TRADITION, TRADITION, TRADITION
Scripture, Scripture, Scripture
The Catechism of the Catholic Church Paragraph 77, “The apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them their own position of teaching authority.'“
“This living transmission, accomplished through the Holy Spirit, is called tradition...”( Catechism of the Catholic Church Par. 78 )
So what exactly is Tradition? “Tradition is the word living continuously in the hearts of the faithful,”(489) “the living memorial of God's Word.” ( Catechism 131 78, 113, 2650, 2661.)
The Roman Catholic affirms three sources of authority. Scripture (which includes 11 or more additional books known as the Apocrypha). Apostolic tradition (which their church alone has except for their new competition from the Mormons), and the teaching office of the Majesterium. What is included in these three areas are the primacy of Peter, apostolic succession, Papal authority and when the Pope speaks Ex Cathedra he is infallible on what is said (often termed as speaking on faith and morals). This something that has been attributed to Scripture not any man who comes later.
How does traditions that were not practiced early on become dogma later? Where did they come from? How is it the very traditions that we are told were practiced from the beginning are mostly written down? Doesn’t this make them scripture, not just tradition!
The council of Trent in 1565 stated All the faithful Catholics must agree I shall never accept or interpret scripture otherwise in accordance with the unanimous concept of the fathers. “ the office of interpreting scripture is totally entrusted to the teaching Majesterium of the church. There are only 8 passages Rome claims they can interpret that no one else can.
In a similar manner the Pharisee’s claimed they alone had the right to interpret and enforce scripture, and that is when everything went wrong. Trouble followed when the right to read and study were in the hands of the few, instead of the many. When Jesus rebuked the Pharisee’s it wasn’t because they didn’t understand tradition, but because they didn’t understand the word of God. Their tradition made the word of no effect. (Mk.7) they stopped the people from reading the word and had them concentrate on their traditions instead.
It is a known fact that the Roman Catholic Church did not always recommend for people to read the scriptures, “Since it is clear from experience that if the Sacred Books are permitted everywhere and without discrimination in the vernacular (in the common language of the people) there will by reasons of the boldness of men arise there from more harm than good...” (Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, p. 274). It is also clear that many a Pope did not promote scripture. Pope Pius the 7th Encyclical letter of 1816 “It is evident, from experience, that the Holy Scriptures when circulated in the vulgar tongue, have produced more harm than benefit…We have deliberated upon the measures proper to be adopted, by our pontifical authority, in order to remedy and abolish the pestilence.” It was for this reason it was left in Latin (the Holy language) and read mostly by priests). This was a most unfortunate change.
“As it has been clearly shown by experience that, if the holy Bible in the vernacular is generally permitted without any distinction, more harm than utility is thereby caused...” (Great Encyclical Letters of Leo XIII, pp. 412-413).
This vulgar tongue is any language but Latin. The problem is God had the scripture originally written in Hebrew and last in Greek to go out to the world. Latin came later through Jerome's translation.
For centuries it was a mortal sin to possess and read the Bible in one’s own native tongue. But the Bible read was the Latin Vulgate which virtually no one but trained priests could understand! Pope Innocent the 3rd 1200 A.D. Forbade Bible reading in the common language so people had to learn Latin before they could even pick up the book. The council of Valencia (1229), the Council of Trent (1545) and Pope Clement XI (1713) Issued a papal bull to forbid letting people have the Bible in their own language and reading it for themselves. Likewise Clement the 11th 1720 issued a Papal Bull against Bible reading. Leo the 12th 1821-1829 Condemned all religious freedom, Bible societies, and Bible translations.
Even the Catholic dictionary records this fact “In early times the Bible was read freely by the lay people...New dangers came in during the Middle Ages...To meet those evils, the Council of Toulouse (1229) and Terragona (1234) forbade the laity to read the vernacular translations of the Bible. Pius IV required bishops to refuse lay persons leave to read even Catholic versions of Scripture unless their confessors or parish priests judged that such reading was likely to prove beneficial.” (Catholic Dictionary, p. 82).
