Confirming the Gospel…
After years on the missionary trail, St. Paul heads back to Jerusalem:
Then after fourteen years I again went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. I went up in accord with a revelation, and I presented to them the gospel that I preach to the Gentiles – but privately to those of repute – so that I might not be running, or have run, in vain. -Galatians 2:1-2, NAB
Some members of the early Church, including the Galatians, may have questioned the Gospel that St. Paul was preaching to the Gentiles. Led by a revelation from God, St. Paul went to Jerusalem to confirm that his teachings were in line with the other leaders of the Church.
The leaders of the Church met in Jerusalem, known often as the Council of Jerusalem, to discuss matters such as circumcision. There, they confirmed St. Paul’s teaching, and St. Peter himself spoke about it (see Acts 15). St. Paul could now confidently preach to the Gentiles what had been revealed to him by Christ Himself.
Whenever there were questions about doctrine, the Church met to discuss the different viewpoints. St. Peter stands up to lead the decision-making process in the same way that the Pope does today. This has continued for the past 2,000 years, confirming the Gospel that we know and love.
As Catholics, this should give us complete confidence in the message that we hear from the present day Church. We do not have to worry about the accuracy of Catholic teaching because it gets scrutinized by our appointed leaders.
As a Protestant and non-denominational Christian, I often ran into churches that were teaching vastly different messages. They were the individual revelations and interpretations of men and women, and it became hard to know what was accurate and what was not. Since becoming Catholic, I can now have confidence in the Gospel that has stood the test of time.
I once disliked the rigid structural system of the Catholic Church. I failed to see the need for it if I could read the Bible myself. Now, I realize that it is the structure of the Church, with its teaching authority – the Magisterium, that ensures that what we are being taught is accurate and true.
Confirming the Gospel message has been one of the primary duties of the Church since the times of St. Peter and St. Paul. The Magisterium does more than regulate Catholic doctrine; it gives us confidence in the Gospel. We are brought closer to Christ through the sound doctrine of the Catholic Church.