he chapters of Literature and Dogma were probably not composed in the order in which they appeared in book form in February 1873. The only two installments to appear in periodical form, comprising what is now the short Introduction and Chapter I, and Chapters II-IV, were published in the Cornhill for July and October 1871. Arnold's letter of November 29, 1871 (UL, p. 57), indicates that Arnold was then working on material later included in Chapter X. Professor Townsend argues convincingly that Arnold's original intention was to conclude his series with what are now Chapters V and X. Chapters VI-IX would then have filled out and clarified these original ideas, and Chapters XI-XII brought the whole to a conclusion. ("The Third Instalment of Arnold's Literature and Dogma,", p. 200.) Newman is referred to by name in only three chapters, VII, IX, and X, with one reference repeated in the Preface written for the book. Newman does not figure at all in the [101/102] two periodical installments, and by far the heaviest preoccupation with his ideas occurs in Chapter X, presumably being written in November and December of 1871. Moreover, all explicit references to Newman in Literature and Dogma are to two works only, the Essay on Development of Doctrine and the two volumes of the Essays Critical and Historical. These facts coupled with that of Arnold's acquiring the two volumes of the Essays in November, suggest it was the latter work that stimulated Arnold to a fresh consideration of Newman's ideas as they might be seen to affect this central effort of his campaign to transform English religion and to deepen his own humanism.
It is best, then, to consider Arnold's treatment of Newman in Literature and Dogma in the order in which he presumably wrote the chapters now extant. Arnold begins Chapter X by summarizing the points he made in the opening chapter: the people for the first time are rejecting the characteristic tenets of orthodox Christianity, both the Catholic "story of the divine authority of the Church," as well as the general Christian theology of the Trinity ("the fairy-tale of the three Lord Shaftesburys"), on the grounds, which Arnold accepts, that none of this belief can be "verified." On the other hand, Arnold also rejects the extreme alternatives offered by "our philosophical Liberal friends," who propose a secular morality quite apart from the Bible and historical Christian experience. Arnold's own position, characteristically, is mediatorial: he accepts the rationalist position that even the existence of God — " a great Personal First Cause, who thinks and loves, the moral and intelligent Governor of the Universe; a sort of elder Lord Shaftesbury ...infinitely magnified" — is unverified and unverifiable; but he equally deplores giving up the use of the Bible as the source of religion and morality," the true religion of the Bible: righteousness, and the method and secret of Jesus" (pp. 281-83). His object will be to develop a religious position, for the masses, which is nontheistic and yet draws upon the imaginative and emotional fullness of specifically Christian and hence Biblical sources.
Arnold's concern here, as in St. Paul and Protestantism, is to shape an argumentative tool that will go to the root of Christian theology and undercut all present positions. He at once admits that if "the Great Personal First Cause, the God of both natural and revealed religion," [102/103] could be verified, we might then be warranted in admitting the rest of Christian doctrine, which follows from this root belief. Hence Arnold is impatient with those half-hearted rationalizers of Christian doctrine who will not go all the way at once with him in asserting what seems to Arnold self-evident, the unverifiability of God's existence. These people
set to work to make religion more pure and rational, as they suppose, by pointing out that this or that of these doctrines is false.... The Unitarians are, perhaps, the great people for this sort of partial and local rationalising of religion; for taking what here and there on the surface seems to conflict most with common sense, arguing that it cannot be in the Bible and getting rid of it, and professing to have thus relieved religion of its difficulties. And now, when there is much loosening of authority and tradition, much impatience of what conflicts with common sense, the Unitarians are beginning confidently to give themselves out as the Church of the Future. [p. 284]
Arnold replies by citing the argument of "antecedent probability" used by Butler and Newman:
But in all this there is in reality a good deal of what we must call intellectual shallowness. For, granted that there are things in a system that are puzzling, yet they belong to a system; and it is childish to pick them out by themselves and reproach them with error, when you leave untouched the basis of the system where they occur, and indeed admit it for sound yourself.... Now, with the One Supreme Governor, and miracles, given to start with, it may fairly be urged that that construction put by common theology on the Bible-data ... is the natural and legitimate construction to put on them, and not unscriptural at all. Neither is it unreasonable; in a system of things, that is, where the Supreme Governor and miracles, or even where the Supreme Governor without miracles, are already given. [pp. 284-85]
This, as Arnold says, is Butler's argument in the Analogy against the Deists and Socinians, "that in your and my admitted system of nature there are just as great difficulties as in the system of revelation" (pp. 285-86).
