“[A]t the heart of Newman’s Essay is a discovery of the historicity of faith that avoids at every turn the temptation both of an idealistic philosophy of history and of a relativist historicism . . . while holding fast to the historicity of faith.”
The aim of this essay is very straightforward. It intends no more—but certainly no less—than to urge the reading of Newman’s book. I hope to spell out why a careful, penetrating study of this
work is now more than ever worthwhile for each of us; emphatically for each of us, and particularly for the so-called “theological layman” as well. This is meant precisely in the sense of Newman’s major concern for the formation of theological competency and sound theological judgment. Over and above mere encouragement, the present essay intends to provide an introduction to, and guidance toward, independent reading. Encouragement and guidance, however, will be given under a certain light, within a certain framing of the question, which is meant to help to unlock Newman’s essay. This light is the question of the historicity of the Christian faith; more concretely, it is the question of Newman’s proposal for resolving the problem of faith and historical reason, which is grounded ultimately in the uniqueness of the Christian faith itself, finds its root in humanism and the Reformation, and has been in a state of acute crisis since the European Enlightenment.
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