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Littlejohn’s Reviews of Richard Hooker

Brad Littlejohn has been consistently working in Richard Hooker studies for some while now.  He has a soon-to-be published essay on Richard Hooker’s doctrine of the two kingdoms and its relation to modern and incorrect articulations of the doctrine today.  We have critiqued these mistaken presentations elsewhere, and now Mr. Littlejohn has offered another critique of David VanDrunen’s position as treated through the rhetorical context of Richard Hooker’s debate with Thomas Cartwright.  Being interested as we are in the figure of Richard Hooker and the current discussion over the meaning of the Reformers’ two kingdoms doctrine, TCI thinks our friend Mr. Littlejohn’s work in this field very interesting too.  It certainly presents a formidable response to Dr. VanDrunen.

We are not usually comfortable with the application of Christological nomenclature to other loci of theology, as this is oftentimes occasion for abusing the original doctrine itself.  On this occasion, however, Christology has been explicitly used by all parties in the discussion to approach the relationship between the two kingdoms.  The position associated with Cartwright and VanDrunen has itself sought to differentiate the reign of Christ from the reign of the Logos, matching each with their respective kingdom, and this seems impossible given the unity of the divine will and the parallel nature of creation and redemption. Mr  Littlejohn is correct to pick up on the shared themes in Cartwright and VanDrunen, and he answers VanDrunen in accord with Hooker’s critique of Cartwright. We believe that the best of Reformation legal thought is traceable from Luther and Calvin to Hooker, with Cartwright and the other de jure divino Puritans and Presbyterians representing a movement away from the Protestant consensus on this one point. Ironically, given the common understanding of the debate, it is actually Cartwright who is closer to the Roman Catholic position on this topic, and it is Richard Hooker who is the more Protestant.

We are also pleased to see the work of W J Torrance Kirby on this subject being put to such good use.  While Hooker’s status as a Reformed and Protestant theologian is sometimes still questioned, Kirby has definitely demonstrated that Hooker stands in continuity with the work of the Magisterial Reformation.

Two of Mr. Littlejohn’s previous series on Hooker deserve to be mentioned here as well, as he has given a fairly systematic treatment of two major themes in Hooker’s work: Christology and Law.  Be sure to follow these links for more.

Hooker’s Christology: 1, 2, 3, 4

Hooker’s Doctrine of Law: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

By Steven Wedgeworth

Steven Wedgeworth is the associate pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church in Vancouver, British Columbia. He writes about theology, history, and political theory, and he has taught Jr. High and High School. He is the founder and general editor of The Calvinist International, an online journal of Christian Humanism and political theology, and a Director for the Davenant Institute.