Dr Thomas Arnold, the great headmaster of Rugby and epitome of 'muscular Christianity' had a dislike for the Oxford Movement and its progenitors: part of this was the disgust felt by the philistine for what he regards as the overly-sentimental and effeminate, that has always played its part in the Protestant distaste for Marian veneration; and part of it came from a feeling that Newman and his friends actually worshipped an entity called 'the Church'. The contemporary criticism of 'Churchianity' has a longer history than its contemporary adherents often realise.
Writing in 1836, Arnold observed acidly:
It is clear to me that Newman and his party are idolaters; they put Christ's Church and Christ's sacraments, and Christ's ministers in the place of Christ himself
That is a criticism still levelled by some at the Church to this day. Newman was not unconscious of it.
The Oxford Movement turned away from the Protestant preoccupation with ransacking the Pauline epistles for texts on 'the sufficiency of scripture' and the difference between 'justification' and 'sanctification', or the right to 'private judgement'. There was an increased insistence on the Gospels and their patristic inheritance. But there was, as Newman put it in his sermon on the Tears of Christ at the Grave of Lazarus, a deep concern for the person of Christ:
When we contemplate Christ as manifested in the Gospels, the Christ who exists therein, external to our own imaginings, and who is really a living being, and sojourned on earth as truly as any of us, then we shall at length believe in Him with a conviction, a confidence, and an entireness, which can no more be annihilated than belief in our sense.
Just because Newman's sense of history and his spiritual journey took him beyond the evangelical religion of his youth, did not mean that it was abandoned. It was incorporated into the deepening of his faith. As he once wrote about himself:
The divine truths about Our Lord and HIs Person and Offices, His grace, the regeneration of our nature in Him, the supreme duty of living not only morally, but in His Faith, fear and love, together with the study of Scripture in which those truths lay, had sheltered and protected him in his most dangerous years
Newman's devotion to the person of Christ was lifelong, and in reemphasising things which the Church in his time had neglected, he was not neglecting those things would ought never to be neglected. The Catholic Church simply reinforced those truths for him, and his immersion in the Fathers brought him close to those who had followed that same path before him.
Newman became conscious of the gaps in the history taught to him and by the Church of England, and as he became embroiled in the study of the Arians of the fourth century, he came to the conclusion that whilst Rome stood then where it did in his day, his own Church was not in that place.