Newman and Teilhard: The Challenge of the East


  • Sion Cowell The British Teilhard Association



Newman, Teilhard, Eastern Fathers, Universal Christ, catholic


Teilhard greatly admired Newman for whom the Eastern Fathers had been his first masters. Teilhard himself was nourished on the ideas of the Fathers, especially the Greek-speaking Fathers, many of whom are present throughout his writings like Irenæus of Lyon, Origen of Alexandria, this man with an ‘extraordinary cosmic consciousness,’ or the Cappadocian Fathers, Gregory of Nyssa and Gregory of Nazianzus. Faithful to the vision of the Cosmic Christ in St Paul and St John, Teilhard was inspired by the evolutionary perspective of the Eastern Fathers. He was always aware of continuing their ideas within the framework of a universe in movement towards its final consummation in the Universal Christ. In this respect we think it important to stress that Teilhard’s reflection on the divinisation of the cosmos, the doctrine of original sin or apophatic theology, a theology that is practically unknown to the majority of western Christians today, comes very close in its broad approach to that of many contemporary Orthodox theologians. Teilhard was equally aware of the need to summon a ‘New Nicæa,’ a new ecumenical council to define ‘the cosmic face of the Incarnation.’ He feared that we were about to see a renewal of ‘the great conflicts of arianism’ in an evolutionary cosmos. Finally, Teilhard invites us to return to the roots of our faith—going through Newman and the Eastern Fathers—to allow us to advance together towards the reconciliation of the eastern and western churches so that the ‘one holy catholic and apostolic Church’ might ‘breathe again with its two lungs,’ according to Pope John Paul II’s much-loved metaphor. We have much to do…

Author Biography

Sion Cowell, The British Teilhard Association

Former President, The British Teilhard Association


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How to Cite

Cowell, S. (2005). Newman and Teilhard: The Challenge of the East. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 10(1), 50–65.