The Oxford Movement Historical Theology Collection brings together some of the most important titles to have stemmed from the Oxford Movement and the Tractarians. As historical documents, the ten volumes, all long out-of-print, play witness to one of the greatest debates in the Church of England since its split from the Roman Papacy. As works of theology, the volumes deliver edifying accounts of church history, apostolic succession, the nature of the Virgin Mary, the doctrine of the Eucharist, and many other issues pertinent to any era.
This collection focuses particularly on the works of Edward Pusey, leader of the Oxford Movement. Also included are three books by Darwell Stone and Charles Gore (Archbishop of Oxford) who helped assure by their writings that the work started by the Oxford Movement would continue into the 20th century. Moreover, the collection features an important work by J. B. Lightfoot, in which he clarifies some of his earlier claims that were contrary to the ancient traditions of the early undivided Church. This collection is valuable for students, clergymen, or anyone interested in church history, Eucharistic doctrine, or Anglicanism.
The Church of England’s secession away from the authority of the Roman Pope in the early sixteenth century caused a conflict between the Catholic and the Puritan elements in the English Church. The Catholics wished only to remove abuses added by the medieval church, whereas the Puritans wanted more radical changes along the lines of the continental reformation. By the end of the eighteenth century many of the Catholic elements had been stripped out of Anglicanism through the heavy influence of the Puritans.
In 1833 the Oxford Movement began a Catholic Revival within The Church of England. This movement began at Oxford University and included (among others) John Keble, John Henry Newman, Edward Bouverie Pusey, Isaac Williams, John Mason Neale and Charles Marriot. These men were often called the Tractarians, named so for their series of tracts (“Tracts for the Times”) promoting and defending the principles and theology of the movement. What they were arguing for was not a new religion, but rather a re-integration into Anglicanism of the Catholic faith of the Early Church Fathers – “the Faith once delivered to the Saints” (Jude 3). The Oxford Movement sought to establish the via media (the middle way) between the extremes of the abuses of the Medieval Papacy, and the stripped-down minimalist religion of Protestant Geneva.
Pusey, Edward (1800–1882)
Leader in the Anglo–Catholic Oxford movement within the Church of England
Pusey was Regius Professor of Hebrew and canon of Christ Church at Oxford. He shared with other brilliant young Oxford conservatives concern about the rising tide of biblical and theological liberalism and the reform spirit rampant in Britain during the late 1820s and 1830s. He contributed to reviving a “dead” High Church orthodoxy by stimulating knowledge of the early church fathers and of non–Puritan Anglicans of the seventeenth century. Their teaching had been obscured, in his estimation, by Deism, Broad Church theological indifference, and the evangelicals’ concentration upon God’s work alone in justification and the experience of that. Pusey began to warn against the dangers of the new German theology, which he had studied firsthand. He began in late 1833 to contribute to the Tracts for the Times edited by John Henry Newman and to make the Tracts significant expressions of Anglo– Catholic teaching. He established a residence for theological students and a society for professors, tutors, and graduates in order to spread his principles. In 1836, he commenced editing translations of early Christian writers under the title The Library of the Fathers, which became a lifetime project, the last of the forty–eight volumes being published after his death. He was the first person of prominence to identify himself publicly with the movement, causing “Puseyism” to become the sometimes popular designation for it.
Because of an 1843 sermon, “The Holy Eucharist,” he was suspended two years from preaching at Oxford for the Romish views expressed, an event that contributed to the conversion of Newman and others to Roman Catholicism. Pusey, however, remained steadfastly within the Church of England. He had learned to bear much sorrow in his private life through strict discipline and such practices as the wearing of a hair shirt. Nor did he share Newman’s view that officials were to be obeyed absolutely. Pusey’s strength helped retain others. He was instrumental in 1845 in establishing an order of sisters in London. This was evidence of his personal charity and of new vitality among Anglo–Catholics in reaching the poor, as well as of the Church’s ability to accept Anglo–Catholic concepts. In 1846, he resumed his university preaching, taking up theologically where he had left off. Later, a new wave of liberalism in the church provided Pusey his final thrusts of public activity against the influence of Benjamin Jowett and biblical higher criticism.
