No. 50 Charting the Foundations of Our Faith
In the Beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God.
Before Creation Began
God always was, and always is. Infinite. Eternal Spirit. Unknowable. Uncreated. Indivisible. All Powerful. Perfect, Living Love [who cannot be love if narcissistic, self-centred, because perfect love is outgoing: a relationship between persons.] Eternal Triune God: the Holy Trinity. Mystery. Father, Son (Logos), Holy Spirit. Wholly self-sufficient. Wholly transcendent.
Creation of All that Is
God. From Whose generosity and by Whose Will came Creation. Born of love. And God saw that it was Good (Genesis: 1:31)
(1) the immaterial, non-physical, realm of spirits (angels); free to choose or refuse fidelity and obedience to their Creator: [Either (i) “I worship Thee and bow before Thy Will” [choice made by the good angels], or (ii) “I recognise you, but I will not serve you.” [choice made the devil and the evil angels]
(2) the physical universe: the finite, evolutionary realm of matter and energy and life in all its complex changing manifestations
(3) including the solar system, the earth, including all living things
(4) and duly, human beings, each endowed with both a body, and an immortal soul, an intellect, conscience (with a basic knowledge of right and wrong) and free will.
The Human Journey
Human beings continually called to search for what is better, for what is right, for meaning, and for the transcendent. A journey founded (i) in God’s guidance. And (ii) an innate urge for self preservation, well-being, and curiosity.
Growth in the Knowledge of the Transcendent
(1) Out of Darkness towards the Light (an ongoing process)
From ignorance, superstition and confusion, through animism and polytheism (many gods), to the recognition of one Supreme Being (thought of as remote and unknowable) Whose identity and will were made known gradually, according to the attentiveness and capacity of peoples and cultures for such knowledge, and their cooperation with God’s grace.
(a) Early knowledge through prophets, seers and wise men was partial, fragmented. There also was so-called ‘revelation’, skewed or conjured by the power-hungry and by charlatans [until God made himself known.]
[N.B. Such discernment, guesswork and ‘revelation’ were handed down orally from one generation to the next, and later as inscriptions and writings, giving rise to religious scriptures. (eg.) the Avesta of the Zoroastrians, the Vedas,the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita of the Hindus, the Dhammapada of the Buddhists, etc). The outcome: geographical variations and contradictions in peoples’ spiritual and religious beliefs. In the Tanakh of the Hebrews with its many components (the Old Testament) the will of God was presented far more deeply and clearly than in and among other pre-Christian scriptures.
(b) The Incarnation
Divine Self Revelation remained incomplete until God spoke through His Son
Through the most glorious wonder of the Incarnation, the eternal Logos becomes Christos: the Word becomes Flesh: True God, True Man: Christ Jesus. Who makes a new Covenant with people. And reveals to mere humans the ‘Face and the Will’ of God. God to be seen not so much as primarily the God of Power and Might, Terrible and Unknowable, but as the God Who is Love and Compassion and Mercy and Truth. The God Who saves. Who identifies with humankind. Who dies for each one, to show and to prove God’s love, and to invite us to truth, peace, happiness and authentic freedom, through living out the will of the Father. Christ Jesus is Teacher, Redeemer, Crucified Saviour, who becomes the Way, the Truth, the Life in its fullness.
(c) Ecclesia (the Church)
Public revelation ceased with the death of the last surviving apostle. The task of those who followed was to pass on, intact, the faith given to them by the Master: “And what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2); “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it” (2 Tim. 3:14). Thus the original deposit of faith did not remain moribund, but had to be understood and explained more fully, and certainly not to be re-invented or twisted to suit the preferences of future generations. As the centuries follow one another, the Church moves toward the fullness of divine truth and shall continue to do so until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her (See Dei Verbum 8). The Church, which was commissioned as the instrument of God’s grace is guided and directed by the Holy Spirit, to give faithful, substantive and relevant teaching and truth to the world from generation to generation, and to act in Jesus’ name.
(d) The Deepening of Revelation by the Holy Spirit continues, as the Church prays, listens and teaches, and does so to this day resulting in the richer unfolding and the refinement of the Faith.
By the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit: we understand more fully that God is Love, (as we see so clearly in Pope Benedict XVI’s teaching)
We recognise the same process at work as the Church responds to the discoveries of science and moderates and re-presents some literal interpretations of the bible, as in matters relating to earth and human history.
(e) Challenges : changes seem due in the art of communicating Christ’s message, in response to fuller truth and the needs of the times, but with doctrinal and moral continuity and integrity, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
May we as Church, take off the dress of sorrow and distress we have worn so long; and put on the beauty of the glory of God forever, and be wrapped in His cloak of integrity and mercy. May we as your people, praise and thank you, Lord God, at all times and in all places. Grant that we may love you sincerely, honestly and with all our being. To You be highest glory and praise for ever.