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Historical Writing

The Church and the world

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The Church and the world

The Church, in its long journey through time, faces problems which are often insoluble, but on a longer view, it is guided and protected by the Spirit.

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Assimilative Power

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Assimilative Power

Christianity was able to assimilate into itself those glimpses of the Divine which were to be found in other religions, without losing anything of its own integrity.

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Preservation of Type

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Preservation of Type

The first test of the genuineness of any development is whether it is true to type. The oak tree grows from the acorn, but if you plant an acorn and you end up with a weeping willow, the acorn has died.

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Superstitions?

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Superstitions?

In his Essays Critical and Historical, Newman had already dealt with the common charge that the Catholic Church had incorporated into its worship and doctrine pagan practices. His argument not only anticipates the position the Vatican later took up, but contributed materially to it.

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St Leo the Great

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St Leo the Great

Thus far, the blog has confined itself to Newman's own writings. Here I offer the first of a short series which updates our understanding of Pope St Leo's role in the formulation of the Petrine claims. They will, I hope, help to fix what Newman meant by the developing understanding of doctrine.

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Genuine Development

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Genuine Development

Newman was conscious that not all change was authentic development, and that one of the Protestant objections to his scheme was that Rome had corrupted the purity of the Apostolic Church. Here he enumerates how one os to discern the signs of true development.

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Infant Baptism

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Infant Baptism

Infant baptism has come to be commonly accepted by most churches as the norm. But as Newman points out here, it was not so in the early Church. In that sense, the Baptists have a point. The only real argument against it was from history. Yet again, Newman finds in the history of the Church the practice of the developing understanding of the Faith.

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Development: the Canon

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Development: the Canon

One of the strongest of Newman's arguments is the Canon of the New Testament. Nowhere mention in itself, nowhere enumerated by book, it is nonetheless accepted by all orthodox Christians. The reasons for this, Newman argues, work in favour of the argument for a developing understanding and for the authority of tradition.

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Scripture & development

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Scripture & development

Newman takes, as one obvious example of development, the Canon itself. Jesus wrote no book, neither does the Bible mention a book called the Bible, so where did it come from?

Those interested in the history of the idea of development might want to consult this excellent post on Newman and the Immaculate Conception on Fr Aiden Kimel's Eclectic Orthodoxy.

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Christianity & authority

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Christianity & authority

The question 'by what authority do you say these things?' is one which haunts all Christian apologetics. Here Newman begins to engage with it - his words as applicable now as then.

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