In this age of relativistic thinking it can be difficult to come to any conclusions. Truth, if it exists at all, is regarded as being “out there” in some inaccessible, grayish, void beyond our reach. So, when the Church declares truth, many people are understandably cynical or skeptical. To them, it is not actually truth being declared by the Church, but the Church’s particular version of truth. It’s not “really” truth, but just another opinion among many. “Just because the Church says so doesn’t make it true.” Anyone claiming to know truth must be arrogant, delusional, brainwashed or otherwise misled.
If I noticed that a bridge had been washed away by a flash flood, I would want to warn approaching motorists of the danger. Circumstances would have revealed a truth to me that had not yet been revealed to the approaching motorists. The bridge is out, not “because I say so,” but “I say so” because the bridge is truly out. If I decide to hide the truth or declare the truth, it still remains true. The bridge will still be out. Drivers may decide to ignore my frantic arm-waving and go over the edge, or they may stop and heed the truth. Whatever decisions I or the drivers make, the truth remains true.
The truth taught by the Church is not true “because the Church says so.” The Church teaches what is true because the truth has been revealed to the Church, and the Church’s job is to “wave her arms.” This doesn’t mean that the Church has a monopoly on all truth, or that the Church is “better” than the rest of humanity. All truth belongs to God, whether one finds it through the Church or not. It simply means that the purpose of the Church is to reveal the truth that God reveals to the Church.
Again, one can be cynical and skeptical and believe that the Church is like the Wizard of Oz behind a big curtain putting on a show to control people. But that doesn’t line up with the historical origins of the Church and her institution by Jesus Christ. The Church didn’t suddenly fall from the sky in a balloon and invent ways to grab and retain power over the populace. The Church was established by Jesus, given His authority and sent on a specific mission by Him.
God could have decided to teach everyone truth in an instant, all at the same time. He could have simply zapped us all into full knowledge of everything that He wanted us to know (a bit like the angels). God could have decided to reveal truth any number of ways. As it turned out, God decided to reveal truth to us through Jesus and His Church. (Keep in mind that “the Church” also includes the Bible which flowed from the Church and is part of the Church’s Deposit of Faith).
Now I’ll share some of my own skepticism. No matter how God chooses to reveal truth, there will be plenty of folks ready to reject it. No amount of miracles or displays of power will convince everyone. Lucifer, the angel, rejected God and took one third of the angels with him. Judas watched Jesus perform all kinds of miraculous signs and wonders, and the most religious people had Jesus killed. Being present with God Himself isn’t enough to persuade everyone to accept truth. The Church can’t convince everyone of the truth, either. And yet, what the Church teaches is true.