Does a change in discipline imply a change in doctrine?

The disciplines of the Old Testament were given by Divine Revelation. These are the most firmly established disciplines. And yet all the Old Testament disciplines have been dispensed by Christ and His Church. Does this nullification of all Old Testament disciplines imply that all Old Testament teachings are null and void? Not at all. Therefore, a change or dispensation from a New Testament discipline does not imply a change in teaching.

The Old Testament discipline required the death penalty for various offenses, including adultery. Jesus dispensed the Mosaic death penalty. This decision was very liberal, and yet it was the will of God. So a liberal discipline is not necessarily contrary to the will of God.

[John 8]
{8:3} Now the scribes and Pharisees brought forward a woman caught in adultery, and they stood her in front of them.
{8:4} And they said to him: “Teacher, this woman was just now caught in adultery.
{8:5} And in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such a one. Therefore, what do you say?”
{8:6} But they were saying this to test him, so that they might be able to accuse him. Then Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the earth.
{8:7} And then, when they persevered in questioning him, he stood upright and said to them, “Let whoever is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her.”
{8:8} And bending down again, he wrote on the earth.
{8:9} But upon hearing this, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest. And Jesus alone remained, with the woman standing in front of him.
{8:10} Then Jesus, raising himself up, said to her: “Woman, where are those who accused you? Has no one condemned you?”
{8:11} And she said, “No one, Lord.” Then Jesus said: “Neither will I condemn you. Go, and now do not choose to sin anymore.”

Jesus nullified the Mosaic death penalty, for adultery and other offenses, by these words. And the Church has always understood that the Old Testament disciplines, including the Mosaic death penalty, have been dispensed by Christ. (The death penalty is still moral to apply to persons convicted of certain grave crimes, but the death penalty as a religious requirement, as stated in the Old Testament law, has been dispensed.)

Does this imply a change in teaching on the grave immorality of adultery, or a nullification of one of the ten commandments? Not at all. For Jesus also taught:

{5:27} You have heard that it was said to the ancients: ‘You shall not commit adultery.’
{5:28} But I say to you, that anyone who will have looked at a woman, so as to lust after her, has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

{19:16} And behold, someone approached and said to him, “Good Teacher, what good should I do, so that I may have eternal life?”
{19:17} And he said to him: “Why do you question me about what is good? One is good: God. But if you wish to enter into life, observe the commandments.”
{19:18} He said to him, “Which?” And Jesus said: “You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not give false testimony.
{19:19} Honor your father and your mother. And, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

So the claim of some conservatives and many traditionalists today, that if Pope Francis changes discipline he thereby rejects a true doctrine, is a false claim. These are the Pharisees of today, who exalt discipline above doctrine, who exalt rules above mercy, and who exalt themselves above the Pope and the Magisterium. They speak as if their own understanding of Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium were infallible, even while they contradict the person Jesus chose to teach and correct them: the Vicar of Christ.

Soon, many conservatives and traditionalists will falsely accuse Pope Francis of heresy and thereby commit the sins of heresy and schism themselves. The great apostasy begins 4 October 2015, with the opening of the Bishops’ Synod.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

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3 Responses to Does a change in discipline imply a change in doctrine?

  1. Dot says:

    In a nation with a 50 percent divorce rate, it is a scandal that every parish does not have a ministry to the divorced. Since it takes only one partner to abandon the marriage, a full half of divorcees could be unwilling victims. A spouse loses their marriage AND loses their parish because of the humiliation of being ignored. THIS is the APOSTASY – people leaving the Church because they’ve been abandoned by their own. Should they eventually want to do the right thing and return to the One True Church, they may have to undergo the further humiliation and deprivation of not being able to receive Christ in the Eucharist! You can see why most will never return. Why undergo a new source of humiliation, the annulment approval, which can take years to process? So that potentially every Sunday for the rest of their life they can be singled out to watch everyone ELSE proceed up in the communion line? Sounds hellish to me.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Divorced Catholics can receive Communion. It is only persons divorced and remarried without an annulment who are currently prohibited from Communion.

  2. Dot says:

    Your prediction looks to be spot on. From the Pope himself:

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