Oxford Movement

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A movement (1833–45) in the C of E, centred in Oxford, which aimed at restoring High Church principles. Several causes contributed to its growth, including the decline of Church life, the spread of ‘liberalism’ in theology, and the question of Anglican identity raised by the removal of religious tests for State office in 1829. The plan to suppress ten Irish bishoprics in 1833 evoked from J. Keble a sermon in the university church at Oxford which is usually regarded as the beginning of the movement. Its chief object was the defence of the C of E as a Divine institution, of the doctrine of the apostolic succession, and of the BCP as a rule of faith. The Tracts for the Times were designed for this purpose. The leaders of the movement were Keble, J. H. Newman, and E. B. Pusey. It gained influential support, but it was also attacked by the liberals within the university and by the bishops. After the censure by the Convocation of Oxford in 1845 of a book by W. G. Ward, and again after the Gorham case in 1850, there were a number of conversions to the RC Church. But the majority remained in the C of E, and, despite the hostility of the press and of the Government, the movement spread. Its influence was exercised in the sphere of worship and ceremonial, in the social sphere (the slum settlements were among its notable achievements), and in the revival of religious community life in the C of E (see religious orders in Anglicanism). See also Anglo-Catholicism.

Subjects: Religion.

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