Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Lesson From The Catechism: Transmission Of Divine Revelation

One of the essential elements that we must understand in the Christian religion is the transmission of Divine revelation. Catholics are often accused of being "unbiblical" for the wrong reason. Some would say that Catholics are "unbiblical" because there are rituals and doctrines that are contrary to the Bible. This kind of mentality coming from non-catholics have somehow contaminated the minds of innocent Catholics, thus causing them to leave the Catholic Church and join other denominations. But what exactly is the teaching of the Church concerning Divine revelation? Is there a basis for the accusation that Catholics are "unbiblical"? The Catholic Church teaches that:

"Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit. "And [Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirely the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching." CCC 81

The Catholic Church teaches that the Sacred Scripture "is the speech of God" this directly refutes that false claims that the Catholic Church disregards the Bible. As a matter of fact is the through the Church's council that the Canon of the New Testament was formed. It was these councils (Synod of Carthage, Council of Rome, Council of Trent) that discerns and affirm which Scripture is truly inspired by the Holy Spirit. However, the Catholic Church further believes that not everything was written in Scripture, even the Scripture itself admits to this reality. 
"There were many things that Jesus did; if all were written down, the world itself, I suppose, would not hold all the books that would have to be written." John 21:25

So what happens the the teachings of Jesus Christ that were not written down? Is it lost forever? The Holy Spirit with all his infinity has preserved these teachings through the Apostolic Tradition which was handed down from the apostles to their successors the bishops.  For 300years there was no New Testament and no Bible as what we have now, therefore Christians in those day would have to listen to the preachings of the priests and bishops in order to know the Christian faith and believe in Christ. St. Paul in his epistles to the Romans explicitly stated that faith comes by hearing (Rom.10:17), why would St. Paul say such a thing? Why not just read the scriptures? It's because during their time the New Testament did not exists. 

The Catholic Church teaches that Divine revelation is transmitted through the Sacred Scripture and Apostolic Tradition. In view of the teachings of St. Paul that Christians must adhere both to the written and unwritten teachings of Christ:

"Stand firm, then brothers and keep the traditions that we taught you whether by word of mouth or by letter." 2 Thessalonians 2:15

The Catholic Church believes that the Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition have the same dignity , neither one is superior to the other. As stated in the Catechism;
"As a result, the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the Holy Scripture alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence." CCC 82

The person who wishes to learn more about Christ must not only have the Bible alone but both the Bible and Apostolic tradition. The Apostolic tradition can only be found in the Church alone, therefore one must listen to the Church's preachings to deeply understand the truths of the Christian religion because the Catholic Church alone is the custodian of divine revelation and its infallible interpreter.

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