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John Henry Newman

John Henry Newman

The English cardinal and theologian John Henry Newman (1801-1890) was a leading figure in the Oxford movement. After his conversion to Rome, his qualities of mind and literary style won him a position of respect among English intellectuals and theologians.

John Henry Newman was born in London on Feb. 21, 1801. His father was a banker of Evangelical religious beliefs. At the age of 15 Newman experienced a religious "conversion" that was the foundation of his lifelong intense faith in God. In 1816 he matriculated at Trinity College, Oxford, from which he graduated in 1821. Having determined upon taking Holy Orders, he applied for a fellowship at Oriel College, to which he was elected in 1822. There Newman came under the influence of Richard Whately and the "Oriel Noetics," who taught a strict logical approach to religious faith. To them he was indebted for his skill in analysis and argument. In 1824 he was ordained and became curate of St. Clement's, Oxford. In 1826 Newman was appointed public tutor of Oriel and 2 years later became vicar of St. Mary's, Oxford. During this time he had separated from the Noetics in matters of doctrine and had come under the Anglo-Catholic influence of Hurrell Froude and John Keble. He had also begun his studies in the history and doctrine of the early Church. In 1832 Newman resigned his office and went on a tour of the Mediterranean with Froude. During the trip he wrote most of the Lyra apostolica and the hymn "Lead, Kindly Light."

Oxford Movement

Newman returned to England in July 1833. On July 14 Keble preached at Oxford his famous sermon "National Apostasy" against the Whigs who were seeking to dis-establish the Church. This sermon is regarded as the inauguration of the Oxford movement. Its organization dates from a meeting later that month of Froude and others at the Hadleigh vicarage of H.J. Rose, editor of the British Magazine. They determined to initiate a fight for the doctrine of apostolic succession and for the integrity of the Prayer Book. Several weeks later Newman independently began to publish his Tracts for the Times, which gave to the movement the alternate name of tractarianism.

The aims of the Oxford movement were to combat the influence of the state over the Church and to establish a foundation of doctrine for the Church of England by teaching its descent from the early Church and its Catholic traditions. Newman complemented the tracts with his celebrated Sunday afternoon sermons delivered in St. Mary's, which attracted many followers and admirers.

Newman's influence was at its height by the end of the 1830s, though opposition was gathering to the "Romish" tendencies of the movement. However, he himself was at first firmly committed to the notion of the Anglican Church as a via media—in the positive sense of keeping a path of truth between erroneous extremes. But, gradually, by 1839 he had begun to doubt the strength of the Anglican position, noting a resemblance between Anglicanism and certain heresies of the early Church. Newman's Tract XC, published in 1841, showed the tide of his feelings. In order to "test the tenability of all Catholic doctrine within the Church of England," he examined the Thirty-nine Articles to show that they had been directed not against the Roman Catholic position but only against popular errors and exaggeration. The tract aroused a storm of controversy and the bishop of Oxford ordered the series suspended.

Conversion to Rome

In 1842 Newman retired to his dependent chapel at Littlemore and spent the following 3 years in prayer and study. During this time he wrote his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, which expounded the principle by which he reconciled himself to later accretions in the Roman creed. In 1843 he formally recanted all his criticism of the Roman Catholic Church and resigned the living of St. Mary's. Two years later he was received into the Roman Catholic Church.

In 1846 Newman went to Rome and was ordained a priest. He joined the Oratorian order, and he returned to England to found the Oratory at Edgbaston near Birmingham, and later the London Oratory. The next years were difficult for him as he could find no secure position, being distrusted by English Protestants and Roman Catholics alike. He delivered a brilliant series of lectures, The Idea of a University, setting forth his humane ideas of education.

The "Apologia"

In 1864 Newman's opportunity for self-justification arrived. His veracity had been incidentally slighted in an article by Charles Kingsley in Macmillan's Magazine. In reply Newman wrote the Apologia pro vita sua, an autobiographical account of his religious development and opinions. The directness and honesty of the work vindicated the author's integrity and restored him to public favor. In 1870 he published The Grammar of Assent, in which he argued the psychological validity of faith against the rational approach to religious truth. In 1878 Newman was made an honorary fellow of Trinity College, Oxford, and the following year he was created a cardinal. He died, much loved and revered, on Aug. 11, 1890.

Further Reading

The standard biographical works are Anne Mozely, ed., Letters and Correspondence of John Henry Newman during His Life in the English Church, with a Brief Autobiography (2 vols., 1891), and Wilfrid Ward, The Life of John Henry, Cardinal Newman (2 vols., 1912). To these may be added Meriol Trevor, Newman: Light in Winter (1962) and Newman: The Pillar of the Cloud (1962). The best introduction to Newman's work as a whole is Charles F. Harrold, John Henry Newman: An Expository and Critical Study of His Mind, Thought, and Art (1945). An excellent introduction to Newman's theory of education is A. Dwight Culler, The Imperial Intellect (1955).

