Let me focus the thread just a little bit. Setting aside the off-the-cuff remark re ‘low hanging fruit’, the criticism of Pius XII’s Munificentissimus Deus seems to offer some focus. Firstly, there is the criticism that there is no biblical basis for the Assumption of Mary, and secondly, there is criticism of the exercise of the doctrine of papal infallibility in respect of Assumption of Mary. In respect of the first, so far as the Catholic and Orthodox churches are concerned, this or that teaching simply requires that it has a sources either in Scripture and/ or Tradition; this is not to say there are no sources in Scripture. In respect of the second, the same follows. The doctrine of Papal Infallibility stands or falls on its sources in Scripture and /or Tradition. If you are going to argue the matter as if Tradition has no importance and thus run a sola scriptura argument, you are going to have to present the biblical sources for sola scriptura.
82 responses to “Cathollaxy #1”
I don’t have to justify my beliefs to anyone.
If some dumb pipsqueak atheist or protestant troll wants to skin my knuckles, I will give them a bloody nose.
I never pick these fights.
I am sick of taking shit because I was born into a Catholic household.
Sectarianism can die with the 1950s – and it can stay dead.
Other than that, the evangelical/protestant (alternative lifestyle sects) smear that Catholics are not Christian is an ahistorical howler, it is utterly laughable given their belief in scripture alone is hypocritical and simply ignorant of what Catholics (the church) actually believe.
I will never post on this thread again.
Airline pilots back in 1989 found out to their dismay that the only freedom Australians enjoy is the freedom of religion for the freedoms inherit in the British freedoms were omitted in our constitution. Logic would suggest that the freedom of religion and the freedom of free speech would go hand in hand but the Israel Folau affair put paid to that one and now we have our only freedom, the freedom of religion that means we are free to worship, removed by the WA Police entering a place of worship during a service. Those police and whoever gave the order must be brought to justice and made to suffer the same fate Cardinal Pell suffered, solitary confinement for a long time.
February 5, 2022 at 11:33 am
Dot: You have made a lot of suspicious comments about the church and Irish nationalists out of hand and without provocation.
Me: No I haven’t.
Dot: Yes you have.
References please, including date, time and thread. Or re-post them here yourself including the date and time part.
February 5, 2022 at 11:25 am
Here are the biblical references for the doctrine, if you bothered to look (I doubt you are really interested):
None of them can by any wild stretch of extrapolation be read logically as stating, or even implying, that assumption/dormition happened specifically to Mary. FFS re-read e.g. Psalm 132:8 and ponder your own ludicrous credulity in relation to whoever told you that that could be the basis for Pius XII’s special effort.
You’re revealing your own biblical ignorance every time you post.
Honestly, you make the “Book of Revelation – seven hills – the Pope is the antichrist” crowd look like sober cautious literalists.
Waiting for “Dot’s Concordance” to explain why Psalm 132:8 proves assumption/dormition of Mary.
Just so tidy up loose ends.
Dot:Do you believe the liturgy is what Christians believe or not? Is it doctrinal?
The words are meant to be doctrinal, in that they are meant to be consistent with biblical truth. To the extent that the words of a liturgy were inconsistent with Scripture they would need to be changed. Churches do change the words of liturgy form time to time. That is, words in a liturgy do not in themselves have the authority of Scripture except to the extent they are quotations from Scripture.
The format is not doctrinal.
I will never post on this thread again.
Dot – That’s an A-grade flounce with pike and twin oakleaf clusters!
Especially since Dover set the thread up because of your comments.
Christianity is really really easy. One verse is all you need.
Of course you also have to understand it and do it. They’re the hard parts.
Our Christian brothers and sisters are under a great deal of pressure. We know little of what is going on in the background apart from a few brief pixels here and there.
If you’re going to debate the finer points of doctrinal difference, fine. These are not the foundations of saving faith and will vary from denomination to denomination, sometimes even person to person. They make for a stimulating intellectual exercise for those who are interested.
But beware of hubris. It has a way of turning people away from enquiring further about the very thing that’s most important. Even the picture of Pilate on the OT had him pointing to Jesus.
“I hope no reader will suppose that “mere” Christianity is here put forward as an alternative to
the creeds of the existing communions…. It is more like a hall out of which doors open into
several rooms. If I can bring anyone into that hall I shall have done what I attempted. But it is in the rooms, not the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals.
