The Modern Theology of Tradition
J P. Mackey, Queen's University, Belfast
Darton, Longman & Todd, London 1962, ch. 3&4.
Chapter 3. The Faithful
Chapter4. Wider Notions
Someone has used the expression 'the faithful
teach, in a way, by their very believing'.
The term most in evidence wherever the contribution of the faithful to Tradition is discussed is the term 'sensus fidelium'or an equivalent such as 'sensus fidei', the French 'sens de la foi' or the German 'Glaubensinn'. It is difficult to find an English equivalent: perhaps 'understanding of the faith'. As the term itself stands ' fidelium' or any of its equivalents could refer to the internal intuition, knowledge or grasp of 'the truths of faith or to that grasp when it is expressed in some way. The term will always be used in this chapter in the latter sense unless the former sense is clearly indicated. 'Consensus fidelium' obviously refers to the unanimous belief of the faithful, all of one mind in the universal Church.
The term is more than ever in evidence since the definition of the Assumption. Yet its orthodoxy or, at least, the orthodoxy of its implications has been called in question. To Schell's mind, for instance, the term 'sensus fidei' belongs to a modern tendency to speak of Tradition as something occult, as something the limits of which are really unknown. He thinks it is such a term and such a usage that gives Protestants like Harnack the opportunity to pronounce that the Catholic Church can very easily claim to define only what is in Tradition when Tradition for the Catholic Church involves something as vague as the 'sensus fidei'.(1) He believes that to follow this 'sensus fidei' as a determinant of doctrine and an expression of Tradition can only involve us in an objective or quantitative increase in the deposit of Christian truth.(2) And later on, using now the term 'sensus fidelium', he clarifies what he means by this criticism when he indicates some of the less prudent devotional movements that found favour among the faithfulthere was a devotion to the immaculate conception of St Joseph, a cult of the heart of St Joseph and a cult of Our Lady's blood. These, he writes, were all due to misunderstandings of Church Tradition;(3) and if the 'sensus fidelium' were seriously taken to be a constitutive part of Church Tradition, these devotional movements would have resulted in new dogmatic beliefs.
A somewhat similar line of thought is found in an article by Bennett, for whose allegiance to the Church the definition of the Assumption proved a final stumbling-block. The stress of his objection, however, falls on the 'sensus' rather than on the 'fideles'. For the term 'sensus fidelium' implies more than the fact that the faithful have a part in Tradition; it implies that the process of seeing deeper into the faith, of developing Christian truth, is not confined to theological reasoning of a strictly formal type. And this 'sensus fidelium' is one basis for the doctrine of the Assumption pointed to by Papacy and theologians alike. So Bennett attacks the type of doctrinal development which is claimed in the case of the Assumption by Canon G. D. Smith. Fixing on the words "not a purely logical process by which one abstract idea is deduced from another"; and perhaps most influenced by the sentence: "There is nothing quite like it in any department of human knowledge";(4) he maintains that the idea of 'mystical process"; is being advocated by Catholic Theologians which must destroy the older doctrine of the closed deposit.(5)
De San is more concerned about the influence of the Holy Ghost, which is one of the factors used to explain the dogmatic value of the 'sensus fidelium'. To him that only suggests the unorthodox doctrine of the 'intrinsic taste, the godly relish, the divine illumination' which the faithful are supposed to receive to help them understand the Scriptures. Such a doctrine must be completely rejected for he thinks it provides something akin to new revelation.(6)
It is with these highly unfavourable views of the 'sensus fidelium' in mind that we must examine the term and the doctrine connected with it amongst modern theologians.
Much the same division of opinion is found here as was already found in discussing the teaching of Fathers and Theologians. To Burghardt and Michel, ever meticulously consistent with their Tradition-magisterium position, the faithful simply manifest in their beliefs the mind of the Magisterium and these theologians judge the worth of their witness solely on that factor.(7) In this context, too, the images of 'instrument' and 'echo of the Teaching Church' reappear. With Van Noort, for instance, "the communal belief of the Churches is the inevitable response to the clear and articulate preaching of the Roman Catholic Episcopate, like the echo of its voice";.(8)When he writes of the dogmatic value of this unanimous faith, it is infallible. But its infallibility derives solely from its obedience, from its material correspondence with the preaching of the Magisterium.(9) When Deneffe is discussing the various concepts of Tradition found in theological usage he agrees that one could apply the name Tradition to the handing on of doctrine in the whole Church, by bishops, priests and people.(10) This is a less proper usage of the term, however, and is only allowable because the faithful are "instruments of the Magisterium", because they reflect or echo in their beliefs the teaching of the Magisterium.(11)
To all those authors one persuasion is common: the faithful have no active part in Tradition. Their function in Tradition is the passive one of mirroring or reflecting the preaching of the Magisterium. Any activity they may exercise has noguarantees of its own; any qualification their belief has belongs only to the material doctrine precisely in so far as it comes to them from the Magisterium. It is necessary to insist that this is Franzelin's position, too, for that is not always recognised. Although Franzelin's chapter on the 'consensus fidelium'(12)appears very curiously in his section entitled 'Concerning Divine Tradition considered in itself, instead of appearing, as it normally does, in the section entitled 'Concerning the Instruments and Documents of Tradition', there can be little doubt from the general argument in the chapter that the faithful, to Franzelin's mind, have no active part in Tradition and that the value of their belief derives solely from the fact that they receive obediently the infallible doctrine of the Magisterium
As he puts it: the Holy Spirit preserves the integrity of the faith in the body of believers. But he does so through the ministry of the authentic Magisterium.(13) Through this ministry the Holy Spirit is present ('adest') to the faithful,not allowing them to believe anything outside the apostolic deposit. He operates always through the visible ministry of pastors and doctors.(14) To prove his point he simply repeats what he has already written about the nature and authority of the Magisterium and remarks that Christ and the Apostles never envisaged a teaching authority without an obedient people whose faith would be an effect of that teaching.(15) He means to add nothing to this when he writes that the charism of infallibility was conferred on the Magisterium "towards the needs and for the benefit of the whole body".(16) The net result of this mediated influence of the Holy Spirit is infallibility of belief in the believing Church. But that infallibility derives solely from the Magisterium. It is an infallibility altogether conditioned by obedience.(17) Franzelin does refer in this context to that immediate and direct effect of the Holy Spirit on the faithful by which he confers the internal graces.(18) His only concern in mentioning this, however, is to point out that such an activity does not in any way rule out the external ministry of a teaching apostolate. He nowhere discusses any possible guarantees which it might lend the beliefs of the faithful as such. To Franzelin's way of thinking, the divine help given for the propagation, and preservation of the deposit of faith is given only to the Magisterium. Tradition can only belong to an organ with charismatic infallibility and divine authority. In describing the organ of Tradition he has only described such an organ and he has always emphasised the charism. On the question of the 'consensus fidelium', therefore, he is in the same position as Van Noort above.(19)
Even Dillenschneider, whom we shall see makes more of the 'sensus fidelium' than most authors, will bear out this interpretation of Franzelin: "We believe that it would be wrong to identify the 'sens chretien' with the simple obedience of the faithful to the teaching of the Magisterium. So it was understood by a number of theologians of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, principally by Franzelin".(20) And Diekamp echoes Franzelin's position on the 'sensus fidelium' perfectly when he writes that it is a criterion of true Tradition since it possesses a passive infallibility which is caused by the Holy Spirit, but only through the ministry of the official Church teachers.(21) The strong words of a contemporary theologian could well be applied to this view of the doctrinal position of the faithful (without disrespect to a classical Christian metaphor): "the faithful are sheep to be fed regularly and to be sheared at times".
But Catholic theology has much more to say about the 'sensus fidelium'. First in Mazzella we meet a theologian who is prepared to allow an activity in Tradition to all the faithful while he does not, explicitly at least, grant them any more prerogatives than do the theologians we have just discussed. He enumerates the faith and practice of the Christian people amongst the activities by which tradition is transmitted.(22) Yet when he formally treats of the 'sensus fidelium'he simply states that the Christian people are infallible in their beliefs because the Magisterium is infallible fin order to preserve the integrity of faith in the whole Church)and the whole Church is indefectible.(23)
It is an unsatisfactory position when left at that. No one is going to have a part in active tradition who has not got some guarantee in some way proper to himself. An unbeliever might very well acquire a knowledge of our faith from the teaching of the Magisterium, might write it down accurately and so transmit it. It can be said now that the Magisterium preserves the integrity of the faith in his mind, since he acquired it from the Magisterium. He does not believe it, of course. But then what difference does faith make to transmission? It is on the answer to that question that hinges at once the filling out of Mazella's position and the case against those who allow the faithful no activity in Tradition proper.
One of the most significant things encountered in tracing the development of teaching on the 'sensus fidei' in the period is Michel's slight change of heart; or, better, the reason for it. The context of the change is a comment on the theology of Pius XII, and particularly on his theology on the occasion of the Assumption definition. It is in view of this that Michel thinks a more definite role in the argument of Tradition must now be accorded to the belief of the faithful.(24) In elucidating this statement Michel writes that, although the 'sensus fidelium' is never on the same level as magisteriumwhich watches over it and guides itit is a living witness to traditional faith and the Magisterium can ask of it a proof of the continuity of current belief with apostolic doctrine.(25) Because the same Holy Spirit is the principle of living faith in bishops and faithful alike. Every faithful member of the People of God in virtue of his Baptism and Confirmation is dedicated to the witnessing of his faith in profession and action before the world.(26)
We cannot conclude that Michel will now concede fully that the faithful are active in Tradition. He certainly recognises that they are active witnesses, that they have a direct influence of the Holy Spirit to help their witness; but we shall see that Filograssi allows them as much without yet allowing them a proper part in active tradition.
