Thursday, June 8, 2017



"For the words of God, expressed in human language, have been made like human discourse, just as the word of the eternal Father, when He took to Himself the flesh of human weakness, was in every way made like men." The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Liturgy, Vatican Council II

...according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed and through the prophetic writings is made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith...
Romans 16:25-26 make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 3:9-10

The Problem: Those who treat Scripture as the only true source of authority are not fully able to appreciate the plan of God, seeing only a single plane of holiness in existence, God. Because they do not accept Apostolic authority, they accept neither a sacramental view of the world, nor the Catholic understanding of the hierarchy of sacred things. In rejecting this heirarchy of sacredness, which extends like a ladder from God to entice men to approach Him, they lose the ability to appreciate the Catholic understanding of the unique sacredness of Scripture.

The Truth: As the verses leading this section indicate, Scripture is the source of revelation, but the plan revealed by Scripture can be known only through the Church; indeed, that is why Christ established the Church, to reveal the structure and plan of salvation. Scripture, like the sacraments, makes God present in a created and tangible form, intelligible to men. Catholics understand Scripture to be the revelation of Jesus Christ, venerated just as His Body, because, like that crucified, glorified Body, Scripture reveals who Christ is. The Church reveals the wisdom of God, the plan of God, the Christ in action who is revealed in Scripture. In order to appreciate the Catholic view of Scripture, it is useful to read what the Church teaches in regards to Scripture.

Excerpts from:
The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation,

The Vatican II document known as Dei Verbum.

11.  Those divinely revealed realities which are contained and presented in Sacred Scripture have been committed to writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.... In composing the sacred books, God chose men and while employed by Him they made use of their powers and abilities, so that with Him acting in them and through them, they, as true authors, consigned to writing everything and only those things which He wanted.

Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation. Therefore "all Scripture is divinely inspired and has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind" (2 Tim. 3:16-17, Greek text).

12. However, since God speaks in Sacred Scripture through men in human fashion, ... 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.... But, since Holy Scripture must be read and interpreted in the sacred spirit in which it was written, 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...

13. In Sacred Scripture... the words of God, expressed in human language, have been made like human discourse, just as the word of the eternal Father, when He took to Himself the flesh of human weakness, was in every way made like men.

14. ...The plan of salvation foretold by the sacred authors, recounted and explained by them, is found as the true word of God in the books of the Old Testament: these books, therefore, written under divine inspiration, remain permanently valuable. "For all that was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope" (Rom. 15:4).

15. The principal purpose to which the plan of the old covenant was directed was to prepare for the coming of Christ, the redeemer of all and of the messianic kingdom, to announce this coming by prophecy (see Luke 24:44; John 5:39; 1 Peter 1:10), and to indicate its meaning through various types (see 1 Cor. 10:12)....

16. God, the inspirer and author of both Testaments, wisely arranged that the New Testament be hidden in the Old and the Old be made manifest in the New. For, though Christ established the new covenant in His blood (see Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25), still the books of the Old Testament with all their parts, caught up into the proclamation of the Gospel, acquire and show forth their full meaning in the New Testament (see Matt. 5:17; Luke 24:27; Rom. 16:25-26; 2 Cor. 4:6) and in turn shed light on it and explain it...

18. It is common knowledge that among all the Scriptures, even those of the New Testament, the Gospels have a special preeminence, and rightly so, for they are the principal witness for the life and teaching of the incarnate Word, our savior....

19. ...after the Ascension of the Lord the Apostles handed on to their hearers what He had said and done... The sacred authors wrote the four Gospels, selecting some things from the many which had been handed on by word of mouth or in writing, reducing some of them to a synthesis, explaining some things in view of the situation of their churches and preserving the form of proclamation but always in such fashion that they told us the honest truth about Jesus. For their intention in writing was that either from their own memory and recollections, or from the witness of those who "themselves from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word" we might know "the truth" concerning those matters about which we have been instructed (see Luke 1:2-4).

21. The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of God's word and of Christ's body. She has always maintained them, and continues to do so, together with sacred tradition, as the supreme rule of faith, since, as inspired by God and committed once and for all to writing, they impart the word of God Himself without change, and make the voice of the Holy Spirit resound in the words of the prophets and Apostles. Therefore, like the Christian religion itself, all the preaching of the Church must be nourished and regulated by Sacred Scripture. For in the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them; and the force and power in the word of God is so great that it stands as the support and energy of the Church, the strength of faith for her sons, the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life. Consequently these words are perfectly applicable to Sacred Scripture: "For the word of God is living and active" (Heb. 4:12) and "it has power to build you up and give you your heritage among all those who are sanctified" (Acts 20:32; see 1 Thess. 2:13)....

25. Therefore, all the clergy must hold fast to the Sacred Scriptures through diligent sacred reading and careful study, especially the priests of Christ and others, such as deacons and catechists who are legitimately active in the ministry of the word. This is to be done so that none of them will become "an empty preacher of the word of God outwardly, who is not a listener to it inwardly" since they must share the abundant wealth of the divine word with the faithful committed to them, especially in the sacred liturgy. The sacred synod also earnestly and especially urges all the Christian faithful, especially Religious, to learn by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures the "excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 3:8). "For ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ."...

26. . ...Just as the life of the Church is strengthened through more frequent celebration of the Eucharistic mystery, similar we may hope for a new stimulus for the life of the Spirit from a growing reverence for the word of God, which "lasts forever" (Is. 40:8; see 1 Peter 1:23-25).

Scripture, like Christ, has a two-fold nature; the literal sense and the three-fold spiritual sense. The Old Testament is properly interpreted in light of the New, with the literal meaning of the New being understood as elucidating the three-fold spiritual sense of the Old. The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture, discovered through exegesis and sound interpretation. All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal. This literal sense brings out:

  • the allegorical sense, which is the literal sense of the Old Testament that signified a foreshadowing or type fulfilled by Christ in the New Testament, through faith,
  • the moral or tropological sense, which is the literal sense of the Old Testament recorded for our instruction, which moves the Christian to act justly in the life of the Church, in love,
  • the anagogical sense, which is the literal sense of the Old Testament leading us towards and being fulfilled in heaven, attainable through Christ in hope
Ultimately, we are not people of the Book, but people of the Word. Christ completes, perfects, fulfills the Old Testament, He opens our minds to understand Scripture. All that happened to the peoples of the Old Testament was a foretaste, a prefigurement, a shadow of Jesus Christ. The New Testament is the radical perfection of the Old, fulfilling ALL that the Old prophesied, in word and in deed, while the Old Testament provides the context for understanding exactly what God meant to reveal when He acted in the New Testament. Paul refers to this mutual enrichment constantly in his epistles:

Heb 9:24 For Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf

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