The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in. For that purpose the worst of the rooms (whichever that may be), is, I think, preferable. It is true that some people may find they have to wait in the hall for a considerable time, while others feel certain almost at once which door they must knock at. I do not know why there is this difference, but I am sure God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait.
When you do get into your room you will find that the long wait has done you some kind of good which you would not have had otherwise. But you must regard it as waiting, not as camping. You must keep on praying for light: and, of course, even in the hall, you must begin trying to obey the rules which are common to the whole house.
And above all you must be asking which door is the true one; not which pleases you best by its paint and paneling. In plain language, the question should never be: “Do I like that kind of service?” but “Are these doctrines true: Is holiness here? Does my conscience move me towards this? Is my reluctance to knock at this door due to my pride, or my mere taste, or my personal dislike of this particular door-keeper?”
When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall. If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the rules common to the whole house.”
(C S Lewis, ‘Mere Christianity’)
I suspect he was fulfilling prophecy figuratively Bruce, since when Peter had a brain explosion and cut off that guy’s ear Jesus said “Oi! Stop that!” and healed the ear up.
Plenty swords about but. The various sons of Satan quite like ’em.
Tradition is not tradition if it is in conflict with Scripture. Tradition and Scripture are mutually enhancing. Some of the earliest of hymns such as the 3rd century O Gladsome Light, which even at the time expressed traditional beliefs about the Holy Trinity, were expressions of faith before accorded scriptural exegesis down the centuries.
To be fair there is a mountain of low hanging fruit in health and wealth cults. Not to mention KJV cultists like Stephen Andersonites. Loads of proof texting and treating the Bible like a koran.
As for Anglicanism, how did the articles have you end up with women priests, then Episcopalian homosexual bishops married to men and abortion blessings unless something was fundamentally flawed?
It’s basically moving things out of the sin column into the Christlike column.
How can you do that?
Whatever your views on the honor due Our Lady, she always remains His mother .
And boy I get sick of the ‘any woman could have been his mother’ stuff I see spouted on the internet.
Again, most of the, strained, ‘I prefer this interpretation of this passage’ objections to Catholic doctrine is, I believe, mere justification for separation, because Christ only left one Church.
As for Anglicanism, how did the articles have you end up with women priests, then Episcopalian homosexual bishops married to men and abortion blessings unless something was fundamentally flawed?
Of course something’s fundamentally flawed. It’s called “fallen humanity”.
I’m not an Anglican but an Anglican might well ask what’s wrong with Catholicism that it has given us Pope Trotsky. The answer would be the same.
Presbyterian doctrine states that all earthly churches are “liable to compromise and error”. Does one leave such a church or fight within it? Probably each individual has to make the best decision they can and trust that God will forgive them if they get it wrong.
And it’s pretty clear it’s impossible to pin down ‘protestant doctrine’.
The doctrines of any particular Protestant denomination aren’t necessarily that hard to pin down. They are not necessarily the same on all points across different denominations.
If someone like Dot or you wants to make a sweeping generalisation about “Protestant doctrine” rather than addressing specifics it’s not the fault of Protestants that you find yourselves mired in confusion.
Tradition and scripture tackled:
One of our readers named Bernard recently wrote to me and asked if there really was any evidence that Mary was taken to heaven in body and soul upon her death, since the Bible seems to be silent about it, and even the early fathers of the Church say nothing about it. He had just read a book by a Protestant author who called Catholic belief in the Assumption the product of popular “sentiment and myth.” So, is it a doctrine we just have to accept with blind faith, because the Church says so, trusting that the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit?……
First of all, while it is true that the early Christian writers do not explicitly mention the Assumption of Mary, there is an ancient and curious silence about her bodily remains that cries out for an explanation. Sometimes, as we say, “silence” can be “deafening.” Karl Keating of Catholic Answers writes:
We know that after the crucifixion Mary was cared for by the apostle John (Jn 19:26-27). Early Christian writings say John went to live at Ephesus and that Mary accompanied him. There is some dispute about where she ended her life, perhaps there, perhaps back at Jerusalem. Neither of these cities nor any other claimed her remains, although there are claims about possessing her (temporary) tomb. Why did no city claim the bones of Mary? Apparently because there were no bones to claim, and people knew it.
