Is tradition consistent?

Hello,

I want to preface by saying that although my call name is still AlmostCatholic, it would be more accurate if it were something like all-most catholic as of this last Easter. Thanks be to God. My questions no longer come from the outside looking in!

But that doesn’t mean I don’t still have questions. My question for for everyone, is regarding the Early church Fathers. I am familiar with looking at them to help interpret scripture and early doctrines that were passed on from the Apostles which were given to them by Christ. So how do we discern which is sacred tradition and which is just theory? I don’t have enough knowledge to cite many examples, but I did read the Confessions so I see that there was a practice at that place and time to withhold baptism until late, sometimes even until just before death. Almost like extreme unction for its time. But in other fathers I see evidence of infant baptism. My guess is that the principles are there (thus baptism resembles extreme unction) but the form is not quite concrete.

I think another key to this question must have to do with the magesterium, but again, I am ignorant of how to articulate that. It seems that we need the magesterium to interpret the ECF’s and we need them to help understand early tradition and thus scripture. But why trust the magesterium? Is there a good argument I am missing here? How would I argue this with a sceptic?

thank you all for your help!

God Bless!

Jmjensenart.com

The Magisterium is the teaching office of the Church. It is the Pope and the Bishops in union with him.

We trust the Magisterium because they have the charism of the Holy Spirit to guide them.

If you google “magisterium,” you will find all sorts of articles on it, that may help answer your questions.

The Magisterium is the key to this. Apostolic succession is the way in which Jesus promised to protect the truth. This is why we need the Magisterium to help understand the Scripture, and ECF. What has been passed down by way of apostolic succession is what we believe in.

As we can see from looking around us, it doesn’t work very well to try putting the puzzle together backwards with just ancient writings in hand.
God of course knew this, so he sent his Holy Spirit to protect the faith through Apostolic Succession.

Whenever there were disputes, the authoritative body gathered to settle the matter, even if there were believers with differing opinions. See Acts 15.

The Catechism will provide invaluable footnotes for where in Tradition teachings are described. When faced with issues that require an appeal to Tradition, the Magisterium must find the “universal” voice. Here’s how in 434St. Vincent de Lerins describes this: *in the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense “Catholic,” which, as the name itself and the reason of the thing declare, comprehends all universally. This rule we shall observe if we follow universality, antiquity, consent. We shall follow universality if we confess that one faith to be true, which the whole Church throughout the world confesses [note: as opposed to that which is merely regional]; antiquity, if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is manifest were notoriously held by our holy ancestors and fathers [note: as opposed to something novel]; consent, in like manner, if in antiquity itself **we adhere to the consentient definitions and determinations of all, or at the least of almost all priests and doctors.***With the promised guidance of the Holy Spirit, it is up to the Magisterium to determine when this has happened. :slight_smile: For example, the universality of the interpretation of John 3:5 as a reference to baptism was recognized early on.

Another good book that will give the weight to various doctrines is Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma.

I think what I’m trying to clarify is how do I present an argument that shows that we can trust the Church today.

The question that is raised by both the protestant church and the modernist scholar is that the early church was formless and void and both the universal church and the heretics could claim biblical support and tradition. I’m sure Marcion and Arius had someone who preceded their thoughts. With a case like baptism, at the least I know that at Augustine’s time they practised adult baptism. So was infant baptism the ‘universal’ practice and so can protestants be consistent in saying that they too are looking at the early church as a model for their church? Even in asking the question I see how it clarifies itself. I know that the adult baptism was done out of clearly different reasons for Augustine’s church and the protestant church. One does it late because they believe it does something, the other does it late because they believe it does nothing.

But again, the question must come to the magisterium. How do I prove the magisterium? Can I really argue it logically and biblically? I hope to be able to say something more than it’s a good idea that works.

Thank you and god Bless. I apologize for the lack of clarity in the question.

Jmjensenart.com

That’s the key. Why trust scriptures - they were written by often sinful, often stupid men. Why trust that the books of the bible actually are scriptures - they were identified by other often sinful, often stupid men.

The Holy Spirit didn’t run out of power after John died. The Holy Spirit didn’t run out of the will to guide and protect the deposit of faith given to the Church. There was no brief Golden Age when the apostles were alive, to be followed by an ever-lengthening decent into error and darkeness. That would be a really dumb way to found a Church. No, the Golden Age that began with the Incarnation will continue until the end of time. The truth and the authority that God gave to the apostles continues to be given to the Church, and guarded by the Church, and preached by the Church.

The ECFs are very useful to demonstrate that certain Catholic “additions” were in fact believed in the very beginning, but the ECFs were sometimes uncertain and sometimes even wrong. Wasn’t it something like 80% of the bishops supported the Arian heresy? That didn’t make it correct.

The ECFs, like Scripture, must be read in the light of the Church in order to gain the most truth and understanding from them. That’s the key.

The same way you’d show that we can trust the scriptures and the apostles. Why is one so self-evident and the other so impossible?

A skeptic who rejects both is at least consistent. A Caholic who accepts both is consistent. But to accept the divine guidance given to the prophets and apostles while rejecting the same guidance given to their successors is inconsistent and arbitrary.

Hi AC, and may the Holy Spirit illuminate your journey -

You can recognize Sacred Tradition in the Liturgy. The Mass is the public Liturgy, but there are others, such as The Liturgy of the Hours.

Each aspect of the Mass contains some aspect of Tradition:
The reading of scripture
the Eucharist
the different parts of the mass
different structures within parts of the mass (agnus dei, sanctus, coniteor)
Praying to saints
Intercessory prayer
etc.

Different masses contain different Traditions:
Baptism masses
Confirmation masses
weddings
ordination
et al.

I don’t have enough knowledge to cite many examples, but I did read the Confessions so I see that there was a practice at that place and time to withhold baptism until late, sometimes even until just before death. Almost like extreme unction for its time.

Constantine opted for this. But suppose someone dies suddenly, as in wartime?

But in other fathers I see evidence of infant baptism. My guess is that the principles are there (thus baptism resembles extreme unction) but the form is not quite concrete.

Alterations in the form are up to the Church, although Christ initiated the Sacraments. The Sacrament of Reconciliation has had many different forms and also different names (confession, penance)

I think another key to this question must have to do with the magesterium, but again, I am ignorant of how to articulate that. It seems that we need the magesterium to interpret the ECF’s and we need them to help understand early tradition and thus scripture. But why trust the magesterium? Is there a good argument I am missing here? How would I argue this with a sceptic?

The position of anyone connected with the magesterium is one of continuance. A bishop must teach what has always been taught throughout the history of the church. The bishops teachings are read and approved by others. When you pick up a publication by a theologian, say Scott Hahn, at the beginning of the book you will find two things; Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur. These certify that the publication has been reviewed and approved by a recognized official in the church and complies with all official teaching.

You can always read original documents and foundational documents to see what the originals say and how they justify the doctrine, teaching, or what ever document you are researching.

thank you all for your help!

God Bless!

You’re welcome!

God bless,
Subrosa

First, if you want to know why we can trust the Catholic Church, you can look at it “universally” reflected since the beginning, and that it has never reversed or contradicted a single doctrine.
Again, if you want to see the Magisterium go to Acts 15. Authority of the successors of the Apostles. Infant Baptism. More infant baptism.

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