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  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: April 2013

Chapter Four - From Modern-Orthodox Protestantism to Anglo-Catholicism: An Enquiry into the Probable Causes of the Revolution of Pusey's Theology


In 1828 Edward Bouverie Pusey published his very first book, the Enquiry into the Probable Causes of the Rationalist Character Lately Predominant in the Theology of Germany – quite a title, but typical of book-titles at the time; not snappy or eye-catching, but summarizing the content of the book. One hundred and seventy-five years later H. C. G. Matthew wrote that the Enquiry had been Pusey's best book ever – but he probably said this to annoy Anglo-Catholics.

However, the young Pusey would have disagreed with Matthew. The reception of the book in England was a disaster. Some thought, as Pusey wrote in a letter to Friedrich August Gottreu Tholuck, that he was a ‘Rationalist’, some a ‘rash innovator’, some a ‘mystic’, some a ‘Methodist’. So he came to have doubts about what he had written. In November 1835 he wrote to his wife Maria that ‘I was dazzled with the then rare acquaintance with German theology, and over-excited by it; I thought to do great things, and concealed self under the mask of activity.’ That came after his inward revolution, of course, and after his turn towards the Anglo-Catholicism of the Oxford Movement. From then on Pusey could be seen searching the antiquarian bookshops for copies of the Enquiry to buy in order to eliminate them. He even forbade the Enquiry from ever being reprinted. Ironically enough, the book is now available on the internet on open-access library.