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Getting to know God through the Bible

Author: Charles Whitehead

Getting to know God through the Bible

Ahead of the 50th anniversary of Vatican II’s key document on the Word of God, Dei Verbum, Charles Whitehead explains why a love of scripture is central to the Catholic faith.

I was 34 years old when my Catholic faith came alive following prayer for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

For the first time I realised how much God loved me personally, and one of the immediate spiritual results was a new love for Scripture.

I felt God was saying: “You don’t know My Word”, so I studied the Bible seriously and for two years read little else.

A tremendous love for Scripture grew within me, and for the past 39 years hardly a day has passed when I have not given time to reading the Bible with great joy - my day would be incomplete without this.

There are lots of plans and programmes to help us, ranging from reflecting on the Mass readings given by the Church, to reading through the Bible in a year.

I’ve read through it many times now and lost track of how often God has clearly spoken to me through His Word. After all, the psalmist tells us: Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105) and I’ve found this to be absolutely true for me.

Tradition & Scripture

How then does Scripture fit with the Tradition and the teaching authority of the Catholic Church?

To understand this we should look at Dei Verbum, the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, one of the most important documents of the Second Vatican Council.

The document, which will reach the 50th anniversary of its publication this November, addresses the relationship between Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium.

This is the bedrock of our faith, so it’s really important that we have a correct understanding of how Divine Revelation works.

After all, it is God’s will that everything He has revealed for the salvation of all of us will be handed on in its entirety to every generation; this is why Jesus commissioned the Apostles to make disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:19-20).

By their preaching, writing and example they handed on what they had heard Christ say, seen Him do, and learned through the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

They then appointed Bishops to succeed them so that their apostolic preaching would be preserved until the end of time.

This Sacred Tradition develops in the Church with the aid of the Holy Spirit, so there is always growth in understanding the realities that are handed down.

There is a close connection between Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, as they form one deposit of Divine Revelation, flowing from the same divine source and working in unity towards the same goal.

The task of authentic interpretation of this has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church, the Magisterium.

This teaching office is not above the Word of God, but serves it by listening to it, guarding it and explaining it faithfully with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Tradition brings us the benefits of over 2,000 years of the lived experience of the Christian community; in matters of doctrine and morality we rely on the Magisterium of the Church; but God speaks to us whenever we read Scripture.

“The Word of God is something alive and active……… it can judge thesecret emotions and thoughts” says Hebrews 4:12-13, and as Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is inspired by God and can profitably be used for teaching, for refuting error, for guiding people’s lives and teaching them to be holy. This is how the man who is dedicated to God becomes fully equipped and ready for any good work”.

So let’s resolve to get to know God better every day through His Word.

 

  • Charles Whitehead is a Papal Knight of St. Gregory the Greatand chairman of the CREW Trust. To help support the work of the CREW Trust and National Service Committee for Catholic Charismatic Renewal in England and Wales, please click here.

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