- Oxford movement
- The Oxford movement was a revitalization movement within the Church of England in the 1830s, which aimed to revive the church's Catholic roots in order to keep it from becoming just another Protestant sect. Among the events that contributed to the movement were passage of the Catholic Relief Act of 1829, which allowed Catholics to worship openly in England, and the 1833 sermon by John Keble (1792-1866), preached at St. Mary's church in Oxford, entitled "National Apostasy" Keble criticized the country for turning away from God; he charged that the Anglican Church was no longer the prophetic voice of God, but rather a mere institution of society. The sermon drew much popular response and was reprinted widely.Keble's sermon had a particular effect on three who heard it delivered: Edward Pusey (1800-82), Hurrel Froude (1803-36), and John Henry Newman (1801-90). They joined others to discuss Keble's ideas; the movement took on organizational life at a conference at St. Mary's church inHadleigh, Suffolk, in 1835. Over the next decade, the group developed their ideas in a series of tracts, and they became known as the Tractarians.The Oxford movement accepted the Reformation Church of England as a valid part of the universal Catholic Church, but defined it more in terms of its pre-Reformation life. They explored medieval English church liturgy, doctrine, and practice. One tract tried to reconcile the 39 Articles of Religion with the documents promulgated by the Council of Trent, which had defined Roman Catholic practice in opposition to the Reformation.The Oxford movement came to a rather abrupt end in 1845, when Newman and a number of other leaders formally converted to Catholicism. For the rest of his long life, Newman would be an effective advocate for Catholicism in the English-speaking world. He and his colleague Henry Edward Manning (1807-92) were both named cardinals.Though relatively short lived, the Oxford movement succeeded in strengthening the high-church factions already present in the Church of England. Since the 1840s, these Anglo-Catholics have periodically proposed initiatives for reconciling the Church of England with Roman Catholicism. These efforts culminated in 1960, when Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher met with Pope John XXIII. The spirit of the Tractarians was also exported through the Anglican Communion. In the United States, the movement initially found its greatest support in New York. However, it encountered major hostility as well. Opponents of Oxford teachings were able to force the resignation of Bishop Henry Onderdonk (1789-1858), while his brother Bishop Benjamin T. Onderdonk (1791-1861) was tried on trumped-up charges and suspended from office. Both the Onderdonks had supported the Oxford cause.The contemporary renewal of interest in formal liturgies in ecumenical Protestantism can be traced to the Oxford movement. The movement can also take some credit for the openness demonstrated by the Roman Catholic Church since Vatican II toward Anglicans and the other members of the World Council of Churches.Further reading:■ Yngve Brilioth, Evangelicalism and the Oxford Movement (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1934)■ R. W. Church, The Oxford Movement: Twelve Years, 1833-1845, ed. by Geoffrey Best (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970)■ Peter B. Nockles, Oxford Movement in Context: Anglican High Churchmanship, 1760-1857 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1994)■ Stephen Thomas, Newman and Heresy: The Anglican Years (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.