Un-necessary Dogma & Cafeteria Catholics?

Two questions:

  1. I don’t see where papal infallibility or the assumption of Mary being dogma are necessary for salvation - so why make them mandatory? Teaching is good, but when you make a mandatory “rule” you risk more division, and I can’t see division over things not necessary for salvation.

  2. Are “Cafeteria Catholics” really Catholics? Seems to me a Catholic is to submit to ALL church teaching?

Do you believe that Christ works within the Church to preserve his body from error on matters of faith and morals? Do we have a hope in full, bodily and spiritual communion with God?

These are central matters of faith. And as you know, dogma is defined in the case of divisions and dispute. Concilliarism had been a dispute within the western Church for hundreds of years until it was put to rest at Vatican I. Mariology (and remember that both Catholic and Orthodox view Mary as archetype of the Church and communion of believers, and Mariology is not its own thing but really certain applications of ecclesiology and Christology) had been degraded in the west more and more as the centuries passed since the Reformation and modernism also was degrading the body as being essential to the person. These dogmas settled and reaffirmed these issues.

It wasn’t done with the intent of adding to the list of beliefs needed to be Catholic. It was done to define and reaffirm issues, but once defined by the Church it’s settled. It’s less about individual beliefs in the list and more about whether your believes the Church can settle these issues to begin with.

And the Church is the body of Christ. Ecclesiology is very closely tied into Christology. Mariology is very closely tied into ecclesiology and Christology. I suppose one way to proceed is to really try to understand that these are not independent things or pronouncements, but to understand how they are all Christological.

I’m such a rambler. As to cafeteria Catholics . . . Well, there are different senses on this. Once Catholic, you are always Catholic. There is an indelible mark on you. Still, to live as a Catholic is to live in assent to your priest, Bishop, and the Church.

Indeed, just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean you should dissent. I don’t understand algebra but I don’t object to teaching it.

Please no apology for rambling - I thank you for taking the time to share this much information.

I have to humbly admit my knowledge of faith in general is pretty small, so when you share it’s like giving a crumb to someone that’s REALLY HUNGRY.

I have been listening to a long on-line lecture of church history. It’s pretty clear the Catholic Church did quite a bit of bad stuff, but then thru the Reformation so did most of the protestants.

Then I learned about Calvinism, and it hit me as really off base that God would choose some to be saved, and some not. I don’t see that even close in scripture. Then I learn that LOTS of protestant denom’s are based on Calvinism - which I pretty much instantly rejected.

Still trying…

Thanks Wesrock

There are parts of the Bible that, at first glance, don’t seem to me as necessary for salvation. In fact, argument could be made, and was made by some early Christians, that having a written “New Testament” was an unnecessary invention. This innovation by the Magisterium was divisive, as was the Magisterium’s decision to exclude the great majority of plausible scriptures.

If you look at a cathedral, it is hard to see how this buttress is necessary, but it may be supporting something else not visible until further analysis. In a play by Shakespeare, it is hard to see why this scene is in there, but the third time you see the play you now see how it helps set the mood for something else coming up.

But why the definition of the Assumption, in 1950? Here’s my personal IMHO: in the 1960s some Catholic and Protestant writers pushed the idea that Jesus was only human. They depicted him as a revolutionary, who promoted equality, led the poor against the rich, no supernatural connection at all. Liberation theology.

Other writers depicted Jesus as only spiritual. They taught he was not an actual physical individual, but a trend, a feeling that existed around a community, about 2000 years ago, to lift aspirations of people; that spirituality is a goal in itself. The New Age movement.

Perhaps the Assumption dogma reinforces both the supernatural, and physical realities of Jesus. (All that is just my opinion). Or maybe I am wrong, and it holds up something else that won’t be apparent yet. I do see, now, why it was crucial for the Church to oppose Arianism, though at the time the struggle against it would have seemed divisive and unnecessary, and not needful for salvation.

The best book to explain dogma is “Orthodoxy” by G. K. Chesterton.

Is that an individual’s decision to make on doctrines ? We defer to the authority of the church. We can question or try to better understand, but we are not individual popes.

However, I am not sure the context is entirely appropriate here. Our salvation is not dependent on an intellectual exercise. In other words, there is not a bible exam at the gates of heaven. If you want to be part of the church with fullness of truth, then you have that decision.

Some Catholics are not aware of the fullness of truth. Perhaps they are not true Catholics, but that is between them and God

Markie Boy, you may find this essay an interesting read:

Upon This Rock by G. K. Chesterton

He addresses, among other things, the notion that some Catholic dogmas are unnecessary.

Thank you - the article by Chesterton is great so far - I need to re-read when I have time.

One thing I saw in my history lecture - is that the Catholic Church fought a LOT of heresies, over and over. They defended and kept true the Christian faith.

One of my good protestant friends and former pastor was showing me how we need to excuse some of the errors of the early reformers, as they were working things out. The amount that the Church kept right in the face of so much battle, revolt and rebellion is really amazing.

I am starting to see history has proved what Jesus said in Matthew 16:

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

When one looks at what the Church has survived - is there any other group, government, organization or structure that has stood 2000 years?