At this point Arnold invokes Newman and does something very daring; in effect, he reconsiders and now endorses Newman's arguments [103/104] from the Essay on Development on probability which Arnold had refused to concede in "Puritanism and the Church of England." In that earlier essay, it will be recalled, Arnold had accepted Newman's formulation of an inherent power of "development" in Christian doctrine but had abruptly, on a priori grounds, censured as "arbitrary and condemned by the idea itself" Newman's extension of that idea "in support of the pretensions of the Church of Rome to an infallible authority on points of doctrine" (SPP, p. 124). But now, for purposes that soon become evident, Arnold is willing to follow Newman's idea à outrance and accept at least the logical validity of his (formerly "arbitrary" and patently impossible) line of argument:
The only question, perhaps, is, whether Butler, as an Anglican bishop, puts an adequate construction upon what Bible-revelation, this basis of the Supreme Governor being supposed, may be allowed to be; whether Catholic dogma is not the truer construction to be put upon it. Dr. Newman urges, fairly enough: Butler admits, analogy is in some sort violated by the fact of revelation; only, with the precedent of natural religion given, we have to own that the difficulties against revelation are not greater than against this precedent, and therefore the admission of this precedent of natural religion may well be taken to dear them. And must we not go further in the same way, says Dr. Newman, and own that the precedent of revelation, too, may be taken to cover more than itself; and that as, the Supreme Governor being given, it is credible that the Incarnation is true, so, the Incarnation being true, it is credible that God should not have left the world to itself after Christ and his Apostles disappeared, but should have lodged divine insight in the Church and its visible head? So pleads Dr. Newman; and if it be said that facts are against the infallibility of the Church, or that Scripture is against it, yet to wide, immense things like facts and Scripture, a turn may easily be given which makes them favour it; and so an endless field of discussion is opened, and no certain conclusion possible....
Only, there may come some one, who says that the basis of all our inference, the Supreme Governor, is not the order of nature, is an assumption, and not a fact; and then, if this is so, our whole superstructure falls to pieces like a house of cards. And this is just what is happening at present. [pp. 286-87]
Newman's argument, involving the passage Arnold inquired about in [104/105] the letter of November 29, is of course central to the Essay on Development, and by now it is not surprising to see Arnold granting Newman's case for "the oneness of Catholicism" in order, paradoxically, to burke all "partial and local rationalising" of theology, on the ground that the first principle of theistic metaphysics is "an assumption which cannot possibly be verified" (p. 299). Arnold insists: "It is no use beginning lower down, and amending this or that ramification, such as the Atonement, or the Real Presence, or Eternal Punishment, when the root from which all springs is unsound" (p. 294). His chief, concern has been, and remains, the fear that the masses will reject the Bible in favor of a purely secular and utilitarian morality like that of Bentham or Spencer, in the general overthrow not only of characteristic Christian doctrines like the Atonement and the Real Presence but also of metaphysical notions like the personality and unity of God (pp. 299, 287, 290, 294).
Arnold's strategy is complex. Against orthodox Christians he argues that the notion of a Personal God is unintelligible and unverifiable — according to a special notion of verification. Against the rationalizing philosophical Liberals (whose positivism he accepts) he argues, nevertheless, that the masses need emotional and imaginative support for the practice of morality, and that this can only come from the Bible, considered as a comforting and uplifting poetic testimony to righteousness [105/106] ("that mighty not ourselves which is in us and around us") as verified through the whole of man's history. Finally, against what Arnold sees as the compromising non-Christian but theistic devotees of Unitarianism, he argues that their logic is unsound, since they reject individual Christian doctrines as incredible or irrational but fail to recognize that Christian theology is a logically valid concatenation of probabilities and that only by striking at the very root of all theology can individual Christian tenets be cast down. This last argument, on the logical and systematic coherence of theology, though not of course its application, Arnold adapted from Newman. It is not directly to the purpose here to, point out that, logically and rhetorically, Arnold has probably granted too much in accepting Newman's "fairly" argued case. That is, to accept the coherence of Newman's linked probabilities is to raise the strong possibility that the Bible does in fact support his view of a dogmatic system and not Arnold's rationalized collection of natural moral truths — quite apart from the metaphysical question of the existence of a Personal First Cause. For present purposes, however, it is enough to note that again Arnold appreciatively reproduces and accepts a central and specifically Catholic theory of Newman's — the idea, in fact, on which Newman's conversion to Rome hinged — which he abruptly turns against Newman's intentions.
