After reading (devouring) Carl Trueman’s excellent book on historiography I took his advice and got (I had to drive to La Jolla during rush hour) and quite enjoyed John Cornwell’s, Newman’s Unquiet Grave: The Reluctant Saint. I knew the outlines of Newman’s life but Cornwell does an excellent job at telling the story sympathetically but not uncritically. By the end seemed clear to me that Cornwell supports the case for Newman’s canonization but the strength of the story lies in the very human figure Cornwell draws and the improbability of Newman’s sainthood.
Evangelicals, particularly those who aren’t firmly grounded in the Reformation, who haven’t taken the time to understand exactly why the Reformation happened and what Protestants really confess, should read this book. I write this because, as I read Cornwell’s account of John Henry Cardinal Newman’s sojourn through 19th-century English broad evangelicalism I kept thinking, “This is a warning to non-confessional evangelicals.” You might only know Newman as Anglo-Catholic who “swam the Tiber” (converted to Rome). You might not know that phase of his life that preceded his inherently unstable Anglo-Catholicism, and his finally his conversion to Rome. Newman’s life as an evangelical, as described by Cornwell, could be substituted for the existence of most evangelicals today. They are as rootless and ill-connected to the Reformation as Newman was. They are also as ill-prepared to resist Rome’s seductive invitation as Newman was. They will likely be as shocked as Newman was by the realities of life as a devout Romanist.
ACTUALLY RELATED POSTS