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progressives have a point

By Diogenes (bio - articles ) | Jan 12, 2006

Msgr. Ronald Knox, "On the Development of Doctrine," from his collection of addresses The Hidden Stream (1953).

It doesn't do to say that heresy produces the development of doctrine, because that annoys the theologians. But it is true that as a matter of history the development of doctrine has been largely a reaction on the Church's part to the attacks of heresy. You know how pearls are made? I understand that the oyster is attacked by what the Encyclopaedia calls a boring parasite, and its reaction is to form the pearl. You and I would scratch, but the oyster forms pearls instead. And I think I've been told that's how you produce culture pearls; you dig a bit of sand or grit inside the oyster's shell, and it says "Hullo, here's another of those boring parasites", and gives you a pearl accordingly. Well, I don't what to press the parable. I don't mean that the Church, left to herself, would be silent and inactive as an oyster. I only mean that those pearls of theological truth which have formed round the central doctrines of the Christian faith have, as a matter of history, been produced as a rule by reaction from the attacks of those boring parasites whom we call heretics.

Whence Matthew Fox was recently to be seen reading The Purpose-Driven Life.

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  • Posted by: Cornelius - Jan. 12, 2006 10:25 AM ET USA

    I think that's a great analogy . . . I'm going to use it in my next RCIA class.

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