Some non-Catholics make it a practice to accuse the Catholic
Church of continuously "inventing non-Biblical new doctrine". This is yet
another false charge made by those,
"...who deride what they do not
understand...", 2Peter 2:12.
Doctrinal development is the on going teaching by the Holy Spirit to the only
Church which Jesus Christ founded, the Catholic Church. Holy Scripture makes
this abundantly clear:
"I have yet many things to say to you,
but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears
he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to
These are powerful verses. We must examine them
closely. Did you notice the futuristic tone in them? The word "will" indicates an emerging and ongoing process and with
not a hint of an ending, and how many times was it repeated in just those two
The first sentence implies that knowledge cannot come all at once,
but slowly over time, simply because the wonders of GOD cannot be digested all
at once by our puny human minds.
The last part is self explanatory when it
says, "things that are to come", obviously more future tense.
more on the all important second sentence which clearly says that the Holy
Spirit will guide the Church into all the truth. That statement excludes tens of thousands
of churches simply because truth is one. Only one Church could possibly
have all the truth. All of the rest are teaching only their "opinion" of what is the
truth. Personal opinion are not guidance by the Holy Spirit. If all of
the thousands of Christian churches were in possession of all of the truth, then
isn't it just plain common
sense that there would be only one Church? Just look around and compare these
various sects. One says we must worship on Saturday, another says, no, it is
Sunday. One baptizes infants, another says you can't do that. One ordains women,
another says that is not Biblical. I could fill many pages of different
teachings of the thousands of sects, but I think you must see my
Thus, Holy Scripture, the Word of Jesus Christ Himself, has
clearly laid the foundation for greater understanding of revealed truth over
"To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given,
to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ, and to bring to
light (for all) what is the plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God who
created all things, so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made
known through the Church to the principalities and authorities in the
heavens. This was according to the eternal purpose that he accomplished in
Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness of speech and confidence of
access through faith in him."
Scripture is clear that it
is the Church which Jesus Christ founded which dispenses the truth of
There are many levels of learning and proper interpretation of
Scripture. One of the most important tools are the "senses" of Scripture. In order to properly
interpret Scripture, we first must determine which sense of
interpretation we will be using.
There is first, the literal interpretation,
and then the spiritual interpretation, and more yet. Each sense is further
broken down into sub categories. Non-Catholics generally interpret the whole
Bible literally, except for John
Chapter 6 (which many of them claim to be figurative or symbolic), and pay
little attention to the other senses for the most part. So, many verses have
several meanings depending upon the sense being used for interpretation. This is
where the Pope and the Magisterium enter under the divine guidance of the Holy
Spirit to interpret the deeper meanings of these verses.
non-Catholic Protestants, Fundamentalists, Evangelicals, etc., reject the
doctrine of Purgatory simply
because they cannot literally find the word in scripture, yet there are many
verses in Scripture which point to Purgatory explicitly in literal and other
senses, even though the word itself is not written. The same is true for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin
Mary. The same people reject it because they cannot see it literally, but
yet it is there implicitly in Scripture.
Much doctrinal development comes
from Apostolic tradition which has been passed down and preserved by the
Catholic Church for almost 2000 years. Reformists rejected Apostolic tradition,
by failing to separate it from man-made tradition. It is literally and
explicitly stated in Scripture that we are to hold to the Apostolic traditions
in many verses such as in 2Thessalonians 2:15,
"So then, brethren, stand
firm, and hold the teachings that you have learned, whether by word or by
letter of ours."
