An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine is a very interesting book. I’m not starting it quite at the beginning, because the Introduction is very long and roves about, and this week I am tired. (Yes, I am a wimp.) So I will read the intro next week, if you don’t mind, and the rest of this chapter too.
The book is both about theology and the history of ideas. Indeed, it is pretty much about how ideas having a history works. It’s a lot more interesting than memes, but obviously memes would have been a useful concept for Newman here. However, this utilitarian aspect is consistently underlain by the fact that Newman doesn’t doubt that Christian doctrine isn’t just any old meme; revelation comes direct from God, and hence is a bit different from other sorts of ideas. Grace builds upon nature, but it’s not just nature, either.