Jesus condemned "tradition"?


#1

I recently had a lively conversation with a charismatic fundamentalist. I’m a cradle Catholic who has recently fallen in love again with the Faith. I live in the deep South, so debates with fundamentalists happen often.

The fundamentalist said Catholicism was wrongly steeped in “tradition” and “rituals”. I’ve heard that many times over the years.However, the fundamentalist zeroed in on Jesus’s condemnation of the scribes and pharisees, when, I think in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus condemned the “traditions” of the scribes and pharisees. My fundamentalist friend went on to say that he doesn’t need all that “tradition” of the Catholic Church. He said Jesus condemned tradition, plain and simple, and, besides, all he needed was the Bible and Jesus…he has a stright line to Jesus, without the “tradition”.

I told him that Jesus was not condemning “tradition” itself when he admonished the scribes and pharisees—he was condemning their practice of tradition at the sacrifice of being obedient to the commandments. I also said that Jesus did *not *condemn tithing and fasting when talking to the Pharisees----just the way the Pharisees were practicing tithing and fasting.

I added that Saint Paul in the epistles, on at least two occasions, strongly urged Christian communities to “hold fast to tradition”. I asked my friend: “Why would Saint Paul, on a least two occasions in Sacred Scripture, advocate tradition, if Jesus had condemned it??” My friend said that “oh, well, that’s just two scriptures from Paul–tradition is condemned throughout the Bible, especially when Jesus condemned the scribes and Pharisees”.

What other points can I make in favor of Sacred Tradition…Saint Paul’s words should be sufficient. Please advise.

Thank you.


#2

[quote=dnewbern]I recently had a lively conversation with a charismatic fundamentalist. I’m a cradle Catholic who has recently fallen in love again with the Faith. I live in the deep South, so debates with fundamentalists happen often.

The fundamentalist said Catholicism was wrongly steeped in “tradition” and “rituals”. I’ve heard that many times over the years.However, the fundamentalist zeroed in on Jesus’s condemnation of the scribes and pharisees, when, I think in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus condemned the “traditions” of the scribes and pharisees. My fundamentalist friend went on to say that he doesn’t need all that “tradition” of the Catholic Church. He said Jesus condemned tradition, plain and simple, and, besides, all he needed was the Bible and Jesus…he has a stright line to Jesus, without the “tradition”.

I told him that Jesus was not condemning “tradition” itself when he admonished the scribes and pharisees—he was condemning their practice of tradition at the sacrifice of being obedient to the commandments. I also said that Jesus did *not *condemn tithing and fasting when talking to the Pharisees----just the way the Pharisees were practicing tithing and fasting.

I added that Saint Paul in the epistles, on at least two occasions, strongly urged Christian communities to “hold fast to tradition”. I asked my friend: “Why would Saint Paul, on a least two occasions in Sacred Scripture, advocate tradition, if Jesus had condemned it??” My friend said that “oh, well, that’s just two scriptures from Paul–tradition is condemned throughout the Bible, especially when Jesus condemned the scribes and Pharisees”.

What other points can I make in favor of Sacred Tradition…Saint Paul’s words should be sufficient. Please advise.

Thank you.
[/quote]

www.scripturecatholic.com/oral_tradition.html
www.catholic.com/thisrock/2001/0104frs.asp


#3

Jesus not once condemns tradition in the entire Bible. He at one point does condemn corrupt tradition, tradition that makes void the word of God.

Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, "And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is given to God, he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

  • Matthe 15:2-9

Notice two important things here. First, Jesus admonishes the pharisees not simply because they have tradition, but because they put their tradition above the word of God. They are nullifying God’s word with their tradition. This is the first point. The second point is that Jesus admonishes these people for teaching the commandments of men to be doctrines, not for teaching them at all.

It is a tradition to give a sermon every Sunday in a protestant church. Is that wrong? It is a tradition, after all. But the point is that nobody (we hope :-p ) teaches that it is a doctrine that a sermon must be given. It is simply a practice. The vast, vast majority of Catholic traditions are nothing more than this: practices which are taught to be nothing more than practices that could be changed at any time.

