SPLIT: Doctrinaire Minutiae: How Important Is It?


Perhaps you mean well, but it does not help anyone to perpetuate the argument that (1) the Catholic Church has given the scriptures to everyone else, and actually owns them - when Jews and Muslims also use the same scriptures, or part of them; (2) Luther gave anyone a corrupt and condensed version - when he applied correct rules of interpretation in the first place, and when, secondly, the ‘missing’ deuterocanonical books are now commonly included in every Bible.



Does the universal Church teach that Jesus is sacramentally present - body, blood, soul and divinity - by means of transubtantiation or not?

Does the universal Church teach that baptism brings about regeneration or not?

Does the universal Church teach that infants should be baptized or not?

Does the universal Church teach that man is justified by faith along or not?

Does the universal Church teach that after receiving salvation, it cannot be lost or not?

Does the universal Church teach that women can be ordained or not?

Does the Church accept conflicting and contradictory doctrine within its ranks or not?

Does the fact that unity DOES NOT exist within the Body of Christ create scandal before an unbelieving world or not?

Does the lack of unity diminish the testimony of the Church which is supposed to reveal that Jesus was sent by the Father or not?

Hope this helps. :tiphat:


Please state first who our is? Then we can move ahead with clarity, perhaps.


You are attempting to put words into my mouth, and deliberately mis-state my point. You are of course referring to the doctrines of the Catholic Church, and there are many Christians world-wide who would subscribe to them. There are also many who would not. But that is not an issue if we are talking about the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, the universal church of Christ.

The advantage of Christ’s diverse but universal church - which he knew, because he was divine, would ultimately arise - is that there is strength in diversity, and as I have argued, diversity keeps interpretation, however divinely inspired, clean. Justification by faith alone, ordination of women, transubstantiation - all these differences in understanding have not been ironed out in over 500 years, either within the Catholic Church itself, or among the mainline denominations of Christendom. Why do we think they can be ironed out now in one swell foop?

If you insist on one divinely inspired interpretation which is defined, owned, promulgated and protected by one denomination, that is the Catholic Church, which is equivalent to the One True Church of Christ, I fear that we will end up with the same terrible bifurcations we see in Islam today. Strength in diversity. And tolerance.

My understanding about scandal would be that only if the Catholic Church wishes to create a scandal, would there be one. The other mainline denominations are pretty laid back about ownership, supremacy, dogma and status: my United Church of Canada laypreacher sister says they are too busy working in the community to worry about who believes what, and who owns what, and all the finer points of doctrine. Small detail, large picture.

Sola Scriptura . . .

No, Carol.

Forget about the Catholic Church for a moment.

Based on your understanding of Protestantism, please answer the questions exclusively using doctrine as understood by Baptists, Methodists, Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Pentecostals and non-denominationalists.

Please explain how the ONE universal “church” - made up of all these different groups - can answer each of the questions I asked above.

Thanks in advance.


Yes, and I do stand corrected on the point that Church Teaching is also logical and internally consistent from a rational point of view. I think my response was lopsided.

Yes, a good point for the need of a teaching magesterium, and better catechesis in general. I find the CCC very difficult when I am after a single concept. One finds relevant information all over the place!

Wow! Let me know, so I can get photos! :smiley:

You are right, of course, the Bible has been used to support slavery and the subjugation of women. However, the magesterium is constrainted in that they must remain consistent with what came before, and that narrows the field immensely. Whatever is taught has to proceed from the previous 2000 years upon which it is founded, so it will not have the same liberty to get as far afield.

This is a good question. I know that many of the early fathers are used, and one can trace a thread of church teaching all the way back using these “breadcrumbs”. I suspect that the teaching, being that of the Apostles handed down, is protected by Christ’s promise. However, know also that there are different levels of infallibility.

I don’t think there is any argument about the need for individual faith, however, after reading another post further up the thread, I have to admit that it is not necessarily required. I recall taking a class in the Bible as Literature in college, and there are many ways in which the reader can properly interpret entirely without faith. However, when it comes to using scripture as divine guidance, an approach of literary criticism is inadequate.

