CHAPTER III.

DOCTRINAL DEVELOPMENT (Continued).

CAUSES OF DEVELOPMENT OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE IN THE CHURCH.

WE saw in the last chapter that the entire revelation of Christian doctrine was given once for all exclusively to the Apostles, by them deposited in the Church, which was constituted by Christ to be for all time the sure guardian and infallible organ of Divine truth. It hence follows that the theology of the Catholic Church must be ever substantially the same as that of the Apostles. Consequently in the Church's progressive teaching, development can have place that is what we termed objective, accretive to Apostolic doctrine; but whatever development discoverable must be such only as is subjective and non-accretive to the original deposit. Development of this latter sort there has certainly been both in Christian doctrine and worship. This is plain to every one who reads the page of the Church's history during her well-nigh nineteen centuries of existence. Development in this sense is, indeed, so prominently marked, as to appear to many who look only on the surface, as though it was a real change and variation from the original type. Thus we know that certain doctrines now stand in a very different relation as regards the faithful from that which they once held; so too what were formerly considered to be matters of theological opinion, and more or less open to discussion, have been since defined to be revealed articles of Catholic faith. Doctrines and religious practices, moreover, which, so far at least as extant ancient records bear witness, were but little noticed or entirely unknown in earlier times, have, under new aspects, been since brought into prominence with large expansion, and, having obtained fresh motives and sanctions, are now universally embraced by the people's faith and devotion.


 

 

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