Cardinal Tisserant spoke of the 'sensus fidelium' in relation to Mariology, too, at the Mariological Congress at Lourdes in 1958. We gather from his words that it is mainly to help explain the development of dogma that the role of the 'sensus fidelium' in Mariology is discussed. We gather that the gifts which fit the faithful for this role are neither reducible to the illumination of some Protestantism nor to the rather indefinable 'religious experience' of Modernism.(27) He says: "it can happen that some truth be detected, strengthened and developed by that believing body, i.e. by the simple faithful under the guidance of their pastors". For the faithful are not merely passive recipients of doctrine taught by the infallible Magisterium.(29) They, too, have the influence of the Holy Spirit upon them.(30) That is how he accounts for the importance accorded to the faith of the universal Church by Pius IX in defining the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and by Pius XII in defining the Assumption.(31)
This 'sensus fidei'is no blind intuition or special illumination. It belongs to the ordinary dispensation of grace in the Catholic Church.(32) In Baptism and Confirmation especially the faithful receive the Spirit of Truth. Whatever illumination of intellect or inclination of will, whatever consequent intuition of truth they receive, is the result of the graces and gifts conferred on them by the Holy Spirit. Equipped with these they detect the Marian privileges.(33)
Cardinal Tisserant is careful to stress the teaching of 'Humani Generis' that the authentic interpretation of the deposit of faith belongs to the Magisterium alone.(34) He writes that final and authoritative certainty for theology comes only with a definitive decision of the Magisterium. But there is certainty from the universal faith of the Church before that.(35)
Nowhere in his address was Cardinal Tisserant concerned with what was or was not a ctive tradition. But Filograssi, who describes the part of the faithful in the development of Marian dogma in much the same terms, is also concerned with the definition of Tradition. Filograssi applies the words of Vincent of Lerinsby c laiming that the Vatican Council does soto the faithful, to bear out his point that understanding of the faith grows in the whole Church and in each member.(36) He, too, describes the basis of the value of the 'sensus fidei' in much the same way as Cardinal Tisserant. When the 'sensus fidelium' contains a certain belief before that has been defined by the Magisterium, he writes, its dogmatic value is based on the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit. These give a certain instinctive perceptiveness into the truths of the deposit of faith received from the Magisterium. The 'sensus fidelium' grows by the influence of life and example of faithful on faithful, of priests and bishops on faithful, and it is always under the direct guidance of the Magisterium.(37)
What directly interests us here is the fact that, as far as we can gather, this developing activity of the faithful is not part of Tradition. Only the activity of the Magisterium is active tradition. Its developing activity alone is a direct preparation for definition.(38) The developing activity of the faithful is only an indirect preparation.(39) This attitude is an echo of Franzelin's view of the develop ment of dogma. He, too, thinks of development of dogma mainly in terms of preparation for a definition by the Magisterium. He writes then of what he terms the human element in this preparation. The whole sequence of preparation, he says, is under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. But only the activity of the Magisterium is directly under that guidance; the activity of any other agent only indirectly, in so far as it serves under the authority and guidance of the Magisterium.(40)
Already because of the fact that he demands charismatic infallibility and ecclesiastical authority wherever Tradition is admitted, there is small possibility of Franzelin admitting that the faithful play an active part in Tradition. But there is even less possibility of this when we remember that he never seemed to think of the internal graces and gifts granted to all the faithful by the Holy Spirit as having any connection with the value of their witness to the truths of faith. His thought here is consistent at once with his Tradition-magisterium theory and with his attitude to the 'consensus fidelium' in his chapter on that subject. It is clear, too, from the fact that Filograssi follows Franzelin in the Tradition-magisterium line of thought, that he will not be prepared to allow the faithful an active part in Tradition. But in his case, once he has _ependence some supernatural equipment behind the sensus and proper to it, it is less obvious that he is not guilty of the arbitrary exclusion of an admitted doctrinal activity from the sphere of active tradition. The key to Filograssis attitude on this point is to be found in his opinion that the sensus fidelium the via affective, as he terms itnever of itself achieves enough certainty in a doctrine believed to make that doctrine definable.(41) It is Balics opinion, on the contrary, that such certainty is reached by the unanimous belief of the whole Church: the sensus fidelium of all the members of the Church, clergy and laity together.(42) At this stage at least and still before it becomes magisterium,the sensus fidelium should be regarded as part of active tradition. This difference of opinion can only be resolved by a closer examination of the supernatural guarantee which the belief of the faithful possesses.
Koster's division of the members of the Church into groups was numerical and exclusive. So the faithful, to his mind, are the simple faithful. They are not also members of the Magisterium not Theologians and they were not Fathers of the Church. The sensus fideliumthe Glaubensinn of the faithful, to use his own termis the f aith of the simple faithful. Its dogmatic value is measured according to the measure of the gifts and graces which the faithful receive for the benefit of their faith. Therefore, Roster maintains, whereas the Glaubensinn of the appointed teachers is endowed with infallibility, the Glaubensinn of the simple faithful never can provide us with more than reliable assurance.(43)
It is legitimate enough in speaking of the consensus fidelium' to confine ones attention to the simple faithful. Before we have reflected very much on the subject it is probably in this confined sense that the term first strikes us. It is more questionable when ones attention is confinedwithin this already confined sphereto the graces and gifts which the simple faithful receive from the Holy Spirit and when the dogmatic value of the consensus fidelium is based on these alone. For the word infallible is applied to the consensus fidelium, too, just as to the unanimous teaching of Fathers and Theologians. If the application of that termwhere it is not explained only by the material coincidence of beliefs of the faithful with the teaching of the Magisteriumis at all justified, then Kosters position in this question must be as unsatisfactory as his position on the unanimous teaching of the Fathers.
Yet mention of gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, since they are part of the ordinary and universal dispensation of supernatural gifts, suggests a point which is made explicitly by so many theologians of the period: the body of believers involves every member of the Church whether he be bishop, Father of the Church, Theologian or simple believer.(44) That is what Mazzella had in mind when he describes the faithful as those "who belong to the Church in so far as they believe and profess their faith, and therefore, not only ordinary believers are indicated but the bishops and the Pope, in so far as they believe and profess in their private capacity what they teach in their official capacity and thus belong to the believing Church".(45) For all receive the faith obediently and yet actively in their private lives. It is easy to see that every ordinary bishopsince he is not the Magisterium in personreceives the teaching of the Magisterium in obedience. But Mascall, an Anglican who has more in common with the Roman Catholic faith than most of his co-religionists, has objected that the Catholic theory of Papal prerogatives divides the Church into two completely distinct classes. One class, of course, consists of one member only, but that plea does not escape the objection. A division is made since all other members of the Church hold their faith in obedience but the Pope cannot make an act of submission to himself. To this C. Davis replies by describing the Popes act of Faith as an act of divine and catholic faith, it does not differ from the act of faith of the ordinary Catholic. His faith is mediated, like ours, by the living testimony of the Church. The Pope must humbly and docilely believe, as we believe, what he discerns to be the faith of the Church.(46) If we take the body of believers in this widest sense, then, we can examine the nature of their gifts and the extent of their activity: always precisely as believers.
The sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation have already been mentioned in connection with the doctrinal activity of the faithful. Congar writes: Through baptism each one of the faithful belongs to the people of God, set apart and consecrated to bear witness before the world (I Peter ii. 9).(47) For through Baptism we are not only enabled but expected to take part in the Churchs sacraments and sacrifice and in the general life dictated by our faith. Such participation in such a life and activity we shall later see described as part of the witness before the world for, as Congar has also remarked, Teaching through witness is not given through words alone.(48) With Confirmation our ability to witness and our commitment to witness become more complete. Confirmation is a very special development of the baptismal character with reference to the Christians strengthening and activity in the social life of the Church and of the world.(49) Dabin sees in these two sacraments the source of a certain prophetical function just as the source of a certain priesthood of the laity is often seen in them.(50)
In these sacraments commitment to a task and the ability to perform it go hand in hand. Indeed the graces and privileges given in the sacraments carry obligations to activity.(51)
Undoubtedly the graces which enable a member of the Church to live the life of the Church are given more often than on the occasion of receiving these sacraments. But the reception of the gifts of the Holy Ghost is connected in a special way with Confirmation. And three of these we find mentioned quite often as a basis for the sensus fidelium. It is not part of our task to try to ascertain how Knowledge, Understanding and Wisdom should be defined and distinguished from one another. Beumer has accused Koster of being over-confident in his definitions of these three gifts. He maintains that Scheeben wrote of them too, but described them differently and that both Koster and Scheeben still appeal to St Thomas.(52) And there is no doubt that Catholic theology is still far from the last word on the subject. But it is sufficient for our purpose if it be granted that these three gifts refer to an influence of the Holy Spirit by which a member of the Church is led to a better grasp of the faith. For the rest, at least Koster and Dillenschneider are fairly well agreed on the general nature of the three gifts. Knowledge they regard as the gift that helps one to see if a proposition is connected with the deposit, to distinguish those that are from those that are not. Understanding is more a penetration of the deposit truths themselves to see their deeper implications and Wisdom is the gift by which one sees the truth in its relation to God who revealed itit tends to present truth more from the divine viewpoint; it is linked with Charity and divine intimacy.(53)
Prior to these special gifts of the Holy Spirit there is a more fundamental basis for the sensus fidelium, the grace or virtue of faith which is often referred to in terms of enlightenment.(54) For this grace or virtue of faith is not a mere supernaturalising of an act of believing. It affects the knowledge itself. There is all the difference in the world between the grasp of the Catholic faith possessed by a non-believer who has been instructed in the truths of that faith and the grasp on the Catholic faith by a believer who has been instructed in the same truths. The virtue of faith provides a firmness of assent so that the possession is no longer a dead possession of abstract theories but becomes a vital commitment to truth.
When discussion centres on these graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit which support the sensus fidelium, the impresssion must not be given that this is a case of particular gifts possessed by separate individuals so that the sensus fidelium, at least in so far as it is the effect of these graces and gifts, would not of itself promise any great unity. The giving of these gifts is part of the vivification of the whole Church by the Soul of the Church, who is the Holy Spirit. This is a point well emphasised by Ternus in the discussion of the sensus fidelium' as a factor in Tradition(55)
Ternus first concentrates on the fact that a deposit of Revelation was completed with the death of the Apostles and that it is still in the Church today, unchanged and held in the faith of the members of the Church. He wonders if some kind of community faith or common faith (faith in the subjective sense of virtue or act) is demanded to explain the unity and integrity of this deposit in the Church today.(56) He thinks that, since the deposit of Revelation has always been believed by the members of the Church and has come down in its integrity from generation to generation through this faith, the subjective faith of the Church must have an internal unity proper to it.(57) He finds a unity that is more than a unity of similarity in distinct individuals. He traces the unity of faith to the principle, the Soul of the Church.(58) He links the sensus fidelium to the doctrine of the Mystical Body. In so far as the sensus fidelium is based upon supernatural gifts and graces, these gifts and graces are the work of the one Spirit, the life-giving Soul of the Church. The subjective faith of the individual goes to build up the faith of the Church, but that subjective faith presupposed a believing Church, too, for only through the Church is such faith given.(59) So, as Baptism and Confirmation have committed a man to a community which believes and professes its faith, his faith is an integral part of the faith of that community. It comes to him from the Soul of that community, from the principle of unity. The consensus fidelium is the result of this unified supernatural life of the Mystical Body of Christ.
Apart altogether from the fact that gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit are given towards a better grasp of revealed truth, the truth itself presents a challenge. The faithful Christian who hears it will wed it to his own thinking and experience.(60) It will not lie dormant in the mind. There is too much depth in it and too much mystery about it for that. From the very nature of the truth and the challenge It presents, the sensus fidelium, must grow in understanding.(61) Further, this Christian truth has a practical aspect. It affects the whole lives of men. It does not come to men fully prepared to accept itbut almost to enemies.(62) It changes lives. In this way it is put into practice and expressed. And often its implications can only be fully seen when it is lived.(63) Or, to view it from another angle, a depth of truth can be handed on for a long time in practice before it is apprehended by the mind. Bavaud provides an example: Development of dogma takes its point of departure from the whole sacramental and institutional life of the Church. For a long time Christians had lived their seven sacraments before the Church defined the nature and the number of them.(64) It was in this sense that Congar quoted Blondel to say that a man can carry more truth implicit in the practice of his life than he can at first fully comprehend: that it is often by becoming conscious of the fuller implications of his practice that he finally becomes conscious of the fuller implications of his faith(65)
But even when one has described the depth and vitality of the truth with which the sensus fidei is concerned one has still not exhausted the possibilities of the 'sensus fidei. A factor still remains to be considered which is brought forward explicitly by Schmaus when he writes: In his faith the believer does not merely give his assent to true propositions. Much more, through his faith he comes in contact with the one in whom he believes.(66) The believers act of faith does not terminate in a proposition but in a reality.(67) By faith one is brought into living contact with God. God is the formal object of his faith; God and Gods activity are also the material object of his faith. Such contact is the condition of the growth of all understanding. In everyday action the mind of its very nature abstracts knowledge. We know in part. Yet the knowledge abstracted is only rich or deep in so far as the mind is always in contact with the actual object or existing reality which it seeks to know. So it is with faith, too. Truths are presented to the mind to be believed. They are truths about a person, truths believed on the authority of a person, and through them a person is known, a person who is present. The Magisterium can teach infallible truth but only the individual can contemplate the person described in his own personal communings. In this contact with a person, particularly a divine person, there is a dynamism, a necessary enriching of knowledge.(68)
The point made here is a point put forward by Bacht, especially in connection with the notion of Tradition. Bacht maintains that some concepts have to be clarified before the nature of Tradition can be fully discussed.(69) Amongst these he dwells mainly on the concepts of Revelation, the closing of the deposit and the development of dogma. He takes his concept of Revelation from Rondet and De Lubac but principally from Karl Rahner. From Rondet he derives the idea that Revelation did not come only through teaching truths but also through the coming of a person and the living of his life.(70) The very presence and activity of Christ was essential to Revelation. From Rahner he derives the same notion of Revelation with an addition.(71) For Rahner is quoted to say that this Revelation does not only pass over intentionally into the faith of the believing Church. The believing Church possesses the reality (presence and activity) as well as the teaching(72)
At first glance it seems as if this position falls directly under a criticism similar to this one by Dillenschneider:
If at the source of all dogmatic development there is simply the infinite mystery which exists integrally from the beginning in the Church by the very presence of Christ in it, and if this infinite mystery becomes more intelligible and explicit by the action of the Holy Spirit who animates and perfects the Church, then we are faced, not with a revealed truth becoming more explicit but with continuous revelation.(73)
Undoubtedly, if Revelation came partly through an existential situation such as that created by the presence and activity of Christ, and if there was then a part of Revelation which was not communicated by teaching or its equivalent (e.g. by infusion or illumination); if, further, that presence is still with us, still communicating truth as it did in the apostolic age(,74) we are, as Dillenschneider says, confronted with continuous revelation. In order to avoid the objection it would need to be stressed explicitly that all the truth of Revelation was communicated by teaching or its equivalent. The presence and activity of Christ certainly had something essential to do with Revelation. It was revelation in the sense of a living actualising of the teachingbut revelation itself was Gods teaching about his economy of Salvation75) and that was necessary in order that the significance of the work be known. Christs activity and presence provided an existential situation in which this teaching could be appreciated and in which it was verified. There is all the difference in the world between saying that Christ revealed truth by his life and presence amongst men and saying that Christs Revelation or teaching was given the Apostles in the very context of its fulfillment.
