Guidance on Sacred Tradition


#1

I am new to the forums and not a Catholic although I going through the US CCA and will be taking the RCIA class in Sept (started it last year but had urgent family matters that did not allow me to continue). My sister “converted” to Catholicism last year having started her search for truth and answers in her own life some three ago. We were raised Baptist, in fact from a long line of Baptists (over 100 ministers in our family and in the Colonies since the 1640’s). At any rate, I’ve been keeping a journal of my questions for about two years now. In doing so I realised that most of my questions really have to do with accepting Scared Tradition as infallible and as definitive as Sacred Scripture (yes I know, I have that *sola scriptura * thing going on …). I’ve come to some conclusions that I’d like to share but not sure if they should go into this forum or elsewhere as I’d like to see if I am close to understanding.

Thom


#2

Go ahead and post! I don’t think it’s in the wrong forum, but if it is, a moderator will move it. I will be interested to hear what you have to say.


#3

Ok, here goes and thank you for the kind reply.

As I was praying for understanding this morning, it dawned on me that I was trying to comprehend something that was well beyond my experience, my family and culture. How we don’t carry on traditions as a culture because we have been “taught” that they are a link to a past we do not want to repeat, a past we are content, even encouraged, to forget (and therefore doomed to repeat! – but that is another story.) As a young culture, with no real identity of it’s own, except that which we “stole” from other cultures and in turn melted together with our own experiences, we ran from tradition and continue to do so, out of fear and complacency. Fear, because we do not want to subscribe to any ideology “outside” our creation and control, and complacency, because we cherish our “freedoms” and are content with the rule of will. Tradition is our inheritance, our legacy of customs, rites, beliefs, ideas, myths, wisdom, and understanding; it is a bundle or knapsack of “stuff” handed from one person to the next, one generation to the next, one society within a culture to the next in the form of objects, writings or speech. Well, the Old Testament is rife with traditions, spanning hundreds of years, through many cultures, individuals and events. It is true that there are foundational books of the Old Testament (the Torah), and like a bowcrill, they became the firestarter of Law and Truth. However, the ancients did not stop there, because God did not stop there. There was a plan and purpose that needed to be fulfilled that needed prophecy, revelation, history, poems, law and stories to help unfold, that we now know as the Great Revelation. Because they did not contradict what came before, but highlighted, enlightened, enriched or expounded upon the Truths already in Scripture, they were preserved and passed on, and eventually added to the Scriptures. Right up until the advent of Christ.

Christ came to fulfill the law not to end it. I do not think He intended for the transmission of tradition to end either, otherwise we might not have had the writings of the New Testament at all. The Apostles carried on the traditions the Israelites began. However, because the Israelites rejected Jesus as the Christ, their “old traditions” ended (I think they even took passages and entire books out of the Scriptures that referred to Jesus and his prophecy) and Jesus’ “new traditions” began, picking up where the “old traditions” left off. I had always found it particularly odd that the Bible, as most Protestants know it today, became a work stuck in time as if there was nothing to add or clarify. Imagine if the ancient Israelites felt the same way about David’s, Isaiah’s or Jeremiah’s work and only focused on and preserved the Torah. It seems only logical, and I really did not connect the two thoughts until today, that tradition should not stop with the Gospels and Epistles, just as it did not stop with the Torah.

I see two great traditions, one before Christ, that “ended” with Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection, as Savior, and one after Christ that “will end” with His second coming, as King. Both dependent on the other both needed to understand the whole picture of God’s plan and purpose. (It is nice to know that this tradition will be completed someday, once we are again perfect in body and soul, living in God’s Light and Kingdom.) Since Christ, we have had a tremendous amount of prophecy, revelation, history, poems, law and stories that add to the New Testament, I do not see why they should not be preserved and passed on as long as they do not contradict the Scriptures. In this sense that is precisely what the CCC does, it carries on tradition, the one element in my life I truly want, and appreciate my new understanding of this.

So I am hoping this makes sense and would appreciate any comments and further direction.

Thom


#4

I think you may be confusing traditions such as certain Catholic practices, things like some rote prayers , the design of church buildings, forms of devotion and spirituality etc. with Tradition, which we spell with a capital “T” as it encompasses many things that Jesus and the Apostles taught which may not be explicitly found in Scripture. Jesus left no writings nor did he dictate the New Testament before his accension. Much of the Old and New Testaments are based on an oral Tradition and captured only a portion of those teachings or Tradition. We look to the writing of the Early Church Fathers to reveal what this material might be as they wrote about much of what the Apostles taught and what the Early Church believed and practiced. One example might be the celebration of the Eucharist, the Mass which is not expounded on to any great extent in Scripture, which has evolved over the Centuries, but which has always followed the pattern of the Mass in the first hundred years or so after Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Pope Benedict XVI sees this Tradition as the teaching presence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit with the Church until the end of time. The Church teaches and practices what Jesus reveals and has revealed to us through the Holy Spirit. Even the Scriptures are not a set of “dead” writings but a living Testament which continues to give us new insights in every age.


