Monday, October 21, 2013

What is the Pillar and Foundation of Truth?

[A GRAMBUS post.]
Jesus IS Truth!  But, How Do We Know His Truth Today?

Opening Session of Vatican II
I have a friend who keeps debating me on the validity of Sola Scriptura—the position held by non-Catholic Christians, that the Bible Alone is the source of Truth for Christians.  Whereas, Catholics claim that the Truth of Christ was revealed all the way up to the death of the last Apostle, and the Apostles’ teachings were carried on through Sacred Tradition. Sacred Tradition includes the written Word—Holy Scriptures/the Bible, as well as Tradition passed down orally.  The Jews very carefully preserved their Oral Tradition, which helped give support to the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures in the Old Testament.  The same is true after Christ!

Furthermore, non-Catholic Christians sometimes forget how the Bible came to be.  Historically, the Bible wasn't even in existence until the Roman Church Council of Nicaea in 325.  The books of the Bible were not gathered into one place even until then.  There were hundreds of letters floating around, and the Council had to assess which were reliable as authentic sources, worthy of placing within a Holy Canon of “New Testament” Scriptures.  The 73 (Old and New Testament) books chosen by the Council of Nicaea happen to be the same books that are in the Catholic Bible today.  After 1,500 years of the Scriptures’ guidance in the Church, the Reformation of 1534 instigated the removal of 7 of those books from the Canon.  (But for you real history buffs), …even though Luther’s excommunication was is 1521, Luther’s translation of the Bible in 1539 still contained all 73 books.  (I know.  Stan and I held it in our hands at the Newberry Research Library in Chicago.) It wasn’t until the 1800’s that Protestant publishers finally changed the Canon by removing 7 of the books.  On whose authority, I don’t know.

Now, whether the original 73 or the secondary choice of 66, ALL Christians hold these Scriptures to be the infallible Word of God, and they are!  But, most Christians are NOT aware that they have the Roman Catholic Church (under the leadership of the Holy Spirit) to thank for the very existence of the Holy Scriptures they hold so dear.   If all Christians were aware, maybe they would also believe the Churchs claims that She is the Church Christ said the Holy Spirit would lead into ALL Truth.

The Bible is just one piece of that Truth, but a very important piece. When unfortunately, in the 1500s (1521 ff) some split from the Roman Church during the Reformation, the Bible was the only Truth those who left could tangibly take with them.  Though fortunately, SOME of the Roman Church’s doctrines WERE kept, even though they are not FOUND in the Scriptures—like the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity and the Doctrine of Christ’s Nature being totally human, and (at the same time) totally divine. Those are Truths the Original Church was lead into by the Holy Spirit.  I’m so glad to say that in matters of Faith and Morals, the Church has stood strong against heresies and cultural pressures (ie. Pressure in modern times to accept contraceptive methods.)

So, my second point is that Truth needs more than just a book (of 66 or 73 books) of writings.  Truth needs an infallible body to interpret and proclaim right doctrines from those writings that are based on the Mind of Christ through the leading of the Holy Spirit. 

Truth is not determined with just the Bible, the Holy Spirit, and you, as Stan and I used to think.  That’s how over 33,000 different denominations of churches have been started.  Stan and I thought we knew it all.  We had studied the Bible, memorized it, and formed our own opinions on what it all meant.  Yet, it was next to impossible to find a church that agreed with us 100%.  Once Stan and I realized it was not about US finding a church that agreed with OUR interpretation, but about God founding a Church, that He had promised to be lead into ALL Truth by the Holy Spirit, we suddenly realized we had things backwards.  That’s when we stopped church hopping and started trying to line ourselves up with that One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.  And that has made all the difference.  We are now ready to give our lives for that Church, because Christ founded Her and kept His promises all the way through Her gnarled history up to the present day.  She has not been perfect in Her people or in Her practices.  She and her members have needed reform and received it—a little later than the Protestant Reformers would have liked.  But, Her doctrines have never changed.  And, Christ will never abandon Her, because His promise is true that the gates of hell will not prevail against His Holy Church and that He will never leave Her nor forsake Her.  She continues to grow and to promote infallible Truth in matters of Faith and Morals. 

In conclusion, I'd like to quote a hymn that is familiar to ALL Christians:
v1.  The Church's one foundation is Jesus Christ Her Lord.
She is His new creation* through water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought Her to be His Holy Bride.
With His own blood He bought Her.  And, for Her life He died.
*[The Church was founded/created by Christ.]

v2.  Elect from every nation, yet one o'er all the earth,
Her charter of salvation, One Lord, one faith, one birth.
One holy name She blesses.  Partakes one holy food.*
And to one hope She presses.  With every grace endued.
*[The Holy Eucharist]

v4.  Yet She on earth hath union, with God, the Three in One.
And mystic sweet communion* with those whose rest is won.
O happy ones and holy!  Lord, give us grace that we.
Like them, the meek and lowly, on high may dwell with thee.
*[Communion of Saints]

BTW, according to I Timothy 3:15, the Pillar and Foundation of Truth, …is the Church...  (not the Bible).

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