Author Topic: Where do new dogmas come from?  (Read 257 times)

Offline Daniel

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Where do new dogmas come from?
« on: January 23, 2019, 08:47:35 AM »
The 'traditional' view says that there are no new dogmas. Revelation ended upon the death of St. John, and all the Church's current teachings are things which were known by the Apostles and which were merely passed down to us intact through word of mouth and apostolic succession, protected by God from error.

But this doesn't seem to be what's going on. Take the Immaculate Conception, for example. We Catholics today believe in the Immaculate Conception, but even as recent as St. Thomas Aquinas's day we see that not all Catholics believed in it, and there's no direct evidence that any of the earliest Christians believed in it. It seems that the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was not passed down from the Apostles but is something that came about through the philosophical and theological speculations of later theologians.

Consider also, the dogma of papal infallibility. How do we know that the Apostles believed in papal infallibility? How do we know that papal infallibility isn't just something that later popes made up?

Speaking of which, how do we know that God protects the oral traditions from corruption? We know that God most likely doesn't protect the scriptures from all corruption... maybe He doesn't protect the oral tradition either.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2019, 08:52:55 AM by Daniel »
 

Offline Arvinger

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Re: Where do new dogmas come from?
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2019, 11:40:20 AM »
There are two distinct things - revelation of a doctrine and making it binding on the faithful. Everything the Church dogmatically teaches was revealed by God before the death of the last Apostle. However, some of these doctrines have been recognized by the Church and made binding on the faithful only much later.

But this doesn't seem to be what's going on. Take the Immaculate Conception, for example. We Catholics today believe in the Immaculate Conception, but even as recent as St. Thomas Aquinas's day we see that not all Catholics believed in it, and there's no direct evidence that any of the earliest Christians believed in it. It seems that the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was not passed down from the Apostles but is something that came about through the philosophical and theological speculations of later theologians.

Not at all - the dogma of Immaculate Conception is revealed in Sacred Scripture. In St. Luke 1:28 the angel greets Our Lady using the word kecharitomene (which literally means "graced one"). This word was used only once more time in the New Testament, in Ephesians 1:6 to described justified Christians in the state of grace. This shows that Our Lady was in the state equivalent to the state of sanctifying grace before the Cross. She did not need the Cross itself to be saved, unlike all of us - for this to be possible she had to be sinless and immaculately conceived.

That some Christians did not believe in Immaculate Conception prior to its dogmatic definition is not a problem, since ithe doctrine was not binding on the faithul untill it was defined by Pope Blessed Pius IX. Same way, some Christians argued for and against canonicity of some of the New Testament books (Eusebius of Caesarea records in Ecclesiastical History that in the 4th century there was consensus about only 16 out of 27 books of the New Testament) before it was defined dogmatically.

Quote from: Daniel
Consider also, the dogma of papal infallibility. How do we know that the Apostles believed in papal infallibility? How do we know that papal infallibility isn't just something that later popes made up?
We know it first and foremost because the Church teaches it dogmatically. If the Church defined it dogmatically it is sufficient evidence that this was revealed in the 1st century, since the Church is incapable of erring in her dogmatic teaching.

This comes back to epistemology - first you have to accept what the Church teaches, and later, knowing that this must be true, try to understand that. To examine the dogma in light of your own reason before you accept it is essentially rationalism, and that epistemological error lead Protestants off the rails.

Having said that, even in the realm of apologetics there are good arguments for Papal infallibility.

St. Luke 22:31-32: 31 Simon, Simon, behold, Satan asked to have you, that he might sift you as wheat: 32 but I made supplication for thee, that thy faith fail not; and do thou, when once thou hast turned again, establish thy brethren.

"You" in verse 31 is in plural, Our Lord refers to all of the Apostles as being targeded by Satan. However, "thee" in verse 32 is singular - Our Lord prays only for St. Peter's faith not to fail, distinguishing him from other Apostles. Likewise, the promise from St. Matthew 16:19 entails Papal infallibility: everything St. Peter binds on earth and looses on earth will be bound and loosened in Heaven. Heaven cannot commit to something erroneous, which means that binding and loosing by Peter must be infallible.

Quote from: Daniel
Speaking of which, how do we know that God protects the oral traditions from corruption?
Because the Church dogmatically teaches so.

Quote from: Daniel
We know that God most likely doesn't protect the scriptures from all corruption...
Scripture is infallible and inerrant, we know that. Even on a rationalist playground, there are excellent refutations of so-called "contradictions" and "errors" in Sacred Scripture.

Quote from: Daniel
maybe He doesn't protect the oral tradition either.
We know He does, He revealed it and the Church teachs it dogmatically.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2019, 11:48:38 AM by Arvinger »
 

Offline Philip G.

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Re: Where do new dogmas come from?
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2019, 12:04:31 PM »
Daniel - Ecclesiastically speaking, papal suzerainty and collegiality are to blame for this confusion.  They are two sides of the same coin.  Thank God you do not possess one of those coins.
For the stone shall cry out of the wall; and the timber that is between the joints of the building, shall answer.  Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and prepareth a city by iniquity. - Habacuc 2,11-12
 

Offline John Lamb

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Re: Where do new dogmas come from?
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2019, 12:09:05 PM »
There are two distinct things - revelation of a doctrine and making it binding on the faithful. Everything the Church dogmatically teaches was revealed by God before the death of the last Apostle. However, some of these doctrines have been recognized by the Church and made binding on the faithful only much later.

