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Author Topic: Immaculate Conception, Purgatory, Filioque & Papal Infallibility  (Read 7487 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Reply #45 on: June 01, 2012, 02:43:56 PM »

Why should any Christian have to try to explain something like the Trinity?  Or a virgin giving birth to God? 

I thought that would be your rebuttal.

Because those topics are at the heart of Christian faith and therefore essential for man's salvation.  The IC, however, is not.



And I thought that would be *your* rebuttal  Grin Grin

If acceptance of a dogma is essential for one's salvation (is it?) and the (Catholic) Church has defined the IC as a dogma.....  By the way, I, for one, am in *no* position whatsoever to comment on anyone else's salvation.  That's between them and God.

I can certainly accept that you and other Orthodox are unable/unwilling to accept the IC as dogma but it does sadden me somewhat, especially (but not solely) to the extent that it keeps our One Church from being truly unified.
I guess my question is which dogma. There are times that there are conflicting dogmas, such as:

*from Unam Sanctum*
Quote
Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.

Now, from Vatican II:
Quote
It follows that the separated Churches and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church

So it seems kind of contradictory. So I can understand the question about dogma and salvation mentioned earlier.


PP

I can understand the confusion and experience it myself on and off.  I'm not qualified to discuss or dissect Unam Sanctum, but I do recall a discussion somewhere (maybe even on this board) about it in which someone explained or tried to explain what was meant by every human creature being subject to the Roman Pontiff.  I can't remember what precisely they said but it made it sound like at some point every human creature *would* be subject to the Roman Pontiff.  How and when this would occur I can't recall, but it made sense to me at the time I read it.  Sorry I can't be more specific about that  Sad.

Life and life in the Church is full of paradoxes and apparent contradictions.  I don't pretend to be able to reconcile them all or even understand them all, much as I might try.  What I do, though, is pray, study when I can, attend Mass as often as possible, and try with varying degrees of success or failure, to live a Christian life and to put my trust in God and hope for the best.
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« Reply #46 on: June 01, 2012, 02:58:52 PM »

The calendar is also full of Christian saints who did.  Neither of which makes being a Christian any easier, though, does it? 

No - but to Peter's point, why should any Christian have to try to explain something like the IC?

Actually, my point was more about explaining the statement "The IC is a dogma". (Keep in mind of course that not every truth is a dogma.) That's where questions like "Is it central to the faith?" "Is it necessary for salvation?" etc. come in.
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« Reply #47 on: June 01, 2012, 03:08:03 PM »



If acceptance of a dogma is essential for one's salvation (is it?) and the (Catholic) Church has defined the IC as a dogma.....  By the way, I, for one, am in *no* position whatsoever to comment on anyone else's salvation.  That's between them and God.

And I thought that would be your rebuttal!  Ha!   Cheesy

No, but seriously...

If dogma isn't considered essential for one's salvation then why must catechumen/candidates preparing to enter the Catholic Church make the profession of faith ("I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God")?  Perhaps that's your point.

Still, I've never understood why the Blessed Mother has so many dogmas pertaining to her.  I have heard Catholics explain these dogmas so that they always refer back to Christ, which may be true, and if so, makes them even more superfluous considering the dogmas that are in place concerning Christ.



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« Reply #48 on: June 01, 2012, 03:08:17 PM »

I've been thinking a lot about this thread this morning. It seems like the underlying issue here is also one of the main frustrations I have as a Catholic. Let me put it this way: my job is essentially to assume that certain statements from various popes are true (e.g. the statement from Pius IX that the IC is not only true, but is in fact a dogma), and then to reconcile them. It isn't always easy.

Peter, for me the problem has always been very simple.  What separates us are the big 4.  They are separations ONLY because they are Dogmas & necessary for salvation. If they were theologoumena then who the heck cares!  But they are not.  Then I find out from a Dominican...they kind of are..not dogma? 

WTH(eck) is going on!  And while he may just be totally wrong, that would make me sick BC here is a very well educated RC who does not understand the dogmatic statements of his church?! 

Honestly too, I'm wondering if he's right.  If there are degrees & variances of dogma, as the RC considered that word/topic

Why are you so (apparently) eager to assume that your Dominican scholar is right?  Have you researched the issue any further and deeper than on an *Orthodox* internet discussion board?

I may be grossly under-informed but I've *never* heard of "degrees & variances of dogma".  Ever.

I'm absolutely NOT eager to assume anything:  hence why I brought it to a wider audience, to garner information.  

To be perfectly frank with you I have absolutely NO idea where to even start researching something like this.  Not that i'm not capable (i've done indepth research before), but I am a member of this community, which speaks to each other about these subjects, so I thought i'd start here.  Further research pending my results here.  
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« Reply #49 on: June 01, 2012, 03:11:44 PM »

Why should any Christian have to try to explain something like the Trinity?  Or a virgin giving birth to God? 

I thought that would be your rebuttal.

Because those topics are at the heart of Christian faith and therefore essential for man's salvation.  The IC, however, is not.



And I thought that would be *your* rebuttal  Grin Grin

If acceptance of a dogma is essential for one's salvation (is it?) and the (Catholic) Church has defined the IC as a dogma.....  By the way, I, for one, am in *no* position whatsoever to comment on anyone else's salvation.  That's between them and God.

I can certainly accept that you and other Orthodox are unable/unwilling to accept the IC as dogma but it does sadden me somewhat, especially (but not solely) to the extent that it keeps our One Church from being truly unified.

Again...how do you understand dogma?  As essential for one's salvation?  And why is the IC essential for our salvation?  (I know that's a much bigger discussion, and we've had it before, but it's the heart of what i'm trying to ascertain here)
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« Reply #50 on: June 01, 2012, 03:13:08 PM »

The calendar is also full of Christian saints who did.  Neither of which makes being a Christian any easier, though, does it?  

No - but to Peter's point, why should any Christian have to try to explain something like the IC?

Actually, my point was more about explaining the statement "The IC is a dogma". (Keep in mind of course that not every truth is a dogma.) That's where questions like "Is it central to the faith?" "Is it necessary for salvation?" etc. come in.

