Protestant Contra-Catholic Revisionist History: Pope St. Pius X and Cardinal Newman's Alleged "Modernism"

(Studies in the Historical and Apologetic Methodology of David T. King, Dr. Eric Svendsen, William Webster, Dr. James White, and Tim Enloe)

The following dispute over a factual matter took place on the NTRMin Discussion Board, on Protestant contra-Catholic polemicist Dr. Eric Svendsen's website, in late February and early March 2002. The words of the various contra-Catholic polemicists will be in the same colors used above.

TABLE OF CONTENTS (Hyper-linked)

I. The Controversy Over Pope St. Pius X's Opinion of Cardinal Newman's Theory of Development (David T. King and Documented Historical Fact)

II. Case Study: The Curious Ethical World of a Protestant Contra-Catholic Discussion Board and its "Moderators"

III. Was Cardinal Newman a Modernist? | Arbitrary and Revisionist Definitions of "Development of Doctrine"

I. The Controversy Over Pope St. Pius X's Opinion of Cardinal Newman's Theory of Development (David T. King and Documented Historical Fact)

A Catholic apologist wrote, on the NTRMin Discussion Board:

Of course "evolution of dogmas" is precisely what Catholics reject and is not synonymous with development at all -- Newman takes great pains to explain the difference between the two in his essay (whether you agree with his distinctions is of course another story).
Precisely correct (in the opinion of one who has the largest Newman website on the Internet, a huge collection of Newman books, and plans for an upcoming book on development of doctrine).
Presbyterian pastor David T. King (a la "DTK" on the board, and author of a book purporting to demonstrate that the Fathers en masse believed in sola Scriptura ) wrote in response:

No, I don't agree. I think Newman's theory is rejected by Pius X. And simply assuming he's not condemning the theory of development of dogma under the language of "the evolution of dogma" is avoiding reality. I can't play in that kind of fantasy world.

( )

It so happens that an Irish bishop defended Newman from the false charges that he was a modernist and a liberal, and that his theory of development was no different than modernist "evolution of dogma" which Pope St. Pius X had condemned (and that he was condemned by his encyclical Pascendi). This document is online at:

Its title is: Cardinal Newman and the Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, and it was written by Edward Thomas O'Dwyer, Bishop of Limerick (1908). Here is an excerpt:

(3) With regard to the theory of the development of Christian Doctrine, two questions entirely distinct from one another have to be considered in relation to Newman: (a) is his theory admissible according to the principles of Catholic Theology, and (b) is it covered, or touched in any wise, by the condemnations of the recent Encyclical.

The first of these questions I leave on one side now, venturing merely to express, with all submission, my personal opinion, little as it is worth, that in its broad outlines it is thoroughly sound and orthodox, and most serviceable for the interpretation of the facts of the history of dogma.

As to the second, I cannot see how there can be room for doubt. Newman's whole
doctrine was not only different from that of the Modernists, but so contrary to it in
essence and fundamental principle, that I cannot conceive how, by any implication, it could be involved in their condemnation. Nothing less than an explicit statement by the supreme authority of the Holy See would convince me to the contrary. I see no common ground in both systems. The word development is the only thing which they hold in common. They do not mean the same thing by Christianity, by dogma, by religion, by Church. They do not start from the same first principles, and consequently they are as separate as the poles.

Pope St. Pius X himself -- in the same year: 1908 -- wrote a letter to Bishop O'Dwyer, thoroughly approving of his pamphlet. The Latin text is online at:

The Latin should pose no problem for Pastor King, who included two Latin portions in his post cited above. A friend of mine who is a linguist (and lover of Latin) read it and assured me that the pope entirely approved of Bishop O'Dwyer's essay.

Letter from Pope St. Pius X to Bishop O'Dwyer Approving his Essay (1908)

        Qua Pius PP. X approbat opusculum Episcopi Limericiensis
                   circa scripta Card. Newman.

                             Venerabili Fratri
                  Eduardo Thomae Episcopo Limericiensi

                                PIUS PP. X
          Venerabilis Frater, salutem et Apostolicam benedictionem.

    Tuum illud opusculum, in quo scripta Cardinalis Newman tantum abesse ostendis ut
    Encyclicis Nostris Litteris Pascendi sint dissentanea, . . .  itemque ad testandam benevolentiam
    Nostram, peramanter Apostolicam benedictionem impertimus.

    Datum Romae apud S. Petrum, die x Martii anno MCMVIII, Pontificatus Nostri quinto.

    PIUS PP. X

    [from Acta Sanctae Sedis,  vol. 41, 1908]

I managed to find a partial translation of this letter in my library:

Be assured that we strongly approve of your pamphlet proving that the works of Cardinal Newman -- far from being at variance with our encyclical -- are actually in close agreement with it . . . For even though in the works written before his conversion to the Catholic faith one might find statements which bear a certain likeness to some Modernist formulae, you rightly deny that they in any way support them . . . But, as for the many and important books he composed as a Catholic, it is hardly necessary to repel the charges of affinity with the Modernist heresy . . . Indeed though things might be found which appear different from the usual theological mode of expression, nothing can be found which would arouse any suspicion of his faith . . . an excellent and most learned man . . . You have done what you could among your own people and especially the English, to prevent those who have been abusing his name from deceiving the unlearned.

(Christopher Hollis, Newman and the Modern World, London: The Catholic Book Club, 1967, 200)

This would appear to thoroughly refute the words above, of Pastor David King:

I think Newman's theory is rejected by Pius X. And simply assuming he's not condemning the theory of development of dogma under the language of "the evolution of dogma" is avoiding reality. I can't play in that kind of fantasy world.

If anyone is in a "fantasy world" here, it is Pastor King (at least insofar as Pope St. Pius X and Newman's theory of development are concerned). I'm sure he will retract this assertion, as he is obviously an honest man, clearly concerned with honesty in apologetics. And he will have to modify his earlier words to Phil also:

I'm about to demonstrate to the whole board that you really don't take your own request seriously. You'll simply take what I'm about to show you and consign it one way or another to the death of a thousand qualifications. You asked for it, and here it is...

Contrast Newman's theory of development with the words of Pius X as given in The Oath Against the Errors of Modernism:

Fourthly, I accept sincerely the doctrine of faith transmitted from the apostles through the orthodox fathers, always in the same sense and interpretation, even to us; and so I reject the heretical invention of the evolution of dogmas, passing from one meaning to another, different from that which the Church first had; and likewise I reject all error whereby a philosophic fiction is substituted for the divine deposit, given over to the Spouse of Christ and to be guarded faithfully by her, or a creation of the human conscience formed gradually by the efforts of men and to be perfected by indefinite progress in the future.
(Henry Denzinger, Enchiridion Symbolorum, The Sources of Catholic Dogma, trans. Roy J. Deferrari, Thirtieth Ed. [Powers Lake: Marian House, published in 1954 by Herder & Co., Freiburg], # 2145, p. 550)

You'll do your best to explain away these words of Pius X, and do you want to know why? Because you have a precommitment to your erroneous theory, and no amount of historical evidence is going to pry you loose.

( )

Pastor King later chides Phil Porvaznik after discussion about the Council of Trent and development of doctrine:

It's a case historical reality vs. historical fantasy. You keep making claims you know nothing about, and when corrected, your response is akin to, "Oh well, let me get back to the chalk board to see what other angle I can come up with."

This is what is so sad about your attempts here. It's not the numbers. It's the repeated exposure of grandiose claims made in ignorance. And seriously, I do not intend that to be demeaning. You simply parade yourself in that manner. It's this kind of posture that is so typical of the average Roman apologist. It goes like this..."OK all you Protestants, look here at what you don't know...

( )

Continuing to express his difference of opinion with Phil on development ever more forcefully, Pastor David King writes:

You can weave the web all you desire, but the theory of development is denied and condemned under the language of "the evolution of dogma" by Pius X. I knew this would be your response. You're very predictable. But you are in no position even to attempt to define official prounouncements. You are not a member of the magisterium, and you're not even an officer in your own communion, and your private interpretation means nothing to me.

