Friday, April 22, 2011

Understanding Divine Revelation

In my last post, I wrote a little about the idea of Divine Revelation. As Catholics, we are privileged to be members of Christ's own church, instituted directly by Him. As members of His body the Church, we have the fullness of the faith in Christ, and the fullness of His Divine Revelation.

One thing you might notice as you study the Faith is that there are many repeating patterns (often called "Types" in religious literature) - each referring back to a fundamental truth about God. One of these types is the prevalence of the number three - not just a collection of three objects, but rather a grouping of three objects that are deeply, intimately connected with each other. The model for this is of course the Holy Trinity. God's revelation is also given to mankind in three profoundly related ways. Each of these methods of revelation depends upon and is revealed and explained by the other two. None can stand by themselves, and when people try to take one of the three methods of revelation and stand it up by itself, the result is inevitably not God's plan.

The three methods God chose to reveal Himself to mankind are Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and Magisterial Teaching. I will take a post to explain each of these methods of revelation more fully. But at this point, it's enough to understand that they are all related - Sacred Scripture is the Divine Word of God, Sacred Tradition explains the fullness of that Word in the life of God's people, and Magisterial Teaching explains how to read an understand the realities of Sacred Scripture and Sacred tradition with the mind of the Church - which is the mind of Christ.

1 comment:

  1. After reading this and the prior post, I am prompted to quote from Verbum Dei,

    To search out the intention of the sacred writers, attention should be given, among other things, to "literary forms." For truth is set forth and expressed differently in texts which are variously historical, prophetic, poetic, or of other forms of discourse. The interpreter must investigate what meaning the sacred writer intended to express and actually expressed in particular circumstances by using contemporary literary forms in accordance with the situation of his own time and culture. (7) For the correct understanding of what the sacred author wanted to assert, due attention must be paid to the customary and characteristic styles of feeling, speaking and narrating which prevailed at the time of the sacred writer, and to the patterns men normally employed at that period in their everyday dealings with one another. (8)

    But, since Holy Scripture must be read and interpreted in the sacred spirit in which it was written, (9) no less serious attention must be given to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture if the meaning of the sacred texts is to be correctly worked out. The living tradition of the whole Church must be taken into account along with the harmony which exists between elements of the faith. It is the task of exegetes to work according to these rules toward a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture, so that through preparatory study the judgment of the Church may mature. For all of what has been said about the way of interpreting Scripture is subject finally to the judgment of the Church, which carries out the divine commission and ministry of guarding and interpreting the word of God. (10)

    This is one of my favorite portions of the document, a document I love to revisit frequently. We shall have to discuss these things one day. I believe that we are actually in agreement, but I am interested to hear where our conversation goes. Also - we are in a unique position to receive gifts of our Church and not live sola scriptura.