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An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine Paperback – June 1, 2007

4.6 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Still considered essential reading for serious thinkers on religion more than a century and a half after it was written, this seminal work of modern theology, first published in 1845, presents a history of Catholic doctrine from the days of the Apostles to the time of its writing, and follows with specific examples of how the doctrine has not only survived corruption but grown stronger through defending itself against it, and is, therefore, the true religion.

This classic of Christian apologetics, considered a foundational work of 19th-century intellectualism on a par with Darwin's Origin of Species, is must reading not only for the faithful but also for anyone who wishes to be well educated in the fundamentals of modern thought.

About the Author

British theologian JOHN HENRY CARDINAL NEWMAN (1801-1890)--a leading figure in both the Church of England and, after his conversion, the Roman Catholic Church--was known as "The Father of the Second Vatican Council." His Parochial and Plain Sermons (1834-42) is considered the best collection of sermons in the English language. He is also the author of A Grammar of Assent (1870).
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 468 pages
  • Publisher: Cosimo Classics (June 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602065756
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602065758
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,375,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Before I begin my review, allow me one caveat: the casual reader, to be sure, who stumbles upon this work after seeing it quoted in popular apologetics books (i.e. Keating's Catholicism and Fundamentalism), risks being in over his/her head completely. Such was the case with me about 3 and a half years ago when I was starting out my study of doctrine and history. For 3 years this book sat on my shelf, all attemts that I made to read it having failed because I lacked the proper foundation. It was only after I spent considerable time studying history and especially the ancient heresies that I was able to grasp what Newman was saying. The following example, taken from a passage found on pages 314-315, should demonstrate my point:
"It is very observable that, ingenious as is their theory and sometimes perplexing to a disputant, the Monophysites never could shake themselves free of the Eutychians; and though they could draw intelligible lines on paper between the two doctrines, yet in fact by a hidden fatality their partisans were ever running into or forming alliance with the anathematized extreme. Thus Peter the Fuller the Theopaschite (Eutychian), is at one time in alliance with Peter the Stammerer, who advocated the Henoticon (which was Monophysite). The Acephali, though separating from the latter Peter for that advocacy, and accused by Leontius of being Gaianites (Eutychians), are considered by Facundus as Monophysites. Timothy the Cat, who is said to have agreed with Dioscorus and Peter the Stammerer, who signed the Henoticon, that is, with two Monophysite Patriarchs, is said nevertheless, according to Anastasius, to have maintained the extreme tenet, that "the Divinity is the sole nature of Christ.
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Format: Paperback
That might sound like an exaggeration but I am serious. There is no book in print that I am aware of that discusses this most crucial of areas in the Christian revelation with the degree of nuance and thoroughness then this work of John Henry Newman's does. One of the founders (and the soul) behind the Oxford Movement in England in the 1830's and early 1840's, Dr. Newman's research into Church history troubled him because he did not realize how far the Church of England had drifted in essence and principles from those of the early Church. Newman examines the different distinctions between the beliefs held by Catholics, the Eastern Churches, and Protestants and seeks to show through the records of history - both what they reveal and what they conceal - how to distinguish between "developments" of Revelation and "corruptions." The major doctrines of the different Christian churches are looked at with an eye towards explaining how often what appears to be an "addition" to the Christian faith is but a development or a greater understanding in an explicit manner of what was held in earlier times implicitly. These are properly termed "developments." Likewise, many beliefs that are taken as "givens" by Christians are shown to be anything but "givens" in terms of their relationship to the ancient Church or their profound absence from it in any form explicitly or implicitly (the latter are properly styled as "corruptions of Revelation", "inventions", or "traditions of men"). Undoubtedly the conclusions drawn will not make everyone happy of course. But then who said that the purpose of Truth was to conform itself to the individual whims of man?Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
The sainted Cardinal Newman's "Essay" is a masterpiece, one of the few books of it's kind. This work, which was undertaken by him while he was in the process of deciding to convert to Roman Catholicism, is based upon a simple premise - that the nature of the human intellect is to grasp the full implications of an idea or set of related ideas slowly, over time, by a process of development. Because of this, any set of formal doctrines held to by a body of believers will necessarily grow and *apparently* change over time, in just the same way that a human being gorws and changes over the span of a lifetime. However, just as the human being is physiologically and metaphysically identical with himself over the course of his life, so too will be the body of doctrine and the standards of practice given to the faithful, provided it is guarded from corruption by a teaching authority insured from error.
N.B. - this is *not* the same thing as saying that revelation must be ongoing. The faith itself may be delivered once and for all, in it's entirety. What needs time to develop, and what can never be truly completed, is the systematic exposition of what that faith means, and why it is so rather than otherwise. For example, that there is a God is an article of the Creed that can be communicated once and adhered to forever. But why there should be a God, and only one rather than five or six, and why that God should have such attributes as He is said to possess - these matters are the doctrines that are historical and developmental, and each of them will in turn raise more questions that will need to be answered. Revelation is finished, but theology, the explanation of revelation, is a continuously growing enterprise.
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