Remember, in the early Christian centuries, relics of saints were jealously guarded and highly prized. The bones of those martyred in the Colosseum, for instance, were quickly gathered up and preserved; there are many accounts of this in the biographies of those who gave up their lives for the Faith [for example, the bones of St. Peter and St. Paul were widely known to be preserved in Rome, and the sepulcher of David and the tomb of St. John the Baptist are both mentioned in Scripture]. Yet here was Mary, certainly the most privileged of all the saints … but we have no record of her bodily remains being venerated anywhere.
Explicit mention of the Assumption of Mary begins to appear in highly embellished legendary accounts in the 4th century. We have a slightly more sober account of the event given by St. John Damascene in a copy of a letter he preserved from a 5th century Patriarch of Jerusalem named Juvenalius to the Byzantine Empress Pulcheria. The Empress had apparently asked for relics of the most Holy Virgin Mary. Patriarch Juvenalius replied that, in accordance with ancient tradition, the body of the Mother of God had been taken to heaven upon her death, and he expressed surprise that the Empress was unaware of this fact (implying that it must have been more or less common knowledge in the Church at the time)……
Secondly, it is claimed that there is no mention of the Assumption of Mary in Scripture. But I would argue (following the Catholic Biblical scholar and apologist Scott Hahn) that there is, indeed, an allusion to the mystery of the Assumption right in the very place we would most expect to find it if the doctrine were true: namely, in the writings of the Apostle St. John, the one into whose care our Lord placed His Mother at the hour of His death on the Cross , and especially in what may be the last of the New Testament books to be written, a book almost certainly written after Mary’s earthly life was over, the Book of Revelation…..
Thirdly, what the writer says is Analogy of Faith:
However, even all this might not have been enough to lead the Church to define the Assumption of Mary as a truth revealed by God. Something more was needed: what theologians call the analogy of faith. That means that every authentic doctrine revealed by God must be seen to “fit” with every other revealed doctrine. In other words, there must be a harmony among the truths of the faith – and certainly no contradictions between them.
Does the doctrine of Mary’s Assumption fit with the Catholic faith as a whole?
Of course, it does….
Fr Dwight Longenecker’s journey:
During the twenty years it took me to convert from a Bob Jones University student to a Catholic I considered many of the Marian dogmas to be pious opinions.
It was okay for Catholics to believe them, but why did they have to go and make them dogmas and therefore make it more difficult for me to join their church?
Then I came to realize that unless you have a full and complete understanding of Mary –which all the dogmas expressed–then you had a defective understanding of Jesus Christ the Redeemer and the complete extent of his saving work…..
What ‘sweeping generalisations’?
It’s impossible to keep up with the endless theologial beliefs of the thousands and thousands of protestant sects.
Baptists claim they aren’t protestants and river of blood their way back to John the Baptist*. Mormons polytheists, SDA claim Christ could have sinned, Jehovah Witnesses won’t even put Christ on a Cross. Solo scriptura, the sinners’ prayer o (a ‘work’ btw) faith alone aka sin license that is all that is required to enter heaven, predestination for the chosen few,
As I said you all spend an inordinate amount of time critiquing Catholic Doctrine, I see some excellent Catholic apologists online, many converts from protestant denominations, defending our Faith from constant attacks.
I used to see it all the time on the Catholic Answers forum as one after the other a protestant from this or that denomination would come in with the standard accusations.
Galileo, crusades, Mary worship, idolatry, works based, bible ignorance, vain repetition, praying to/for dead people, priest bashing and on and on and on
*some even claim the KJV is the original bible
Yet here was Mary, certainly the most privileged of all the saints … but we have no record of her bodily remains being venerated anywhere.
Maybe the answer is that Mary herself wasn’t regarded then with the veneration that was later bestowed on her (cf Luke 11:27-28, Mark 3:31-35 and Matthew 12:46-50). It was a fairly male chauvinist culture in those days as well. Or there may be some explanation of accident or happenstance by which the site’s location was forgotten. The lack of a tomb, or at least a “permanent” tomb, is necessary but not sufficient for the doctrine to be supported.
But in fact the claim that the tomb site in Jerusalem was only ever regarded as “temporary” seems question-begging; if the doctrine of assumption/dormition wasn’t formally attested till centuries later, how is it known that the site was regarded as “temporary” before the emergence of the doctrine?
a book almost certainly written after Mary’s earthly life was over, the Book of Revelation…..
