Newman Essay On Development

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.He considered this first criterion the most important of the seven.What he means by type is the external expression of an idea.The fourth note of genuine development is logical sequence.By this Newman means that a doctrine that’s defined and professed by the Church at a point historically distant from its original founding can be considered a development, and not a corruption, if it can be shown to be the logical outcome of the original teaching.As a result, many Protestants conclude that Catholic teaching is a corruption of the original Gospel message.

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Some doctrines were not stated fully and clearly until much later in the life of the Church.The third note of genuine development is In introducing this criterion, Newman notes that in the physical world living things are characterized by growth, not stagnancy, and that this growth comes about by making use of external things.For example, as human beings we grow by taking into our bodies external realities such as food, water and air.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.Their growth in richness and complexity represents the change from an embryonic form into maturity.But how are we to demonstrate whether or not a particular doctrine (or body of doctrines) is a genuine development and not a corruption of the Christian faith?In the ancient Church, for example, Christian theology came to make use of philosophical terms and categories from contemporary Greek culture.These forms of thought were employed to refine the precision of doctrinal formulations, helping the Church to define more clearly what she believed.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.

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