Arnold's confrontation with Newman in Chapter X was not yet over. Arnold ends by approvingly repeating a notion he had attributed to Newman and Hooker in "Puritanism and the Church of England," but which he now ascribes to Hooker and Butler, that "the Bible does not and cannot tell us itself, in black and white, what is the right construction to put upon it," and that for this we need (in Hooker's words) 11 reasoning and collection" (pp. 301-302). But Arnold, in a now familiar manner, simply throws this doctrine back against the orthodox theologians by arguing, "Now it is simply from experience of the human spirit and its productions, from observing as widely as we can the manner in which men have thought, their way of using words and what they mean by them, and from reasoning upon this observation and experience, that we conclude the construction theologians put upon the Bible to be false, and ours to be the truer one" (p. 302). In other words, Arnold claims to "collect" his version of Israel's conception of [106/107] God as the "not ourselves" and the Eternal Power that makes for righteousness, "because the more we come to know how ideas and terms arise, and what is their character, the more this explanation of Israel's use of the word 'God' seems the true and natural one" (pp. 302-303). Similarly, his version of Jesus' doctrine and work, collected by comparing the Biblical data with "the history of ideas and expressions," will increasingly be seen as "the true and natural one." Jesus' teaching was misunderstood by his disciples: "only time gradually brings its lines out more clear" (p. 303). "Time," here, is a heuristic agency; Arnold has returned to the realm of the Zeitgeist, whose claims he had urged against the dogmatists in "Puritanism and the Church of England."
Thus, although Arnold may invoke a Hooker, a Newman, or a Butler in support of the notion that reasoning and collection are the means for ascertaining the true drift of the Bible's meaning, Arnold's sense of this process — involving, it seems, a superior knowledge of "how ideas and terms arise, and what is their character" — is somehow richer than theirs and is sanctioned by nothing less than the vast tides of history. This tendentious argument is pursued as Arnold turns to Newman once again. He rejects "the theologians' notion of dogmas presupposed in the Bible, and of a constant latent reference to them," on the vague grounds that somehow "experience" and our increasing knowledge "of the history of ideas and expressions" make it less convincing. He then quotes from Newman's "Prospects of the Anglican Church" (1839): "The Fathers recognised a certain truth lying hid under the tenor of the sacred text as a whole, and showing itself more or less in this verse or that, as it might be. The Fathers might have traditionary information of the general drift of the inspired text which we have not" (p. 303; citing ECH, I, 286). Arnold's comment on this passage marks a moment when seemingly all the elements of his complex reaction to Newman's personality and thought are fused:
Born into the world twenty years later, and touched with the breath of the "Zeit-Geist," how would this exquisite and delicate genius have been himself the first to feel the unsoundness of all this! that we have heard the like about other books before, and that it always turns out to be not so, that a right interpretation of a document, such as the Bible, is not in this fashion. [107/108] Homer's poetry was the Bible of the Greeks, however strange a one; and just in the same way there grew up the notion of a mystical and inner sense in the poetry of Homer, underlying the apparent sense, but brought to light by the commentators; perhaps, even, they might have traditionary information of the drift of the Homeric poetry which we have not; — who knows? But, once for all, as our literary experience widens, this notion of a secret sense in Homer proves to be a mere dream. So, too, is the notion of a secret sense in the Bible, and of the Fathers' disengagement of it. (LD, pp. 303-304)
Newman is still an "exquisite and delicate genius," but born twenty years too early to be intellectually transformed by the Zeitgeist. Arnold seems to be saying that his own generation, which came to maturity in the forties, was the first that could dispense with "mere dreams" like an allegorical sense in Scripture — dreams dispersed, presumably, by such channels of the newly active Time-Spirit as the Higher Criticism of the Bible and advances in the geological and biological sciences.