Honestly, the logic leaps in that analysis of Revelation are Da Vinci Code level stuff. Even if one were to accept that Luke meant to analogise Mary with the Ark, and one were to accept that the woman with the 12 star crown is Mary, and to accept that she is again analogised with the Ark, that tells us nothing about how Mary got there. Why can’t she have got there by a “normal” resurrection of the body as attested to in the Apostles Creed? Answer: there’s nothing in the Bible which says she couldn’t have.
I stress I’m not saying the doctrine is false – no Christian should presume to say God couldn’t do it – but there’s a sheer desperation in the way which Catholic writers scrabble for grounds for dogmatising it.
The only thing that matters to this particulat Christian is my personal relationship with Christ the Redeemer. And by extension, the Trinity.
Catholicism in particular, and the churches in general, are cluttered with stuff that simply gets in the way of the simplicity of a deep faith.
My stint in the JTL at Ormond College simply reinforced to me the fact that the myriad churches, sects and denominations scattered across the globe are all the result of the various works of fallible man. When you have attempted to catalogue thousands of volumes and the millions of words written on the subject what stands out is that they are more often than not highly partisan to their preferred one in particular.
To claim supremacy of one over the other is, I expect, insulting to God. See: hubris above. Including my thinking I know the intentions of God.
I never commented on Catholic answers threads, was all just an opportunity to learn.
Most interesting when Mormon missionaries jumped in to win some souls and were met by ex Mormons who knew more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints than the missionaries, including being able to demonstrate doctrinal changes by reference to LDS documents.
Yes I’m seeing some genuine respect for Catholic beliefs on this thread.
I’ve got great respect for the Catholic Church, for devout Catholics and for most Catholic beliefs.
But not that one. To be clear, I respect the belief (even if I don’t have a belief about it either way myself). But for church authorities to say that having that belief is compulsory obviously invites the enquiry “on what grounds is it compulsory?”. And that linked article is what they come up with?
Let’s put it the other way round. At the time of the Donation of Constantine dispute the Pope claimed the title – written in the Latin alphabet – Vicarivs Filii Dei, broadly, delegate of the Son of God. Note, this was the Pope’s claim, not someone else’s.
When you add up the Latin letters in that title that have numerical value, Dclvviiiiii, you get 666.
The Book of Revelation says that the “number of the name” of the antichrist will be 666.
So why aren’t the extreme Protestant sects like Big Ian’s church in Belfast justified in claiming that the Pope is the antichrist? Answer – because it’s lunacy. Searching in Revelation for secret clues about historical (or supposedly historical) events is verging on Graeme Bird stuff.
And the same applies to that screed that was linked claiming that the imagery in that passage in Revelation is a secret clue confirming the doctrine of the assumption/dormition of Mary. In fact at least Big Ian’s crowd’s theory doesn’t have giant gaps in logic in it, even if it is insane. In addition to the fact that the passage tells us nothing about how Mary got to heaven, if the passage is meant as a literal reference to Mary in heaven, why is Mary giving birth to Jesus a second time? Answer – whatever John meant by that passage it wasn’t meant to be a literal description of objective facts.
Seriously, putting forward such a flawed mishmash as grounds for exercise of the Pope’s supposed infallibility brings Catholicism into disrepute much more than anything any Protestant could come up with.
You haven’t pretended to have deep respect for aspects of various Protestant sects’ beliefs that you find ridiculous, and nor would I expect you to. Dot started this with his drive-by sneer at Protestantism and now he’s gutlessed out, but while there’s a critique of Protestantism from a catholic viewpoint I don’t see why I’m expected to pretend to believe that Catholic doctrine is unassailable.
February 5, 2022 at 7:00 pm
Perhaps an appraisal of what may be considered edifying aspects of the 39 articles would further understanding all round. Working within and adhering to doctrinal boundaries need not be not the same as entrenching polarisations.
Alas, Franx, I’m not an Anglican. In fact when Roger put a link up and I read them I learned a few things I hadn’t been aware of.
I was wondering about Article XIII, saying that good works by non-believers weren’t pleasing to God. That seems to jar a bit with St Paul’s statement that the Gentiles are a law unto themselves – but maybe not logically inconsistent?
