Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

John Henry Newman: The Challenge to Evangelical Religion

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

John Henry Newman: The Challenge to Evangelical Religion

Article excerpt

John Henry Newman: The Challenge to Evangelical Religion. By Frank M. Turner. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. xii + 740 pp. $35.00 (cloth); $18.00 (paper).

Frank Turner has, without a doubt, produced an extensive treatment of the life and work of John Henry Newman. The title would have us believe that this is the treatment of Newman's dislike-hatred-of rationalism, liberalism, and evangelicalism. Unfortunately, this reviewer is convinced that Turner fell short of his task. He presents a wealth of information-perhaps too much information-in which, at times, it is difficult to see any analysis of the issue of evangelicalism. The problem may very well be the sheer volume of information. It would have been much better if Turner had concentrated on some very specific writings of Newman's set within the historical context of the Oxford Movement. From those documents he could have mounted a strong analytical thesis on this pivotal issue in the writings of Newman and the ethos of the Oxford Movement.

Very early in the book, Turner makes the point that he believes that some of Newman s hostility to the evangelicals is related to displaced anger regarding his brothers' rejection of Anglicanism (pp. 122-135). This may very well be the case, but there is no evidence presented to support this position. One glaring opportunity is missed in this section. Turner notes that in 1827 Newman composed a long essay of some sixty-six quarto pages addressed to his sisters. In this essay, Newman refutes Franks rejection of infant baptism. Unfortunately, Turner does not analyze this document. Given the fact that infant baptism and regenerative baptism occupied so much discussion within the Oxford Movement in the 1830s, it would have provided some evidence for Newman s thought and its evolution.

Essentially, Turner offers us a history of Newman s life and work. Where there is valuable material is in Turners treatment of the Tracts for the Times. …

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