( )

Well, perhaps this last point is a valid one; however, as Pope St. Pius X has now spoken on the issue, will Pastor King concede that he was utterly mistaken? Another of his tidbits against Phil:

. . . you have demonstrated quite sufficiently on this board today why we've ignored you. It's because you don't know what you're talking about.

( )

And another (in a forum where we are told that no such remarks are tolerated, and good conversational ethics will be strictly enforced!):

You can't get past your own double-standard, and that's precisely why no one takes you seriously.

( )

And against another Catholic, in discussion of the papacy:

You see, this post of yours only underlines the petitio principii nature of Roman claims. And your manner of presentation only underscores for us all the extent of question-begging which is needed to support a notion, especially when you've offered nothing of an argument to make your case . . . You never made a positive case for your claim. But again, this highlights what I pointed out previously, namely that that's the nature of the "imaginative apologetic" approach.

( )

I believe David King (a man who speaks often about the virtue of honesty) will apply his own words as to the rightness of willingness to reject erroneous theories to himself. I think that if Pope St. Pius X approves a pamphlet contending that Newman was not at all condemned by his own encyclical, then he would strongly disagree with Pastor King's opinions here. The Pope has spoken (about his own opinions vis-a-vis Newman); the case is closed . . .

It was said:

Letter from Pope St. Pius X to Bishop O'Dwyer approving his essay (1908).... [from Acta Sanctae Sedis, vol. 41, 1908]. This would appear to thoroughly refute the words of David King:
No, it's no problem at all. Pius X didn't reject what he called "the heretical invention of the
evolution of dogma" until "Sacrorum antistium on September 1, 1910. And remember, as so
many Roman apologists are so fond of reminding us, that what a pope may have approved earlier in an unofficial document privately has no official bearing on what he promulgates publicly.

What I cited was a letter from Pius X which interpreted his own papal encyclical. What do you wish to argue: that he doesn't even understand what he meant in his own document? The doctrine was public and binding already. Pius X's interpretation of it is obviously highly relevant. With all due respect, you are wrong on the facts again:

PASCENDI DOMINICI GREGIS (On The Doctrine Of The Modernists)

by Pope Pius X

Encyclical Promulgated on 8 September 1907

( online at: )

. . . Thus the way is open to the intrinsic evolution of dogma. Here we have an immense structure of sophisms which ruin and wreck all religion. (section 12 [end] )

13. Dogma is not only able, but ought to evolve and to be changed. This is strongly affirmed by the Modernists, and clearly flows from their principles. (beginning of sec. 13)

To the laws of evolution everything is subject under penalty of death—dogma, Church, worship, the Books we revere as sacred, even faith itself. The enunciation  of this principle will not be a matter of surprise to anyone who bears in mind what the Modernists  have had to say about each of these subjects. Having laid down this law of evolution, the  Modernists themselves teach us how it operates. (sec. 26)

Earlier, you argued that:
I think Newman's theory is rejected by Pius X. And simply assuming he's not condemning the theory of development of dogma under the language of "the evolution of dogma" is avoiding reality. I can't play in that kind of fantasy world.

 . . . the theory of development is denied and condemned under the language of "the evolution of dogma" by Pius X . . .

In Pascendi above, we have precisely this:
1) ". . . evolution of dogma . . . ruin and wreck all religion." (sec. 12)

2) "Dogma is not only able, but ought to evolve and to be changed. This is strongly affirmed by the Modernists, . . . " (sec. 13)

3) "To the laws of evolution everything is subject under penalty of  death—dogma, Church, worship, the Books we revere as sacred, even faith itself." (sec. 26)

Yet you tell us:
Pius X didn't reject what he called "the heretical invention of the evolution of dogma" until Sacrorum antistium on September 1, 1910.
I respectfully submit, sir, that you are in error once again. Pascendi is a papal encyclical, and a  famous one at that. It carries a very high degree of authority indeed, and is binding on the faithful. Pope Pius X stated in the letter to the bishop that he agreed with the bishop's pamphlet, which showed that Newman's development was not included in the condemnation of "evolution of dogma."

In the Oath Against the Errors of Modernism, development of doctrine is upheld, just as evolution of dogma is rejected (as they are two different things, and opposites):

     Likewise I reprove the error of those who affirm that the faith proposed by the
     Church can be repugnant to history, and that the Catholic dogmas, in the way they are
     understood now, cannot accord with the truer origins of the Christian religion.

"In the way they are understood" -- that is Newmanian and patristic development of doctrine, whereas heretical evolution is characterized by "a philosophical invention or a creation of human consciousness," or "an indefinite progress."


Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office
Lamentabili Sane
The Syllabus of Errors
(Condemning the Errors of the Modernists)
July 3, 1907

[. . . all these matters were accurately reported to our Most Holy Lord, Pope Pius X. His Holiness approved and confirmed the decree of the Most Eminent Fathers and ordered that each and every one of the above-listed propositions be held by all as condemned and proscribed.

Peter Palombelli
Notary, Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith]

"Evolution of dogma" is condemned in the following sections:

54. Dogmas, Sacraments and hierarchy, both their notion and reality, are only interpretations and evolutions of the Christian intelligence which have increased and perfected by an external series of additions the little germ latent in the Gospel.
60. Christian Doctrine was originally Judaic. Through successive evolutions it became first Pauline, then Joannine, finally Hellenic and universal.
Besides, as one Roman apologist has asserted, papal infallibility “does make sure that when he formally does teach the doctrines of the faith, he’ll do so without error.” The same author also declares that “the gift of papal infallibility is a divine protection against the catastrophe of the Church careening over the precipice of heresy, even if the pope were to drive recklessly, or, as it were, to fall asleep at the wheel.” (Patrick Madrid, Pope Fiction, pp. 138, 139).

Moreover, Roman apologists remind us often that regardless of what a pope’s intentions may or may not have been is irrelevant to the promulgation, as we’re informed by David Palm, “Nor does
infallibility adhere to the office, for the same reason. Rather, the gift of infallibility must adhere to the exercise of the office. Note, for example, that a king may write letters to his various officials discussing possible legislation and even give public statements concerning his intentions, but it is only his official promulgations that actually become the law of the land. Similarly, the pope may carry on private correspondence, speak or write as a private teacher, or even make certain public pronouncements without invoking the authority of his office.” (See ).

This is all fine and dandy, but Pascendi is an official papal document. Now, if Pope Pius X knows a heresy when he sees one, I'm sure he knows a heretic when he sees one too (especially when said heretic is a Cardinal). And he says in his letter that Newman is not a heretic, but in fact entirely orthodox, and that Pascendi had nothing to do with him. Case closed.

I found another quote from Pope St. Pius X, but I don't have full documentation:

. . . they should follow Newman the author faithfully by studying his books . . . let
them understand his pure and whole principles, his lessons and inspiration. . . .
( )

Now, I understand that it’s difficult to keep up with all of these fine distinctions concerning the
Roman position on papal infallibility, but you folks are quick to remind us of them often when you
find it germane to your argumentation. The plain fact of the matter is that if I offered a piece of
evidence prior to the event, there’s not a Roman apologist around who wouldn’t roll over laughing.

I agree. Now please explain how Pascendi does not square with your assertion above. Plenty of apologists (Catholic and Protestant) will be laughing at your present arguments if you don't modify them; I can assure you of that, when they read this exchange on my website.

By the way, holding a different opinion than someone doesn't render a person dishonest. But when one when one makes a "resolution," and then breaks it, and then after being reminded of that resolution again, and yet breaks it again, that's a dishonest act. Wouldn't you agree?

No, because this isn't a moral absolute. One may decide not to interact with persons whose ideas they regard as intellectually indefensible [i.e., contra-Catholic polemicists like the persons dealt with in this paper], by choice. But life is such -- and particularly the life of an apologist, which includes certain unpleasant duties, is such -- that sometimes folks in that category have to be dealt with. I made no oath or vow (if you want to see plenty of broken vows, look to the founders of Protestantism, who broke many priestly as well as marital vows). Generally, however, I have been pretty good at avoiding vain discussion and "senseless controversies" -- which is why I am leaving this place, since I am ridiculously rebuked by the "moderators" for the things you do which violate ostensible board "rules," as if I did them.

