Newman’s conversion

Discussion in 'General discussions' started by Minh, Sep 7, 2019.

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  1. Minh

    Minh Puritan Board Freshman

    While I agree that contemporary “Reformed” and “Evangelical” converts to RCC do not have a solid understanding of the biblical faith, I’m confounded by the conversion of J.H.Newman to Rome. On one hand, he was very well raised in a Anglican background with heavy Reformed influences and he himself displayed piety and faith in Christ. Yet, on the other hand, he sought to find a “media” between Rome’s and Protestant justification and use history to support Rome’s claim as the legitimate church. He once famously said, “To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant.” In mid-October, he will be canonized as saint by the Vatican. What are your thoughts on this man?
     
  2. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    My thoughts would have to be he's wrong
     
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  3. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    He was almost right on this one. To worship church history is to cease to be a Protestant.

    John Henry Newman was part of the Oxford Movement, which was semi-Popish in the first place. While his conversion to Rome is a sad tale of apostasy, he did at least have the honesty and integrity to leave the Church of England, which is more than can be said for others.

    BTW, the Davenant Institute is currently doing a series on conversions to Rome (part 1 and part 2; I have only read the first instalment). I think that they are due to publish ten posts on the subject.
     
  4. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Doctor

    Newman? You mean the guy on "Seinfeld?"
     
  5. Minh

    Minh Puritan Board Freshman

    To be clear, I’m speaking of John Henry Newman. Or Cardinal Newman.


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  6. Minh

    Minh Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you for that links. I find it very helpful!
     
  7. brendanchatt

    brendanchatt Puritan Board Freshman

    His seed had either fallen on rocky or thorny ground.
     
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  8. DTK

    DTK Puritan Board Junior

    Elsewhere in a published work I have written the following . . .

    . . . But of all the treatments dealing with sola Scriptura, the work of William Goode, The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, has never been surpassed. It was first published in 1842 in two volumes, and then the second edition in 1853, which was revised, enlarged, and published in three volumes. His work was a response to The Tracts for the Times, published by the proponents of Tractarianism, often called The Oxford Movement within the Anglican Church. Representing the Evangelical majority within the Anglican Church, Goode’s work was one of many replies to the Tractarian theology of John Henry Newman, Edward B. Pusey and John Keble. Newman, as predicted by Goode, converted to Rome in the year 1845, the same year in which his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine was published. Church historian Peter Toon observed that ‘the Tractarians were only a minority in Oxford and though their developing teaching was widely read and appreciated it soon met the opposition of able men of different churchmanship.’[1]

    It has been the frequent boast of some Roman apologists that their much admired hero, Newman and his colleagues have never been answered. But Toon’s bibliography lists some 128 Anglican Evangelical works, and another 14 Non–Anglican writings, all of which were contemporary replies to the Tractarian party of the day. Goode’s two editions of The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice were replies to Newman both before (1842) and after (1853) his conversion to Rome. Of Goode’s work, Toon writes:


    Without any doubt the most learned and elaborate reply to the Tractarian doctrine of Tradition came from the pen of William Goode. Taking over 1200 pages The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice…defended the position that Holy Scripture has been and is the sole, divine Rule of Faith and practice to the Church. Edward Hawkins, Provost of Oriel, from whom Newman had learned to look carefully at Tradition…appreciated Goode’s work calling it ‘a learned discussion’…Evangelicals thought it struck a death–blow at Tractarianism.[2]


    Concerning Goode, Gareth Vaughan Bennett writes:


    He was virtually the only Evangelical to be a distinguished patristic scholar. In The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice…he was scathing about Tractarian learning. They made extensive use of the Fathers and seemed to handle them confidently, but none of them were experts in the field and few of them were even well–read; they seemed to have no grasp of the critical problems involved...[3]


    Newman is often cast as an open–minded individual, frequently portraying himself as such in his own writings. But the only response of Newman to Goode’s work we have been able to find is a brief letter to Thomas Mozley, dated March 12, 1842. After referring to Keble and Wallis, he makes the abrupt remark, ‘I do not want Mr. Goode’s book.’[4] That Goode’s work did indeed have a profound impact on the contemporary observers of the controversy is noted by Roundell Palmer, the Earl of Selborne. In addressing himself to the adherents of the Tractarian policies, he wrote:


