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latitudinarianism

latitudinarianism was a reaction against the theological controversies and civil wars of the 17th cent. It drew upon the ideas of Cudworth and the Cambridge Platonists, placing little emphasis on precise points of doctrine and arguing for toleration. The spirit was evident soon after the Restoration, with Pepys noting in 1669 that Dr Wilkins, bishop of Chester, was ‘a mighty, rising man, as being a Latitudinarian’. Tillotson, archbishop of Canterbury after the Glorious Revolution, preached a celebrated sermon on ‘His commandments are not grievous.’ Their high-church opponents retorted that tolerance could slide into deism, as it did with Locke, or into downright indifference, their charge against Hoadly. Latitudinarianism has often been seen as the prevailing characteristic of the Hanoverian church. But there were powerful counter-currents, and methodism and evangelicalism, while agreeing to avoid doctrinal disputes, laid great emphasis on Christianity as a profound spiritual experience.

J. A. Cannon

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Latitudinarianism

Latitudinarianism. Anglican Christians who took a ‘broad’ view of the necessity for dogma and definition in matters of belief. They are naturally distinguished more by what they oppose than by what they propose as a consistent set of doctrines.

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