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The Hampden Affair: Divergent Paths out of a Spiritual Wilderness

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Chapter Summary

The Tractarians' sense of political and spiritual crisis deepened in 1836 with the appointment of their Noetic foe Renn Dickson Hampden to Oxford's regius chair of divinity by the hated Whig government of Lord Melbourne. John Henry Newman and Edward Pusey led the campaign to overturn the nomination in what would become one of the bitterest controversies in the university's history. Hampden's theology fell comfortably within a Noetic consensus shared with Richard Whately, Baden Powell, Thomas Arnold, Edward Copleston, and others. Hampden came to embody the rot of liberalism in the eyes of the Oxford Movement because he, more than any of the others, applied Noetic ideals in ways that directly offended Tractarian values and interests. Hampden's sermons concentrated on revelation "in its real importance, as a Rule of Life".

Keywords: John Henry Newman; liberalism; Noetic foe Renn Dickson Hampden; Oxford Movement; Tractarian values

10.1163/9789004263352_011
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