The "word of ours" can mean nothing other than
Apostolic Tradition. Church Apostolic tradition is Catholic, and when the
Protestants broke from the Church in the Reformation, they could not take Catholic Church
traditions with them so they have tried to condemn them. However, they did take
the Catholic Bible with them, and promptly mutilated it by removing seven books
which had been part of the canon for over 1100 years. By removing the Books
of Maccabees, they cut themselves off from a very good verse in support of
Purgatory in 2Maccabees 12:46. These books were removed by one man who had
absolutely no authority
whatsoever to do so. Martin
Luther was that man and it was his opinion that Purgatory did not exist. I
must point out that a personal opinion
may have absolutely no bearing whatsoever on doctrinal truth.
is a sample of "Doctrinal Development", and it is straight from Holy
In Acts 15:1-28, read of a decision which was made by the first Pope (Peter) and the other
Apostles (together with Peter were the early Magisterium), in conjunction with
the guidance of the Holy Spirit (verse 28). This was the very first Church
Council, the Council of Jerusalem and was held in about 50 A.D..
literally nothing written in Scripture, and thus no Scriptural guidance
regarding the question of mandatory circumcision for gentiles. By the process of
"doctrinal development" a decision was made by those who had the authority.
Here is another
Find the word "Trinity" in Scripture. It is not there literally
just like purgatory, but it is there nevertheless. The Trinity was defined by
the same process of "doctrinal development" as used in the Council of Jerusalem,
in the Catholic Council of Nicea in 325. This was well over two centuries after
the last book of the New Testament was written. So if those who make this false
charge believe in the Holy Trinity, how then can they reject "doctrinal
development", the process which gave that title to them? In doing so, they would
have to admit that they would be forced to reject the title "Trinity" as well.
Here are a few more examples:
For those who deny the process of
"Doctrinal Development", ask yourselves these questions:
Do you believe
that Jesus Christ is GOD?
This doctrine was defined at the Catholic Council
of Nicea in 325.
Do you believe Jesus Christ is one person with two
This was defined at the Catholic Council of Chalcedon in
Do you believe that the Holy Spirit to be consubstantial with the
Father and the Son?
This was defined at the Catholic Council of
Constantinople in 381.
All of the above are results of "Doctrinal
Development" as performed by the Catholic Church.
So there is nothing
"new" in doctrinal development as enacted by the Catholic Church. It is simply a
deeper understanding of what has previously been revealed by
divine revelation. An acorn containing divine public revelation,
called the 'deposit of faith', and left by GOD and His Holy Word to the
primitive Church which Jesus Christ founded, has been undergoing an "unpacking"
process by that same Church for the past 2000 years. That acorn has now grown
into a large and beautiful oak tree, the Catholic Church. The unpacking process will continue indefinitely. See John
The last prophet of public divine revelation was Jesus Christ and
there will be no new public revelation revealed after Him.
"In giving us His Son, His only Word (for He possesses no other),
He spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word, and He has no more to
say... because what He spoke before to the prophets in parts, He has now spoken
all at once by giving us the 'All Who is His Son'. Any person questioning GOD or
desiring some vision or revelation would be guilty not only of foolish behavior
but also of offending Him, by not fixing his eyes entirely upon Christ and by
living with the desire for some other novelty." St. John of the Cross, The
Ascent of Mount Carmel, 2,22,3-5.
So doctrinal development is an on going learning process, and no doubt will
continue until Christ comes again. Some theologians have postulated that it will
go on forever, for the mysteries of an infinite GOD are also infinite. We must
realize that the deeper we go into Scriptural understanding, the deeper we can
go. It is likened to a bottomless ocean.
Non-Catholics reject doctrinal
development simply because they know little or nothing of the various senses of
Scripture, and they do not have the proper "rock foundation" upon which to build, which is the
Pope and the Magisterium, and most importantly the teaching of the Holy Spirit
to provide divine guidance.
"A Christian man is Catholic while he lives in
the body; cut off, he is made a heretic; the Spirit does not follow an amputated member."
Saint Augustine, Sermons, 267:4, 400 A.D., Jurgens 1523...
One of my
favorite verses for those who reject the doctrines of Catholic teaching is
"But these men, like irrational animals created by nature for
capture DERIDE WHAT THEY DO NOT UNDERSTAND, AND WILL PERISH IN THEIR OWN
Written by Bob Stanley
Updated August 30, 2006
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