The Two Vatican Councils:
Journey of Faith in the Modern World
Faith is the foundation for any Christian to exercise hope, charity, and good works and enter into a communion with God. Our notion of faith as Catholics is rooted in Christ whom we know through the Church’s traditions and the Scriptures. It is our concept and belief in God that the Church holds true and protected from error since the time of the early Christians. As Avery Dulles maintains, “theologians have taken faith to be the fundamental Christian virtue and have recommended the Scriptures, the sacraments, and the ministries of the Church to express and nurture the faith.”
In the past two thousand years of Christianity, the Catholic Church have safeguarded and defended the faith handed down by Jesus Christ to the Apostles. The Catholic Church is not spared from shock and turmoil as a result of circumstances of history. Though the Church encountered a lot of changes and evolved through time the teaching of faith remains the same in fidelity to its roots. The Church of each era deals with different problematic or controversial concern on which theological responses would be built upon. To decide on the matters essential to the faith, unity and salvation of the faithful twenty one general councils where summoned to address such concerns of the Catholic Church. “Each of the twenty one councils is an individual reality, each has its own special personality. This is partly due to the fact that each had its origin in particular crisis of Church affairs.”
The 19th and 20th century pose a great challenge and threat to the notion of faith that Catholics hold true. The many developments in the sciences confronted fundamental questions on God, cosmology and humanity which needed new reflections and responses to what Church believes in. The impact of modernity on the mind set of people led to scepticism on Church’s truth claims on faith. People in that period of history tend to rely on natural reason as the only source of human knowledge in seeking the truth and faith as Emmanuel Kant would affirm that faith cannot be known by reason. It may be regarded that the councils of Vatican I and Vatican II were the Catholic Church’s response to modernity. These last two councils have promulgated documents which touches on faith. Vatican I published Dei Filius – a dogma on faith and Vatican II approved Dei Verbum – a dogma on divine revelation.
This paper will focus on historical contexts of the two Vatican Councils and the Church responded to the challenges of modernity to the concept faith of Church. This paper is also concern in the development of the notion of faith in modern times by looking at Dei Filius and Dei Verbum. Given the limited sources and length, this study is not exhaustive.
Context of Vatican I
In 1815, the Church together with the nobility of Europe were in the state of nostalgia when they met in Vienna to restore the old order of Europe. They...