P.S. Another thing I find troubling is that in Catholic circles, it is often assumed that even people who don't believe the IC (or any of those others) still regard it as a dogma. This is quite troubling since, logically, anything that isn't true can't possibly be a dogma.
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« Reply #51 on: June 01, 2012, 03:21:22 PM »

What I don't get about the Immaculate Conception is if God has the ability to be able to create us humans without original sin why doesn't he do it for all of us? I mean Jesus was begotten from the Father so how he remains sinless makes sense but it doesn't (to me) make any sense about Mary.

Can a Catholic explain this to me?
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« Reply #52 on: June 01, 2012, 03:25:22 PM »

Why should any Christian have to try to explain something like the Trinity?  Or a virgin giving birth to God? 

I thought that would be your rebuttal.

Because those topics are at the heart of Christian faith and therefore essential for man's salvation.  The IC, however, is not.



And I thought that would be *your* rebuttal  Grin Grin

If acceptance of a dogma is essential for one's salvation (is it?) and the (Catholic) Church has defined the IC as a dogma.....  By the way, I, for one, am in *no* position whatsoever to comment on anyone else's salvation.  That's between them and God.

I can certainly accept that you and other Orthodox are unable/unwilling to accept the IC as dogma but it does sadden me somewhat, especially (but not solely) to the extent that it keeps our One Church from being truly unified.
I guess my question is which dogma. There are times that there are conflicting dogmas, such as:

*from Unam Sanctum*
Quote
Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.

Now, from Vatican II:
Quote
It follows that the separated Churches and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church

So it seems kind of contradictory. So I can understand the question about dogma and salvation mentioned earlier.


PP

I can understand the confusion and experience it myself on and off.  I'm not qualified to discuss or dissect Unam Sanctum, but I do recall a discussion somewhere (maybe even on this board) about it in which someone explained or tried to explain what was meant by every human creature being subject to the Roman Pontiff.  I can't remember what precisely they said but it made it sound like at some point every human creature *would* be subject to the Roman Pontiff.  How and when this would occur I can't recall, but it made sense to me at the time I read it.  Sorry I can't be more specific about that  Sad.

Life and life in the Church is full of paradoxes and apparent contradictions.  I don't pretend to be able to reconcile them all or even understand them all, much as I might try.  What I do, though, is pray, study when I can, attend Mass as often as possible, and try with varying degrees of success or failure, to live a Christian life and to put my trust in God and hope for the best.

Thanks for taking something that's already confusing to me & then adding the supreme pontiff stuff.  Let's handle one issue at a time ok  Wink Grin

What PP laid out here is really what i'm trying to figure out.  Can someone explain in further detail the Unam Sanctum, and how it works?  Especially with with other aspect of Vatican II?
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« Reply #53 on: June 01, 2012, 03:25:31 PM »



Again...how do you understand dogma?  As essential for one's salvation?  And why is the IC essential for our salvation?  (I know that's a much bigger discussion, and we've had it before, but it's the heart of what i'm trying to ascertain here)
[/quote]

Simple fact is: The IC is NOT essential for salvation.  Neither are the other later day dogmas of the church e.g. Filioque, Papal Supremacy, Infallibility.   Otherwise the ECC would be in a lot of hot water adhering to their Eastern Paternal beliefs.
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« Reply #54 on: June 01, 2012, 03:27:26 PM »

The calendar is also full of Christian saints who did.  Neither of which makes being a Christian any easier, though, does it?  

No - but to Peter's point, why should any Christian have to try to explain something like the IC?

Actually, my point was more about explaining the statement "The IC is a dogma". (Keep in mind of course that not every truth is a dogma.) That's where questions like "Is it central to the faith?" "Is it necessary for salvation?" etc. come in.

P.S. Another thing I find troubling is that in Catholic circles, it is often assumed that even people who don't believe the IC (or any of those others) still regard it as a dogma. This is quite troubling since, logically, anything that isn't true can't possibly be a dogma.

That is troubling, indeed.  Personally, I haven't come across it, but have heard others, like you, mention it.  To me that demonstrates lack of understanding and poor catechesis.  Unfortunately, there's been an overwhelming amount of inadequate and poor catechesis amongst Catholics in this country.  That's not to say that I'm a poster-boy for good catechesis--not by any means.
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« Reply #55 on: June 01, 2012, 03:29:19 PM »

What I don't get about the Immaculate Conception is if God has the ability to be able to create us humans without original sin why doesn't he do it for all of us? I mean Jesus was begotten from the Father so how he remains sinless makes sense but it doesn't (to me) make any sense about Mary.

Can a Catholic explain this to me?

Perhaps this should be a separate thread?  Not fobbing you off, but it seems we've got enough on this thread to keep us busy without adding that into the mix, too.  But, hey...what do I know?
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« Reply #56 on: June 01, 2012, 03:33:42 PM »

You might read Dr. Anthony Dragani's http://www.east2west.org/doctrine.htm#IC
which says, in part,

Quote
There are two terms used in the definition that are completely foreign to Eastern Christian theology: "merits" and "stain." Both of these terms are of very late origin, and came to mean very specific things in the scholastic system. But to us Eastern Christians, who still use only the theological expressions of the Church Fathers, these terms are completely alien. So is this a problem, or isn't it?

I don't believe that this a problem at all. If something is written in a language that you can't understand, you simply TRANSLATE it! With some very basic knowledge of scholastic theological terminology, what Pope Pius IX is saying becomes very obvious: From the very first moment of her existence, Mary was miraculously preserved from all sin. We Easterns would go even a step further: she wasn't just preserved from sin, but was graced with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

(His use of "Eastern Christian theology", "We Easterns", etc. actually brings to mind something else that's a big problem for me, but I'll leave that aside.)
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« Reply #57 on: June 01, 2012, 03:38:07 PM »

Why should any Christian have to try to explain something like the Trinity?  Or a virgin giving birth to God? 

I thought that would be your rebuttal.

