A good argument for the importance of tradition? (Against sola scriputura)

I have really enjoyed listening to the work of recent apologists, and philosophers, such as Peter Kreeft. Similarly the Church fathers, such as St Thomas.

It seems the fiath runs so, so deep. I keep finding new levels and new understandings.

When you consider Christ’s ministry was, what, 3 years? And yet the simple things He taught us run so, so deep. Taking just the Beatitudes as an example. Or, when one considers the cross. An instrument of death…made into life.

Then I consider how most Protestant churches do not even have a cross in their church? Yet this is not merely a symbol. This is Jesus’ victory- and therefore our victory- over death.

Our saints and philosophers have revealed a densely layered faith which becomes more and more beautiful the deeper you go. It is unlike anything else on this earth for the sheer boundless heavenly pleasures that an investigation into the faith can yield. What’s more- this satisfaction, and quenching of our thirst for truth, is reward in this life- even, we learn, by and in suffering. And yet, God prepares a place for us in heaven, too.

I really do lament for those in other churches who put-aside centuries of learning, and tradition, and take only the word of God, which itself was only formally laid down three centuries after Christ.

Would my thoughts above, do you think, lay down something of an argument against sola scriputura, properly formulated?

Here’s a quick 4-page read on the 1st and 2nd c. freedom that existed in the early Church. Where the Spirit of Christ is, there is freedom. Man always tries to impose its idea of “order” (turning it into tradition) and so dictates what and how, that after awhile the Holy Spirit moves on to where it is welcomed to be the “true leader” of the congregation.

This is a sober reminder who the real boss is.

It comes down to who we trust more – the Holy Spirit or our own “might and power.”

Many Blessings, Michael Burris
Early Church Freedom of Practice
By Mike Burris. Extensive source notes available….just text (520) 392-9093.
The Jewish canon of OT wasn’t fully agreed upon until 90 AD (stirred by a split of Christianity from Judaism), and there were many Greek Septuagint and Hebrew texts still being debated as well as Deutero-Canonical/Apocrypha books (now excluded from Protestant bibles), so early Christians were used to relying on (putting their faith in) something (or someone) more than a full-proof “bible” text. After the destruction of the temple in AD 70, and the explosion of the Church that became increasingly Gentile, the reading of the OT Scripture as part of the service fell almost completely by the wayside, except for the Psalms using in singing and Prophecies of Christ. Paul spoke severely against the public reading of Moses, believing it hardened the hearts of the hearers. Justin Martyr’s First Apology (ca. 150) says that Christian services had public readings of the Jewish prophets and the “memoirs of the apostles” along with prayers and a meal. That’s pretty darn simple! Look how far we’ve gone from the model given to us! It was Origen around 200 AD (130 yrs after the Temple was destroyed and Christians stopped meeting in Jewish synagogues to hear the OT) that single-handedly “fixed the place of the OT in the Church . . . assuring the OT a permanent place” by writing 375 sermons as a commentary on the entire OT. That Catholic Church jumped at the chance since more and more of its “clergy” were looking to the OT to justify the practices they wanted to introduce.
EarlyChristianWritings.com lists at least 20 writings other than the NT writings that circulated in the 1st century and certainly the first part of the 2nd century. Many of these were thought to be inspired and/or found useful by sometimes large portions of the early Church. Many Christians, even into the early 4th c. questioned books of our current NT, as did some of the Protestant Reformers like Martin Luther in the 17th c. NT canonization really was a reaction to the movement of the Holy Spirit (particularly Montanism). Still it took until far into the 4th c. to get the Western Church to agree and 1400’s for the Eastern Church to agree. To this day, many churches worldwide have different bibles. The quest for a “holy bible” was not on the early Church’s mind! The term “holy bible” wasn’t even invented until the Middle Ages!

