Essay On The Catholic Church

The Gnostics rejected the historical accounts in the New Testament not in order to propose a different history but in order to turn the faith into a myth that stood outside time.For them, the historicity of the New Testament was an embarrassment, since the wholly spiritual God could not have entered into the world of matter and time.

The distinction between “the Jesus of history” and “the Christ of faith” was formulated by certain modern theologians as part of the effort to “demythologize” Jesus as the Son of God and Redeemer of the universe, dismissing that belief as a theological construct only loosely connected, if at all, to the actual, historical Jesus.

A fundamental flaw of the historical-critical method is that, while at various times it has called virtually all traditional beliefs into question, it offers no sure replacement, merely many competing theories.

A major fallacy of this skepticism is the assumption that, while religious believers are fatally biased, skeptics are objective and disinterested.

Some practitioners of the historical-critical method take a far more suspicious view of Christian origins than most historians take toward other aspects of ancient history.

By excluding in principle the very possibility of divine revelation, they imprison Christianity entirely within the movement of history, essentially reducing questions of faith to factional struggles within the Church.

If orthodox Christianity does not represent revealed truth, it must be seen as merely the triumph of one party over another, making it possible to cancel seventeen centuries of history in order to redefine the very foundations of the Church.

[1] But an awareness of the historical character of the Church carries with it the danger that she will be seen as only a product of history, without a transcendent divine character.

While Christians can never be indifferent to the reliability of historical claims, since to discredit the historical basis of the Gospel would be to discredit the entire faith, they must be aware of their limits.

The historical character of the Church is embodied above all in her affirmation of Tradition—the handing on of the faith from generation to generation, guided by the Holy Spirit.

The attempt to appeal to the Scripture against Tradition is a denial of that historicity.

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