Because those topics are at the heart of Christian faith and therefore essential for man's salvation.  The IC, however, is not.



And I thought that would be *your* rebuttal  Grin Grin

If acceptance of a dogma is essential for one's salvation (is it?) and the (Catholic) Church has defined the IC as a dogma.....  By the way, I, for one, am in *no* position whatsoever to comment on anyone else's salvation.  That's between them and God.

I can certainly accept that you and other Orthodox are unable/unwilling to accept the IC as dogma but it does sadden me somewhat, especially (but not solely) to the extent that it keeps our One Church from being truly unified.

Again...how do you understand dogma?  As essential for one's salvation?  And why is the IC essential for our salvation?  (I know that's a much bigger discussion, and we've had it before, but it's the heart of what i'm trying to ascertain here)

To be perfectly honest with you, I don't know if dogma is essential for one's salvation.  JoeS2 above says not, at least with regard to the more recently defined dogmas, and I'm inclined to agree with him.  But I do not *know* with absolute certainty one way or the other.  I've done some cursory searching and apart from what was quoted from Unam Sanctum, which as I said I'm not qualified to discuss, can find nothing that specifically says that acceptance of dogma is required for one's salvation and that without said acceptance one is surely not going to be saved.
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« Reply #58 on: June 01, 2012, 08:02:01 PM »

Sigh...

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« Reply #59 on: June 01, 2012, 08:15:01 PM »

Someone linked to this above, but I found this of particular interest: http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p1s1c2a2.htm#88

Quote
"In Catholic doctrine there exists an order or hierarchy of truths, since they vary in their relation to the foundation of the Christian faith."

Maybe it's just that simple.  But it's also extremely confusing b/c to me dogma is dogma is dogma.  Why are we using this work with various hierarchy of its truthfulness?  That just seems all kinds of bad. 

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« Reply #60 on: June 01, 2012, 08:24:10 PM »

Just to add more to this salad:

Quote
Despite popular opinion, however, purgatory is still an official dogma of the Roman Catholic Church and an essential part of the Roman Catholic plan of salvation.
  http://www.reachingcatholics.org/purgatory.html
(Anyone have time for this nice bibliography?)  IBID. 
Quote
i. Council of Trent, session 25, "Decree Concerning Purgatory."
ii. First Vatican Council, session 2, "Profession of Faith."
iii. Second Vatican Council, "Dogmatic Constitution on the Church" no. 49 and no. 51.
iv. Second Vatican Council, "Sacred Liturgy," "Apostolic Constitution on the Revision of Indulgences," no. 2.
v. Second Vatican Council, "Sacred Liturgy," "Apostolic Constitution on the Revision of Indulgences," no. 3.
vi. Pope John Paul II offers Mass for John Paul I and Paul VI on September 28, the anniversary of the death of John Paul I ("The Lord Gives Us Confidence." L’Osservatore Romano, October 7, 1992, p. 1.)

I know the SSPX are not the greatest source, but it's their point that is important here:
http://sspx.org/Catholic_FAQs/catholic_faqs__liturgical.htm#removaloffilioque
Quote
The doctrine of the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son was infallibly defined by the two Ecumenical Councils which brought about temporary union of the Eastern rite churches with the Roman Catholic Church. It was also defined that this has always been the unchangeable teaching of the Fathers and Doctors of both the Latin and Greek churches.


Infallibly defined?  I think that's a key point too.  Once these things are declared Ex Cathedra by a pope, don't they automatically become Dogma (again that word) & infallible? 

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« Reply #61 on: June 01, 2012, 09:59:37 PM »

What I don't get about the Immaculate Conception is if God has the ability to be able to create us humans without original sin why doesn't he do it for all of us? I mean Jesus was begotten from the Father so how he remains sinless makes sense but it doesn't (to me) make any sense about Mary.

Can a Catholic explain this to me?

Here's a hint: Mary gave birth to Jesus.

Nobody else in history has ever had to go through something like that.

Not even one of the angels.

That is why it was believed by some that she needed grace more than anybody. Although many people have children, there was only one Theotokos.
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« Reply #62 on: June 01, 2012, 10:09:04 PM »

Infallibly defined?  I think that's a key point too.  Once these things are declared Ex Cathedra by a pope, don't they automatically become Dogma (again that word) & infallible? 

Well, yes, although the way you put it is strangely round-about. Part of the definition of "ex cathedra" is that he defines something to be believed by all Christians.
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« Reply #63 on: June 03, 2012, 12:39:05 AM »

Of course the Immaculate Conception is a de fide dogma of the Catholic Church.  Anyone who says otherwise doesn't know what they are talking about.  The Catholic Church teaches that the dogma belongs to the apostolic deposit of faith.  Period.  It was magisterially and irreformably defined by Pope Pius in the papal bull Ineffabilis Deus:

Quote
We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by all the faithful.
 

What the dogma precisely means is debated by Catholic theologians, but all Catholics are expected to profess and believe the truth of the Immaculate Conception (whatever it really means). 

The Catholic Church does teach a hierarchy of revealed truths--the dogma of the Incarnation, for example, enjoys a greater centrality and decisiveness than, say, the dogma of Purgatory--but that does not mean that the Catholic Church considers the "less important" dogmas as optional or negotiable.  That's just not how the Catholic Church thinks about these kinds of matters.   If you are not yet persuaded, check out canon 750 of the Code of Canon Law:

Quote
Can. 750 §1. A person must believe with divine and Catholic faith all those things contained in the word of God, written or handed on, that is, in the one deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn magisterium of the Church or by its ordinary and universal magisterium which is manifested by the common adherence of the Christian faithful under the leadership of the sacred magisterium; therefore all are bound to avoid any doctrines whatsoever contrary to them.

§2. Each and every thing which is proposed definitively by the magisterium of the Church concerning the doctrine of faith and morals, that is, each and every thing which is required to safeguard reverently and to expound faithfully the same deposit of faith, is also to be firm-ly embraced and retained; therefore, one who rejects those propositions which are to be held definitively is opposed to the doctrine of the Catholic Church.
   
