Development of Doctrine

In 14 Book Corner on 2011/11/05 at 1:11 AM

This is Revelation: God’s mysteries opening up gradually . . . whereby little by little God makes Himself known.

St. Augustine wrote  that God in His mercy reveals his mysteries to man gradually in order that the whole world should experience “this saving proclamation, on hearing it should believe, on believing it hope, on hoping in it love.”

In his essay on THE DEVELOPMENT OF DOCTRINE,  John Henry Newman demonstrated that the theology of the Church is no random combination of various opinions, but a diligent and patient working out of one doctrine from many materials.  He explained the slow, painful, anxious taking up of a new perspective into an existing body of belief.

“The integrity of the Catholic development is still more evident when they are viewed in contrast with the history of other doctrinal systems.  Philosophies and religions of the world have each its day, and are part of a succession.  They supplant and are in turn supplanted.  But the Catholic religion alone has had no limits; it alone has ever been greater than the emergence, and can do what others cannot do.

Truth is ever consolidating itself, and, as time goes on, shining into broader day.  For while the devises of adversaries were extinguished at once, undone by their very  impetuosity-on heresy after another presenting its own novelty, the former specimens ever dissolving and wasting variously in manifold and  multiform shapes-the  brightness of the Catholic and only true Church went forward increasing and enlarging, yet ever in the same things, and in the same way, beaming on the whole race of Greeks and barbarians with the awfulness, and simplicity, and nobleness, and sobriety, and purity of its divine polity and philosophy.

Exclusivity, bigotry and intolerance are some of the ordinary charges hurled at the Church by those who hold: that truth and falsehood in religion are but a matter of opinion; that one doctrine is as good as another; that the God does not intend we should gain the truth; that there is no truth; that we are not more acceptable to God by believing this than by believing that; that no one is answerable for his opinions; that they are a matter of necessity or accident; that it is enough if we sincerely hold what we profess; that our merit lies in seeking not possessing; that it is a duty to follow what seems to us true, without a fear lest it should not be true; that it maybe a gain to succeed, and can be no harm or fail; that we may take up and lay down opinions at pleasure; that belief belongs to the mere intellect,not to the heart also; that we may safely trust to ourselves in matters of Faith, and need no other guide.”

Newman, John Henry ESSAY ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF DOCTRINE.  http://www.amazon.com/Essay-Development-Christian-Doctrine/dp/1616402520/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1310080803&sr=1-2


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