It is clear enough that with Bacht only the latter is meant.(76) When he comes to describe, in Rahners words again, the present situation in the Church, it is clear that he is not saying that the presence of Christ and His Spirit in the Church reveals truth to us but, rather, that the truth once revealed and now passed on to us is deepened in our understanding by the presence of its object in the Church, with which it puts us in contact: the hearing of the Word by the Church and Its meditation on it is not a mere logical task which seeks to derive gradually from the Word, understood as a sum of propositions, all the consequences and all that is virtually contained in it, but rather ... (is it) meditation on the truths heard, in vital contact with the Object itself.(77) And Rahner goes on to unite this point of view with another already discussed here when he reminds us that the same Holy Spirit who is an object of our faith is also the dynamic principle of that faith by which we come to know him.(78)
This same contribution of Rahners is taken over by Schmaus, too, and related to the Glaubensbewusstsein another equivalent for sensus fideiin the Church. The Apostles experience of Christ, he writes, formed the living context for the express teachings of Christ. They could always reflect on these teachings with memories of this living context and see them more vividly for that. A similar experience is granted the faithful of the post-apostolic Church. For, as well as the words, they have the realityand an active reality, too, that works towards a fuller knowledge of itself.(79)
It was not precisely this viewpoint that H. F. Davis had in mind but we can still apply his words: Men, whether collectively or singly, do not normally grow in understanding through formal syllogistic argument;(80) for the faith and love of Christians will sometimes reach a deeper understanding of Christian truth without formal theologizing,(81) and so in matters of revealed truth, as in many other matters, the process of growing in ones understanding of the truth one possesses is not confined to either leaders or experts.(82)
At this stage of the discussion of the sensus fidelium having considered the supernatural basis for this sensus: the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, the truth with which it is concerned, a truth that challenges the mind, that affects the whole living of lives, that puts men in contact with Divine Realityit is obvious that the sensus fidelium involves its own synthesis, its own insights, its own peculiar possession of the truth.(83) It may be remarked also that this developing insight is not solely the result of purely supernatural factors. In any community of men there will be development of the truths that affect the life of the community. In the Church, in doctrinal matters also, grace builds on nature. The natural operations of minds living in community are not suspended but perfected, supernaturalised and made part of a higher providence.(84)
The faithful teach in a wayquodammodoby their very believing. (85) It is time to make that quodammodo a little more explicit. To Congars mind the faithful teach in so far as they develop their particular insight into the truth communicated to them.(86) Geiselmann relates the witnessing activity of the faithful again to their own particular grasp of the faith, and also to their profession of it.(87) For the word teaching, when applied to the faithful, implies a particular external witnessing to the truth which they possess in their own way. It implies no part in magisterium. Yet it can well be called teaching in a sense, because it has its own contribution to make and its own ways of expressing that contribution. The expression of the grasp on the faith which the body of believers possesses, on which its claim to a part in Tradition is based, takes many forms. Very often in this connection works of literature and art are mentioned. And here alone is indicated a very wide field of lay activity that covers journalism, apologetic writing (e.g. Chesterton), spiritual writing (e.g. Pascal), Christian Philosophy or Christian Wisdom (e.g. Maritain, Gilson) and a hundred other activities like that of the Catholic Evidence Guild and other Catholic associations, all over and above activity that belongs more specifically to creative literature and to the arts. But more important still is the common, everyday profession of faith.(88)
The faithful as a body cannot be classified as writers as the Fathers of the Church can, nor are they usually very vocal about their beliefs apart from their prayers. Their expression of their beliefs is, therefore, normally seen best in their practical livingin their participation in the Liturgy, in the popular forms of piety, in their general practice of the Christian life. The development of Mariological doctrine in particular bears witness to this fact,(89) It was in orientation and emphasis in practical devotion to Our Lady that the believing Church revealed its growing perception of her prerogatives. Because this activity is activity within a community, insight and expression act and re-act on each other as one member of the community influences another. In the words of C. Davis; The Holy Spirit dwells within the members of the Church. Their faith is a personal reality. By living the life of faith, they can pass on the faith to some, help the faith of others and by insights granted to them enrich the life of faith within the Church.(90) Balic, in fact, regards not only the internal gifts but also these external expressions of faith as graces of the Holy Spirit and part of his providence.(91) When one becomes a member of this Church which bears witness to Christ before the world, one benefits not only from the internal activity of the Holy Spirit towards sanctification but also from the interactivity of member on member. We are members of one Body.(92)
All this amounts to the fact that, firstly, because of the factors mentioned in the last section above, the whole believing Church has its own particular grasp of revealed truth, and, secondly, because it expresses this in its own way, it hands on revealed truth in the Mystical Body. For truth is handed on by expression, from one member to another. If it can be shown that the consensus fidelium as such is infallible, it will be as arbitrary to rule it out of a definition of Tradition as to rule out the teaching activity of the Fathers of the Church and of the Theologians. Needless to say, the theologians whose contributions have been examined in the last section above and in the present section allow the faithful part in active tradition.
When we say with Geiselmann that the consensus fidelium, the express and unanimous belief of all the faithful, is infallible we immediately raise the question of the relationship of sensus fidelium to magisterium. Is the consensus fidelium infallible from its own supernatural equipment and inherent vitality? And is there then an infallibility in the Church independent of the Magisterium?
From the manner of describing this matter used by Ortigues one can too easily get the impression that such infallibility as is possessed by the consensus fidelium is completely the result of a direct and immediate action of the Holy Spirit on the faithful.(94) Ortigues prefers to speak of the indefectibility of the universal faith of the Church and to reserve the term infallibility to the teaching of the class=SpellE>Magisterium. He relates both directly to the assistance of the Holy Spirit. This assistance of the Holy Spirit has a positive and a negative side. As a positive assistance it involves the dispensing of graces in the sphere of knowledge and action, to every member of the Church, bishop and simple faithful alike.(95) In its negative aspect the assistance of the Holy Spirit guards against error. It protects the universal faith of the Church from error and renders that faith indefectible. It prevents the teaching of the Magisterium from error and thereby renders the Magisterium .(96)
It is true that the consensus fidelium, the universal belief of the Church, is infallibleor indefectible: a term that indicates infallibility together with the impossibility of defect or loss of truth. But this explanation of the matter by Ortigues leaves out of account a factor which goes to explain that infallibility. And without express mention of this factor the impression can be given that the body of believers as such has a charism of infallibility direct from the Holy Spirit. The factor in question is mentioned by Liege but yet its full implications are not brought out.
Liege does advert specifically to the fact that the Magisterium controls the communal faith of the Church: that it has a priority over that communal faith by reason of the fact that it teaches with authority.(97) Presumably he means to indicate that the faithful get the doctrine of the deposit from the teaching of the Magisterium. Yet he does not use this factor to help explain the infallibility which he, too, attributes to the faith of the People of God.(98) In fact he commits himself to the statement: the first infallible criterion of Tradition consists in the unanimity of the Christian understanding of the faith.(99)
Dillenschneider is even more explicit on the point that the truth of Revelation is communicated to the faithful by the Magisterium,(100) and yet he writes of an infallibility in the body of believers that derives directly from the Holy Spirit. In the context he is refuting a position which maintains that there is no infallibility in the consensus fidelium' until after definition of truth by the Magisterium. Before that the consensus fidelium has only got, according to this theory, whatever certainty its own intuitions allow it.(101) In seeking to refute this position Dillenschneider claims that the believing Church is infallible prior to any normative decision of the Magisterium and by an infallibility direct from the Holy Spirit.(102) Admittedly he does quote in the context a passage from Congar which describes the communication of infallibility to the faithful as follows:
In the first case, the Holy Spirit makes the hierarchy infallible, and the hierarchy, by subjecting the faithful to itself, communicates the benefits of its infallibility to them; in the second case, the Holy Spirit makes the Church as a whole and as such, infallible, and in her each organic part according to what it is the whole body in order that it may believe and live, the apostolic and magisterial hierarchy in order that it may transmit the apostolic deposit to the body and declare its authentic meaning.(103)
But this passage taken by itself is not as satisfactory as it might be. It does not explain precisely what is intended by saying that the Magisterium communicates the benefit of its infallibility to the faithful by subjecting them to itself. In the context in which Dillenschneider quotes it, that seems to mean no more than that the Magisterium exercises authoritative vigilance over the developing activities of the faithful.(104) It is much better, when speaking of the infallibility of the consensus fidelium, to refrain from speaking of an infallibility direct from the Holy Spirit. For then the infallible teaching activity of the Magisterium cannot be given the part which we shall see it given in more precise accounts of this matter and which it ought to be given in explaining the infallibility of the consensus fideliurn. When the passage quoted from Congar is seen in its own proper context, it is less likely to give the impression of an infallibility directly applied to the faithful by the Holy Spirit. For Congar had written just before the passage quoted above: The loving and believing Church is infallible only when it listens to the teaching Church and thus partakes of the teaching Churchs infallibility.(105)
Scheeben writes that infallibility belongs immediately to the body of believers.106 But that does not mean that infallibility is given directly to the faithful by the Holy Spirit. For Scheeben elaborates his thought as follows: God wills that it be impossible for the whole Church to err. In view of this fact the body of believers has a direct claim that its faith be preserved from error.(107) But what it claims is effected first through the Magisterium. In the order of intention infallibility belongs first to the faithful. It is intended for the believing Church. It belongs to the believing Church finaliter in other words, and for the faithful it is a gratia gratum faciens, for the benefit of the faithful themselves. In the order of execution, however, infallibility is given first, immediately and directly to the Magisterium. It is given as a charism, a gratia gratis data, for the benefit of the whole body, the body of believers. Infallibility is the gift of the Holy Spirit to the faithful; but he makes the whole body of the faithful infallible by making the Magisterium infallible.(108)
To say, however, that the infallibility of the faithful as such comes from the teaching of the Magisterium does not imply for Scheeben that the consensus fidelium has a purely passive role, that its whole value is explained solely by the fact that it happens to echo Magisterium teaching. We have seen that it never echoes the teaching of the Magisterium mechanically. Scheeben realises that too. Muller did him less than justice when he wrote of Scheebens position: The activity of the Magisterium appears as a repetition of Gods Word, that of the body of believers as an echo of this.(109) The impression of a mechanical echoing of official teaching is too easily given here, whereas in the passage referred to by Muller, Scheeben adds immediately: since however this echo is also animated by the Spirit of God in its own right, so it must also be regarded as a repetition of Gods Word in its own way.(110) For even though the infallibility of the consensus fidelium is derived from that of magisterium, its value cannot be completely accounted for without adverting to the fact that it has its own direct influence of the Holy Spirit upon it.