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« Reply #64 on: June 03, 2012, 06:21:25 AM »

It should be added that there's no contradiction between saying "It's a dogma" and saying "Making it a dogma was unwise" -- in fact, Cardinal Newman said that about Papal Infallibility.
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« Reply #65 on: June 03, 2012, 07:01:52 AM »

It should be added that there's no contradiction between saying "It's a dogma" and saying "Making it a dogma was unwise" -- in fact, Cardinal Newman said that about Papal Infallibility.

WTH? *exploding head smiley*
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« Reply #66 on: June 03, 2012, 08:34:54 AM »

It should be added that there's no contradiction between saying "It's a dogma" and saying "Making it a dogma was unwise" -- in fact, Cardinal Newman said that about Papal Infallibility.

WTH? *exploding head smiley*

Oh yes! In fact, he spoke pretty harshly against those who dogmatically defined it.
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« Reply #67 on: June 03, 2012, 10:58:32 AM »

To be perfectly frank with you I have absolutely NO idea where to even start researching something like this.  Not that i'm not capable (i've done indepth research before), but I am a member of this community, which speaks to each other about these subjects, so I thought i'd start here.  Further research pending my results here.

If you are really intent on doing research on the questions raised, you will need to read up on the Roman Catholic understanding of doctrine and magisterium.  A book that is often read in seminaries is Francis Sullivan's Magisterium: Teaching Authority in the Catholic Church.  The book is somewhat dated, given recent debate on the ordinary magisterium and the release of Ad Tuendam; but it will give you a good start.

The following pieces may be of interest:

Hierarchy of Truths and Four Levels of Meaning

Categories of Belief
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« Reply #68 on: June 03, 2012, 04:02:36 PM »

It should be added that there's no contradiction between saying "It's a dogma" and saying "Making it a dogma was unwise" -- in fact, Cardinal Newman said that about Papal Infallibility.

An interesting position, I think, depending especially on how one defines dogma. Is there such a thing as a dogma that is not necessary for salvation? Awkward sentence, I know, but I hope you (general you) can gather my meaning.

If you can have dogmas that do not require belief for salvation, then what is the point of dogma to begin with?
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« Reply #69 on: June 03, 2012, 04:44:25 PM »

To be perfectly frank with you I have absolutely NO idea where to even start researching something like this.  Not that i'm not capable (i've done indepth research before), but I am a member of this community, which speaks to each other about these subjects, so I thought i'd start here.  Further research pending my results here.

If you are really intent on doing research on the questions raised, you will need to read up on the Roman Catholic understanding of doctrine and magisterium.  A book that is often read in seminaries is Francis Sullivan's Magisterium: Teaching Authority in the Catholic Church.  The book is somewhat dated, given recent debate on the ordinary magisterium and the release of Ad Tuendam; but it will give you a good start.

The following pieces may be of interest:

Hierarchy of Truths and Four Levels of Meaning

Categories of Belief
IOW, Father, Hairsplitting 101
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« Reply #70 on: June 03, 2012, 05:03:46 PM »

It should be added that there's no contradiction between saying "It's a dogma" and saying "Making it a dogma was unwise" -- in fact, Cardinal Newman said that about Papal Infallibility.

An interesting position, I think, depending especially on how one defines dogma. Is there such a thing as a dogma that is not necessary for salvation? Awkward sentence, I know, but I hope you (general you) can gather my meaning.

If you can have dogmas that do not require belief for salvation, then what is the point of dogma to begin with?

An example to clarify my train of thought-

One might say that defining the divinity of Christ was unwise regarding ecumenical relations with the Arians ( Wink tongue in cheek, I'm aware the turmoil the argument wrought) but a dogma it is. It is a necessary belief, and saving souls is more important than ecumenical relations. So fast-forwarding to Cardinal Newman, if papal infallibility is dogma, then it needs to be dogma. Defining it draws a line in the sand that needs to be there, if it is, again, actually a dogma.

I'm having a hard time appreciating the position that "It's definitely a dogma but it wasn't the wisest idea to define/clarify that it is actually a dogma."

I feel like I've said dogma a few too many times.
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« Reply #71 on: June 03, 2012, 05:10:57 PM »

I feel like I've said dogma a few too many times.

And that's without saying "My karma ran over my dogma."
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« Reply #72 on: June 03, 2012, 08:32:45 PM »

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« Reply #73 on: June 03, 2012, 09:11:50 PM »

To be perfectly frank with you I have absolutely NO idea where to even start researching something like this.  Not that i'm not capable (i've done indepth research before), but I am a member of this community, which speaks to each other about these subjects, so I thought i'd start here.  Further research pending my results here.

If you are really intent on doing research on the questions raised, you will need to read up on the Roman Catholic understanding of doctrine and magisterium.  A book that is often read in seminaries is Francis Sullivan's Magisterium: Teaching Authority in the Catholic Church.  The book is somewhat dated, given recent debate on the ordinary magisterium and the release of Ad Tuendam; but it will give you a good start.

The following pieces may be of interest:

Hierarchy of Truths and Four Levels of Meaning

Categories of Belief
IOW, Father, Hairsplitting 101

That's part II of the conversation.  Would it be possible to just redefine the definition? Or even just reevaluating the complexity
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« Reply #74 on: June 04, 2012, 02:14:11 PM »


That's part II of the conversation.  Would it be possible to just redefine the definition? Or even just reevaluating the complexity

Contemporary Catholic theologians are very much aware of the contextual nature of all dogmatic formulations.  Dogmas don't just fall from heaven.  They are formulated by bishops within specific historical situations to address specific questions and correct specific false teachings.  The historical, philosophical, theological, and pastoral context is critical to the proper interpretation of any and every dogmatic formulation.  Unfortunately, Orthodox theologians have not given the topic of dogmatic hermeneutics much attention, at least not that I have seen.  But they will have to at some point.  How else, for example, can there be a reconciliation between EO and OO on the dogmatic definition of Chalcedon or on the Palamite distinction between the divine essence and energies?   All dogmas require interpretation within the wider context of the Church's life and worship--that is the point. 

