The Church's Magisterium asserts that it exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes, in a form obliging Catholics to an irrevocable adherence of faith, truths contained in divine Revelation or also when it proposes, in a definitive way, truths having a necessary connection with these.
Dogma can also pertain to the collective body of the Church's dogmatic teachings and doctrine. The faithful are required to accept with the divine and Catholic faith everything the Church presents either as solemn decision or as general teaching. Yet not all teachings are dogma. The faithful are only required to accept those teachings as dogma if the Church clearly and specifically identifies them as infallible dogmas. Not all theological truths have been promulgated as dogmas. A tenet of the faith is that the Bible contains many sacred truths, which the faithful recognize and agree with, but which the Church has not defined as dogma. Most Church teachings are not dogma. Cardinal Avery Dulles pointed out that in the 800 pages of the Second Vatican Council documents, there is not one new statement for which infallibility is claimed.
The concept of dogma has two elements: immediate divine revelation from Scripture or Sacred Tradition, and, a proposition of the Church, which not only announces the dogma but also declares it binding for the faith. This may occur through an ex cathedra decision by a Pope, or by an Ecumenical Council.
The Holy Scripture is not identical with divine revelation, but a part of it. Scriptures were written later by apostles and evangelists, who knew Jesus. They give infallible testimony of his teachings. Scripture thus belongs to Tradition in the larger sense, where it has an absolute priority, because it is the Word of God, and because it is the unchangeable testimony of the apostles of Christ, whose fullness the Church preserves with its tradition.
Dogma is considered to be both divine and Catholic faith: divine because of its believed origin, and Catholic because of belief in the infallible teaching binding for all. At the turn of the 20th century, a group of theologians called modernists stated that dogmas did not come from God but are historical manifestations at a given time. In the encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis, Pope Pius X condemned this teaching as heresy in 1907. The Catholic position is that the content of a dogma has a divine origin. It is considered to be an expression of an objective truth that does not change. The truth of God, revealed by God, does not change, as God himself does not change; "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away".