#5

Hmm, I should have said where this thinking originated, my apologies. I think I understand the difference between traditions, like feasts, practices, ceremony, and other common social/cultural elements, and the Sacred Traditions, that is the handing down of divine revelation from one generation of believers to the next and preserved with the divine guidance of the Catholic Church. I have been reading a great deal from many sources. The problem for me started as I tried to comprehend the basis behind the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary, knowing there would be other issues like this in the future as I continue on my journey. I was trying to gain an understanding and acceptance of Sacred Tradition, it’s origin and basis, which is where I believe these two issues support is derived. I was also using as a reference the following link: catholic.com/library/Immaculate_Conception_and_Assum.asp as well and what led me to this site in the first place.

So I guess I was asking: is my train of thought on this on the right track or have I missed the boat completely? I really do want to see outside the box, as it were. In fact this may be too wide of a subject to discuss in forums such as this. So again my apologies.

Thom


#6

Well, as far as Sola Scriptura versus Sacred Tradition. Let’s look at it logically. Sacred Scripture is part of Sacred Tradition, not the other way around. The New Testament of the Bible was written from Sacred Tradition. Sacred Tradition predates the New Testament.
Sacred Tradition is the entire “fullness” of truth given to us from Jesus. Keep in mind that Jesus remained with His Apostles 40 days (a sufficient time to establish His Church) after His death and resurrection (Acts of the Apostles 1, 1-10). During this time He reminded all that He had taught them. Notice also that what He said during these 40 days isn’t written down?
Sacred Tradition is complete, all that Jesus taught and said is held within Sacred
Tradition. What does Scripture say about it containing all that Jesus said and did?
John 20, 30 Many other signs also did Jesus in the sight of his disciples, which are not written in this book.
John 21, 25 But there are also many other things which Jesus did; which, if they were written every one, the world itself, I think, would not be able to contain the books that should be written.
And what does Scripture say about the “pillar and ground of truth” is it the Bible or the
Church?
1 James 3,15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

So when it comes to Sola Scriptura, it’s at the very least unscriptural, and as to which we should follow, it’s clearly the Church, the pillar and ground of truth.


#7

Tom, thank you for your replay. Before I started my search for the Truth last year, the idea of “Sacred” anything outside of the Scriptures was unthinkable. So I would never say things like, “Sola Scriptura, it’s at the very least unscriptural.” but I understand your meaning. In fact, one church I went to (briefly) actually said the Tradition of the Catholic Church was heresy standing firmly on 2 Tm 3:16-17. I personally found that interesting at that time for my own studies led me 2 Thes. 2:15 and as well as to other questions (finally) and why God has led me to the Catholic Church. So, yes, I know oral transmission had always been the primary vehicle for God’s Truth, for perhaps thousands of years. I know the Bible, as we know it today, in however many parts one accepts or rejects, is mostly a compendium of all that oral transmission, with writings thrown in for “good measure” from time to time and totally inspired by the Holy Spirit, no matter what form, or in whom, that inspiration took place.

You see all I was trying to do here was attempt to convey in some meaningful way my journey towards understanding Tradition as the Church defines it, not questioning Sacred Tradition validity itself. Evidently I didn’t do so well in that department, my apologies.

You have no idea how big a step this for me jumping into a forum like this and asking these kinds of questions. It’s HUGE! So thank you Tom, and everyone, for your replies, it all helps.

Respectfully,
Thom


#8

You did a fine job, I wasn’t saying you were wrong, I was supporting you. Sorry if it came out wrong. I love written Scripture, I try to read everyday. It is truly the Word of God. As a Catholic I don’t see it as either Bible or Tradition, to me the two can’t be separated, they form the one Word of God. Keep up the questions. Welcome home.


