Insight from Fr Julian
The Church and the Bible
In the 12th-16th Centuries Christianity was challenged by Islam. There were great battles. Among others, Poitiers, France, Granada, Spain, Lepanto in the Mediterranean Sea, in the Balkans Kosovo and Belgrade and more and finally the great battle of Vienna. Today all Christians are challenged by Islam again all the while we are divided and fragmented mainly on the Bible and the Authority of the Church. Protestants have adopted Martin Luther's “sola Scriptura", that is " only Scripture" I have always, from my Theology years, admired Martin Luther for many reasons but I also disagreed with some of his stands, especially on Church Authority and on the Bible. Did Jesus really say that only the Writings were valid and was that reported in the Writings as well as in the experience of the Church of Apostolic times? No, for sure! In fact Jesus said and we read it in John 16, 12-13...” I have yet many things to say.., but you cannot bear it now. When the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth...” The same we read in John, 14, 25-26...” These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave to you...” So the teaching of Jesus are much more extended and clearly seem to encompass the Writings, as St. John pointed out in 21, 25, in the closing of his Gospel written almost at the end of the first Christian Century and who, John, inspired many Christian Writers whom we regard as the first great Fathers of the Church. John closes thus his Gospel...”But there are many other things which Jesus did, were every one of them to be written I suppose that the World itself could not contain the books that would be written".
Here comes the problem for Christians through the Centuries, if the Church has this abiding comprehensive knowledge of Christ's teaching/revelations and the authority to teach them or do we make sure of not erring by limiting our knowledge of Jesus' teaching only to what was written. This is the question, again! Protestants by and large say "only the writings", Catholics and Orthodox and a few others believe in the teaching authority of the Church sustained and guided by the abiding Jesus' gift of the Holy Spirit. So, how and when the Writings came about? And here the fundamental concept of “Tradition" comes into play. The Old Testament was not written, with the exception of the Ten Commandments (14 hundred years BC) till King David/ Salomon time, 1000 BC. The writings in scrolls were born out of that Centuries long Tradition. The NT writings came about the same by way of oral Tradition, which is but the teachings of Jesus, now fully understood and taught by the Apostle, sustained by the abiding gift of the Holy Spirit as promised by Jesus Himself. The process of Tradition finished with the death of the last Apostle, St. John. Out of this Tradition, or teachings of the Apostles, were written the four Gospels, the Letters of St. Paul's, St. Peter and St. James and St. John's Revelation.
We can compare Tradition to a flower bed and the writing to a bouquet. As you would not disavow the flower bed because of the bouquet so we cannot disavow Tradition because of the Writings as they are an extract from Tradition. The Writings prove Tradition without which they would not be at all! It all comes down if we accept the teaching power and authority of the Church, referred to as the “Magisterium", or if we uphold the authority of each Preacher which brought Protestantism to further divisions. This teaching Power of the Church is honored since the days of the Apostles down to the 15th Century when the “whole hell broke loose" and the Christendom came apart. Now is the time to come together again, respecting venerable Centuries old diversities and still recognizing that we are "One" in Jesus. Diversities with love are a richness, without love are divisions... And that's where we are now! We better wise up and fast. The whole Western Christian World is out for grab and falling pray of Islam as did the old Roman World of the Middle East at the end of the Crusades in the 12th hundred AD. History teaches but are we willing to learn?
Stay tuned for more insights in the next few months, Peace,
Fr. Julian Reginato, Chaplain