It is really a question of different forms of existence for the one deposit of revealed truth. It exists in the form of infallible and authoritative teaching in the Magisterium and it exists in the form of infallible belief in the whole Church. In that second form are found possibilities for new syntheses, a new emphasis on different aspects of the truth, a new depth of insight into some part of it. This is most noticeable when a solemn definition has in fact taken place and one can look back on the gradual growth of faith, revealed in its different modes of expression, that preceded the definition. But the contributions o£ that second form are not confined to preparation for a solemn definition. Solemn definitions and General Councils of the Church are few and far between. The ordinary magisterium and the corresponding faith of the Church carry on from day to day. Even when no new definition can be pointed out, every age has its own insights.
Three things are true. The Holy Spirit uses the Magisterium as his instrument to teach infallible truth to the faithful. The Holy Spirit works directly on the body of believers towards the interiorisation of this truth.(111) The consensus fidelium is infallible. One can say clearly little more than was said I the unanimous teaching of the Fathers. The infallible teaching of the Magisteriuni does not lose its infallibility by becoming the faith of the Church, for its entry into this new form is also under the influence of the Holy Spirit. At this stage the infallibility of the consensus fidelium has not been attributed to direct action of the Holy Spirit. No charism is demanded for the faithful. And yet the action of the Holy Spirit has been recognised in translating infallible teaching into infallible belief and profession of faithwith any particular insights or synthesis which that may involve in the course of time.
This action of the Holy Spirit is manifold. A brief attempt has been made to describe it above under the section on the supernatural grounds for the value of the sensus fidelium.(112)Yet, manifold and mysterious as it is, it is perhaps easier to give a positive account of it than to give a positive description of that charism of infallibility with which the Magisteriuni is endowed. It is easier to describe the influence of the Holy Spirit on the faithful by which he helps them to receive and assimilate the infallible teaching of the Magisterium than it is to explain how in fact the Holy Spirit renders the Magisterium infallible. We simply repeat here the Catholic doctrine that the Magisteriuni is infallibleit is a scriptural truth and we do not have to decide how exactly the Holy Spirit goes about keeping it so. We simply affirm that because the Magisterium teaches the revealed truth infallibly to the faithful and because the Holy Spirit is active in their reception of this infallible teaching by his manifold gifts and gracesprincipally, of course, by his gift of faiththe belief and profession of faith by the whole believing Church is infallible. That is obviously, then, a derived infallibility as distinct from a direct or charismatic infallibility.
Because the profession of faith by the body of believers is not of value only by reason of the influence of the Magisterium, which begets it, but possesses its own intrinsic, relatively autonomous value as a result of the direct working of the Holy Spirit on the faithful,(113) it can act as a guide or orientierendes Moment(114) for the teaching of the Magisterium and in this way re-act on its source. This is not at all to say that the authority of the Magisterium is a result of or a reflection of the value of the witness of the faithful.(115) The Magisterium has its own autonomous qualifications and authority as supreme judge in matters of faith: it is the appointed and authentic witness of the faith for the whole Church.(116)
Now this consensus fidelium obviously has a part in active tradition. It is like the unanimous teaching of the Fathers in this: that it is an activity with a relatively autonomous value of its own. But it differs from the unanimous teaching of Fathers and Theologians in that the scope of its effectiveness is more limited. The value of the consensus fidelium as a witness to tradition has always been limited, as it is by Scheeben, to those truths which do not lie beyond popular understanding (117) and even with these to their more substantial rather than to their more subtle aspects. Because they express their beliefs mostly in the practice of their lives, it is to the fundamental truths that affect their lives that the value of the unanimous belief of the faithful is confined. A Father of the Church was a member of the faithful, too, but he only took part in the consensus fidelium in so far as he expressed, in the life and practice which he had in common with all the faithful, his own personal faith. In so far as he engaged in other activity, in so far as he was also a teacher, a member of the intellectual elite of the Church, a man whom the Holy Spirit especially endowed and used and one who was in close intellectual communion with the official teaching body, his teaching is counted not as part of the consensus fidelium but as part of the consensus Patrum. Much the same distinction must be made in the case of members of the Magisterium and in the case of Theologians. For these belong by reason of special endowment and special activity to particular classes or organs in the Church, but they are all faithful believers in the Church, too, with endowments and activity common to all the faithful.
4. Quotation from The Tablet, 28 Oct., 1950.
5. V. Bennett, art. The Assumption: a Postscript, in Theology, vol. 54
6. De San, op. cit., p. 10.
7. Burghardt, op. cit., p. 23. Michel, Diet. Art. Cit., col. 1347.
19. cf. p. 3 above. It is not, then, an accurate paraphrase of Franzelins thought to write, as Muller does, that Franzelin recognized that the charism of infallibility was conferred on the Magisterium towards the benefit of the whole Church and therefore he recognized alongside the Magisterium another organ or bearer of Traditionthe faithful in their acceptance and profession of the faith (O. Müller, art. Cit, p. 168). Then Muller goes on to quote Franzelin: spiritus veritatis adest toti fidelium coetui, without adding the qualification which Franzelin himself adds: sed hoc exequitur suavi providentia per visibile ministerium pastorum et doctorum (Franzelin, op. cit., p. 99) and Müller links the infallibility of the faithful directly with that first partial quotation, giving the impression that this infallibility is at least partly explained by a direct influence of the Holy Spirit on the faithful, in Franzelins thought. Müllers account of Franzelins doctrine is repeated by Schmaus in his Dogmatik. (III, I, p. 770). And a similarly unsatisfactory treatment of Franzelins statement of his twelfth thesis is found in the article of Ternus already cited, Beiträge, p. 49.
20. Dillenschneider, op. cit., p. 320. And yet as if he had not realised this fact or as if this passive role of the faithful did not preclude them from being regarded as bearers of tradition, Dillenschneider writes earlier: Dapres Franzelin ... la Tradition est le sens chrétien vivant dans toute la communauté des fidèles sous la dépendence du magistère et en communion avec lui (op. cit., p. 113). That may well be a defensible notion of Tradition and one that appeals to Dillenschneider himself, but it is not the notion of Tradition that Franzelin adopts when he goes about defining the term.
21. F. Diekamp, Katholische Dogmatik,. vol. I, Münster i. W., 1938, p. 60.
22. H. Mazzella, Praelectiones Scholastico-Dogmaticae,. vol. I, ed. 4, Rome, 1908, p. 494.
23. op. cit., p. 507.
24. A. Michel, art., Pie XII, Lumière de la Theologie, in A.CL, 7th series, n. 45 (6 Nov., 1938), p. 656. In 1956 Michel had simply repeated his position as that is outlined in his Dictionnaire article. Cf. his art. LÉglise, 1Écriture et la Tradition, A. CL, n. 8 (1956), pp. 119 ff.
25. op cit, Pie, p. 657,
27. E. Card. Tisserant, art. De Mariologia in ambitu sacrae Theologiae, in Nuntia Periodica,. n. 6, Rome, 1959.
36. I. Filograssi, art. Constitutio Apostolica Munificentissimus Deus de Ass. B.M.V., in Greg., vol. 31 (1950), p. 524.
37. Filograssi, art. cit, Traditio Divino-Apostolica, pp. 468 ff.
40. Franzelin, op. cit., pp. 277, 378.
41. Fillograssi, art. Cit., Traditio, p. 470.
42. C. Balic, art. Il Senso Cristiano e il progresso del dogma, in Greg.,. vol. 33 (1952), p. 130.
43. Koster, op. cit., p. 107.
44. cf. C. Journet, LÉglise du Verbe Incarné,. vol. I, Desclee, De Brouwer, 1941, pp. 36 ff.
45. Mazzella, op. cit, p. 506.
46. C. Davis, art. cit., p. 487. E. L. Mascall, The Recovery of Unity, London, 1958, p. 209.
47. op, cit., Lay People,. p. 289.
48. op. cit., Lay People,. p. 290.
49. op. cit., Lay People,. p. 289.
50. P. Dabin, La Sacerdoce Royal des Fidèles,. Paris, 1950, p. 52.
51. cf. J. R. Geiselmann, art. Die Tradition, in Fragen der Theologie Heute. (eds. Feiner, Trütsch, Böckle), Einsiedeln, 1958, p. 106.
52. J. Beumer, art. Glaubensinn der Kirche, in T.T.Z.,. 5/6 (1952), p. 135.
53. cf. Koster, op. cit., pp. 78 ff. and Dillenschneider, op. cit., pp. 323 ff.
54. Hemrich, op. cit., vol. II, p. 17.
55. In his article on Traditionart. cit, Beiträge,. p. 40Ternus deliberately refers us to another article, on the sensus fidelium: J. Ternus, art. Vom Gemeinschaftsglauben der Kirche, in Schol, X (1935), pp. 1 ff.
59. art. Cit., Vom Gemein., p. 4. Cf. also p. 11.
64. G. Bavaud, art. Écriture et Tradition selon M. Cullmann, in N.V.,n. 2 (1953) p. 137.
65. cf. Y. M-J. Congar, Jalons pour une Théologie du Laicat,. Paris, 1954, p. 405. He quotes from Blondel: ce que lhomme ne peut comprendre totalement, il peut faire pleinement, et cest en le faisant quil entretiendra vivante en lui la conscience de cette realité encore a demi-obscure pour lui .
66. Schmaus, op. cit., p. 778.
67. To say this is not to say with Emil Brunner that dogma obscures and even distorts the true character of faith (cf. The Misunderstanding of the Church, London, 1952, p. 88). Faith is one kind of knowledge and as such it has a content that can be expressed. But its content concerns a person and his authority recommends it.
68. Schmaus, op. cit., p. 778.
69. H. Bacht, art., Tradition und Lehramt in der Diskussion um das Assumpta-Dogma, in Die Mündliche Überlieferung (ed. M. Schmaus), Munich, 1957, pp. 39 ff.
70. art. cit., p. 43. Offenbarung ist Rede und Leben, Gespräch und Gebärde . . . auf ihre Höhepunkt ist also die Offenbarung Gott selbst, so wie ere inmitten der Menschen lebt und lehrt.
74. It would, of course, communicate truth very much to a lesser degree in the post-apostolic Church since Christs physical presence and activity was more directly calculated to arouse an appreciation of the truth than his invisible presence and activity today.
75. Semmelroth, art. c it., p. 4.
76. Bacht, art. cit., p. 44. Das darf nicht im Sinne einer falschen Unmittelbarkeit verstanden werden, welche die Vermittlung der Wortbotschaft überspringt.
80. H. F. Davis, art. Our Ladys Assumption, in Mother of the Redeemer. (ed. McNamara), Dublin, 1959, p. 201.
81. idem, art. The Immaculate Conception, in op. cit., p. 88.
85. Almost the exact words are found in Bainvel, op. cit, p. 98: sed credendo etiam docent quodammodo, magistrisque viam indicant; fides enim prior est fidei definitione. This is curious since Bainvel takes his definition of Tradition from Franzelincf. Bainvel, op. cit., pp. 59, 40 and should not then be inclined to speak of the activity of the faithful in this way. A similar change of emphasis is found in his article Tradition and Living Magisterium, in The Catholic Encyclopedia,. vol. 15, New York, 1912. Cf. pp. 6, 10.
