An interesting article on Newman as “Doctor of the Church”

Not quite sure what I think of its main point though.

The article is by Nicholas Lash of Cambridge, and appears in the latest edition of America Magazine as “Waiting for Dr Newman”.

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25 Comments

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25 responses to “An interesting article on Newman as “Doctor of the Church”

  1. Kiran

    Nicholas Lash ain’t one of the good guys. He was on the wrong side of a debate with Michael Dummett, when Dummett controversially, and rightly, pointed out that one might as well give up Christianity as determinedly disbelieve in such fundamental truths of the faith as the virgin birth. All in all, support from such a corner isn’t a good thing.

    • That’s kinda what I thought. IF Newman is made a Doctor of the Church, the next question will be “what Neman REALLY teaches”. I can jut see PE having a field day with that!

      Still, I agree on one thing that he writes: Newman was, as the Dean of St Paul’s wrote in his obituary, “one of the very greatest masters of English style”. Perhaps “Doctor of Style” could be a new Ecclesiastical title?

      • Kiran

        🙂 I don’t think so, although, there probably never has been a darker age for rhetoric than today, and Newman was a master rhetorician.

        Newman saw himself as largely a redactor. There is somewhere a description of him praying for the grace not to be original.

  2. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    Unless neurosis has taken on the odour of sanctity, I see no reason for the slightest consideration of him as a saint, let alone a Doctor of the Church.

    He was completely uncomfortable with the tradition of the Doctors of the Church, and rather, on becoming Catholic, than admit his deus ex machina of the Catholic Church to solve all neurotic anxiety doesn’t really square with what the Catholic Church is, invented a pure fantasy in which his personal mental construct of the Catholic Church could be maintained as against reality in a 19th Century Romantic reverie.

    Now it’s the order of the day, an utterly un-Catholic model of the Catholic Church.

    Behold, I will send you another Advocate and he will guide you in all things, but not before my Church becomes trapped in the aridities of neo-scholasticism swimming in clericalism, over-centralisation, creeping infallibility, narrow unhistorical theology, and exaggerated mariology, then scholars will emerge to resource you with the real deal even though my Church will oppose it only showing how my Advocate-scholars are the true teachers.

    • Kiran

      Neurosis does not take on the odour of sanctity, PE, any more than in the canonization of St. Jerome, anger and crotchetiness took on the odour of sanctity.

      And PE, I don’t think you of all people can claim to judge Newman, the translator of Athanasius, the historian of Arianism, and the man who started the Patristic revival in England, qua historian. Insofar as there are things you have said above, like much else you say, they are just things you say. Temper tantrums do not constitute an argument.

  3. Like a moth to the flame, PE. Sooooo predictable.

  4. Christine

    Newman was a somewhat pitiable figure, never entirely comfortable in his Anglican environment nor in the Catholic one he came to embrace. An article published about him says, in part:

    Newman’s An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine appeared the year after his conversion to Roman Catholicism, and one can almost see him arguing his way towards Rome on the pages of this work. In any case, in 1843 Newman published a retraction of all his negative judgements about Rome, retired completely to Littlemore, and prepared himself for reception into the Roman Church in 1845. For most of his years as a Roman Catholic Newman directed the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Birmingham. He was never comfortable with the Roman Catholic hierarchy and seems to have resisted both the Roman attempt to separate their education from the English universities and the movement which succeeded in establishing the dogma of papal infallibility in 1870. He was made a cardinal in 1879, eleven years before his death. But his influence upon Roman Catholicism seems largely posthumous.

    Poor John Henry. But, looking back I can see how we both were fooled.

    Christine

    • Kyle

      Yes, poor old Newman, the Church rejected him so much that the pope made him a cardinal. Go figure.

    • But, Christine, he was ENTIRELY “comfortable” with, in fact, PASSIONATELY committedto, his Catholic faith. The Church as a whole and in her members will always give us cause for discomfort – sometimes quite rightly. (Is it really the point to be “comfortable” in the Church? Was Christ “comfortable” on the Cross?). But the faith indeed gives spiritual comfort to both the weary pilgrim and the suffering martyr. Newman was, in his own way, both.

      • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

        Judas H Priest with a Quarter Pounder at the Friday fish fry, the only thing he was weary from is trying to figure out what kind of Anglican to be, and the only thing he suffered from was a huge case of 19th century foppishmess.

        But you are right about one thing, he was committed to his, as distinct from the, Catholic faith. And would be quite at home in the Brave New Catholic Church, with the latter gone and a 19th century delirium about a supposed pristine apostolic and patristic age pulled from it by a “development” in its place.

  5. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    Um, Pius IX, convener of the the first Vatican Council, had no use for him whatever. Not to mention Cardinal Manning. He was created cardinal by the next pope, Leo XIII, early on in his papacy.

    • Newman and all those other millions and millions of clerics who were not made cardinals by Pius IX must have all felt so rejected by the Church.

      • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

        Oh Geez. Those other millions and millions of clerics were not high profile and recognised authors in their time, with a major work just published as the Council convened (Grammar of Assent), and a well known in church circles uncomfortability with the doctrine of infallibility being pushed at the time. Nor did they have the Duke of Norfolk pushing the next pope to give them the red hat.

        • Kiran

          Newman was out of favour with Pius IX largely for defending the sorts of things that reasonable Catholic minded protestants of his day held, in part because Newman wasn’t an ultramontanist. Newman held doubts as to the definability of infallibility, not as to its truth. Indeed, subsequent magisterial clarification in the reign of Pius IX treated infallibility very similarly to Newman’s own ideas.

          You forget though that Newman was made a Cardinal by Leo XIII, hardly a liberal.

          • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

            “Catholic minded Protestants” indeed. Precisely so. His view of the Catholic Church is entirely Protestant in nature, a fiction invented to solve the difficulties he found irreconcilable in Protestantism.

            Re infallibility, his reservations about it caused great concern within the Church, and it emerges only with difficulty that the reservations were not so much doctrinal but, to use the postconciliar catch-phrase for such things, pastoral, in that pushing the doctrine might adversely affect conversions.

            Re what is really pastoral, one finds that in Cardinal Manning, who had little time for Newman and his foppish ivory tower reveries, and whose action on behalf of the English working class not only opened the door to conversions but stemmed an exodus of working class Catholics from the Church. Not to mention were highly influential in the formation of Leo XIII’s Rerum novarum.

            Yes, I must have indeed forgotten than Newman was created cardinal by Leo XIII, that is why I posted earlier “He was created cardinal by the next pope, Leo XIII, early on in his papacy.”

            • Kiran

              Yes. But you seem to suggest that Leo XIII was some kind of liberal.

              So protestant was Newman in fact, that other similarly minded protestants like Darboy, Ward, and so on, agreed with him. Indeed, in large part, so too did subsequent Catholic tradition. Your game of Pius IX vs. the rest of the Church just doesn’t wash, particularly given that, so far as I can tell you don’t agree with him either.

              • Kiran

                And I see no need to pit Manning against Newman. In both, one finds points which taken to an extreme can be problematic, but both were princes of the Church. And in and of itself, both of their though stands as a witness to the ages.

              • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

                Well you’re getting there. “Subsequent Catholic tradition” is exactly right.

                • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

                  And I see no need to pit Manning against Newman either. Manning did a great job of that all by himself and hardly needs my help.

                  • Kiran

                    Terry, is there a point to any of your digs? I can’t see one.

                    • Kiran

                      I might add for those genuinely interested in exploring the relationship between Newman and Manning, David Newsome’s The Convert Cardinals, which follows the parallel lives of both.

  6. Kiran

    Yes. Leo XIII, that noted liberal.