I don't mind at all someone being mistaken; that's fine. We all do that; we're human, and no one can know everything. But when one refuses to concede even an obvious error of fact (and with the inflammatory language that you used in the process), then that is another case altogether.

See ya folks!

Your brother in Christ,

Dave Armstrong

( )

Catholic apologist Shawn McElhinney adds another clarifying comment, pertaining to matters of authority of various papal writings:

Mr. King is correct that if this document was solely a private correspondence, there would be no "official bearing" per se (though the idea that someone would express privately a sense of interpretation so remarkably at variance with his own official statements is a remarkably schizophrenic outlook). But I digress . . .

But the Acta Apostolae Sedis (prior to 1915 it was referred to as the Acta Sancte Sedis) is a catalogue, if you will, of papal pronouncements that have official sanction. A document does not necessarily have to be in this compendium to be binding of course (particularly if it is simply reaffirming previous teaching). However, correspondence of less than a normal degree of official sanction (such as Allocutions or private letters) which the pope intends to make official are listed in this directory.

The fact that it was listed in the Acta makes it binding teaching. In this sense the pope supplied an interpretation of his own encyclical letter. Hence, anyone claiming that the pope contradicted this interpretation two years later with the Oath Against Modernism has the weight of proof on their shoulders.

Besides, anyone who knows what they are talking about on this issue knows that the "evolution of doctrine" referred to in Lamentabili was directed towards the theories of one Alfred Loisy. Abbe Loisy asserted (in responding to his contemporary Adolph Harnack) that Catholic dogma was "an evolution with its roots in the Primitive Church". Many of the texts from Lamentabili were taken practically verbatim from the writings of Loisy, Tyrrel, and others of their ilk. If Mr. King does not know this, then he has absolutely no business commenting on these subjects as if his view is somehow "certain".

So in closing, as this common protocol can be easily verified by Mr. King -- if he is as committed to honesty as he claims  -- he has some reassessing to do. The question, of course, is this:

Will Mr. King admit that he erred here on this point and do so as publically as he made the original assertion???

My guess is that he will ignore it and post his next objection in the tradition of "apologists" who appear to have an axe to grind with Rome. But of course I am open to being surprised by Mr. King should he decide to take the higher road here.

To summarize what has transpired thus far:  the original dispute concerned whether Pope St. Pius X condemned Newman's development of doctrine (under the terminology "evolution of dogma") in his Oath Against Modernism in 1910. Pastor King stated that Pope Pius X hadn't condemned "evolution of dogma" officially until 1910. I proceeded to show that he had done so also in his encyclical Pascendi, in 1907 (at least three times). Pope St. Pius X wrote (in 1908) a commendatory letter to a bishop who had argued that Pascendi did not condemn Newman (he agreed with him). Pastor King said this was irrelevant because it wasn't official (or magisterial) and pre-dated 1910. All of this having occurred, it seems to me that the logical choices are as follows:

If Pope St. Pius X is condemning Newman, then this has to be further explained, given my documentation. If he is not condemning Newman, but in fact, agrees with him, then what has to be explained is how (if indeed Newman is a liberal, as we are told) Pius X is also a liberal, at the same time he is famous and respected for writing so vigorously against theological liberalism and modernism! In other words, if Newman goes down as a liberal, Pius X goes down with him, which is even more ridiculous than the original falsehood that Newman was a modernist. So the choices are:

1) Pope St. Pius X is a "conservative traditionalist" who condemned Cardinal Newman the modernist.

(David King's position -- which I believe has been absolutely discredited above, as fictitious and revisionist history, based on the relevant documents [including official papal ones]. It cannot possibly be sustained on the facts of the matter)

2) Pope St. Pius X is a modernist who agreed with Cardinal Newman the modernist.

(utterly absurd because both Pope St. Pius X and Cardinal Newman fought vigorously against modernism: the former in several official documents)

3) Pope St. Pius X is an orthodox Catholic who agreed with Cardinal Newman the orthodox Catholic.

(this is the only option which doesn't collapse upon an acquaintance with the relevant facts of the matter, and -- I say -- the only plausible one of the three choices; the other two not even being remotely plausible. It coincides with the facts. It is simply true, whether this poses problems for the contra-Catholic polemical agenda and methodology or not. They will have to find someone other than Newman to co-opt for their cause. Modernists and Protestant contra-Catholic polemicists alike have always absurdly claimed Newman as one of their own -- in the sense of his supposed opposition to, shall we say, Catholic Orthodoxy or Tridentine Dogma --, precisely because he was such a brilliant man. Both parties must engage in much falsehood -- whether deliberate or not -- in order to revise history in such an objectionable manner. I didn't claim Pastor King was intellectually dishonest in my initial letter. But I certainly will take that position now, if he continues to defiantly hold his position -- #1 above -- given all the additional facts as they have now been laid out).

Of course, in ignorance, people can make a great many claims. But then if they don't know what they are talking about, they ought to exhibit a commensurate amount of humility and deference towards matters of fact, when pointed out to them (and Pastor King has failed abysmally in this regard).

I tried to get Dr. Eric Svendsen to see the point of the relative value of the options above (in less explicit fashion), but he made no response in the forum (where he is quite active). Contra-Catholics (almost always) aren't interested in resolving "difficulties" of fact or theology or exegesis or logic which naturally arise in the course of their polemics with Catholics. They are only interested in embarrassing and defeating those whom they regard as their "enemies" and in spiritual darkness. The person interested in real dialogue seeks truth, wherever it leads, and facts (if it involves a factual matter, such as this dispute did). But if one party shows a wanton disregard for facts, no matter how clearly proven, then dialogue is impossible. Hence the resort of that party to name-calling, diversionary tactics, non sequitur rhetoric, the ad hominem fallacy, and even censorship of opponents' arguments and expulsion of "irritating" opponents (i.e., those they cannot answer) from their venues (see below).

II. Case Study: The Curious Ethical World of a Protestant Contra-Catholic Discussion Board and its "Moderators"

Tim Enloe is one of the "moderators" of Dr. Eric Svendsen's new discussion board (since he is an associate researcher for Eric's website). He voiced his opinion after my first post critiquing Pastor King's assertions:

Pastor King's rebukes of Phil was [sic] well justified, as Phil himself admits that he gets most of his material from simply cutting and pasting from various websites. Judging from a recent essay of his which I read, an essay which implicitly (if unwittingly) attacks the very concept of truth in religion, he has clearly not interacted with much meaningful apologetic material with any great rigor. Pastor King most certainly has (read his volume in the new Sola Scriptura set to see this), however, and this fully justifies his language to Phil.

Writing a book gives someone a carte blanche to repeatedly call someone names? Gee, that's strange. So this is yet another board which won't enforce its rules.

There is no parity of apologetic knowledge between Phil and Pastor King,

Even if this were true, what would that show about Pastor King, given the demonstrated errors of his critique?

but Phil oddly pretends constantly that he is able to engage Pastor King and "refute" him simply by using the cut-paste feature of his browser. The acceptability of the language used by both parties is a function of relative degrees of knowledge. Phil doesn't have it, Pastor King does.

Again, when it comes to the facts of a matter, that is irrelevant. In fact, the more Pastor King knows overall, the less excuse he has for such major errors, and all the more reason for him to retract them.

This being the case, I find your defense of Phil to be rather strange, and certainly the manner in which your post addressed Pastor King is not appropriate.

Then you find critiques of ideas and errors of fact inappropriate.

You clearly imply that merely for him to state his view that Newman's theory amounts to "evolution of dogma" is fundamentally dishonest . . .

I did no such thing, and you can't prove that I did. Of course, Pastor King's repeated accusations of dishonesty towards us Catholics (and liberal use of the words "liar" and "lying") is fine -- you have no problem with that.

[e.g., repeatedly for two straight nights in Dr. James White's chat room, Pastor King must have called me a "liar" and other untrue epithets at least fifty times (if not 100), and kept relentlessly pasting my own words back at me in a most annoying and childish manner. One had to observe this to even believe it was possible for a clergyman].

What I did was present facts related to the matter, from primary documents, and expect Pastor King to retract his remarks since they have been proven wrong beyond all doubt (having now cited a letter from Pope Pius X himself which settles the matter). I said that since he is so concerned about those things, obviously he would apply them to himself. He now knows more than he did about Pope Pius X's opinion of Newman 24 hours ago. That gives him more responsibility to retract his opinion, and grounds for a charge of intellectual dishonesty if he does not at this point.

