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Richard Hooker's Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (1593) is a foundational document for the theology and ecclesiology of the Church of England. In it, he defends (among other things) the Anglican understanding of the episcopacy, and the power of the church to set its own form of government, within certain doctrinal limits.

Since Hooker, the polity of the Church of England has changed in some important ways. Following the motto of "episcopally led, synodically governed", there are more synods than there used to be, and they include lay people as well as clergy. For example, the General Synod (since 1969; the Church Assembly from 1919 until then) is a legislative body including separate houses of bishops, clergy and laity. There is a national executive body called the Archbishops' Council (since 1999). Comparable structures exist at the diocesan level.

How does the current model of Church of England polity compare with the understanding of Hooker? In particular, what would he think about governance by regular synods with lay participation?

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In the answer can some explanation be given of what was the work of Hooker and what of later 'editors' and interpretations, and compare the two views with the current polity. Hooker seems to have been a very understanding person so he might quite have liked what is going on now but maybe nobody can answer for him. – gideon marx Jun 12 '14 at 9:01
Hi James T, a great question with no answers. Perhaps you wouldn't mind posting a bounty to elicit some answers. – Simply a Christian Apr 4 at 6:09

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