The other Traditions that we as Catholics teach are the traditions that Paul speaks of in 2 Thessolonians, the Traditions that the Apolstles handed down to us from the words of Christ. WHen Christ came down, he taught the Apostles many things, some of which got written down. This is the Bible. Other of these teachings did not get written down and were simply handed down orally through the succession of the Apostles. Scripture records St. Paul instructing Timothy to do this passing on:

“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” 1 Timothy 2:1-2

Also, remember point out to your friend that you, as a Catholic, believe that each and every word of the Bible, every verse, is inspired by God and true, and useful for teaching and instruction. Tell him or her that you, as a Catholic, cannot simply throw away one verse (1 Thessolonians 2:15) because it seems to go against what you think the rest of the Bible says, or to throw away one verse in light of the others. Tell him or her that you, as a Catholic, believe that the Bible is inspired by God and that not one verse contradicts any other verse, so if you have a theology which requires one verse to be given greater credence than another then the theology must be wrong. Tell him that you, as a Catholic, put the word of God, the Bible, above your own teachings, and above the teachings of men, and so you must follow the Bible when it disagrees with men. Tell him or her that it is they who now are teaching a tradition which contradicts the word of God, and that they are now teaching the words of men as a doctrine. Ask him or her to show you where the Bible condemns tradition any more explicitly than St. Paul commends it. Ask them to show you where the Bible says that Scripture alone is to be used for doctrine, as opposed to St. Paul’s writing which instructs us to follow tradition, and to pass it on.

Turn the tables on this person. Don’t simply be defensive, be offensive (in a polite and apprpritate way, of course).


#4

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

2 Thessalonians 3:6
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

In short, there is good tradition which is in line with God and his word and there is bad tradition which is out of line with both God and his word.


#5

Also point out that Jesus even kept religious traditions. For instance, He celebrated Hannukah (called the feast of dedication in Luke’s gospel), which is not once mentioned in the OT.


#6

There are quite a few articles HERE that will help you answer this.

I’m in the deep South too and so I know what you mean. :rolleyes:

They’re wrong to say that Jesus condemned all tradition, since He also abided by the Jewish traditions that did not violate the commandments of God and a careful reading of the passages where Jesus takes issue with tradition make all this pretty plain as well.

If you find that you are facing a lot of questions, I suggest a couple of really good sources, like The San Juan Catholic Seminars Apologetics Series , The Bible Christian Society, & The Catholic Society of Evangelists. Don’t forget the great FREE Catholic courses from The Catholic Home Study Service. They ROCK!
Pax tecum,


#7

Sacred tradition is so important. We cant just go by the bible alone aka… sola scripture. 2 Thes 2:15 is such a good example. God Bless, your in our prayers.


#8

[quote=dnewbern]I recently had a lively conversation with a charismatic fundamentalist. I’m a cradle Catholic who has recently fallen in love again with the Faith. I live in the deep South, so debates with fundamentalists happen often.

The fundamentalist said Catholicism was wrongly steeped in “tradition” and “rituals”. I’ve heard that many times over the years.However, the fundamentalist zeroed in on Jesus’s condemnation of the scribes and pharisees, when, I think in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus condemned the “traditions” of the scribes and pharisees. My fundamentalist friend went on to say that he doesn’t need all that “tradition” of the Catholic Church. He said Jesus condemned tradition, plain and simple, and, besides, all he needed was the Bible and Jesus…he has a stright line to Jesus, without the “tradition”.

I told him that Jesus was not condemning “tradition” itself when he admonished the scribes and pharisees—he was condemning their practice of tradition at the sacrifice of being obedient to the commandments. I also said that Jesus did *not *condemn tithing and fasting when talking to the Pharisees----just the way the Pharisees were practicing tithing and fasting.

