LOSS AND GAIN
Charles Reding arrives at Oxford University planning to follow the advice and example of his father, and to submit to the teachings of the Church of England without becoming involved in any factious parties. Reding is inclined towards a form ofLatitudinarianism, following the maxim “Measure people by what they are, and not by what they are not.” His conversations with his friend Sheffield convince him, however, that there must be right and wrong answers in doctrinal matters. To follow the right views, Reding seeks a source of Church authority, and is disappointed to find only party dissension and theProtestant doctrine of Private Judgment, which locates interpretive authority in the individual and thereby leads (in Newman’s view) to the espousal of contradictory views. Furthermore, Reding begins to have doubts about the Thirty-nine Articles, to which he must subscribe to take his degree. His doubts are briefly dispelled following the death of his father, but return soon afterward. In particular, several brief encounters with Willis, a former Oxford peer who converted to Roman Catholicism, greatly excite and trouble him. Suspicious of his speculations, Jennings forces Reding to live away from Oxford while studying for his exams, so as not to corrupt other students. Reding confesses his doubts to his sister Mary, who does not understand them and loses trust in her brother. When Reding finally decides he must convert, Mary, his mother, and several family friends express resentment and anger. He travels to London, on the way receiving encouragement from a Catholic priest (perhaps Newman himself), the first he has ever met. While in London Reding is confronted by emissaries from various religious and philosophical sects who, hearing about his departure from the Anglican Church, want to recruit him for their own causes. Ultimately, however, Reding arrives at the Passionists Convent, where he joins the Roman Catholic Church.