The Church of the Fathers
John Henry Newman's controversial The Church of the Fathers is published here for the first time in more than a century. It contains some of his earliest writings on fourth-century Christianity and is contemporary with the first Tracts of the Oxford Movement and The Arians of the Fourth Century. It was aimed at the general reader and is filled with extracts from the writings of the Church Fathers.
In 1833 the controversial Irish Church Temporalities Bill had been enacted by the British Parliament, a Bill that proposed to abolish ten of the twenty-two sees of the (Anglican) Church of Ireland. Newman accused the State of violating the ancient doctrine of Apostolic Succession, and in this book draws parallels between the situation facing the church in the fourth century and the Anglican church in his day.
The material was first written as a series of articles for the British Magazine; these were then revised and published in book form in 1840. Although unpopular with many of the British Establishment, it was popular with fellow Tractarians, who 'found in it for the first time the inspiration of the lives of the Saints, as real and human as if they were still alive, as indeed they were to Newman' (Meriol Trevor). A second edition was published in 1842.