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Old 14th January 2008, 08:03 AM
Justin Angel Justin Angel is offline
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Cool "All That Is Ancient"

The Church had the teachings of Christ deposited in Tradition before the New Testament was ever written and compiled, and prior to the canon of Scripture in the late fourth century by the decree of Pope Damasus. Scripture comes from Tradition and is its literary form of mediation and measure of confirmation. Theophilus certainly was in possession of the teachings of Christ and His Church before Luke wrote his Gospel about thirty years after the death and resurrection of our Lord.

'Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us, I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings which you have received.' {Luke 1, 1-4}

Luke is the first known Christian - a true Catholic - to have drawn a parallel between Mary, the mother of our Lord, and the Ark of the Covenant. By reading the evangelist's prologue in his gospel, it is evident that Scripture is not the sole medium of divine revelation. In fact, Tradition preceded Scripture, and so Scripture is infallible only because Tradition is infallible, having been formed by the power of the Holy Spirit. How Luke presented Mary, for instance, in the accounts of the Annunciation and Visitation, is a literary expression of what the Church had already inerrantly understood and taught in her Tradition. The evangelist wrote his gospel to confirm the Church's traditional beliefs and assure the Christian community of their veracity. Thus Scripture must always be interpreted in light of Tradition which has been handed down to us by the apostles, who were commissioned by Christ to preach the Word of God - not write it.

'Of this you have already heard through the word of truth, the gospel, that has come to you.' {1 Colossians 1, 5}

In the words of Ignatius of Antioch: "If I do not find it in the Scriptures, I will not believe the Gospels; on my saying to them, It is written, they answered me, That remains to be proved. But to me Jesus Christ is in the place of all that is ancient: His cross, and death and resurrection, and the faith which is by Him are undefiled monuments of antiquity." {Epistle to the Philadelphians, A.D. 110)

Ignatius is referring to the contentions of the Jews who rejected the Church's traditional beliefs and teachings of the Messiah. The early Church drew much of her understanding of the Christ from the Old Testament Scriptures. The primitive Christian community relied purely on the Old Testament messianic texts and adopted these scriptures before the New Testament was finally written and compiled by the end of the first century. Of course, the Jews objected to the Church's interpretations of the Old Testament texts, as they still do today. Ignatius is assuring these Jews that the Church's traditional beliefs are contained in the Old Testament, only the Scriptures aren't as explicit and clear as unbelievers would like them to be. The proof is there before their eyes, but for some reason they fail to perceive the truth and grasp the evidence presented in the written word. The underlying Christological truth preserved in the Old Testament can only come to light by interpreting the Sacred texts in light of the Church's traditional faith. And only the Catholic Church, which is the early Church, has the apostolic authority to interpret Scripture in light of Tradition. Ironically, the situation Ignatius found himself in was similar to the one the Catholic Church finds herself in today. We are reminded of the Protestant contention against the Church's Marian doctrines. Likewise, our separated brethren argue that there is no scriptural support or evidence for these doctrines and all those peculiar to the Catholic faith. They choose to reject what fails to appear in a clear and explicit manner. But as it has been pointed out above: "It is written!" And it has been written only because it has been deposited in the Church's apostolic Tradition.

Pax vobiscum
Justin Angel
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