Catholic Truth Society Postal Course #2: Revelation, by Father Herbert C Fincham

detail of the painting of the creation of Adam by MichelangeloAs we have seen, even if God told us nothing about Himself we should be able to discover quite a lot by ourselves. First, that there is a Creator of heaven and earth, who must be almighty or all-powerful. At every moment He is creating all things, including the most hidden recesses of our souls and minds, hence He must know everything that happens, even our most secret thoughts. Moreover, the Creator must be everywhere at all times creating all things, otherwise that part of creation where He is not would cease to exist. This is possible because God is a pure spirit and has no body like ours, consequently He is not confined by the material limits of time and space. Finally, God alone is completely independent of every other being for His existence and, therefore. He exists without any of the limitations which such dependence imposes on us and all creatures. God is unlimited in goodness or perfections.

What Is God?

From these considerations we can deduce the Catechism definition of God as the Supreme Spirit, who alone exists of Himself, and is infinite in all perfections. We have also discovered that because of our dependence on God for our very existence and all our natural powers, we are bound to use our nature for the purpose for which God is creating it at every single moment. If we fail to do this we can never be perfectly happy or contented, for God makes us in such a manner that we can never be satisfied unless we are fulfilling the end for which He fits us. This end is His Glory by knowing and loving Him.

Why Does God Create Us?

Again, we may sum up in the words of the Catechism: God made me to know Him, love Him and serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in the next. Had God created us with our human nature and left us in our natural state we would have been able to reach a purely natural perfection and happiness in the knowledge and love of God. There would, of course, have been the possibility of refusing to choose God with the resulting frustration and misery described above. However, God willed to raise our human nature to a new glory and dignity above’ our natural state and to reveal to us a much deeper knowledge of Himself and how we are to serve Him and worship Him. This God has done by revelation,

Divine Revelation

By revelation we mean that God has made known religious truth directly instead of leaving us to discover it as best we can by our unaided reason. That the help of Divine revelation is necessary, if we are to learn how God wants us to love and worship Him, is evident from the conflicting and contradictory conclusions that men have come to by unaided reason in the vast number of man-made religions. Clearly mankind left to itself could never discover the one right religion, which alone can be in perfect conformity to God’s will. The difficulty is so obvious that very few man-made religions admit that they are based only on a human intelligence but most make claim to some sort of supernatural inspiration.

Marks Of Divine Revelation

It is very important, therefore, that we make sure that the religion we follow is really a revelation from God and not merely man-made, falsely or mistakenly claiming Divine inspiration. There are various signs of true revelation by which we can distinguish it from false. First, the truth taught must he worthy of God by being higher and nobler than anything we can discover for ourselves, or in the teaching of men. We would expect that if God reveals to us anything about His infinite nature that much of it would be above our human understanding, for God of His very nature is infinitely above us. Hence what we call mysteries are a sign of a true revelation and in no way a disproof of its truth.

Mysteries And Miracles

However, mysteries are not sufficient of themselves to establish their Divine origin. The truth revealed must all fit in with the best in our human nature and with those truths of which mankind has absolute certainty. Secondly, the revelation must be made in such a way as to establish its Divine origin by the holiness and wisdom of the one who makes it known, and by the testimony of signs from God that he is truly sent by God to reveal Divine truth. Thus, like mysteries, miracles in no way disprove but confirm Divine revelation.

God Must Be Believed

It should be quite obvious that if God has revealed anything then we must believe Him, for God is Truth and knows all things. It should also be obvious that there must be a grave obligation and a great advantage to ourselves to discover this revelation. One religion cannot be as good as another if God has revealed one and not the other. God’s religion alone can be the one that will teach us perfectly the way to fulfil the purpose for which God made us, and of finding perfect satisfaction and happiness in fulfilling our proper end. Nevertheless our human nature does not accept easily the teaching revealed by God, because we are warped and blinded by sin, and we need God’s special help to enable us to believe without doubting whatever God has revealed, which is called faith. Hence all who are embarking on the serious undertaking of changing their religion, or embracing a religion, should pray every day for the light of faith. There can ultimately and finally be only one safe ground and justification for embracing any particular religion, that is that we have complete conviction that this religion is the one revealed by God.

The Catholic Religion Is Revealed By God

The Catholic Church claims to be this one true religion revealed by God, and she bases her claim on the fact that she is the one Church of Christ. Hence to establish her claim we must show that the religion revealed by Jesus Christ is from God and that He gave authority to the Catholic Church to preserve and make known His teaching to the whole world until the end of time.

