The Ideas of Newman
Christianity and Human ReligiosityBook - 1978
The threefold purpose of this book is to examine Newman's though, using methods from the comparative study of religion; to examine a classic Western theological response to the problems modernity poses for religion; to analyze the adequacy of Newman's response to questions about the relationship among religions and the religious potential of human beings.
Newman attacks many of his contemporaries, especially those he calls Liberals, for slighting humanity's religious side. His conversation to Roman Catholicism, his defenses of it, his struggles to change it, all rest in his idea that Catholic Christianity fulfills humanity's religious potential. Dr. Yearley's comparative approach permits organization of Newman's disparate ideas on Liberalism into a type of religion--Liberal religion --and clarification of why Newman thinks any attempt to use Liberal religion's ideas to reformulate Christianity must lead to its destruction and the creating of a new faith.
The comparative approach separates the two views of Roman Catholicism that inform Newman's ideas. The fulfillment model of his adopted Church sees it as perfecting all aspects of human religiosity. The authority model, however, stresses that the authority is the crucial fulfilling element. The tools provided by the comparative study of religion also help to penetrate Newman's idea that human religiosity arises from man's sense both that a sacred realm exists and that he is estranged from it. This estrangement is most evident in the information that various religions provide. Finally, the comparative perspective highlights two general problems: the relationship of Christianity to other religions and the idea that a characteristically modern religion, Liberal religion, deforms human religious potential.
Newman lived many of the intellectual tensions of the 19th century in a profound way. He tried to stand in two worlds: the traditional Christian and the modern. Most of his major works attempt to relate traditional Christianity with some aspect of modernity: historical change with doctrinal continuity, philosophic skepticism with religious assent, secular education with religious nurture.