Had a quick look at xiii – and am simply conjecturing, because the article is there – but I read it as meaning something like, if an act, even though meritorious in some or all respects, is not done in accordance with the Divine Will, it is lacking. Essentially, the act cannot be good in truth if not grounded in the source of goodness. But I don’t know what it means for adherents to the Articles.
February 5, 2022 at 8:33 pm
Looks like that to me. But St Paul said that “the Gentiles” i.e. unbelievers have a conscience given them by God which enables them to have some discernment of right and wrong. It struck me as odd to think that if they’re exercising a God given discernment so as to choose right conduct that we can be sure that God doesn’t approve of that.
I’m not saying it’s wrong, but it did strike me as odd.
If you were there between 1979 and 1982 and your contemplations were disturbed by ruckus from the shallow juvenile hedonistic buffoons in the residential college I may owe you some apologies.
Missed you by a few years, Timothy. I was there in the mid to late ‘80s. I loved the environment and often joined the ruckus by going to lunch with the students. It was an interesting place to work.
February 5, 2022 at 5:45 pm
Actually the timeline in the linked article is instructive.
Pius XII declared the assumption/dormition of Mary to be dogma in 1950.
The article identifies as the supposed Scriptural foundation of the dogma an interpretation of Revelation (and other passages) by Dr Scott Hahn.
Dr Hahn was born in 1957.
That seems to corroborate what I’ve been saying all along. Pius XII dropped the Catholic Church right in it in 1950 with a totally unnecessary and stupid use of the supposed papal infallibility power, and the Catholic Church has been engaged in scramble defence on that issue ever since.
Article xiii – not sure that it means ‘good’ works for it only refers to ‘works’. If the acts are good works, then the good works can only be in keeping with what ‘God has willed and commanded’, irrespective of whether enacted by Gentiles or Christians. But if only ‘works’, and not grounded in the One who is good, then it becomes removed from Providence and thus a sin, on the part of Christians and Gentiles alike. On that basis, article xii does not contradict St Paul. Don’t really know what it means for Anglicans, though.
Article xiii – not sure that it means ‘good’ works for it only refers to ‘works’. If the acts are good works, then the good works can only be in keeping with what ‘God has willed and commanded’, irrespective of whether enacted by Gentiles or Christians. But if only ‘works’, and not grounded in the One who is good, then it becomes removed from Providence and thus a sin, on the part of Christians and Gentiles alike. On that basis, article xiii does not contradict St Paul. Don’t really know what it means for Anglicans, though.
Nothing like a Protestant vs Catholic flame war.
Satan and his allies want to persecute every good Christian, regardless of your denomination.
Discussion and debate with good intent on points of theology is worthwhile, but be careful about attacking the man, and losing sight of the greater battle again Satan and all his works.
I looked up Munificentissimus Deus on the internet and dover is right on that point – it contains the gist of the argument by Scott Hahn set out in one of Ivan’s links.
But the main point remains – nothing in any of the analogies or interpretations cited actually states or implies anything about how Mary got to heaven. The argument is all just “but surely God would have…” etc.
Again I stress I’m not saying it’s untrue – the issue is about declaring that there’s a moral obligation to auto-induce a state of belief in that doctrine.
Consider a devout Catholic who led a good life and died in, say, 1946 before Pius XII set the wheels in motion. Suppose that Catholic thought “the assumption/dormition might have happened, and that’s the Church’s teaching, but it isn’t dogma so I don’t have to worry that I personally can’t auto-induce a real belief in it”. Would such a Catholic have been in a state of sin?
If the answer is “no”, then Pius XII’s declaration of it as dogma is a very serious departure from one of the most important messages of St Paul’s teaching – people purporting to declare God’s word must not set unnecessary stumbling blocks in the path of those wishing to follow the Lord.
If the answer is “yes”, how would that be so? Doesn’t the Catholic Church distinguish between dogma and other Church teachings? Isn’t that why the declaration of the dogma includes a decree that anyone who fails to auto-induce the required state of belief faces the wrath of God? If Catholic doctrine is that even prior to 1 November 1950 non-believers in the assumption/dormition of Mary were in a state of sin, then isn’t Pius XII’s declaration superfluous? Shouldn’t Catholics have known already that they were required to believe it?
