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  • Newman Articles in Review: 2018
  • John T. Ford C.S.C. (bio)

In addition to the articles published by the Newman Studies Journal, many other Newman-related essays appeared in 2018.1 This essay reviews thirty-one of these publications—three book chapters and twenty-eight contributions2—under the following nine headings: conscience, development of doctrine, ecclesiology, education, faith and reason, history, literature, theology, and Newman’s influence. The reviews of these publications can be accessed in two ways. First, readers can select publications according to their areas of interest by referring to the headings. Second, for readers who want to find the writings of specific authors, each publication in the bibliography is numbered, and the corresponding number appears in brackets at the beginning of the paragraph commenting on that author’s publication. Data about each publication is given in the bibliography, and citations from particular publications are referenced in parentheses in the text.

conscience

[4] The theme of “conscience” looms so large in Newman’s writings that he has at times been described as Doctor Conscientiae.3 In a concise and clearly written essay, Nickolas Becker describes the main features of Newman’s view of conscience. Although “conscience” was not a major topic in his Essay on Development, Newman pointed out that “the effort to follow one’s conscience—even when erroneous—leads the Christian towards virtue”; nonetheless, “following one’s conscience is not always a simple or easy matter: there are instances [End Page 68] where the right thing to do is far from clear” (35). Newman’s Grammar of Assent indicates two distinct functions for conscience: “a rule of right conduct and the capacity to judge particular acts in the light of that rule” (36). Conscience is not only discernment of the good, but also a way of coming to certitude about the existence of God.4 Most of all, listening to conscience and responding to its demands cannot be limited to moments of great moral crisis. Forming and following one’s conscience in the small daily events of life are key to growth in virtue, and ultimately, for Newman, in holiness (41).

development of doctrine

When “evolution” is mentioned, people customarily think of Charles Darwin; when “development” is mentioned, theologians almost automatically think of Newman’s An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. When Newman wrote this Essay in 1845, he was formulating an “hypothesis to explain a difficulty”—an “attempt” to show that the teachings of the apostolic church have developed over the centuries into the doctrines taught by the Roman Catholic Church.5 To substantiate his hypothesis, he proposed seven “tests” to show that the church—as a living organism—develops its doctrinal teachings in order both to preserve the original revelation and to interface that revelatory message with the current situation: in effect, genuine doctrinal development necessarily includes both continuity and change.6 When Newman published the third edition of his Essay on Development in 1878, he no longer spoke of an “hypothesis” being tested by seven criteria, but of recognizing seven “notes” characteristic of a process of authentic doctrinal development.7 Newman’s Essay on Development proved to be a pioneering and provocative work: pioneering in the sense that the idea of “development” eventually—though not immediately and not without controversy—became a standard assumption in theology; provocative insofar as Newman’s original insights continue to tantalize theologians today. [End Page 69]

[25] Cyril O’Regan, accordingly, considers Newman’s Essay not only a “watershed text,” but a “forensic classic (226),” in which Newman crossed swords with three sets of contemporary adversaries: those evangelicals, who relied on sola scriptura and so a principio rejected doctrinal development; those liberals, who congenitally opposed both tradition and doctrine; and those high church Anglicans, who restricted the possibility of development to the earliest centuries. In O’Regan’s perceptive analysis, Newman was in a forensic “struggle” (agon) with people like Edward Gibbon (1737–1794), whose naturalistic historiography produced the claim that Christianity was responsible for the demise of the Roman Empire. Astutely and perhaps strategically, Newman did not challenge the methodology of Gibbon’s surrogate, Henry Hart Milman (1791–1868), but Milman’s...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2153-6945
Print ISSN
1547-9080
Pages
pp. 68-89
Launched on MUSE
2020-02-12
Open Access
No
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