Are all Sacred Traditions in the Bible

I usually don’t get stumped to often when it comes to answering a protestant about my faith but I have found this one a little difficult.

He asked me which Traditions are not in the bible. I began thinking of a list of beliefs but then I hesitated because I might leave something out. I know that all or most all are hinted at in scripture but I was afraid to box myself into a corner by forgetting something I should have said or that I might not get it completely right.

I am asking how others would answer the question of “Is all Traditions in the bible” or which traditions are not in the bible. I know he was setting me up to tell him all traditions are “shown” in the bible so he could come back and say that he only needs the bible since they are all shown or reasonable.


What are some examples of Sacred Tradition not in the Bible? How about the Bible itself? Catholics wrote the New Testament books under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Catholic Church defined which books are canonical and constitute the Holy Bible.

Think about this for a moment:

The gospels were not written until 40-60 years after the cross. Before that, everything about the life of Jesus was Tradition. His virgin birth, his death, his resurrection and ascension. All of these things were Tradition. Everything in the Bible began as Tradition. Thing is, not everything in Tradition made it into the Bible. These include something the Assumption of Mary. Traditions that did make it in the Bible include something like the Eucharist. This is how interconnected scripture and Tradition are. In principle, they’re really the same thing; just some got written down later on and others continued by word of mouth. Both are inspired by God. No where in the Bible does it say all Tradition is in the Bible. No where in the Bible does it say the Bible alone is all we need. The Bible wasn’t even fully compiled until the 5th century by the Catholic Church.

This was my first thought as well. The Bible did not come with a table of contents. The Church defined the Canon.

The answer is surprisingly simple: the Liturgy.

Here’s a post dedicated to answering your question (What is Tradition?) in the most simple, straightforward, direct way:

You should tell your Protestant friend that he is essentially holding to a Catholic tradition - the canon of the New Testament. Explain to your friend that it was the Catholic Church that put the Bible together under one cover, starting with the Council of Rome in 382 AD, and that Bible contained the 7 books that Luther took out. Also, sola scriptura can be called a tradition, as it is nowhere taught in Scripture.

While it’s not a Catholic source, Coptic Pope Shenouda III (R.I.P) provides a very good defense of tradition in his book Comparative Theology, which can be accessed here (

So far, these are all good answers. Traditions not in scripture like the Liturgy and the canon of scripture are good answers. He was looking for a list to see if he could determine their importance so as to stick with the bible alone.

I can see him say the belief in the Assumption is not important to his faith in Jesus and that he goes to church to worship with a community that reads the bible. He believes he is on his way to heaven and this “other” stuff is not necessary since he has the word of God.

I also do door to door evangelization and questions like this make me want to know better answers so I can plant more seeds for the Holy Spirit to work with.

It’s not always so easily untied. For example, there’s apparently nothing directly on the assumption of Mary into Heaven in scriptures, though we interpret the woman crowned with twelve stars as a reference to Mary being crowned Queen of Heaven and as her being the New Ark. So we do with some psalms. The apostolic priesthood and succession is referenced in scriptures, but not in any systematic explanation. We have no NT equivalent of Leviticus telling us how to conduct our worship, but certainly the gathering on the Lord’s Day cor the “breaking of the bread” is referenced in scripture, and all of the apostolic Church’s have a very high liturgy.

So I don’t know that you can come up with a list of the type the Protestant is asking for. In Church practices, scripture and tradition complement each other and together flesh out doctrine.

Typical trick question. Turn it around: Where is the sacred table of contents enumerated “in the bible”?

It’s not. The Church’s power of binding and loosing determined what is the bible and what is not. He ignores this power, even though it is extremely clear int he bible. :shrug:

Your friend observes many traditions not in the bible, like finding everything in the bible. He claims to follow Jesus. Where did Jesus teach bible alone? Where did Jesus write the bible? Where did Jesus command the writing or reading of, well, anything?

This is the embarrassing elephant in the living room.

I think the implied assertion in the question is that the Bible comes first and then Tradition either comes from the Bible or it means it was completely made up. This is not the Catholic view of the relation between Scripture and Tradition.

In reality, Scripture came from Tradition. As Jesus did not write the Bible with His own hand, His life and teachings came before the New Testament. It is this life and teachings that ultimately led some of the apostles and first disciples to write things down in Scripture.

Everything in Sacred Tradition can be found in Sacred Scripture in seed form, but it doesn’t mean it is there explicitly. Take the Assumption, for example. We can draw inferences to Mary’s sinlessness through the Annunciation and foreshadowing in Genesis 3 and how all this makes it fitting that Mary would not undergo the corruption of the body that is the wage of sin. But there is no passage that relays the story of Mary’s Assumption.

Divine Revelation has two parts:
Sacred Tradition
Sacred Scripture

Hi, MD!

…instead of chewing on the whole cow, why not take it one steak/rib at a time?

…ask him to him to help you tag them down–one “Tradition” at a time… then you can both search Scriptures and Church history… your understanding/knowledge of the Faith will increase (not just have a list of things the Church Teaches) and the protestant’s understanding might be improved and his path to conversion initiated…

…just as you’ve posted this query, post the individual “Traditions” and invite him to partake of the thread’s research!

…ask him, where in Scriptures does it say that Christ gave the Apostles the Bible… and where in Scriptures does Christ Command that Christian issues be resolved by reading through Scriptures?

Maran atha!


Hi, MD!

I commend you for such great works!

You may pm me if you need to bounce around any question dealing with Scriptures–I’ll do my best to assist you!

Maran atha!


There is a tradition that says we are to interpret Scripture within the living Tradition of the whole Church.

Hi, Chesster!

…you know that that is Scriptural, right?

Maran atha!


Refresh my memory please.


Hi, Chesster!

…though the wording may not be the same, the inference is:

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]14 He called you to this through our gospel

, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. (2 Thessalonians 2:14-15)

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-17)

14 I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. 15 Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. (1 Corinthians 4:14-17)
The emphasis is not in reliance on Sacred Writings alone but on the source of the learning; false/erroneous teaching cannot lead to sound Doctrine–the Faithful must examine their lives according to the Teaching of the Church.

Maran atha!



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