Towards the end of the Apologia Newman reflects on some of the tenets of the Creed. His comments here on original sin strike home.
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Newman's enemies took this passage from the Apologia as a sign that once across the Tiber, he stopped thinking. It played to the narrative of Rome as the refuge for those who were tired of theological speculation, as well as to the one which saw the Catholic Church as the enemy of free thought. In fact, as Newman makes clear here, what ceased were his doubts about where the True Church was to be found. As we shall see, he continued to be one of the foremost Christian thinkers of his own, or any other, time.
This is almost unbearable in its poignancy - save for the fact that Newman found the pearl of great price. But for it he gave up all that was most precious in this world. It is a heart hard as stone which can read the last sentence without a tear.
By the end of 1844, Newman was hanging on by a thread to his Anglicanism. These letters to Miss Giberne give some indication of his mental anguish. There will be not a few converts who can sympathise.
The more Newman contemplated the history of the doctrines of the faith, the more his reluctance to consider Rome as the true Church began to dissolve. Here we have something of his own, later, explanation of the process.
This is an extract from a letter Newman wrote to the Bishop of Oxford on 14 April 1842 denying rumours in the newspapers that he was setting up a monastery in Littlemore. How little things change.
Newman's orthodox views had always made him an object of suspicion with those of more flexible views. As he withdrew to Littlemore to pray for guidance, his many enemies, emboldened, stepped up a whispering campaign about his honesty and his motives. It was ever thus. Here Newman reflects on his own motives and actions and the reasons for them.
By 1845 Newman knew, not only in his head, but in his heart, that he could no longer remain within the Anglican Church. Next week we will look at some of the arguments which helped lead him to that conclusion
From the time of the Bishopric Jerusalem affair, Newman's view was the the only claim the Anglican Church could make on him was on the condition of its 'being a portion of the One Catholic Communion, and that that condition must ever be borne in mind as a practical matter, and had to be distinctly proved.' He set out to determine the marks of a true Church - the first of these was 'sanctity'.
Small stones precipitate avalanches. Newman may have been unhappy with the reception of Tract XC, and he may have nursed doubts about whether the Via Media was real, but it took the decision of the Whig Government to agree to a joint Anglican-Lutheran bishopric in Jerusalem to make him publicly protest the anomaly of a Church which believed in Apostolic succession cooperating with one which did not. He wrote a letter of protest to his bishop, of which this is part.
Newman's claim that the Anglican Church was 'the Church' depended upon view of history which he had taken for granted as part of his education/ But the more he examined the question, the more the inadequacy of that was borne in on him.
In an essay entitled, Prospects of the Anglican Church, published in the British Critic, April 1839, Newman wrote his last words to Anglicans as an Anglican. The confidence he felt was in the triumph of the Catholic Church, but, for reasons we will enter into, he came to see that what he called 'Catholicity' was identical with what he then called 'Popery'.
Now we begin the story of what Newman called the 'great revolution'. To change one's church is seldom an easy matter, partly for the reasons Newman outlines here; one is always apt to incur suspicions, which tend to linger. This was particularly so for one situated as Newman was. The reasons for it can already be traced in some of the foregoing passages, but at its heart was prayer, history, and Newman's growing understanding of the developing understanding of doctrine. Much that had perplexed him was thereby enlightened.
To live long with an argument is to come to accept it as normative; this was Newman's position with regard to Tract XC. He was correspondingly taken aback by the virulence of the reaction to his arguments. As with many orthodox Christians, the fact that he was under a duty of obedience to his bishop put him in a difficult position; ordered not to defend himself, he retreated and resigned from the Oxford Movement.
At the heart of the Oxford Movement was the attempt to show that the Anglican Church was not a Protestant one, but one which had kept its Catholic heritage. To do this, however, was to invite the challenge that the XXXIX Articles to which Newman, like every Anglican clergyman had assented, were anti-Roman. Here Newman describes how he tried to square the cricle.
Newman looked back on the early years of the Oxford Movement as his happiest - from an earthly point of view. It was the seed-bed of his best work.
There were those who argued that the Oxford Movement was bound to lead its members to Rome. To counter this view Newman wrote "The Prophetical Office of the Church viewed relatively to Romanism and Popular Protestantism." It was an attempt to find a middle way between Protestantism and Rome - with what success, Newman's career was to reveal.
Pusey's importance to the Oxford Movement is well-summarised here by Newman.
Newman was not fond of the view that he was one of the leaders of the Oxford Movement, mainly because he was painfully aware of his own deficiencies in that respect. It is hard, however, to agree with his assessment here.
Those who later accused Newman of having been a 'papist' all along, could not have been more incorrect. Here, in a frank passage from the Apologia he reveals his early critique of Rome - and one of the reasons for its not taking hold.