It was of the utmost strategic value to cite Newman on so abstruse a point as "a secret sense" in the Bible, a subject of some concern to Newman, especially in his Anglican years. Of course Arnold knew that there were other possible views, as his next words indicate:
Demonstration in these matters is impossible. It is a maintainable thesis that the allegorising of the Fathers is right, and that this is the true sense of the Bible. It is a maintainable thesis that the theological dogmas of the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Atonement, underlie the whole Bible. It is a maintainable thesis, on the other hand, that Jesus was himself immersed in the Aberglaube of his nation and time, and that his disciples have reported him with absolute fidelity; in this case we should have, in our estimate of Jesus, to make deductions for his Aberglaube, and to admire him for the insight he displayed in spite of it. [p. 304]
Clearly, the implicit dogmatic substructure of the Bible was a point of far greater and more continuous concern to Newman than the allegorical reading of Scripture. Nevertheless, perhaps Arnold was correct in choosing to discuss Newman in relation to one of his most antirationalistic views; for here Arnold confronts Newman directly as the supreme nineteenth-century expositor of the mystery inherent in religious truths who conceived of the universe of supernatural truth [108/109] and reality as a realm on the edges of man's ordinary consciousness the shadowy outlines of which were fragmentarily revealed to him by Scripture. In Arnold, for all the Biblical quality of his religiously tinged moralism, one feels that mystery in Newman's sense has been torn away or, more accurately, gently brushed aside by a disenchanted Time-Spirit here identified with man's widening "literary experience." On the other hand, one ought not to minimize the cosmic, quasi-Providential functions of the Time-Spirit itself as it sponsors the progress of the modem critical intellect and, in particular, Arnold's emergent reading of Scripture through the rough waters of the nineteenth century. In fact, as he says later in a daring passage in the Preface, the Roman Catholic notion of an infallible interpreting authority is a kind of blundering forecast of the Zeitgeist's role: "The infallible Catholic Church is, really, the prophetic soul of the wide world dreaming of things to come; the whole human race, in its onward progress, discovering truth more complete than the parcel of truth any momentary individual can seize ... The Pope himself is, in his idea, the very Time-Spirit taking flesh, the incarnate 'Zeitgeist'!" (p. xxvi). Supported by such a power, Arnold need not argue:
Absolute demonstration is impossible, and the only question is: Does experience, as it widens and deepens, make for this or that thesis, or make against it? And the great thing against any such thesis as either of the two we have just mentioned is, that the more we know of the history of the human spirit and its deliverances, the more we have reason to think such a thesis improbable, and it loses hold on our assent more and more. On the other hand, the great thing, as we believe, in favour of such a construction as we put upon the Bible is, that experience, as it increases, constantly affirms it; and that, though it cannot command assent, it will be found to win assent more and more. [p. 305]
Arnold is speaking here, implicitly, in the name of that "criticism" and "culture," an ideal of perfected human consciousness, which he had developed in the Essays in Criticism and Culture and Anarchy. In the Introduction Arnold had promised "a literary treatment of religious history and ideas" and a discussion "of the relation of letters to religion ... of their effect upon dogma, and of the consequences [109/110] of this to religion" (pp. 4, 5). As he was to explain in the Preface of 1873, Arnold rejects the "infelicitous" and "blunt-edged" methods of the German Biblical critics in favor of his own literary method, that of culture, which leads to "justness of perception" (p. xxi). The reading of the Bible involves, says Arnold, crucial matters of conduct and morality; hence, all the more urgent is the need we have for culture, which is the true interpreter of the Bible and which "implies not only knowledge, but right tact and justness of judgment, forming themselves by and with knowledge" (pp. xxvi-xxvii). This, then, is what Arnold means by our widening "literary experience," "the history of the human spirit and its deliverances"; for culture, knowing the best that has been known and said in the world, necessarily includes "the history of the human spirit" (p. xi). Thus, in reading the Bible, to the knowledge of scientific textual study must be joined the tact and the multifaceted literary consciousness of culture. Presumably, neither the German textual methods nor Arnold's historically oriented "culture" were possible to men before Arnold's generation, before criticism, which had come to life again at the Renaissance, had so far advanced as to provide a method by which Bible and Creeds could be read and judged (pp. xxv, xviii). The Time-Spirit, in whose hands Arnold trustingly places himself, has now for the first time "turned his light" fully upon the inner structure of Christian belief.
How does Newman figure in this argument? Not merely, I think, as an "adversary." Instead, Newman as an "exquisite and delicate genius" is recalled to our attention precisely as the supreme representative of urbanity, intellectual delicacy, the Oxford spirit, and culture. A note of calculated pathos and regret is evident in this later reference to Newman. By every natural quality of mind and temperament, as well as by the quality and tone of his writings, Newman represented to Arnold the ideal of culture. Added to this was the aesthetic appeal of Newman as an apparently tragic failure, in this case a man born out of his time. Arnold's regret seems to be that the man who stood for all that he associated with the Oxford temper could not, through the accidents of time and circumstance, join him in applying [110/111] that temper to the vexing religious problems of the age. The Zeitgeist itself, now seemingly enfranchised permanently by modem "criticism," operates, despite its German name, not by the asperities of argument but precisely by the Oxford suavity and urbanity Arnold had so admired in Newman's Apologia. For when Arnold says his reading of the Bible does not command but wins assent, he means this:
But the valuable thing in letters, — that is, in the acquainting oneself with the best which has been thought and said in the world, — is, as we have often remarked, the judgment that forms itself insensibly in a fair mind along with fresh knowledge; and this judgment almost any one with a fair mind, who will but trouble himself to try and make acquaintance with the best which has been thought and uttered in the world, may, if he is lucky, hope to attain to. For this judgment comes almost of itself; and what it displaces it displaces easily and naturally, and without any turmoil of controversial reasonings. The thing comes to look differently to us, as we look at it by the light of fresh knowledge. We are not beaten from our old opinion by logic, we are not driven off our ground;-our ground itself changes with us. [p. 7]
In rejecting Newman's reading of the Bible, Arnold is implicitly rejecting the old Oxford, the theological "Oxford of the past" (CPW, V, 105), at least for its inability to absorb and, with its characteristic tone, somehow master the complex new components of the religious situation.
