Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Magisterium: Teacher and Guardian of the Faith

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Magisterium: Teacher and Guardian of the Faith

Article excerpt

Magisterium: Teacher and Guardian of the Faith. By Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J. Introductions to Catholic Doctrine. Naples, Fla.: Sapientia Press, 2007. x + 209 pp. $21.95 (paper).

Avery Dulles s Magisterium is perhaps the clearest, most concise and comprehensive introductory book to date on the teaching authority and function of the Roman Catholic Church. Written primarily for Roman Catholics, it covers various aspects of the magisterium with the theologies of Pope John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in mind. So important are these sources for a new theology of the magisterium that older works that do not include them "would be in serious need of updating" (p. viii). Nine appendices provide the most pertinent sections of the most recent papal documents on the Roman Catholic Church's teaching authority.

Although this book is not apologetica! in focus (p. 6), Dulles's explanation and description of the magisterium unknowingly, if not indirectly, defends the Roman Catholic claim throughout his book. "It is logical," he declares, "to suppose that if God deems it important to give a revelation, he will make provision to assure its conservation" (p. 4). Utilizing New Testament data and church history, Dulles forcefully argues that the magisterium is both biblically sound and well established throughout church history. This is most welcome, given the scarcity of published works on the historical development of the papacy. He then outlines the role of the members of the magisterium. This section spells out the distinction between the Roman Catholic Church's official teachers and how their authority is related to church fathers, doctors of the church, saints, and theologians. He then explains how and when there can be disagreements between bishops. For example, the entire college of bishops can teach, govern, and sanctify in union with the pope, but the pope does not have to perform these functions with the approval of his brother bishops (pp. 51-52). An important point to remember is that the multifaceted, authoritative teachings of the Roman Catholic Church are not always infallible. Encyclicals are not examples of infallible teaching either (p. 70).

Elucidating the competence of pastoral authorities, Dulles conveys the circumstances in which the pope teaches infallibly (pp. 70-71). With this he draws attention to questions on whether infallible pronouncements are ever defective and therefore in need of correction or updating. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.