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Is the idea of doctrinal development compatible with belief in the abiding truth of Christianity The problem that the development of doctrine presents to the church is simple On the one hand Christianity is presented as containing the lasting and eternal truth of salvation and eternal life and on the other hand when the history of the church is studied the details within which this truth is presented have quite clearly changed This problem is particularly exacerbated for those involved in ecumenical dialogue and for theologians within the Roman Catholic church For ecumenical dialogue one must either try and hammer out those doctrines which are true and which arent an approach that wont get very far or learn to live together despite having different doctrines that is to say that what the other side says is wrong but that can be accepted A third approach tried by some within the movement is to try and find some reason why both sides of the debate can be right in some sense For Roman Catholics the problems is exacerbated by their strong sense of authority of the church down the ages and in particular the veracity of the official doctrines issued by the Popes and the Councils If a Pope has held that Matthews gospel was written first then it is very difficult for Catholic theologians to argue that that isnt true and that Marks gospel for instance was in fact the first written Within this essay I shall be looking at different approaches to the issue before going on to try and find the most convincing solution should that be possible The history of doctrine in the early nineteenth century was seen by catholic theologians as being one of pure unsullied teaching that had been handed down by the church from the time of the Fathers to the present day There may have been changes of language but the concepts behind them remained immutable The reformation
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