Development of Doctrine
Hello, I'm a lapsed Orthodox investigating Catholicism (Eastern Catholicism specifically).I have a few difficult questions about this, but I won't lay it all out in one post. The first problem is the Catholic teaching of the development of doctrine. It doesn't seem true to me that we can believe something tomorrow as dogma that we dont believe today. How can this be true?
I don't know what's going on, if it's a Phone thing or intentional, but your text is tiny. Just FYI.

God Bless
"Behold the Heart that has so loved men that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming Itself, in order to testify Its love; in return, I receive from the greater part only ingratitude, by their irreverence and sacrilege, and by the coldness and contempt they have for Me in this Sacrament of Love. But what I feel most keenly is that it is hearts which are consecrated to Me that treat Me thus.” - St. Margaret Mary. Ignored by King of France Culminating in French Revolution.

"Charity concert at Cdl. Schonborn's Cathedral features shirtless actor dancing on Communion rail" - Dec 4, 2018

(05-12-2019, 11:17 PM)josh987654321 Wrote: I don't know what's going on, if it's a Phone thing or intentional, but your text is tiny. Just FYI.

God Bless

It must be a phone thing because it looks fine to me. Thanks. I'll try to change it.
The first thing necessary in understanding what the Catholic Church means by "development of doctrine" is to reject the error of Modernism which is founded on the idea of an evolution of religious dogmas. These may, on the surface, sounds the same, but they are wildly different.

A Modernist believes two fundamental principles : Agnosticism (the idea that we cannot know anything with certitude beyond our senses), and Vital Immanence (the idea that we all have some notion or experience of the spiritual, so it is by this inner feeling that we can "know" what is unknowable by our senses and reason). Thus, religion is what happens when people who have similar spiritual experiences decided to share these. As man's idea of the spiritual evolves, so do doctrines. Thus man started out feeling that there must be something higher, divinized the natural powers around him formed religions, but then once he learned more, he personalized these, and then decided that just as a kingdom had one ruler, there must be a single god over the others, etc. This is all heretical, but necessitates an "evolution" of doctrine to accomplish it. It is not Catholic or Christian, or even reasonable.

The Catholic Church understands a very different idea by the "development of doctrine".

The Church asserts that there was since the creation of man, progressive revelation from God. The Primitive Revelation was given to Adam, who passed it to his descendants, but this became warped because of the effects of Original Sin. Then slowly and in various ways, God revealed more and more of the truth, especially to Abraham and his descendants, and eventually when Christ was Incarnate, all of what preceded was fulfilled and revealed clearly in Him. Christ commissioned Apostles who would be co-founders of the Church, and continue this revelation in their establishment of the Church by a special Apostolic character by which they were also inspired (hence St Paul, St Peter, St James, St Jude, St Matthew, St Mark, St Luke and St John wrote and revealed further truths to us that Christ wanted revealed). With the death of the last Apostle, the whole deposit of revelation was completed. There will never be any other revealed truth that must be believed by men to be saved. This deposit we call Public Revelation, or the Deposit of the Faith. Nothing can be added to or taken away from it, as Our Lord says in St Matthew's Gospel (5.18) : "For amen I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled."

However, Revelation is not always as explicit as we might like, so needs some explanation. It is also possible that we can use reasoning to combine two truths which are revealed, or combine revealed truth with truths of the philosophical order to get new information. In certain cases these conclusions will be part of that revelation (just unfolded or explained) in other cases they will touch on these, but not form part of that revelation, only certain, or likely deductions. Catholics tend to call what is part of revelation dogma, while we tend to call what is teaching which is derived from revelation but not part of it doctrine. Admittedly, Catholic sometimes use these terms interchangeably with much confusion. I will use these terms here as follows :

Dogma = A truth which is part of the Public Revelation ending with the death of St John, also called Formal Revelation.

Doctrine = The truths which the Church has deduced from Revelation which are not part of that Revelation, but theological conclusions, of greater or lesser certainty, also called Virtual Revelation.

The Church can only define infallible what is part of Formal Revelation. She cannot define what is part of Virtual Revelation as part of Revelation. She can, however, infallibly condemn propositions which go against both Formal and Virtual Revelation.

There are two kinds of processes that theologians go through : Explicative and Illative.

An explicative process is just an explanation. It introduces no new ideas, but simply draws out what was already in the original statement. We do this, for instance, by applying a definition, or an essential attribute:

Major : Jesus Christ is true Man (Fomally Revealed)
minor :  A man has a rational soul. (Essential attribute of a man, so part of the definition)
conclusion : Jesus Christ as a rational soul.

The conclusion was already present in the Major premise. It added no new truth, but simply drew out what already is meant by the term "man". This "develops" the idea, but not by adding some new truth. The deposit of Faith has not "grown" by this statement, and the Church could define this conclusion as part of the Faith, because it was already there, and just needed a light put on it to see what was already there. Our understanding has "developed" but the Deposit of Faith has not grown thereby.

Another example :

Major : Christ founded His indefectible teaching Church on an indefectible foundation, St Peter. (Formally Revealed Truth)
minor : An indefectible foundation of a teaching Church needs to be infallible, or the faithful could not know what has to be believed. (Explanation of what is meant in Major Premise)
conclusion : Christ gave the charism of infallibility to St Peter.

Again, this minor merely explains what is meant by an indefecetible teacing Church and indefectible foundation, so nothing truly new comes out of the conclusion that was not already in the original. Thus this is also part of the Deposit of Faith, which has not grown. Our understanding of it has grown.