    The voice of ‘the Fathers’ (treated as if they had spoken with one voice) was represented as that of the Church, and the real meaning of Scripture as inaccessible, or not safely accessible, except through them. It was not uncommon to hear the teaching of those who (with the Thirty–nine Articles of the Church of England) found in the Scriptures a ‘Rule of Faith,’ or test of doctrine, called Bibliolatry. Very few were already familiar with the Fathers; and many, who felt the difficulty of accepting their traditions at second–hand from a small number of learned men, were led to wish for that kind of learning. It was in such a desire that the ‘Patristic’ association [i.e. the Oxford Movement] in London, of which I have spoken, originated. We read together the Apostolical Fathers and Justin Martyr, and some works of the Alexandrian writers. For my own part, when I came to perceive the real nature and magnitude of the field before us, and the extremely wide difference between the idea of half–inspired wisdom with which I had begun, and the true character of the works of the Alexandrian school upon which I was entering, I retired from an attempt, as to which I saw clearly that it would not bring the satisfaction expected from it, while its accomplishment would be impossible without too great an encroachment upon the time required for my proper duties.


    Palmer then adds these reflections:


    My Father once said to my brother William—repeating, unless I am mistaken, some words of Bishop Horsley, who knew the Fathers well—that ‘the Fathers must be read with caution.’ When Isaac Taylor, in his Ancient Christianity, collected out of the Fathers many things tending to disturb the ideal conception of a golden primitive age of pure faith and practice; and when William Goode, afterwards Dean of Ripon, in his Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, called the Fathers themselves as witnesses in favour of the direct use of Scripture for the decision of controversies, some of those who placed confidence in the Oxford divines, but were themselves ignorant of the Fathers, waited anxiously for answers which never came. I remember a reply once made to myself, when I asked whether anybody was going to answer Isaac Taylor, whose work I perceived to be producing in some quarters a considerable effect. I was told that in a little time he would answer himself, which he never did. It seemed plain that, although the advocates of Patristic authority might be powerful in attack, they were weak in defence.[5]


    [1] Peter Toon, Evangelical Theology 1833–1856: A Response to Tractarianism (Atlanta: John Knox, 1979), p. 1.

    [2] Ibid., p. 117.

    [3] See his article ‘Patristic Tradition in Anglican Thought, 1660–1900’ in Oecumenica (1971/2) Tradition in Lutheranism and Anglicanism, p. 83.

    [4] See The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman: Vol. VIII, Tract 90 and the Jerusalem Bishopric January 1841–April 1842, ed. Gerard Tracey (Oxford: Clarendon, 1999), p. 483.

    [5] Roundell Palmer, Memorials, Part I: Family and Personal, 1766–1865 (London: MacMillan, 1896), Vol. 1, pp. 209–210.
     
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  9. Minh

    Minh Puritan Board Freshman

    Brother, you take my breath away...:applause:
     
  10. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    Newman's perversion to Rome serves as an example of how great learning will do nothing for one who does not have grace. He was seduced by the harlot as many have been.
     
  11. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    The statement itself is just flat out wrong. You cannot read, for instance, John Calvin's "Prefatory Address to King Francis I of France" which prefaces his Institutes and seriously believe that Protestants aren't rooted in history. These men became Protestant because of history.

    In my conversations with papists and other pagans, my sense has been that when they talk about "history," they mean "history according to the interpretation mandated by Rome."
     
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  12. JKL1647

    JKL1647 Puritan Board Freshman

    It is actually pretty ridiculous why some Protestants convert to RCC. RC "traditions" are many times simply "this early church father mentioned this one time therefore the early church believed this and is apostolic"
     
  13. DTK

    DTK Puritan Board Junior

    I suppose one could wish that it were that simple, but it's really not.
     
  14. JKL1647

    JKL1647 Puritan Board Freshman

    In many cases it is. Not in every case obviously.
    Take for example RC defense of statues and images. They point to early Christian catacombs that had art on there walls. Then from that instance they will develop over time doctrines elaborating the importance and necessity of those things, even though those early Christians did not have anything remotely close in mind to RC current beliefs on statues and images.
     
  15. DTK

    DTK Puritan Board Junior

    Ok, if that's what you want to believe.
     
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