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Chillingworth, William

Chillingworth, William (1602–44). Theological controversialist. Born in Oxford, he was educated at Trinity College, where he became fellow. The Jesuits persuaded him, though Laud's godson, to join the Roman church, but a brief spell of study in Douai (1630–1) caused him to leave catholic certainties for Falkland's liberal group at Great Tew. Here he wrote his main work The Religion of Protestants, a Safe Way of Salvation (1637), supporting the right of free enquiry and denying any church monopoly of the truth. Taking Anglican orders (1638), he became chancellor of Salisbury (1638), but in the Civil War, while serving as a royalist army chaplain, he was captured at Arundel. Already in poor health, he died at Chichester. Ahead of his time, his rationalism and toleration, suspected by Romanists and puritans alike, were to be valued in later years.

Revd Dr William M. Marshall

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Chillingworth, William

William Chillingworth, 1602–44, English theologian. He was converted to Roman Catholicism and in 1630 went to Douai to study. Under the influence of his godfather, William Laud, he abjured that faith in 1634, and took holy orders (1638) in the Church of England. In 1638 he published The Religion of Protestants a Safe Way to Salvation, a defense of the Protestant view that the Bible is the sole authority in matters of religion and that the right of interpretation is reserved to the individual. He served as chaplain in the king's army in the civil war, was taken prisoner (1643), and died in detention.

See study by R. R. Orr (1967).

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