. . . As a moderator here, I am telling you that such a method of "dialogue" is not acceptable in this forum.

Such a method of dialogue wherein the Catholic has the facts on his side is what is unacceptable here!

I ask you this, Dave: Is it not possible that a person can know lots about Newman and Church history and be quite aware of Pius X's words, yet still believe that Newman's theory amounts to "evolution of dogma" and a "theory pulled out of the hat"?

From flawed premises (which Reformed premises are), sure. I would vigorously disagree with it, but they could do that. Claiming, however, that his theory was brand new when he "came up with it," and a means to whitewash history and make revisionist historical rationalization possible for Catholic apologists (a la George Salmon), and essentially at odds with prior notions of Catholic Tradition, and condemned as such by Vatican I and Pope Pius X is ludicrous, as I have shown.
Pastor King's claim was not only that "evolution" is equated with "development" in Pius X's mind, but that anyone who denied this "obvious" reality was ignorant, living in a fantasy world, special pleading, etc. (which -- so he says -- is typical of Catholic apologists, blah blah blah). I have long contended that Protestant contra-Catholic polemicists don't know what they're talking about when they tackle Newman (and often have only the dimmest understanding of any notion of development of doctrine whatever).

In other words, just because Newman converted you and you have "the largest Newman site on the Web", thus implying that you are the closest thing to a lay Newman expert around, does this mean anyone is required to agree with your view of Newman's relationship to Roman Catholic orthodoxy?

Of course not. But I would expect a rational argument.

No, it does not. As a moderator in this forum, I strongly urge you to refrain from implying dishonesty in your opponents especially when by your own recent admission (at least in Dr. White's case) you have not read their books and are in no position to judge the quality of their scholarship.

I did no such thing (imply dishonesty). And you are no "moderator" (what a joke!); you're simply the Reformed thought police. You're no more a moderator than Joan Rivers is a Trappist monk. I merely defended a Catholic belief which was under vigorous attack: perfectly within the board rules.

Everyone knows your views on Newman, but let's not have any condescension and accusations of dishonesty by means of simple brute quotations from your website. Some of these issues are complex; none of them are matters of simply using syllogisms and begged definitions to show that your opponent doesn't know what he's talking about, as has been your basic tactic for years.

I see, Tim. So Pastor King states that Pope Pius X believes a certain thing about Newman. Phil disagrees, but Pastor King replies that he is ignorant, and engaging in all sorts of special pleading and dishonesty in disagreeing with what is so "obvious." I cite actual documents as to what Pius X really believes. But when I do that, I am "using syllogisms and begged definitions to show that your opponent doesn't know what he's talking about." No, I used a document FROM THE PERSON HE was talking about, and claiming to know so much about, and showed that Pastor King was simply WRONG. Live with it. Face it. Admit it. Get over it. Pastor King does not possess the charism of infallibility. He is not invincible. And yes, on this issue, he did not know what he was talking about (I don't care if he is John Calvin reincarnate). But I did not accuse him of dishonesty. He made that accusation of Phil, and hung himself, on this one. My work was easy.

Discussing the relationship of Newman's theory to modernism vis-a-vis the words of Pius X is an acceptable activity in this forum; outright accusations of dishonesty because someone disagrees with your evaluation are not.

You think if you repeat a distortion of what I did enough times, maybe someone will believe it?

Because of your past history with Protestant apologists, you have now been warned to watch your step here. I assure you that you will be removed very quickly if you repeat your past behavior.

:-) I'm already gone. I knew I wouldn't last much longer than the first post where I clearly had the facts on my side. It's always been that way on Reformed forums (whereas Catholic forums [Greg Krehbiel, Steve Ray] let folks like you rant and rave indefinitely, because we have nothing to fear from you). By all appearances, you guys are scared to death of free inquiry . . . Pastor King can still retract his statements manfully, and then I will not include all his words about the issue and Phil on my resulting web paper. He can write to me. I will respect and admire him for having the guts to admit a mistake. An apology to Phil would be appropriate too, of course, but that is between them.

God bless all here. Farewell,


Tim's portion of the preceding is found at:

My reply (including his words and mine - a few more than what is here) is found at:

Tim's second "moderator" reply:

. . . There's only one thing I'm concerned about here, and that's your attitude towards argument and burden of proof. Everyone can see that you did little more than post some quotations and demand a retraction from Pastor King because you supposedly "proved beyond doubt" your case. Sorry, but arguments and proof don't work that way . . . I've seen Pastor King admit errors on his part when he's conscious that he's made them. The problem here, again, is that you seem to think merely posting some blurb from your website or your book means you have proven your case "beyond doubt". If anyone seemingly can't handle having his ideas challenged at the fundamental level of premises, it's you, as has been shown time and time again--most recently on Greg's board, and already starting here in your discussion with MT.

You may post here as long as you can be respectful to your opponents and not treat the issues of disagreement as if they are all about unquestionable axioms that only you and your co-religionists have right. If that's how you're going to be, I suggest you excuse yourself from this forum. That's all that needs to be said about it.

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Tim's third "moderator" reply:

Well, having just completed my own semi-unpolished, but readable translation of the Latin passage from Pius X which you provided, I can say that, yes, he denies that Newman held the Modernists' concept of "evolution of dogma".

Ok, now what?

You try to convince your good buddy Pastor King to retract his remarks since he started all this silliness, not you. At least it is refreshing to see that you refuse to continue to defend the indefensible. I commend you for that. But it looks like you are the appointed "fall guy." :-)

Do we beg all the questions at hand as Pius X does towards the end of his letter, . . . or do we allow as a rational possibility that Pius X was wrong to make a distinction between "evolution" and "development"? This, I think, was David King's point.

No it wasn't at all; that is absurd (as will be obvious to readers of this paper). This was a dispute over the facts of the matter of what the Pope's opinion of Newman and development of doctrine was, from the get-go (that's what earned Phil all the name-calling from Pastor King), not about the nature of Catholic authority, and your favorite topic of "epistemology."

Roman Catholic apologists such as yourself, Dave, love to appeal to minute distinctions
whenever possible, yet you refuse to allow the same to be done by your opponents.

You mean like the "minute distinction" between what Pope Pius X thinks about his own words and what Pastor David T. King thinks they mean? Sure; guilty as charged!

. . . David King's point, I believe, is that the sort of language Pius X employs to justify Newman's views is fraught with convenient philosophical wrangling that is, ultimately, only rendered "certainly true" by ipse dixits about his Supreme Apostolic Authority.

I don't see how this point has the remotest connection to the dispute at hand. It's a clever rhetorical tactic for you to switch the topic, now that even you concede that I was correct on the factual matter (one cuts their losses and quickly moves on to something else). But it has nothing whatever to do with either my argument, or Pastor King's, to which I was responding. And I thought it was only fair that readers should be reminded of that.

. . . You can't treat issues of truth as if all you have to do is posit an axiom, throw together a syllogism based on it, and then go, "Tada! Look what you have to admit or else have me call you a dishonest bigot!" That's not apologetics, that's meaningless preaching to the choir.

1) I fail to see how the citation of a primary source letter from the very person being discussed is merely "a syllogism." I call that "making a cogent, solid case" on a matter of historical fact.

2) I called no one a "dishonest bigot." But Pastor King sure strongly implied something to that effect about Phil (which is, of course, against Board "rules").

. . . So, Dave...what'll it be? Do you keep pursuing the rationalistic, question-begging course that you've done for as long as I've talked to you (and in nearly every paper of yours I've read) and thus end up being kicked out of here, too, or do you start acting like your opponents are men of principle, not mere prejudice, and that issues of truth are able to be reasonably debated instead of simply decreed from the outset by fiat? It's your choice.

Go preach this sermon to Pastor King. He would benefit greatly from it.

