The Spirit of the Oxford Movement

The Spirit of the Oxford Movement

by Christopher H. Dawson



Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780404140250
Publisher: AMS Press, Inc.
Publication date: 06/01/1975
Edition description: REPRINT
Pages: 144

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When launched in 1833, the Oxford Movement (¿OM¿) said no Parliament¿s micro managing the Church of England (¿C of E¿). It both woke up Anglicans to dangers to their church and propelled its boldest members into Roman Catholicism. Historian Christopher Dawson sees the OM as part of ¿an extraordinary flowering of the national genius such as England had not known since the Elizabethan age.¿ The OM played down or negated the Protestant aspects of the C of E while rediscovering its universality, truth and catholicity. ---- Dawson finds OM leader John Henry Newman (1801 - 1890) ¿one of the greatest of English religious thinkers.¿ Yet Newman became great only after nagging by the movement¿s angry young Achilles, Richard Hurrell Froude. Some regarded the Continental Reformation as overly strong medicine which had crippled the 16th Century C of E. Fortunately, the worst aspects of the Reformation had been sanitized by great Anglican thinkers of the 17th Century. For they knew the Greek and Latin Fathers and ranked them far higher than Luther or Calvin. ---- Dawson sketches all the Movement¿s leaders, including John Keble who taught a high morality. He gives many pages to Richard Hurrell Froude, the OM¿s uncompromising battler for an other-worldly church. Newman thought Froude the most gifted person he ever knew. ---- John Henry Newman was born middle class and into a Low Church world of great spiritual revivals and crusades. Inspired by Calvin¿s belief in a supernatural order and the transcendent majesty of God, Newman nonetheless rejected the harsh ethics of Puritanism, its bare liturgy, arid dogmatism, and its insistence that human nature is utterly depraved. ---- Newman sought and proclaimed God both through reason, poetry and carefully crafted novels and sermons. Hurrell Froude simply despised the Reformation as anti-historical. ---- Newman and friends wanted to create a ¿via media,¿ a mean between the 16th Century Reformation which tossed away too much from the Church of the Fathers and a Roman Catholicism which added too many novelties. Newman had to win over both Oxford University and the bishops. By 1841 he had publicly failed in both arenas. ---- In 1845 Newman converted to Rome and the OM within the C of E lost much of its elan. Thanks to Newman and to Continental writers like Lamennais, Western culture did not go completely secular. Indeed the Catholic Church was far stronger and purer at the death of Leo XIII than it had been two hundred years earlier. Some Anglican bishops such as Samuel Wilberforce eventually propagated a C of E via media. ---- Almost alone among Catholic thinkers Newman recognized the mortal danger to Christianity from 19th Century secularism while not simply wringing his hands for the Faith of the Fathers. For human nature was reclaimable, and God had sent his Apostles to reclaim it. It was gospel to the Oxford Movement that there is a higher reality than anything we see. Uniting with that reality is why we are placed on earth. ---- Among historians of the ¿back to the Fathers¿ movement, Dawson stands out for highlighting and quoting extensively from the lyric poetry of Newman, Keble and Froude. THE SPIRIT OF THE OXFORD MOVEMENT remains the best short introduction to the Oxford Movement and especially to Froude and Newman.