I'd distinguish here. All revelation is absolutely binding on the faithful and at all times. It's just that we are bound to hold explicitly whatever the Church herself has explicitly declared, and at the very least implicitly whatever the Church has implicitly declared. So Aquinas may not have held the Immaculate Conception explicitly, but he did hold it implicitly: the proof is that his mind was subject to the Magisterium, and if the Magisterium had explicitly declared the Immaculate Conception back then St. Thomas no doubt would have reformed his opinion and professed the Church's dogma. The faithful are not bound to hold every dogma explicitly, because in fact it would take a Master of Dogmatic Theology to come to an explicit knowledge of every single Catholic dogma. They are only obliged to hold the dogmas implicitly, and explicitly whichever dogmas have been made sufficiently known to them.

Indeed, there are no new dogmas. What there are is more and more explicit definitions of already existing dogmas. The Immaculate Conception is a dramatic example only because it took so long to define, but look at the Trinity: the early Church Fathers are somewhat vague in their discussions of the Trinity and the equality of the Persons, and only after some theological development and the Council of Nicaea did the Fathers begin to speak of the Trinity in the exact terms we use today. Does that mean the Trinity is not an apostolic dogma, but an invention of post-Nicene Christianity? No, Christians always held the Trinity, it just took some time for the theological vocabulary to develop in order to provide an immutable dogmatic definition of it. It's the same with the Immaculate Conception and any other dogma.
As many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name. (John 1:12)
 
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Offline Kreuzritter

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Re: Where do new dogmas come from?
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2019, 12:38:37 PM »
No, St. Thomas didn't hold anything at all "implicitly", as a belief being in principle a conscious act of a subject, such a Scholastic concatenation of words as "implicit belief", like "implicit faith", is in its literal sense a nonsense. What he believedin was the truth of divine revelation and infallibility of the Church in teaching it, and yes, if that belief were held to, he would also believe any doctrine upon discovering it to be taught by the Church. That might be what is meant by the term in the last analysis, but that's not the same thing as throwing two mutually-exclusive concepts together with words and then running with them as though one had created a new reality, because that is exactly the turn taken by this semantic dance but a little way down the road (for a case in point, take a look at the anachronistic juggling act of reading "implicit faith" into appearances of "faith" in the New Testament).
« Last Edit: January 23, 2019, 12:41:43 PM by Kreuzritter »
 

Offline John Lamb

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Re: Where do new dogmas come from?
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2019, 12:48:19 PM »
What about the Samaritan woman. Christ says explicitly, "You adore that which you know not [implicit faith]: we adore that which we know; for salvation is of the Jews."

Or the Canaanite woman whom Christ one moment compares to a dog separate from "the children of Israel", and the next moment rewards her "great faith" [implicit faith] by a miracle.

As many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name. (John 1:12)
 

Offline John Lamb

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Re: Where do new dogmas come from?
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2019, 12:52:16 PM »
Question for Kreuzritter: did the early Church Fathers like St. Irenaeus and St. Justin Martyr hold the Homoousion implicitly? Because they didn't seem to hold it explicitly. Yet we know they held it in some way because otherwise they would be heretics not Church Fathers.
As many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name. (John 1:12)
 

Offline Kreuzritter

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Re: Where do new dogmas come from?
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2019, 04:06:21 PM »
Did Justin Martyr believe what was taught by the 8th Council of Constantinople and 4th Lateran and Vatican Council on the nature of man? He certainly seems to have contradicted them explicitly with his belief in a tripartite division of man, yet we know he held them in some way, right?

The truth is I don’t know how exactly he understood, in his way of categorising the world,  God and his relation to Jesus Christ, and attempting to compare it, justly, with the later conciliar definitions requires us to make many assumptions, both in trying to understand his meaning and in reading back our own understanding of those definitions into checking the agreement. I’ll just take it for granted that he loved and worshipped Jesus as God and leave it at that, whether or not he could express it in the “right” language.  What I do know is he didn’t do what it is impossible to do, namely, speak a silent sound, think and unconscious thought, move in a still motion, or hold an implicit belief. I’m also pretty sure that heresy, as a failure of ones personal faith, requires pertinaceous denial of something one knows is taught by the Church, and Justin Martyr can’t possibly have been guilty of that in this instance.
 

Offline Kreuzritter

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Re: Where do new dogmas come from?
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2019, 04:13:12 PM »
Question for Kreuzritter: did the early Church Fathers like St. Irenaeus and St. Justin Martyr hold the Homoousion implicitly? Because they didn't seem to hold it explicitly. Yet we know they held it in some way because otherwise they would be heretics not Church Fathers.

I’m fine with “in some way” meaning “some form of”, just as I’m fine with “implicit belief” as the idea of someones faith dictating that he would believe something if only he knew it is taught by the Church.

But I’m not fine with the term, for reasons explained.