Master Class on "Newman's Critique of Liberalism: Faith, Reason, and Antecedent Probability"

Jul 9, 2020
Back to Events

Stephen Fields, SJGeorgetown University

This master class is open to current graduate students. It will take place online on Zoom. Others interested in participating should contact us.

In his intellectual autobiography, John Henry Newman makes a bold claim that may confound our contemporary sensibility.  In matters of religion, the human mind has only two consistent options: either atheism or Catholicism.  Any position in-between is but a logical half-way house.  Our master class will explore the relation in Newman between faith and reason that endeavors to justify this claim.  In the process, we will deal with the role of probability, which would seem to be the antithesis of faith.  We will also probe into liberalism which, although much admired in the west, is for Newman inimical to an authentic revelation from the Divine.



  • Apologia pro Vita Sua, Chapter 1: "History of My Religious Opinions up to 1833"; Chapter 5: "Position of My Mind since 1845."
  • Plain and Parochial Sermons, vol. 8, number 13: "Truth Hidden When Not Sought After"


Stephen Fields, S.J. is the Hackett Family Professor in Theology in Georgetown University, where he has taught since 1993. He holds the PhD from Yale in the philosophy of religion and the STL in fundamental theology from the Weston School of Theology (now the School of Theology and Ministry, Boston College). He has written Being as Symbol: On the Origins and Development of Karl Rahner’s Metaphysics (2001), and Analogies of Transcendence: An Essay on Nature, Grace and Modernity (2016), and edited a collection of essays on the thought of Benedict XVI for a special Festschrift edition of Nova et Vetera (English edition) (2017). His articles appear in a range of international journals, both philosophical and theological. His undergraduate students elected him as the twelfth recipient of the Dorothy M. Brown Award for excellence in teaching. He now directs the Lumen Christi Institute’s annual summer seminar for graduate students on John Henry Newman.