The difference between Doctrine and Dogma

DogmaI have never heard nor seen Christians fight or arguing whether Jesus is Lord or not, but I have seen them (especially Catholic vs none Catholics) many times arguing about the rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, scapular, and some other aspects of Catholicism or Protestantism. They actually disagree on doctrines which is the Church’s teachings on faith and morals (read more on this on this blog). Different Christian denominations may have doctrines that may not be acceptable to each other, but the acceptance and rejection of these doctrines may not make them none Christians.

The Catholic Church is so blessed with very rich heritage, well organized and highly respected liturgy. The Church is traditionally faithful to her doctrines so much so that some none Catholics and even some very few uninformed Catholics begin to feel uncomfortable. The Catholic doctrines are not anti bible, I wrote something about this on this blog as indicated above, so I am not going to dwell on it here but simply shift my attention to another angle; doctrine and dogma!

Somebody asked me to explain the difference between doctrine and dogma and it was like wow! I exclaimed not because it is not explainable but because he drew my attention to some place I never thought of. Yes, doctrine and dogma are the same, yet different. They are the same in the sense that all dogma is doctrine, but they are not the same because not all doctrine is dogma. Doctrine is the Church’s teaching on faith and morals, while dogma is also the Church’s teaching on faith and morals, it does that in a more narrow, restricted and uncontestable way. Dogma is part of the Church’s doctrine defined and declared by the Church’s Magisterium to be contained in Divine Revelation.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that The Church’s 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 (CCC 88). . You may disagree with doctrine and still remain a Catholic but will surely not remain a catholic as long as you disagree with any dogma.

We may refer to both doctrine and dogma as teachings in the sense that they both teach faith and also morals, however, dogma is not open to debate.

Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA

Joel Okojie is an ordained Catholic Priest in the Order of St. Augustine. He has been a Priest for over a decade. He served as pastor in two different parishes, he was one time Novice Master and a member of the Provincial Council of the province of St. Augustine of Nigeria, and he is currently on a mission in response to the needs of the Church in Canada.

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