Newman Essay On Development

Newman Essay On Development-66
Pelagians denied the reality of original sin and, as a consequence, denied that our salvation required any grace beyond what is already given us in human nature.

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Newman insists that for a development to be faithful, it must preserve the principle with which it started.If so, we know that the change is a genuine development, not a corruption.Newman warns that the presence of any alteration in the external expression of an idea shouldn’t lead us to conclude that it’s a corruption, instead of a development, of the essential idea.He notes that some of the Jewish religious leaders of Jesus’ time illustrated this problem.Christ frequently condemned them for following the letter of the law, but not its spirit — that is, its development.One Catholic theologian who sought to provide an answer to this question was the eminent English convert Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890).Newman identified seven “notes” or characteristics of authentic developments, as opposed to doctrinal corruptions, in his famous work “Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine” (University of Notre Dame, 1989; page numbers below refer to citations from this edition). The first note of genuine development Newman calls unity of type.In Newman’s terminology, then, when we make use of these re-sources we are assimilating them.The food, water and air we consume don’t change who or what we are in any meaningful way.To illustrate this point, he uses the “analogy of physical growth, which is such that the parts and proportions of the developed form, however altered, correspond to those which belong to its rudiments” (p. In this sense, a full-grown bird is the development of an egg and not its corruption, even though they bear little physical resemblance to one another.Newman offers the further caveat that many times “real perversions and corruptions are often not so unlike externally to the doctrine from which they come, as are changes which are consistent with it and true developments” (p. In fact, according to Newman, a major source of religious corruption is clutching too tightly to doctrines at one stage of their development and refusing to allow their future growth.


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