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NEWMAN STUDIES JOURNAL 80 Cd rEviEw John Henry Newman: A Prophet for our Time. By Robert E. Barron, S.T.D. Skokie, Illinois: Word On Fire Catholic Ministries, 2010. Set of 3 CDs: ( -Newman.aspx). $14.95. Fr. Robert Barron organizes the content of this three CD set—each just under an hour of listening—by focusing singly on three of Newman’s“indispensable texts”: the Apologia pro Vita Sua, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine and An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent. A priest of the Chicago archdiocese,Fr.Barron is the Francis Cardinal George Professor of Faith and Culture at Mundelein Seminary, where he has taught SystematicTheology since 1992. A radio,television and internet evangelist—“the first pod-casting priest”—as an ad describes him, Fr. Barron is the founder of a website launched in 1999, “Word On Fire” (, which offers video clips, radio sermons, blogs, articles, commentary and an audio archive of over 500 homilies. On this website, one can listen to excerpts from these three CDs, which consist of three evening lectures recorded as they occurred at the Pontifical North American College in Rome when Fr. Barron was a scholar in residence there. Unfortunately, on the website that advertises the CDs, as well as on the package itself, there are only two passages that quote Newman directly and both are misquotations that distort Newman’s meaning. His famous passage on change does not say that“in a higher world it might be otherwise,”but that it is otherwise,whereas here below to live is to change (Essay on Development I, 1, 7, available at http:// Nor does Newman say that “The one who discovers history becomes Catholic,” but rather that “to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant”(Development,Introduction,5,available at Honoring the beatification of Cardinal Newman, Fr. Barron presents Newman as relevant in our own time,especially in a world that reduces religion to mere opinion. The lectures, while originally addressed to an educationally sophisticated audience, are meant for anyone seeking a better understanding of Catholicism’s philosophy and theology. Throughout the lectures, Fr. Barron is particularly attentive to Newman’s eloquent literary style and its ability to touch the human mind and heart. He proposes that we look to Newman as an inspirational and prophetic teacher of the faith. There is a very nice feel to these lectures; they are friendly, informal, conversational and informative. One of the interesting features of the CDs is Fr. Barron’s frequent interweaving of more recent theological thought with Newman’s. For example, he speaks of Newman as a “precursor of much of the nouvelle théologie”—such as that of DeLubac, Daniélou, Ratzinger—in its biblical and Alexandrian patristic orientation. And he distinguishes Newman’s advocacy of “the dogmatic principle,” which holds doctrine as non derivative, from a liberalism like that of Schleiermacher, who reduces doctrine to “the contents of consciousness” as 81 derived from experience and feeling. In this respect Barron distinguishes Newman as well from Tillich, Otto and Rahner. One might state a general theme of the three lectures to be Newman’s multifaceted fight against liberalism, that is, against the judgments of reason and of personal feeling or taste as allowed to dictate matters of religion. Whether the context is the Oxford Movement (the Apologia lecture), or the authenticity of developments of doctrine (the Development lecture) or the understanding of how reason works (the Grammar lecture), religious faith is shown to be an intellectual and real assent to the same realities that the apostles and fathers of the Church held sacred. At the ground of liberalism, Fr. Barron brings out, is Locke’s view of degrees of assent according to the strength or weakness of the evidence, as contrasted with Newman’s view of all assent as unconditional. Certitude as a condition of the mind, rather than of propositions,is not reducible to inference or argument of any kind,but...


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