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An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine

4.44 of 5 stars 4.44  ·  rating details  ·  177 ratings  ·  14 reviews
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 g ...more
Paperback, 468 pages
Published June 1st 2007 by Cosimo Classics (first published May 30th 1974)
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Bill  Kerwin

This classic work argues that Christian belief, far from being a static list of propositions, develops gradually from the original seed of faith over time, until the fullness of the mystery opens into history like a rose. When this book was written in the mid-19th century, Evolution was in the air, and this work certainly shows its influence--although the result is more Larmarckian than Darwinian.

Newman wrote this while he was moving away from Anglicanism and toward Roman Catholicism; indeed, h
Newman answered for me a question with which I struggled for five years. Is the Bible alone enough to determine the content of our faith, without the comment of teachers and councils, past or present? This question is not Newman's main concern here, but the Essay nonetheless answered my question in a breathtaking and very satisfactory way. Stuck between Anglicanism and Catholicism in 1840s England, the brightest Christian mind of his generation immersed himself in the history of the early Church ...more
I've been spending a lot of time going through this book over and over. I'm fascinated by Newman's writing style, by the tensions in his theory, and by the influence the theory has had on Roman Catholicism and other theories of doctrinal development. Newman's theory is of particular interest because he is not interested in ecumenism - this is before Vatican II, and he believes there is no salvation outside Roman Catholicism. This allows him to focus the question of development on issues of theol ...more
Don Bryant
This is a book I waited to read for a long time - not because I couldn't get to it. I was afraid of it. It is a great challenge of Evangelicalism's back-to-the-bible ethos. Newman asserts that doctrine develops through the agency of the Spirit-guided church, which, as he reminds us, is the pillar and foundation of the truth. Seeking to return to the early church is like a fully grown human being seeking to be an embryo. Who would want to? Newman is fun to read, not in that he is entertaining but ...more
These are the most striking passages in the book:

The dogmatic principle: ‘That there is truth then; that there is one truth; that religious error is in itself of an immoral nature; that its maintainers, unless involuntarily such, are guilty in maintaining it; that it is to be dreaded; that truth and falsehood are set before us for the trial of our hearts; that our choice is an awful giving forth of lots on which salvation or rejection is inscribed; that "before all things it is necessary to hold
Darrick Taylor
Newman's great masterpiece on the development of Christian doctrine was the last work he completed before coming into communion with Rome. It is a magisterial defense of the idea that the Church's comprehension of divine revelation enlarges and expands with time, and lays out in copious detail how and why such development should be expected with regards to Christian belief. He also, of course, undertakes to defend developments of Catholic doctrine that Protestants find objectionable, and whether ...more
Jeff Miller
One of those books I have been meaning to get around to and all I can say is wow! I've read other works of his and so am not surprised by his towering intellect, but it is certainly shown here. There is good reason why various religions and branches of Christianity don't talk much about the development of doctrine - simply because they do not have a coherent one. Blessed Newman amply shows not only how doctrine is developed by why the system within the Church is the only practicable way for doct ...more
Again, one of the best writers in English during the 19th century. He was an Anglican who tried to remain one but could not when he studied how doctrine developed and yet remained the same. He saw that it was not the Anglicans who held the theological high ground of Christian truth but the Roman church. He gave up everything, was not received well by the English hierarchy but was vindicated when he was made a Cardinal.

The study shows how doctrine develops but must be founded on the original bibl
Katy Cruel
This was pretty intense to work through for me. I'm going to keep my notes on it and keep referring to it. The idea that doctrine is not static is significant. Basically this text is primarily full of historical examples justifying his argument. So if you don't get his argument you can just keep reading to understand it more fully.
Included in the "Catholicism Explained/Theology" section of Fr. John McCloskey's 100-book Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan.

Listed by Patrick Madrid in the Reading Plan of Search and Rescue in Phase 3 (Advanced).
Jed Park
The only reason I don't give it 5 stars is that I feel so blasted stupid when I read Newman. What a mind.
I read this in 2002. Cleared up so many questions I had about Orthodox/Catholic historic Christianity.
bought at Oxford in preparation for a course at école cathédrale
A great book. Period.
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The Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, C.O. was an Anglican convert to Roman Catholicism, later made a cardinal, and in 1991 proclaimed 'Venerable'. In early life he was a major figure in the Oxford Movement to bring the Church of England back to its Catholic roots. Eventually his studies in history persuaded him to become a Roman Catholic. Both before and after his conversion he wrote a number o ...more
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