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CENSORSHIP NOTE: As of 4:15 PM EST on 5 March 2002, the content of my two counter-responses (on 3 March 2002: times: 6:00:32 and 9:13:02) to David King and Tim Enloe on the NTRMin Discussion Board, has been deleted. One can verify this by looking for the thread "Did Pius X Condemn Newman's Development as 'Modernism'?" This thread began on 2 March 2002, with my post by that title, which is found at:

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As of this date, that thread remains posted in its entirety (bless their hearts), but it may be removed in due course (who knows?). My other two counter-reponses to replies from David King and Tim Enloe remain in title only (so that they can, of course, get the last word in their own forum, in a juvenile display of "superiority"). The entire contents of these two posts have been deleted:

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( )

This comes as no surprise, of course. When I recently visited Dr. James White's chat room for two nights (at Dr. White's invitation -- having changed his mind after asking me never to visit there, over the course of the previous year), Pastor David T. King said to me that if it were up to him, I wouldn't be allowed to visit at all (he had kicked me out on many occasions before as soon as I arrived, after childish name-calling), and that he and Dr. White disagreed on that. Consequently, he never talked to me the whole time. He simply harangued and harassed me like some sort of anarchist or radical feminist or Trotskyite at a Republican gathering (folks who are only interested in shouting down opposing views, not interacting with them).

So we see that he is consistent in following through with such censorship and suppression of opposing evidence, on the board where he can speak freely and always be the unvanquished champion, free from the burden of able (albeit heathen) foes. Obviously, this is one reason this Board was set up, so as to avoid the inconvenience and work involved in free and open discussion of competing ideas, doctrines, and worldviews. If you can't win in a truly open forum, by the force of your ideas, then you set up one with rigged "moderation" -- where you can preach to the choir, and insult and censor and remove anyone who manages to actually refute your views in a discussion. Readers who are interested in free speech and hearing both sides of any given issue can -- praise God -- read both sides here, on my website, where free speech and the free exchange of ideas are fully honored and allowed to take place.

FURTHER NOTE: As of 3:00 PM EST on 6 March 2002, I was forbidden to enter the NTRMin Discussion Board any longer (even though I hadn't posted there for a few days).

Eric [Svendsen] deleted your posts, not me (in fact, I never even saw them). It's his board, take it up with him.

I find this quite amusing and ironic also, given that Eric made a big stink when I posted some of our exchanges from way back in '96 on my website (they are no longer there, for other reasons), complaining loudly that I had edited them in a way that misrepresented his side (deleting -- he claimed -- some necessary posts from the thread). But now, I can't even express my view at all on his "fair-minded" discussion board. I guess that means his own views on the exchange of ideas have undergone their own "evolution of dogma," huh Tim?

. . .  Nobody buys your standard presentation of yourself versus  your opponents, so why do you keep promoting it? I continue to find the acerbic language towards me and others quite interesting in terms of indicating your attitude. For myself, I will not respond in kind.

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Tim's Further Replies in the God Talk forum (apparently functioning as a sort of "spokesman" for Pastor David T. King -- who had ceased arguing for his own views by this point):

                          Yesterday I translated the Latin letter of Pius X that you
                          provided and compared notes with David King. He agrees that
                          it is so ambiguous it does not prove your point, much less
                          require a retraction from him . . .

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                          I could say a lot about this latest paper of yours, but why bother?
                          It basically boils down to yet one more pity-seeking complaint
                          about how Calvinists are mistreating you because they can't
                          handle the clear truth that is overwhelmingly proved merely by
                          your having cobbled together some citations and syllogisms.
                          Interestingly, you treat everyone from atheists to Protestants to
                          Orthodox the same way . . .

                           . . . Having myself translated that passage you provided, I agree
                          that Pius X says Newman didn't teach the Modernist doctrines. But
                 that is not the point. The point is, rather, that Protestants don't buy
                          the notion that the Pope is the final authority and can't make mistakes;
                          hence, we are not bound to believe that he accurately distinguished
                          between "development" and "evolution" . . . Retractions are not
                          required when one doesn't even think the content of the opposite
                          position is sound . . .


                          . . . Now, note that while Pius X clearly says that the Modernists scour
                          Newman's writings and basically eisegete their doctrines into
                          them, he also says that refuting the connection of Newman's work
                          to the Modernists is difficult. The only thing this letter proves is
                          that Pius X didn't think Newman's work was heretical . . .


                          Well I don't believe that I myself advocated any position beyond
                          merely noting that no one is obligated to believe Newman's theory
                          of development or Pius X's explanation of the orthodoxy of the

Whatever you "advocated" was absolutely irrelevant to my critique of Pastor King's remarks to Phil about Newman and Pius X. The dispute concerned a question of fact from the beginning:

"Did Pius X equate Newman's theory of development with the heretical 'evolution of dogma' which he condemned in his writings?"
-- not about a point of theology (ecclesiology):
"Is Newman's theory of development the equivalent of a heretical 'evolution of dogma'?"

[which could -- and should -- be further approached from Protestant or Catholic presuppositions as to what constitutes a legitimate development]

. . . Context matters immensely--especially the context of a person's   entire thought process. I could see you making a big hullabaloo if Pastor King had claimed that Pius said "Newman was a  Modernist", but that's not what Pastor King said Pius said. Pastor King simply denied that there is any meaningful distinction between Newman's theory of "development" and the more odious theory of "evolution".

That's simply not true. "Evolution of dogma" IS a species of modernism: precisely what Pius X was so concerned with condemning. This was what Phil Porvaznik tried so hard to explain, but Pastor King wouldn't listen because he thinks Phil is an idiot who only pretends to be knowledgeable. To equate Newman's theories with "evolution of dogma" is to accuse him of modernism. Pastor King wrote:
. . . the theory of development is denied and condemned under the language of "the evolution of dogma" by Pius X.
                          That's entirely within his epistemic rights. It's
                          also a reasonable position to hold--meaning that, given the fact
                          that Pius X himself said it was very easy to connect Newman's
                          theories to the Modernist heresies, one can easily see how a
                          reasonable person would conclude what Pastor King did . . .

I guess this amounts to a concession. You concede for him, and surround it with a thousand qualifications so that no one will notice how serious of a faux pas this was on his part. Pius X did not say "it was very easy to connect Newman's theories to the Modernist heresies." What he said was:

For even though in the works written before his conversion to the Catholic faith one might find statements which bear a certain likeness to some Modernist formulae,

[he wasn't even a Catholic yet, so what does this prove? But Newman fought the modernists in Anglicanism as well. That was the whole point of the Oxford Movement, of which he was the central figure up to 1845]

you rightly deny that they in any way support them . . .

[i.e., in reality they do not, "in any way." Only those who don't understand the writing and reasoning of a brilliant man would think this]

But, as for the many and important books he composed as a Catholic, it is hardly necessary to repel the charges of affinity with the Modernist heresy . . .

[how bad can it be if refutation is "hardly necessary"?]

Indeed though things might be found which appear different from the usual theological mode of expression, nothing can be found which would arouse any suspicion of his faith.

[merely "appearing" different from the "usual expressions" is insignificant. In other words, the only resemblance is on the most superficial level, which the unlearned might distort, but with no grounds. "Nothing" constitutes actual grounds for the false and slanderous charge]

I continue to maintain that both you and Pastor King have only the dimmest understanding of Newman. I have trouble with people casting aspersions upon Newman, and use of his ideas in apologetics (of which I am quite guilty, as you well know) and acting as if they know what they are talking about, when they clearly don't (proven every time they tackle the subject). In other words, my opinion about you, Pastor King, and other polemicists of your general viewpoint, when it comes to Newman and his theory of development, and (to some extent) development of doctrine, period, is much like Pastor King's expressed opinions of Phil Porvaznik:
You keep making claims you know nothing about, and when corrected, your response is akin to, "Oh well, let me get back to the chalk board to see what other angle I can come up with" . . . grandiose claims made in ignorance.

                                What this dispute is about is the notion that some educated
                          people don't buy the reasoning that "conservative" RC
                          apologists have to engage in . . .  waving "development" around as if it's
                          the universal answer to the reams of historical problems
                          created by Roman Catholic claims is at best a non-answer,
                          and at worst a mere rationalistic chimera . . .

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I am not concerned with your appeals to "facts", whether stubborn or otherwise.

