Newman Studies Journal

Volume 12, Issue 2, Fall 2015

Ian Ker
Pages 15-32

John Henry Newman: Analogy, Image and Reality

By apologetics one generally means the kind of intellectual apologetics that we find in Newman’s Development of Christian Doctrine, Apologia, and Grammar of Assent. But Newman was also the persuasive apologist of the imagination, particularly in his two novels and Difficulties of Anglicans and Present Position of Catholics. In Loss and Gain Newman takes his readers into a Catholic church to experience the reality of Catholic worship, an imaginative experience designed to impress upon their imagination the difference between a real and an unreal religion. In Difficulties of Anglicans he warns Anglo-Catholics against the misuse of the imagination when unguided by the reason. But the misuse does not take away the use, and he explains how important a part imagination had played in his own conversion to Rome. The analogies he presses on the imaginations of his Anglo-Catholic readers are nothing to the analogies he piles up in Present Position of Catholics, where the most vivid imagery in all his writings is to be found, as he employs shock tactics in his attempt to delete the anti-Catholic stain on the English Protestant imagination. And finally in Callista, Newman practically abandons his most famous apologetic argument from conscience for the existence of God in favour of a direct appeal to the imagination of the heroine, to her need for liberation from self-imprisonment, a liberation that she can only find in the image of an incarnate God.