That alone may be case enough.

  1. Dogma, by definition cannot be “unnecessary”.

  2. I’m not going to engage in this issue, because the term “cafeteria Catholic” is subjective and can be interpreted as pejorative by some.

I stand corrected - un-necessary Dogma is a bit of an oxy-moron. I often feel like the moron part without the oxy part:).

This short YouTube video by Scott Hahn packs a lot of information in under 10 minutes on the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Assumption.

Asking if the Marian Dogma’s are necessary is almost like asking if Jesus fulfilling what was foreshadowed was necessary.

Terms like “Cafeteria Catholic” or “CINO” (Catholic in name only) are generally seen as pejorative so I do not use them. In any case, they usually refer to those who dissent on moral issues, not doctrinal. Very few people can actually accurately define papal infallibility or the Assumption of Mary.

  1. I agree that neither is necessary, but then I’m not Catholic ;). And you’re right, it is divisive, I myself was a Catholic who didn’t agree with either, particularly papal infallibility for example. But in the end to be Catholic is to submit to those dogmas as they’re not optional from a Catholic POV which is why they’re dogmas and not simply teachings.

  2. I asked myself that question for a long time as I was definitely someone who could have been classified as “Cafeteria” (though I never saw it as pejorative as it was an apt description). Personally for me the answer was finally, No. I couldn’t really call myself Roman Catholic since I did not agree with the Church on many of its teachings, along with other disagreements/problems unrelated to teaching. To continue to do so for me was hypocritical at best, downright lying at worst. :shrug:

I love Scott Hahn. His approach is more scriptural, of course, and he comes from a reformed protestant upbringing, so it makes sense. This information is still good.

Markie Boy, I had suggested in another topic doing research into the way Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) thought of Mariology’s role within the Church and in paticular the Assumption. Just wanted to throw that out again if you hadn’t had a chance to look into it yet. It’s not just about interpreting scripture or tradition, but about the place it has in Catholic beliefs and why it’s important.

Also, I liked your last post! :thumbsup:

Can anyone expand on this?

In short, no other organization or governing body has maintained consistent teaching on any number as issues for even half the time the Church has been around. There are actually very few governing bodies that have existed intact for that amount of time, let alone remained unchanged on key moral and social issues, as has the Church.

Generally, when we Catholics make reference to this fact, it is to reaffirm the necessity of a visible hierarchy and core to the faith to prevent the abandonment / rejection of morals as time passes. Addition evidence frequently presented to reinforce this necessity is the fact that pretty much every Protestant ecclesial community has abandoned moral positions they once held inviolate, such as with birth control, abortion, premarital sex, divorce and remarriage, homosexual acts, etc. The Church has remained constant on these positions for 2,000 years, while most Protestant bodies have abandoned them in fewer than 500. (Most in far, far fewer than even that; with many being ecclesial bodies being formed nowadays without ever having acknowledged the moral law.)

We also use it as evidence of Christ’s claims that “the gates of Hell shall not prevail against [the Church],” as you alluded to in an earlier post. If all of these other belief communities have abandoned their moral principles to keep with the times, there only two options. Either those moral Truths were not Truths at all, and they were in error for teaching them; or those Truths ]are Truths, and they are in error for abandoning them. Either potential demonstrates a lack of guidance by Christ, because the errors are not simply held by the believers, but rather promulgated by the faith itself.

I hope this helps. Please ask if you desire further clarification.

Not sure what you want expanded on. I think that it kind of speaks for itself. No human institution can stand on human power alone and survive for that long in my opinion.

  1. That is a little like asking why bother having family traditions when they can cause fights between siblings. These are integral to our life and identity - they are a cause for joy and peace primarily.

There is also the question of whether these two specific teachings were already so universally believed and taught that their promulgation actually was not “new teaching” at all… That perhaps the Faith really already included these things and free and deliberate dissension from them meant grave sin… especially the Assumption.

  1. Yes and/or no, depending on what you mean. If you search CAF you will find this discussed at length.

Hi Markie.

I would say it’s a system of beliefs. One can not say i believe in mathematics, i just don’t believe in addition. They all are intertwined.

The other day on this site we were discussing original sin and a protestant said well, if we are all born into original sin then that means Jesus was too since he has a human nature.(paraphrase) I responded that this is not possible since the blessed mother was conceived immaculately. End of objection lol.

You said in another post how the church has fought off heresey for 2000 years and those words are so true. They compiled the bible, gave it chapter divisions and preserved it for the world. Plus conquered many heresies that attempted to tear the Church apart. One would think non catholics would at least credt the RCC for that much but they just do not, outside this forum. They either rewrite history or are totally igorant of it imo.

Cafeteria catholics are protestants who attend Mass.


I want to amend/clarify this FTR. A deviation from the material of the “sensus fidei” doesn’t seem to be grave matter unless one recognizes it as a part of the sensus fidei, which would essentially be a violation of conscience in matters of faith. Now, if something was taught by the ordinary magisterium, depending on one’s understanding that it is indeed taught (and how clearly it has been taught is a contributing factor to one’s responsibility to know it has been taught), same thing. Otherwise it is not a violation of the virtue of faith.

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