The large houses converted in the 3rd c. held 30 people in a circular format, much like a large family gathering. People looked at each other and shared face-to-face in worship, giving a revelation or teaching or prophecy ONE-TO-ANOTHER. There was no audience, only family. People didn’t know each other by the back of their heads! There was no performance, only participation. There was no “us and them.” It was an “each other” experience. Look up the occurrences of “each of you” or “one another” when the Church comes together.
Justin Martyr around 155–160 AD, said the “prophetical gifts formerly belonging to the Jews are now at work in the Church” as well as other charismata, particularly the 7 gifts of the Spirit: the Spirit of understanding, another of counsel, another of strength, another of healing, another of foreknowledge, another of teaching, and another of the fear of God.”
Irenaeus of Lyon around 185 AD, says “It is impossible to name the number of all charismata, which the church, dispersed throughout the whole world, has received from God, in the name of Jesus Christ” and “in like manner (as Paul does – 1 Cor 14:18), we also hear that many brethren in the church, who have prophetic charismata, speak in all kinds of tongues through the Spirit and reveal the hidden things of people, for their benefit and explain the mysteries of God. For some (of Christ’s true disciples) do certainly and truly drive out demons, so that those who are thus cleansed from the evil spirits often believe and join the church. Others have foreknowledge of future things, they see visions and utter prophetic words. Again others heal the sick by laying their hands upon them and let them rise up healthy. Moreover, as we have said, the dead even have been raised up and lived with us for many years.” He also addresses those from his own church who fail to accept these charistmata: “Others do not accept the gifts of the Holy Spirit and cast the prophetic charisma far from their sight, through which man, when he is sprinkled with it, bears the life of God as fruit. Quoting Isa 1:30 saying “they like a terebinth tree that has lost all its leaves and like a garden without water’ . . . have no use for God, because they bear no fruit.”
Tertullian declared shortly after 200 AD says the charismata were common practice in Carthage. At people’s baptism he suggests they: “Ask from the Lord, as a special gift of His grace, the distributions of the charismata.” He thus saw baptism, the receiving of the Spirit, and the charismata as being closely linked.
Other writings that mention the gives of the Spirit are those of Cyprian (Carthage 258), Hippolytus (Rome, c.170–c.236), Clement of Alexandria (c.150–c.215), Origen (c.185–c.254), Ephraem Syrus (c.306–373), and near the end of Augustine’s life (before 430), he claimed that particular gifts of the Spirit (such as the gift of healing) were present during his own time and within his own geographical region of North Africa.
There is much more written about the Holy Spirit in revivals throughout Church history. The common denominator is the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, often in ways that interrupted the “order” of the established Church, and these revivals suffered differing degrees of “pushback” from the established Church. In many cases the orthodox Church during these times was very corrupt, worldly, or just plain lifeless and the world around them followed suit. When society and Church hit rock bottom, that’s apparently when God pours out his Spirit again. This rarely ever happens within the established Church, but only through a handful of people, but then it spreads like a wild fire. Persecution doesn’t seem to stamp it out either, but only fuel it more. The blood of the martyrs came often from the Catholic and even Protestant churches!
Sometimes, we see church-people getting with the program, but often after the “wave of the Spirit” is practically overwhelming them or knocked them flat on their butts! Thank God some of them come to their senses. There are always abuses and influences by outside religions and cults, so the need to “test the spirits” is important, but there can’t be so much stress on “doing everything decently and in order” that there is also a “quenching of the Spirit” or forbidding of the gifts of the Spirit. The Spirit and His gifts are the life and witness of the Church, and when they are waning then so is the life and witness of the Church, resulting in carnality to soon set in – no matter how theologically “prim and proper” the Church has become. It can still be “dead right!”

Inasmuch as the scriptures that have been handed on to us were not written contemporaneously, but rather years or even decades later, they are not only a tradition themselves, but also are the product of tradition. All that is “handed on” is a tradition, yet so many today seem to think that the King James Version was given to Paul directly from heaven and presented to mankind.

As a practical matter, I have not counted the days of Jesus’ ministry that are described in the Gospels, but I would bet that they do not amount to much more than three weeks or perhaps one month at most out of three years’ ministry. The prevailing attitude in bible Christianity strikes me as being “Well, we have just enough for salvation and are content with that.”

While this may indeed not be the case at all, we in the apostolic Churches (Catholic and Orthodox) have noted that the faith possesses a depth which our life spans are insufficient to plumb the depths of.

Do they not desire more than the partial written record?

You make very good points above. It seems, though, that the best way to show that sola scriptura is an incorrect ideology is to use Scripture itself to disprove it.