The Latin dogma of the Immaculate Conception is really quite fascinating.  What precisely is the alleged binding truth of this dogma?  This is a more complex, difficult question than non-Catholics know; it's a more complex, difficult question than most Catholics know.  The dogma seems clear enough:  the Virgin Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin.  But what the heck is the "stain of original sin"?  The definition doesn't say.  The matter becomes even more complicated when one realizes that different understandings of original sin exist in the Catholic Church.  Magisterial Catholic teaching on original sin is actually quite modest, allowing a lot of latitude in interpretation (a fact that Orthodox polemics seem to pointedly ignore).  The Tridentine teaching on original sin (which is not identical to the views of St Augustine) was formulated within a scholastic idiom; but what happens when Catholic theologians stop theologizing as scholastics?  And the Tridentine teaching was never intended to exclude the Byzantine understanding of ancestral sin nor to impose scholastic categories of sanctifying and actual grace.  Is it even possible to translate the Tridentine dogma of original sin into Eastern conceptuality? 

As I say, it's all very complicated and nearly impossible to say precisely what the IC dogma asserts.  My best guess:  it says that at no point in her life did the Virgin Mary live in a state of spiritual death and personal alienation from God.  Do we Orthodox want to say otherwise?  Maybe some do but I don't; and I don't think St Gregory Palamas, whose Marian homilies I have read, would want to say otherwise either.  This doesn't mean that I affirm the Immaculate Conception.  It just means that I see no need to deny it.  It is irrelevant both to my understanding of the Theotokos and my devotion to her.       

All this seems quite foreign and even laughable to we Orthodox; but we need to be careful.  Orthodox theology has had its own forms of scholasticism, as well as its own debates on what is and is not dogma and what its dogmas mean.  Does Orthodoxy even have an irreformable doctrine of ancestral or original sin, for example?             
 
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« Reply #75 on: June 04, 2012, 02:38:06 PM »


That's part II of the conversation.  Would it be possible to just redefine the definition? Or even just reevaluating the complexity

Contemporary Catholic theologians are very much aware of the contextual nature of all dogmatic formulations.  Dogmas don't just fall from heaven.  They are formulated by bishops within specific historical situations to address specific questions and correct specific false teachings.  The historical, philosophical, theological, and pastoral context is critical to the proper interpretation of any and every dogmatic formulation.  Unfortunately, Orthodox theologians have not given the topic of dogmatic hermeneutics much attention, at least not that I have seen.  But they will have to at some point.  How else, for example, can there be a reconciliation between EO and OO on the dogmatic definition of Chalcedon or on the Palamite distinction between the divine essence and energies?   All dogmas require interpretation within the wider context of the Church's life and worship--that is the point. 

The Latin dogma of the Immaculate Conception is really quite fascinating.  What precisely is the alleged binding truth of this dogma?  This is a more complex, difficult question than non-Catholics know; it's a more complex, difficult question than most Catholics know.  The dogma seems clear enough:  the Virgin Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin.  But what the heck is the "stain of original sin"?  The definition doesn't say.  The matter becomes even more complicated when one realizes that different understandings of original sin exist in the Catholic Church.  Magisterial Catholic teaching on original sin is actually quite modest, allowing a lot of latitude in interpretation (a fact that Orthodox polemics seem to pointedly ignore).  The Tridentine teaching on original sin (which is not identical to the views of St Augustine) was formulated within a scholastic idiom; but what happens when Catholic theologians stop theologizing as scholastics?  And the Tridentine teaching was never intended to exclude the Byzantine understanding of ancestral sin nor to impose scholastic categories of sanctifying and actual grace.  Is it even possible to translate the Tridentine dogma of original sin into Eastern conceptuality? 

As I say, it's all very complicated and nearly impossible to say precisely what the IC dogma asserts.  My best guess:  it says that at no point in her life did the Virgin Mary live in a state of spiritual death and personal alienation from God.  Do we Orthodox want to say otherwise?  Maybe some do but I don't; and I don't think St Gregory Palamas, whose Marian homilies I have read, would want to say otherwise either.  This doesn't mean that I affirm the Immaculate Conception.  It just means that I see no need to deny it.  It is irrelevant both to my understanding of the Theotokos and my devotion to her.       

All this seems quite foreign and even laughable to we Orthodox; but we need to be careful.  Orthodox theology has had its own forms of scholasticism, as well as its own debates on what is and is not dogma and what its dogmas mean.  Does Orthodoxy even have an irreformable doctrine of ancestral or original sin, for example?             
 


Great post, Fr.!!!!  It raises another question for me, but I'll hold my fire until I see what else develops here.
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« Reply #76 on: June 04, 2012, 02:45:27 PM »

I agree, good points there.
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« Reply #77 on: June 04, 2012, 02:54:57 PM »


That's part II of the conversation.  Would it be possible to just redefine the definition? Or even just reevaluating the complexity

Contemporary Catholic theologians are very much aware of the contextual nature of all dogmatic formulations.  Dogmas don't just fall from heaven.  They are formulated by bishops within specific historical situations to address specific questions and correct specific false teachings.  The historical, philosophical, theological, and pastoral context is critical to the proper interpretation of any and every dogmatic formulation.  Unfortunately, Orthodox theologians have not given the topic of dogmatic hermeneutics much attention, at least not that I have seen.  But they will have to at some point.  How else, for example, can there be a reconciliation between EO and OO on the dogmatic definition of Chalcedon or on the Palamite distinction between the divine essence and energies?   All dogmas require interpretation within the wider context of the Church's life and worship--that is the point. 