While in modern history Pope Leo XIII (1893) did urge people to read the Bible, it was only in the Latin which few could read. Now in our the twentieth century the Roman Catholic Church has allowed the laity to have the Bible in their own language. But Roman Catholics are only allowed to read church-approved Bibles which have explanations of the texts underneath each page by their authorized theologians. They still need the magesterium to explain the text, without them no one can understand the meanings. This discourages ones own pursuit to find the gems in the Scriptures.
The Scriptures were written to all Christians, and to the unsaved, to know the way of salvation. Not to a religious hierarchy of Popes and Magisterium who would interpret it for lay people. Anytime we allow others to interpret God's word for us, and only hear their interpretation, we open ourselves to deception. The example of this is found in the Scripture, Paul commended the people in Berea for searching out for themselves from the word if what he himself taught them was true.
From the early sixth century to the sixteenth century, nearly a thousand years the Roman Church had control over the Bible and it remained a closed book for the common people. The Roman Church instead of being the kingdom of light, became a kingdom of darkness. Ignorance and superstition flourished and this became the dark ages. People were in bondage to sin and very little progress was made. It was at this time Islam flourished making great strides. Without the freedom found in the truth the world always suffer. Its like this today in countries that don’t have or promote the bible, whatever success they have is short lived.
The Catholic position states that both the
Bible and Sacred tradition are equal in their authority and inspiration. We are not to
put one above another. But, by what authority does the Catholic say this? Its
not mentioned in Scripture, so how do they know? It is from
tradition that the Catholic Church authenticates its Sacred Tradition. If the Bible is
used as the authority to validate Tradition, then Tradition does not hold an equal
position with the Bible. The Bible is unable to validate Roman Catholicism’s Sacred
Tradition, then is logically found to be independent to the Word of God.
It then has no ability to be authoritative or be a beneficial spiritual influence over
ones life. It cannot be according to man but God.
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, Par. 82.) “Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.” Roman Catholic's “Sacred Tradition” becomes invalid if in any point it contradicts the Bible. Catholic teachings of purgatory, penance, indulgences, Mass, praying the rosary praying to saints and Mary in heaven wearing scapulars, are not found in the Scripture they contradict scripture. Any verses found to validate these by Catholics is always subject to being redefined or pulled from its actual context. The Catholic Church has used their Traditions to make them equal to word when the fact is that God says nothing has this authority except the word itself.
This is what happens when another body of teachings are made equal with what God has spoken. Jesus made it clear that the Bible was in a class of its own, exalted above all religious traditions. He rebuked the Pharisees not because they didn’t understand tradition, but for not accepting sola Scriptura. They negated the final authority the Word of God by their religious traditions. Their tradition made the word of God to have no effect. (Mk.7) They stopped the people from reading the word and had them obey their traditions instead. The Bible emphatically condemns the use of tradition as a source of authority because whenever tradition is set up alongside of Scripture, it eventually competes for the greater position and replaces it. It then is used to reinterpret Scripture. This is what happened to Judaism in the days of Christ, and this is what has happened in the Roman Catholic Church. The Bible no longer was their source for God. Mans opinions eventually replaced the apostles teachings, rituals replaced the substance and darkness fell over the land. No one can trace oral tradition back to its source, so we can never be sure of its accuracy. Oral tradition becomes subject to the very leaders that gave it and we have to take their word for its accuracy.
The Pharisee’s claimed they alone had the right to interpret and enforce scripture, and that is when everything went wrong. What the Catholic Church has done is require its members to listen to the Church who will tell them what they are to follow and what the word says. They then become the sole interpreter of what God said. On the contrary Jesus said He would give each believer the Holy Spirit who is the author of the word, to have us understand what was written (Jn. 2:20-21).