On the Oxford movement the standard account is R. W. Church, The Oxford Movement: Twelve Years, 1833-1845 (1891). Another helpful study is Geoffrey Faber, Oxford Apostles (1933; repr. 1954). For the period's intellectual background see Walter Houghton, The Victorian Frame of Mind 1830-1870 (1957; repr. 1963), and Basil Willey, Nineteenth Century Studies (1949; repr. 1964).

Additional Sources

Dessain, Charles Stephen., John Henry Newman, Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.

Elwood, J. Murray., Kindly light: the spiritual vision of John Henry Newman, Notre Dame, Ind.: Ave Maria Press, 1979.

Giese, Vincent J., John Henry Newman: heart to heart, New Rochelle, NY: New City Press, 1993.

Gilley, Sheridan., Newman and his age, Westminster, Md.: Christian Classics, 1991.

Henderson, Heather, The Victorian self: autobiography and Biblical narrative, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989.

Hutton, Richard Holt, Cardinal Newman, New York: AMS Press, 1977.

Ker, I. T. (Ian Turnbull), John Henry Newman: a biography, Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Martin, Brian., John Henry Newman, his life and work, London: Chatto & Windus, 1982.

Sugg, Joyce., A saint for Birmingham?, London: Catholic Truth Society, 1978.

Trevor, Meriol., Newman's journey, Huntington, Ind.: Our Sunday Visitor, 1985.

John Henry, Cardinal Newman, Norwood, Pa.: Norwood Editions, 1976. □

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Newman, John Henry

John Henry Newman, 1801–90, English churchman, cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, one of the founders of the Oxford movement, b. London.

Early Life and Works

He studied at Trinity College, Oxford, and held a fellowship at Oriel College, where he became tutor (1826) after his ordination (1824) in the Church of England. He was made vicar of St. Mary's, Oxford, in 1827 and was (1831–32) select preacher to the university. In 1832 he resigned his tutorship after a dispute over his religious duties and went on a Mediterranean tour. While on this trip he wrote "Lead, Kindly Light" and other hymns. After John Keble preached the celebrated sermon "National Apostasy" in the summer of 1833, Newman threw himself into the ensuing discussion and in September began the Tracts for the Times. These, joined with his sermons given at St. Mary's, provided guidance and inspiration to the Oxford movement.

About 1840, Newman began to lose faith in his position, and an article by Nicholas Wiseman led him to reconsider the Roman Catholic claims. In 1841 his Anglican career came to a crisis; in that year Newman published Tract 90, demonstrating that the Thirty-nine Articles, the formulary of faith of the Church of England, were consistent with Catholicism. It created a great outcry from Anglicans everywhere and a ban on the Tracts for the Times from the bishop of Oxford. Newman now went into retirement at Littlemore (a chapelry attached to St. Mary's), where he remained for more than a year, living with a group of men in a sort of monastic seclusion. He gave up his living in Sept., 1843, and in 1845 was received into the Roman Catholic Church.

The chief literary products of Newman's retirement consisted of the Essay on Miracles and the Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. In 1846 he went to Rome, where he received ordination and a doctorate of divinity. He entered the Oratorians (see Oratory, Congregation of the) and came back to England (1847) filled with the idea of extending the church in England by means of the Oratory. After living at various places he settled at Edgbaston (on the outskirts of Birmingham); there, in the Oratory he founded, he remained the rest of his life.

Newman's life was marked by several unpleasant public events, the first of these being a libel suit against him by an Italian ex-friar named Achilli. Newman lost the suit, but was later exonerated, and a great fund was publicly raised to defray the expense and the fine he had incurred. In 1854 the bishops of Ireland tried to found a Catholic university in Dublin and made Newman its head; he found himself in difficulties at once, and the ill-planned project was abandoned.

Later Life and Works

Newman's theories appearing in his Idea of a University Defined (1873) were chiefly developed about this time. He believed that education should be moral training rather than instruction and proposed in token support of his position the founding of a Roman Catholic hall at Oxford to provide Catholics with the advantages of Catholicism and university training together. This (1858) was opposed by Henry Manning and the English hierarchy, much to Newman's disappointment. Newman's reputation in England was greatly enhanced soon after this by one of the most celebrated incidents of his career, the controversy with Charles Kingsley. This began in 1864 when Kingsley remarked in a review that the Catholic clergy was not interested in the truth for its own sake. After several exchanges Newman published the Apologia pro vita sua (1864), a masterpiece of religious autobiography, undoubtedly its author's greatest work.

