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Divine Revelation

This Sunday's session will focus on Divine Revelation.  We will be watching the second episode of Symbolon which focuses on that topic.  Please watch the first 11 minutes of the Symbolon video relating to session 2 (though you are welcome to watch the entire video) and here is a link to that page:

Among the topics that will be covered during this session will be the differences between the Protestant belief in "Sola Scriptura" (That the revealed word of God is set forth in the Bible and nowhere else) and the Catholic teaching that the revealed word of God comes from scripture, the oral tradition of the Church and the Magisterium ("the living, teaching office of the Church").   The handout for this session can be found here: 


I also invite you to watch a video from Bishop Robert Barron (about 8 minutes) where he discusses Sola Scriptura and the need for the Magisterium. 













Below is an excerpt from the Catechism of the Catholic Church which will serve as a nice primer for the videos that you will be watching. 






74      God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”:29 that is, of Christ Jesus.30 Christ must be proclaimed to all nations and individuals, so that this revelation may reach to the ends of the earth: (851) God graciously arranged that the things he had once revealed for the salvation of all peoples should remain in their entirety, throughout the ages, and be transmitted to all generations.31 

I. The Apostolic Tradition 


75      “Christ the Lord, in whom the entire Revelation of the most high God is summed up, commanded the apostles to preach the Gospel, which had been promised beforehand by the prophets, and which he fulfilled in his own person and promulgated with his own lips. In preaching the Gospel, they were to communicate the gifts of God to all men. This Gospel was to be the source of all saving truth and moral discipline.”32 (171) 


In the apostolic preaching... 

76      In keeping with the Lord’s command, the Gospel was handed on in two ways:   


 — orally “by the apostles who handed on, by the spoken word of their preaching, by the example they gave, by the institutions they established, what they themselves had received—whether from the lips of Christ, from his way of life and his works, or whether they had learned it at the prompting of the Holy Spirit”;33     

 — in writing “by those apostles and other men associated with the apostles who, under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit, committed the message of salvation to writing.”34 

...continued in apostolic succession

77      “In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them ‘their own position of teaching authority.’”35 Indeed, “the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time.”36 (861) 

78      This living transmission, accomplished in the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is distinct from Sacred Scripture, though closely connected to it. Through Tradition, “the Church, in her doctrine, life, and worship perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes.”37 “The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to the life-giving presence of this Tradition, showing how its riches are poured out in the practice and life of the Church, in her belief and her prayer.”38 (174, 1124, 2651) 

79      The Father’s self-communication made through his Word in the Holy Spirit, remains present and active in the Church: “God, who spoke in the past, continues to converse with the Spouse of his beloved Son. And the Holy Spirit, through whom the living voice of the Gospel rings out in the Church—and through her in the world—leads believers to the full truth, and makes the Word of Christ dwell in them in all its richness.”39

II. The Relationship Between Tradition and Sacred Scripture 

One common source... 

80      “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing and move towards the same goal.”40 Each of them makes present and fruitful in the Church the mystery of Christ, who promised to remain with his own “always, to the close of the age.”41 

...two distinct modes of transmission 

81      “Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit.”42 (113)  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.”43 


82      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 Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.”44 


Apostolic Tradition and ecclesial traditions 


83       The Tradition here in question comes from the apostles and hands on what they received from Jesus’ teaching and example and what they learned from the Holy Spirit. The first generation of Christians did not yet have a written New Testament, and the New Testament itself demonstrates the process of living Tradition. (1202, 2041, 2684) Tradition is to be distinguished from the various theological, disciplinary, liturgical, or devotional traditions, born in the local churches over time. These are the particular forms, adapted to different places and times, in which the great Tradition is expressed. In the light of Tradition, these traditions can be retained, modified or even abandoned under the guidance of the Church’s magisterium.


