The Problem of Certainty in its Theological Context
During the seventeenth century English Protestants feared that the Roman Catholic Church was attempting to establish itself as the official Church of the state. Such events as the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, the Popish Plot of 1678, and the attempt of James II to convert Magdalen College, Oxford, into a Jesuit seminary gave rise to and enlivened such suspicions. The conflict was reflected in the numerous books, pamphlets, and broadsides written on every aspect of religion - Church organization, the adequacy of each Church for salvation, attacks on the personality of a particular member of the other Church, the need for a living infallible judge to decide disputes, and the credibility of specific religious doctrines. In one of its phases this dispute was known as the Rule of Faith controversy and concerned the standard or rule which each Church possessed to determine whether its particular doctrines were the ones necessary for salvation. (Later in the century, as we shall see in succeeding chapters, this controversy was secularized and became a dispute concerning the criteria by which any proposition can be accepted as scientifically true).
KeywordsSeventeenth Century Sense Perception Oral Tradition Absolute Certainty Sufficient Assurance
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