I noticed. But since that is what my discussion with Pastor King was about, then why did you butt into it, when you now admit that you were wholly unconcerned with facts, which is what the discussion was about? Beyond that, you even condescendingly tried to pretend that the dispute was other than it was: that it was philosophical or theological all along.

I am mainly concerned with your philosophy of fact, that which makes you able to identify in the first place what a "fact" is.

The facts with regard to Pope St. Pius X's opinion of Newman are readily ascertainable as a matter of straightforward historical documentation. It has nothing to do with any philosophical interpretive grid. So if you don't care about factual discussions, I suggest that you stay out of them and mind your own business. You can't force people to talk about your own interest, if it doesn't interest them; it has to be mutually-agreeable.

I think your philosophy of fact is wrong, and therefore, until you amend that most of the "facts" you put forward are simply irrelevant to any meaningful discussion between equally reasonable people.

Perhaps you can explain, then, to us less sophisticated, less educated folks how Pius X's opinion of development and Newman is related to the "philosophy of fact"? What is the practical difference in believing one way or another about that, in the context of some such philosophy? And note that this has nothing directly to do with his being the pope. I'm simply asking about his opinion, period.

All I see you doing is insisting over and over that your opponents "don't understand" Newman.

Contra-Catholics (universally, in my experience) do not. Not all Protestants are contra-Catholics, of course. Edwin Tait, an Anglican working on his doctorate, with whom I have had several excellent discussions (including about development of doctrine), understands Newman very well, whereas you do not. Edwin and I differ on advocacy of the theory at all points, as one would expect, but he understands it. I had a friend over recently who is an Anglican priest. He certainly understood Newman, too. Obviously he would disagree on Newman's contention of the full-blown papacy being a crucial component of the One True Church, but he understands the theory. You and your contra-Catholic cronies simply do not understand it. You can think of that opinion of mine whatever you like, but it is my opinion (I see no reason whatever to change it, based on recent events), and I know a little bit about this subject. You and your friends will say (often and loudly) that we Catholics don't understand the Bible or sola Scriptura or faith alone or whatever. This is no different.

You seem unwilling to countenance the (incredible?) notion that many people might BOTH understand Newman AND reject him utterly.

That's self-evident. As for you, I deny that you understand him. You deny that I understand sola Scriptura or private judgment. What else is new?

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                          At any rate, I simply deny the usefulness of such words as
                          "anti" and "contra" when prefixed to terms such as "Catholic"
                          whose meaning is rationally debatable. I see no value in the
                          bitter emotional venting and martyr-playing that such a
                          mindset seems to regularly produce in those who make such
                          terms a centerpiece of their work.

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Eleven days earlier, Tim was engaging an articulate former Reformed Orthodox apologist in the God Talk forum (very mildly supervised by Catholic Greg Krehbiel), and had this to say, in a post dated 2-23-02:

I guess you feel confident saying whatever you like about Pastor King and his research while he isn't here to make you accountable for your words. Most brave of you! Perhaps you'll find time to use the new NTRMin forum, where hollow taunting and namecalling will not be tolerated, to actually engage the real issues with Pastor King? Let's see you put your money where your considerable mouth is, eh?


On the same day, Dr. Eric Svendsen, on whose website the "NTRMin" discussion board is located, wrote to the same Orthodox apologist:

But here's an offer for you. Why don't you bring this discussion to the NTRMin board. I'd even be happy to dialogue with you on it, as I'm certain others will as well. The only difference is, it will not be a forum for you to gain debate points. The dialogue will be conducted with calmness and the arguments will be decided by who engages in theological and biblical soundness of arguments rather than by who most effectively uses ad hominem and taunting. If you really do stand behind the substance of your position, then let's try it on a board where it is stripped of emotional appeal and see how well it holds up. Are you game?


Here is an example of some of scholarly "moderator" Dr. Svendsen's "calm" sort of discussion, lacking all "ad hominem and taunting", and "stripped of emotional appeal," from four days earlier:

After a while one just gets tired of the stupidity of some people. Some people have emotionally hysterical fits when you tell them there is both an objective and a subjective element to determining the canon. Why? Well, because that makes it more difficult for them pin you against the wall with their grubby little hands so that they can do everything in their power to destroy you. That is, after all, why some on this board persist with the nonsense they do . . .   They persist in taunting and flaunting and hounding that they weren’t satisfied with my answers; but neither one of them can make a simple case for their own views . . . To give them even more answers at this point would be to dignify their inane responses and to throw pearls before swine. I decline to do that.


Yet (weirdly enough) Guideline #2 from Eric's bulletin board reads:

All posters are asked to be charitable in their posts and responses. This implies no name-calling, mud-slinging, taunting, gloating, harassing, etc. What exactly constitutes lack of charity is completely up to the discretion of the moderators.
Eric also stated on the God Talk board (2-20-02):

I cannot stick around because I will soon be kicking off a discussion board at my ministry’s site – to which all men of good will are invited. All the rest will quickly discover that my board has more stringent guidelines than what they may be accustomed to. If you come, I strongly suggest you read the guidelines first, as they will be strictly enforced.


As soon as I posted on Eric's board, and made reference to an unpleasant exchange with him on another board (when it was brought up by someone else in a rather unfair fashion), Eric was quick to rebuke me (apparently forgetting his own "rules" once again):

Perhaps your tendencies to misrepresent issues, to cast aspersions and innuendoes on other people's character, and to perpetuate your biased take on events is something you can get away with on Greg's discussion board; but--I am giving you fair warning--you will not be doing that on this board. I do hope you are clear about this.

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III. Was Cardinal Newman a Modernist? | Arbitrary and Revisionist Definitions of "Development of Doctrine"

From: Preface to John Henry Newman's
Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine
by Charles Fredrick Harrold
New York (Longmans) 1949
Page vii-ix

('s_Preface.html )

During the last years of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the
twentieth, there arose the Modernist Movement, in which Newman's
volume was made an instrument of heresy. This is not the place to
enter into the details of Newman's relation to that Movement; a
brief and clarifying account of it may be found in Dr. Edmond D.
Benard's A Preface to Newman's Theology. It may be observed that
when Pope Pius X issued the encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis in
July, 1907, condemning the Movement, many of Newman's readers at
once feared that the Essay on Development had been condemned, too.
Alfred Loisy, one of the most brilliant leaders of the Movement, had
published in the Revue du clerge français for December, 1898, an
article, under the pseudonym, "A. Firmin," devoted to "Christian
Development according to Cardinal Newman." In this article the
author skillfully paraphrased Newman so as to make Newman [ix]
express many of the Modernist teachings, such as the subjective or
symbolic nature of dogma. By the time the encyclical was published,
Newman's Essay, and others of his writings, had been appropriated by
other Modernists, such as Dimnet and Tyrrell. But at the very height
of the excitement occasioned by the encyclical Pascendi, the Most
Reverend Edward Thomas O'Dwyer, bishop of Limerick, published his
pamphlet on Cardinal Newman and the Encyclical Pascendi Dominici
Gregis (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1908), which showed
clearly that the Modernists could not legitimately depend on Newman
for their teaching. The final, authoritative answer to the Modernists, however, appeared when Pope Pius X sent a letter to Bishop O'Dwyer, confirming the latter's defense of Newman.

Cardinal Merry del Val, Secretary of State for Pope St. Pius X, wrote in in 1906:

     I should not be at all surprised if, sooner or later, the Holy Father does denounce the
     modern heresies, which are doing incalculable harm, and utterly destroying the Faith right
     and left. But I have yet to see how Newman could be dragged into any condemnation, when
     his works are there with which to answer these people, whom he would have no patience
     with.... They are trying to make out that a great many of their doctrines can be classed as
     Newman's doctrine. It is a libel, and they are trying to get behind a great name to avoid
     censure. In France, there is already a group who call themselves 'Newmanistes'....I saw the
     quotation in The Times [of London] from John Henry Newman's Grammar of Assent, artfully
     confusing subjective and conscientious conviction with objective truth.....

(Buehrle, Marie Cecilia: 1957: Rafael, Cardinal Merry del Val: Sands & Co Publishers Ltd. 15 King
St, Covent Garden, London WC2, 126-127)

Contra-Catholic William Webster wrote:

The papal encyclical, Satis Cognitum, written by Pope Leo XIII in 1896, is a commentary on and
papal confirmation of the teachings of Vatican I. As to the issue of doctrinal development, Leo
makes it quite clear that Vatican I leaves no room for such a concept in its teachings.

