Divine revelation and the infallible church : Newman, Vatican II and Arcic
The intention of this thesis is twofold: firstly, to define precisely the degree to which John Henry Newman anticipated the teaching of Vatican II on the nature and transmission of Revelation and on the Church’s theological understanding of herself; and secondly, to assess the significance of this for contemporary ecumenical discussions between Roman Catholics and Anglicans on authority in the Church. The first section of this thesis, then, is an exploration of Newman’s thought on Revelation and ecclesiology. This includes an analysis of some unpublished and hitherto unconsidered material from the Birmingham Oratory Archives, which reveals that Newman had formulated an organic theory of development by 1840; three years before this is generally reckoned to have been the case. This discussion is set within the historical context of Newman's life, and the relevant scholarly material is also surveyed. The second section compares Newman's views, as set out above, with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council in the appropriate sections of its two Dogmatic Constitutions, Dei Verbum (on Revelation) and Lumen Gentium (on the Church).The third section begins with a discussion of the principles upon which Roman Catholics conduct ecumenical dialogue. These are found primarily in the Vatican II document Unitatis Redintegratio, but also in the new Ecumenical Directory; scholarly opinion is also reviewed. There then follows an analysis of the two ARCIC documents on 'Authority in the Church', and the major criticisms of them are considered in detail. Many of these are irreconcilable not only with the documents, but also with one another. It is therefore suggested in the conclusion, that a possible way to overcome some of these divisions is through a discussion of theological method. A brief outline of a potentially helpful method, the seeds of which were sown by Newman, is then provided.