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Robert Browne, “The Life and Manners of All True Christians”

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“The Life and Manners of All True Christians” (1582)

Robert Browne

in Creeds and Platforms of Congregationalism by Williston Walker

(Pilgrim, 1969 – original 1893), pp. 18-27

Browne was an English minister who because of his extreme views on the nature of the church withdrew temporarily to Holland in 1581. Eventually he made his peace with the Church of England and lived out his long life in obscurity.

Williston Walker declares that Browne laid down imperfectly but “with great clearness the essential features of modern Congregationalism.” He was the first English writer to promulgate the Anabaptist view that the state had no control over the spiritual matters of the church.

Brown (#53) divides the leadership of the church between pastor and teacher, a distinction used in the early American colonial period and in a sense reintroduced to the UUA by the recognition for fellowship of Ministers of Religious Education.

Those who govern the church must have the agreement of others (#114) and be called (#118 and 117) by choice (#118 and footnote 1).

1)    Browne depends on more than Biblical authority. How is it made manifest?

2)    Despite the emphasis on freedom, what bonds of community did Browne advocate?

The full text is available online in a variety of places, including at Google books, here; Raible’s excerpt begins at page 18 of the text.