Sunday, August 24, 2008

Theology of St. Thomas - Aside on Development of Doctrine

In ST III Q61 A3, St. Thomas employs an argument that relies upon the fact of doctrinal development in responding to the objection (#2) that there should have been no change in the sacraments prior to the coming of Christ.
For as time went on sin gained a greater hold on man, so much so that it clouded man's reason, the consequence being that the precepts of the natural law were insufficient to make man live aright, and it became necessary to have a written code of fixed laws, and together with these certain sacraments of faith. For it was necessary, as time went on, that the knowledge of faith should be more and more unfolded, since, as Gregory says (Hom. vi in Ezech.): "With the advance of time there was an advance in the knowledge of Divine things" [emphasis added]
The only observation I would make here is that the idea of doctrinal development is not a novelty in Church history, as though it was originally conceived by Cardinal Newman; rather, even Pope St. Gregory the Great affirmed that our knowledge of divine things advances over time. I have seen (and known) folks who deny this, even to the point of supposing that Abraham knew at least as much about Christian theology subsequent to himself as we Christians do today. But the facts oppose this claim.


David Waltz said...

Hi Reginald,

It has been awhile since I last dropped by your blog, but in my defense, I have been pretty busy of late. Now that I have returned (so-to-speak), I find it more than interesting that your second to last thread is on doctrinal development, for this has been a hot topic over the last couple of months at Articuli Fidei and Fides Quarens Intellectum.

I just finished yet another book on development, Do Dogmas Change?, by Henri Rodet (1961), and would like to recommend it to anyone who is interested in the subject of doctrinal development—it is a sober and concise work from a Catholic perspective. (For other books on the topic, see this THREAD.)

Anyway, hope all is well with you; I will try to drop by more often…

Grace and peace,


Reginald de Piperno said...

Hello David,

You have come by on a fortuitous occasion: I've been neglecting the blog due to other matters a fair bit, but Mike gently prodded me into action. :-)

Thanks for stopping by again.

I'm afraid I can't say much for this post; it's really little more than a reminder for me of another place in ST where St. Thomas deals (obliquely in this case, I know) with development of doctrine.

And I especially can't say much for my own miserable output on the subject when I follow the links you provided and see what other folks (including yourself!) are doing! Sheesh. I'm just a little grub in comparison!