Happy sixth Sunday of Easter. He is Risen! This Sunday we read about the Council of Jerusalem in the Book of Acts. This was the first of many councils called to settle questions about Christianity that have arisen.
The Council of Jerusalem settled the issue of whether Christians had to be circumcised according to the Mosaic practice to be saved. Circumcision was an additional requirement being placed on new believers by Judaizers. They saw Christianity as the fulfillment of the Mosaic Law and so thought one had to be initiated as a Jew to be Christian.
The matter was brought to the Apostles to settle. They prayed and discussed and, in the end, Peter made the final decision that was then distributed by letter to all the churches through out the known world. They wrote saying “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and us …”
This is truly important today because in modern times there are many voices trying to re-interpret Christianity. There are calls to make Christianity more relevant to modern times. And of course, everyone is claiming that they are working under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
But can the Holy Spirit be inspiring so many divergent views? What about when groups, dare I say sects, of believers disagree on doctrine? Does the Holy Spirit give different people different versions of truth?
No. There can be only one truth. If you and I disagree, at least one of us is wrong. We might both be wrong, but we aren’t both right.
The challenge for Christians is to follow truth because we are called by Jesus to be one in faith. The Apostles called the council, so all believers would be united in Truth.
How do we decide? Return to the teaching of the Apostles (Acts 2:42). In Revelation, John saw the new Jerusalem surrounded by a high wall with angels stationed and the names of the tribes of Israel inscribed on its walls. The foundation of the wall had 12 courses of stone… on which were inscribed the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The Apostles are the foundation protecting the Church.
Every new generation inspires thoughts of “modern times.” They are all replaced by new “modern times.” Progressive calls to “evolve” are shifting sands that do not weather storms. The solid foundation is what the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostles to teach. Their teachings are well attested in scripture and by the Church Fathers.
Truth endures because it is always true no matter how modern the times. Truth is always ancient, always new, even 2,000 years later.
Kenneth Dirksen is a deacon at Sacred Heart Catholic Church of Uvalde.