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

Jul 9, 2020
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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, SJ is a Jesuit Priest and scholar with degrees from Oxford and Yale, 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).  Recently he edited a volume of essays on the thought of Benedict XVI (Nova et Vetera, August 2017).  His scholarly articles treat such topics as Hans Urs von Balthasar, John Henry Newman, transcendental Thomism, and the Trinity, as well as Catholicism’s relation to liberalism, to ‘postmodernism,’ and to the contemporary university. He has been a long-time friend and collaborator of the Lumen Christi Institute.