Who Is John Henry Newman, and Why Is He Important?

John Henry Newman

Today’s guest post is written by Louis St. Hilaire, the Catholic Product Manager at Logos Bible Software.

From his evangelical youth to his leadership of the Anglo-Catholic Oxford Movement to his embrace of Roman Catholicism, the career and legacy of John Henry Newman is marked by brilliance and controversy.

His engagement with liberal, evangelical and catholic movements within the Church of England in his time makes him a pivotal figure, important for understanding the Anglican Communion today. Evangelical and Calvinist influences dominated his upbringing and adolescent religious awakening, but his studies of the Early Church led him to advocate—with the other leaders of the Oxford Movement—a return to the theological, ecclesiological and liturgical traditions of the first millennium as a necessary bulwark against liberalism. Many date the end of the Oxford Movement to Newman’s break with the Anglo-Catholics and reception into the Roman Catholic Church, but the work of the Movement remained influential and the conflicts of the nineteenth century are still visible in the High, Low and Broad Church tendencies within the Anglican Communion today.

Though his years as a Catholic were at times overshadowed by conflict and suspicion of his ideas from the hierarchy, he has become a favorite of modern popes, who, according Newman biographer Fr. Ian Ker, “look to him as a man who welcomed modernisation but in fidelity to Church authority and in continuity with the traditions of the Church”. It is widely expected that he will be beatified—the second to last step in being recognized as a saint—by Pope Benedict XVI in September of this year.

Claimed both by liberal Catholics for his insights into the nature of conscience and the development of doctrine, and claimed by conservative Catholics for his vigorous opposition to the liberal Christianity of his day, Newman is widely recognized as a forerunner of the Second Vatican Council and a profound influence on the direction of the modern Catholic Church.

We have put together a 31-volume collection titles written by Newman, available on Pre-Pub in the Collected Works of John Henry Newman (31 Vols.). This collection contains essays, lectures and sermons, spanning his Anglican and Catholic periods, dealing with history, theology, logic, apologetics and education. Right now, they’re on Pre-Pub for a steep discount. Head on over to the product page to learn more.

Here are some highlights from the collection:

  • An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine is Newman’s innovative and historically sensitive defense of Roman Catholic tradition. Written out of his own struggles between his abandonment of Anglicanism and reception into the Catholic Church, the Essay carves out a paradoxically modern traditionalism.
  • An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent is a philosophical defense of the assent of faith, a masterpiece of Christian personalism, illuminating the interior experience of reason and belief.
  • Apologia Pro Vita Sua is Newman’s defense of the development of his own thought against the accusations of Charles Kingsley. It has become a classic in the tradition of Christian autobiography begun by St. Augustine’s Confessions.
  • The Lectures on Justification, written in his Anglican period, carve out a via media on the question of justification, anticipating the rapprochement between Catholic and Protestant positions seen in the ecumenical dialogue of the 20th century.
  • Parochial and Plain Sermons is an 8-volume collection of sermons Newman delivered as an Anglican vicar at Oxford. Inspired by his study of the Church Fathers, they were deeply influential at Oxford and throughout England.

Head on over to the John Henry Newman page to learn more and check out the complete list of titles! You can also peruse the Catholic Product Guide for a wealth of resources written by Catholic authors on matters of doctrine, history, ecclesiology, and Christian spirituality.

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One Response to “Who Is John Henry Newman, and Why Is He Important?”

  1. Bob Lozano March 3, 2010 at 6:54 am #

    Definitely looking forward to this release (have had it on pre-order for some time now). Very glad to see logos beginning to delve into the riches of the entire history of Christianity … keep ‘em coming!