Is Jonah A Fictional Character?
A painting of Jonah preaching at Nineveh. Credit: Look & Learn History Picture Archive

Is Jonah A Fictional Character?

6 months ago
2 mins read

The historicity of certain biblical figures, like Job and Jonah, remains a theological question that has fueled advanced criticisms of the Bible. However, that’s not our focus today.

In his typically impassioned sermons, like today’s, Fr. Maximus Okonkwo has referred to Jonah as a fictional character. The historicity of Jonah is a debated wonder of history; it’s a topic about which we can believe, not believe, or debate but cannot definitively answer or know. History is a book we often begin reading from the middle.

The wisdom of the Church is unmatched. Instead of making mistakes, the Catholic Church makes certain allowances. A prime example is the issue of apparitions. The Catholic Church recognizes the possibility of private revelations, including apparitions, but exercises caution and prudence in evaluating such claims to ensure alignment with the teachings of the Catholic faith in the light of the Bible.

The process of discerning the authenticity of apparitions involves a thorough investigation by Church authorities. If deemed worthy of belief, an apparition may be approved for public devotion. Notable examples include the apparitions at Lourdes and Fatima.

It’s crucial to note that belief in private revelations is not obligatory for Catholics. The Church encourages discernment and underscores the primary importance of public revelation found in Sacred Scripture and Tradition. This is why only eight are validated out of close to four hundred recorded apparitions. Approved apparitions are seen as supportive, not additive, to the deposit of faith.

Some Catholic teachings, in the spirit of “ecclesia semper reformenda,” have undergone modifications without injuring the basis of belief. Fr. alluded to it today. During Augustine’s time, it was believed that those not baptized would not go to heaven. There was also the era of “Extra ecclesiam nulla sanctus” – no salvation outside the Church. Today, the position, as Fr. said, is that even our ancestors who, through no fault of their own, did not know God but lived virtuous lives, are enjoying the beatific vision.

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To make it clearer, Fr. cited “Lumen Gentium,” a Vatican II document, and emphasized that those who, through no fault of their own, are not within the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart can still attain salvation.

This recognition of the potential for salvation outside the visible boundaries of the Church is grounded in the Catholic understanding of God’s mercy and the belief that salvation ultimately comes from Christ. The document emphasizes the mysterious ways of God’s providence and invites a humble acknowledgment of the limits of human understanding in these matters.

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I recount the foregoing to demonstrate how the accumulated wisdom of ages contributed to defining the Church. No wing of doctrine contrary to the conciliar definition of the Church raised today has not been encountered and resolved by the Church because, though founded by Christ, the Church is manned by fallible sons of Adam. Any person with an acute sense of history would never oppose the Catholic Church because her wisdom actively functions in society. This is why all those saying bad things about the Church should be pitied because they talk out of pure, unadulterated ignorance.


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