John Milton and the Magisterial Reformation

In the English prose he published over a period of two decades, John Milton frequently uses the term ‘reformation’ to identify the age in which he was living and the causes for which he was fighting. In so doing, he reveals his support for the magisterial Reformation and his rejection of the radical Reformation. He expresses his desire not for religious diversity but for union with the Scottish and Continental Reformed Churches. He constructs a complex discourse that is self-serving, misleading in some ways, prophetic, and calculated to win a range of polemical contests. In supporting the magisterial Reformation, he also displays his support for theologians who participate in government, and magistrates who participate in determining religious belief and conduct. Milton thus repudiates many aspects of modernity and is, as he insists, a man who lived during, and promoted what he called, ‘times of reformation’.

You can read the essay from Renaissance and Reformation Review for free here.