86. Congar, op. cit., Jalons, p. 405.
87. Geiselmann, art. cit. Die Tradition, p. 105.
88. cf. I. Riudor, art. Mision de los laicos en la Iglesia, segun las ensenanzas del Papa Pio XII, in Est. Ecl, vol. 31 (1957), p. 198.
89. cf. J. R. Geiselmann, Die Lebendige Ueberlieferung ah Norm des Christlichen Glaubens,. Freiburg i. B., 1959, p. 296.
90. C. Davis, art. cit., p. 485. Cf. also H. F, Davis, art. cit. The Immaculate Conception, p. 101, for this interplay of mind on mind, until the Holy Spirit brings to all a deeper understanding.
91. Balic, art. cit., p. 117. lo Spirito Santo . . . predendo 1occasione per illuminare 1anima dalle circonstanze esteriori che eccitano i nostri pensieri.
92. Geiselmann,, art. cit. Die Tradition, p. 107, points out that only in this Body could the sensus fidelium grow towards perfection as it does.
93. Geiselmann, art. cit. Die Tradition, p. 106.
94. E. Ortigues, art., Écritures et Traditions Apostoliques au Concile de Trente, in R.S.R., vol. 36 (1949), p. 294.
96. E. Ortigues, art. cit., pp. 294, 295.
109. Müller, art. cit., p. 169.
110. Scheeben, op. cit., p. 98.
111. cf. Baumgartner, art. cit., p. 174.
112. cf. section 3, this chapter.
117. cf. Scheeben, op. cit., p. 161.
" Like a broad stream."
It is fairly well established now that the activity in Tradition is not confined to the infallible teaching of the hierarchy and is not exclusive to the Magisterium at all. Every member of the Church takes part in Tradition. To say that much, however, and even to prove it, is not to exonerate oneself from any further attempt to define or describe Tradition. Even when it has been proved that Fathers and Theologians and Faithful share active tradition with the Magisterium one important question still remains. Can a comprehensive description of Tradition be given and how should it read? This chapter is to describe attempts made by theologians to present such a comprehensive account of a concept that is wider than the Tradition-magisterium concept.
The first approach to a comprehensive concept is a very realistic and factual one and there is this much at least to be said about it: it betrays no predisposition to seek Church Tradition in any one particular agent or in any one particular form of activity, it shows no 'a priori' tendency to seek Tradition only in a particular organ because of an 'a priori' conception of the guarantees that organ must have. On the contrary, it is determined to look at reality first. Its aim is to see how truth is in fact handed on in the Church. Guarantees can be discussed afterwards.
These are the characteristics of Schultes' approach to Church Tradition. When he looks at the actual transmission of truth in the Church he finds that it is an activity in three forms. The oral form of transmission is exercised not only by members of the Magisterium but by Fathers and Theologians too. The practical form of transmission is the Christian life itself for that life is lived according to divine teaching and Christian worship in particular is equivalent to profession of doctrines of the faith. The written form of transmission comprises official documents of the Magisterium, the written liturgies, the writings of Fathers and Theologians.(1) Of course the same truths are transmitted orally and in writing and leave their stamp on daily life and practice. And when such a factual description of Church Tradition is complete, Schultes dispenses with any fears for the integrity of doctrine in transmission by simply reminding us that the Church is infallible in her faith and possesses a Magisterium which is infallible in dealing with divine truths.(2)
A similar factual description is provided by Schell. To him Church Tradition is either documentary or practical. By 'practical' he indicates  preaching, as that is exercised by official preachers, by catechists and by all those who have care of souls, (2) cult or worship, (3) divine positive law as it is seen in practice in the Church.(3) Bartmann was concerned more with the objective tradition that came from the Apostles and that exists in the Church as a rule of faith. So he simply describes active tradition in the Church as the outward expression or 'clothing' of the Christian faith.(4) This outward expression is seen in many forms"in habit and devotion, in usage and practice"some of them essential and immutable, some optional and changing with time and place.(5) Bartmann indicates the grounds for trust in the present integrity of the truth simply by pointing out that the Church possesses a power to define the content of the faith.(6)
Finally, does this factual approach to the definition of Tradition have anything specific to offer on the subject of development of dogma? Franzelin looked for charismatic infallibility in those who would directly prepare for a new definition.(7) Lercher with a more factual approach, maintains that some he calls them 'magistri'do at times propose a truth which slowly wins the unanimous approval of the whole Church, pastors and faithful.(8) The teaching of the few in this case is active tradition even though it is not yet infallible. It is an instance of non-infallible Tradition,(9) before it attains universal acceptance and becomes infallible. Again a factual account of events without predispositions.
The realism of this approach, its freedom from preconceptions is readily admitted, but it is necessary also to question the adequacy of these results of it that have just been described.
A difference of activitiesrather than a numerical distinction of personsdifferentiates between a number of bodies or organs active in the Church. That difference of activities indicates a difference of qualifications which in turn distinguish these organs one from another. Since the qualifications belong to the organs or bodies it is not sufficient simply to describe a series of activities in an attempt to give a realistic account of Tradition. It is necessary to describe these same activities precisely as belonging to a body or organ or to a number of organs in the Church so that the activity may be evaluated by the qualifications and positions of the organ. Oral teaching is an activity in Tradition. It was exercised by Fathers of the Church and by Theologians, as we have noted Schultes to say. But precisely as oral teaching it is better connected with the Magisterium of which they were members; if they were members. Schultes when he wrote of the Fathers and Theologians as oral teachers, was not describing the activities that admittedly go to make up Tradition in such a way that their value and guarantee could easily be seen. It is realistic to describe these activities in their variety; it is necessary to describe them in their connection with an organ. It is better to connect the preaching of the ordinary priests with the episcopate which authorises it, than to leave it a factor in itself (as Schell would) where it has no guarantee proper to it.
The searcher for Tradition must have no 'a priori' ideas of the guarantee required but he must describe what he finds so that at once a relatively autonomous value (at least) and a guarantee follow. Without these two inseparable things an activity cannot be regarded as tradition in its own right.
A similar criticism applies to a factual description of development of dogma, such as Lercher's. It is too easy to say: a truth is first proposed by a few teachers and then slowly grows into a unanimity of teachers and believers. That is too much a 'post factum' view of the matter. It is easily said once this truth in question has become sufficiently distinguished from the truths of the deposit in which it was implicit to be calledin an orthodox sensea new dogma. Then perhaps documents may show that some few announced it in explicit form before others. To isolate this few and this first explicit expression of the truth, to regard that precisely in its isolation as Tradition and to be asked consequently to consider non- infallible as well as infallible Tradition is to be asked to approach the problem of Tradition and its guarantees from the wrong angle.
The more explicit expression of truth by some individuals cannot be isolated from the less explicit expression which will grow to be explicit and common in this class if it is in fact orthodox. For Tradition is a living thing and so it grows. (Tradition certainly loses vitality, too, in periods of decadence; but here we confine our attention to growth.) No section of it can be isolated and described as if it were self-contained. Hence Tradition is best discussed in reference either to complete organs or to the organic whole, the Church.(10)
In order to indicate at once the variety of activity involved in Tradition and the subject of this activity which guarantees it, some theologians simply define Tradition as 'the life of the Church'. This is the approach of Dubarle, for instance. To his way of thinking Tradition is continuous religious life in the Church.(11) This life carries, at least virtually, an intellectual content. Liturgical rites and Church institutions can transmit, as integral parts of a life that is essentially divine, truths that words or writing cannot fully express.(12) Dubarle does not say explicitly that teaching or writing are activities that are part of this life of the Church which expresses its beliefs, but that is not ruled out in any way. He is satisfied to say that Tradition is the continuity of life in the Church.
That would presumably be a description of active tradition and objective tradition would be the doctrine so handed on. But then an editorial in Istina is a sharp reminder that this line of thought can go much farther.(13) The editor asks if, before being and in order to become a handing on of truths, it is necessary for Tradition to be first a handing on of things or realities.(14) He proceeds to claim that what Christ entrusted to his Apostles to be handed on to us was the Church itself with an essential structure and a life of its own;(15) that, since the Church is lately becoming more conscious of her life, the newest tendency is to identify Tradition with the life of the Church, i.e. to regard the Church, its life and its structure as not only the organ but also the object of Tradition. (16)
It is true that supernatural life is handed on by acts of the Church, that hierarchical powers in the Church are passed on from generation to generation and that, in these ways, the Church itself can be said to be handed on. The conferring of life or of a power can obviously be called tradition. But it is as misleading, when discussing the theological concept of Tradition, to call the objective element in Tradition a thing rather than a doctrine as it is to equate Tradition with the Magisterium and thereby to throw the active element out of perspective. Tradition in theology is the handing on of Revelation. As such it has always been discussed.
Admittedly doctrine can be handed on by activity outside of those formal acts of preaching and writing. That we have seen to be a commonplace of the theology of Tradition, and Ortigues, who also describes Tradition as the general life of the Church, gives the key to the explanation of this fact. The Church, he explains, is essentially sacramental. It is a sign of the divine reality which it contains within itself.(17) By the very same activity by which it perpetuates its own existence the Church perpetuates its doctrine. Whatever the Church does is an affirmation of the presence of the divine reality within it, and so of the belief of the Church by which alone this divine reality is grasped. The life of the Church is an intelligible sign of what the Church believes herself to possess and to be. By seeing to the propagation of her life and of herself, the Church automatically provides for the handing on of her beliefsand that even apart from the formal activity of teaching which is also an essential part of her life.
To say that Tradition is the whole life of the Church as that propagates itself down the centuries is one way of defining the concept of Tradition and perhaps the best way in short accounts of the matter such as those we have been examining. With this definition it is more legitimate, too, to account for the integrity and indestructibility of Tradition by simply indicating the divine character of the Churchits institution and endowments. But now one has gone to the opposite extreme to those who list a series of activities. The Church is not a simple organ with a uniform activity. Individuals act as members of the Church, certainly, and to that extent the Church acts and lives, but individuals can and do act first as members of organs in the Church. A full account of Tradition cannot discuss all activity together and en masse any more than it can discuss a series of activities independently of their organs.
A third approach, rather than attach different activities to different organs of the one Church, prefers to connect active tradition with a supernatural factor that is in fact common to all members of the Church, the 'sensus fidei'. We have already examined the nature and value of the 'sensus fidei', as one criterion, one expression of tradition. Let us see now how it fares when asked to account for the whole of Church Tradition.
Perhaps it is unfair to take Dillenschneider's essay as an attempt to describe Church Tradition in this way. From the title of the work it seems to be concerned with the 'sensus fidei' only as a factor in the development of Marian dogma.(18) But as the book proceeds it becomes clear that the author thinks of Tradition as the handing on of doctrine by development; of the development o£ doctrine precisely as the work of the 'sensus fidei'; and of the importance of some recent Marian definitions as pointers to these facts. Consequently the work contains many definitions or descriptions of Tradition in terms of this understanding of the faith and qualifies for examination here.(19)
Tradition is defined as "the living understanding of the faith which manifests itself, in the ensemble of the teaching and hearing Church".(20) Tradition is the sensus fidei in the universal Church, but manifested, expressed"qui se manifeste". An intuition of the revealed truth, a grasp of revelation, an internal faith or belief, no matter how vital or developing cannot be called Tradition. By such internal faith doctrine may be conserved by an individual or group for one generation but it cannot be handed onand such handing on of truth is Traditionunless it be expressed in some way.(21) The faith of the individual member and that of the whole Church is always an essential factor in Tradition for the truths of Revelation are possessed by being believed, but they cannot be handed on without an activity that is external. Much of the value of the external expression depends on the depth and perspicacity of the internal faith. Yet it is this external activity that forms the active element in Tradition properly speaking.