The Latin dogma of the Immaculate Conception is really quite fascinating.  What precisely is the alleged binding truth of this dogma?  This is a more complex, difficult question than non-Catholics know; it's a more complex, difficult question than most Catholics know.  The dogma seems clear enough:  the Virgin Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin.  But what the heck is the "stain of original sin"?  The definition doesn't say.  The matter becomes even more complicated when one realizes that different understandings of original sin exist in the Catholic Church.  Magisterial Catholic teaching on original sin is actually quite modest, allowing a lot of latitude in interpretation (a fact that Orthodox polemics seem to pointedly ignore).  The Tridentine teaching on original sin (which is not identical to the views of St Augustine) was formulated within a scholastic idiom; but what happens when Catholic theologians stop theologizing as scholastics?  And the Tridentine teaching was never intended to exclude the Byzantine understanding of ancestral sin nor to impose scholastic categories of sanctifying and actual grace.  Is it even possible to translate the Tridentine dogma of original sin into Eastern conceptuality? 

As I say, it's all very complicated and nearly impossible to say precisely what the IC dogma asserts.  My best guess:  it says that at no point in her life did the Virgin Mary live in a state of spiritual death and personal alienation from God.  Do we Orthodox want to say otherwise?  Maybe some do but I don't; and I don't think St Gregory Palamas, whose Marian homilies I have read, would want to say otherwise either.  This doesn't mean that I affirm the Immaculate Conception.  It just means that I see no need to deny it.  It is irrelevant both to my understanding of the Theotokos and my devotion to her.       

All this seems quite foreign and even laughable to we Orthodox; but we need to be careful.  Orthodox theology has had its own forms of scholasticism, as well as its own debates on what is and is not dogma and what its dogmas mean.  Does Orthodoxy even have an irreformable doctrine of ancestral or original sin, for example?             
 

Great post, Father.
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« Reply #78 on: June 04, 2012, 02:59:40 PM »

I agree, good points there.

It is my understanding that Ancestral Sin is the world that we are born into.  A fallen and sinful world made possible by our first parents.  Original Sin as the RCC teaches, is a guilt that is inherited by all humans which I do not ascribe to.  

The holy innocents are part of the pure in heart for they shall see God-no purgatory-no baptism of blood-no original sin here. They didnt inherit Original sin as defined by the RCC, and they did not commit any sin by being born into a fallen world.   If they had grown up a little more then they would have attained the 'age of reason' thereby exposing themselves to temptations and to sin. We believe that the Theotokos was born no differently than any of ourselves.



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« Reply #79 on: June 04, 2012, 03:14:02 PM »

I agree, good points there.

It is my understanding that Ancestral Sin is the world that we are born into.  A fallen and sinful world made possible by our first parents.  Original Sin as the RCC teaches, is a guilt that is inherited by all humans which I do not ascribe to.

Uh...not quite.  Have you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, #396-421? 

The holy innocents are part of the pure in heart for they shall see God-no purgatory-no baptism of blood-no original sin here. They didnt inherit Original sin as defined by the RCC, and they did not commit any sin by being born into a fallen world.   If they had grown up a little more then they would have attained the 'age of reason' thereby exposing themselves to temptations and to sin. We believe that the Theotokos was born no differently than any of ourselves.

I think you may slightly misunderstand the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory.  But that dead horse has been beaten to a pulp on this board.
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« Reply #80 on: June 04, 2012, 04:02:15 PM »

I agree, good points there.

It is my understanding that Ancestral Sin is the world that we are born into.  A fallen and sinful world made possible by our first parents.  Original Sin as the RCC teaches, is a guilt that is inherited by all humans which I do not ascribe to.

Uh...not quite.  Have you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, #396-421?

The holy innocents are part of the pure in heart for they shall see God-no purgatory-no baptism of blood-no original sin here. They didnt inherit Original sin as defined by the RCC, and they did not commit any sin by being born into a fallen world.   If they had grown up a little more then they would have attained the 'age of reason' thereby exposing themselves to temptations and to sin. We believe that the Theotokos was born no differently than any of ourselves.

I think you may slightly misunderstand the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory.  But that dead horse has been beaten to a pulp on this board.

So they changed since I was in Catholic school?  Talk about your flip flopping.
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« Reply #81 on: June 04, 2012, 04:14:51 PM »

I agree, good points there.

It is my understanding that Ancestral Sin is the world that we are born into.  A fallen and sinful world made possible by our first parents.  Original Sin as the RCC teaches, is a guilt that is inherited by all humans which I do not ascribe to.

Uh...not quite.  Have you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, #396-421?

The holy innocents are part of the pure in heart for they shall see God-no purgatory-no baptism of blood-no original sin here. They didnt inherit Original sin as defined by the RCC, and they did not commit any sin by being born into a fallen world.   If they had grown up a little more then they would have attained the 'age of reason' thereby exposing themselves to temptations and to sin. We believe that the Theotokos was born no differently than any of ourselves.

I think you may slightly misunderstand the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory.  But that dead horse has been beaten to a pulp on this board.

So they changed since I was in Catholic school?  Talk about your flip flopping.

It's entirely possible that you misunderstood it in Catholic school, too.  Or that you were taught a misunderstanding of it--nuns and priests and lay teachers in Catholic schools have been known to get things wrong here and there. 
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« Reply #82 on: June 04, 2012, 05:40:11 PM »

It is my understanding that Ancestral Sin is the world that we are born into.  A fallen and sinful world made possible by our first parents.  Original Sin as the RCC teaches, is a guilt that is inherited by all humans which I do not ascribe to.

It is always necessary, whether one is Catholic or Orthodox, to ask whether popular teaching accurately reflects the authoritative dogmatic teaching of the Church. 

I do not dispute that in the Catholic Church original sin has often been communicated, especially at the parochial level, as the imputation of Adam's original sin to subsequent generations (thus St Augustine); but following St Thomas Aquinas and the Council fo Trent, most Catholic theologians have understood original sin as the privation of sanctifying grace.  It is this privation that humanity inherits.  In addition to reading the relevant sections of the Catholic Catechism, also see the catechetical instruction of Pope John Paul II.   