The question at issue throughout Literature and Dogma had been, what does it mean to "verify" a proposition, whether, say, Arnold's view of the Bible or Newman's? Arnold argues that the first principle of "metaphysical theology," the existence of a Great Personal First Cause, is unverified and unverifiable. His own moralism, however — the principle that righteousness leads to happiness — has a "scientific basis of fact"; it can be proved, as directly and experimentally as the fact that fire burns, in our own experience and by knowing the moral history of the human race. (See Literature and Dogma, Chapter I, "Religion Given"; and both parts of "St. Paul and Protestantism.") On the other hand, in the statements cited, he hints at a rather different process of intellectual and spiritual per- [111/112] suasion; continually reinforced by modern knowledge of total human history, the Zeitgeist's version of truth establishes itself and wins our assent by eschewing logic and the "turmoil of controversial reasonings" in favor of an undefined but subtle movement of the whole psyche working insensibly, easily, naturally. Newman had described a process very similar to this in the Apologia, where he says that "It is the concrete being that reasons; pass a number of years, and I find my mind in a new place; how? the whole man moves; paper logic is but the record of it" (Apologia, p. 153). This line anticipates the central arguement, that "the whole mind reasons," of Newman's last major work, The Grammar of Assent. Strangely, there is no evidence that Arnold ever took note of this treatise on "the logical cogency of faith" and the psychology of belief, although he had no doubt read reviews on the appearance of the book in February 1870, just as he concluded St. Paul and Protestantism, his own major exposition of the nature and grounds of "faith."
For complex reasons, some of them already discussed in this study, Arnold was unable to respond to the totality of Newman's thinking on the psychology of faith, despite the fact that this central line in Newman's thought, stretching from the Oxford University Sermons to the Grammar of Assent, may be justly described as the most remarkable example of the "literary treatment of religious history and ideas" published in England during Arnold's lifetime. Newman's thought was almost a working model for Arnold's prescription to apply "culture" to religious matters; moreover, it was an authoritative precedent for Arnold's conviction that the mind in religion moves not by "logic" and the "turmoil of controversial reasonings," but "insensibly." Some of the reason for Arnold's incomprehension was suggested long ago by R. H. Hutton. Seeming almost to have in mind Arnold's passage on Newman and to be answering the condescension and complacency that mar Arnold's tone, Hutton reversed the premises of the argument. It was, he counters, precisely because twenty years separated Arnold from Newman and because Arnold came to maturity in the eighteen-forties that "certain premature scientific assumptions, ... in vogue before the limits of the region in which the uniformity [112/113] of nature has been verified, had been at all carefully defined, run through all his theoretical writings." (Essays on Some of the Modern Guides to English Thought in Matters of Faith, p. 133.) Hutton argues:
Undoubtedly the twenty years or so by which he is Cardinal Newman's junior made an extraordinary difference in the intellectual atmosphere of Oxford, and of the English world of letters outside Oxford, during the time at which a thoughtful man's mind matures. Mr. Arnold was not too late at Oxford to feel the spell of Dr. Newman, but his mind was hardly one to feel the whole force of that spell, belonging as it does, I think, rather to the stoical than to the religious school — the school which magnifies self-dependence, and regards serene calm, not passionate worship, as the highest type of the moral life. And he was at Oxford too early, I think, for a full understanding of the limits within which alone the scientific conception of life can be said to be true. A little later, men came to see that scientific methods are really quite inapplicable to the sphere of moral truth, that the scientific assumption that whatever is true can be verified is, in the sense of the word "verification" which science applies, a very serious blunder, and that such verification as we can get of moral truth is of a very different though I will not scruple to say no less satisfactory, kind from that which we expect to get of scientific truth. Mr. Arnold seems to me to have imbibed the prejudices of the scientific season of blossom, when the uniformity of nature first became a kind of gospel, when the Vestiges of Nature was the book in vogue, when Emerson's and Carlyle's imaginative scepticism first took hold of cultivated Englishmen, and when Mr. Froude published the sceptical tales by which his name was first known amongst us. Mr. Arnold betrays the immovable prejudices by which his intellectual life is overridden in a hundred forms; for example, by the persistency with which he remarks that the objection to miracles is that they do not happen, the one criticism which I venture to say no one who had taken pains to study evidence in the best accredited individual cases, not only in ancient but in modem times, would choose to repeat. And again, he betrays it by the pertinacity with which he assumes that you can verify the secret of self-renunciation, the secret of Jesus, in the same sense in which you can verify the law of gravitation, one of the most astounding and, I think, false assumptions of our day. [Ibid, pp. 131-32; print version: 113/114]
