William Witt on James Mozley and Newman

Anglican scholar William Witt explains why he won’t leave Anglicanism for Rome or Orthodoxy. In the midst of his explanation, he gives an interesting summary of James Mozley’s arguments against Newman’s theory of development (see my last post). Mozley thinks Newman commits the elementary logical fallacy of amphibole, by falsely trying to justify a logical argument about disputed facts by appealing to an ambiguous term (“development”). Specifically, Witt summarizes Mozley, Newman fails to distinguish between “Development 1″ and “Development 2.” The former expounds the implications of something clearly taught in the Scriptures, while the latter actually adds new content not contained in the Scriptures. Mozley thinks Newman’s argument is a species of Development 2, and that for this reason it is false to the Christian tradition.

A friend of mine has pointed out recently, the categories of Development 1 and Development 2 seem to nicely parallel Oberman’s “Tradition 1″ and “Tradition 2,” and in this way they add a good bit of strength to a development argument against Catholicism. That is, some of the more important of the specifically Roman Catholic doctrines have come about through the means of appeals to Tradition 2 and, seemingly, Development 2 – which basically means they have (as the Reformation has always contended) swung free of accountability to the Faith and actually added to the deposit of faith rather than faithfully preserved it.

HT: Fides Quaerens Intellectum

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3 Responses to William Witt on James Mozley and Newman

  1. Iohannes says:

    I have found Mozley one of the most interesting thinkers of the 19th century. Like many in his circle he was driven to serious reflection by the Gorham decision in 1850. The result was a turn in his thought along what we might call more classically Protestant lines. He was an Augustinian through and through, and from what I have seen of them, his writings on predestination and the sacraments combine theological depth with profound sensibility. If the aim is to discover doctrine at once reformed and catholic, I suspect one would do far better studying Mozley than keeping up with the latest musings of aspiring movement leaders.

  2. I second Iohannes’ notion that Mozley was a serious and theologically insightful Protestant thinker. He is under-appreciated, and his work richly repays careful scrutiny.

  3. I second Iohannes’ notion that Mozley was a serious and theologically insightful Protestant thinker. He is under-appreciated, and his work richly repays careful scrutiny.

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