Lightfoot, Joseph Barber (1828-1889)
Bishop of Durham; biblical scholar
Born in Liverpool, Lightfoot was educated at King Edward’s School, Birmingham, and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he became a fellow in 1852. He was ordained an Anglican priest in 1858 and taught classics in his college. In 1861 he became Hulsean professor of divinity. Lecturing mainly on the Epistles of Paul, he attracted large audiences. In 1870 he persuaded his friend B. F. Westcott to make himself available for the vacant regius professorship of divinity, to which Westcott was then elected. The two friends worked side by side, doing much to make critical study of the New Testament attractive.
Having refused the bishopric of Lichfield, Lightfoot accepted that of Durham in 1870. He gave himself wholeheartedly to his large diocese with its mines and ports. He organized a biennial diocesan conference, increased the number of full-time lay workers, started a church building fund, and traveled many miles to visit the parishes. Exhausted, he died in December 1889 and was buried in the chapel of Auckland Castle, the traditional home of the bishops of Durham.
Lightfoot’s scholarly output was immense. He was a leading member of the team of New Testament translators for the Revised Version. He filled his commentaries on Galatians (1865), Philippians (1868), and Colossians with Philemon (1875) with erudition. Likewise, his editions of the apostolic fathers (1869, 1885), especially the two volumes on Ignatius, were very important in their day. In his Leaders of the Northern Church (1890) he used his historical gifts to communicate at a more popular level. Lightfoot will be remembered, along with Westcott and Hort (his two companions), for providing the best in English biblical scholarship.
Gore, Charles (1853–1932)
Anglican bishop and theologian
Born at Wimbledon (England), Gore was educated at Harrow and at Oxford University, where he was elected a fellow of Trinity College in 1875. He became vice–principal of Cuddesdon Theological College in 1880, then served as first principal of Pusey House, Oxford (1884–1893). While there, he founded a religious order, the Community of the Resurrection, of which he remained head until 1901. After six years as a canon (clergyman) of Westminster Cathedral, he was appointed bishop of Worcester (1902).
Largely through Gore’s efforts, the new diocese of Birmingham was established. In 1905 he became its first bishop. Transferred to the see of Oxford in 1911, he served there until 1919, when he resigned. Settling in London, he devoted himself to writing and teaching: for example, from 1924 to 1928 he was dean of theology at King’s College, London.
Gore was a convinced High Churchman, emphasizing the Church of England’s Roman Catholic heritage. His book The Ministry of the Christian Church (1880; new edition, 1919, edited by C. H. Turner) became the standard exposition and defense of the principle of the apostolic succession. But he was an Anglo–Catholic of the most liberal kind who accepted the findings of evolutionary science and biblical criticism. This is portrayed, for example, in his essay, “The Holy Spirit and Inspiration,” in Lux Mundi (1889, a volume of essays that he edited).
Furthermore, Gore had a “permanently troubled conscience” concerning contemporary social and economic problems. A founder of the Christian Social Union (1889), in his book Christ and Society (1928) he emphasized the social implications of the gospel and made a strong plea for an unofficial interdenominational organization of Christian forces “to reassert the social meaning of Christianity.” In the view of W. R. Inge, a critic of Anglo–Catholicism, Gore was “one of the most powerful spiritual forces of (his) generation.”
Stone, Darwell (1859-1941) was a man of exceptional learning, spiritual insight and political shrewdness. An Anglo-Catholic theologian, he was arguably the greatest Principal of the Pusey House, having served there from 1909 to 1934. His best-known work is A History of the Doctrine of the Holy Eucharist, though he published many influential works of theology.