Posted on: February 14th, 2008 Hooker’s Defence of Anglican Ecclesiastical Order

How does Hooker defend church order against those who would say, for example, that the church ought not to have bishops since they are not explicitly taught in Scripture? By arguing that the social order of the church is oriented toward “the chief end of man:” society with and in God.

Hooker’s understanding of this social order is rooted in the following:

1. Thomistic teleology: the law of reason dictates that a creature incline to something “which they may be” or to their highest good. The highest good for man is society with God.
2. Reformed emphasis on the the radical “Creator / creature distinction:” the finite cannot contain the infinite. It follows from this that the flesh Christ took on or inhabited must remain fully human.
3. Putting these two together, Hooker argues that the hypostatic union, properly understood as resisting either the Nestorian or the Eutychian (read: “Lutheran,” with its articulation of the man Jesus’ omnipresence, a la Martin Chemnitz) tendencies, achieves our (humanity’s) membership in the divine society.
4. This leads to a special importance for the body of Christ, especially since it is Christ’s flesh which is the locus of his solidarity with us. Hence Scripture’s emphasis on this which is then massively developed in the history of the church (primarily in her understanding and practice of the Eucharist). It is not the case that we simply become Christ, but one may rightly speak of our “bodily consubstantiation” with his, or, better: his with ours.

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