Note, I don’t believe in papal infallibility so it’s not up to me to suggest what might be proper subjects for the exercise of such a faculty. But of all the subjects that might be chosen, one of the most useless and potentially counterproductive would have to be a demand that people auto-induce a particular belief about a pure question of historical fact, for which there’s no historical evidence other than centuries-retrospective assertion and (more importantly) for which the Scriptures can be invoked only by assertions about implicit analogies which, to say the least, fail to establish the case logically even if accepted in full.
It was to reaffirm that the Assumption of Mary, like the triune nature of God, was not a matter one could reject and allow one to continue to consider oneself a Catholic.
So what’s the difference between declaring it to be dogma and merely stating it to be Catholic teaching without going so far as to declare it dogma? What changed on 1 November 1950?
This short prayer to the Glorious Virgin Mary has been prayed by Christians in troubled times since the Third Century.
We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God;
despise not our petitions in our hour of need,
but deliver us always from all dangers,
O glorious and blessed Virgin Mary. Amen
Saint John Henry Newman
In 1854, nine years after Newman became a Catholic, Blessed Pius IX solemnly defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Father Newman welcomed the definition which, confirmed a truth he already promoted among the Catholic people in the Oratorians’ busy mission in Birmingham. But the papal teaching was denounced by Protestants and even upset his high church Anglican friends, so he set out to explain and defend the sinless origin of the Virgin, her freedom from original sin. He based his arguments on the two sources that always guided his Mariology: the inspired Scriptures and the teachings of the Church Fathers in the first centuries of Christianity.
He cited eight Fathers of the Church to show that Mary is the Second Eve whose obedience reverses the disobedience of the first Eve. He celebrated her as the Mother of God, Theotokos, defined by the Council of Ephesus in 431. From the Fathers he understood that Mary is the “all holy one”, panhagia, the Mother who is uniquely ever-Virgin, aieparthenos.
He lost favour in Rome because of his caution over the dogma of papal infallibility, defined in 1870 by Blessed Pius IX.
Dogma puts it on the public record.
And while it is not to be rejected, the dogma can be discussed, found difficult, reinterpreted, and so on. Just as with the Trinity; also as with St. Paul who is dogmatically canonical yet controversial. Paradoxically, a dogma gives greater scope for an hermeneutic than does a teaching – exegesis re St Paul would be less rewarding were that author not in the canon.
February 6, 2022 at 5:05 pm
February 6, 2022 at 5:15 pm
So the answer to the hypothetical question that I posed at 1.40pm is “yes”?
But that raises a problem similar to that in legal analysis where a Court decision is presumed simply to declare the law as it always was.
I’ve read that the Immaculate Conception was very controversial within the Catholic Church before it was proclaimed dogma in 1854. So the opponents of that can be regarded as retrospectively not Catholic – or at least not Catholic till they surrendered their position after the dogma was proclaimed? (Same of course with any dissentient re the assumption/dormition pre 1/11/50.)
I get it that the whole concept of faith through grace requires clarity about “faith in what?”, so there must be some core of teaching which, if someone rejects, the Church can’t let that person be deluded into thinking they’re on the right path to salvation by conventional means. So of course the Catholic Church needs to be clear about what that core is.
But it seems to me that this whole infallibility/dogma thing does exactly the opposite, at least as used by Pius XII in 1950. How was someone before say 1946 supposed to distinguish the qualitative difference between assumption/dormition of Mary and other, non-dogmatic, teaching, so as to know that assumption/dormition fell into the “must believe” category? Presumably, pre 1946 at earliest, not because of any official pronouncement by the Church. Presumably all Catholic teaching is supposed to be Scripturally based, so even if it were asserted that a Catholic should have been aware of the analogical arguments about Revelation, the Ark etc., how would that distinguish assumption/dormition from other teachings? (Same with the Immaculate Conception pre 1854 which, likewise, it’s difficult to see how someone could be expected to infer its dogmatic status just from reading the Scriptures.)
How is someone now supposed to guess what non-dogmatic teaching will in a few year’s time be declared to be dogma? And if the answer is that they should just believe everything the church teaches, what’s the difference between dogmatic and non-dogmatic teaching?
The question you ask at 1.40 is not helpful.
