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Oxford Movement

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Definition:   a 19th century movement within High Church Anglicanism to adopt the teaching of apostolic succession and the liturgical practices of Catholicism. Many in the movement ultimately sought to return the Church of England to the papacy. A prominent leader of the movement, John Henry Newman, originally sought a “via media” or middle way, and hoped to show that the 39 Articles of Anglicanism were compatible with Catholicism. Eventually, he determined that the antiquity of Catholicism was proof of its truth and authority, and converted in 1843.

Discussion: The unfortunate consequence of a State Church is the tendency for the Church to capitulate for the sake of the peace of the nation. One commentator noted that the Anglican Church had “a Popish Liturgy, Calvinistic articles, and an Arminian clergy.” The syncretizing forces lead to compromise. Today, the evangelical party of the Church is a definite minority, despite the fact that all pastors are required to profess allegiance to the 39 Articles. It is a church being torn asunder by hypocrisy, as evidenced by the ARCIC ecumenical documents seeking unity with Rome.

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