REASON & REVELATION
Reason – the natural ability human beings have to know and understand truth. We use reason and observation in discovering truth.
Revelation – God’s self-communication and disclosure of the divine plan to humankind through creation, events, people, and most fully, Jesus Christ.
- revelatio, latin for an uncovering, a taking away of the veil
- apokálypsis (kalypsis is a veil, apocalypse is taking the veil away or a lifting of the veil – Greek)
The process by which God makes Himself known to human reason through the created world. Seeing the Creator through His creation – through nature, and through our own natural reason.
“Ever since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what He has made.”
Through natural revelation we can know the one true God from His works, from the world and from the human person. This is one reason why salvation is possible for every person, even those who have never heard of Jesus Christ. The consequences of Original Sin often hinder our ability to fully know God’s truth through natural revelation alone. (Above reason, not against reason.)
God makes Himself and His divine plan known to the human race through words and deeds in human history. In His great love, God has revealed Himself to us in order to restore the communion that human beings were created to have with Him, before the relationship was broken by Original Sin.
“Christ is the image of the invisible God.”
The Church teaches everything we need to know about God; everything we need to know for our eternal union with Him has been revealed in Christ. (Christ is key for interpretation). God has provided two ways for coming to know and understand Jesus Christ: Sacred Tradition (Apostolic Tradition) and Sacred Scripture.
SACRED TRADITION (APOSTOLIC TRADITION)
Christ sent the Holy Spirit to His closet followers, the Apostles, to help them remember and understand all that He taught them before His ascent into heaven.
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth”
These truths about Christ and His teachings through the Apostles is the Apostolic Tradition.
SACRED SCRIPTURE (THE CANON OF THE BIBLE)
As the years passed, the Holy Spirit inspired people in the early Church to create written documents explaining what the Apostles had handed down. The Gospels were written and were collected with some letters by Paul and other early Church leaders and the Book of Revelation to form the New Testament of the Bible.
We speak of Scripture and Tradition as two modes of Revelation, but they are closely connected and together form a single sacred Deposit of Faith given to the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. They can never be in conflict, and each one helps us to understand the other.
The Church looks to God’s Revelation in Scripture and Tradition as the only authentic and complete source for our knowledge about God and God’s will for the whole human race. It is the responsibility of the Church, through her teaching, her worship, and her ministries, to transmit to every new generation all that God has revealed.
As successors of the Apostles, the teaching office of the Church – the bishops in union with the Pope, called the Magisterium – faithfully teach, interpret, and preserve Scripture and Tradition for all believers until Christ returns in glory.
BIBLICAL INSPIRATION & INTERPRETATION
The Holy Spirit inspired the biblical authors to write what God wanted us to know for our salvation. The Holy Spirit did not take over the biblical authors’ humanity when they wrote. Thus the authors were subject to natural human limitations, and they also used their human creativity in their writing.
Catholics understand that the Bible is without error in communicating what God wants us to know for salvation without having to be historically and scientifically correct in every detail. This is the dogma of biblical inerrancy.
READING THE BIBLE
- Investigate the meaning the sacred writers intended.
- Consider the literary form of the passage, the historical situation of the author, and the ways that people spoke and acted in that culture.
- The senses of Scripture.
The literal sense and spiritual sense (the spiritual sense consists of the allegorical sense, moral sense, and anagogical sense).
The literal sense is what the words of Scripture actually mean. All the other senses of Scripture are based on the literal meaning. Because Scripture is the living Word, in addition to the literal sense is the spiritual sense.
The spiritual sense is the meaning expressed by Scripture when read under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and in the context of the Paschal Mystery of Christ. The spiritual sense goes beyond the literal sense to consider what the realities and events of Scripture signify and mean for salvation.
“Anyone who seeks truth seeks God, whether or not he realizes it.”
“It is easy to find truth, though it is hard to face it, and harder still to follow it.”
“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”
“The truth is the truth even if no one believes it, and a lie is a lie even if everyone believes it.”
“Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all.”
“A madman is not someone who has lost his reason but someone who has lost everything but his reason.”
In his Encyclical Letter, Fides et Ratio, Pope Saint John Paul II writes…
Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves (cf. Ex 33:18; Ps 27:8-9; 63:2-3; Jn 14:8; 1 Jn 3:2).
Learning a little philosophy may lead you away from God, but learning a lot of philosophy will lead you back.