The Christ Of History

Jesus Christ lived on earth about 1900 years ago, and died at a little over thirty years of age. Had He lived the normal span of human life. He would have been alive when, according to a pagan writer, Tacitus, Nero put to death “an immense multitude” of His followers in Rome in 65 A.D. He might have known the Jewish historian, Josephus, who bears witness that He was “a wise man, if indeed one should call Him a man, for He was a doer of wonderful works” and goes on to say that, at the suggestion of the principal Jews, Pilate condemned Him to the cross. Christ at the age of 80 would have been known by the multitudes of this new sect of Christians. The pagan Roman Governor of Northern Asia Minor, Pliny, complained about them in the year 111 as a danger to the Roman Empire. Had Christ not been a great historical person, it is impossible to suggest any way that this evidence from contemporary sources could have arisen, or His following could have grown to such “multitudes” as to worry the great power of Rome as witnessed by the Emperor Nero and the Governor Pliny.

The New Testament Is History

Overwhelming evidence, both from outside sources and from the writings themselves, prove that the books of the New Testament are what they profess to be, accounts of some of the facts and teaching of Our Lord and of His followers, based on eye-witnesses evidence. Nowadays all unprejudiced authorities on Bible studies would support this statement with few and only minor exceptions. However it is important to remember that these New Testament writings do not pretend to give us an account of all that Jesus said or did, but they do establish the fact that God became man to save us and reveal to us the way we must serve God in religion, and how that religion and teaching was to be handed down and preserved for all ages.

External Evidence For The New Testament

The New Testament may be divided into two parts, the first largely historical, the second mostly doctrinal. The latter consists of letters and a book of visions or revelations. These letters, or, as we more commonly call them, epistles, were written between the years 50-90 by the Apostles, Saints Paul, Peter, John, Jude and James, and are accepted as such by all modern scholars. From our point of view here their main importance is that they confirm the facts of Christ’s life recorded in the Gospels, the Death on the Cross, Resurrection, the Transfiguration and Institution of the Holy Eucharist, etc., at a time when the actual witnesses of these events were still alive. The mainly historical section consists of the Four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. Two of the Gospels, Matthew and John were written by Apostles and two by those who knew the apostles, Mark and Luke. The former is said to have written from the direct teaching of Saint Peter, the Apostle, according to Papias of Phrygia, who was born probably before Saint Peter died, A.D. 60. This same writer also bears witness to Saint Matthew’s Gospel. A little later, but still within living memory of the last of those who might have known Christ’s Apostles, Irenaeus, a disciples of Polycarp, who was in his turn a disciples of Saint John the apostle, bears witness to all four Gospels as the works of SS. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. (180 A.D.). Twenty years later Tertullian laid down as a principle that the four Gospels had the Apostles John and Matthew and the “apostolic” men, Luke and Mark for their authors. Other very early writers assert the same fact. Nobody in his senses would doubt the authorship of books by, for example. Sir Walter Scott, about 150 years ago. Error would not have arisen so quickly. Hence when we find unanimous and unquestioned certainty about the authorship of the New Testament by the writers quoted within 150 years of its authors, we can confidently state that its authorship cannot be questioned. If it is objected that in those early days the authorship of books would be more easily forgotten, we assert that the very opposite is more likely to be the case. When books were rare, transcribed with great pains by hand, they would have been valued all the more and handed on from owner to owner with exact accounts of their origin and authorship. Moreover these New Testament writings were held in special veneration by Christians and any tampering with their text or authorship would have been noticed at once. There were attempts to impose fantasies called ” apocrypha ” on the Christians as early as the second century but these were condemned immediately in no uncertain manner, while the New Testament writings were preserved and handed down in the Church with scrupulous care.

Internal Evidence For The New Testament

A detailed account of this evidence would require too much space for a leaflet, but it should be enough for anyone to read these New Testament writings to convince him from their style, detail, sincerity and the magnificence of their teaching, that they are genuine and true accounts of the life and teaching of the world’s greatest religious Teacher. Moreover many of the scenes are so recounted as to give evidence that they were witnessed personally by the writer, and many of the facts have been confirmed by recent discoveries in remarkable detail.

New Testament Miracles

Interwoven with the whole text of the Gospels are accounts of the miracles wrought by Christ and it is impossible to separate them or delete them without losing the whole sense and import of the life recounted in them. Indeed without the miracles it is impossible to account for the success of Christ’s teaching both during His lifetime and afterwards. Before our eyes we have the greatest miracle of all, that Christ still holds the love and faith of countless millions in spite of centuries of opposition, oppression and persecution. No Faith could have survived intact the attacks upon it, both from without and within, as has the Church of Christ, had it not been that Christ established its Divine origin by His miracles.


The only way that it is possible to know that the Bible is inspired is from the teaching of God’s Church, and so until the fact of Divine revelation is established we can only treat the Scriptures as historical writings. The Catholic Church has declared which sacred books are inspired by God and teaches that God guided the writers of these Scriptures and guarded them from error.

MLA Citation

  • Father Herbert C Fincham. “Revelation”. The Catholic Postal Course, 1951. CatholicSaints.Info. 5 April 2016. Web. 23 October 2016. <>