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§ 4. Revelation, — not Reason, nor Tradition.

In order to understand what is true and correct Theology, we must inquire for the Source from which we derive our knowledge of it. QUEN. 32: “The source (principium) is that from which anything, in some manner or other, proceeds.” This is the Revelation given by God.[1] By this divine Revelation we understand here, not that which is given in nature, but that given in the Word (supernatural, as distinguished from natural revelation).[2] More accurately, therefore, we say: the source of theological knowledge is the revelation contained in the Holy Scriptures,[3] and this is, moreover, the only source of Theology,[4] and neither reason,[5] nor, at a later date, tradition, or the appeal to the consentaneous doctrine of the ancient church,[6] is to be ranked with it; nor are supplementary revelations now to be expected from any quarter.[7]

[1] CAL. (I, 269); “Revelation is taken either in a formal sense, for the act of the divine communication, or objectively for that which is divinely revealed. The former sense is here intended.”

[2] HOLL. (61): “We speak here not of that general revelation or natural manifestation, by which God makes Himself known both by the innate light of nature and by the effects conspicuous in the kingdom of nature. But we speak of the special and supernatural revelation, which is twofold, immediate and mediate. The Holy Spirit immediately illuminated the prophets and apostles, and suggested to them conceptions of things and of words concerning doctrines of faith and moral precepts. At the present day God reveals Himself to men by means of the Word written by the prophets and apostles.” Revelation is, therefore, defined as: “The external act of God, by which He makes Himself known to the human race by His Word, in order that they may have a saving knowledge of Him.” — QUEN. I,32.

CAL. (I, 268) thus states the proof that this divine revelation exists: “It having been proved, if this should be denied, that God is, and that there must be some method in which God may be worshiped by men, we must teach, that it cannot be but that God has revealed that method, so that He may be worshiped properly; then, that God wishes men to be led to the enjoyment of Himself, and also, that He has revealed unto men the manner in which they are to be thus led; finally, the fact that God has revealed Himself, must be taught from history, which revelation God has seen fit abundantly to accompany with miracles and documents, by which we are rendered absolutely certain that it is truly divine. Rom. 1: 16; 2 Cor. 12: 12. But as one general revelation has been made in Nature, Rom. 1:19 sq., and another special one by verbal communication, it is first to be proved from nature that God is, inasmuch as God has revealed Himself unto all by His works, in the formation of this world; and subsequently it is to be shown that God has revealed Himself to the human race in a more perfect manner by the Word.”

[3] QUEN. (I, 32): “The source of Theology is the written, divine revelation contained in the Holy Scriptures.” HOLL. (61) more accurately: “Christian Theology is derived from an infallible source of knowledge, viz., divine revelation, which, for the present state of the Church, is mediate, i.e., comprehended in the writings of the prophets and apostles.” As proof, John 20:31; 2 Tim. 3:14,15; Rom. 15:4; 2 Tim. 3:16,17. With regard to the different modes of revelation in ancient times, BR. (62): “Formerly God employed many and various methods in revealing those things 27which pertain to the salvation of man, Heb. 1:1. Specifically: (1.) By articulate language, uttered in a supernatural way. Thus revelations were made to the patriarchs, Gen. 18:2; 19:1; 22:1; to Moses, Ex. 3:2; Num. 12:6; to the Israelites, Ex. 19:10. (2.) By dreams or visions, presented to the minds of the sleeping, Gen. 28:12; Dan. 2:19. (3.) By ecstatic visions of the waking, Ez. 1:4; Dan. 10:5; Acts 10:10; finally (4.) By the immediate illumination of the intellect, without the intervention of dreams and visions, 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21. But now, since God has chosen to present, in certain books, those things which are necessary to be known with reference to revealed things, in order to salvation, and not to communicate any new revelations, the only source of Theology is to be found in those ancient revelations which were made immediately to the prophets and apostles and have been committed to writing.”

