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Catholic Dogma: Its Mature and

Obligations.

LECTURE I.

CATHOLIC DOGMA: ITS NATURE AND

OBLIGATIONS.

THE RT. REV. A. N. LITTLEJOHN, D.D., LL.D.

Cantab.,

Bishop of Long Island.

Before entering upon the discussion, I have two general remarks to make. (1) I shall speak to believers in the Church's claim to the possession of definite and certain knowledge of the essentials of the faith which it was commissioned to teach. As for unbelievers, whose doubts and objections cover not merely this claim of the Church, but also anterior questions leading up to it, even the existence of God and the possibility of His Incarnation and Revelation to man -they must be left to the wider range of evidence and argument for Christianity itself.

(2) Let it be understood once for all that Catholic dogma does not fir a limit to the operations of reason in dealing with divine truth. It simply asserts the existence of such a limit already fixed in the constitution of nature. God

himself in creating things as we find them; not dogma, which simply describes them, is responsible for the fences of which modern reason so bitterly complains.

My subject is not dogma in general and as popularly applied to all formulated religious truth, but Catholic dogma, which, because it is Catholic, is restricted to Christian verities which bear the mint-stamp of the whole Body of Christ. A dogma to be Catholic must have these three essential, invariable notes.

(1) It must be a truth positively and definitely stated.

(2) It must have directly or by necessary inference, the sure warrant of Holy Scripture.

(3) It must be a truth which has been duly attested by the undivided Church speaking through an Ecumenical Council, and subsequently accepted everywhere and by all in Christendom. Such, briefly, are the signs and notes of Catholic Dogma. Taken together, they sufficiently explain its nature.

But if such be the nature of Catholic dogma, why is it obligatory? The main point and emphasis of the subject are involved in the answer to this question. Obviously the first and chief ground of obligation to accept Catholic dogma is the authority of Holy Scripture on whose warrant it rests, and the authority of the Church.

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