Mark Lambert on the “deposit of faith”

Mark Lambert is a UK blogger who may even be an Ordinariate member, though I am not sure, that I now visit regularly.

Here he reflects on the “deposit of faith.”

I feel so sad that there can be people in the Church who are so determined to turn away from that faith, so closed to trying to understand and implement it, so determined to change what the Church holds and teaches to something else. This, in an environment where the faith in all its power and beauty is so rarely heard and taught and preached these days. A world where even within the Church, doctrine has given way to pastoral practice, and the answer to the resultant withering of the faith is more of the same. Yet has it not always been this way?

What is this deposit? St. Paul uses the Greek word παραθήκη “paratheke,” “deposit,” meaning something precious entrusted to a depositary for safekeeping. He does not mean some inert object like gold or diamonds or a sum placed in the trust department of a bank, but a living body of doctrine.

“O Timothy, guard the ‘paratheke,’ the deposit” (1 Tim. 6:20).

This urgent appeal of the Apostle to his Successor is not only thematic for the Acts of the Apostles and their Epistles but also for the Gospels. The reason is the fact that this deposit is the doctrine and the teaching program which Jesus entrusted to his Apostles when he taught them, and mandated them to take it out to all nations (see Matt. 28:16-20). He entrusted it therefore also to their Successors, including the men of Holy Orders as a whole until his Second Coming at the end of the world.

This concept of a priceless divine deposit entrusted to the teaching Church belongs to the New Testament as one of its principal themes. The origin of the deposit, then, is Jesus the Divine Teacher. It originated in his teaching of his Apostles, when he prepared them to carry his program forth to all nations. What is the value of the deposit? Unique and priceless. Jesus himself states it:

“My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me” (John 7:16).

Beautifully put.

The recent New Evangelization Summit here in Ottawa in late April did a great job of laying out not only the importance of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ—which Scott Hahn likened to falling in love —but also the importance of getting to know one’s Spouse and finally making a commitment, which Hahn likened to marriage.

We need to know the divine promises and how they are all Yes! and Amen! in Jesus.  We need to believe what is true and good and beautiful so as to guide us in working out our salvation.  It is not pastoral to water the teachings down or say, well, those are teachings only for saints and ordinary people are not expected to live at that level of heroic virtue.

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