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From 1 August to 21 December 1816 a very young John Henry Newman underwent a conversion which Louis Bouyer has described as an experience which 'left its seal upon him forever'. Newman never repudiated that conversion, nor did he ever question its authenticity. Many years later he said of it: 'When I was fifteen (in the autumn of 1816) a great change of thought took place in me. I fell under the influences of a definite creed and received into my intellect impressions of dogma which, through God's mercy, have never been effaced or obscured.' Later he specified that this creed was 'at the time Calvinistic in character', adding that the religious impressions he then received 'were to him the beginning of a new life'. In calling it 'Calvinistic' Newman was not referring to Calvinism as understood on the European continent at the time but rather to the doctrines of the Evangelical party of the Church of England. The Evangelical Revival of the eighteenth century was basically a reaction to the cold, lifeless form of religion which prevailed within much of the Church of England of the time. As such it was an appeal more to the heart than to the head. Nevertheless, despite allowing for a wide variety of doctrinal interpretations, there were certain essential points on which all Evangelicals were agreed. Fundamental to all of these was the firm conviction of the total depravity of human nature as a result of Adam's sin. But to remedy this there was the great good news of the Gospel: the Atonement, which for Evangelicals meant that Christ was punished not only on behalf of, but instead of, sinful humankind.
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