“When He received glory and honor from God the Father, this declaration was made to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this declaration from Heaven when we stood with Him on the mountain. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you would do well to pay attention, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.”
These verses are often taken to mean that the words written in the Bible are a more certain guide to God than dreams or visions. It is not, however, clear to me that the “prophetic word made more sure” refers to the Bible in any kind of exclusive way, or that this is saying that the prophetic word is more sure than the voice of the Father heard on the mountain top. I think, rather, that St. Peter is saying that the prophetic word is made more sure by the witness of the voice on the mountain-top; that the witness of the Father concerning His Son enables us to have confidence in the prophetic word; that the prophetic word is most certain because of the declaration of God the Father. (In 1st John, we read, “This is the testimony of the Father, that He has given us His Son and that eternal life is in His Son. He who does not believe this testimony makes out God to be a liar.”) He may also be indicating that to us is given the understanding which comes from the Holy Spirit. The prophecies, the proclamation, the Scriptures, the teaching are as a lamp shining in a dark place, but Jesus is risen and glorified and the Holy Spirit is come. Let us pay heed to the lamp shining in a dark place, while that is what we have, but the day will dawn and the morning star will arise in our hearts. The Holy Spirit is come to guide us into all truth, that anointing which teaches us all things and which is true, and not a lie, is given to us.
As for the prophetic word, that is the declaration of Jesus, the proclamation of the Gospel. This prophetic word is certainly present in the Bible, but it is not exclusive to the Bible. It is present whenever Jesus is proclaimed through the Holy Spirit. “The spirit of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy,” says the angel in the Apocalypse or Revelation.
Then there is this: “to which you would do well to pay attention, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the morning star arises in your hearts.” Jesus Himself said, “I am the Morning Star, the Root and the Off-spring of David.” We have to follow the light we have; we have to pay attention to the truth as best as we know it. When we receive the light we have, our eyes are opened to more light; when we respond to the truth as we know it, more truth is revealed to us. The goal is that we know Jesus Christ in our own hearts, with a certainty which nothing can take away – a certainty which relies neither on the Bible nor on visions nor on dreams nor on an infallible Magisterium (the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church).
The Bible, of its nature, cannot be more certain than dreams or visions; dreams and visions might be wrong or might reveal truth, but the Bible can not be more certain than a true dream or vision. It is words written on a page or read aloud by a voice. Therefore, it can be lost and impossible to obtain; it can be morphed in one’s memory, misunderstood in a delirium, twisted in translation, and misinterpreted whether through malice and deceit or through innocent ignorance. This is inherently true of any external infallibility; the dogmas, true or false, of the Roman Catholic Church are subject to the same weaknesses and failure. Even if in itself something is infallible, if it is any way external, if it is communicated through created mediums, those mediums introduce fallibility into the over-all effect. To the same extent that I cannot trust my mind or my senses, to that extent I also cannot trust the Bible, for I receive the Bible through my mind and my senses.
“You search the Scriptures, thinking that in them you have life, and it is these that testify of Me, yet you will not come to Me and have life.” The Scriptures exist as a witness to bring us to Jesus. They are not the only witness; to begin with, there was no New Testament, and the Gospel of Jesus was conveyed almost entirely by word of mouth. There are still those today who hear about Jesus without the Bible, sometimes without even knowing that there is a Bible. Knowing the Scriptures may be a good thing, but it is not the same as knowing Jesus, and it becomes a bad thing – indeed, an idolatry – if it is conflated with knowing Jesus. God “revealed Himself in many ways and at many times, but in these last days, has manifested Himself in His Son, who is the radiance of His glory and the exact imprint of His nature.” JESUS, not the Bible, is the final revelation of God. The Bible is a medium, but not the only medium, of this revelation, and the means should never be mistaken for the revelation. JESUS is the ultimate revelation of God. The test of a revelation is whether or not that revelation is JESUS CHRIST, the only begotten Son of God, the Savior of the world. “By this we test the spirits. Every spirit that proclaims Jesus Christ come in the flesh is from God. Every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.”
Copyright 2020 by Raina Nightingale