Newman enters Literature and Dogma by name only four more times. In Chapter VII, Arnold attempts to define the essential matter of what "faith" in Jesus means. He had earlier explained his view of faith, in St. Paul and Protestantism, as "to die with Christ to the law of the flesh, to live with Christ to the law of the mind" (SPP, p. 64), a process accomplished by such psychological mechanisms as "grace," "influence," and "sympathy." Faith, then, is a self-induced moral transformation, with Jesus as an "aid" and "model." Here again, in Literature and Dogma, faith is described as an "attachment," "influence," "intuition," a new power of [moral] insight" which comes to our help (pp. 208, 216). This translation of familiar theological terms is essential to Arnold's two-part program to "spiritualize" Christianity: he will, on the one hand, avoid the "materialising mythology" of traditional theology in favor of the "lofty spiritualism" (pp. 218, 224) of his own Christianized morality; on the other, he will establish the "natural" and "simple" character of this exalted morality, dependent on neither metaphysics nor appeals to truths that transcend reason. Arnold's quarrel is with the orthodox view that faith and reason are opposed, that the essence of faith is "to take on trust what perplexes the reason," and that to believe in Jesus is "to receive a doctrine puzzling to the reason, but which, if adopted, will gradually become clear" (pp. 209-210). Arnold will now have none of this traditional opposition, seen to be of common interest to Newman and to the Arnold of the sixties, for the simple reason that religion, for him is an imaginatively elevated moralism in a universe without metaphysics.
Almost by instinct Arnold turns to Newman for the orthodox view. Citing Tract 73 (1835), Arnold deals out "respect" and "deference" with one hand and a kind of brusque exasperation with the other:
No one has more insisted on this opposition between faith and reason than a writer whom we can never name but with respect, — Dr. Newman. "The moral trial involved in faith," he says, "lies in the submission of the reason to external realities partially disclosed." And again: "Faith is, in its very nature, the acceptance of what our reason cannot reach, simply and absolutely upon testimony." But surely faith is in its very nature (with all [114/115] deference be it spoken!) nothing of the kind. [p. 211; ECH, pp. 35, 31]
Perhaps nowhere is Arnold more directly impatient with Newman, as is clear in his emphatic repetition of Newman's words and the strong hint that Newman is one who "sophisticates" religion:
But attention, cleaving, attaching oneself fast to what is undeniably true,this is what the faith of Scripture, "in its very nature," is; and not the submission of the reason to what puzzles it, or the acceptance, simply and absolutely upon testimony, of what our reason cannot reach. And all that the Bible says of bringing to nought the wisdom of the wise, and of receiving the kingdom of God as a little child, has nothing whatever to do with the believer's acceptance of some dogma that perplexes the reason; it is aimed at those who sophisticate a very simple thing, religion, by importing into it a so-called science with which it has nothing to do. [pp. 211-12]
Newman somehow seems caught up, whether or not intentionally, in Arnold's moral indignation at the "clever" people who attend "to the difficult science of matters where the plain practice they quite let slip" (LD, p. 212). At any rate, Arnold ends the section continuing his rough handling of Newman by flatly negating his now twice-repeated words:
The only right contrast, therefore, to set up between faith and reason is, not that faith grasps what is too hard for reason, but that reason does not, like faith, attend to what is at once so great and so simple. The difficulty about faith is, to attend to what is very simple and very important, but liable to be pushed by more showy or tempting matters out of sight. The marvel about faith is, that what is so simple should be so all-sufficing, so necessary, and so often neglected. And faith is neither the submission of the reason, nor is it the acceptance simply and absolutely upon testimony of what reason cannot reach. Faith is: the being able to cleave to a power of goodness appealing to our high and real self, not to our lower and apparent self. [pp. 214-15]
(It should be remarked that Arnold's rejection of an "opposition between faith and reason" need not imply the retreat, which it might at first seem, from his position of the early sixties which links him with [115/116] Newman. For what Arnold rejects here is the notion that by faith a man gets to some truth or "dogma" beyond simple reason, whereas Newman's emphasis is that faith submits to realities beyond reason. Thus the two are still joined, at least to the extent that, for both, the act of faith is not essential1y intellectual; for Newman it is a complex assent of the whole personality, reason being only one factor; for Arnold it is a "simple" act of the moral will, "practice" being its essence and reason irrelevant. The "opposition between faith and reason" thus remains substantially intact in both men.)
