13 October, 2009

Is the Gospel Principle Too Narrow a Criterion by which to Define Catholicity?

Comments by two readers have suggested that the Gospel Principle enunciated in my Provisional Statement on Catholicity below is too narrow to serve as a criterion for evaluating catholicity. In defence of this principle, I offer here an extract from the Annex to the Official Common Statement on the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, signed by the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation.

"The doctrine of justification is measure or touchstone for the Christian faith. No teaching may contradict this criterion. In this sense, the doctrine of justification is an "indispensable criterion which constantly serves to orient all the teaching and practice of our churches to Christ“ (JD l8). As such, it has its truth and specific meaning within the overall context of the Church’s fundamental Trinitarian confession of faith. We "share the goal of confessing Christ in all things, who is to be trusted above all things as the one Mediator (1 Tim 2:5-6) through whom God in the Holy Spirit gives himself and pours out his renewing gifts“ (JD 18)." [italics mine].

The complete statement can be found on the website of the Vatican: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_31101999_cath-luth-official-statement_en.html
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