#9

Thank you! That is it in a nutshell: I want to be able to see the Scriptures and Tradition as one Word of God. :slight_smile:

Respectfully,
Thom


#10

Tom;4081479]Well, as far as Sola Scriptura versus Sacred Tradition. Let’s look at it logically. Sacred Scripture is part of Sacred Tradition, not the other way around. The New Testament of the Bible was written from Sacred Tradition. Sacred Tradition predates the New Testament.
Sacred Tradition is the entire “fullness” of truth given to us from Jesus. Keep in mind that Jesus remained with His Apostles 40 days (a sufficient time to establish His Church) after His death and resurrection (Acts of the Apostles 1, 1-10). During this time He reminded all that He had taught them. Notice also that what He said during these 40 days isn’t written down?
Sacred Tradition is complete, all that Jesus taught and said is held within Sacred
Tradition. What does Scripture say about it containing all that Jesus said and did?
John 20, 30 Many other signs also did Jesus in the sight of his disciples, which are not written in this book.
John 21, 25 But there are also many other things which Jesus did; which, if they were written every one, the world itself, I think, would not be able to contain the books that should be written.

I agree with these passages that state Christ did other things not written down. The problem is that we don’t know exactly what these “other signs” and things were. If you know what they were can you give a couple of examples?

And what does Scripture say about the “pillar and ground of truth” is it the Bible or the Church?

What “truth” is Paul referring to here?

1 James 3,15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

So when it comes to Sola Scriptura, it’s at the very least unscriptural, and as to which we should follow, it’s clearly the Church, the pillar and ground of truth.

What is your defintion of Sola Scriptura? What is your defintion of Sacred Tradition?


#11

Only if you deny Sacred Tradition.

What “truth” is Paul referring to here?

That which is true.

What is your defintion of Sola Scriptura?

Any belief that erroneously separates the written Word of God from Sacred Tradition.

What is your defintion of Sacred Tradition?

The truth that Jesus revealed to His apostles.


#12

Hmm, I can not speak for Tom here, only myself (Thom) but John 20:30 is the actual verse that is quoted here. No one really knows how long Christ’s ministry was, most agree it was at least 3 years. I am sure there were many miracles, events, stories and other insightful things that Jesus did or said that were not written down. The authors of the Gospels were compelled to write as they were led by the Holy Spirit. Some of those things not written down were probably passed along in dialog, as many of the early Church Fathers have indicated in their works.

What “truth” is Paul referring to here?

Again that is a direct quote from 1 Timothy 3:15 - a good reference here would be justforcatholics.org/a91.htm

What is your defintion of Sola Scriptura? What is your defintion of Sacred Tradition?

I can not speak for Tom here again, but for me (Thom), in my limited understanding, sola scriptura means “nothing but the Scriptures” or literally scripture alone, everything else is questionable or heresy (coming from a fundamental protestant view perhaps).

Sacred Tradition is the continuation of the Apostolic Tradition as begun by the disciples of Jesus and continued on in the form of written and spoken works designed to carry the Gospel to all people. That is, and I hate to be redundant here, the handing down of Divine Revelation from one generation of believers to the next and preserved with the Divine Guidance, via the Holy Spirit, of the Catholic Church. I want to believe that the Scriptures and Tradition are in fact “One Word of God” as stated in another post.

Respectfully,
Thom


#13

davidv;4082105]
Originally Posted by justasking4
I agree with these passages that state Christ did other things not written down. The problem is that we don’t know exactly what these “other signs” and things were. If you know what they were can you give a couple of examples?

davidv
Only if you deny Sacred Tradition.

This does not answer the question. What are these “other signs” that Jesus did not recorded in the Scriptures?

Quote:justasking4
What “truth” is Paul referring to here?

davidv
That which is true.

There are all kinds of things that are true. What specifically is Paul referring to here?

Quote:justasking4
What is your defintion of Sola Scriptura?

davidv
Any belief that erroneously separates the written Word of God from Sacred Tradition.

We know what the written Word of God is. What are these Sacred Traditions?

Quote:justasking4
What is your defintion of Sacred Tradition?

davidv
The truth that Jesus revealed to His apostles.

Then were back to the NT since that is all we know that Jesus revealed to them. It seems you are saying that the Scriptures and and Sacred Tradition is the same thing. Is the correct?


#14

Any sign that the Church teaches that you have declared unscriptural.

There are all kinds of things that are true. What specifically is Paul referring to here?

I believe it is the fullness of truth as perfectly revealed by the person of Jesus.

We know what the written Word of God is. What are these Sacred Traditions?

Discussed in other threads. Please use the search function.

Then were back to the NT since that is all we know that Jesus revealed to them. It seems you are saying that the Scriptures and and Sacred Tradition is the same thing. Is the correct?

No. Very incorrect.


