protestant community for the kingdom of England or elsewhere. It identifies what Hooper considered to be the sources of God’s authority in the community; how that authority was exercised through officials within the community and through godly laws, strong clerical preaching and a universal commitment to vocation. It examines how the people should respond to leaders who brought the successful introduction of Protestantism to their community. Hooper’s vision was advanced in a series of tracts and letters written in Zurich and shortly after his return to England (1547-1551). They were composed at a time when Hooper enjoyed the greatest freedom to articulate his ideas in the company of his mentor, Heinrich Bullinger (1504-1575), and refined through his tenure as a bishop in the Church of England. The reformed community that Hooper envisioned was one that was dependent upon a strong magistrate but also required the acceptance and participation of its members in fully embracing their own vocation and reform. Hooper strongly affirmed that leaders – both ecclesiastical and civil – had a duty to model their reformation in accordance with God’s Law, the Ten Commandments. He assumed that the people would abide by the authority of the Decalogue and practice the Protestant faith together. He also believed that living in such a community would usher in a period of peace and prosperity. Hooper’s zeal for reform was demonstrated by his belief that the Reformation required wholehearted embrace by everyone, but he was willing to operate within established English traditions, in order to see his Protestant beliefs realised within the community.