References to Newman appear twice in Chapter IX. A superficial glance makes the first allusion to him seem incidental. In attacking Aberglaube — "extra-belief, belief beyond what is certain and verifiable" (p. 70)-Arnold repeats and expands his attack in St. Paul and Protestantism on the entire edifice of Christian theology. The three chief creeds of Christendom attempt to make religion into "abstruse metaphysical conceptions" at "a time when the possibility of true scientific criticism, in any direction whatever, was lessening rather than increasing" (p. 251). Moreover, Arnold sweepingly claims, by examining the internal quality of the expressions of Jesus according to somewhat murky literary criteria, to judge "that our three creeds, and with them the whole of our so-called orthodox theology, are founded upon words which Jesus in all probability never uttered" (p. 255). Arnold is repeating the argument he had urged in "Puritanism and the Church of England" against Newman's application of the doctrine of development. That is, in the post-Apostolic age "the world and society presented conditions constantly less and less favourable to sane criticism.... For dogmatic theology is, in fact, an attempt at both literary and scientific criticism of the highest order; and the age which developed dogma had neither the resources nor the faculty for such a criticism" (256-57). Since all such efforts draw on "a very wide experience from comparative observation in many directions" and employ "a very slowly acquired habit of mind," the Christian metaphysics of the Middle Age is on a par with their efforts in natural philosophy — geography, history, physiology, and cosmology (pp. 257-58).
Further, "as one part of their scientific Bible-criticism, so the rest" [116/117] (p. 258). Arnold attempts, to call into question the dogmatic reading of Scripture in the creeds by putting it on a par with the view that the Bible holds "a secret allegorical sense.... higher than the natural sense" (p. 258). This, it will be remembered, was Arnold's strategy in Chapter X, where Newman is made to seem to hold that "the allegorising of the Fathers" as to the true sense of the Bible is as trustworthy as their deriving Christian dogma from it (p. 304). The strategy now is identical: "The worth of all the productions of such a critical faculty is easy to estimate, for the worth is nearly uniform" (pp. 258-259). He continues: "The moment we think seriously and fairly, we must see that the Patristic interpretations of prophecy give, in like manner, their author's measure as interpreters of the true sense of the Bible. Yet this is what the dogma of the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds professes to be, and must be if it is to be worth anything, — the true sense extracted from the Bible; for, 'the Bible is the record of the whole revealed faith,' says Dr. Newman. But we see how impossible it is that this true sense the dogma of these creeds should be" (p. 259; ECH, 1, 90). In the earlier reference, in Chapter X, Newman had been made to endorse patristic allegorizing in order to undermine his authority as a Biblical critic. Here again, Newman's "whole revealed faith" is made to seem to cover the entire range of medieval extravagance in interpretation. (In fact, Newman in this essay of 1838 was only parenthetically conceding a point; his chief purpose, against ultra-Protestant Biblicism, was to press his Anglican case for "Tradition" and the "Church Catholic" as the "divinely-appointed guide" in religious truth.)
All must go: every aspect of patristic and medieval criticism is marked by "nullity" and futility," and "The Schoolmen themselves are but the same false criticism developed, and clad in an apparatus of logic and system" (pp. 259-260). Hence the whole of Christian thought is "an illusion," an "utter blunder" (pp. 271, 313). Arnold's line of argument, then, is to fuse every aspect of historic Christian thought — patristic allegory, the Creeds, Scholasticism — into a single indistinguishable lump of absurdity on the grounds that no medieval statement can be said to be either critically sound in itself, because of the age in which it was made, or, therefore, the true interpre- [117/118] tation of the Bible. True interpretation was, indeed, reserved for the nineteenth century — and not for heavy-handed German textual scholars but for a few men of wide culture like Matthew Arnold, who, not by hard reasoning but by paying attention to the whispers of the Zeitgeist, would clear away the lumber of Christian thought as if so many cobwebs. Arnold's "plain," "simple" moralism lies intellectually "on the surface of the Bible"; "righteousness and the God of righteousness, the God of the Bible, are in truth quite independent of the God of ecclesiastical dogma, the work of critics of the Bible" (pp. 263, 265). Christian dogma, that "grotesque mixture," is all of a piece: "The best way is to throw it aside altogether, and forget it as fast as possible" (pp. 262, 314). As he had done in Chapter X, Arnold strikes to the root, his well-advised instinct being always to bring every aspect of Christian thought into question, lest any loophole be opened through which the concept of the supernatural or of a personal God could be smuggled back. There can be no compromise; no orthodox Christian must be allowed to make futile adjustments or distinctions.
