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Development 3

Development 3

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Published by Rod
I have started to study 'Development of Doctrine' by John Henry Newman. The document is a chapter summary of chapter 3.

I have started to study 'Development of Doctrine' by John Henry Newman. The document is a chapter summary of chapter 3.

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Published by: Rod on Dec 06, 2009
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John Henry Newman Chapter Summary An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine Ch 2 The historical argument in behalf of the existing Developments
Section 1 Method of Proof Certain doctrines we can trace back to 4
Century – their historical basis is traced back further but their origin is unclear.We do not use reason to analyse them – we accept them because they have a historical basis. The historical basis can come to prove a great deal of theology.Section 2 State of the EvidenceBut Bacon proved that an historical basis to an idea can tell us very little about thenatural world. We have to doubt everything and test knowledge with our senses. Doesthis scientific reasoning apply to theology?Does this scientific reasoning apply to theology?Yes.In all areas of life we should consider tradition first but test it with our ownexperience.Missing gaps in the historical record p.116Omissions in history and tradition are common but not necessarily a problem.Unexpected news, ideas that have not been noticed may cause problems but alsocontribute to the state of our knowledge.For example, the newspapers of the time did not mention the cholera epidemic because of its notoriety.An idea may not appear in the historical record because of the gradual nature of itsdiscovery – it will then suddenly appear.Another cause may be that documents are lost and are suddenly found.
Omissions frequently ‘proceed on some law’ or external cause. This may lead to theidentification of a previously unknown law or external cause once the omission isconfirmed.Omissions may be the result of a deliberate attempt to obscure or hide a certain idea.If the idea and the person doing the obscuring can be identified this can lead to newaspects of a persons character being discovered that were previously unknown.On the other hand too much evidence may also indicate that something has beendeliberately falsified. E.g.:“The genuine epistles of St Ignatius contain none of the ecclesiastical terms, such as‘Priest’ or ‘See’ which are so frequent afterwards.” (p.117)Omissions may also be caused by the influence of circumstances upon the expressionof opinion or testimony.E.g.: The early Christians did not refer to miracles because they lived in a magicalworld and they did not seem as important / strange as they do to us now – seeargument by William Paley Evidences iii.5There are many things, such as purgatory that did not seem relevant to the earlychurch as they do to us now in 19
Century.Often an omission is due to an unexpected explanation (p.119) E.g. the doctrines of The Mass and Ecclesiastical Unity. Their importance was disputed until the discoveryof the Gospel of St Ignatius.Later developments of doctrine sometimes lead us to go back and find evidence ‘exabundante’ as a matter of the grace of God.Over time developments of doctrine are developed by the church through councils anddebate – contradictions are worked out in time.Finally this quote from Newman concludes the chapter:(p.121)
 Further informationWilliam Paley:The following is Section III chapter 5 from William Paley ‘Evidence of Christianity’:
I shall consider this objection, first, as it applies to the letters of the apostles preservedin the New Testament; and secondly, as it applies to the remaining writings of other early Christians.The epistles of the apostles are either hortatory or argumentative. So far as they wereoccupied in delivering lessons of duty, rules of public order, admonitions againstcertain prevailing corruptions, against vice, or any particular species of it, or infortifying and encouraging the constancy of the disciples under the trials to whichthey were exposed, there appears to be no place or occasion for more of thesereferences than we actually find.So far as these epistles are argumentative, the nature of the argument which theyhandle accounts for the infrequency of these allusions. These epistles were not writtento prove the truth of Christianity. The subject under consideration was not that whichthe miracles decided, the reality of our Lord's mission; but it was that which themiracles did not decide, the nature of his person or power, the design of his advent, itseffects, and of those effects the value, kind, and extent. Still I maintain thatmiraculous evidence lies at the bottom of the argument. For nothing could be so preposterous as for the disciples of Jesus to dispute amongst themselves, or withothers, concerning his office or character; unless they believed that he had shown, bysupernatural proofs, that there was something extraordinary in both. Miraculousevidence, therefore, forming not the texture of these arguments, but the ground andsubstratum, if it be occasionally discerned, if it be incidentally appealed to, it isexactly so much as ought take place, supposing the history to be true.As a further answer to the objection, that the apostolic epistles do not contain sofrequent, or such direct and circumstantial recitals of miracles as might be expected, Iwould add, that the apostolic epistles resemble in this respect the apostolic speeches,which speeches are given by a writer who distinctly records numerous miracleswrought by these apostles themselves, and by the Founder of the institution in their  presence; that it is unwarrantable to contend that the omission, or infrequency, of suchrecitals in the speeches of the apostles negatives the existence of the miracles, when

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