#15

Some other things would be the Mass itself, His Church celebrating His death and resurrection on Sunday, rather than the Sabbath (Saturday), the trinity, the communion of the Saints, the details of the administration of His Church (Matthew 18, 15 But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother.16 And if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more: that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand. 17 And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican.), the leadership roles of His Church (Acts 20,28 Take heed to yourselves, and to the whole flock, wherein the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops, to rule the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.) Everything the Catholic Church officially teaches. This is why God tells us to follow the Tradition, this is why Jesus established a Church and didn’t write a book. The book was written and approved by the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church did not come from the book. The superior is the Church which is, and always has been, the guardian of the book.

What a strange question for a supposed “Christian” to ask. There is only one truth. He (the truth) is the head of His Catholic Church (the body).


#16

Tom, thank you again. I understand the origins of the “physical” work we call “The Bible” or “Holy Scriptures”. The devout pagan emperor Constantine (at least up until his deathbed when he was finally baptised) called the Council of Nicene together to specifically create a common document, " … separating the writings of divinely inspired writers from those more obscure in origin", so as to quell a serious division in the Christian community and thus, basically, the origin of “organised” Catholic Church. Nevertheless, it was God that gave the responsibility of preserving and protecting the Scriptures to the Church, not Constantine. As to “superior”(?), I can not find in any publication where the Church states it is “superior” to the Sacred Scriptures. They work together, in conjunction, in Harmony, to each other, not separate or superior, i.e., “According to the teaching of the Council, Tradition and Sacred Scripture reciprocally support and complete each other in the transmission of divine revelation in the Church.” To understand that the Bible was created out Tradition and in conjunction with it, and is part of the ongoing revelation within the Church, is a very difficult concept for most (if not all protestants) to accept. There is an interesting thread I have been following here in the forums about this very thing forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=246363
I have not participated, as it is … difficult to follow at times. Also, bare in mind that many outside the Church view the CCC as a document akin to say the Book of Mormon (not a personal commentary, mind you, just an observation.)

Pope John Paul II, whom I greatly admire, was aware of not putting enough emphasis on the Scriptures when he wrote,

"31. “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (Jn 14:6). With these words, Jesus presents himself as the one path which leads to holiness. But a specific knowledge of this way comes chiefly through the word of God which the Church proclaims in her preaching. Therefore, the Church in America “must give a clear priority to prayerful reflection on Sacred Scripture by all the faithful”.(90) This reading of the Bible, accompanied by prayer, is known in the tradition of the Church as lectio divina, and it is a practice to be encouraged among all Christians. For priests, the lectio divina must be a basic feature of the preparation of their homilies, especially the Sunday homily.(91)

So I am encouraged. One of the problems I had with the Catholic Church was that they “seemed” to regard the Bible as subordinate, inferior and regard their own traditions as “superior” to it. I am glad to find that is not the case. I have much to learn. I am, after all, working from my own little private “cell” and not yet part of a teaching community, but I am beginning to see where many of the perceptions I have of the Church are skewed, based on ignorance or misinformation and/or downright incorrect.

Respectfully,
Thom


#17

I read recently in Dave Armstrong’s book “The Catholic Verses” a pretty good explanation. It’s an anology, so it’s not exact.

The Constitution dates from 1776. But it does not stand in and of itself. It requires an entire branch of government to “interpret”, and the judgments of that branch are carefully preserved.

One of the big differences I see between the denominations and the holy Catholic Church is that each have their own writings outside of the Scriptures - just ours date back to the apostles, and Christ Himself.

While Luther and Calvin could claim to stand on Sola Scriptura, they had to produce reams of documents to defend their stances on justification, sanctification, grace, etc.

There’s so much in dogma I don’t get. Intellectually. But I have to trust the source.

Again, poorly stated, I know there are stronger words to convey what I am trying to say, but hope this helps. OldeThom, when you do swim the Tiber, you will be a powerful witness!

Continued prayers for you.


#18

Ah Beans, I love your uncomplicated and pure heart! I tend to get so bogged down in study, that I forget to lift my head up and see the simple beauty around me. Your words are not “poorly” stated, far from it! :thumbsup:

Yes indeed, there are reams of protestant documents defending everything from the meaning of “Word” to the validity of the Bible and more! But what saddens me most (and angry at times as well) is how so many “churches” are guided by one individual and his (or her) interpretation of the Bible. Again, one of the many reasons I am being led to the Catholic Church. I am looking for consistency and a solid foundation on which to base my belief and my faith. At present I am struggling with my “knowledge” and how that relates to what I “believe”. Central to that, and why I am asking the questions here as I am and will continue to do so, is whether or not what I “know” to be the truth in my conscious, rational mind the same as “believing” and having “faith” in that truth. Not sure if what I am saying is clear or not. Kind of a struggle between “carnal” knowledge and “moral” truth.

