Bible and Tradition


My father, who has been going to evangelical services, is re-thinking the Catholic Church.

His biggest problem now is having Tradition and the Church holding greater authority than the Bible. He sees the word “tradition” as the same thing as “man-made”, so I can see his difficulty in accepting this.

Although each time we speak, we are closer than we were before on our theological differences (which aren’t that different, he already has Real Presence!), I still feel that I could have done a better job with certain arguments on placing Tradition (in the real sense of the word, big T) over the Bible.

If anyone could please start piling up some apologetics (scripture, fathers, logic, whatever) to help me out with this point.

Above all, pray for him please, his name is Bob.

Thanks and God Bless,



Sacred Tradition is by definition NOT man-made, but God-made. It is literally what Christ gave the Apostles and has been handed over (Latin tradere to hand over) in the church for 2000 years, not something men made up later on.

Although each time we speak, we are closer than we were before on our theological differences (which aren’t that different, he already has Real Presence!), I still feel that I could have done a better job with certain arguments on placing Tradition (in the real sense of the word, big T) over the Bible.

Tradition and the Church’s Magisterium created the Bible.

Bob is in my prayers.



I think a good place were you can really get some down to earth and easy to understand information

Mike Cumbie is a former Protestant Pastor for 23. I bought a bunch of his DVD’s and CD’s I think it would be real good if you looked at “This Is How We Worship” or “Seven Misconseptions About Salvation”. He goes into sola scriptura - scriptures alone vs. tradions and scriptures, the mass, faith alone all the hot topics and he is very entertaining while he does it.

You can also look at scriptures:
2nd Thessalonians Chp 2:15 can’t get clearer than that.
2nd Timothy 2:15

A good book is the Essential Catholic Survival Guide you can get it on Catholic Answers.

I hope this helps,



I recommend this free MP3 from the Bible Christian Society.



That’s a neat site!!


I’m listening to it now. I’ll hand it to em, he is very clear in his language :slight_smile:


Get Mark Shea’s book, By What Authority?



The Bible IS Tradition–it’s part of it.

When you think about it, what authority do we have for just 4 Gospels–and only THESE particular 4–other than Tradition? After all, they didn’t drop down out of heaven already written, did they? There wasn’t a voice from the sky that said, “Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,” was there?

And unlike a book for morons, the Bible wasn’t found in a box hidden in the woods, was it?

No. At least from the Eastern persepective, EVERYTHING in the Church, including the Bible is Tradition.


I told my dad that - “the Bible is Tradition”

I even made an uppercase “T” with my two pointer finger.

He still sees the word “tradition” as man-made, though.

One thing he said may help you in discerning his understanding of the Bible: “I believe that even if the church wasn’t there to bring it together then we would still have the Bible”

Now that I think about it, his statement is completely absurd. I at least gave it some merit when he said it. Maybe I should have asked him why we don’t have all of Mark :shrug:


<< He sees the word “tradition” as the same thing as “man-made”, so I can see his difficulty in accepting this.>>

This is not always how the Bible itself uses the word “tradition.”

<<Colossians 2:8
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.>> KJV.

In other words, this verse says that there IS a “tradition after Christ.” Not all are man-made.

And then there’s this:

<<2 Thessalonians 2:15
Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.>>

In other words, the Bible itself is upholding tradition. In fact, it’s saying that there are some teachings that are not written down, but are delivered through tradition.

And finally there’s

<<1 Corinthians 11:2
Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.>>

This is one place where the KJV translators fudged. The word translated “ordinances” is the SAME WORD that elsewhere is rendered “traditions”. In fact, the very WORD tradition means “a handing on,” “something delivered.”

Hope this helps. While I deliberately used KJV, you can check this in your favorite translation, or your father’s.


Just finished listening to that link. Man that was very helpful! :slight_smile:

Thanks so much to everyone who posted and of course to those who are praying for my dad.

God Bless,



But does the Catholic Church put Tradition over the Bible? The Council of Trent said that Scripture and Tradition were equal. Vatican II clarified that Tradition is the handing down of apostolic teaching and its reception by successive generations, while Scripture is the written repository of that same teaching. Both of these Councils appear to make Scripture and Tradition equal.

As for the Church, it depends what you mean. Vatican II, again (Dei Verbum 2.10), said explicitly that the Magisterium is the servant of the Word of God (which is found in both Scripture and Tradition) and not its master. So I think you are defending an indefensible position that the Catholic Church does not officially teach, and that may be part of your problem.



I agree with this perspective. This is not, however, how Vatican II uses the term. I think this is a semantic difference rather than one of substance–we can define Tradition either as “that which is handed down” (as you are doing) or “the process of handing down” (as Vatican II does).



It depends what you mean by putting Tradition over the Bible

I only mean that Tradition holds more authority than the writeen Bible, seeing that the Tradition of the Church established the 73 books in the Bible at the Council of Rome in 382. The Tradition of the Church declared what was Sacred Scripture, and that’s all I meant. Not which is “better”, or more important or helpful.

Of course, the Church is the servant of the Word of God, seen both in Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, which is why its so important to maintain both. Granted, that I probably didn’t explain this as clearly to my dad…:blush: At least he can’t get to much angrier

God Bless,



I don’t see that this means that Tradition holds more authority than the written Bible. I think that’s a logical fallacy into which Catholic apologists often fall. It was best refuted by C. S. Lewis, who was (like myself) a university professor and pointed out that he might well recommend a certain book to his students as more authoritative than he himself was. Or, to use another analogy, an editor might pick the best writings on a certain subject, without claiming that he had some kind of authority over those writings. Recognizing authority does not mean that you have authority over the authority you are recognizing. That is illogical. And it is clear that the early Church thought it was recognizing divinely inspired books as authoritative, not giving them authority by fiat.



Clearly the Church recognized the authority of scripture.

But just to clarify: Are you saying that the Church, as only a recognizer of Scripture’s divine inspiration, has no authority to interpret Sacred Scripture? Or that the authority of the Church goes only as far as the limits of what Scripture teaches?

I’m more curious than anything


But, to use your analogy, in this the case the Church (the professor) actually wrote the books of the New Testament. The Church’s declaration of the NT canon is like a professor telling his students, “THIS is a list of the books which were written by me, so don’t waste your time reading other books which purport to have been written by me, but weren’t. And if you need anything explained about anything I have written, or you don’t understand it or if there’s some aspect of the subject you can’t find covered in my books, naturally you can ask me and I’ll answer any questions you have.”


To be fair, to say that the Church wrote** the Sacred Scripture is taking it a bit far. The Church did indeed recognized its role as the servant of Scripture and observed what writings were divinely inspired.

Anywho, Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition both come from the same channel of Revelation given to us by the Father through the Holy Spirit, so I see no real point in deeming which one has authority over the other, since both come from God’s revelation. (just like it isn’t faith or works that save us, but God’s grace.)

To let everyone know, my father and I spoke again tonight, and we have never been closer in our faith:) All it took was some prayer and quotations from the CCC (I love that book!)

Thank you all for praying for my dad

God Bless and have a great night!



The Apostles, the first leaders of the Catholic Church, and other Catholic bishops and priests, wrote the New Testament. So it is true to say that the Catholic Church wrote it.

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