Jesus began His ministry by
quoting Scripture And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in
your hearing”(Luke 4:21). Jesus always quoted the Scriptures as the final
source of authority (Matt. 22:29 32; Mark 7:9,13) Jesus
consistently appealed to the Bible alone the apostles followed this
tradition as Scripture being their final court of appeal. .
They often stated the phrase, “It is written,” (repeated 92 times New
Testament), “have you not read?” (Matt. 12:3,5; 19:4; 21:16; 42; Mk.
12:10), “search the Scriptures” (John 5:39), “is it not written in your
law?” (Jn.10:34; Lk. 10:25). This clearly shows that the people were able and
recommended to read and interpret the Scriptures for themselves. He always shows the
consequences of failing to understand, “You err, not knowing the Scriptures...” Luke
24:44 “Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was
still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses
and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” Notice, Jesus points to the Old
Testament, the prophets and writings for the fulfillment of his ministry. We would never
have been able to identify him without these things written down.
Paul explains in Gal 1:14, “And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.” Paul knew what was tradition and what was Scripture he understood the difference. He knew that the Pharisees laws were written down but he called them traditions. He knew of the Apocrypha but did not recognize it as holy writ. Once Paul was saved He taught Scripture only and abandoned the traditions of his fathers.
Almost all the Old Testament books are quoted in the New Testament by Jesus and the apostles, with the exception of a few books, Ecclesiastes, Esther, and the Song of Solomon. None of the 11 books of the Apocrypha are quoted by any apostle nor Jesus which seems to imply its insignificance as far as Inspired. (the Catholic Church added to its canon as recent as the 1500’s.) Jesus in Jn.10 does validate the feast of Chanukah as a historical event which happened in the inter-Testament period involving the Maccabee’s. But he does not quote theirs or any other writings outside the Torah. When the Messiah came He authorized the Old Testament by quoting from it. Just as God’s word was quoted to Moses and preserved it was done also to the apostles.
Both Jesus (Matt. 5:22, 28, 31 28:18) and the Apostles ( I Cor. 5:3; 7:12) in the New Testament period, sometimes referred to God-given authority outside the writings. The answer is simple both Jesus and the apostles appealed to an authority outside the Bible because God was currently giving new instructions to believers on their faith. In other words he was still setting the standard through the apostles. These revelations were oftentimes first communicated by them in person before it was finally committed to writing. This was the same basic procedure in the OT with the prophets speaking first and then having it written down, but it was always written. Yet there were times that letters were written mentioning what was formerly taught. The fact that apostles sometimes referred to “traditions” which they gave orally as authoritative to the believers does not lessen the position for sola scriptura, because this also meant the teachings. The confidence we all should have today is that which is to equip us for every good work was written was delivered to us. This is the same confidence that Jesus and the apostles held for the Old Testament writings.
Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Complete means just that, nothing else is needed to be function and mature in ones relationship to God except a willing heart and taking the time to read.
Scripture, without any tradition, is said to be “God-breathed” (Gr. Theopnuestos) by it believers are competent, equipped for- every, good work” 2 Tim. 3:16-17 supports and promotes the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. This challenges the Catholic claim that the Bible is insufficient without the aid of traditions from their church. Protestants and others reject these concepts and hold to scripture alone as our source in all matters of faith and morals, not because we are against the Roman church but because the bible teaches this. No one asks where is the church to teach me about the bible and God, I can’t learn without it.
Right after Paul makes plain the scriptures are our source he writes a warning 2 Tim 4:3 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers” Where is sound doctrine found, we are constantly told in Scripture. Titus 1:9 “holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.”
“Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16).
The Bible was not written so that the Majesterium could interpret it for the people. The Bible was written so that all could seek God on their own. It is written in 1 Jn.1:4 “and these things I write to you.” 1 Jn.5:13 “these things I have written to you who believe.” No one ever asks where is the church and teachers to teach me about the Bible and God, I can’t learn without it. The Church is to proclaim God’s word. God’s word does not point to a Church but to Christ and what He spoke.
