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Ex Umbris: Newman's New Evangelization



Newman wrote many works arguing for the truth of the Christian faith. At the same time, he wrote positively regarding non-Christian beliefs and practices. This article investigates Newman's arguments for Christianity in light of his acceptance of non-Christian religions. Drawing primarily on the Grammar of Assent and the Oxford University Sermons, as well as Newman's poetry, prayers, and other works, I argue that Newman's acceptance of other religions forms the foundation of his Christian apologetic. I first look at Newman's view of non-Christian religions, where he sees an ascending movement of humanity searching for God and a descending movement of God revealing himself to humanity. Second, I look to Newman's understanding of human reasoning, which works holistically and not according to the rules of strict logic alone. Third, I argue that, for Newman, religious conversion models other types of assent, so religious knowledge and practice outside of Christianity are what allow a believer to recognize the truth of the Christian message. Finally, I present Newman's reflections on scriptural examples of evangelization, in which he sees a model of evangelization based on the principles discussed in this article.