I am not sure what you mean here by “lock”. Of course the scripture is open to any and all. I am not at all convinced that Muslims consider the scripture as holy. I have seen no evidence to that effect, and much to the contrary. In any case, their opinion is of little relevance since they consider Jesus a liar. I can certainly concede that the Jews have great reverence for the scripture, and they, like Catholics, consider themselves appointed by God to be the stewards thereof.

Well, since Ratzinger wrote nothing without faith, then it is automatically included!


I cannot do that. I have been baptised into the Canadian Baptist Church, but have been serving in the world and away from churches for many years. I have been in temples, mosques, shrines and synagogues, looking at faith in a global context. I have had no interest in doctrinaire minutiae, but in the faith of believers - of whatever faith - and in the comfort that profound faith brings to those who believe, venerate, and submit, in the midst of terrible grief, poverty and dereliction, undereducation, hunger, disease, and plague.

I have suggested - perhaps it is old stuff - that a degree of ecumenism is not only possible but desirable among the churches of Christendom, if we are to avoid the tragic example of Islamic sects in Iraq and region, each of whom are convinced - to the death - that they, and they alone, own the Absolute Truth.

I attended the High Anglican Church around the corner this morning, instead of my RCC which I attend 5-6 times a week, where I attend my adult enquiry classes, home masses and my spiritual direction sessions. At Christ Church (Anglican), the service was virtually identical to that I enjoy at mass at St John Fisher - except that as a baptised Christian I took communion.

I am a simple person. I want to continue to walk with Christ, to work through him, to stand with him, and to be in him, and he in me. Doctrine and dogma, as we see it on this Forum, are getting in the way of my relationship with Our Lord, and I regret that deeply.

I’m sorry that I am unwilling and unable, equally, to answer your question.




I won’t take any further issue then, but I will point out that this is an apologetics forum.

Debating and defending the minutiae of doctrine and dogma is what we do here. It’s why this particular forum exists.

And in this arena, the differences matter a great deal precisely because the division created by the Protestant “Reformation” are a great festering wound in the body of Christ. Explaining and defending the Truth is part of the healing process.

Hope this helps. :tiphat:


doctrinaire minutiae is pretty negative–who would be interested in it put like that?

When a man has faith, I understand that in two ways. He has both the Content of Faith, and he makes the Act of Faith.

Content of Faith is the truths proposed to our minds by the Catholic Church for our belief.

Act of Faith is the movement of our will to embrace those propositions as good, in other words, to love them.

Holding them with our minds, loving them with our wills, we live them out in our lives.

That’s how we are faithful to Our Lord.


Is the truth of the teaching to be determined by the number of people who accept it?

I think this is a baseless assertion. What keeps the interpretation “clean” is the power of the Holy Spirit, not the diversity of the audience.

These doctrines may still be wrinkled outside of the Church in other ecclesiastical communities, but not from within. The RCC and the Orthodox have never had any lack of clarity or change in these doctrines since the teaching of Christ was handed down by way of the Apostles.

You have to consider that Catholics don’t see themselves as a “denomonination”. This concept is a by-product of Protestantism. Jesus commanded us to be One, as He and the Father are One. You are right that claiming to be the sole deposit of the fullness of divine revelation does create bifurcations. When people don’t like the teachings, they leave. This has been going on since the beginning of sacred history.

I may have missed a post about scandal, so I am not sure what that one is talking about, so I will go back and read. Since the United Church of Canada does not see itself as having been appointed by the Almighty to guard and teach “all truth” then it does not feel obligated to protect the doctrines of Christ. It can put it’s full attention to the social expression of those beliefs, safeguarded by the successors of the Apostles.


OK, I can go away. Or I can watch the play out.