Wow! I am beginning to see that these are not coincidences … oddly enough I was given Armstrong’s book a couple of weeks ago - I’ve yet to crack it open but I shall, I promise! I was also told about the Father Brown Mysteries from another member here on the forums as a source of inspiration and I already had that book as well - I love his stories! God does work in mysterious ways! :slight_smile:

As for swimming the Tiber ??! :eek: What an apt image that conjures up for me! But if the Truth is on the other side, I’m all for it! :smiley: I can only hope to finally do what God has always wanted me to do. I wouldn’t get very far I’m afraid right now without a life raft from God as there are many issues in my personal life on which God is working to restore in a positive light with His love and discipline. As always thank you for your kind words and encouragement! :slight_smile:

Respectfully,
Thom


#19

Tom;4089333]
Originally Posted by justasking4
I agree with these passages that state Christ did other things not written down. The problem is that we don’t know exactly what these “other signs” and things were. If you know what they were can you give a couple of examples?

Tom;
Some other things would be the Mass itself, His Church celebrating His death and resurrection on Sunday, rather than the Sabbath (Saturday), the trinity, the communion of the Saints, the details of the administration of His Church (Matthew 18, 15 But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother.16 And if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more: that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand. 17 And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican.), the leadership roles of His Church (Acts 20,28 Take heed to yourselves, and to the whole flock, wherein the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops, to rule the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.) Everything the Catholic Church officially teaches.

Most of what you write here does not address what Jesus said and did that was not recorded. Most of this if not all is derived from the written Scriptures themselves.

This is why God tells us to follow the Tradition,

Where is this found in the Scriptures?

this is why Jesus established a Church and didn’t write a book.

It is true that we have no record of Jesus writing anything except on the ground. However He did use His apostles and others to write down what He did and what others said about Him in the NT. That’s what inspiration is about.

The book was written and approved by the Catholic Church.

The source of the Scrirptures is Christ. He used men to write His word down. What the church essentially did was to recognize certain books and letters as inspired.

The Catholic Church did not come from the book.

Keep in mind that the OT scriptures predate the church and the church in part came about by the ministry of Christ which was first taught orally and then written down.

The superior is the Church which is, and always has been, the guardian of the book

Are you saying that the church is inspired-inerrant also?

Quote:
Originally Posted by justasking4
What “truth” is Paul referring to here?

Tom;
What a strange question for a supposed “Christian” to ask. There is only one truth. He (the truth) is the head of His Catholic Church (the body).

There are many dimension to truth. I’m asking what specific truth is Paul referring to in the context in which he writes these words.


#20

Most but not all, you’re putting Sacred Tradition coming from Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition came first, all of the new Testament was derived from Sacred Tradition. Where, in Scripture, does it say Jesus established Sunday as His day of worship? Where does it say in Scripture the teachings of the communion of Saints? As you’ve argued, the perpetual virginity of Mary comes from Sacred Tradition, I of course say it’s also in Scriptures, you disagree. Not a problem, it does not need to be in Scripture. When in doubt we defer to the leadership of the Church NOT Scripture. Now if you find something specifically said in Scripture which the Church teaches against we can discuss it, but it not being in Scripture does not negate the importance or the authenticity. Does Jesus (in Scripture) tell us to bring our questions to Scripture, or to His Church? Jesus established a Church He did not write a book.
To me the Sacred Scripture are a third of the equation. We have Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the magisterium of the Church. None are complete in and of themselves, they are, like the Blessed Trinity itself indivisible. Sacred Tradition can not stand without the magisterium and Scripture; Scared Scripture can not stand without Sacred Tradition and the magisterium; the magisterium can not stand without Sacred Tradition and Scared Scripture. You want one answer. As in the Trinity, three is the one answer.
Quote:
This is why God tells us to follow the Tradition,

You’re joking of course? You really know that little Scripture? No, you’re joking…
Quote:
this is why Jesus established a Church and didn’t write a book.

Jesus told the leadership of His Church that He would send the Holy Spirit to lead them to all truth. He doesn’t promise you and I, even though we each are filled with the Holy Spirit, that we will be led to all truth. He promises this to a small group, His Apostles. There is no small wonder why there are thousands of differing “truths” out there, each claiming to be Scripture based. There is only one truth, and Jesus only promised one group, the leadership of His Church, that they and they alone would be guaranteed to be led to all truth.


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