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Document Details :
Title: Newman's Disputed Honesty
Subtitle: A Case Study in Victorian Religious Controversy
Author(s): ZUIJDWEGT, Geertjan
Journal: Louvain Studies
Volume: 34 Issue: 4 Date: 2009-2010
An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, Newman’s rationale for his conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1845, provoked a series of responses in the Victorian periodical press that all involved an assessment of Newman’s sincerity in religious affairs. This article presents a detailed analysis of the various verdicts on Newman’s honesty, delineating three types of responses neatly divided along ecclesial party lines. (1) Tractarians subtly discredit Newman’s sincerity while an Anglican, in order to shift the blame for Newman’s defection from the Oxford Movement at large to his own religious mindset. (2) Other Anglicans are fiercer in their assessments. Spearheaded by Evangelicals, they vigorously challenge Newman’s integrity as an Anglican to safeguard the essentially Protestant character of the Church of England. (3) Nonconformists, on the other hand, unanimously exculpate Newman from insincerity and use his honest conversion as an argument against the Protestant nature of the established Church. The use of anti-Catholic Gothic literary tropes in the texts under discussion reinforces this threefold division. Tractarians and Nonconformists abstain from using such Gothic rhetorical ploys, while other Anglicans fully engage this type of anti-Catholic polemics.