This book examines the lives of two leading Irish ecclesiastics, James Ussher (1581-1656) and John Bramhall (1594-1663). Both men were key players in the religious struggles that shook the British Isles during the first half of the seventeenth century, and their lives and works provide important insights into the ecclesiastical history of early modern Europe. As well as charting the careers of Ussher and Bramhall, this study introduces an original and revealing method for examining post-Reformation religion. Arguing that the Reformation was stimulated by religious impulses that pre-date Christianity, it introduces a biblical concept of 'Justice' and 'Numinous' motifs to provide a unique perspective on ecclesiastical development. Put simply, these motifs represent on the one hand, the fear of God's judgement, and on the other, the sacred conception of the fear of God. These subtle understandings that co-existed in the Catholic church were split apart at the Reformation and proved to be separate poles around which different interpretations of Protestantism gathered. By applying these looser concepts to Ussher and Bramhall, rather than rigid labels such as Arminian, Laudian or Calvinist, a more subtle understanding of their careers is possible, and provides an altogether more satisfactory method of denominational categorisation than the ones presently employed, not just for the British churches but for the history of the Reformation as a whole.
Table of Contents
Contents: Preface: the Levitical candle; James Ussher; John Bramhall; Dogmatic theologies; Sacramental theologies; Ecclesiastical histories; Secular politics; Ecclesiastical politics; Practical policy; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.