REVELATION is greater than BIBLICAL INSPIRATION
I am borrowing this title from Gerald O’Collins’ recent book Revelation (p.155). Biblical inspiration is very diverse, from Babylonian myths to prophetic and apocalyptic oracles; hence revelation can be even more diverse. I will distinguish between institutional transmission of faith and individual reception.
1. While the depositum fidei has been entrusted to the whole church, “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone.”(CCC, 85) It is the duty of the faithful to receive the Magisterium’s teaching “with docility.”
When revelation is analyzed as institutional transmission of the deposit of faith, it introduces a hierarchy between the teaching and the listening church. Within the teaching church there is a further hierarchy of powers of ordination and jurisdiction. This hierarchy can be described in terms of colors: 1 white, 300 red, 5,000 amaranth, half a million black, and one billion colorless. In short, the institutional transmission of faith is associated with hierarchical power.
2. Quite different is revelation when seen phenomenologically as individual reception. There are at least three aspects in this reception.
Family transmission. Most people receive their introduction to faith through and from the parents and their relatives. The first impressions of a child going to church is one of images and rituals with little doctrinal content. There is very little contact between the faithful and priests in parishes of several thousand households. Official church teaching is limited to ten-minute homilies once a week. For most people the reception of faith happens outside the hierarchical structure of the transmission of the depositum fidei.
Personal religious insights and experience. Informal revelation which begins in the family continues throughout life in the form of discussions with friends, reading books, attending lectures, bible reading, retreats, church attendance, and occasional feelings of closeness to God. Failures and sickness are often times of religious awakening and opportunities for change.
The voice of conscience. According to Vatican II "Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of a man. There he is alone with God, Whose voice echoes in his depths." We hear the voice of conscience every day. This voice tells us what is right or wrong in moral matters but also what initiatives to take for the kingdom of God.
Conclusion. In the institutional analysis of revelation, the deposit of faith is described at times like a bank "deposit" to which only a limited number of individuals have access. In the phenomenology of reception, on the other hand, revelation is for people, to help them growth spiritually through experiences and the voice of conscience. In this perspective, revelation is for mission, the development of individual charisma, and service in the church.