This chapter highlights the theme of historical imagination and Christian identity in a period of profound social and political change. Its introduces the book’s chief focus on focus the different understandings of ‘catholicity’ that emerged in the interactions between the Church of England and other churches – particularly the Roman Catholic Church – from the early 1830s to the early 1880s. Discussion of conversations between the churches, even when such dialogue was frequently little more than polemics, clearly illustrates the differences as well as similarities and continuities between the participants. In the process of encounter, different views of what is essential and what is merely accidental are tested and discussed.
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