When Peter refers to them being eyewitnesses of Christ's glory at the mount of Transfiguration he states in 2 Pt. 1:20 “No prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation”, and that God is the source. Why point to the writings if they are not the sole source of future events.
Paul asks in 2 Tim 4:13 “Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come-- and the books, especially the parchments.” Why do this if there were other sources why not ask what Peter or John are saying?
Paul declares to Timothy that the God-breathed writings are sufficient, perfect and complete means just that, nothing else is needed to be function in ones relationship to God except a willing heart. This does not refer to the Old Testament portion as some Catholic apologists claim. The New Testament is also called “Scripture”, even while the pen was to the paper. Says who? Peter in 2 Pet. 3:15-16 (1 Tim. 5:18-; Luke 10:7) both the writings in the OT and the writings of the NT are God-breathed. When Christ referred to the writings it was the Old Testament. When Peter referred to the N.T writings it was to Paul's and Jude's.
There is not one piece of evidence that any of the revelation God gave the apostles was not written by them in the only books we have with us today. What better way would there be to have peoples focus off what God has spoken. By replacing it with something that is man centered, claiming that another well of inspiration is passed down.
1 Tim. 4:13 “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.Vs.15-16 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”
Even God who can remember everything has taken the time to record everything we need.
Rev. 20:12 “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.”
Titus 2:1 “But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine.” How could he do this if he didn’t have it written? The same for Timothy. 1 Tim 1:3 “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia-- remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine.”
2 Jn.1:9 “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.” This was written down so no one could come along and distort it.
Oral teachings of the apostles were not called “inspired” or “unbreakable” unless they were recorded as Scripture. Only then were they binding on the believers. The bible tells us scripture is inspired, meaning which is written not everything that came out of an apostles mouth The oral teachings were authoritative when the apostles were alive but were not put on the same status as scripture unless written down. The apostles were not always infallible or were inspired when they spoke, only when they wrote Scripture.
When the apostles died, there was no longer
a living apostolic authority since the qualification to be an apostle and have that
authority was to be an eyewitness of the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:22;1 Cor.9:1). Because
the New Testament is the only inspired (infallible) accurate record of the
apostles teaching we have today.
While the N.T. was in the process of being written down the church relied on the oral teachings of the apostles. They were alive and could be asked what is correct, as some of the letters were written in response to their questions (Ex. 2 Thess.). We have every logical and scriptural reason to believe that what the apostles penned down was inspired by the spirit and intended for all believers throughout history. We are warned by an apostle “not to go beyond what is written,” 1 Cor.4:6. Sounds like Sola Scriptura to me!
When we look at the example of the O.T. Scriptures, there was no oral tradition passed down at the same time that was equal to what the scribes penned. Not for David, Moses or any of the prophets. So why should we think there would be for the church? God gave Moses the record and it was written down so there would be no discrepancies. When the Pharisees said their traditions were handed down Jesus challenged them.
God did not grant Israel the right to create their own prophets but only recognize their authority. So likewise the canon was not created by the church but given to them by God to guard and protect, obey and teach. The Church’s role was to recognize what writings were scripture and protect it and proclaim it. In this way the church is the pillar and the ground of truth.
What's more, Jesus made it clear that the Bible was in a class of its own, exalted above all tradition. He rebuked the Pharisees for not accepting sola Scriptura and negating the final authority of the Word of God by their religious traditions. He said their traditions made void the law (Mk.7). Noone can trace oral tradition back to its source, so we can never be sure of its accuracy. Oral tradition becomes subject to the very leaders that gave it. What is continually established as truth by men has no measure of accuracy, since no one can trace down its origin.
Nowhere does the Bible state tradition is inspired! Only scripture--because it is God breathed. Unfortunately there are a lot of traditions practiced that are man breathed.