What part does the Magisterium play in Dillenschneider's view of Tradition? In the section of the work in which he specifically deals with the relationship of the Magisterium with the 'sensus fidei', he describes that relationship as threefold. First, the Magisterium exercises a watching brief over the 'sensus fidei' in its expressions.(22) Secondly, since definitions of the Magisterium are not arbitrary and it receives no direct inspiration but only a divine assistance to decide what is in fact the faith of the Church, the 'sensus fidei' is for the Magisterium, not indeed a regulator to be obeyedbut a datum to be known.(23) Lastly, the Magisterium and it alone discerns infallibly what is in fact the universal belief of the Church.(24)
From this account of the doctrinal activity of the Magisterium it is obvious that it should be incorporated into a full concept of Tradition: unless Dillenschneider is thinking of the activity of the Magisterium as the mechanical handing on of truthswhich are explicit or already fully developed by the 'sensus fidei'which he has shown himself loth to term Tradition earlier on.(25) All the more will the term Tradition need to cover a wider sphere of activity than the 'sensus fidei' once Dillenschneider himself restricts the efficacy of the 'sensus fidei', as do most theologians, to truths of the faith which directly affect the general body of the faithful in the Church.(26) Yet he always defines Tradition simply as the 'sensus fidei'. And that neither does justice to the role of the Magisterium in Tradition nor does it even fully describe the role of Tradition in the development of Marian dogma. Dillenschneider has certainly formulated a definition of Tradition but the principal object of his workthe description of the role of the 'sensus fidei' in doctrinal developmenthindered him from completing it. Let us consider Koster's contribution, then, for he also defines Tradition with reference to the 'sensus fidei', or "Glaubensinn" in the universal Church but he expressly attempts to connect it with a variety of activities according as it belongs to the different organs that are active in Tradition.
Koster will have the activity of the Magisterium in presenting the deposit to the faithful and in defining the result of authentic development to be counted part of active tradition, but then Koster links the activity of the Magisterium as such in a particular way with 'Glaubensinn'. Where Dillenschneider regarded that development of dogma which was in fact Tradition as proceeding apace in the whole Church and according to a universal developing 'sensus fidei', Koster envisages different parts or organs of the Church developing dogma as their own particular 'Glaubensinn' develops.(27) We have already described how he distinguished and treated separately the 'Glaubensinn' of the ordinary faithful, the 'Glaubensinn' of the Fathers and that of the Theologians. The 'Glaubensinn' of the Magisterium is also for Koster a thing apart.(28) A particular truth may develop from the deposit of Revelation in any of these four ways: it may be drawn from its implicit state in the deposit and be brought to the notice of the Magisterium by any of these four agencies, or by a combination of them.(29) Hence Koster's account of the complexity of active tradition in the Church involves a numerical division of members of the Church into four groups, all mutually exclusive.
Active tradition in the Church is thought to take place in three stages. In the first stage"general elementary tradition"(30)the deposit is made available to the faithful by presenting to them the simple Creeds or the Scriptures or by teaching them the practice of the Christian Religion.This is apparently the work of the Magisterium, and it seems to be an expression of 'Glaubensinn'.(31) This 'Glaubensinn' of theirs is endowed with the charism of infallibility.(32)
The second stage in Tradition"incomplete active tradition"is seen in a constant teaching of the Magisterium that has not reached yet the universality or certainty that would show it to be infallible, a constant and universal practice of the faithful, a universal teaching of the Fathers or Theologians.(33) At this stage there is no infallibility.
The third and final stage of Tradition"complete Tradition"is reached with an infallible and express teaching by the Magisterium of the truth developed in any of the ways mentioned in the second stage.(34) As in the first stage of Tradition this, too, is the expression of the 'Glaubensinn' of the Magisterium which is infallible. Here, then, is a complete attempt to explain the whole of Church Tradition in all its complexity in terms of 'Glaubensinn' or 'sensus fidei'.
In criticism it must be said that the distinction between the witnessing of Fathers and Theologians and the witnessing of the faithful is not sufficiently expressed, as Koster thinks, solely in terms of 'Glaubensinn'. The activity proper to Fathers and to the great Theologians, i.e. the writing proper to ecclesiastical writers, indicates more than a higher degree of gifts and graces from the Holy Spiritalthough it indicates that, too. It indicates great natural gifts of intellect and powers of expression. The distinction between the organs in the Church is a distinction of activities indicating a distinction of qualifications. Perhaps it is better to say: a distinction of levels of activity indicating a distinct level of qualifications, for the same persons can be active on different levels and so can belong to different organs. Hence Koster is wrong in maintaining that these organs are mutually exclusive. A Theologian can act on the level of the ordinary faithful and have his activity judged as part of the activity of the universal Church, as an expression of 'Glaubensinn'. He does so whenever his acts are the acts of everyday life that express his beliefs. When he engages in activities proper to a Theologian the theoretical research, in writing, into revealed truthhis activity is judged as part of the activity of another group. It is no longer evaluated in terms of 'Glaubensinn' and certainly not in terms of a 'Glaubensinn' described as simply as Koster describes it, simply the result of graces and gifts.
But more serious is Roster's connection of the infallibility of the Magisterium with the 'Glaubensinn' of the pastors. If the nature and value of the active tradition of the Fathers cannot be explained solely in terms of 'Glaubensinn', 'a priori' that of the teaching of the Magisterium cannot. As Miiller very rightly points out, the infallibility of the Magisterium is regarded by theologians as a charism that belongs to an office independently of the personal graces and gifts of the incumbents.(35) The teaching of the Magisterium is not formally 'Glaubensinn'; it is not formally just an expression of the personal grasp of the truth by men equipped with the graces and gifts of ordinary dispensation. It is an expression of faith personally possessed, of course, but it is more than that. It is an official and authoritative public activity of teaching in the Church, commissioned by God and guaranteed by a special charism that is independent of any personal supernatural equipment.
Koster's account of the three stages of Tradition is too mechanical. It is true, as Dillenschneidcr wrote and as Koster clearly implies, that the first and last word lies with the Magisterium, but the three-staged account of Tradition with which we are here presented gives no true picture of the constant communion between the Magisterium and those other bodies that are active in Tradition. It is not as ifand this is the impression we are given by Kosterthe Magisterium presented simple truth to the universal Church and then withdrew its infallible teaching, at least in respect of the item of truth being developed, while one of the four activities mentioned in the second stage were developing that item of truth; only to become active again, to lend its decisive infallibility when the developing activity is over. If Scheeben writes that the belief of the faithful works back in influence upon the teaching of the Magisterium he does not mean that the Magisterium at a certain stage has suddenly to take notice of a development in which it had no integral part.(36) It is much more a question of continual dialogue of ever-developing infallible teaching and ever-developing belief that constantly influences infallible teaching. It is because of this uninterrupted dialogue over periods of time and development that the 'sensus fidei', the unanimous teaching of Fathers and Theologians can as we saw be called infallible, too. Koster does not wish these various witnesses to be called infallible and it is easy to see now why he does not.
Some contemporary theologians have sought to express a comprehensive concept of Tradition in these terms. In this way they hope to do justice to the complexity of Tradition while at the same time describing the activity in the setting of a supernatural organism.
The Magisterium and the general body of the faithful, to Geiselmann's way of thinking, are the parts which build the organism of which Tradition is a function.(37) The Magisterium has a particular teaching function to perform for the benefit of the whole Church while the activity that is proper to the faithful is simply the profession of personal belief.(38) But these two activities do not exist in isolation from one another. They affect each other and benefit each other. The dependence of the belief of the faithful on the teaching of the Magisterium is by far the more marked and the more beneficial to the faithful "for faith comes by hearing"(39) But the influence and benefit is not all one way. The faith of the Church professed in the lives of all the faithful can act too as an assistance and a support for the teaching of the Magisterium. Geiselmann says most of what Scheeben says about the belief of the faithful and in much the same language; but he does not call it, as Scheeben does, a "guiding factor", a guide for the teaching of the Magisterium., although he equivalently regards it as such in the context.(40)
Some contemporary theologians are so intent on assuring that Tradition belongs to the whole Church and is not confined to the Magisterium that they do not emphasise enough the part which the Magisterium plays in Tradition. Ternus(41)and Semmelroth(42) are examples of this eagerness, but any lack of due emphasis found in their treatment is corrected by others like Bacht and Schmaus who also use the 'dialogue' approach.(43) None of them do justice to the further complexity of active tradition that derives from the fact that other bodies can also be distinguished within the universal Church whose activities must be described if a complete picture of active tradition is to be attained.
Tradition is a function of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, in which organs act and re-act on each other. And there are more organs than the term 'dialogue' suggests. Because the Church is a living thing its activity involves development and, at times, decline. So it is in doctrinal activity, too. In discussing the activities of the Magisterium, of the Fathers of the Church, of Theologians and of the faithful, we have already seen theologians describe something of the interactivity between these organs in the Church and of the development of dogma that is involved in this interactivity. The doctrine assumes a different form in its passage from the preaching of the Magisterium into the minds and works of the Fathers and Theologians, into the faith and lives of the faithful. It is somewhere along these lines that the activity which is at once tradition and development of dogma is likely to be found fully described.
Before examining what we think to be the best description of a comprehensive concept of Church Tradition found in this period, it is useful to devote a short section to Catholic thought on Apostolic Tradition.
The Tradition of the Apostles has begun to loom large in the inter-confessional discussions on Tradition in recent times. It is normal nowadays to find Neo-Protestants emphasise the existence of oral Tradition in apostolic times, a factor in the apostolic Church that is described by the Scriptures themselves. "Of the existence in the primitive Church of a large body of oral tradition which antedated the New Testament there can no longer be any doubt"so wrote J.R. Nelson.(44) This oral Tradition of the Apostles transmitted the Christian truth in its earliest stages. It does not follow, however, that Neo-Protestants now admit that a later oral Tradition transmits Christianity with an equal or an equivalent right. Cullmann particularly, as we shall see, placed Apostolic Tradition in a place apart. To him it had no successor in any way comparable to itself. Hence Catholic theology must say what it thinks of Apostolic Tradition, what was special about it and if that speciality prevented a later transmission from carrying on its task.
In recent Catholic theology much of the reference to Apostolic Tradition has been used to offset the Tradition-magisterium trend of thought. So when Dejaifve has to reply to the objection that the Magisterium defines what it likes, what it finds in its own heart,(45) he emphasises the fact that the Magisterium is at all times subject to the apostolic teachingi.e. a body of truth constituted by the activity of the Apostles in the Church.(46) We have seen something similar in Proulx; and Baumgartner puts this in a slightly different way when he maintains that the active tradition of the Magisterium is essentially subordinate to the active tradition of the Apostles.(47) And lest it be thought that Catholic theologians write such things merely under pressure of a strong objection, it can be pointed out that the same type of thought is found in more disinterested contexts. Bartmann(48) and Schultes(49) are both concerned primarily with Apostolic Tradition. Bartmann is more interested in the objective element in working out his definition and they both insist that Apostolic Tradition is a rule of faith for the Church of all ages.
Catholics and non-Catholics find themselves in agreement on this one point, then, viz. that the Apostolic Tradition is normative for the whole future of the Church. But Cullmann deduces from this that the Apostolic Tradition is found now in Scripture and that nothing else can strictly be called a norm in the post-apostolic Church. Catholic theology, on the other hand, holds that the Apostolic Tradition has been transmitted integrally also by the life and preaching and faith of the Church and that, furthermore, there exists in this Church a divinely commissioned and guaranteed body of teachers to express for the benefit of individual believers the content of this Apostolic Tradition as it is held in the life and faith of the whole Church. The teaching of this body is normative in its own way. The precise point with which we are here concerned, however, is this: how does Catholic theology describe the special position allowed to Apostolic Tradition? Later on it will be useful to see if Cullmann in particular allows any more to Apostolic Tradition than Catholic theology does, for, if not, he has little solid justification on that score for denying it any comparable successor.
