Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Oxford's Protestant Spy: The Controversial Career of Charles Golightly

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Oxford's Protestant Spy: The Controversial Career of Charles Golightly

Article excerpt

Oxford's Protestant Spy: The Controversial Career of Charles Golightly. By Andrew Atherstone. Studies in Evangelical History and Thought. Milton Keynes, UK: Paternoster, 2007. xvi + 333 pp. $36.99 (paper).

Oxford's Protestant Spy is a fine piece of scholarship on the midnineteenth-century Church of England. As the first monograph on Charles Golightly, the implacable opponent of the Tractarians and all things ritualistic, this is also a book that breaks new ground. On the one hand, Andrew Atherstone adds to our knowledge of debates surrounding the development of Anglo-Catholicism; his conclusions are part and parcel of the recent historiographical trend which sees the Oxford Movement as a break with, rather than a revival of, traditional high churchmanship. On the other hand, Atherstone raises important questions about what we mean today by the label "evangelical." Golightly was hostile not only to Newman and his successors, but also to Dissenters and low churchmen (pp. 20, 22). Furthermore, Golightly refused to take on the party labels "high church" and "evangelical," preferring simply to be called a Protestant (pp. 318, 320). Atherstone thus points to a terra incognita of nineteenth-century churchmanship that could not be easily labeled as a school, party, or movement. Throughout the volume, Atherstone is quite sensitive to the dynamics of identification and the complex, historiographical invention of party labels (see, for example, pp. 67, 99, 164, 239, 310). Although focused upon Golightly, the narrative informs on multiple levels.

Central to Atherstone's work is the argument that Golightlys theology underwent no noticeable change during his lifetime, even as the wider Church of England convulsed first in the throes of political marginalization, and then amid unceasing and frequently virulent theological debate (p. …

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