An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church


Definitive teaching of the church which is to be believed by the members of the church. The term is from the Greek dokein, “to seem.” It designates doctrine which has been considered by an authoritative body and promulgated as officially established teaching. It “appears to be good” to that body, and there “seems” to be no objection to it. Dogma is, hence, definitive and normative for future thought. The chief matters so approved in the church include the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation, which were defined by the first four general councils. Virtually all Anglicans recognize these councils as ecumenical and authoritative, and most Anglicans recognize the first seven general councils. The judgments of these councils consequently rank as dogma. There is no authoritative Anglican pronouncement as to the number of authoritative councils. The Roman Catholic Church regards all councils summoned by the Pope as authoritative, and their pronouncements count as dogma. The Eastern Orthodox Church similarly regards all synods convened by the Ecumenical Patriarch. Thus the scope of dogma varies in different Christian bodies. Heresy may be understood as the formal and deliberate rejection of a dogma. See Ecumenical Councils.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.