Doctrine or Dogma


#1

I find that I am becoming very confused by the assertions that this or that doctrine or dogma is defined infallible truth. Is there a difference between these two terms and if so what is it? Are Encyclicals always infallible and what degree of assent to them is required. Can encyclicals by later Popes supersede what is taught in those written by previous Popes? I have a thousand books, but so far have not been able to answer these questions which I assume are pretty elementary. Thanks for any enlightenment you all can give me.


#2

[quote=rwoehmke]I find that I am becoming very confused by the assertions that this or that doctrine or dogma is defined infallible truth. Is there a difference between these two terms and if so what is it? Are Encyclicals always infallible and what degree of assent to them is required. Can encyclicals by later Popes supersede what is taught in those written by previous Popes? I have a thousand books, but so far have not been able to answer these questions which I assume are pretty elementary. Thanks for any enlightenment you all can give me.
[/quote]

Try Ludwig Ott - why is it I can never remeber the title to a book when I need it?


#3

[quote=rwoehmke]Is there a difference between these two terms and if so what is it?
[/quote]

Dogma: The most solemn teachings of the Church, which can never be changed. These items are concrete Pillars of the Faith, without which the Church cannot exist. Example: Christ was both completely God and completely Man. Christ was curcified, died, buried, resurrected.

Doctrine: A solemn teaching of the Church, which can never be changed. Example: Ordination of Women. Regarding Correct Development of Doctrine: For example: Church understanding of suicide. The Church used to not allow a Catholic burial to those who commit suicide. But it was discovered that most people who commit suicide are not in a stable frame of mind, therefore they may not be culpable for their actions. The Church now allows them a Catholic burial.

Discipline: A directive or teaching of the church that can change. Example: Married Priests. Diciplines deepen our understanding of (but never contradict) Dogmas and Doctrines.


#4

[quote=otm]Try Ludwig Ott - why is it I can never remeber the title to a book when I need it?
[/quote]

Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma


#5

Thankyou both. The book looks very interesting. Pricey, but not out of sight like some of my textbooks were. Dick :thumbsup:


#6

The book Creative Fidelity: Weighing and Interpreting Documents of the Magisterium by Francis A. Sullivan, S.J., contains a ton of information about this.

For example:

When modern Catholic theologians use the term “dogma,” they are referring to a revealed truth which is part of the normative faith of the Catholic Church. It is important to know that the term has had thie precise sense in Catholic usage only for about two hundred years. One of the first to give it this precise sense was Philipp Neri Chrismann, in his owrk Regula fidei catholicae (1792), where he described a dogma as “a divinely revealed truth which is proposed by the public judgment of the church as to be believed with divine faith, so that the contrary doctrine is condemned by the church as heretical.”


#7

Another source: Richard R. Gaillardetz, By What Authority? A Primer on Scripture, the Magisterium, and the Sense of the Faithful.

Let us return to the image of the one beam of light. What happens if we place a prism in front of that beam? What we will see projected on the wall is not an undifferentiated beam but a plurality of colors spread across a spectrum. The prism might be thought of as human history. The unity of God’s revelation is refracted into a diversity of mediations in human history. As humans, our only access to the unity of the beam of light, the one revelation of God, is through the historical diversity of its manifestations.

This is why we do not number dogmas. Catholics believe that dogmas are but specific historical mediations of the one revelation of God. When we forget that, when we treat dogmas as if they were revelation itself, instead of mediations of God’s revelation, we flirt with a kind of fundamentalism. This Catholic fundamentalism is every bit as dangerous as biblical fundamentalism; in both instances a written text or statement is viewed as revelation itself rather than an inspired or Spirit-assisted testimony, manifestation or mediation of God’s saving reality.

In Catholicism, church teaching remains important, not as an end in itself, but because of the way in which it can direct our gaze toward God, illuminating for us the ever incomprehensible mystery of God.

For me, this quote seems to explain why, for instance, the Catechism doesn’t actually list or number the dogmas. I would have expected, of all the books published by the Church, that the Catechism would have listed the dogmas. The fact that it does not do so, might be explained by the idea that the dogmas are historical expressions of revelation, expressions that might be amplified or expanded or clarified even further, in the future. So to list them in the Catechism would perhaps falsely imply that no further development is possible, or that words have fully and totally captured the Mystery of God.

Of course, it’s also nice to have Ott’s boook around. :smiley:


#8

I have to wonder why.


#9

[quote=Hesychios]I have to wonder why.
[/quote]

You gotta meet Protestants half-way. :wink:


#10

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