The Judeo-Christian tradition moves beyond natural revelation, however, and claims what we call Special Revelation. Special revelation is the specific communication by God to humanity. In other words, God gets in touch. He reveals himself to humanity in ways that human beings could never figure out for themselves. In the Old Testament he speaks to his people in a direct relationship. From Adam and Eve through to every figure in the Old Testament stories God is involved with their lives. It is often overlooked how remarkable this is within the development of religions. To be sure, in other religions, the gods and goddesses interact with human beings, but those interactions are always mythological. In the Hebrew religion they are presented as historical. They happen to a scrubby tribe of nomads in the Arabian desert.
The author of the Book of Hebrews then says, “In times past God has spoken to our ancestors in many times and in various ways, but now he has spoken to us through his Son.” The Christian claim is that Jesus Christ is the primary special revelation of God. In Jesus Christ God has come among us. This is not something we made up. It is something we claim as direct revelation by God.
What shall we do then, about the different Christian denominations? The fact of the matter is that none of them claim to be part of God’s revelation. My quip about the Protestants is correct, and they would agree. The individual churches are man made institutions. There is only one church that claims otherwise: the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church–comprised of both Eastern Orthodoxy, the Eastern Rite Churches and all other groups in full communion with the successor of Peter.
Here is the astounding claim of the Catholic Church: that we really do believe not only that God has revealed himself within the history of the Jewish people, and that this revelation culminates in the person of Jesus Christ, but we also believe that Jesus Christ founded a church on the rock that is Peter, and that he handed to Peter his own authority to teach the truth, forgive sins and take authority over evil. Furthermore, that this authority lives in the church today and that Peter’s successor is called Francis and that he lives just a few hundred yards from the site of Peter’s death and burial two thousand years ago.
Did we make it up? I contend that the claim is too audacious to have been made up. If I were going to make up a religion I would devise one that was easier to swallow. Nevertheless, the audacious claim is supported by history and by the existence and strength today of the Catholic Church. When you really know the Catholic Church and the human incompetence, sin, corruption and weakness within her you must conclude with many observers that she must be inspired and upheld by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Nothing else can explain her continued existence.
Is the Catholic Church the One, True Church? Jimmy Akin explains further here.