It is at this point in Chapter IX that the second reference to Newman is made:
Catholic dogma itself is true, urges, however, Dr. Newman, because intelligent Catholics have dropped errors and absurdities like the False Decretals or the works of the pretended Dionysius the Areopagite, but have not dropped dogma. This is only saying that men drop the more palpable blunder before the less palpable. The adequate criticism of the Bible is extremely difficult, and slowly does the "Zeit-Geist" unveil it. Meanwhile, of the premature and false criticism to which we are accustomed, we drop the evidently weak parts first; we retain the rest, to drop it gradually and piece by piece as it loosens and breaks up. But it is all of one order, and in time it will all go. Not the Athanasian Creed's damnatory clauses only, but the whole Creed; not this one Creed only, but the three Creeds, — our whole received application of science, popular or learned, to the Bible. For it was an inadequate and false science, and could not, from the nature of the case, be otherwise. [p. 261]
What is not dear to the casual reader is that the passage alluded to in Newman's Essay on Development is the key to the intention and [118/119] method of the whole book, and indeed, to much of his polemical writing.
Not only have the relative situation of controversies and theologies altered, but infidelity itself is in a different, I am obliged to say, in a more hopeful position, as regards Christianity. The facts of revealed religion, though in their substance unaltered, present a less compact and orderly front to the attacks of its enemies, and allow of the introduction of new conjectures and theories concerning its sources and its rise. The state of things is not as it was, when an appeal lay to the supposed works of the Areopagite, or to the primitive Decretals, or to St. Dionysius's answers to Paul, or to the Coena Domini of St. Cyprian. The assailants of dogmatic truth have got the start of its adherents of whatever Creed; philosophy is completing what criticism has begun; and apprehensions are not unreasonably excited lest we should have a new world to conquer before we have weapons for the warfare. [EDD, pp. 28-29]
Newman sought to give Catholic orthodoxy weapons appropriate to the nineteenth century. Much of what Christianity had casually accreted to itself — errors in cosmology, science, history, or metaphysics — was distinguishable from a core of dogma. But Arnold steadfastly refused to follow any such logic: "it is all of one order, and in time it will all go." Just as, in St. Paul and Protestantism, Arnold could concede that the whole Bible was written on the principle of development, but would not follow Newman's argument as to the probability of an external authority empowered to distinguish true from false developments, so, here and in Chapter X, Newman must be made to endorse the whole history of Christian theology, without any possible mechanism for distinguishing between fundamental dogma and the scientific errors of the past.
Arnold's final direct reference to Newman in Literature and Dogma occurs near the beginning of the Preface. Sensing the revolutionary situation that traditional religion was facing, Arnold's concern is primarily with "the spread of scepticism" and the "contemptuous rejection of the Bible" on the part of the masses (pp. v-vii) because his religion is above all the religion of the Bible, whose prospects all the churches so lament. To testify that Catholics and Protestants agree on [119/120] this point, he gives more of a quotation from Newman than he had given in Chapter IX: "What the religion of the Bible is, how it is to be got at, they may not agree; but that it is the religion of the Bible for which they contend they all aver. 'The Bible,' says Dr. Newman, 'is the record of the whole revealed faith; so far all parties agree' " (pp. vii-viii; ECH, 1, 190). Why Arnold invokes Newman here, in this Anglican statement of 1838, is not dear, beyond the fact that by bringing in "Catholic" testimony Arnold can proceed on the assumption that all Christians (even Catholics, commonly thought to be non-Biblicists) are agreed on the role of the Bible in religion. This discussion of Newman's place in Literature and Dogma can be concluded in no better way than by noting that in another work of 1838, Number 85 of the Tracts for the Times, Newman had showed himself acutely alive to this process whereby growing skepticism regarding Christian doctrine leads to the rejection of the Bible. He expresses the fear that,'men ought, if consistent, to proceed from opposing Church doctrine to oppose the authority of Scripture... a battle for the canon of Scripture is but the next step after a battle for the Creed... Nay, I would predict as a coming event that minds are to be unsettled as to what is Scripture and what is not" (D&A, pp. 198-199). This statement recalls that, although Newman and Arnold held markedly different versions of "what the religion of the Bible is," they were both centrally concerned with a striking number of similar problems, that they saw as the heart of the religious crisis of the age — for example, the psychological basis of the act of faith, the fate of the Bible in a skeptical age, the need for proofs of religious belief adequate to the nineteenth century's concept of vertification, the sense of a vast, cosmically sponsored "development" in religious doctrine, and the integral and systematic character of Christian theology, to be accepted or rejected as a whole.6
Last modified 29 August 2007