Magisterium is a Latin term (from magister "teacher") designating the official teaching office of the authorized living teaching authority of the catholic orthodox Christian church. According to the Catholic Church the only correct and valid understanding of the revealed Christian doctrine of salvation and the Bible can only be obtained by taking account of both Sacred Scripture and Apostolic Tradition as interpreted by the authentic catholic Christian Living Magisterium under the promised guidance of God the Holy Spirit. The teachings of the Magisterium are magisterial teachings, most often set forth in magisterial documents, such as the Documents of Vatican II, or the promulgated teachings of ecumenical councils.
The Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura rejects any need for Apostolic Tradition and a Living Magisterium for a reliable interpretation of the Bible. Differences in doctrinal interpretations based solely on the text of the Bible alone has resulted in a multitude of different Christian denominations.
More generally, and less often, the term magisterium is used by writers as a dignified or ironically sarcastic reference to the authoritative magisterium of any religious, philosophical, educational, scientific, even political, institution or organization. It embodies and represents official teaching.In Philip Pullman's novels, the Magisterium is an Inquisition-like institution which commits various heinous acts. According to a Nov. 2019 Esquire article,
He [Pullman] reportedly told the Washington Post that his aim was to "undermine the basis of Christian belief." In a 2002 interview with the Guardian, he said organized religion is necessarily corrupt. "Whenever you get a political structure, with ranks and hierarchies, you get corruption," he argued, "you get people who are more interested in progressing through those ranks than in doing good. Power corrupts." In a 2003 conversation with the Sydney Herald he summed up his plot: "My books are about killing god."
- The Magisterium or Teaching Authority of the Church, by Fr. William G. Most (ewtn.com)
- The Magisterium of the Catholic Church (catholicessentials.net) Defines differences between Solemn/Extraordinary Magisterium and Ordinary Magisterium, with scriptural references.
- The Free Dictionary. magisterium (freedictionary.com)