Fullness of all Revelation

Cathal Barry takes a look at the Church’s teaching on Divine Revelation

God has said everything in his Word, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which cites Hebrews 1:1-2 as its source: ìIn the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the Universe.î

The Catechism also claims that Christ, the Son of God made man, is the Fatherís ìone, perfect and unsurpassable Wordî. ìIn him he has said everything; there will be no other word than this one,î it says.

As St John of the Cross, has put it, commenting strikingly on the above Hebrews passage: ìIn giving us his Son, his only Word (for he possesses no other), he spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word – and he has no more to say. . . because what he spoke before to the prophets in parts, he has now spoken all at once by giving us the All Who is His Son. Any person questioning God or desiring some vision or revelation would be guilty not only of foolish behaviour but also of offending him, by not fixing his eyes entirely upon Christ and by living with the desire for some other novelty.î

The Catechism also states that there will be no further Revelation. The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the ìglorious manifestationî of Jesus Christ.

However, even if Revelation is already complete, the Catechism maintains it has not been made completely explicit. Rather, ìit remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuriesî.

The Catechism notes that throughout the ages, there have been so-called ëprivateí revelations, some of which have been recognised by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. According to Church teaching ìIt is not their role to improve or complete Christís definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of historyî.

The Catechism states the faithful, guided by the Magisterium of the Church, ìknows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Churchî.

ìChristian faith cannot accept ërevelationsí that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfilment, as is the case in certain nonChristian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such ërevelationsí,î the Catechism says.