I added that Saint Paul in the epistles, on at least two occasions, strongly urged Christian communities to “hold fast to tradition”. I asked my friend: “Why would Saint Paul, on a least two occasions in Sacred Scripture, advocate tradition, if Jesus had condemned it??” My friend said that “oh, well, that’s just two scriptures from Paul–tradition is condemned throughout the Bible, especially when Jesus condemned the scribes and Pharisees”.

What other points can I make in favor of Sacred Tradition…Saint Paul’s words should be sufficient. Please advise.

Thank you.
[/quote]

Bible alone theory is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches us and shows us that the Church came before the Bible. After all, what books did Jesus write? None! Jesus deliberately chose NOT to write. Instead He chose to establish a Church to teach in His name!
The Catholic Church believes that both the Bible and Church are both necessary and one cannot exist without the other. Here are some questions non-Catholics must consider…

(1) The Bible was not put under one cover until 397 AD at the Council of Carthage. It took a monk 10 months to hand copy the Bible. Prior to the Bible being put under one cover, who was the authority figure for the early church? Remember, the Bible did not exist as we know it today. There is NO denying the fact that authority was the church–not the Bible.

(2) How did the early Christians each own a Bible if the printing press wasn’t developed until the 1500’s? Even after the printing press was developed how many Christian could afford to own a Bible?

(3) Why does JESUS state the final authority is the church in Matthew 18:15-17?

(4) Where in the Bible does it state that the “Bible” is the only authority for Christians?

(5) How did the majority of the people who were uneducated read the Bible prior to 1500 and even to this day?

(6) What is the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim 3:15)?

(7) What books of the Bible did Jesus write?

(8) Where in the Bible does Jesus command the Apostles to write?

(9) How do you know that your interpretation of the Bible is correct?

(10) How did the Bible know what books to include under its cover?

The only logical conclusion is that the Bible as our only guide is unbiblical!! The Church came first!!

The apostles did not read from the New Testament, which was yet to be written, instead they taught by “word of mouth” and by tradition, as shown in the following verses:

(2 Thes. 2-15) - ***Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. ***

**(2 Tim. 2-2) - *****And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. ***


Hope this helps!

Tony


#9

Present this to your fundamentalist friends:

Nowhere in the Bible does the Bible say that it is the only source of information available to a Christian. A matter of fact, the Bible states that we must look to the Church for the proper interpretation. After all, the Bible cannot interpret itself, can it? Let look at some verses that show us that private interpretation is frowned upon.

(2 Peter 1-20) - ***Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. ***

(2 Peter 3-16) -* As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. *

**(Acts 8-30) - *****And Philip ran thither to him, and read him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some men should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. ***

Who is the teacher of the Scriptures? The Holy Spirit, acting through the Catholic Church. The reason why there are so many non-Catholic churches is because there are so many different interpretations of the Bible. The Holy Spirit cannot be responsible for such mass confusion. There is not a “universal” Protestant Church. Some Protestants believe in infant baptism while others do not. The Catholic Church, however is universal, we have one belief system, and one leader to guide us.

(Jn 14:26) - Jesus states:* But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.*

(John 16:13) - *How be it when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth. *

**(Acts 1-8) - **But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. When decisions had to be made in the early Church, a council, along with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, was gathered to decide crucial questions that needed to be answered.

**(Acts 15:1-2) - ***When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain other of them should go to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this questions *(this verse shows that Council did not use scripture to settle this difference)

(Acts 16:4) - *As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions which had been reached by the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem so the churches were strengthened in the faith and they increased in numbers daily. *
The Bible is very important to the Catholic faith. The Catholic Mass is saturated with scripture. Catholics believe that the Bible is very necessary along with the teachings of the church-one cannot exist without the other.


#10

[quote=dnewbern]I recently had a lively conversation with a charismatic fundamentalist. I’m a cradle Catholic who has recently fallen in love again with the Faith. I live in the deep South, so debates with fundamentalists happen often.