The question of the precise nature of Apostolic Tradition is, naturally, a question of Biblical exegesis to a great extent. And Lengsfeld complains that the Biblical theology of Tradition has so far been largely neglected by Catholic theology. Ranft and Geiselmann have provided much of the material for such a theology(50) and Lengsfeld himself makes a contribution to it.
It has been noted already in dealing with the Tradition-magisterium concept that Deneffe distinguished what he termed the constitutive Tradition of the Apostles from the continuative Tradition of the Church but that he was mainly interested in the similar authority which characterised both Traditions; that Journet, on the other hand, spoke of an illumination, equivalent to revelation which was proper to the Apostles in their activity and which marked off their Tradition from that of the later Church.(51) Now Geiselmann also lays much stress on the fact that the Apostles were taught by the Holy Spirit.(52) He knows that they were eye-witnesses but if that means only that they actually witnessed with the senses a certain number of physical events it does not go far to explain their place in the Christian economy. It was the revealed word, the teaching which specified the nature and the significance of the salvation events, the supernatural faith which enabled them to receive this teaching and, above all, the revelatory influence of the Holy Spirit which showed them the truth in it; that is what made the Apostles' teaching so important.(53) The Apostle Paul was not an eye-witness of the earthly life of Christ (he did, of course, come in contact with the risen Lord on the road to Damascus) and yet he could say that he did not receive his gospel from men but "by the revelation of Jesus Christ"(Gal.1.12).(54) What marks off the high importance of the Apostles therefore is not so much the fact that they witnessed physical events or heard words, for so did many others, nor the fact that they had the faith to receive the teaching of Christ concerning the events, for so have we, but the fact that Christ sent his Spirit with a special mission to them. "I have yet many things to say to you: but you cannot bear them now. But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth"(John xvi.12-13).
It is this special mission of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles that Geiselmann and Schell have mainly in mind when they say that the Apostles were "the ones who received the Revelation".(55) It is this, too, they have in mind when they say that the teaching of the Apostles was more divine where the preaching of the Church is more human, that the teaching of the Apostles could be called God's Word in a sense in which the teaching of the Church could not be called God's Word.(56) Of course, they do not mean to say that the teaching of the post-apostolic Church is a purely human affair, for the activity of the Holy Spirit did not cease completely with the death of the Apostles. But, as Congar puts it, "now there is only assistance to transmit, whereas then there was inspiration or the gift of revelation. Certainly, the same Holy Spirit is at work now as he was then: that is the reason for the fundamental homogeneity of the two times. But he does not intervene in the same way now."(57) Before describing more fully this fundamental homogeneity, can anything further be said about this special influence of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles? Geiselmann is inclined to limit it somewhat in extent because, he writes, there were instances of Tradition within the Apostolic Body itself and that would make revelation or illumination unnecessary. Paul received some of his teachings when he went to Jerusalem and he had the benefit therefore of other Apostles' inspired knowledge of Revelation. Geiselmann suggests that there may have been more instances of this type of Tradition within the Apostolic Body itself.(58)
Because of this prophetic illumination which the Apostles received the faithful of apostolic times exercised at most a negative influence on the development of doctrine that took place in the apostolic Church.(59) They did not have a positive contribution to make as they did in the post-apostolic Church,(60) but in so far as particular difficulties arose in the lives of the new communities or particular questions came from the faithful of those years, one development of apostolic teaching rather than another was demanded. "Suppose, writes Journet, that the Corinthians, instead of provoking Paul to speak of marriage, idolatry and the Lord's Supper, had asked him if original sin in its universal application had reached even the Mother of the Son of God".(61) The Apostles did not need to examine the faith of the Church as the later Magisterium needs to do.
In view of the special qualifications of the Apostles, then, what is to be said on the subject of the special authority of Apostolic Tradition? The truth taught can be authoritative because the teacher was divinely commissioned to teach it. In this sense Apostolic Tradition has no authority that is proper to it alone. The Apostles were the first teachers commissioned by Christ but, in the Catholic view, they were not the last. The truth can be authoritative in a looser sense because of the qualifications of those who taught it. And in this sense the Apostolic Tradition had an authority that was not transmissible. The Apostles taught under an influence of active revelation which did not outlive them. Hence they constituted the deposit of Revelation and closed it when they ceased to preach. This apostolic deposit was made over into the faith of the Church and the preaching of the Church has been bound to its limits ever since.
So the preeminent position of the Apostles must be maintained but a fundamental homogeneity of Tradition in apostolic and post-apostolic times must also be admitted. There was teaching of the faith commissioned by Christ and with help from his Spirit in each of these times. But the homogeneity is wider than that. The Apostles were not the only ones who were active in Traditions in apostolic times. Tavard has written: "As 'God's own people' (1 Pet. 2. 9), the Christians of apostolic times would declare the wonderful deeds of God: they had heard from the apostles the message of apostolic faith and they were able, with the help of the Paraclete, to transmit it. 'God's own people', as a fellowship of prayer which is also bound by a consensus in faith, could not be wrong in their declaration of the wonderful deeds of God".(62) And Schell has added further to the description of homogeneity: the Apostles handed on truth not only by oral preaching but by action and institution. Their preaching obviously had a content of truth but the handing on of truth was implied in their building up the Church institutions and in their ordering of Church worship, too.(63)
If Tradition is regarded as something extraordinarily difficult to define, it is more because so many elements go to make up the concept of Tradition that a full definition would be unwieldy and a short definition insufficient than because these elements cannot be fairly accurately isolated and described in themselves. In Heinrich's work most of the elements that belong to the definition of Tradition can be found but his definition of Tradition although it is unwieldy enough does not contain many of them.(65) Scheeben nowhere presumes to define Tradition. He describes it at length and with many cross-references to other contexts. He did not say everything that is to be said about Tradition, nor even everything that we have seen the other theologians in the period say. But he did account for all the essential elements that go to make up the concept and described their relationships to each other so well that the last word may safely be left to him.
Scheeben is as much conscious as any theologian in the period of the Protestant position on Tradition and of the necessity of an answer for it.(66) He begins to answer the Protestant position and to describe the fate of Christian doctrine after its revelation by insisting, as much as Franzelin insists, on the divinely appointed teaching body as not only an organ willed by God but an organ without which the task of bringing revealed truth integrally to all those people for whom it is intended could not be accomplished.(67) But he does not end by describing Tradition only in terms o£ the authentic teaching of this body. His concept of Tradition is much wider.
He describes the constitutive Tradition of the Apostles without using that term. The Apostles handed over to the communities which they had founded the whole content of the Revelation they had received.(68) They handed on also the hierarchical powers to those who should follow them and lead their communities after them. Hence the apostolic deposit or the apostolic tradition was placed in the Church as in a living treasury, for all time. This handing over of the content of Revelation on the part of the Apostles was twofold by writings and by word of mouth. Yet, since the written deposit had a worth and an existence of its own beyond that which belonged to the spoken word, the truth passed on orally is generally called Apostolic Tradition in the narrower sense; the spoken word exists only in the living act of tradition. Hence Apostolic Tradition is distinguished from the Scriptures at this stage. Both make up the apostolic deposit which is a source of faith for all future time.(69)
The whole apostolic deposit the Apostolic Tradition properly so-called, i.e. the truth that came to the Church by word of mouth, together with the Scriptures is handed on in the Church and by the Church as a living body, but particularly by the perennial Magisterium which succeeds to the functions of the apostolate. Nor is this further handing on a mechanical business of mere continual reference to truths once received. It involves insight. Clarification and development of the truth such as the Apostles themselves would have provided had they lived on are now demanded of the Church.
This activity of the post-apostolic Church is called active Church tradition while the whole deposit as it is now the object of this activity and as, through this activity, it reaches future generations, is objective Church Tradition.(70) Yet here again, since the written deposit has an existence and a worth of its own apart from this activity of the Church, while the oral deposit exists only in and through this activity, Church Tradition in the narrower and traditional sense refers only to the handing on of the oral deposit.(71)
In this second and more proper sense of the word, then, Church Tradition formally and materially, in act and object, represents the oral Tradition of the Apostles and is an adequate stream or canal through which the truths of the source, the oral deposit of the Apostles, reach down the ages. Since from this stream the men of all times can derive the truth which the Apostles taught in constituting the deposit of faith, it is also called a source of Revelation for them but in a secondary sense: the title belongs primarily to the deposit as it was constituted by Apostolic Tradition.(72) The word 'stream' expresses better than the word 'source', Scheeben seems to think, the transmission down the ages. It remains now to describe Church Tradition in detail.
It is immediately after he has described the setting up of the authentic Magisterium in the Church and in connection with its preaching activity that Scheeben begins to discuss Tradition.(73) And his first distinction is important. Authoritative preaching, he writes, is distinguished from Tradition but not separable from it. By one and the same activity the characteristics of Tradition and the characteristics that are proper to authoritative preaching are placed. For authoritative preaching does in fact bring truth forward from the past and passes it on to the future generations.(74) And that is the characteristic of Tradition. Yet authoritative preaching has characteristics proper to itself by which it is formally distinguished from Tradition. It places its own official stamp on truth. It vindicates, authenticates, officially recognises the truth. Scheeben uses the word 'Geltendmachung' for this effect.(75) When Tradition is seen precisely as truth that is handed down the ages, truth in transit, it seems destined for this final vindication. So the act that is characterised by its handing on of truth involves or demands an act that will authenticate the truth handed on. In authoritative preaching both elements or characteristics are present. Under the aspect of the former it is Tradition; under the aspect of the latter it is formally authenticating and authoritative.(76)
Although Billot did show some tendency to distinguish two formalities in magisterium, two aspects of official teaching, and to regard it as Tradition under one aspect only, he almost nullified the impression later on.(77) Semmelroth, on the contrary, insisted so much on the formality of authoritative preaching by which it authenticated truths handed on by Tradition that one was left wondering whether this preaching were itself Tradition at all or not.(78) To Scheeben's way of thinking authoritative preaching has the characteristics that make it Tradition but it also has characteristics which make it something more than Tradition and, to that extent, distinct.
The distinction is of importance for this reason. It prevents one who seeks to know what Tradition is and where it is from looking first for that final authoritative and authenticating element which belongs only to the one organ possessing the charism of infallibility in view of its mission. That precise type of authority and that official authentication is not demanded of Tradition as such. It was precisely for including this characteristic, this authority of divinely instituted teaching in the concept of Tradition that Scheeben criticised Franzelin. "The word (Tradition) is too weak in itself to express the authoritative aspect of preaching and . . . normally it is understood to specify only the transmission of doctrine".(79)
We have already noticed that Scheeben pointed to a distinction between the Tradition of the Apostles and the Tradition of their followers in office. In the apostolic body the whole of Revelation was grasped as a personal possession with unequalled depth of insight. The Magisterium is not expected to be in the same immediate and full possession of the truth of Revelation at any particular time. Most likely here, when there is question of the Magisterium not being in as full a possession of revealed truth as the Apostles, it is a matter of depth of insight or powers of insight rather than a matter of extent of knowledge. Scheeben presumably does not mean that some part of Revelation is not in the possession of the Magisterium at times and is supplied by other bearers of Tradition, but only that other bearers of Tradition can help supply a new insight now as they could not to the Apostles. For the deposit of Revelation is channelled down from the source, from apostolic preaching, by the activity of the whole Church.(80)
As a result of the difference between apostolic and Church Tradition, then, a further distinction can be seen, within Church Tradition itself, between Tradition and authoritative preaching. In Church Tradition these are no longer merely distinct aspects of one and the same act, for Tradition is now a wider thing than authoritative preaching: it belongs to the whole Church.(81) Authoritative preaching belongs to one organ in the Church that carries Tradition. Yet even after this further distinction it must be noted that authoritative teaching and the whole Church Tradition are intimately bound together: "by reason of the organic and vital unity of the Church".(82) This close relationship we shall consider later on.
