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Justification by Faith and John Henry Newman

Part I

A Brief Sketch of Newman's Life

John Henry Newman was born in London in 1801, the eldest of six children. His family had evangelical sympathies, and these evangelical roots had the strongest influence on his early religious life.

Newman entered Trinity College, Oxford, in 1817 and was elected to a fellowship at Oriel College in 1822. While there, he began to relinquish the kind of evangelicalism he was acquainted with. A number of friends had a significant influence on his life at this time. R. Whately impressed upon him the divine appointment of the church, and Hawkins taught him the value of tradition. E. B. Pusey, J. Keble and R. H. Froude also moved him toward High Church beliefs.

In 1828 he became vicar of St. Mary's Church in Oxford. In the early 1830's he associated with the Oxford Movement and became its leading spirit. The aim of Newman and his friends was to show that the Church of England was a via media between Romanism and Protestantism. These views were published and widely disseminated through Newman's Parochial and Plain Sermons (1834-1842) and Tracts for the Times (1833-1841). In 1838 he delivered his now famous Lectures on the Doctrine of Justification. They contain the heart of the theology which was to take him into Rome.

In 1841 Newman wrote Tract No.90, in which he tried to reconcile the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England with Roman Catholic dogma. This brought him under heavy fire. About this time he began to have grave doubts regarding the validity of the Church of England. He resigned his appointment at St. Mary's in 1843 and was received into the communion of the Roman Catholic Church on October 9, 1845.

Newman's life within Romanism was not without strain, but after overcoming some early misunderstandings, he gradually won the confidence of Rome. In 1879 he was made a cardinal by Leo XIII. Newman died in 1890.

Unless otherwise noted, scripture quotations are from the New International Version.