Now whether the Latin construal of the privation of sanctifying grace is acceptable to Orthodoxy is a separate question; but if it is not, then very different objections will need to be adduced.  Popular Orthodox polemics simply miss the point.  One Orthodox theologian who did see the point was Sergius Bulgakov (see his book The Burning Bush: On the Orthodox Veneration of the Mother of God).  Bulgakov rejects the IC dogma because he rejects what he sees to be an unwarranted separation of nature and supernature in the Tridentine formulation of grace and on this basis rejects the scholastic notion of sanctifying grace.  This separation has itself been severely critiqued by modern Catholic theologians (e.g., Henri de Lubac, Karl Rahner, and Hans Urs von Balthasar). 

As I have repeatedly argued on this forum, Orthodox polemicists need to stop accusing Catholics of being guilty of "original guilt."  It's just irresponsible.  See this series of blog articles on original sin that I wrote several years ago when I was Catholic. 

May I also suggest that the real question here is one with which both Latin and Eastern Christians have struggled, namely, the salvific necessity of Holy Baptism.  Thus we read in the Orthodox Confession of Dositheus:

Quote
We believe Holy Baptism, which was instituted by the Lord, and is conferred in the name of the Holy Trinity, to be of the highest necessity. For without it none is able to be saved, as the Lord says, "Whoever is not born of water and of the Spirit, shall in no way enter into the Kingdom of the Heavens." {John 3:5} And, therefore, baptism is necessary even for infants, since they also are subject to original sin, and without Baptism are not able to obtain its remission. Which the Lord showed when he said, not of some only, but simply and absolutely, "Whoever is not born [again]," which is the same as saying, "All that after the coming of Christ the Savior would enter into the Kingdom of the Heavens must be regenerated." And since infants are men, and as such need salvation, needing salvation they need also Baptism. And those that are not regenerated, since they have not received the remission of hereditary sin, are, of necessity, subject to eternal punishment, and consequently cannot without Baptism be saved. So that even infants should, of necessity, be baptized. Moreover, infants are saved, as is said in Matthew; {Matthew 19:12} but he that is not baptized is not saved. And consequently even infants must of necessity be baptized. And in the Acts {Acts 8:12; 16:33} it is said that the whole houses were baptized, and consequently the infants. To this the ancient Fathers also witness explicitly, and among them Dionysius in his Treatise concerning the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy; and Justin in his fifty-sixth Question, who says expressly, "And they are guaranteed the benefits of Baptism by the faith of those that bring them to Baptism." And Augustine says that it is an Apostolic tradition, that children are saved through Baptism; and in another place, "The Church gives to babes the feet of others, that they may come; and the hearts of others, that they may believe; and the tongues of others, that they may promise;" and in another place, "Our mother, the Church, furnishes them with a particular heart."

Orthodox today are, as we know, reluctant to say that children who die without baptism will be eternally separated from God--contemporary Catholics are also reluctant to say this (see, e.g., this report of the International Theological Commission)--but this does not mean that Orthodoxy has not taught this at some point in its history, even at the highest levels.  It is precisely here that the notion of original guilt was, and is, invoked, namely, to justify this terrible situation.  Once the possibility of the salvation of unbaptized infants is admitted there is no need to speak of original guilt.                 
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« Reply #83 on: June 04, 2012, 07:22:48 PM »

Fr. Aidan,

     Since becoming Orthodox, how has your belief in Purgatory changed?
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« Reply #84 on: June 04, 2012, 08:30:03 PM »

I agree, good points there.

It is my understanding that Ancestral Sin is the world that we are born into.  A fallen and sinful world made possible by our first parents.  Original Sin as the RCC teaches, is a guilt that is inherited by all humans which I do not ascribe to.

Uh...not quite.  Have you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, #396-421?

The holy innocents are part of the pure in heart for they shall see God-no purgatory-no baptism of blood-no original sin here. They didnt inherit Original sin as defined by the RCC, and they did not commit any sin by being born into a fallen world.   If they had grown up a little more then they would have attained the 'age of reason' thereby exposing themselves to temptations and to sin. We believe that the Theotokos was born no differently than any of ourselves.

I think you may slightly misunderstand the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory.  But that dead horse has been beaten to a pulp on this board.

So they changed since I was in Catholic school?  Talk about your flip flopping.

I am older than you are Joe and I never was taught that original sin was any kind of personal sin guilt, so I expect...hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.....that you had your hearing aide turned off.
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« Reply #85 on: June 04, 2012, 08:40:03 PM »

Fr. Aidan, Since becoming Orthodox, how has your belief in Purgatory changed?

Actually, it hasn't changed much at all; but that is because when I was Catholic I understood purgatory in medicinal, therapeutic, purificatory terms (think C. S. Lewis and Peter Kreeft).  This is how most Catholic theologians understand purgatory today, including the present Pope.  But, quite frankly, I never felt comfortable with the traditional language of the temporal punishment of sin and the practice of indulgences (see my comments in this thread).  The Catholic Church has moved away in recent decades from the juridical model of purgatory, which simply means that it has in fact embraced a more Eastern understanding; but there are still many Catholics today, particularly of a traditionalist stripe, who understand purgatory in punitive, retributive terms.  The juridical model remains a legitimate Catholic option.  It's an option with which I strongly disagree.   
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« Reply #86 on: June 04, 2012, 08:43:53 PM »

Fr. Aidan, Since becoming Orthodox, how has your belief in Purgatory changed?

Actually, it hasn't changed much at all; but that is because when I was Catholic I understood purgatory in medicinal, therapeutic, purificatory terms (think C. S. Lewis and Peter Kreeft).  This is how most Catholic theologians understand purgatory today, including the present Pope.  But, quite frankly, I never felt comfortable with the traditional language of the temporal punishment of sin and the practice of indulgences (see my comments in this thread).  The Catholic Church has moved away in recent decades from the juridical model of purgatory, which simply means that it has in fact embraced a more Eastern understanding; but there are still many Catholics today, particularly of a traditionalist stripe, who understand purgatory in punitive, retributive terms.  The juridical model remains a legitimate Catholic option.  It's an option with which I strongly disagree.   

I grew up around Irish and French Catholics, Father Aidan, and frankly what you describe above is mostly interpretive of a very penitential approach to sin and its consequences.  If you want juridical language, may I refer you all to the Great Apostle Paul...who also took a rather catholic approach to the penitential life.  There are others <smile> too numerous to mention....

