The Church of England in crisis
The Reformation heritage
in The Debate on the English Reformation
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Nineteenth-century Britain saw the established Church of England in the throes of a major crisis of identity. The Oxford movement stressed the unbroken traditions of the English Church, the Catholic faith, the Catholic heritage, the apostolic succession. Samuel R. Maitland, 'the high and learned' librarian of Lambeth, sought with passionate zeal to discredit as historians both John Foxe and Stephen Reed Cattley. Charles Beard's brief discussion of the English Reformation has intrinsic interest. In his history, Richard Hurrell Froude portrayed the English Reformation as a moral victory in the struggle for human freedom and intellectual honesty. The detailed and learned history penned by Canon Richard Watson Dixon in the 1880s arrived at a conclusion: the English Reformation was a political act, the product of the legislation of the 1529 Parliament. Social evolutionism, heavily influenced by the writings of Herbert Spencer, provided a social complement to Darwin's theory of biological evolution.

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