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Three Pillars

When God created the world, He chose specific mediums to help transmit the truths he wanted us to know. We come to know God partially through the world that He created, demonstrated in the beauty, goodness, and power of the physical world. However, knowing God more perfectly, as much as finite beings are able, requires that God reach down to us so we may know Him better. Although under no obligation, God reveals himself to us so that we might share in the divine nature (CCC 51). This transmission of revelation is passed to us in three distinct ways: Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium of the Church.

So that all men may know the truth, Jesus Christ established his Church to safeguard the good news of his saving mission from all corruption. These teachings were given to his Apostles and then passed down to their successors from their age until our own. Their successors, the bishops, preserve what they have received both orally and written; however, the oral tradition was handed on first. This Apostolic Tradition was entrusted to the Church by The Lord and the Holy Spirit. This mission is beyond mortal power so the Holy Spirit is passed onto the servants of Christ to assist them in their mission until the end of the age.

Under the inspiration of the same Spirit, the apostles and other men “committed the message of salvation to writing” (CCC 76). Sacred Scripture is the story of salvation history, starting with the creation and fall of the world, and culminating in the Saviour of the world who redeems his creation. Together with Apostolic Tradition, the Word of God is handed down as the speech of God. Tradition safeguards this writing so that it may be preserved and transmitted to the ends of the earth. Together, Scripture and Tradition make up the deposit of faith.

This Sacred deposit must be correctly interpreted so as to protect the faithful from error. The task of interpretation is given over to the Magisterium of the Church. The bishops, together with the successor of Peter, serve the Word of God by teaching what has been entrusted to them (CCC 85). This authority is not such as to be at the whim of the men to whom it belongs, but is an obligation to protect what has been divinely revealed. The Christian faith ought not be confused with the dogmas the Church teaches, although they are integral to understanding the truth of Christ from whom this teaching authority flows. These teachings “are light along the path of faith; they illuminate it and make it secure” (CCC 89).

Thus preserved, the body of Christ cannot err in matters of belief (CCC 92). We can be assured of the veracity of the teachings of the Church because she is assisted by the Holy Spirit. These teachings preserve the deposit of faith, both Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture. Both are then protected by the Magisterium of the Church by whose authority their transmission can be free from corruption. The mission of proclaiming God’s love for mankind and the good news of our redemption can be carried out throughout time to all peoples.


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