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Thomas Arnold Confronts the “Oxford Malignants”

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Chapter Summary

The journey that brought Thomas Arnold into the Hampden controversy began a quarter-century earlier when he arrived in Oxford on an undergraduate scholarship, the same year (1811) that both Richard Whately and John Keble were elected Oriel fellows. His genial social life combined intense intellectual activity, far beyond academic requirements, with vigorous outdoor pursuits. As an Oriel fellow he cultivated an aptitude for sophisticated historical analysis. Keble became an intimate friend and later godfather to Arnold's son Matthew, born in 1822. Arnold developed his fullest statement against Tractarian theology in a sixty-eight- page introduction to a collection of sermons (most preached in Rugby school chapel) published in May of 1841 as Christian Life, Its Course, Its Hindrances, and Its Helps. The title captured the importance he placed on Christianity as a pattern of living. He adopted a calmer tone and a more methodical approach than in the "Oxford Malignants".

Keywords: Christianity; John Keble; Oxford Malignants; Richard Whately; Thomas Arnold; Tractarian theology



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