Catholic Doctrine Primer for Inquisitive Protestant Mind

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David Taylor Jr | Forum Activity | Posted: Sat, Oct 19 2019 7:37 PM

I just bought Verbum starter. Can any Catholics give me a good place to start to learn about Catholic teachings both historical and current?

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Kevin Clemens | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Oct 19 2019 8:00 PM

Personally, I'd start with the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). The Apostolic Constitution "Fidei Depositum," which is located prior to the prologue of the CCC, provides a succinct overview of the origin and purpose of this text. You may wish to start working through the text start to finish, or jump to certain topics of interest. 

Next, I'd recommend looking at a few of the major documents from the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) in the Vatican II Documents resource. You will find extensive references to the documents from Vatican II in the CCC (which was written in a few decades following the council. Of the sixteen total documents, I'd highlight the following:

  • Dei Verbum - on Divine Revelation
  • Lumen Gentium - on the Church
  • Gaudium et Spes - on the Church in the modern world

A few other resources in Starter I'd suggest dipping into as well:

  • Living the Catechism vol 1
  • Catholic for a Reason: Scripture and the Mystery of the Family of God
  • Laying the Foundation: A Handbook of Catholic Apologetics and Fundamental Theology

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David Taylor Jr | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Oct 19 2019 8:02 PM

Kevin Clemens:

Personally, I'd start with the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). The Apostolic Constitution "Fidei Depositum," which is located prior to the prologue of the CCC, provides a succinct overview of the origin and purpose of this text. You may wish to start working through the text start to finish, or jump to certain topics of interest. 

Next, I'd recommend looking at a few of the major documents from the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) in the Vatican II Documents resource. You will find extensive references to the documents from Vatican II in the CCC (which was written in a few decades following the council. Of the sixteen total documents, I'd highlight the following:

  • Dei Verbum - on Divine Revelation
  • Lumen Gentium - on the Church
  • Gaudium et Spes - on the Church in the modern world

A few other resources in Starter I'd suggest dipping into as well:

  • Living the Catechism vol 1
  • Catholic for a Reason: Scripture and the Mystery of the Family of God
  • Laying the Foundation: A Handbook of Catholic Apologetics and Fundamental Theology

Thanks Kevin, will that also give me a good overview of the teachings at the time of the Reformation (which is what I am primarliy interested in)? I'm interested in modern teaching too. Just trying to work my way through.

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Matt Hamrick | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Oct 19 2019 8:02 PM

On the Verbum website you can do that 30 day challenge on Mary and it will introduce you to many Catholic resources.

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David Wanat | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Oct 19 2019 8:41 PM

 

Perhaps the Catechism of the Council of Trent will be of use?

https://www.logos.com/product/13202/the-catechism-of-the-council-of-trent

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Oct 19 2019 9:53 PM

David Taylor Jr:
Can any Catholics give me a good place to start to learn about Catholic teachings both historical and current?

I'm going to be the odd person out in this thread. It has been my experience that many Protestants misunderstand the purpose of the Catechism and therefore misunderstand the nature of and the beliefs of the Catholic Church. To understand Catholicism (or Orthodoxy) one must begin with liturgy - lex orandi lex credendi. Once you understand something of liturgy, then you need to understand the use of scripture - especially in liturgy and architecture. Only then does one have the context to understand the theology to the level of your particular interest. I recommend the following:

  • For view of scripture study: Pontifical Biblical Commission. The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1993. and the commentary on it Williamson, Peter. Catholic Principles for Interpreting Scripture: A Study of the Pontifical Biblical Commission’s The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church. Vol. 22. Subsidia Biblica. Roma: Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 2001.  To dig further see Reventlow, Henning Graf. History of Biblical Interpretation. Edited by Susan Ackerman and Tom Thatcher. Translated by Leo G. Perdue. Vol. 1-4. Society of Biblical Literature Resources for Biblical Study. Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2010.
  • For view of worship: Anglican Dix, Gregory. The Shape of the Liturgy. Second Edition. Westminster: Dacre Press, 1945. or Catholic Jungmann, Joseph A. The Mass of the Roman Rite: Its Origins and Development. Translated by Francis A. Brunner. Vol. 1 & 2. Notre Dame, IN: Christian Classics, 1951 or Orthodox (not in Verbum)
  • For view of beliefs: Jurgens, W. A., trans. The Faith of the Early Fathers. Vol. 1–3. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1970–1979. or Willis, John R., ed. The Teachings of the Church Fathers. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2002.
  • For history of the people not the theologians: Old, Hughes Oliphant. The Biblical Period. Vol. 1-7. The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church. Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998.

