An Essay On The Development Of Christian Doctrine

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[7] In contemplating it, claims can be made about the idea which attempt to express some truth about it in human speech.

Like all ideas, it is possible to view it under a great number of different aspects; like all great ideas, it is impossible for a human mind, which learns not instantaneously but discursively and step by step, to grasp it in its fullness at once—or even in a single lifetime.

[11] In turn the multiplication of these propositions or statements fills the mind, giving it a thicker apprehension of the idea.

Without this kind of logical, analytic, or propositional contemplation of an idea, it may be possessed and even influential, but it will not be clearly understood.

These aspects then expose the recipients to that idea, though only in a limited sense, after which the recipients develop it by continually contemplating it.

The richer the idea, the greater the possibility for further contemplation.Critics of doctrinal development contend that the Roman Catholic Church’s modern dogmatic pronouncements (on questions such as the Immaculate Conception or papal infallibility) are genuine doctrinal novelties.[3] Moreover, the objection continues, because such doctrines are proposed as divine but are contained neither expressly nor substantially in the revelation of Scripture, they can only be defended on the basis of a claim to new revelation.We summarize Cardinal Newman's "An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine." The word count of this summary is: 4,385 words (7 total pages)PDF download of the contents of this lesson is available in English only.* An earlier version of this essay was presented at a seminar on “The Thought of John Henry Newman” hosted by the Lumen Christi Institute at Oxford University in July 2018.[13] It is, rather, weak and dead ideas which fail to develop because they never take hold of our minds.In the case of Christianity, its idea or ideas are primarily a matter of revelation, which means that they are communicated by God to human beings at discrete historical moments and conveyed through the words and writings of their recipients.[10] In other words, because an idea may be contemplated under many different aspects, from many different angles, and in relation to many other ideas, it is possible for it to be continually growing or filling itself out in the mind; more accurately, this process of contemplation under different aspects is precisely what is meant by speaking of its growth.Because human minds recognize and apprehend the aspects of an idea by means of language, each aspect can be captured in the form of a proposition.I am thankful for the feedback from Ian Ker, the seminar leader, as well as from the other participants.Newman’s theory of doctrinal development, classically articulated in his 1845 Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, initially met with skepticism among the reigning Thomists in Rome, who considered it sufficient to affirm that all Catholic doctrine had been explicitly believed by the Apostles and logically explicated by subsequent doctors.


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