Mera chimaera: the Reformed and Conformist Ecclesiology of John Prideaux (1578-1650)

24 Aug 2017

Starting from a dramatic confrontation between Heylyn and Prideaux at the 1633 Oxford Act, this article analyses Prideaux’s views on the nature, authority, and polity of the Church. Unlike Heylyn, Prideaux has not been the subject of significant study and this article aims to fill that gap. It argues that by emphasising election, invisibility, and synodical authority, Prideaux’s ecclesiology offered a rejoinder to what some Laudians had begun to say about the Church. It establishes that Prideaux consistently demonstrated his loyalty to the established polity of the English Church, defending Episcopacy as iure divino and celebrating the liturgical provisions of the Prayer Book, long before they came under threat during the 1640s. The article also examines Prideaux’s Anti-Puritanism, showing him to be more open than Sanderson to the idea of a moderate Puritan. Given Prideaux’s acknowledged significance, this article significantly enriches our picture of Early Stuart Conformity.