The fundamentalist said Catholicism was wrongly steeped in “tradition” and “rituals”. I’ve heard that many times over the years.However, the fundamentalist zeroed in on Jesus’s condemnation of the scribes and pharisees, when, I think in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus condemned the “traditions” of the scribes and pharisees. My fundamentalist friend went on to say that he doesn’t need all that “tradition” of the Catholic Church. He said Jesus condemned tradition, plain and simple, and, besides, all he needed was the Bible and Jesus…he has a stright line to Jesus, without the “tradition”.

I told him that Jesus was not condemning “tradition” itself when he admonished the scribes and pharisees—he was condemning their practice of tradition at the sacrifice of being obedient to the commandments. I also said that Jesus did *not *condemn tithing and fasting when talking to the Pharisees----just the way the Pharisees were practicing tithing and fasting.

I added that Saint Paul in the epistles, on at least two occasions, strongly urged Christian communities to “hold fast to tradition”. I asked my friend: “Why would Saint Paul, on a least two occasions in Sacred Scripture, advocate tradition, if Jesus had condemned it??” My friend said that “oh, well, that’s just two scriptures from Paul–tradition is condemned throughout the Bible, especially when Jesus condemned the scribes and Pharisees”.

What other points can I make in favor of Sacred Tradition…Saint Paul’s words should be sufficient. Please advise.

Thank you.
[/quote]

“Jesus condemned the “traditions” of the scribes and pharisees.”

The question to ask is what were the “traditions” of the scribes and pharisees.Jesus condemned? Give me an example of what Jesus condemned? If Jesus condemned tradition and ritual then that means we can’t exchange gift at Christmas, BBQ on the 4th of July, have cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving? OR my favorite the traditional nap after thanksgiving dinner!


#11

If Jesus condemned ALL traditions, then He certainly condemns the tradition of the Protestants who traditionally attack Catholics on their traditions. MUH-WAA-HA-HA-HA!

Seriously, my favorite is in Matt 23:23. Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for loyaly paying tithes on cooking herbs, while neglecting weightier matters such as right Judgement and mercy.

“These things you ought to have done, while not leaving the others undone.”

Though Jesus is pointing out that the greater issues should have been faithfully dispatched, the lesser “tradition” of paying tithe on herbs should also be done.

There’s one tradition Jesus approved of.

Thal59


#12

Dnewbern:

Ask your friend if they sing a song more than once. Ask them if they have a pattern in thier particular worship? Or do they do something completely novel everytime they gather or even in their manner of gathering.

Tradition as Chesterton said is the democracy of our dead…these are the tried and tested things that are worth considering deeply prior to chucking them out.

Lastly, Congratulations on your newfound zeal. May you now be part of the new evangelization.

in XT.


#13

This is the big one----

Tell your friend to open up his Protestant Bible to the table of contents. Then tell him to read the table of contents of the New Testament.

Then tell him, and he must agree that the table of contents, the list of canonical books of the New Testament, is Sacred Tradition that IS NOT IN SCRIPTURE.

Ken


#14

Jesus himself refers to and depends on tradition.

In Matthew 23:1-3 it says:

“THEN SAID Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice.’”

The reference to Moses’ seat was a Jewish tradition. As pointed out by others…Jesus does not condemn tradition in general and Protestants are mistaken in attempting to use Jesus statement against the Church.


#15

Thank you so much for your comments and insight. As a result of this thread, I am better equipped to evangelize the Faith.

Thanks.

Dick Newbern :slight_smile:


#16

The Protestant rejection of the Alexandrian Canon (Septuagint) and the deuterocanonical books is a perfect example of a man-made tradition of the scribes and Pharisees that nullifies the Word of God.

Luther started this tradition of accepting a tradition created by Jewish authorities after the time of Jesus and after the apostles started to evangelize the world using the Septuagint.

You can see this is even multiple layers of man-made traditions.


