November 16, 2008

False step....

John Henry Newman, on "religious liberalism." (He was not writing about political liberalism, but it is easy to descry the analogous false step that underlies leftist politics)...[link]

....Whenever men are able to act at all, there is the chance of extreme and intemperate action; and therefore, when there is exercise of mind, there is the chance of wayward or mistaken exercise. Liberty of thought is in itself a good; but it gives an opening to false liberty. Now by Liberalism I mean false liberty of thought, or the exercise of thought upon matters, in which, from the constitution of the human mind, thought cannot be brought to any successful issue, and therefore is out of place. Among such matters are first principles of whatever kind; and of these the most sacred and momentous are especially to be reckoned the truths of Revelation.

Liberalism then is the mistake of subjecting to human judgment those revealed doctrines which are in their nature beyond and independent of it, and of claiming to determine on intrinsic grounds the truth and value of propositions which rest for their reception simply on the external authority of the Divine Word....
This is from the notes to his Apologia pro Vita Sua. Newman's Apologia is a classic. The Latin title means "defense of one's life." It is the sort of book that you would guess would be a very dull dry book indeed, since it is purely a history of Newman's religious thought during the first half of his life, and rigorously excludes all the action and personalities of his very active life. But the book is oddly compelling and readable. Recommended for all serious people, if there are any left.

Posted by John Weidner at November 16, 2008 4:14 PM
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