How to Answer Protestants Forum: Continuing Revelation / Mormonism
Continuing Revelation / Mormonism QUESTION from David August 30, 2001 Mr. Martz-
Thank you for your answer to my Fatima question.
I was reading a book today concerning witnessing to Mormons. It referenced Jude 1:3 in its argument agains the existence of Mormon prophets and apostles. Jude 1:3 refers to ... the faith that was once for all handed down to the holy ones (Jude 1:3 NAB). This book claimed that the Greek verb tense used by the author of Jude indicated that the faith had been completely and totally handed down by the time the Jude was written.
This made me think about Fatima and other alleged revelations since the closing of the canon. If the faith has been completely and totally handed down, how can there be further revelations? If these revelations tell us anything we don't already know, wouldn't these mean that the faith had not been completely handed down?
Also, I am aware that this is the Fundamentalist Protestant forum and that Mormonism is neither Fundamentalist, nor Protestant, nor Christian, nor even monotheistic, but I am wondering if you are aware of any good resources for witnessing to Mormons.
ANSWER by Mr. Troy Martz on September 4, 2001 Dear David:
I am happy that you are working to strengthen your ability to witness the Truth of the Catholic Faith to others. Hopefully this will help.
First, I would like to reiterate the difference between public revelation (the Apostolic Tradition - both written and oral) and private revelation.
Public revelation is binding to all the faithful and ended with the death of the last Apostle, St. John the Evangelist around 100 A.D. This is the Teaching of Christ handed down by the Apostles and preserved by the Church. As is mentioned in Jude, this revelation (the sum total of the Apostolic Faith) is complete in the fullness of the Revelation of Christ.
Private revelation is the term we use to describe messages from God through Angels, Mary, and the Saints. This revelation is never binding on the entire Church. [For example: You DO NOT have to believe in either the miracles nor the messages of Fatima to be a faithful Catholic, but you DO have to believe in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.] These messages are only binding to the person(s) who personally received them and then only after the messages have been found not to contradict doctines of the Church. This is why it takes so long for the Church to officially approve Marian Apparitions -- just because you claim to have a message from heaven does not mean that you have not been deceived by Satan.
Now for the Mormons. They believe in continuing public revelation that is binding to all believers (though this was not available from the time of St. John in 100 A.D to the time of the first Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith in 1829). Of course, this allows the Mormon leaders to make it up as they go along.
A great resource on Mormons (and Jehovah's Witnesses) can obtained from San Juan Catholic Seminars. They have an entire series of booklets designed for average laity on Apologetics. They can be reached at (505) 327-9554. [I have used their materials for classroom instruction before and they have been well received.]
Pax Christi, Troy Martz
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