III. The Interpretation of the Heritage of Faith 


The heritage of faith entrusted to the whole of the Church 


84      The apostles entrusted the “Sacred deposit” of the faith (the depositum fidei),45 contained in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, to the whole of the Church. “By adhering to [this heritage] the entire holy people, united to its pastors, remains always faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. So, in maintaining, practicing, and professing the faith that has been handed on, there should be a remarkable harmony between the bishops and the faithful.”46 (857, 871, 2033) 


The Magisterium of the Church 


85      “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living, teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.”47 This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome. (888-892, 2032-2040) 


86      “Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication, and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith.”48 (688) 


87      Mindful of Christ’s words to his apostles: “He who hears you, hears me,”49 the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms. (1548, 2037) 


The dogmas of the faith 

88      The Church’s Magisterium exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes, in a form obliging the Christian people to an irrevocable adherence of faith, truths contained in divine Revelation or also when it proposes, in a definitive way, truths having a necessary connection with these. (888-892, 2032-2040)

89      There is an organic connection between our spiritual life and the dogmas. Dogmas are lights along the path of faith; they illuminate it and make it secure. Conversely, if our life is upright, our intellect and heart will be open to welcome the light shed by the dogmas of faith.50 (2625) 

90      The mutual connections between dogmas, and their coherence, can be found in the whole of the Revelation of the mystery of Christ.51 “In Catholic doctrine there exists an order or ‘hierarchy’ of truths, since they vary in their relation to the foundation of the Christian faith.”52 (114, 158, 234) 

The supernatural sense of faith 

91      All the faithful share in understanding and handing on revealed truth. They have received the anointing of the Holy Spirit, who instructs them53 and guides them into all truth.54 (737) 


92      “The whole body of the faithful... cannot err in matters of belief. This characteristic is shown in the supernatural appreciation of faith (sensus fidei) on the part of the whole people, when, ‘from the bishops to the last of the faithful,’ they manifest a universal consent in matters of faith and morals.”55 (785) 


93      “By this appreciation of the faith, aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth, the People of God, guided by the sacred teaching authority (Magisterium),... receives... the faith, once for all delivered to the saints.... The People unfailingly adheres to this faith, penetrates it more deeply with right judgment, and applies it more fully in daily life.”56 (889)


Growth in understanding the faith 


94      Thanks to the assistance of the Holy Spirit, the understanding of both the realities and the words of the heritage of faith is able to grow in the life of the Church: (66, 2651, 2038, 2518)       — “through the contemplation and study of believers who ponder these things in their hearts”;57 it is in particular “theological research [which] deepens knowledge of revealed truth.”58       — “from the intimate sense of spiritual realities which [believers] experience,”59 the sacred Scriptures “grow with the one who reads them.”60       — “from the preaching of those who have received, along with their right of succession in the episcopate, the sure charism of truth.”61 


95      “It is clear therefore that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in its own way, under the action of the one Holy Spirit, they all contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.”62 




96      What Christ entrusted to the apostles, they in turn handed on by their preaching and writing, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to all generations, until Christ returns in glory. 

97      “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God” (DV 10), in which, as in a mirror, the pilgrim Church contemplates God, the source of all her riches. 


98      “The Church, in her doctrine, life, and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes” (DV 8 §1). 


99      Thanks to its supernatural sense of faith, the People of God as a whole never ceases to welcome, to penetrate more deeply, and to live more fully from the gift of divine Revelation. 


100      The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him.

Terms to Know

Divine Revelation - Divine Revelation is God’s making himself and his plan known to us. It is divine self-communication. God has revealed himself through the prophets and through Scripture and Tradition. In Jesus, we have the full and direct revelation of God.

Sacred Scripture - The Bible, or Sacred Scripture, is a collection of sacred books in which God reveals himself as a loving, saving God and speaks to us. The Holy Spirit inspired human writers to write the words, but God is the author. This same Spirit guides the Church in interpreting what was written.


Tradition - Tradition is the religious teachings and customs handed down orally or in writing. It is contained in our creeds and the documents of Church councils. Scripture and Tradition go hand in hand and contain all we need to know to be saved. Together they make up what is called the Deposit of Faith.


Magisterium - The Magisterium is the teaching authority of the Church. It is invested in the pope and the college of bishops. They teach the faith taught by Christ and handed down through the Apostles. They interpret Revelation for us as presented in Scripture and Tradition.

Deposit of Faith - The Deposit of Faith is the treasure of faith revealed in Scripture and Tradition and handed down by the Apostles. It is the complete collection of truths taught and interpreted by the Church.

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