We can even use reason to get "new truths" when both of the premeses are part of Revelation, because combining two Revealed premeses does not actually provide new information. Thus :

Major : Jesus Christ is a Divine Person (Formally Revealed Truth)
minor : Mary is the mother of Jesus (Formally Revealed Truth)
conclusion : Mary is the Mother of a Divine Person (i.e. Mary is the Mother of God).

This is the combining of ideas to form a "new" truth, but one that does not actually "grow" the Deposit of Faith, because that conclusion was always there from the start.

Where the Church cannot "develop" is when new information is added that was not part of the Deposit of Faith or the essential definition of a thing, or explanation of a term. These ideas will be conclusions of theology and quite true, but not part of Revelation. Thus, they serve to help the faithful understand, and rejecting them would be sinful and erroneous, but not a denial of the Faith. Denying such theological conclusions, however, would quickly lead to denying truths of the Faith. An example :

Major : Jesus Christ is God. (Formally revealed truth)
minor : God cannot sin. (Obvious philosophical truth, but not revealed)
conclusion : Jesus Christ cannot sin.

Everyone would admit the truth of the conclusion. It is obvious, but it is not part of the deposit of Faith. Someone who would deny this would not be a heretic. The Church, however, could infallibly condemn those who reject the conclusion, but this is not the same as asserting that the conclusion is part of the Deposit of the Faith.

In summary, the Deposit of the Faith cannot grow. Our understanding of it can grow, and the Church can infallibly condemn what goes against the Deposit of the Faith but also what goes against clearly reasonable theological conclusions.

This is what is meant by the "development of doctrine".
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An early explanation of "development of doctrine" by St. Vincent de Lerins:

Quote:[56.] In like manner, it behooves Christian doctrine to follow the same laws of progress, so as to be consolidated by years, enlarged by time, refined by age, and yet, withal, to continue uncorrupt and unadulterate, complete and perfect in all the measurement of its parts, and, so to speak, in all its proper members and senses, admitting no change, no waste of its distinctive property, no variation in its limits.

[57.] For example: Our forefathers in the old time sowed wheat in the Church's field. It would be most unmeet and iniquitous if we, their descendants, instead of the genuine truth of grain, should reap the counterfeit error of tares. This rather should be the result — there should be no discrepancy between the first and the last. From doctrine which was sown as wheat, we should reap, in the increase, doctrine of the same kind — wheat also; so that when in process of time any of the original seed is developed, and now flourishes under cultivation, no change may ensue in the character of the plant. There may supervene shape, form, variation in outward appearance, but the nature of each kind must remain the same. God forbid that those rose-beds of Catholic interpretation should be converted into thorns and thistles. God forbid that in that spiritual paradise from plants of cinnamon and balsam, darnel and wolfsbane should of a sudden shoot forth.

Therefore, whatever has been sown by the fidelity of the Fathers in this husbandry of God's Church, the same ought to be cultivated and taken care of by the industry of their children, the same ought to flourish and ripen, the same ought to advance and go forward to perfection. For it is right that those ancient doctrines of heavenly philosophy should, as time goes on, be cared for, smoothed, polished; but not that they should be changed, not that they should be maimed, not that they should be mutilated. They may receive proof, illustration, definiteness; but they must retain withal their completeness, their integrity, their characteristic properties.

[58.] For if once this license of impious fraud be admitted, I dread to say in how great danger religion will be of being utterly destroyed and annihilated. For if any one part of Catholic truth be given up, another, and another, and another will thenceforward be given up as a matter of course, and the several individual portions having been rejected, what will follow in the end but the rejection of the whole? On the other hand, if what is new begins to be mingled with what is old, foreign with domestic, profane with sacred, the custom will of necessity creep on universally, till at last the Church will have nothing left untampered with, nothing unadulterated, nothing sound, nothing pure; but where formerly there was a sanctuary of chaste and undefiled truth, thenceforward there will be a brothel of impious and base errors. May God's mercy avert this wickedness from the minds of his servants; be it rather the frenzy of the ungodly.

[59.] But the Church of Christ, the careful and watchful guardian of the doctrines deposited in her charge, never changes anything in them, never diminishes, never adds, does not cut off what is necessary, does not add what is superfluous, does not lose her own, does not appropriate what is another's, but while dealing faithfully and judiciously with ancient doctrine, keeps this one object carefully in view — if there be anything which antiquity has left shapeless and rudimentary, to fashion and polish it, if anything already reduced to shape and developed, to consolidate and strengthen it, if any already ratified and defined, to keep and guard it. Finally, what other object have Councils ever aimed at in their decrees, than to provide that what was before believed in simplicity should in future be believed intelligently, that what was before preached coldly should in future be preached earnestly, that what was before practised negligently should thenceforward be practised with double solicitude? This, I say, is what the Catholic Church, roused by the novelties of heretics, has accomplished by the decrees of her Councils — this, and nothing else — she has thenceforward consigned to posterity in writing what she had received from those of olden times only by tradition, comprising a great amount of matter in a few words, and often, for the better understanding, designating an old article of the faith by the characteristic of a new name.

It should be noted, some EOs polemically claim they don't do development of doctrine, but the East, even when separated, developed right along with western Catholics for centuries.  In the last century and a half or so, the neo-Palamite movement has rejected some developments with roots in the Western Fathers (even though they embraced them without controversy for centuries prior), but neo-Palamism is its own form of development, not to mention the rest of the development we still have in common.
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