(2) Christianity is meant to be a perfect religion
A priori, we should expect that a religious system which was revealed and instituted, not by a prophet or even an angel, but by the personal action of God Himself, and was designed, moreover, to supplant an imperfect and provisional form of religion, would lack nothing of possible perfection in end or means. Christ’s own teaching satisfied this expectation, and precludes the notion entertained by some early heretics, and still alive in the minds of men, of a fuller and more perfect revelation to come.
First of all, He, its Founder, is God, and therefore had all the knowledge and all the power requisite to establish a perfect religion.
Secondly, He promised His Apostles the abiding presence of the Spirit of Truth, who should teach them all truth.
Thirdly, He promised that the body enshrining this deposit should never be vitiated by error — “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18; cf. Ephesians 5:27).
Fourthly, the same truth is insinuated by St. Paul’s words: “God, who at sundry times . . .last of all . . .hath spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:1), and by the expression, the fulness of time, used in Galatians 4:4, to indicate the epoch of the Incarnation.
Fifthly, by the character of the Christian revelation itself and the Christian ethical ideal which is the imitation of Christ, the Perfect Being. No possible development of mankind can be thought of which should not find all that it needs in Christ.
We are compelled, therefore, to believe that the Christian revelation closed with the death of the last of those originally commissioned to set it forth.** We are thus brought counter to a modern view regarding revelation which has lately been condemned as heretical by Pius X (Encyclical, “Pascendi Gregis”, Sept., 1907). It is to the effect that revelation is nothing external, but a clearer and closer apprehension of things Divine by the Christian consciousness, which in each particular age is the expression of the experience of the best men of that age. Consequently, revelation grows, like a material organism, by waste and renewed supply, and therefore what is truth for one age maybe quite different from what is truth for another. The error which has these developments is ultimately philosophical, being based on the false assumption that the finite mind can know only the phenomenal and can have no certainty of what is beyond experience. Were that so, any external revelation would be impossible, for its guarantees — miracle and prophecy — could not be grasped by human intelligence. These errors were long ago exposed and condemned by the Vatican Council. The most casual glance at the history of Christianity shows that there has been development of doctrine; the Creed grew only gradually; but that development is merely logical, produced by analysis of the content of the original deposit. (See DEVELOPMENT OF DOCTRINE.)