The Meaning of Dogma

This month’s free sample article from Homiletics and Pastoral Review is an excellent one: Fr. James Schall’s “The Meaning of Dogma.” In it, Fr. Schall clearly lays out why we as Catholics have and believe in dogmas, and the error involved in the oft-stated belief that there shouldn’t be any dogmas. Here are some excellent quotes:

The idea that “no dogma is true” is itself a dogma. And if it is this “dogma” that claims itself to be “true,” it contradicts itself in its very statement. So the effort to find the truth of dogmas is in fact unavoidable if we wish to be sane about what the world and our relationship to it means.

And to conclude:

In the end, we want to know the truth of things. But we also often do not want to know the truth if it requires us to change our lives. Yves Simon remarked that for intellectuals and academics in particular, one of the most difficult things they face is the necessity to change their minds when they discover that their favorite theory does not prove to be true. But there is the further point that Paul wrote to Timothy, that many would come to believe in almost any sort of doctrine once they refused to accept what the faith held to be true and the explanations of it that we call dogmas. The alternate to a true dogma is not, in practice, no dogma, but a dogma that is not true.

If there is anything peculiar about revelation, it is its insistence that certain truths need to be known to be saved. We are to live upright lives on the basis of these truths, to be sure, but revelation does address our intellects with a claim to be true. It is the truth, we are told, that will make us free. As we see and articulate the alternatives, as we see worked out in historical reality the alternatives to the truth of things, we begin to suspect that the effort of revelation to address itself also to our minds is at the heart of what it was about. Generally speaking, we do not live well if we do not think well. This is why, whatever else it is, Catholicism is an intellectual claim that addresses our minds in the name of what any mind can think.

It’s a little bit dense, but well worth the time to read.

(HT: Insight Scoop)

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