A few years later an ambitious work of another kind appeared, the Grammar of Assent (1870), designed to set forth a sort of logic of religious belief. At this time Newman was involved in an annoying incident that gained more notice than its importance warranted; Newman, who opposed the enunciation at the time of the infallibility dogma, was quoted as denouncing those (including Cardinal Manning) who advocated its definition. He was misunderstood in England, and his enemies (Catholic and non-Catholic) spread rumors in Rome that he opposed the dogma itself; Newman soon lost favor with the papacy.

It was not until after the death of Pius IX that he regained papal support when Pius's successor, Leo XIII, created him cardinal (1879) at the general demand of English Catholicism. About the same time (1878) Trinity College, Oxford, gave him an honorary fellowship. Cardinal Newman spent his declining years at Edgbaston, loved and admired by his countrymen. Newman's misunderstanding with Manning nevertheless lasted over 30 years. The two cardinals were temperamentally poles apart; Newman had no interest in social reform and Manning no taste for theological controversy.

Style and Influence

Newman ranks as one of the masters of English prose; his style is simple, lucid, clear, and convincing. His poems, however, never gained a great reputation, except for The Dream of Gerontius (1866), which was later set to music by Sir Edward Elgar; his religious novels, Loss and Gain (1848) and Callista (1856), are no longer read. For the collected editions of his works, Newman wrote refutations of his own Anglican writings, especially those dealing with Anglicanism as a via media. Newman's immediate influence was greatest c.1840, and many Anglicans entered the Roman Catholic Church at his inspiration. His essays retain their vitality and popularity. Newman was beatified in 2010.

Bibliography

For selections from Newman's writings, see G. Tillotson, ed., Prose and Poetry (1957); H. Tristram, ed., Autobiographical Writings (1957) and Catholic Sermons (1957); J. Collins, ed., Philosophical Readings (1961). The definitive biography is that of W. P. Ward (1927). See also biographies by M. Trevor (2 vol., 1962–63), T. L. Sheridan (1967), and J. Cornwell (2010); studies by J. H. Walgrave (tr. 1960), C. F. Harrold (1945, repr. 1966), and H. L. Weatherby (1973).

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Newman, John Henry

Newman, John Henry (1801–90). Cardinal. The greatest catholic theologian and spiritual writer of the last 200 years, and likely to be officially declared a saint, Newman was the leading convert of the Oxford movement. His published writings, including An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (1845), sermons, and Letters and Diaries, profoundly influenced the second Vatican Council (1962–5), often called ‘Newman's Council’. His writings on the Christian church brought ecclesiastical censure and, after a period of withdrawal and reflection, he became a catholic in 1845. Theological controversy pursued him through his life of pastoral ministry at the Birmingham Oratory, which he founded. Sensitive to the alleged and often real rebuffs of friends, but also to the demands of ecclesiastical authority, he was often at its mercy. He was delated to Rome for his writings on the laity and the shadow of suspicion was not lifted until he was made cardinal in 1878.

Newman was the son of a London banker and educated at Trinity College, Oxford. He became a fellow of Oriel College and held the living of St Clements, Oxford, which he resigned in 1843 before joining the catholic church. Apologia pro vita sua (1864) explained his spiritual and religious views. The Idea of a University (1852) was a plea for universities to offer a liberal education, for the cultivation of the mind.

Judith Champ

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"Newman, John Henry." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Newman, John Henry

Newman, John Henry (1801–90). Christian theologian and leader of the Oxford Movement, also a writer, poet, and historian, whose genius lay in the combination of these talents.

In the early 1840s he withdrew from leadership of the Oxford Movement and, in 1845, converted to Roman Catholicism. For Newman, Rome offered that assurance Anglicanism seemed to lack and for which he longed. In 1848 he founded the Birmingham Oratory. He spent the rest of his life there, save for a period in Dublin, between 1854 to 1858, to which he went as rector of the new Catholic university. He also helped to found the London Oratory, and was made a cardinal in 1879.

His published works are substantial. They include his autobiography, Apologia pro vita sua, published in 1864 in response to an attack from Charles Kingsley; a treatise on education The Idea of a University (1852); numerous theological texts, including An Essay on Development of Christian Doctrine (1845); An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent (1870); the novel Loss and Gain, and The Dream of Gerontius (1865).

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Newman, John Henry

Newman, John Henry (1801–90) English theologian and cardinal. As leader of the Oxford Movement (1833–45), Newman had a powerful effect on the Church of England, only equalled by the shock of his conversion to Roman Catholicism (1845). A great literary stylist, he is remembered especially for his autobiography, Apologia pro vita sua (1864).

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