Doctrine vs. Dogma


#1

What is the difference? How would you explain these to a group of high school students?

Kathy


#2

All Dogma is doctrine, but not all doctrine is dogma: dogma is merely doctrine that has been authoritatively defined by the Church.

Here’s a snippet from the Catholic Encyclopedia’s entry on dogma: “But according to a long-standing usage a dogma is now understood to be a truth appertaining to faith or morals, revealed by God, transmitted from the Apostles in the Scriptures or by tradition, and proposed by the Church for the acceptance of the faithful. It might be described briefly as a revealed truth defined by the Church – but private revelations do not constitute dogmas, and some theologians confine the word defined to doctrines solemnly defined by the pope or by a general council, while a revealed truth becomes a dogma even when proposed by the Church through her ordinary magisterium or teaching office. A dogma therefore implies a twofold relation: to Divine revelation and to the authoritative teaching of the Church.”

Hope that helps. Remember that oftentimes doctrine is only defined when it is challenged and the Church issues a definition in response—that’s why not all doctrine is dogma.


#3

[quote=Sherlock]All Dogma is doctrine, but not all doctrine is dogma: dogma is merely doctrine that has been authoritatively defined by the Church.
[/quote]

However, the glossary of the CCC completely equates the two terms and defines both as “the revealed teachings of Christ which are proclaimed by the fullest extent of the exercise of the authority of the Church’s Magisterium. The faithful are obliged to believe…” (etc.etc.).

DaveBj


#4

Dave,

You’re right—or rather, the CCC is right (of course!). I think the distinction is that there are some obvious doctrines that have never been challenged within the Church, and thus may not have been specifically addressed: for example, that there is a God.


#5

In ‘Pocket catholic dictionary’ by Fr John Hardon S.J. Doctrine is defined as any truth taught by the Church as necessary for acceptance by the Faithful e.g. the Real Presence… What makes it doctrine is that the Church authority teaches that it is to be believed…Dogmas are those doctrines which the Church proposes for belief as formally revealed by God.’


#6

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