#17

It is now 30 AD. Jesus is beginning His ministry and choosing His disciples. The Jewish people in Palestine have the Torah, or the Law of Moses, the collected works of the Prophets, and the Hagiographa, or the remaining books of the Old Testament. This collection includes the Deuterocanonical books of the Greek Septuagint, including Maccabees, Judith, Baruch, etc. Also circulating are Jewish apocrypha such as the Book of Jubilees and the Book of Enoch, which, while not considered Scripture, are familiar to Jews and are looked upon as didactic texts which are okay to read for informational purposes.

Jesus condemns the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders for neglecting the Jewish Scriptures and the Law in favor of thier own man-made traditions, because in doing so, they are neglecting the spirit of the Law and why it was written in the first place: love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. Instead of doing this, the Pharisees think you can dislike whomever you want, and so long as you keep your animal sacrifices going and drop some more money in the pot, you’re good to go.

This is corrupt Pharisaic tradition, which Jesus rightly condemns. He is not condemning all tradition, however; and He is certainly not condemning Christian tradition, because Christian tradition is still in the process of being formed.

Jesus travels around with His disciples for three years, teaching them everything that He has to say. All this stuff is stored up in their minds. Finally, the day comes that He has to leave, but He promises that when He does, the Holy Spirit will come and remind them of everything He has told them.

Now it’s 33 AD. Jesus ascends to Heaven, and the Holy Spirit descends at Pentecost. The Apostles are enabled to remember everything that Jesus has taught them. This collective rememberance of His teachings constitutes Apostolic Tradition, and is the main body of the Deposit of the Christian Faith. There is no Christian Bible. It has not been written yet. There are no epistles, there are no Gospels, there are no Christian writings of any kind. None. Zero. The Apostles spread Jesus teachings by word of mouth. People remember what the Apostles have taught them and repeat it orally, much like the oral bardic systems in northern Europe.

Within forty years, people have asked for written accounts of Jesus’ life and teachings, and the four evangelists have complied, writing the four Gospels. When disputes have arisen in the various churches begun by the Apostles, the Apostles have written letters to them to explain and teach, thus creating the epistles. These Christian Scriptures are addressed to people who already know the fullness of the Christian Faith, not to those who need to be converted.

As time goes on, these Apostolic writings are copied and passed around to various churches. Already knowing the oral teachings which they received first (Apostolic Tradition), the people in these churches naturally enough understand these writings in light of that primary oral source. Some churches have copies of some Christian books, but not others. It takes about three hundred years for the full collection to be gathered and sorted out—some books, such as the Gosple of Peter and the Acts of Pontius Pilate are rejected, while other books, such as the Gospel of Mark and the Acts of the Apostles are retained.

Why?

It’s because all these books are examined by the bishops of the Church in light of the original, oral Tradition which came from the Apostles. If a book is in agreement with what the Apostles passed down by world of mouth, it is kept; if a book does not agree, it is rejected. And thus, a conformity of the Christian Scriptures is reached, and by the end of the fourth century, we have the collected 27 books of the New Testament. Put together with the collected books of the Jewish Scriptures, you have “The Bible”.

But the oral Tradition came first; the Scriptures are simply that part of Tradition which managed to get written down. Put together, they form the Deposit of the Faith, which the Catholic Church is based upon.


#18

Thus you can see that the Apostolic Tradition of the Catholic Church is not the same thing as “man-made tradition”; Apostolic Tradition is made up of the words of Jesus Himself, His teachings which He told the Apostles first-hand. They in turn passed those teachings on to their followers, and eventually some of them got written down. But not all of them. Even John himself said that not everything Jesus said was written down. Many of the collected teachings of the Apostles remain, even to this day, in an oral form that is passed down from generation to generation, although naturally enough, over the last 2,000 years most of it has been written down in various documents of the Church; but it can be traced back to those original oral teachings. Many teachings of the Church can be found alluded to in the Patristic writings of the Church Fathers, who say things like “This is the Tradition that came from the Apostles, which we received and have preserved and passed on.”


#19

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