The development of doctrine
Peter and I, on another site, are enagaged in a series of what promises to be ultimately frustrating discussions about the relationship between Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy. We have another thread on that specific theme here, so I don't want to expatiate on that one here. But as part of it, we have begun discussing the idea of doctrine and development.
This is a thorny question, not least for many of the BOF who are Anglicans. I would hazard a guess that there is not one of us who thinks that recent (last 30 years!) developments in Anglicanism are to be welcomed. So the question arises of how we perceive the notion of deveopment.
The Orthodox Church teaches the faith that was revealed in completeness by the Incarnate Word, and it is not at liberty to add or subtract therefrom. However, that does not (or does it?) mean that we fully understand what was fully revealed. The very early Church, pre the Cappadocian Fathers, had a very incomplete expression of the doctrine of the Trinity; the same was true of the Christological issues. It needed a series of Councils to bring out a better understanding of these things.
What I think I am suggesting is that our understanding of the Faith develops, but it remains itself, unchanged and unchanging.
If this seems on the right lines (and please say if it is not), then what the canons of the Church, the teachings of the Fathers, and Holy Tradition do for us, is to help our dynamic understanding of the Faith.
Or is this just introducing Newmanite 'development' theory by another route - and we can see where that went!
On the other hand, it seems a fact that our understanding of the Faith has developed.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)