?s on doctrine and dogma


[left]what is the difference?
what is the process of something becoming doctrine and dogma?



This is from the Catholic Encyclopedia at New Advent:

. . .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.

The three classes of revealed truths. Theologians distinguish three classes of revealed truths: truths formally and explicitly revealed; truths revealed formally, but only implicitly; and truths only virtually revealed.

A truth is said to be formally revealed, when the speaker or revealer really means to convey that truth by his language, to guarantee it by the authority of his word. The revelation is formal and explicit, when made in clear express terms. It is formal but only implicit, when the language is somewhat obscure, when the rules of interpretation must be carefully employed to determine the meaning of the revelation. And a truth is said to be revealed only virtually, when it is not formally guaranteed by the word of the speaker, but is inferred from something formally revealed.

Now, truths formally and explicitly revealed by God are certainly dogmas in the strict sense when they are proposed or defined by the Church. Such are the articles of the Apostles’ Creed. Similarly, truths revealed by God formally, but only implicitly, are dogmas in the strict sense when proposed or defined by the Church. Such, for example, are the doctrines of Transubstantiation, papal infallibility, the Immaculate Conception, some of the Church’s teaching about the Saviour, the sacraments, etc. All doctrines defined by the Church as being contained in revelation are understood to be formally revealed, explicitly or implicitly. It is a dogma of faith that the Church is infallible in defining these two classes of revealed truths; and the deliberate denial of one of these dogmas certainly involves the sin of heresy. There is a diversity of opinion about virtually revealed truths, which has its roots in a diversity of opinion about the material object of faith (see FAITH). It is enough to say here that, according to some theologians, virtually revealed truths belong to the material object of faith and become dogmas in the strict sense when defined or proposed by the Church; and according to others, they do not belong to the material object of faith prior to their definition, but become strict dogmas when defined; and, according to others, they do not belong to the material object of Divine faith at all, nor become dogmas in the strict sense when defined, but may be called mediately-Divine or ecclesiastical dogmas. In the hypothesis that virtually revealed conclusions do not belong to the material object of faith, it has not been defined that the Church is infallible in defining these truths, the infallibility of the Church, however, in relation to these truths is a doctrine of the Church theologically certain, which cannot lawfully be denied – and though the denial of an ecclesiastical dogma would not be heresy in the strict sense, it could entail the sundering of the bond of faith and expulsion from the Church by the Church’s anathema or excommunication.


These are from the 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia:




spacecadet: I am preparing to dig into this myself. After reading the Catholic dictionary, all I could say was “wow” and I still did understand the subject significantly better. I went to dictionary.com; that helped. I think it will eventually become clearer to us. I’ll try and remember to e-mail you if I come up with something succinct.


My favorite way to explain the difference is that a doctrine is a truth of the truth. A doctrine becomes a dogma once it has been defined by a council or the Pope in conjunction with the magisterium. So the dogma is a defined doctrine, usually defined because questions have arisen about the doctrine.

Hope that helps :slight_smile:

Gracie :slight_smile:


Did your reply help?
Uhhhh, yeah.
I wish the other sources had been as concise before getting into the deep details. My brain no that big.



DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.