If indeed this were true (it assuredly is not), then I would find it exceedingly odd that Pope Leo
XIII would name John Henry Newman a Cardinal in 1879, soon after becoming pope (1878). Why
would he do that for the famous exponent of the classic treatment of development of doctrine, if
he himself rejected that same notion? No; Mr. Webster is (consciously or not) subtly switching definitions and statements of a pope and a Council in order to make it appear that there is a glaring contradiction, when in fact there is none. Such a mythical state of affairs is beyond absurd:

     "Il mio cardinale", Pope Leo called Newman, "my cardinal". There was much resistance to the
     appointment. "It was not easy", the Pope recalled later, "It was not easy. They said he was
     too liberal."

(Marvin R. O'Connell, "Newman and Liberalism," in Newman Today, edited by Stanley L. Jaki, San
Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1989, 87)

     And the very fact that Newman was now a member of the sacred college had put to rest, as
     he expressed it, 'all the stories which have gone about of my being a half Catholic, a Liberal
     Catholic, not to be trusted . . . The cloud is lifted from me forever.'

(Ibid., 87; Letter of Newman to R.W. Church, 11 March 1879, Letters and Diaries, vol. XXIX, 72)

Ian Ker, author of the massive 764-page biography John Henry Newman (Oxford University Press, 1988) expands upon Pope Leo XIII in relation to Newman:

     The Duke of Norfolk had himself personally submitted the suggestion to the Pope. The
     Duke's explicit object was to secure Rome's recognition of Newman's loyalty and orthodoxy.
     Such a vindication was not only personally due to Newman, but was important for removing
     among non-Catholics the suspicion that his immensely persuasive and popular apologetic
     writings were not really properly Catholic. It looks in fact as if Leo XIII had already had
     the idea himself, as Newman was later given to believe . . . After being elected Pope, he is
     supposed to have said that the policy of his pontificate would be revealed by the name of the
     first Cardinal he created. Several years later he told an English visitor: . . .

          'I had determined to honour the Church in honouring Newman. I always had a cult for
          him. I am proud that I was able to honour such a man.'

(p. 715)

Newman wrote:

     For 20 or 30 years ignorant or hot-headed Catholics had said almost that I was a heretic . . .
     I knew and felt that it was a miserable evil that the One True Apostolic Religion should be so
     slandered as to cause men to suppose that my portrait of it was not the true -- and I knew
     that many would become Catholics, as they ought to be, if only I was pronounced by
     Authority to be a good Catholic. On the other hand it had long riled me, that Protestants
     should condescendingly say that I was only half a Catholic, and too good to be what they
     were at Rome.

(in Ker, ibid., 716-717; Letters and Diaries, vol. XXIX, 160)

Such is the lot of great men; geniuses; those ahead of their time. Now Mr. Webster, Pastor King,  Tim Enloe, and Dr. James White join this miserable, deluded company of those who pretend that Newman was a heterodox Catholic, and that his theory of development is somehow un-Catholic, or -- even worse -- a deliberately cynical method of rationalization intended to whitewash so-called "contradictions" of Catholic doctrinal history.

Dr. Eric Svendsen chimed in, in the above controversy on his own board, and commented to Phil (in context: about development of doctrine):

What you're asking us to do is produce a concept pulled out of the hat by Newman . . .

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And, in another dialogue, Eric writes:

We don’t believe in the Roman Catholic acorn notion of “development of doctrine.” Nothing—absolutely nothing—added to the teaching of Scripture is BINDING on the conscience of the believer . . . No serious inquirer, who is not already committed to Rome, upon reading Kelly or Pelikan will come away with the notion that the early church is the “acorn” for modern Romanism.

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Well (I would like to ask Dr. Svendsen), if Newman "pulled" his theory of doctrinal development  "out of a hat", and Pope St. Pius X accepted it as fully consistent with Catholic Tradition and agreed that it wasn't condemned in his "traditionalist" encyclical Pascendi,  then does that make Pope Pius X a "modernist" too? If you say that he condemned Newman's theory, you have to explain my documentation above. And if you concede that he accepted it, based on my primary evidence, then you disagree with Pastor King, who is convinced that Pope Pius X would have rejected Newman's theory. Whom shall I believe?

Contra-Catholic polemicist Tim Enloe, in a discussion on Newman and development we had on Steve Ray's bulletin board, wrote:

Newman's late nineteenth century theory of evolution, er, I mean development . . .

I am sure that Newman takes pains to distinguish between "development" and "evolution",  but to me, the way the theory gets used by RC apologists looks a lot like "evolution" (a subject I know something about) to me.

For instance, "micromutations" (ways to increase Rome's authority) come
along here and there in Church history and "natural selection" (clever
popes and councils) works to preserve the most useful ones (the ones that
tend towards the increasing of Rome's authority).  These micromutations" build up over time, gradually altering the "DNA" (the ancient and constant faith of the universal Church) and eventually result in a "new species" (full-orbed Roman Catholicism) that claims a tenuous link to its "ancestors" and comes up with all sorts of clever reconstructions of the "fossil record" (Church history) which give credence to its story of "evolution" (development).

And of course, speaking of historical ironies, everyone knows that
"evolution" was literally the air the nineteenth century breathed.

How interesting that it was not until then that someone came along to
provide Rome with just the neat little airtight theory she needed to
explain away all her corruptions and additions to the depositum fidei.

Newman's . . . development has to be waved like a magic wand all over the historical record.

But as long as Roman Catholics repeat the "Newmanian" [or is that "Armstrongian"] claptrap of "development as undeniable key to properly understanding Church history", etc., there is no hope for a general Roman Catholic understanding of a truly covenantal view of redemptive history anytime soon.

In the dispute chronicled above, Tim made the same sort of generalization:

                          . . . waving "development" around as if it's
                          the universal answer to the reams of historical problems
                          created by Roman Catholic claims is at best a non-answer,
                          and at worst a mere rationalistic chimera . . .

George Salmon was a prominent 19th-century Anglican polemicist against Catholicism, who vainly imagined that he had refuted Newman's famous thesis of development of doctrine. Salmon, too, seemed to deny development of doctrine altogether, as the following citation indicates:

     Romish advocates . . . are now content to exchange tradition, which their predecessors had
     made the basis of their system, for this new foundation of development . . . The theory of
     development is, in short, an attempt to enable men, beaten off the platform of history, to hang
     on to it by the eyelids . . . The old theory was that the teaching of the Church had never

(The Infallibility of the Church, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House [originally 1888], 31-33 [cf. also 35, 39] )

Salmon's admirers include not only Pastor King, but also Tim Enloe, Dr. Svendsen, William Webster, and Dr. James White. In a personal letter to me, dated 6 April 1995 (the entire exchange is now uploaded with Dr. White's permission: Is Catholicism Christian?: My Debate With Dr. James White), Professor White stated:

     . . . the papacy developed, changed, and grew over time.

In the same letter, he wrote:

     I would direct you especially to my discussion of the "development of doctrine" in the
     enclosed book, Answers to Catholic Claims [his own], pp. 63-73. I would also like to ask if
     you have read Salmon's refutation of Newman in his work, The Infallibility of the Church?

Obviously, then, Dr. White thinks Salmon disposed of Newman's thesis, and ostensibly accepts the
above quote from Salmon's book, which sums up an important aspect of his overall argument. But
Dr. White contradicts himself, for in one place he accepts development (as in the one-sentence
citation above and other comments below), whereas in another (like Salmon) he categorically
rejects it, as in his letter of 4 May 1995 (emphasis added):

     You said that usually the Protestant misunderstands the concept of development. Well,
    before Newman came up with it, I guess we had good reason, wouldn't you say? But, does
     that mean that those Roman Catholics I know who don't like Newman are actually
     Protestants, too? I'm kidding of course, but those who hang their case on Newman and the
     development hypothesis are liable for all sorts of problems . . . Might it actually be that the
    Protestant fully understands development but rightly rejects it? I addressed
     development and Newman in my book . . . . And as for Newman's statement, "to be deep in
     history is to cease to be a Protestant," I would say, "to be deep in Newman is to cease to
     be an historically consistent Roman Catholic." I can only shake my head as I look at
     Newman's collapse on papal infallibility and chuckle at his "deep in history" comment. He
     knew better.

