Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
This long essay, also known as History of My Religious Opinions (1870), is the famous reply written by John Henry Newman in answer to the attack upon him by Charles Kingsley. The years 1833-1841 had seen the publication of Tracts for the Times, to which Newman had been a contributor; these tracts, which gave their name to the Tractarian or Oxford Movement, were the spearhead of the great theological controversy of the middle years of the century. Newman and his friends were eager to return the Anglican church to something like its position during past centuries; they valued tradition and hierarchy and wished to return to the severe, authoritarian faith of the past, from which they believed the Church of England had lapsed. They were the High Church party; and some idea of the rift that was created within the Church can be gleaned from Anthony Trollope’s Barchester novels. In 1845, Newman left the Anglican church for the Roman; two years later he was ordained priest in that communion.
In January, 1864, Kingsley, an Anglican clergyman of what was known as the Broad Church party and a popular novelist, attacked Newman in a magazine article, in which he stated that “Truth, for its own sake, has never been a virtue with the Roman clergy. Father Newman informs us that it need not, and on the whole ought not to be.” To this article, Newman replied in a pamphlet in February of that year, whereupon Kingsley wrote yet another pamphlet...
(The entire section is 1520 words.)
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Overview (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
In his Apologia pro Vita Sua (literally, “a justification of his life”), John Henry Newman set out to defend himself against charges of dishonesty and deceitfulness. In the January, 1864, issue of Macmillan’s Magazine, an article by the popular writer Charles Kingsley had questioned Newman’s honesty. On the surface, this allegation involved Newman’s supposed view that it was acceptable for Catholic clergymen like himself to resort to cunning and not necessarily adhere to the truth.
The deeper issue, however, involved Newman’s conversion to Catholicism twenty years earlier. Newman had long served as a vicar within the Anglican Church before becoming a Catholic, and the real charge that he felt compelled to answer was that he had been a secret Catholic within the Protestant Anglican Church long before he announced his conversion and that his conversion was simply the culmination of a deliberate plan to lure Protestants out of their faith and into the Catholic one.
In the Apologia pro Vita Sua, Newman decided that it would be more effective to present a narrative of his own life than to attempt to answer specific charges. Instead of rebutting false ideas, he would present true ones, so that the bulk of the book became a sort of spiritual autobiography explaining how he came to convert to Catholicism and attempting to show that he was sincere in this change and had not merely hidden his true Catholic beliefs...
(The entire section is 941 words.)