VII-1 - Un dogme sans histoire (2002)

Revue des Facultés de Théologie et de Philosophie


Pierre Gauthier - An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine by John Henry Newman

When he wrote his major Essay in 1845, John Henry Newman had become aware of the relative inadequacy of Vincent de Lérins's criterion (quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est) and attempted to refine the criteriology of the development of dogmas. In the first section he starts with demonstrating the need for such a development, owing in particular to obscurities in the Scriptures: all in all, dogmatization works analogically as "fulfilment" in relation to prophecy! In the second part the author tries to make a distinction between genuine development and doctrinal corruption. He sets forth seven criteria for discernment in this respect, from "preservation of identity" to "lasting vigour". This work, which was to lead Newman to Catholicism, is a real "Discourse on method" in the theological field.

Jean-François Chiron - Attestation and determination of faith in dogmatizing infallibility from the 17th century up to our time

The wording of the dogma of the Roman pontiff's infallible magisterium, as it was formulated by the First Vatican Council, does not clearly show that when the Pope speaks ex cathedra (determinatio fidei), he is a witness to the faith of the Church (attestatio fidei): the idea was to try and put an end to old controversies by avoiding to look as if pontifical acts were submitted for consent by the bishops as representatives of the faith of the Church. However, at a time when papal infallibility is back on the agenda, now from another point of view, we note that the problem, dealt with by preterition in 1870, is still relevant today: when the Pope settles a controversial issue by stating that it falls within the province of the ordinary and universal magisterium, his statement constitutes a real determination that goes beyond the mere attestation of the faith of the Church: the problem is to find out how to show the articulation that must exist between these two levels.

François Bousquet - Dogmas, Dogmatics and Dogmaticians Dogmas

Dogmas and dogmatics do not always have a good name. The author of this article wants to emphasize their role in the necessary discernment for asserting one's faith and having a coherent Christian doctrine. Christians do not have the right to deceive their contemporaries about the foundations of hope. The author also wants to point to possible excesses linked to an inflation of doctrinal authority, typical of a time in the age of modern reason when the authority of history expands, while the ways of exercising rationality become increasingly varied and complex. After a brief historical review of the concept of dogma, three fields are addressed: dogma and history, dogma and authority, dogma and the Scriptures. Throughout the article, the author underlines the need for the Church to check the way in which the Scriptures are interpreted, so that preaching may be in line with the Word of God. As a conclusion, the author shows how the current work of dogmaticians is being enlarged to include fundamental theology for the major issues under consideration: new evangelization, ecumenism, interreligious dialogue.

René Virgoulay - Structuring facts and meaning within dogmas

What may the interconnection of facts and meaning be within dogmas and under what conditions? The answer to this question requires considering facts in all their dimensions and acknowledging that they are intelligible, with this intelligibility not being exhausted at the level of the subject of history. It also requires acknowledging the existence of a polysemia through which facts may be given several interpretations. Another point is the refusal to consider the extrinsic view of dogmas which also underlies both intellectualism (speculation detached from facts) and pragmatism (practice not receptive to ideas), despite the opposition between the two. This will pave the way for a suitable interconnection between facts and meaning that is required by incarnation.

Thierry Wanegffelen - Modern-day Catholicism invents the Dogma of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - The driving force of controversy

The history of dogmas should take into account the inter-church dimension of the controversies that marked the history of the Church. The "anti-Lutheran" aspect of the Catholic designation of mass as a "sacrifice" should be noted, for example. Paradoxically, although the Reformer challenged this designation as from 1520, we cannot but acknowledge that it had only been recently introduced and was not very much yet in circulation! It was only gradually that the Catholic doctrine was to evolve on this particular topic, which cannot therefore be called "traditional".

Bernard Meunier - How dogmas came to be

Christian Antiquity (particulary the 4th and 5th centuries) provided us with the first dogmas of the Church. This article tries to understand the reasons behind the dogma-formation process, which was not something that was required a priori by Christianity. After acknowledging the importance of doctrinal deviations and divergences in the emergence of authority (that of the ecumenical council), the author seeks to specifically define the church role of dogmas and their theological role by highlighting their essentially negative nature (barring the way to errors) and the way in which they are intrisincally indissociable from the context in which they are born. In this way, the dogma-formation process is not limited to providing a "corpus of dogmas" which would merely play a catechetic role. Finally, the author tries to delimit the creative dimension of dogmas and their paradoxically liberating role.