An Outline of the History of Christian Thought Since Kant eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 317 pages of information about An Outline of the History of Christian Thought Since Kant.
historical point can be found at which the growth of doctrine ceased and the rule of faith was once for all settled, therefore an infallible authority outside of the development must have existed from the beginning, to provide a means of distinguishing true development from false.  This infallible guide is, of course, the Church.  It seems incredible that Newman could escape applying to the Church the same argument which he had so skilfully applied to Scripture and dogmatic history.  Similar is the case with the argument of the Grammar of Assent.  ’No man is certain of a truth who can endure the thought of its contrary.’  If the reason why I cannot endure the thought of the contradictory of a belief which I have made my own, is that so to think brings me pain and darkness, this does not prove my truth.  If my belief ever had its origin in reason, it must be ever refutable by reason.  It is not corroborated by the fact that I do not wish to see anything that would refute it.[8] This last fact may be in the highest degree an act of arbitrariness.  To make the impossibility of thinking the opposite, the test of truth, and then to shut one’s eyes to those evidences which might compel one to think the opposite, is the essence of irrationality.  One attains by this method indefinite assertiveness, but not certainty.  Newman lived in some seclusion in the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Birmingham for many years.  A few distinguished men, and a number of his followers, in all not more than a hundred and fifty, went over to the Roman Church after him.  The defection was never so great as, in the first shock, it was supposed that it would be.  The outward influence of Newman upon the Anglican Church then ceased.  But the ideas which he put forth have certainly been of great influence in that Church to this day.  Most men know the portrait of the great cardinal, the wide forehead, ploughed deep with horizontal furrows, the pale cheek, down which ’long lines of shadow slope, which years and anxious thought and suffering give.’  One looks into the wonderful face of those last days—­Newman lived to his ninetieth year—­and wonders if he found in the infallible Church the peace which he so earnestly sought.

[Footnote 8:  Fairbairn, Catholicism, Roman and Anglican, p. 157.]


It was said that the Oxford Movement furnished the rationale of the reaction.  Many causes, of course, combine to make the situation of the Roman Church and the status of religion in the Latin countries of the Continent the lamentable one that it is.  That position is worst in those countries where the Roman Church has most nearly had free play.  The alienation both of the intellectual and civil life from organised religion is grave.  That the Roman Church occupies in England to-day a position more favourable than in almost any nation on the Continent, and better than it occupied in England at the beginning

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An Outline of the History of Christian Thought Since Kant from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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