Debating and defending are one thing however, and sharing, negotiating and understanding are another. Perpetuating the great festering wound of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation has no merit. I do not think it is the protestant movement which tends to perpetuate the great wounds of the schism which happened for reasons which have been repeated ad nauseam. It happened a long time ago, and much has happened since then, there remains much to do with regard to humanity. Going over and over and over the same ground from different perspectives, making demands on the good nature and goodwill of The Other, and simply badmouthing each other is quite simply useless. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

If we could let go of our demands on each other, within Christendom, it would not be necessary to undertake these debates which detract from the true calling of every Christian: to serve humanity, and by doing so, to serve God. Yes, I agree that fully informed, perhaps even divinely inspired, interpretation of the records, experiences and history of Christendom is essential. And perhaps it is the responsibility - but not the prerogative - of the Catholic Church to carry out this responsibility on behalf of Christendom. But let it end there, so that all Christians - the dockworker in Burma (a Buddhist country), the farmer in Zambia (a newly Christian country), the single mother in the flavela in Brazil or Mexico (old Catholic countries) can, in their own ways, honour and worship Our Lord generally within the context of the authorised interpretation of Christian resources, but not necessarily as members of a so-called Single Church of the Absolute Truth.

I am sorry I do not fit the model of an apologeticist (?). I nevertheless have a profound interest and stake in the matter of sola scriptura as a would-be Catholic. I am sure you will understand.


Is dogma important?

Here’s what Chesterton had to say about it:

Whether the human mind can advance or not, is a question too little discussed, for nothing can be more dangerous than to found our social philosophy on any theory which is debatable but has not been debated. But if we assume, for the sake of argument, that there has been in the past, or will be in the future, such a thing as a growth or improvement of the human mind itself, there still remains a very sharp objection to be raised against the modern version of that improvement. The vice of the modern notion of mental progress is that it is always something concerned with the breaking of bonds, the effacing of boundaries, the casting away of dogmas. But if there be such a thing as mental growth, it must mean the growth into more and more definite convictions, into more and more dogmas. The human brain is a machine for coming to conclusions; if it cannot come to conclusions it is rusty. When we hear of a man too clever to believe, we are hearing of something having almost the character of a contradiction in terms. It is like hearing of a nail that was too good to hold down a carpet; or a bolt that was too strong to keep a door shut. Man can hardly be defined, after the fashion of Carlyle, as an animal who makes tools; ants and beavers and many other animals make tools, in the sense that they make an apparatus. **Man can be defined as an animal that makes dogmas. As he piles doctrine on doctrine and conclusion on conclusion in the formation of some tremendous scheme of philosophy and religion, he is, in the only legitimate sense of which the expression is capable, becoming more and more **human. When he drops one doctrine after another in a refined scepticism, when he declines to tie himself to a system, when he says that he has outgrown definitions, when he says that he disbelieves in finality, when, in his own imagination, he sits as God, holding no form of creed but contemplating all, then he is by that very process sinking slowly backwards into the vagueness of the vagrant animals and the unconsciousness of the grass. Trees have no dogmas. Turnips are singularly broad-minded.


Thank you. Your statement on the content of faith is that of a truly faithful Catholic Church adherent. However, the point that is being made is that there are other interpretations of Christian faith which many regard as equally valid. And I did make the point that when we talk about faith, we are also talking about people of other faiths - Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Muslims, etc.

A flat statement that the content of faith are the truths asserted by the Catholic Church is not helpful for some of us.


Hey Randy,., you know Carole is in trouble with some deep-seated biases, and can’t answer your questions from reason… and afterall, faith and reason go hand in hand.:rolleyes:

Anyway, there really is only One Universal Church… known to all men as the Catholic Church. … matter of fact, there is (according to the original and only meaning of the word church) only one Church in the world… the original. Any group that is not part of the Catholic Church in full, is simply a “faith community”, and only the passage of time and constant mis-use has allowed them to add “church” to their name.

Shame on them all, I say, shame on them all… I’m a gonna get me a loyer, and sue the pants off’n them varmits.:mad:



So Carol, what does the Church do about it? Do they water down the message? You know that can’t happen.

