Newman the Theologian: A Reader by John Henry Newman
Supernatural Research Editorial Review – While reading these wonderful essays one realizes that John Henry Newman was more than just another Catholic traditionalist, but a true “Philosopher” in every sense of the word. Newman’s first conversion as described by Ker was at the age of 15 (arguably his only) when he accepted the Christian gospel as an “evangelical”. What a pleasure it is to read biographies and essays from Catholic Theologians who “get” the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ. As a Catholic who never once heard such concise and simple explanations of the Christian faith within the church itself. (I possibly may not have been listening.) I could not help but agree with many of Newman’s Theological reasoning’s for going back to the “Church” with his (late in life) catholic conversion. Newman was converting more simply from one catholic church (Anglican) and going back to its roots and traditions within the roman church. Possibly Newman realized the tremendous dichotomy in the Anglican churches secularization and governmental control of the church and its people. Newman was a mix of Bold, rational nonconformity – playing a major role in leading the Catholic church towards Vatican II, a necessary step of transformation towards a more reformed “conservative” church we have today. Yes in the eyes of the world Vatican II was a supposed liberalization of the church, but this is one of the great paradigms of church history – As you read his arguments for papal infallibility you realize there is not much of his heart in his essays and arguments. He seems a man of Logic who has conformed yet still remains a sceptic. In much the same way Evolutionary apologist Stephen J Gould’s Science essays try to deal with the total lack of fossil records and evolutionary links. Like Gould, Newman conforms to “law” and totalitarian leadership by acquiescing to the established dogma while simultaneously subtly responding to it with rational essays, each chipping away at the false doctrines within their midst. Both of these men were brilliant in their methods and remained in the good graces of their churches (Catholic, or Science)
A must read or parousal is www.newmanreader.org
Newman simply was a believer in christ, with a God given introspective personality of a rational theologian and a capable apologist. He new his role was not to abandon the roots of Christianity’s original defender and staunchest supporter but to do his part through the use of his beloved books to lead the roman church to a more simple, logical transformation, into a church that puts its focus back on Christ. Newman came to a crossroads at midlife with his decision to remain a theologian within an increasingly secular Anglican Protestantism or to throw his well earned collaterol earned through his writing and lecture style which was always well received by the laity. He put that colateral to work in a church that needed his unique, simple and rational understanding of the christian canon.
Newman widely credited for pointing the roman church towards Vatican II was in the eyes of the world a step towards liberalization of an age old conservative church. And at first glance this may lead researchers towards the incorrect assumption that Newman was a Liberal scholar. Pushing the church into the ever evolving future so eagerly sought after by the secular progressives. To this I must smile and nod, for when a church or that matter a country seeks to conserve and go back to its original roots it is labeled conservative; But if those roots you are attempting to go back to are roots established by a nonconforming radical Jewish Rabi who claimed equality of all men and women, rich and poor, slave or free or a Country with similar ideals set into its declaration of independence, possibly our political labels have been turned on their heads.
Milton Thomas 06/07/06