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Posted on Mon 31 July 2017

5 of 6 - Letters to the Editor: Interpreting Scripture

SIR – Bishop Nazir-Ali’s praying in aid of the Tudor divine Richard Hooker (Letters, July 29) is outrageous.

He attributes to Hooker the view that reason is “the instrument by which we understand and apply the teaching of the Bible”. In fact the Judicious Hooker, as he was known, upheld the importance of reason as a gift from God. He did believe that the Bible contained all information needed for salvation, but recognised that in many other matters, especially of government, the Bible was unclear and reason should be our guide.

He was especially scornful of strained biblical interpretations. “When they and their Bibles were alone together, what strange phantasticall opinion soever… entered their heads, their use was to thinke the Spirit taught it them”.

Hooker is widely regarded as the intellectual father of the more moderate, rational tendencies of the Church of England. He was one of our greatest political philosophers. Of course his ideas were rooted in his time. Nevertheless, especially through his influence on John Locke, he made an important contribution to the development of liberal democracy.

Neil Hirst

London SW9

The letter was published in The Telegraph on 31 July 2017 

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