As an analogy, it would be like asking whether those early Christians who had not followed scriptural texts which were only later declared canonic ( as the Bible) or who had followed texts which had not made the dogmatic canon, were sinning. What becomes declared as dogma is understood as a revealed truth, bearing not just human but also Divine authority. It is both limiting and freeing. One can believe yet need not necessarily be devotional towards the dogma. St Thomas Aquinas, btw, argued against the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, yet Dominicans value the Immaculate Conception as dogma. Obedience to true authority can be liberating … . And all this is a long way from article xiii, and might also be bordering on heresy.
As an analogy, it would be like asking whether those early Christians who had not followed scriptural texts which were only later declared canonic ( as the Bible) or who had followed texts which had not made the dogmatic canon, were sinning.
There’d be nothing unreasonable about asking that question. The answer would presumably depend on what they’d done or failed to do. Romans 2:14-16 would presumably apply to them as much as to an out and out “gentile”.
Obviously it was necessary to establish the canon so as to make available to the faithful clear guidance as to those things necessary and sufficient to salvation in the ordinary course, and to “banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God’s Word” as the Anglican prayer book used to say. If that had the effect of requiring people to change their ideas, well that had to happen unless it was to be expected that God would continue forever to provide salvation by some special dispensation instead of by making the truth clearly available. That is, in relation to matters essential to salvation, it was to be expected that God would establish a means for salvation in the ordinary course rather than leave the exception in Romans 2:14-16 be the primary operative means.
Was there some similar compelling reason for the declaration to be made in 1950? As I understand what dover is saying, he seems to be saying that Catholics ought to have known all along they were required to believe the doctrine and were therefore in a dangerous spiritual state if they didn’t. That is, the 1950 declaration isn’t the same as establishing the Scriptural canon so as to dispel ignorance or error. That leaves open the questions I asked – what difference did the declaration make? If the answer is “none” why did Pius XII make a declaration of dogma rather than just (if anything) reminding the faithful that the doctrine was Church teaching? Why is there any supposed distinction between infallible declarations of dogma and expressions of Church teaching generally? And how is a Catholic meant to know what’s dogma and what isn’t (except of course for matters expressly declared to be dogma)?
If dover isn’t saying that, and he’d apply Romans 2:14-16 in relation to the situation pre 1/11/1950, then presumably there must be some necessity about placing people in a spiritual danger they weren’t in before – i.e. if they don’t have, and maybe can’t auto induce, belief in the assertion of historical fact that is the doctrine, so can’t comply with the declaration, the declaration would make it harder for them to attain salvation than would otherwise be the case. As I said above, to place a unnecessary burden on the faithful would seem contrary to the message of St Paul. That is, there would need to be a reason, essential to spiritual wellbeing, to place Catholics in a position that they weren’t in before. (Which would invite the enquiry why it hadn’t been done for the previous 18 or 19 centuries.) It would be pretty much saying that it’s a necessary condition of salvation in the normal course to believe the doctrine. That seems very steep in relation to ideas which, to put it neutrally, don’t emerge clearly from the Scriptures. (No-one’s explained the apparent gaps in logic re Scriptural basis for assumption/dormition I referred to above, and the same issue would arise in any case in relation to the Immaculate Conception, which I understand was deeply controversial, making it somewhat remarkable for it to be claimed that belief in it should be made a condition of salvation in the ordinary course.)
Neither explanation really seems adequate.
February 7, 2022 at 9:21 am
I agree, but it is worth noting –
The Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference determined that, in addition to all the Sundays in the year, the only feast days to be observed in Australia as holy days of obligation are the solemnities of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Decree of Promulgation became effective on 16 September, 2001.
Yes, communal observation, liturgically, as the Church, is an obligation 15 August – in Australia; not a universal obligation, though. But the question about dogma was to do with salvation by way of ‘auto induction. Hence the comment in reply was about dogma specifically in relation to personal devotion in contradistinction to the way in which various provinces of the Church may observe that dogma.
dot asked on the OT why, at the time of the Reformation, the Church of England didn’t join the Orthodox Church.
There were overtures made, if not by English bishops, then by some European based reformers, but they came to naught essentially for two reasons.
1. The Greek Orthodox Church was under the Ottoman yoke and was preoccupied with its own survival. Iirc, a Greek Orthodox patriarch did review a Lutheran doctrinal statement in the 17th C. but no fruitful dialogue resulted. Communications between the two churches at that point would have been fraught with many difficulties, not least linguistic.
