Archive for September 8th, 2007

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.

Chapter 1A



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A Dialogue of Comfort in Tribulation was written in prison by St. Thomas More while he awaited execution. It is a sort of literary last will and testament, encouraging people to persevere in faith despite persecution. The dialogue between fictional characters is framed in terms of the threat posed by the Ottoman Empire; but of course, he was referring also to the situation of English Catholics.

Book 1 Prologue


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