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John Henry Cardinal Newman, a leading Oxford Tractarian who scandalized his contemporaries by converting to Roman Catholicism, attacked what he termed "the so-called Evangelical movement" (to which he had once belonged) for convincing the British that

religion consists, not in knowledge, but in feelings or sentiment. The old Catholic notion, which still lingers in the Established Church, was that Faith was an intellectual act, its object truth, and its result knowledge. . . . It became fashionable to say that Faith was, not an acceptance of revealed doctrine, not an act of the intellect, but a feeling, an notion, an affection, an appetency; and, as this view of Faith obtained, so was the connexion of Faith with Truth and Knowledge more and more either forgotten or denied. At length the identity of this (so-called) spirituality of heart and the virtue of Faith was acknowledged on all hands. . . Religion was based, not on argument, but on taste and sentiment, that nothing was objective, every thing subjective, doctrine. I say, even those who say through the affectation in which the religious school of which I am speaking clad itself still came to think that Religion, as such, consisted in something short of intellectual exercises, viz., in the affections, in the imagination, in inward persuasions and consolations, in pleasurable sensations, sudden changes, and sublime fancies" [The Idea of a University, 1852; emphasis added].

To what extent does Newman's dislike of Evangelical emotion derive from Swift's attacks on the enthusiasm and passionate religion in The Tale of a Tub, and how does it relate to Newman's own description of the true gentleman? To what extent, in other words, does his religious idea seem class-based?

Content last modified 1996