Imagination and Belief- Newman’s Contribution to the New Evangelization

Thomas Szydlik


As the Church follows the call of John Paul II for a New Evangelization, she must consider how the individual person actually comes to belief. Bl. John Henry Newman, soon to be canonized, addressed this question in An Essay in Aid of A Grammar of Assent. According to Newman, religious belief is not just a logical acceptance of intellectual propositions. It is a commitment of the whole person to God, according to the image of God formed in the person’s imagination. (The imagination is that faculty possessed by every human person, which coordinates real life experiences and allows the person to comprehend the real world around him).It is by intentionally employing the imagination, rather than demonstrative logic, that the human person arrives at a belief that is well-grounded, neither cold nor fanatical. Accordingly, our evangelical activity, while never neglecting the truth of the Gospel, should seek to engage the senses and feelings of the human ­person and not merely the intellect.


Newman; Belief; Imagination; New Evangelization

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