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date: 26 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article considers a Christian view of conscience starting with St. Augustine’s personal crisis in his Confessions. Augustine’s conscience sits at the margins of the self, balanced between interior and exterior. A new emphasis emerges in Protestant views of conscience, including Martin Luther’s emphasis on conscientia mea in his writings and his understanding of conscience. A Reformation view of personal conscience is illustrated in Henry VIII’s frequent references to “my conscience,” and other instances. The clash of personal and collective views of conscience underlies the views of sixteenth-century judge James Hales and Marian chancellor Stephen Gardiner. The evangelically leaning Hales sees conscience as a private matter, a personal secret, unknowable to any other person. In contrast, Gardiner, a Catholic, insists that conscience is a recognizable and unproblematic entity with evident properties that make it easily identifiable.

Keywords: conscience, interiority, Middle Ages, Reformation, St. Augustine, Confessions, Henry VIII, Sir Thomas More, Martin Luther, James Hales, Stephen Gardiner

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