Inasmuch, however, as the religion of the Old and New Testaments is to be regarded as substantially the same, QUEN. (I, 32) adds the remark: “As the divine revelation became more full, in the course of time, so also did Theology, which was based upon it; and as the former, just so the latter, gathered up its own additions in the progress of time, God meanwhile imparting new revelations. These additions did not relate to those things which constitute the foundation of faith and salvation, but to other things which render the statement and comprehension of these more complete, or which relate to various circumstances, rites, and ceremonies, and to ecclesiastical order and discipline.”

If, therefore, the Holy Scriptures are thus the Source of Theology, we are authorized to draw the following conclusion: “Whatever the Holy Scriptures teach is infallibly true.” Hence, the early divines speak of a twofold source, viz., the source indefinitely stated, i.e., by a single term; and the source more fully stated, i.e., by an entire proposition. The former is the Holy Scriptures. The latter, from which the doctrines of the Christian faith are deduced, and into which they are again merged, is this proposition: “Whatever God has revealed in His Word, that is infallibly true, and must be reverently believed and embraced.” From the Holy Scriptures, then, as this source, are drawn all doctrinal truths. “The source, whence theological conclusions are drawn, is but one, viz., the Word of God, or, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ Theological conclusions are nothing else than truths concerning the faith, elicited and deduced from the Word of God.

[4] QUEN. (I, 33): “The sole, proper, adequate, and ordinary source of Theology and of the Christian Religion is the divine 28revelation contained in the Holy Scriptures; or, what is the same thing, that the canonical Scriptures alone are the absolute source of Theology, so that out of them alone, are the articles of faith to be deduced and proved.”

Further (I, 36): “Divine revelation is the first and last source of sacred Theology, beyond which theological discussion among Christians dare not proceed. For every doubt concerning religion in the mind of a true Christian is removed by divine revelation, and by this the faith of the believer grows so strong, and is so firmly established, that it frees his mind from all fear and suspicion of deception, and imparts to him a firm assurance.”

[5] QUEN. (I, 38): “Human or natural reason is not the source of Theology and supernatural things.”

[6] CAL. (I, 304): “We contend that, over and above the written Word of God, there is at present no unwritten Word of God concerning any doctrine necessary to the Christian faith and life, not comprehended in the Scriptures, that ever came forth from the apostles, was handed down by tradition, was preserved by the Church, and is to be received with equal reverence.”

QUEN. (I, 44): “The consent of the Primitive Church, or of the Fathers of the first centuries after Christ, is not a source of Christian faith, either primary or secondary, nor does it produce a divine, but merely a human or probable belief.” In reference to this latter clause, HOLL. (71): “The consent of the Fathers is not to be esteemed of little, but of great importance, as a ground of credibility, as a secondary source of theological conclusions (viz., because it furnishes opinions or conceptions that are probably true), and as a demonstrative and invaluable testimony that the early bishops of the Catholic Church understood and expounded passages of the Holy Scriptures in the same sense in which the Evangelical Church of the present day understands them.”

[7] HOLL. (63): “After the completion of the canon of Scripture, no new and immediate divine revelation was given to be a fundamental source of doctrine, 1 Cor. 4:6; Heb. 1:1.” QUEN. (I, 48): “The opposite opinion is that of various fanatics who hold that the knowledge of God, and of all doctrines that are to be believed, is not to be sought from the written Word of God, but that a higher wisdom than that contained in the Holy Scriptures is to be sought from a revelation especially made to each individual, and from innate light, from ecstatic raptures, dreams, angelic communications, from an internal word, from the inspiration of the Father, from knowledge internally communicated by Christ, who is essentially united with them, and from the instruction 29of the Holy Spirit, speaking and teaching internally.” [Cf. APOLOGY, 215,13; SMALCALD ARTICLES, 332:4; 333:9,10; LARGE CATECHISM, 499:13; FORMULA OF CONCORD, 552:4; 561:46.]

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