As for Newman's "collapse" on papal infallibility, this is an absolute myth and falsehood, as I provein my paper: Newman on Papal Infallibility. But it was part of Salmon's polemic and it has remained a staple of Protestant contra-Catholic rhetoric ever since, along with the sheer nonsense of claiming that Newman was a liberal.

Lastly, contra-Catholic polemicist William Webster:

From: "Rome's New and Novel Concept of Tradition Living Tradition (Viva Voce - Whatever We Say)" -- A Repudiation of the Patristic Concept of Tradition

( )

 . . . this clear lack of patristic consensus led Rome to
embrace a new theory in the late nineteenth century to explain
its teachings—the theory initiated by John Henry Newman
known as the development of doctrine.

. . . to circumvent the lack of patristic witness for the distinctive
Roman Catholic dogmas, Newman set forth his theory of development,
which was embraced by the Roman Catholic Church.  Ironically, this is
a theory which, like unanimous consent, has its roots in the teaching of
Vincent of Lerins, who also promulgated a concept of
development. While rejecting Vincent's rule of universality,
antiquity and consent, Rome, through Newman, once again
turned to Vincent for validation of its new theory of tradition
and history. But while Rome and Vincent both use the term
development, they are miles apart in their understanding of the
meaning of the principle because Rome's definition of
development and Vincent's are diametrically opposed to one

. . . But, with Newman, Rome redefined the theory of
development and promoted a new concept of tradition. One
that was truly novel. Truly novel in the sense that it was
completely foreign to the perspective of Vincent and the
theologians of Trent and Vatican I who speak of the
unanimous consent of the fathers.

. . . Vatican I, for example, teaches that the papacy was full
blown from the very beginning and was, therefore, not subject
to development over time. In this new theory Rome moved beyond
the historical principle of development as articulated by Vincent and, for all
practical purposes, eliminated any need for historical
validation. She now claimed that it was not necessary that a
particular doctrine be taught explicitly by the early Church.

. . . whatever Rome's magisterium teaches at any point in time must be true
even if it lacks historical or biblical support . . . whatever I say today is truth,
irrespective of the witness of history . . .

History in effect becomes irrelevant and all talk of
the unanimous consent of the fathers merely a relic of history.
This brings us to the place where one's faith is placed blindly
in the institution of the Church. Again, in reality Rome has
abandoned the argument from history is arguing for the viva
voce (living voice) of the contemporary teaching office of the
Church (magisterium), which amounts to the essence of a
carte blanche for whatever proves to be the current, prevailing
sentiments of Rome.

. . . Instead of sola Scriptura, the unanimous principle of authority
enunciated by both Scripture and the Church fathers, we now have
sola Ecclesia, blind submission to an institution which is unaccountable to either
Scripture or history.

Vatican I, contrary to Webster's assertions, did indeed teach development of doctrine (I pointed this out to Mr. Webster, but obviously to no avail):

Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, ch. 4, "Of Faith and Reason," from the First Vatican Council (1870): entire - unedited - section, cited from Dogmatic Canons and Decrees (Rockford, IL:TAN Books, 1977; reprint of 1912 ed. of authorized translations of the Councils of Trent and Vatican I, Imprimatur by John Cardinal Farley of New York, pp. 232-233):

     Hence, also, that meaning of the sacred dogmas is perpetually to be retained which our holy
     Mother the Church has once declared; nor is that meaning ever to be departed from, under
     the pretence or pretext of a deeper comprehension of them (can. iii). Let then the
     intelligence, science and wisdom of each and all, of individuals and of the whole Church, in
     all ages and all times, increase and flourish in abundance and vigour; but simply in its own
     proper kind, that is to say, in one and the same doctrine, one and the same judgment. (29)

     29. Vincent of Lerins, Common. n. 28.

This expresses precisely the Vincentian and Newmanian (and Catholic) understanding of the development of doctrines which remain essentially unchanged. Development is emphatically not evolution per se, which is the transformation or change of one thing into something else. The two concepts are entirely distinct philosophically and linguistically.

I also have handy another translation of the passage. from The Christian Faith: Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church, edited by J. Neuner and J. Dupuis, NY: Alba House, 5th revised and enlarged ed., 1990, p. 47:

     Hence also that meaning of the sacred dogmas is perpetually to be retained which our Holy
     Mother Church has once declared, and there must never be a deviation from that meaning on
     the specious ground and title of a more profound understanding. 'Therefore, let there be
     growth and abundant progress in understanding, knowledge and wisdom, in each and all, in
     individuals and in the whole Church, at all times and in the progress of ages, but only within
     the proper limits, i.e., within the same dogma, the same meaning, the same judgment.' (1)

     (1) Vincent of Lerins, Commonitorium primum, 23.

Perhaps, in the words of the prison guard in Cool Hand Luke, "what we have here is a failure to
communicate. " There is no conflict whatever between Cardinal Newman's thesis in his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine and the above infallible pronouncement of an Ecumenical Council (during his own lifetime, in fact).

Contra-Catholic Protestant polemicists such as those cited above are profoundly misinformed about both development of doctrine as understood by the Catholic Church (identical to Newmanian development) and its rationale. In a nutshell, what all the men above have done is to simultaneously create a straw man of their own making, and engage in circular argument with no guiding principle other than the "criterion" that "the true developments are the ones that Protestants believe in!" Why? Well, "because ours are in the Bible and theirs aren't!" The presupposition is that 1) Catholic doctrines are false; 2) False doctrines aren't in the Bible; 3) Whatever isn't in the Bible can't be a true Christian doctrine. There are unexamined assumptions all along the way, but no matter. What the Protestant contra-Catholic polemicist will find is determined from the outset. He will find Protestant doctrines in the Bible because they're the only ones in there! Etc. We see this mentality, e.g., in Dr. James White's statement:

. . . we see that when Roman apologists use the concept of "doctrinal development" as a defense for various of the false teachings of Rome, they are using a true principle wrongly. One cannot speak of doctrinal development when attempting to defend the cult of Mary or the concept of Papal infallibility. These concepts are not only missing from Scripture, but they are anti-Scriptural to the core.

(Answers to Catholic Claims, Southbridge, MA: Crowne Publications, 1990, 72-73)

Jason Engwer, a protege of Dr. Svendsen, writes similarly, in one of our own dialogues:
. . . there's a difference between a) developing an understanding of something already in scripture and b) trying to read a post-scriptural concept into scripture in ways that are unnecessary and speculative.
I could go on at great length about the 101 methodological and epistemological fallacies involved in contra-Catholic treatments of Newman and development of doctrine, but this paper is quite long enough, and I will simply cite some of my papers on the topic:
Development of Doctrine: A Corruption of Biblical Teaching?
Overview of Development of Doctrine (Transcript of a Television Interview)
How Newman Convinced me of the Apostolicity of the Catholic Church
Refutation of William Webster's Fundamental Misunderstanding of Development of
Preliminary Dialogue With an Anglican on the Nature of Legitimate Development of Doctrine (Dave Armstrong vs. Edwin Tait)
Dialogue on the Nature of Development of Doctrine (Particularly With Regard to the Papacy)
(Dave Armstrong vs. Jason Engwer)
Reply to a Protestant Counter-Response on Development of Doctrine (Particularly With Regard to the New Testament Canon and the Papacy) (Dave Armstrong vs. Jason Engwer)
Dialogue on Protestant Reticence Concerning Development of Doctrine, and the Catholic Claim to Apostolic Fullness (Dave Armstrong vs. Greg Krehbiel)
"Live Chat" Question and Answer Dialogue: Theological Presuppositions, Patristic Consensus, Development of Doctrine, & Private Judgment (Dave Armstrong vs. Tim Enloe and Dr. James White)

Main Index & Search | John Henry Newman | Development of Doctrine | Protestantism | Theological Liberalism | Catholic "Traditionalism" | The Papacy

Uploaded by Dave Armstrong on 6 March 2002.