Which brings us to…
2. The Reformation represented a revival of the Augustinian doctrines of grace in the Western church. As such it was not likely to be well received by the Orthodox, who rejected Augustine’s doctrines of original sin & grace. While Augustine’s doctrines had been given conciliar authority at the councils of Carthage (418), Ephesus (431) & Orange (529), a semi-Pelagian reaction to them set in among monks of southern France (John Cassian, et. al.), which came to represent the views of the Eastern Orthodox Churches on the doctrines of original sin, predestination and the priority of God’s grace over human endeavour.
That, in short, is why the CofE, and the churches which came out of the Magisterial Reformation generally, did not draw closer to the Orthodox Church. The existence of the Orthodox CHurches, however, was used polemically against the claims of the papacy.
The Bible tells us we aren’t going to have absolute proof of any doctrine so all of them are to an extent matters of faith.
And, as I said above, it is necessary to have some defined core set of beliefs which the church says to people “if you don’t believe these things you haven’t really got to the stage where God’s ordinary means of salvation can work for you”.
In the case of Jesus’ life death and resurrection we have the Scriptures, and in particular the Gospel of John, with statements like “this is the disciple who has told us these things…” and “these things are told to you that you might believe…”, and we have the martyrdoms of the apostles like Peter and John for proclaiming the gospel, which give us grounds to accept the recorded miracles, the resurrection and Jesus’ claims about Himself. Those aren’t “proof” but they’re grounds logically supporting belief. The progress of the first century AD church is very hard to explain on any other basis than that those narratives are in substance true. And when we have Jesus Himself in the Gospel pretty clearly confirming the doctrine of the Virgin Birth (Mark 12:37) it’s not any sort of stretch to believe that either. That is, we aren’t just ordered to believe, we’re given some grounds for that belief. And the New Testament itself tells us what the apostles preached as the necessary means of salvation, thus answering what the core beliefs are. And the great advantage God has bestowed on us is that they don’t change. (We did note above the application of Romans 2:14-16 to the interim state of confusion, if any, that well intentioned Christians were in between the end of the Apostolic Age and the settling of the Scriptural canon.)
In the case of the Immaculate Conception and the assumption/dormition, they aren’t mentioned in the Scriptures, there’s no hint in the Scriptures that the apostles preached them as a necessary component of salvation, and there’s no mention of belief in them as a catalyst for martyrdom in e.g. the story of Stephen or James or the foreshadowing of Peter or Paul’s martyrdom.
That doesn’t mean they aren’t true, but they very clearly stand on a totally different footing than the core beliefs preached by the apostles as recorded in Scripture.
It should be apparent from this that someone might well believe what the apostles are recorded as saying was necessary for salvation but have no belief either way on the Immaculate Conception and the assumption/dormition. To tell such a person that they are outside the ordinary means of salvation until and unless they auto-induce that belief seems to me to be to place a stumbling block before them.
Franx seems to be suggesting that “dogma” actually isn’t a required belief of every Catholic. If so, then the objection I’m making would fall away, but I’d be left wondering what the point of the declaration of dogma was.
It may be that I’m simply incapable of understanding what the difference between dogma and other church teaching is.
Or are you saying something quite different to what I had understood?
If, as Franx seems to be saying, there’s no requirement for ordinary Catholics belief in that dogma, is the difference between dogma and church teaching applicable only in some way to clergy or other teachers of church doctrine? E.g “you’re allowed to question church teaching in general but not dogma” or something like that?
I’m not sure that that wouldn’t raise a number of new questions, and in any case obviously there’s no point in me speculating about it.
Belief and devotion are not quite the same thing.
Belief can be a matter of will. Devotion a matter if proclivity.
I believe that the blessed mother was assumed into heaven. Still, I need not have a particular devotion to this dogma; indeed, I personally may not be at ease with this dogma, yet reflecting and meditating and contemplating on the Assumption can and does lead to an insight into eternal truths. It does. As to whether or not I choose to contemplate on this mystery, well, there again, I have the will. And faith exists at the level of the will no less than that of reason. So I am suggesting that a dogma such as that of the Assumption presents a reality at the level to be apprehended by the will, not necessarily to be affirmed at the level of inclination. In which case your objection does not fall away since the dogma is not about proscribing salvation but enlivening it.