The Catholic University of America

 Vinh Bao Luu Quang

Final Examination of Rev. Vinh Bao Luu Quang

For the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Friday, May 7, 2010 1:00 p.m., Caldwell Room 125


Rev. John T. Ford, S.T.D.


The Trinitarian Theology of John Henry Newman’s Parochial and Plain Sermons: 1833-1843

John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890) is well known for his Parochial and Plains Sermons, which were delivered between 1828 and 1843.  These widely read sermons have usually been treated as resources for spirituality, while their theological content has rarely been analyzed, even though these sermons have a noteworthy theological basis.  In particular, although Newman never wrote a treatise specifically discussing the Trinity, he frequently preached on the Trinity during his Anglican years in a way that was scriptural, theological, and pastoral.

Newman was also one of the leaders of the Oxford Movement, which was launched in order to promote the renewal of the Church of England and so “withstand the Liberalism of the day.”  During the decade of Newman’s involvement in the Oxford Movement (1833-43), when Tractarian theology seemed to be gaining widespread acceptance among Anglicans, Newman’s first principle was dogma and the defense of “fundamental doctrines”—particularly the doctrine of the Trinity.

This dissertation examines Newman’s Trinitarian theology in his Parochial and Plain Sermons during the first decade of the Oxford Movement (1833 to 1843) in relation to his personal theological development. His Trinitarian sermons are treated in chronological order according to the three periods (1833-34; 1835-38; 1839-43) of his involvement in the Oxford Movement.  This dissertation provides a detailed examination of his treatment of both the Trinity as a whole and the divine Persons in particular. In addition, this dissertation shows a dialectic between Newman’s Trinitarian theology and his experience in the Oxford Movement, as evidenced in his Letters and Diaries and other published works.  Finally, this dissertation shows that Newman’s Trinitarian sermons not only extensively employed biblical theology and patristic thought, but also were an integral part of Newman’s repudiation of “the Liberalism of the day.”

In sum, this dissertation provides a systematic chronological view of Newman’s Trinitarian theology during his years as a leader of the Oxford Movement, as well as a better understanding of the importance of Tractarian theology in the Oxford Movement’s attempted renewal of the Church of England.