Puritan Conciliarism: Why Walter Travers read Bullinger's De Conciliis

Polly Ha

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This article examines the English puritan reception of Heinrich Bullinger's De Conciliis in the early seventeenth century. In the process, it offers an alternative interpretation of the relationship between puritanism, conciliarism, and the continental reformed tradition. The leading puritan thinker Walter Travers used Bullinger's church history to serve multiple purposes. He stressed the role of the laity in church councils to further ecclesiastical reform, rather than turning to conciliarism as a basis for resistance. This not only departed from traditional puritan appeals to conciliar theory, but also from medieval precedents. Bullinger's history also fuelled Travers's hostility to the emergence of new threats within the Church of England: Laudian innovation and the rise of congregationalism. This alternative reading of puritan ecclesiastical thought complicates recent interpretations of its place within the Church of England while extending its relationship with reformed churches on the Continent.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-76
Number of pages20
JournalSixteenth Century Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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