Newman’s Theory of Doctrinal Development
An Online Course led by Dr. Bud Marr, Director, National Institute for Newman Studies
St John Henry Newman’s Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (1845) is arguably the most important work ever written on that topic. Within the Essay, Newman argued that later articulations of doctrine, when accepted by the universal church, represent not corruptions but organic developments of the original deposit of faith. Since the Essay’s publication, Newman’s theory of development has become widely accepted by both theologians and ecclesiastical authorities. Today, church historians take for granted the idea that doctrine develops. Nevertheless, vigorous debate persists regarding the question of how to discern between an authentic development and a “mis-step,” or corruption. This course will provide an in-depth study both of Newman’s original Essay and also its reception in subsequent decades. The course will conclude by looking at key case studies in order to test how Newman’s theory works in practice.
Online Gathering Dates and Assignments
- October 5, 7-8pm via Zoom Internet: Overview of Newman’s Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine
Assigned Reading: Newman, Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, https://digitalcollections.newmanstudies.org/document?di=5e8cd9d5cf89b40023553621
- October 12, 7-8pm via Zoom Internet: Contemporary Reception of the Essay on Development
Assigned Reading: TBA
- October 19, 7-8pm via Zoom Internet: Religious Liberty and the Essay on Development
Assigned Reading: Dignitatis Humanae, http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651207_dignitatis-humanae_en.html
- October 26, 7-8pm via Zoom Internet: Moral Issues in the Essay on Development
Assigned Reading Internet: Avery Dulles, “Catholicism and Capital Punishment,” https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/catholicism--capital-punishment-2637
Ryan J. Marr
National Institute for Newman Studies
Ryan (“Bud”) Marr is the Director of the National Institute for Newman Studies and Associate Editor of the Newman Studies Journal. He has a strong personal interest in Newman—a result of the instrumental role that Newman’s thought played in his conversion to Catholicism. Marr has authored several other publications on Newman’s theology, including a book-length treatment on Newman’s understanding of the Church.