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Author(s): Raymond Chapman
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What we know today as Anglo-Catholicism, a strong and distinctive strand within Anglicanism that accounts for approximately a third of all Anglicans, began with a small act of political protest in an Oxford pulpit. There in 1833 John Keble preached a sermon that gave voice to widespread and growing fears of increasing state control of the Church and erosion of its status.
At the same time, Roman Catholics were enjoying new freedoms in society and Anglicans who regarded themselves as loyal to the Catholic tradition, despite the interruption of the Reformation, saw this as an opportunity to promote Catholic theology in the Church of England.
Keble's sermon sparked an immediate and active response and the Oxford Movement sprang into life. Publications flowed from its luminaries which included John Henry Newman and Edward Bouverie Pusey.
Ninety influential tracts together with Newman's legendary sermons and work by other writers, including some novels, focused on the themes that today characterise Anglo-Catholicism: a high doctrine of the Church as a divine society, the importance of the sacraments, insistence that Anglican clergy were priests in the Apostolic Succession with sacerdotal power, the quest for personal holiness.
Energised by the vitality of the old, true faith, parish life began to be transformed. Religious life revived for the first time since the Reformation, remarkable social work in slum parishes was accomplished and a distinctive liturgical style emerged.
Firmly I Believe offers a wide selection of the writings of the Tractarians and other supporters of the Oxford Movement, introduced with a useful commentary and explanation. This unique volume is both an ideal starting point for students and scholars and a rich treasury of Anglo-Catholic devotion and theology.
Raymond Chapman was the author of many widely-used books of prayer and devotion including Leading Intercessions, Hear Our Prayer, and A Pastoral Prayer Book. He was a Vice-Chairman of the Prayer Book Society, Emeritus Professor of English Literature in the University of London, and a greatly loved priest in the diocese of Southwark. He died in 2013.
"This collection by Professor Raymond Chapman is drawn heavily, and properly, from the Tracts and brings them in selected extracts before a new audience as they are not easily obtainable nowadays beyond the confines of academic libraries. It is the latest contribution to a series by the estimable Canterbury 'Studies in Spiritual Theology'. (...) It is an admirable enterprise. The books are short and accessible. Professor Chapman provides a clear introduction and leads succinctly into each extract and provides an excellent assessment of the Oxford Movement, its heirs and successors." Edward Benson, New Directions, December 2006.