This is the type of thought on Tradition that should satisfy Baumgartner and all the exigencies which he places for the concept of Tradition in view of the 'modus loquendi' of official Church proclamations. Here is a Tradition which is a source of Revelation distinct from magisterium in that it is broader than it and even formally distinct from it in its material coincidence with it: a real source of doctrine for the Magisterium of each age.
As Scheeben has described Church Tradition in general as an activity of all those who have part in the life and riches of the Church, so he now describes in general the value and guarantees of Church Tradition. It involves a human contribution, he writes, but not merely that. Not every one can take part in Tradition; only those who are members of the Church and as long as they remain members of the Church. Tradition belongs to that organic community which is vivified and guided by the Holy Spirit.(83) Hence the witness which Tradition bears and is, is witness of the Holy Spirit; the value of that witness is not derived from a natural community of men whether simple or learned but from a community's relationship to the Holy Spirit. The witness, then, is always guaranteed, infallible.(84) Because it is men who are active, however, the witness will never reach ideal and absolute perfection. Because the Holy Spirit does not influence the Church today to the same extent as he influenced the Apostles, the witness of the truth of Revelation will not reach the perfection which the Apostles' witness reached.(85) Yet that Tradition which belongs to an infallible and indefectible Church will always be present integrally in the Church.(86)
Scheeben has said that all who take part in the life and riches of the Church play their part also in handing on the truth "each in his own way".(87) He has thereby indicated a variety of activity in Tradition. It is now necessary to describe these various activities and yet in such a way that the guarantees which belong to Church Tradition can all the time be clearly seen.
Tradition belongs to the category of expression. Truth is only handed on by being expressed. Hence Scheeben describes the variety of activity which belongs to Tradition in the Church by writing of the various forms of expression, the various manifestations of Tradition in the Church.(88)
Because the Church is a living organism the expressions of the truth it possesses can be varied. Because development of truth is involved and it is not to be expected that truth will develop 'pari passu' in all parts or organs of the Church, the expressions of that truth must be varied.(89) But, keeping always in mind that guarantee which must belong to Tradition, Scheeben discusses the forms of expression which appear as guaranteed forms and, in fact, as infallible testimonies of the Holy Spirit.(90) He could distinguish and discuss the different forms of expression in terms of the different types of acts of expression practical, oral, written, etc. but he discusses them, in fact, in terms of the different organs in the Church from which they proceed. For then he can indicate the guarantee that goes with them because of the places of these organs in the Church. And the different types of activity involved are mentioned in passing anyway.(91) Two themes have already helped him to explain the nature of Church Tradition, namely, the organic nature of the Church and the perennial magisterium that is in it. These same two themes now help to explain the nature and value of the different forms of expression, the activities which can be distinguished in Church Tradition as well as that development of doctrine which is inseparable from it.(92)
We have already in Chapters I to III examined the organs in the Church which express and so hand on truth and we have seen the guarantees which their various expressions possessed. It suffices to enumerate them from Scheeben here. He first mentions the belief of the faithful as a secondary expression of revealed doctrine.(93) It is the profession of the faith which every member of the Church receives from the Magisterium by the grace of the Holy Spirit and makes part of everyday life: a relatively autonomous and immediate testimony of the Holy Spirit who is active in the whole Church. It is a profession of personal faith undistinguished by any great gifts, natural or supernatural.(94)
The primary form of expression of revealed truth is that which belongs to the Church Magisterium. It has its own charism of infallibility. It is the authentic witness to tradition.(95) As well as pointing out this organ of Tradition Scheeben also indicates where in practice its teachings are most readily seen. They are seen in the teaching of the ordinary, clergy (who are instruments of the Magisterium by ordination and mission in a way that Fathers and Theologians as such are not)!(96) and of the theological schools. Scheeben writes of 'a certain autonomy' in this teaching of the clergy as a middle factor between bishops and faithful.(97) But it is not "a relatively autonomous and immediate witness of the Holy Spirit" as the belief of the faithful, for instance, is.(98) No direct influence of the Holy Spirit to the clergy as such and sufficient to allow their teaching to be called Tradition in its own right is envisaged. The part of the ordinary clergy in Tradition here described is that of an instrument of the episcopacy.
The central bearer of Tradition within the Magisterium itself Scheeben names the 'Sedes Apostolica'. The expression of truth from this organ is seen in the infallible teaching of the Pope himself. In an analogous way to that in which the teaching of the universal Magisterium can be known from the teaching of the clergy, so the teaching of the Popes is preserved and expressed in the Roman Church.(99)
Finally there is the teaching of Fathers and Theologians par excellence; a written expression of their insights into doctrine taught them by the Magisterium, from men of outstanding natural and supernatural gifts.(100)
In the light of this description of the complexity of active tradition or expression of revealed truth in the Church and of what we have already learned from Scheeben about the Magisterium, the faithful, the Fathers and Theologians, it becomes clear that Scheeben's concept of Tradition is as follows: the revealed truth is expressed or handed on by these various organs in the Church, by the faithful mostly in the practice of their daily life, by Fathers and Theologians in writing, by the Magisterium in teaching that is infallible ex officio. The organs act and react on one another in the organic unity of the Church. The Magisterium infallibly teaches all members and so all organs, but the Magisterium can be helped and guided by them, too, since it does not possess the same equipment and the same depth of insight as the Apostles possessed. Individual members of the Church can belong to more than one of these organs in so far as they possess the characteristics and perform the activities proper to more than one organ. The value and guarantee which the activity or expression of truth by any organ possesses comes from its connection with magisterium and its direct connection with the Holy Spirit. Because of the inter-activity between the organs, development of doctrine is inseparable from Tradition.(101) For none of the organs receives the truth mechanically from the Magisterium and none of them mechanically hands it back. The Fathers of the Church were men of great endowments. So were and are the Great Theologians. The truth reveals depths to them that other members of the Church could never see without them. But every member of the Church who weds the truth to daily life is open to his own peculiar insights for the revealed truth has its own dynamism. It is no lifeless formula that comes from the Magisterium and returns to it again. Here is expressed at once the vitality of Tradition, the complexity of Tradition and the unity of Tradition in terms, as Scheeben said, of two themes: an organic Church and a perennial Magisterium.
1. R. Schultes, De Ecclesia Catholica, Paris, 1925, pp. 588, r,8g. Schultes regards Scripture as a written form of active tradition (cf. pp. 577, 588, 589) although he grants it a value of its own by reason of inspiration and calls it a source of Revelation in its own right (p. 581).
2. op. cit., p. 590.
3 Schell, op. cit., pp, 161, 162, 167-9.
4. B. Bartmann, Lehrbuch der Dogmatik, vol. I. ed. 5, Freiburg i. B.,1920, p. 36.
10. Hence the teaching or belief of an organ of Tradition can be called a criterion of Tradition, too: the word 'criterion' merely indicates that as well as handing on tradition the teaching or belief also guarantees it.
11. A-M. Dubarle, art. 'Introduction a L'Écriture Sainté', in Initiation Théologique, vol. I, Paris, 1952, p. 83.
13. Editorial: 'Pour une notion "réaliste" de la Tradition', in Istina, n. 2 (1958). The editor was C. J. Dumont, O.P.
18. Dillenschneider, Le Sens de la Foi et le Progrès Dogmatique du Mystère Marial.
19. op. cit., p. 106. For a practical illustration of his concept of Tradition, cf. Dillenschneider, art. 'L'Assomption Corporelle de Marie in Assumption de Marie; Études Mariales, 6e année (1948), pp. 43, 46 ff.
20. Dillenschneider., op. cit., p. 113.p
21. Strictly, then, the active tradition described should be an external activity. So that the description of active tradition given by Berthier: "mens Ecclesiae sub speciali Dei providentia est medium necessarium, quo transmittendae sunt traditiones divinae"J. J. Berthier, Tractatus de Locis Theologicis, Taurini, 1900 (reprint), p. 42is unsatisfactory.
22. Dillenschneider, op, cit., p. 343.
27. cf. J. Beumer, art, 'Glaubensinn der Kirche', in T.T.Z., 61 Jahrg. (1952), pp. 137, 138, for a criticism of Koster's claiming official support for his teaching on the nature and function of the Glaubensinn from statements of Trent, the Vatican and 'Mystici Corporis'. The claim is unjustified. Cf. Koster, op. cit., p. 68.
31. Beumer's criticism of Koster for some confusion in discussing subjective and objective Glaubensinn is not altogether just. Cf. Beumer, art. cit., p. 130
32. op. cit., p. 73.
33. op. cit., pp. 95, 96. In view of this stage it is very hard to understand why Müller (art. cit., p. 180) and Schmaus (op. cit., p. 773) link Koster with Deneffie and Dieckmann in a purely Tradition-magisterium concept.
36. Such is the impression given by Koster when he writes that when the Holy Spirit chooses to bring a newly developed truth to the notice o£ tbe Magisterium by means of the Glaubensinn of the faithful, the Magisterium must follow his indication: cf. op. cit., p. 129, and Beumer, art. cit., p. 185.
40. cf. Geiselmann, art. cit., p. 106 and Scheeben, op. cit., p. 99.
41. art. cit. Beiträge, pp. 38-40, 49-51.
42. art. cit., pp. 7, 8.
43. H. Bacht, art. 'Tradition als menschliches und theologisches Problem', in S.Z., 159 (1957), p. 297; Schmaus, op. cit., p. 774.
44. J. R. Nelson, art. 'Tradition and Traditions as an Ecumenical Problem', in Theology Today, 13 (1956), p. 155.
50. Peter Lengsfeld, Überlieferung, Paderborn, 1960, p. 17.
51. Above, pp. 34 ff.
52. art. cit. Die Tradition, p. 99,
53. Geiselmann, art. cit. Die Tradition, pp. 83-4, 99.
54. cf. Lengsfeld, op. cit., p. 41.
55. cf. Schell, op. cit., p. 160.
56. cf. Geiselmann, art. cit. Die Tradition, p. 81 and Schell, op. cit., pp. 159, 160.
57. op. cit., Die Tradition, p. 259.
58. Geiselmann, art. cit. Die Tradition, pp. 85, 86.
59. cf. Geiselmann, art. cit, Die Tradition, p. 90; Proulx, op. cit., p. 283.
64. For an introduction to Scheeben's ecclesiology and for a slightly different view of some of the matter presented here, see W. Bartz, Die Lehrende Kirche; Ein Betrag zur Ekklesiologie M. J. Scheeben, Trier, 1959. Also idem, art. 'Le Magistère de 1'Église d'après Scheeben', in R.S.R.; 124-6 (1960), pp. 309 ff.
69. This is a résume of Scheeben, op. cit., p. 111
81. Michel. unceremoniouslyand wronglynumbers Scheeben with those who identify Tradition with, magisterium, on the strength o£ a single quotation. Cf. Michel, art. cit., col. 1339.
88. op. cit., p. 152: "Äusserungen". op. cit., p. 169: "Erscheinungsformen der aktuellen Tradition".
92. op. cit., pp. 151, 152.
93. op. cit., pp. 160 ff., 97 ff.
94. Mainly for lack of this necessary and continuous connection with the true and infallible Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church, the profession of such orthodox faith as they possess (by e.g. Protestants) is not counted in Tradition although they, too, have the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit and are therefore attached to the Church in a way. They are not fully guaranteed agents in Tradition according to this Catholic view.
98 op. cit., p. 160. Cf. op. cit., p. 96, for a similar appraisal of the teaching of Fathers and Theologians.
99. op. cit., pp. 163 ff. There is more to Scheeben's thought about the local Roman Church as the centre of orthodoxy but it is not easy to say to what exactly it amounts. In any case it does not essentially affect the main sequence of his thought on Tradition which is presented here.
100. op. cit., pp. 166 ff.
101. B. Fraigneau-Julien, L'Église el le Caractère Sacrementel selon M. J. Scheeben, Desclee de Brouwer, 1958, p. 264.
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