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Oxford movement

Oxford movement, religious movement begun in 1833 by Anglican clergymen at the Univ. of Oxford to renew the Church of England (see England, Church of) by reviving certain Roman Catholic doctrines and rituals. This attempt to stir the Established Church into new life arose among a group of spiritual leaders in Oriel College, Oxford. Prominent among them were John Henry Newman, John Keble, Richard Hurrell Froude, Charles Marriott, and later Edward Bouverie Pusey and Richard William Church. The Oxford movement has exerted a great influence, doctrinally, spiritually, and liturgically not only on the Church of England but also throughout the Anglican Communion.

Early Years: The Tracts

In July of 1833, Keble preached a sermon, On the National Apostasy, which Newman held to be the actual opening of the movement. A few days later a meeting was held at Hadleigh, Suffolk, in the rectory house of Hugh James Rose, "the Cambridge originator of the Oxford movement," and a resolution was made to uphold "the apostolic succession and the integrity of the Prayer-Book." Newman, who felt that extensive popularizing was more effective than organization, immediately launched a series of pamphlets, Tracts for the Times. Later, Keble and Pusey joined him, and their group became known as the Tractarians. To the tracts was added The Library of the Father of the Holy Catholic Church (translations from patristic writings) to encourage a return to the beliefs and customs of the first centuries of the church.

The Tractarians preached Anglicanism as a via media between Roman Catholicism and evangelicalism. Newman became the acknowledged leader in answering critics and advocating the restoration of practices abandoned in the Church of England since the Reformation. When the Tractarians attacked Renn Dickson Hampden, a follower of Richard Whately, the liberals, led by Dr. Thomas Arnold, opposed them openly. After 1834, Pusey was influential in the movement, adding force and dignity to the controversial manner and emphasizing the observance of ritual. Opponents dubbed the movement "Puseyism."

Within the movement itself, a Romanizing party developed under William George Ward, Frederick William Faber and others, and it was partly to counter them that Newman wrote his celebrated Tract 90 on the Thirty-nine Articles, which aroused a storm of opposition and brought the series to an end (1841). The movement lost valuable supporters to Roman Catholicism, including Newman, and Henry Edward Manning. The movement to Roman Catholicism was opposed by Pusey, under whose leadership the majority remained loyal to the Church of England. Under Pusey the movement advanced beyond its academic beginning and became an effective vehicle for ecclesiastical and, later, social reform.

Later Years: Changes in Religious Practices

Among the means for renewing deep and personal devotion to the teachings of the Bible, Keble, Newman, and especially Pusey, sought to develop religious community life. Sisterhoods were founded, the first in 1845. They became centers of charitable and social work of importance. Communities for men were fewer and expanded less rapidly.

The Oxford movement also stressed higher standards of worship, and particularly in the later period many changes were made in the church services, e.g., beautification of churches, intonation of services, the wearing of vestments, and emphasis on hymn singing. Every effort to revive ceremonial customs aroused a storm of excitement and opposition leading at times to rioting. This violence culminated in 1860 at St. George's-in-the East, London. Because attention was centered upon the forms of expression in the churches, especially between 1857 and 1871, the followers of the Oxford movement became known as ritualists. Anglo-Catholicism was another name for the movement as its supporters tried to secure in the Established Church recognition of ancient Catholic liturgy and doctrine.

The changes desired by the ritualists caused much public agitation and litigation between 1850 and 1890. In 1874 the Public Worship Regulation Act was passed by Parliament, avowedly to "put down Ritualism." On the part of churchmen the struggle was fought in resistance to secular authority in spiritual affairs. No Anglo-Catholic could recognize the mandates of a purely parliamentary court, such as the judicial committee of the privy council, which, although it lacked spiritual authority, was the supreme court of ecclesiastical appeal. The last imprisonment for refusal to admit its authority was made in 1887, after which such resistance was respected as reasonable.

In later years the followers of the movement placed increasing emphasis on the responsibility of Christians in the life of society and have given much attention to social problems. This social concern led to the foundation of the Christian Social Union in 1889 under Brooke Foss Westcott and Henry Scott Holland.

Bibliography

See R. W. Church, The Oxford Movement (1891; rev. ed. 1970, ed. by G. Best and J. Clive); E. R. Fairweather, The Oxford Movement (1964); M. R. O'Connell, The Oxford Conspirators (1969); R. Chapman, Faith and Revolt (1970).

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Oxford Movement

Oxford Movement. A movement in the Church of England, beginning in the 19th cent., which had a profound impact on the theology, piety, and liturgy of Anglicanism. Its acknowledged leaders, John Keble, J. H. Newman, and E. B. Pusey, were all Oxford dons, and it is Keble's 1833 sermon on ‘National Apostasy’ (attacking the government's plan to suppress, without proper reference to the Church, ten Irish bishoprics) which is conventionally seen as the moment when the movement came to birth.

The movement reacted against decline in church life, the threat posed by liberal theology and rationalism, and the fear that the government was, in the words of Keble, intent on making the Church of England ‘as one sect among many’.

The organ of the movement was the series of Tracts for the Times (1–90; 1833–41) from which its supporters derived the name Tractarians. Although aimed against both ‘Popery and Dissent’, they were viewed with increasing alarm by those outside the movement who saw in them evidence of creeping Romanism. Newman's Tract Ninety, which attempted to square the Thirty-Nine Articles with Roman Catholicism, was condemned by many bishops, and a crisis was reached in 1845 when Newman and some of his supporters converted to Rome.

The heart of the movement's renewal of Anglicanism lay not so much in the ritual of worship, as in the impetus it gave to more godly living worked out through the revival of religious communities and a deep commitment to parish and mission work, especially among the poor and deprived.

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Oxford Movement

OXFORD MOVEMENT

OXFORD MOVEMENT. The Oxford Movement was a religious revival in the Church of England (1833) that emphasized the church's Catholic heritage in doctrine, polity, and worship. In America the movement found congenial soil among Episcopalians already influenced by the high churchmanship of Bishop John H. Hobart of New York (1775–1830). Opposition by those who believed the movement endangered the protestantism of the church reached an apex during the 1840s. Several high-profile conversions to Roman Catholicism increased party tension. Although the matter was settled by the 1874 canon, which prevented liturgical practices inconsistent with the church's doctrines, the movement exercised a permanent influence on the liturgy of the Episcopal church.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Chadwick, Owen. The Spirit of the Oxford Movement: Tractarian Essays. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Mullin, Robert Bruce. Episcopal Vision/American Reality: High Church Theology and Social Thought in Evangelical America. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1986.

Massey H.ShepherdJr./a. r.

See alsoEpiscopalianism ; Religious Thought and Writings .

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Oxford movement

Oxford movement. Founded by a group of clerical Oxford dons in the 1830s and 1840s, who sought to renew the Church of England through rediscovering its catholic inheritance. It was a response to the perceived decline of the Church of England into dangerous liberalism and excessive control by Parliament, which produced a desire to emphasize the spiritual and divine institution of the Church of England. Its starting-point is usually taken as Keble's Assize Sermon of 1833. The end of the first phase came with the reception of Newman into the Roman catholic church in 1845. Between 1833 and 1841 its leaders produced the Tracts for the Times, hence the alternative name of ‘tractarianism’.

Judith Champ

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Oxford Movement

Oxford Movement Attempt by some members of the Church of England to restore the ideals of the pre-Reformation Church. It lasted from c.1833 to the first decades of the 20th century. Among the main proponents was John Newman.

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