As far as juridical goes...we were never taught that God's judgment was anything less than his mercy.
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« Reply #87 on: June 05, 2012, 04:50:16 PM »

As I say, it's all very complicated and nearly impossible to say precisely what the IC dogma asserts.  My best guess:  it says that at no point in her life did the Virgin Mary live in a state of spiritual death and personal alienation from God.  Do we Orthodox want to say otherwise?  Maybe some do but I don't; and I don't think St Gregory Palamas, whose Marian homilies I have read, would want to say otherwise either.  This doesn't mean that I affirm the Immaculate Conception.  It just means that I see no need to deny it.  It is irrelevant both to my understanding of the Theotokos and my devotion to her.       

There is a tendency, especially here on this site, of former Roman Catholic Orthodox and current Roman Catholics to trivialise the differences between the two Churches' doctrines regarding the Theotokos. I don't understand how one can not deny the IC as an Orthodox Christian when the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom requires a priest to pray "let us worship the Holy Lord Jesus, the only Sinless one" (after the Great Entrance on Sundays and after Holy Communion). Could St. John Chrysotom have affirmed the IC? I cannot imagine it based on his liturgy.

I know many Roman Catholics who seemingly have no limits in their Marian hypertrophy. I should hope that Orthodox Christians are more circumspect.
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« Reply #88 on: June 05, 2012, 06:08:28 PM »

There is a tendency, especially here on this site, of former Roman Catholic Orthodox and current Roman Catholics to trivialise the differences between the two Churches' doctrines regarding the Theotokos.

I'm pretty surprised that you say "especially here on this site". Compared with another forum that I'm on (or, more precisely, will be on as of tomorrow night) this forum makes a pretty big deal of the differences.

I don't understand how one can not deny the IC as an Orthodox Christian when the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom requires a priest to pray "let us worship the Holy Lord Jesus, the only Sinless one" (after the Great Entrance on Sundays and after Holy Communion). Could St. John Chrysotom have affirmed the IC? I cannot imagine it based on his liturgy.

I know many Roman Catholics who seemingly have no limits in their Marian hypertrophy. I should hope that Orthodox Christians are more circumspect.

I take it that question was directed toward your fellow Orthodox, but regarding your last paragraph I don't mind telling you Yes, there really are some RCs who overdo the Marian hypertrophy.
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« Reply #89 on: June 05, 2012, 06:21:59 PM »


That's part II of the conversation.  Would it be possible to just redefine the definition? Or even just reevaluating the complexity

Contemporary Catholic theologians are very much aware of the contextual nature of all dogmatic formulations.  Dogmas don't just fall from heaven.  They are formulated by bishops within specific historical situations to address specific questions and correct specific false teachings.  The historical, philosophical, theological, and pastoral context is critical to the proper interpretation of any and every dogmatic formulation.  Unfortunately, Orthodox theologians have not given the topic of dogmatic hermeneutics much attention, at least not that I have seen.  But they will have to at some point.  How else, for example, can there be a reconciliation between EO and OO on the dogmatic definition of Chalcedon or on the Palamite distinction between the divine essence and energies?   All dogmas require interpretation within the wider context of the Church's life and worship--that is the point.               
 

Ok maybe, but then do they become dogmas within dogmas?  I'm sorry Father, but i'm not really 100% with you.  Firstly, I disagree that we HAVE to give more attention to dogmatic hermeneutics.  The dogmas are the dogmas are the dogmas.  I believe our hermeneutics are pretty clear.  What would be the reason for clarification, if they are clear?  Sorry...maybe we are just not understanding each other. 

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The Latin dogma of the Immaculate Conception is really quite fascinating.  What precisely is the alleged binding truth of this dogma?  This is a more complex, difficult question than non-Catholics know; it's a more complex, difficult question than most Catholics know.  The dogma seems clear enough:  the Virgin Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin.  But what the heck is the "stain of original sin"?  The definition doesn't say.  The matter becomes even more complicated when one realizes that different understandings of original sin exist in the Catholic Church.  Magisterial Catholic teaching on original sin is actually quite modest, allowing a lot of latitude in interpretation (a fact that Orthodox polemics seem to pointedly ignore).  The Tridentine teaching on original sin (which is not identical to the views of St Augustine) was formulated within a scholastic idiom; but what happens when Catholic theologians stop theologizing as scholastics?  And the Tridentine teaching was never intended to exclude the Byzantine understanding of ancestral sin nor to impose scholastic categories of sanctifying and actual grace.  Is it even possible to translate the Tridentine dogma of original sin into Eastern conceptuality? 

I think you perhaps should take a stab at the answer to that last question, as I have NO IDEA what the Tridentine Dogma of Original Sin is.  I'm even confused that there's a Tridentine Dogma vs. a Magersterial Catholic Teaching Dogma, vs. whatever other kinds of dogmas there are in the RC church.  This is my first real time dealing with this subject, so someone better versed in those areas should take a stab at that one. 

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As I say, it's all very complicated and nearly impossible to say precisely what the IC dogma asserts.  My best guess:  it says that at no point in her life did the Virgin Mary live in a state of spiritual death and personal alienation from God.  Do we Orthodox want to say otherwise?  Maybe some do but I don't; and I don't think St Gregory Palamas, whose Marian homilies I have read, would want to say otherwise either.  This doesn't mean that I affirm the Immaculate Conception.  It just means that I see no need to deny it.  It is irrelevant both to my understanding of the Theotokos and my devotion to her.       

All this seems quite foreign and even laughable to we Orthodox; but we need to be careful.  Orthodox theology has had its own forms of scholasticism, as well as its own debates on what is and is not dogma and what its dogmas mean.  Does Orthodoxy even have an irreformable doctrine of ancestral or original sin, for example?

I've never encountered anyone who has recommended anything OTHER than Romanides' text on this subject, but I know he's not the only one to deal with it, & he's not necessarily THE authoritative figure, but he does a pretty darn good job addressing it.  Anything wrong with that?  Not enough? 
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