A few examples: You could demonstrate how the Scriptures advocate oral traditions by citing various passages. You could note how the Scriptures - before they were written down - had to have been, at one point, oral tradition. Lastly, you could show how the very compilation of the New Testament was determined by Tradition (in that the Church determined which books were to be kept and which were to be discarded when forming the Canon - the same Canon which is accepted by ALL Christians).

=rcuk;12029455]I have really enjoyed listening to the work of recent apologists, and philosophers, such as Peter Kreeft. Similarly the Church fathers, such as St Thomas.

It seems the fiath runs so, so deep. I keep finding new levels and new understandings.

When you consider Christ’s ministry was, what, 3 years? And yet the simple things He taught us run so, so deep. Taking just the Beatitudes as an example. Or, when one considers the cross. An instrument of death…made into life.

Then I consider how most Protestant churches do not even have a cross in their church? Yet this is not merely a symbol. This is Jesus’ victory- and therefore our victory- over death.

My experience is that most protestant churches do have a cross in them, on them, etc. What experience do you have to believe otherwise?
What many may not have, sadly, is a crucifix. In that, they miss the true symbol of the cross.

Our saints and philosophers have revealed a densely layered faith which becomes more and more beautiful the deeper you go. It is unlike anything else on this earth for the sheer boundless heavenly pleasures that an investigation into the faith can yield. What’s more- this satisfaction, and quenching of our thirst for truth, is reward in this life- even, we learn, by and in suffering. And yet, God prepares a place for us in heaven, too.

As a Lutheran, I say Amen.

I really do lament for those in other churches who put-aside centuries of learning, and tradition, and take only the word of God, which itself was only formally laid down three centuries after Christ.

Would my thoughts above, do you think, lay down something of an argument against sola scriputura, properly formulated?

Since, properly formulated, sola scriptura would not reject these, I can’t see how it would be, but others may disagree.

Jon

You have identified the precise problem inherent in rejecting the Apostolic Tradition: Disagreement. I must ask what a “proper formulation” of sola scriptura would be? The 16th century European innovators rapidly and decisively split while arguing the basics of their new concept - never mind the details. Did Jesus really leave us orphans? From its fruits, the rejection of Tradition can be seen only as a formula for division. I cannot see the Holy Spirit in this.

Hi po,
Well, there’s lots of disagreement within those who claim Apostolic Tradition, though this is not an admission of rejection of it by Lutherans.
The proper formulation, at least in terms of how the first and second generation Lutheran Reformers saw it:

. We believe, teach, and confess that the sole rule and standard according to which all dogmas together with [all] teachers should be estimated and judged are the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures of the Old and of the New Testament alone, as it is written Ps. 119:105: Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. And St. Paul: Though an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, let him be accursed, Gal. 1:8.

2] Other writings, however, of ancient or modern teachers, whatever name they bear, must not be regarded as equal to the Holy Scriptures, but all of them together be subjected to them, and should not be received otherwise or further than as witnesses, [which are to show] in what manner after the time of the apostles, and at what places, this [pure] doctrine of the prophets and apostles was preserved.

3] 2. And because directly after the times of the apostles, and even while they were still living, false teachers and heretics arose, and symbols, i. e., brief, succinct [categorical] confessions, were composed against them in the early Church, which were regarded as the unanimous, universal Christian faith and confession of the orthodox and true Church, namely, the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed, we pledge ourselves to them, and hereby reject all heresies and dogmas which, contrary to them, have been introduced into the Church of God.

In short, the Church uses scripture as a final norm, to hold all teachings, doctrines, etc. accountable, that Tradition is there to witness to the truth of scripture, and that the ancient creeds express the truths of the faith.
So, it is obvious that, properly formulated, sola scriptura does not reject Sacred Tradition, or the creeds, or the ECF’s, or even the councils of the early Church. It should also be obvious that those who now claim that sola scriptura does reject these historic Traditions have changed or morphed what was originally understood as the Church practice of sola scriptura.
I would totally agree that the divisions in His Church, regardless of their reason or cause, are not of the Spirit, as Christ calls us to be one. OTOH, He clearly did not leave us orphans, as He left us His Church to provide the means of grace, the hearing of His word, and the administration of His sacraments.

Jon

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