Newman Studies Journal

Volume 11, Issue 2, Fall 2014

Jonathan Martin Ciraulo
Pages 20-37

Apologia pro Vita Stulti: Newman’s Defense of the “Superstitious Masses”

This essay analyzes Newman’s response to the tendency in philosophical modernity and liberal Protestantism, as exemplified by John Locke, to denigrate the so-called “superstitious” nature of the religion of the masses. Newman constructed a philosophical and theological defense of Christians who were accused of an unenlightened superstition, due to their popular piety and lack of theological training, and proposes this very “superstition” to be the hallmark of genuine Christianity, as found from its inception. The essay concludes with a comparison to Augustine’s City of God.