You mentioned in an earlier post “negotiations”. That smacks of compromise. Compromise can be addressed in stressing how to present a message, but the message itself cannot be compromised!


[FONT=Arial]From guanophore (147219)[/FONT]

Is the truth of the teaching to be determined by the number of people who accept it?

Of course not.[/FONT]

I think this is a baseless assertion. What keeps the interpretation “clean” is the power of the Holy Spirit, not the diversity of the audience.

Somehow, the power of the Holy Spirit is less strongly present at some times than at others. We know the Magisterium is meticulous in its interpretations; its forerunners have not always been as particular, especially when responding to an outside challenge. When any public official is working on his own, he is accountable to no one; when he is accountable to his superiors and to the public (and in the case of the Church to God Almighty) he is working under close supervision. I would anticipate the outcome of his enquiries and interpretations, and the recommendations he makes, might be either slightly or dramatically different in each case. I would assume that if he is accountable, his reports will be as meticulously prepared as possible.

These doctrines may still be wrinkled outside of the Church in other ecclesiastical communities, but not from within justification by faith alone, ordination of women, transubstantiation**

*] *The RCC and the Orthodox have never had any lack of clarity or change in these doctrines since the teaching of Christ was handed down by way of the Apostles. We know from evidence presented in the Keating letter that these issues are under review, at least in the United States – the position of women in the Church for example. There have been major changes, in my lifetime, in the approach to divorce and annulment. Both doctrines (policy) and practice adjust and shift over 2000 years. And the Church recognises this in its various communiqués.

Originally Posted by [FONT=Arial]Carol Coombe [/FONT]
If you insist on one divinely inspired interpretation which is defined, owned, promulgated and protected by one denomination, that is the Catholic Church, which is equivalent to the One True Church of Christ, I fear that we will end up with the same terrible bifurcations we see in Islam today. Strength in diversity. And tolerance.

You have to consider that Catholics don’t see themselves as a “denomination”. This concept is a by-product of Protestantism. Jesus commanded us to be One, as He and the Father are One.

Just because it is an idea that arose along with the reformation of Christendom does not mean that it is wrong. Catholics may not see themselves as a denomination within the global Christian community, but those who are not Catholics may see them as such. There is a discussion thread on this – unless closed for lack of charity. And of course we would all have preferred to be one, as Jesus commanded. And I am arguing that we are.

You are right that claiming to be the sole deposit of the fullness of divine revelation does create bifurcations. When people don’t like the teachings, they leave. This has been going on since the beginning of sacred history.

You have perhaps misunderstood me. Bifurcations, splits, schisms are threatened when one whale decides to swallow the whole caboodle of krill. Now the krill may individually, and even communally, have respect for the giant of a whale, but they know that they want to live their lives as krill, and so they bog off in the other direction. It’s fine for the whale to be a whale, but only up to the point where it decides to have krill for lunch. The leaving is not snitful, but lifesaving.


I think this is not perhaps quite accurate: see Keating letter on liberal Catholic submissions.

There is strength is truth. Otherwise, why did Christ come?


I fear that your word “diversity” really equates to “division.” After all, if we can disagree about justification, why can’t we disagree about the triune nature of God? Or even the existence of God?

No. Diversity is meant to mean diversity. Please see my note on the nature of Canadian-ness, with reference to Chinese Canadians, French Canadians, First Nations Canadians, Portuguese Canadians etc. And yes, everything can be up for discussion, but again, Canadians are regarded as the most boring people on earth because they have never had a war: instead they sat around a table and talked themselves silly until they came to an agreement that served the interests of all parties (at least for the interim).

I think work in the community is certainly a good thing, but it is merely social work if the worker is not concerned with the truth of God. If we love others out of mere sentiment, and not because God is Love (because he is a Family in Himself) and loved us first (because He made us in His image), while the work may be good, it is not the SAME work as Christian work of agape.

