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By Tyler, Edward, J. Fr.

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Book Id: WPLBN0100302145
Format Type: PDF (eBook)
File Size: 6.43 MB
Reproduction Date: 11/29/2019

Author: Tyler, Edward, J. Fr.
Language: English
Subject: Non Fiction, Religion
Collections: Christianity, Authors Community
Publication Date:
Publisher: Fr. Edward, J. Tyler
Member Page: Fr. Edward J. Tyler


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J. Tyle, F. E. (2020). SENSE OF GOD IN THE CONSCIENCE by J.H. Newman Vol I. Retrieved from

Overview During the two Enlightenment centuries prior to Newman, two themes were commonly emphasized – the sovereign value of the free individual, and “Reason” as the primary means of the individual’s moral and religious flourishing. Scientific demonstration was Reason’s benchmark. These themes were present within English philosophy, which especially dealt with knowledge and certainty. It was laid down that thinking in accord with the demands of “Reason” was the source of certain knowledge for the free individual, whether “Reason” (as understood by Idealists) ranged beyond the world of experience or (as understood by Empiricists) was limited to experienced phenomena. By being free of the oppression of “non-rational”, authoritarian and traditional constraints (such as faith and dogma) and by keeping to the scientific demands of “Reason”, truth and prosperity would result. “Reasoning” meant logical and evidential argumentation free of all religious authority, and this was deemed to be the only valid thinking. This liberalism in the idea of understanding and certitude set the parameters of what could be legitimately accepted as true, including in Revealed Religion. It was this liberalism in religion against which Newman set his face, for it set aside faith in divine authority as the foundation for certain and true knowledge of the God of Revelation. For the enlightened man, if you wanted to be certain and convinced of something, you had to prove it rationally – that is, with evidence commensurate to the conclusion and satisfying the canons of rational demonstration. By this test, faith in Revealed Religion failed as certain knowledge. For Newman, Christ and his Revelation was the supreme truth and inasmuch as the key to certain knowledge of Christ was “divine faith”, Faith had the priority over “Reason”. Newman strove to establish a philosophy of faith and set himself to invalidate the secular idea of Reason, for it led to religious scepticism and atheism. Newman wished to establish a foundation not merely of theism but of belief in Divine Revelation. He decided that this foundation is commonly the conscience, which is to say the sense of right and wrong and of being subject to moral obligation. The natural conscience of man enables an inchoate sense of God as Lawgiver, Judge and Friend. With this seminal conviction and with other helps, one may proceed to “divine faith” in revealed religion and in the Church its authenticated oracle – all with the help of divine grace. Certitude in religion also entailed a correct moral ethos and the grasp of what was probable. This investigation focusses on the history of the idea of the conscience with its sense of God as possessed by John Henry Newman, over his lifetime. It does not evaluate – except in passing – its philosophical validity, but it hopes that this biographical history of an idea fundamental to Newman’s combat with agnosticism in religion will assist in understanding Newman’s philosophy of religion in the mind. It will also plot the engagement of a great religious mind with the spread of liberal individualism in religion.

John Henry Newman (1801-90) is among the most renowned figures of Oxford University and one of England’s greatest religious writers. Beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in Birmingham UK in 2010, canonized in Rome by Pope Francis in October 2019, he is honoured in the Church of England liturgical calendar on 11 August and celebrated in the Catholic liturgical calendar on 9 October. Just before beatifying him, Pope Benedict XVI said informally that Newman “appears as a doctor of the Church for us and for everyone.” The study of Newman’s writings, including those expressing his idea of the conscience, continues to be vigorous and unabated.

“When he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking”. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, III, I, ch.1, a.6, no.1777) “In like manner we have to ascertain the starting points for arriving at religious truth… To gain religious starting points, we must in a parallel way, interrogate our hearts, and (since it is a personal, individual matter,) our own hearts, interrogate our own consciences, interrogate, I will say, the God who dwells there. I think you must ask the God of Conscience to enable you to do your duty in this matter.” J. H. Newman to Louisa Simeon. 26 June 1869. Letters and Diaries, Vol. XXIV, pp. 274-276.

Table of Contents
CONTENTS Overview and Chronology Introduction Historical Background (from Classical to modern times) Newman: The Conversion of 1816 Newman: Conscience and Belief in God Newman: Conscience and Belief in Divine Revelation Newman: Conscience and the right Moral Ethos Newman: Conscience and Reasoning to Revelation Newman: Conscience and the sense of God Bibliography


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