How do we know a Gospel is a Gospel? – the Church February 9, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Bible, catachesis, disaster, Ecumenism, error, General Catholic, reading, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
Some good points from the Haydock Study Bible on how the authority of Scipture was determined, on the central role of a single authoritative Church, the rejection of protestant errors, and also those protestant-inspired errors which have flooded into the Church in the wake of the destructive “opening to the world” we’ve experienced in the past several decades.
Without the Church to say that a Gospel was divinely inspired, there was, and is, nothing to give it credence. Thus, some “gospels” – like the Gnostic writings attributed to “Mary” and “Thomas” – were excluded as being false and not divinely inspired, based on the Tradition of the Church, while the Four Gospels were of course codified as the basis of the New Testament and the core source of revelation for the New Covenant.
Rev. George Leo Haydock concisely and very effectively summarizes this critical truth, that without the Church’s assent, Scripture was nothing:
This and other titles, with the names of those that wrote the Gospels, are not the words of the Evangelists themselves. The Scripture itself nowhere teacheth us, which books or writings are to be received as true and canonical Scriptures. It is only by the channel of unwritten traditions, and by the testimony and authority of the Catholic Church, that we know and believe that this gospel, for example of St. Matthew, with all contained in it, and that the other books and parts of the Old or New Testament, are of divine authority, or written by divine inspiration; which made St. Augustine say, I should not believe the gospel, were I not moved thereunto by the authority of the Catholic Church: Ego Evangelio non crederem, nisi me Ecclesiœ Catholicœ commoveret auctoritas. [This fact informs my personal belief that Tradition trumps Scripture. This was probably the predominant belief of the pre-conciliar Church, and especially as you go back in time 1-200 years before the Council, but under the influence of protestantism in the new church of aggiornamento, most priests and apologists today rank Scripture far ahead of Tradition in terms of its import and authority.]
In a previous section of his Biblical commentary, Fr. Haydock summarizes the proofs for belief in the Church. These might be considered handy for anyone who interacts with those in the separated sects/schismatic bodies:
- There can be but one true religion, and one only Church, the spouse of Jesus Christ. Our Lord would have only one; men are not entitled to make more. Religion is not the work of human reasoning; but it is our duty to receive it, such as it has been given us from above. One man may reason with another man, but with God we have only to pray, to humble ourselves, listen, be silent, and blindly follow……… [P]rayer, as the true end of all controversies……humbles the soul, makes it docile and obedient, and enables it to listen with fruit to the Holy Spirit
- [T]he necessity of a visible authority. Religion….is all humility. The mysteries are given us to subdue the pride of reason, by making us believe what we cannot comprehend. Without this authority, the Scripture can only serve to nourish our curiosity, presumption, jealousy of opinions, and passion for scandalous disputes: there would be but one text, but as may interpretations as religions, and as many religions as heads……And can we suppose that Jesus Christ would leave his spiritual kingdom unprovided, and abandoned to this disorder?
- The infallible promises of God are our surety……..[I]f one wish for any reform, not to seek it, like Dissenters, out of the Church, but by frequently reverting back one’s thoughts upon oneself, and by reforming every thing amiss there; by subduing all that savours of self; by silencing the imagination, listening in silence to God, and imploring his grace for the perfect accomplishment of his will. O happy, O solid reform! the more we practise this reform, the less we shall wish to reform the doctrines of the Church.
- [H]ow to act under her trials. The kingdom of God suffers violence. We cannot die to ourselves without feeling it; but the hand that afflicts us, will be our support. Truth will free you from anxieties. You will then become truly free, and enjoy the consolation of sacrificing to God your former prejudices
- Jesus Christ does not say, if you will not hear the church of this country or that; he does not suppose a plurality of churches, but one universal Church, subsisting through all ages and nations, and which is to speak and to be obeyed from one extremity of the globe to the other. Not an invisible church composed of the elect only, but a Church that can be pointed out with a finger. [A clear condemnation of the belief of many of our Church leaders today] A city elevated on the summit of a mountain, which all can see from a distance. Every one knows where to see, to find, and to consult her. She answers, she decides; we listen, and believe: and woe to those who refuse to believe and obey her: if he will not hear the Church, &c. — A father could not bear to see his son, under the pretext of reform, making parties [factions] in his family; and can our heavenly Father, who loves union, and who gives this distinctive mark to his children, suffer without indignation any unnatural children to split his family, which he has endeavoured to cement with his own blood in the bond of unity. Schism, then, which constitutes many churches, whilst God will acknowledge only one, is the greatest of crimes……..
A rejection of the claim, heard frequently in the Church today (especially among clergy, in my experience), that the Church, for a time, denied them the ability to read the Bible:
With respect to the laity, she never interdicted the Bible to them, as Protestants [and Catholics under protestant influence, as today] suppose; but, at a time when cobblers and tailors were insulting heaven with their blasphemies, and convulsing the earth with their seditions, all grounded on the misinterpretations of the Bible, she enjoined that such as took this mysterious book in hand, should have received a tincture of learning, so as to be able to read it in one or other of the learned languages; unless their respective pastors should judge from their good sense and good dispositions, that they would derive no mischief from reading it in the vulgar tongue. (Reg. 4. Ind. Trid.) At present the Catholic prelates do not think it necessary to enforce even this restriction, and accordingly Catholic versions are to be found in folio, quarto, and octavo, with the entire approbation of those prelates.
I’ll close with a quote Fr. Haydock includes from the great 17th century French Archbishop Francois Fenelon:
“The Christian Church, without such a fixed and visible authority, would be like a republic to which wise laws had been given, but without magistrates to look to their execution. What a source of confusion this! “Each individual, with the book of laws in his hand, would dispute about their meaning. The sacred oracles, in that case, would serve only to feed our vain curiosity, to increase our pride and presumption, and to make us more tenacious of our own opinions. There would indeed be but one original text, but as many different manners of explaining it as there are men. Divisions and subdivisions would multiply without end, and without remedy. Can we think that our Sovereign Lawgiver has not provided better for the peace of his republic, and for the preservation of his law?”
Interesting commentary, with significant insight for how our own Constitution is fought and debated over, to the point that it has been made to say a great many things well beyond any reasonable interpretation. But that’s a subject for another post……
……However, the fact that the US Constitution, a product of man (though frequently exalted as the greatest political document ever), in less than a century degenerated into many factions totally at odds as to what it said, serves as a kind of demonstration for the divine nature of the Church, in that she persevered 2000 years while maintaining the same beliefs, even as some souls in error sadly cut themselves off from here. We are at a terrible point in her illustrious history where that constancy in truth is under attack as perhaps never before, but it still remains, in spite of all the efforts of the modernists and their leftist allies, though we are getting dangerously close to the precipice. May God protect His Church.