Oh gosh, when I am out making an impassioned speech about mitigating the impact of HIV on children in Beijing, am I supposed to think *Now is this caritas and agape, or is this just an attempt to make a speech that will change people’s minds and save people’s lives? *Surely our actions derive from the spirit of agape, caritas, compassion, healing that are infused in us to the extent that Christ is within us?

What you are suggesting might be an admirable sentiment from a human perspective, but it is not Christianity. I do not say that in rancor. I’m only interested in hard definition here.

I think perhaps it is not right or wise to separate humanity from Christianity: that is what Christ is all about, our human-ness, our humanity, our individual divinity. Christianity is the recognition of the equal divinity of each individual. I like hard definition too. I insist on clear definition of terms, and I want the question to be laid out clearly too, before attempting a reply. But in this case, I think there is no alternative to linking Christ and his people absolutely.


As you have set this out without reference to RCC, I can reply likewise I think. I love the idea of people like Richard Branson, Bill and Melinda Gates in their humanitarian mode, Bono, Steve Jobs, the founder of the Grameen Bank (Nobel prize winner), Mother Theresa, Alfred Schweitzer, and in the past Pierre Trudeau, Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth I, Peter the Great of Russia among others.

They broke the bonds, they thought out of the box, they thought out of their sox, they felt and expressed, they enlightened us as to new truths. They were not bound by piling doctrine upon doctrine - it would have stifled them completely. Neither were they shiftless enough to model a turnip. They brought us all to new understandings, new sensitivities, and new responsibilities.

How can we apply this to our understanding of our common Christian heritage, and those who enlighten us about it?


I agree with Chesterton. People without dogmas are turnips. I’m not saying you’re a turnip. You are extremely dogmatic, though I’m sure you can’t see it. You are dogmatically opposed to anyone who actually believes something is true.

Bringing up GK Chesterton is related to the CC. Maybe you aren’t familiar with him, but he was a Christian apologist. He was a champion of truth. Many people come to the faith because of reading his books or listening to his debates. He started out as a Universalist, converted to Anglicanism, then finally to Catholicism. He defended the Catholic Church years before he became a Catholic.

Some of the people you mentioned I know; some I don’t. I’m not sure if they’re all Christians. “Breaking bonds” for its own sake doesn’t impress me at all. None of them enlightened us with new truths, because there are no new truths. You mistake “truth” for “fads.”

Mother Teresa was a dogmatic Catholic. She was no relativist.

Bono I like as a musician.

Winston Churchill I admire for his guts in opposing Hitler when no one else did.

Queen Elizabeth I tyranized Catholics in Ireland, England, and Wales. Hundreds of Catholic priests were put to death (via hanging, drawing, and quartering) for saying Mass. If they renounced the Catholic faith, their lives would be saved. (Your knowledge in history is seriously lacking if she is a role model for her “humanitarian” mode.)

Bill & Melinda Gates are giving money to fund “population control” and abortion. They are big contributors to the culture of death as is their friend, Warren Buffet.

Being a humanitarian doesn’t automatically make you a Christian, but you seem to think it does. The Nazis and Communists claimed to be serving and aiding the poor, and look at their record.


John Paul II (Ut Unum Sint):

Here it is not a question of altering the deposit of faith, changing the meaning of dogmas, eliminating essential words from them, accommodating truth to the preferences of a particular age, or suppressing certain articles of the Creed under the false pretext that they are no longer understood today. The unity willed by God can be attained only by the adherence of all to the content of revealed faith in its entirety. In matters of faith, compromise is in contradiction with God who is Truth. In the Body of Christ, “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6), who could consider legitimate a reconciliation brought about at the expense of the truth? The Council’s Declaration on Religious Freedom Dignitatis Humanae attributes to human dignity the quest for truth, “especially in what concerns God and his Church”, and adherence to truth’s demands. A “being together” which betrayed the truth would thus be opposed both to the nature of God who offers his communion and to the need for truth found in the depths of every human heart.

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.