DX Revelation

Natural Theology

Describe natural theology and the limit of reason.


The work of grace, through revelation. 


We don't believe in doctrines, but in the realities they express, that is, we believe in Jesus.


"Creation acts as a witness to a personal God." (Dei Verbum 3)

This witness is creation which “God …gives [to] men an enduring witness [of] Himself in created realities (see Rom 1:19-20).” (DV 3) We have already explored how creation itself ‘tells’ us something about God. Because creation is good and the created reveals the creator, God therefore must be good. Since creation is beautiful, God must also be beautiful. In this way, creation ‘witnesses’ to God. This God is a also a personal God as “Man's faculties make him capable of coming to a knowledge of the existence of a personal God.” (CCC 35) God must be personal since man is a personal being and man is created. So the fact that we are personal means God also must be personal. So using natural theology we can deduce (work out) that God is personal.

Real intimacy with God requires revelation and faith.

“But for man to be able to enter into real intimacy with him, God willed both to reveal himself to man and to give him the grace of being able to welcome this revelation in faith.” (CCC 35) Intimacy with God is naturally beyond us, yet we yearn for it. We are not capable by ourselves to bringing ourselves into relationship with God because God is infinitley abouve us. Out of love then, God enables us with the gift of faith to be able to enter into relationship with Him. He also takes the first step to reveal himself to us, through creation and directly. Eventualy God himself came in the person of Jesus and revealed himself to the disciples and they believed in him. Faith is a gift and the created order and “The proofs of God's existence... can predispose one to faith and help one to see that faith is not opposed to reason.” (CCC 35) Faith is an act of trust made by the whole person to God which includes his body, soul, intellect, will and heart. Natural theology can prepare us to take this step in faith, but reason alone is insufficient. Faith is a gift from God. Reason and faith work together to help the person come to believe and to get to heaven.

God first revealed himself to Israel and prepared them for Jesus.

The first ‘stage’ of revelation is creation itself. The second stage is Israel and the third and final stage is Jesus. In Israel God “taught this people to acknowledge Himself the one living and true God, provident father and just judge, and to wait for the Savior promised by Him” (DV 3) God prepared the world for Jesus by preparing a people, the Jews, from which Jesus would come. God revealed much about himself to them especaly his attributes for example "I Am WHO AM" (Exodus 3:13). They realized there was only one God who is merciful and loving. Then Jesus came "who is both the mediator and the fullness of all revelation.” (DV 2) The fullness of revelation comes through Jesus, since Jesus is God. To see Jesus is to see God. Jesus is also the way we come to know that revelation. So he is also the messenger of the revelation. Jesus is the message and the messanger.

This revelation about Jesus is passed on to us by Scripture and Tradition which form one deposit of the word of God which is correctly interpreted by the Magisterium and so all are linked.

Jesus lived 2000 years ago. How is it possible for the revelation to be passed on to us today? While the apostles where alive their stories were passed on to the gospel writers who wrote the stories down. The words ‘passed on’ in Latin is Tradere which is where we get the word Tradition. All that was passed on is part of the Tradition. From the Tradition (what was passed on) comes the New Testament (Scritpure). We believe that God acted through the writers in such a way for them to be considered inspired and what God wanted written. This is part of his omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence. But the Tradition is still passing on a living Tradition to us today since we have an unbroken link from the early Church to our Church today. So all that God has wanted to be passed on has been passed on to us through Scripture and Tradition which is called the ‘Word of God’ and is the fullness of all revelation. We cannot add anything to that revelation, but it does develop over time. It is like a child growing into an adult. It is the same person, but there is change. If someone were to say the child should have three arms they would be clearly wrong. But how does the Church decide what is true and what is false if new ideas are presented? Jesus personally made St. Peter the first pope and gave him and the apostles a special gift of the Holy Spirit to decide the truth about what the Church teaches (doctrines, dogmas) about faith and morals. This gift is called the Magisterium.

Scripture: “Sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit” (DV 9) Scripture is just one part of the word of God since the Word of God is contained in Scripture and Tradition. Scripture is inspired. Other early books written did not make it into the bible since they have errors in them. Tradition: “sacred tradition takes the word of God entrusted by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and hands it on to their successors in its full purity” (DV 9) Tradition is all that is passed from Jesus to us not contained in the Bible which is kept alive through the work of the Holy Spirit. Deposit: “Sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God” (DV 10) A deposit is a word used to indicate all that has been passed on from Christ, both Scripture and Tradition.

Magisterium: “But the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church [Magisterium], whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ” (DV 10)

Magister means teacher in Latin. The pope can proclaim a teaching (doctrine, dogma) on his own authority such as that Mary was immaculately conceived (conceived without sin) in 1854 by pope Pius IX (this is called an ‘Ex Cathedra’ teaching which means ‘from the chair’ of St. Peter). The creed is an example of when all the bishops proclaim a teaching at an ecumenical council. There are also lesser levels of magisterial teaching.

Linked: “sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God's most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others” (DV 10)

To maintain God’s revelation through the centuries, you must have all three elements, Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium. It is like a three legged stool. If one leg is missing it falls over.

For now we see a dim [reflection] of the fullness of God, but in heaven we will see God face to face in the total fulfillment of joy, happiness and love called the [beatific vision].

Our understanding of God is limited on earth. What we see is ‘dim’ compared to the reality. It is called a reflection since we don’t see God face to face, but get to know him through his effects, what is in Scripture, in the lives of the saints, etc, and even in our own life and our hearts. All that we truly yearn for will be satisfied in heaven when we see God face to face which is called the beatific vision.

Reflection: “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Cor 13:12)

We yearn for intimacy in this life. In heaven we will be fully filled with God’s goodness and love. I will fully know that love of God which even for the greatest mystics who experienced such profound love from God in this life will not compare to what everyone will experience in heaven. It is more than we could ever ask for or imagine.

Beatific vision: “The beatific vision, in which God opens himself in an inexhaustible way to the elect, will be the ever-flowing well-spring of happiness, peace, and mutual communion.” (CCC 1045)

This ‘vision’ is not just that we will look at God, but will be transformative of ourselves. It will fill us in such a way, we won’t want anything else. All the good things of this earth come from God. We will get to see and experience that infinite goodness itself.

Submitted by rjzaar on March 30, 2016 - 3:28am
Modfied: April 1, 2017 - 1:49am

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