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The Catholic Church and Doctrines

10 May 2015, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Doctrines

Pope FrancisThere is no doubt today that there is tension between different Christian denominations; one denomination attacking and rejecting the other based on doctrine. The Catholic Church is one denomination that has suffered criticism even from the media. Most times, the world seems to be very much interested in the issues that concern the Catholic Church; yes, that makes the Church what it is. A Church built on a rock that cannot be shaken, a Church the gates of hell cannot prevail against. The more the Church is criticized, the more she stands tall; this is not to deny the human weakness we sometimes express, but God’s grace keeps the Church going and has kept the Church going for over two thousand years. To your name be the glory, O Lord.

The Catholic Church has faced criticism based on her doctrines; some say the Catholic Church does not preach the bible but preaches doctrines. This is pure ignorance, lack of understanding of the Catholic Church, the Bible, and its doctrine. Unfortunately, we Christians that are called to unite against a common enemy (The devil) are divided and fighting ourselves over nothing. pulpitThe pulpit where God’s word is supposed to be proclaimed has become a battleground where Christians now verbally attack each other’s doctrine. I was surprised when I heard a preacher condemning the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, making the condemnation the center of his sermon. What a shame!

They say we preach doctrine and not the bible. Though this is a wrong conclusion, what is the difference between the bible and doctrine? I mean Christian doctrine or Catholic doctrine. Can we actually talk about this Catholic doctrine without being guarded by the word of God? Can we separate the Catholic doctrine from the word of God? I don’t want to begin to define what the bible is; we already know that it is the word of God. Doctrine, on the other hand, comes from the Greek word “didaskolos,” and it is translated to mean teaching. You cannot separate this teaching of faith from the word of God; it is part of Christianity. The bible it’s self testifies to the connection between the bible and doctrine: All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching {Doctrine}, for reproof, for correction and training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2Tim. 3:16.

It is not enough to read the bible; you must be led to a deeper understanding of what the Bible teaches through divine inspiration. faithWhen the Ethiopian eunuch read the bible, it was like history to him; he needed to be taught, he needed some doctrinal truths, and the Holy Spirit used Philip for that purpose (Acts 8:26-40). The Holy Spirit is still alive and active, and he influences the magisterium of the Catholic Church (The teaching authority of the Church). The Catholic Church’s teaching authority is from Christ himself, he said to the college of the apostles; all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age. Mt. 28:18-20. The apostles exercised this given authority to teach at Jerusalem when a problem arose about admitting the Gentiles into the faith. There was an argument that the Gentiles must be made Jews first, through circumcision before they were admitted into the faith. The apostles met as a council and decided among themselves what to do. James agreed with Peter and said: Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turns to God, but should write to them to abstain from the pollutions of idols and from unchastity and from what is strangled and from blood.¬† Acts 15f. So it was.

The early Church exercised the teaching authority given to her by Christ, and the Church exercises the same authority today. This teaching authority of the Church is not superior to the Sacred Scriptures, neither is it more than the Sacred Tradition of the Church, yet, the authority is exercised in the light of the Sacred Scriptures and the Sacred Tradition as the apostles did at Jerusalem. The Church exercises this same authority today because it was handed on in the Church through the apostolic succession; the Church is very proud of this tradition.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that the Churches’ magisterium exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes truths contained in divine Revelation or having a necessary connection with them, in a form obliging the Christian people to an irrevocable adherence of faith. CCC88.

As you can see, the Catholic doctrines are not against the bible; they are divinely inspired, not separated from the Sacred Scriptures and the Sacred Tradition. We as Catholics are Christians like every other true follower of Christ Jesus. We preach Christ crucified; we believe in the resurrection and eternal life in heaven. There is, therefore, no need to fight over doctrines, let us rather as Christians channel our time, energy, and knowledge towards making Christ known to the world. Let us proclaim Christ Jesus from the pulpit and not attack each other.