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Bruce Dunning | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Oct 20 2019 5:59 AM

MJ. Smith:
I'm going to be the odd person out in this thread. It has been my experience that many Protestants misunderstand the purpose of the Catechism and therefore misunderstand the nature of and the beliefs of the Catholic Church. To understand Catholicism (or Orthodoxy) one must begin with liturgy - lex orandi lex credendi. Once you understand something of liturgy, then you need to understand the use of scripture - especially in liturgy and architecture. Only then does one have the context to understand the theology to the level of your particular interest. I recommend the following:

Thanks MJ. I too am interested in gaining and greater understanding of Catholicism. Here are links in Logos to the books you recommend.

https://www.logos.com/product/163596/the-interpretation-of-the-bible-in-the-church

https://www.logos.com/product/2880/catholic-principles-for-interpreting-scripture 

https://www.logos.com/product/47492/history-of-biblical-interpretation

https://www.logos.com/product/55487/the-shape-of-the-liturgy

https://www.logos.com/product/175788/the-mass-of-the-roman-rite-its-origins-and-development

https://www.logos.com/product/31138/faith-of-the-early-fathers

https://www.logos.com/product/29605/the-teachings-of-the-church-fathers

https://www.logos.com/product/7445/the-reading-and-preaching-of-the-scriptures-in-the-worship-of-the-christian-church

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David Taylor Jr | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Oct 20 2019 6:40 AM

Thanks everyone.

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Jan Krohn | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Oct 20 2019 7:50 AM
  • The Creeds of Christendom

https://www.logos.com/product/26969/the-creeds-of-christendom

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Brad | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Oct 20 2019 9:41 AM

David Taylor Jr:

I just bought Verbum starter. Can any Catholics give me a good place to start to learn about Catholic teachings both historical and current?

David, you may also want to take a look at R.C. Sproul's Are We Together? - A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism.  It's certainly not a primary source from a Catholic perspective, but it may be a valuable resource in your study.  (I haven't read it yet, but I certainly respect a lot of Sproul's other work.)  I'm not finding this on in Logos or FL ebooks formats but you can check it out here: https://www.ligonier.org/store/are-we-together-a-protestant-analyzes-roman-catholicism-epub/ 

Hopefully your post will get Verbum Starter on a few more Logos users' radars.  A nice collection at a minimal cost.

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Brad | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Oct 20 2019 10:01 AM

David Taylor Jr:

Can any Catholics ...

David, I missed the filter in your question whereby you were seeking input specifically from Catholics.  FWIW I should disclose that I am not Catholic, and I don't want to sidetrack your thread! Smile

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Jan Krohn | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Oct 20 2019 11:04 AM

Brad:

David, I missed the filter in your question whereby you were seeking input specifically from Catholics.  FWIW I should disclose that I am not Catholic, and I don't want to sidetrack your thread! Smile

I should have made the same point.

I'm not Catholic, and neither was Schaff.

He does include the full texts of the councils, dogmatic constitutions etc. in his works. If you're just interested in the Catholic position, just ignore the critical notes.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Oct 20 2019 2:36 PM

Jan Krohn:

The problem is that many of these creeds are also accepted by non-Catholics. One needs a bit more to be able to read them as a Catholic would read them.

Brad:
David, you may also want to take a look at R.C. Sproul's Are We Together? - A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism.

There is a problem with learning about a position from someone so far outside the tradition as Sproul. One cannot underestimate the difference in world-view across the Catholic-Protestant divide despite the fact that there are some groups that truly hold a middle position. A Protestant has to be able to set aside a bias towards right reading of scripture and understand a bias towards right worship as participation in the heavenly liturgy. In the Orthodox churches this often translates in having the entire body of the church, living and dead, painted on the walls. In parts of Italy, this translates into having the full scope of Biblical history painted on the walls. Until one understands those two impulses, one does not understand the Catholic world-view or Catholic worship. Rather one ends up with a book covering a protestant's (mis)understanding of Catholicism - one that focuses on beliefs torn from a worship based context and shoved into a text based context.

Note: I speak from experience of having grandparents on many sides of the divide and choosing for myself a side different than the one in which I was raised. I am trying to describe the reality not present a theology so that one has a context to read the literature.

An aside: Have you ever considered the effect of the following on Christianity? the invention of the chimney which enabled a switch from communal to private readings. the effect of the printing press decreasing the cost of books? the effect of the printing press increasing the difficulty in producing books with multiple scripts hence fewer interlinears?

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 22 2019 10:44 AM

David Taylor Jr:
Thanks Kevin, will that also give me a good overview of the teachings at the time of the Reformation (which is what I am primarliy interested in)? I'm interested in modern teaching too. Just trying to work my way through.

One of the things that I find convenient about studying Catholic teaching over time is that it isn't much for changing.*

The principal practical impact of this for you at the moment is probably that any and every dogmatic affirmation made by the Catholic Church at the time of the Reformation is still made now, and the very small number of doctrinal affirmations that have been declared/defined as dogmatic by the Catholic Church since the Reformation do not contradict the dogmatic affirmations of the Catholic Church during the Reformation.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church does include references to historical developments, including of Catholic teaching, which you may find helpful. The Catechism is an official and fairly comprehensive teaching aid, rather than itself a statement of the faith. As MJ very rightly notes, the Catholic Church does not conceive of itself or of its theology as a matter of theological propositions or other stuff that can be written down; liturgical worship and devotions, etc., must be experienced, even as a passive observer, in order to get anything remotely like a half-decent understanding of Catholic theology.

Since your interest in Catholic theology is essentially Catholic theology at the time of the Reformation, and presumably in Europe, the most helpful liturgies for you to attend (if you wish) are likely Masses celebrated according to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. (These are also commonly called Usus Antiquior Masses, Traditional Latin Masses, Masses according to the 1962 Missal, and a few other not-unrelated names.) Such Masses are closer, especially aesthetically, to the liturgical worship of Catholics in most of Europe during the Reformation. Although they are less commonly available, Masses celebrated according the Dominican Rite are an equally good option and potentially even a better one, as the Dominican rite retains (even) more of the medieval and pre-Council of Trent (i.e., pre-Tridentine) liturgical practice than does the Extraordinary Form.

One worthy and much, much shorter resource to potentially use alongside the Catechism of the Catholic Church is the YOUCAT, the official youth edition of the CCC, which is arranged in the standard Q&A format of most catechisms, contains zillions of links to the relevant portions of the CCC, and provides concise, easily-understood initial answers and useful starting points for further study. Frankly, I normally recommend reading the YOUCAT to Catholic adults who want to learn more about their faith, and I've had universally positive feedback over the years from those who have taken me up on it.

*I'm knowingly simplifying a few doctoral dissertations worth of material here that is best discussed outside these forums. St. John Henry Newman's 1845 An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine is probably the best starting point on that subject for a serious reader.

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Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Oct 25 2019 8:33 AM

Hi David:

Not a Catholic, but I find your thread very interesting. I want to thank you for starting it. 

Just a different way to tentatively go about the important study you are doing:

https://ebooks.faithlife.com/search?query=catholic%20doctrine&sortBy=Relevance&limit=60&page=1&filters=status-live_Status&ownership=all

Really interesting resources that I did not know were available.

Theoretically you could take a look at the descriptions of some and check if any are of use.

I found particularly interesting (have not read it yet):

https://ebooks.faithlife.com/product/21059/protestants-and-catholics-do-they-now-agree

Then doing a similar search in Verbum some interesting resources came up:

https://verbum.com/product/45257/catholic-answers-collection-upgrade

One resource I really like in Verbum is the "Catholic Topical index", a lot of concepts are dealt with there, and has links to different resources.

https://www.logos.com/product/37717/catholic-topical-index

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Si3wqFIKj2U

Now to facilitate the true underlaying concepts that separate deeply the different traditions, I found the following resource invaluable:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1889638056/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i4

There you will see why there are seemingly "irreconcilable differences".

Then checking in Noet I found some promising resources:

https://ebooks.noet.com/search?query=catholic%20doctrine&sortBy=Relevance&limit=60&page=1&ownership=all

https://ebooks.noet.com/product/78030/europes-reformations-1450-1650-doctrine-politics-and-community

A good resource for comparative study also (at a more basic level):

https://www.logos.com/product/27749/survivors-guide-to-theology

Your post has helped me find excellent resources. Hope some of the info is of help to you. If you have particular topics / concepts that you find extremely important, please post, to help me route research in a better way.

Now remember I am the most non-expert person so do not take some of my suggestions too seriously.

Peace and grace.

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Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Oct 25 2019 8:51 AM

Hi Bruce:

Nice list. Do you have a dedicated Catholic collection for your studies, or do you use the Verbum one?

https://faithlife.com/logos-product-collections/documents

Sometimes I make a collection just putting in the rule box: "Catholic" to make a filtered no rule collection, but that is not very scientific.

Thanks for sharing the list.

Peace and grace.

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Bruce Dunning | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Oct 25 2019 1:18 PM

Hamilton Ramos:

Hi Bruce:

Nice list. Do you have a dedicated Catholic collection for your studies, or do you use the Verbum one?

Hi Hamilton, The list is not my list. I was just linking the books that MJ listed above. By the way, I do have all my books written from a Catholic perspective tagged as such as I do with books from every denomination.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Oct 25 2019 3:50 PM

Yes

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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