Not "Bible-only" but "Bible-mostly"

Hi, everyone

The Catholic Church derives its teachings from scripture and tradition. It often seems as if tradition becomes a *kind of *scripture in itself, not to be questioned or defied in any way.

Given that we only know about God, and especially Jesus, through scripture in the first instance, is it not reasonable to assert that Scripture takes priority over tradition?

If one thing led to all other things, would not the first be the most prominent and important?

What do you think Tradition is? Possibly your idea of Tradition is not the thing we hold in equal reverence with Scripture. There are also customs which we hold sacred, but not on the same level.

Your premise is incorrect. We know in the first instance from Tradition, largely oral tradition but also institutions such as the Church itself and the sacraments. *Some *of the oral tradition the Apostles handed down was written down decades later, in the form we call Scripture. If the oral tradition on which Scripture is based is unreliable, then so is Scripture. Ultimately this comes down to a matter of faith, but faith supported by many facts.

I would agree with Ad Orientem on this. Everything in Scripture about Jesus is true, but not everything true about Jesus is in Scripture.

I believe that to be a most reasonable understanding. However, it is important not to put the two as a dichotomy, as though one opposes the others, or sometimes we must choose one or the other.

Yet as you stated it, Scripture can be viewed as the single most authoritative document ever promulgated by the Church (the New Testament, that is), since it is part of Tradition that the Church gave us the canon of Scripture we have.

Basically, Scripture came out of the Church not the other way around. The Church was first, then scripture followed. Scripture and Tradition never contradict each other because they come from the same source, God.

Well some early church fathers such as St. Iraneus and St. Justin Martyr make references to scripture in the mid to late second century. The issue with the church before the Council of Nicaea is that regional Bibles existed, as in certain New Testaments were different than others. For instance some New Testaments contained books not in our Bible now, but omitted books that are in our Bibles. For instance many books called “The Apostolic Fathers” which were written by followers of the disciples traditionally were in some early manuscripts of the New Testament, such as the epistles of Clement, Barnabas, the Didache, and The Shepard of Hermas. Some New Testaments did not include Revelation, James, 2 Peter, Hebrews, and Jude. These books were disputed for some time.

With that said many of our traditions come from “The Apostolic Fathers”, those whose writings were compiled by disciples of the apostles. The fathers who chose the New Testament took the premise of whether or not it was an Apostle who wrote the book, which is why Hebrews, Jude, 2 and 3 John, 2 Peter, and Revelation to John were disputed for a very long time.

But the Catholic Church was founded long before the Bible was given to us by…the Catholic Church. One of the things Scripture tells us is that no where in Scripture does it tell us that one has preference over the other. But what does it say about the Catholic Church? How did Jesus tell us to resolve disagreements? He didn’t say look up chapter and verse but if other ways have been exhausted then bring it to the Church as final Authority. What is the pillar and foundation of Truth? The Catholic Church.

God’s Word comes to us through Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition AND the teaching Authority of the Catholic Church. A three legged stool will tip over if you remove a leg.

1 Thessalonians 5
Church Order.
We ask you, brothers, to respect those who are laboring among you and who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you,
and to show esteem for them with special love on account of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.
We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient with all.
See that no one returns evil for evil; rather, always seek what is good [both] for each other and for all.g
Rejoice always.
Pray without ceasing.
In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.h

  • Do not quench the Spirit.
    Do not despise prophetic utterances.
    Test everything; retain what is good.
    Refrain from every kind of evil.

Since you are partial to scripture. Paul says to respect who is over you in the Lord, but that doesn’t mean things cannot be questioned.

1776 "Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment. . . . For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. . . . His conscience is man’s most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths."47

Every person, whether Christian or otherwise, knows God through the very foundation (synderesis) of their conscience. Even so, I wouldn’t say scripture takes priority over traditions. They may save tradition for posterity. The Jews were practicing traditions before they were written down, so were Christians.

1780…Conscience includes the perception of the principles of morality (synderesis); their application in the given circumstances by practical discernment of reasons and goods; and finally judgment about concrete acts yet to be performed or already performed.

We are first. Our conscience, revelation, orally passing on knowledge from generation to generation. Scripture captures these things. A persons first experience of God does not come from scripture. It generally comes from parents who show them love.

Scripture cannot be contradicted by Tradition. In that sense, it’s more absolute and set in stone. However, Traditions is as valuable and authoritative on Church practice and belief and, in many ways, informs us on how scripture should be understood.

Okay SB here’s some links that should help better inform this discussion. I think the key term we are missing here so far is the Deposit of Faith.
Apostolic Tradition
The Complex Relationship between Scripture and Tradition
Are there different levels of Church teaching?
Why I’m Catholic: Sola Scriptura Isn’t Scriptural, Part I
Why I’m Catholic: Sola Scriptura Isn’t Scriptural, Part II

For a open look at that Deposit of Faith…
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

The fact is that without Sacred Tradition we wouldn’t even know what writings are canonical to begin with. Those who believe in Sola Scriptura are burdened by having to reinvent the wheel of Christian belief on a daily basis and, in rejecting Sacred Tradition they have only their personal, fallible, individual interpretations to rely upon, which is exactly why there is such a wide diversity of doctrines of modern men being taught and preached throughout n-C Christianity. I’ve been there and done that and it simply does not work. (See My Testimony)

Hi SO. Scripture is central to tradition.

I should also have said that Scripture is from and part of the received Tradition of the Church. It did not arise separate from it.

This is a good way of understanding the relationship of Scripture (again, at least the New Testament). However, the original question had to do with importance and prominence. The Catechism speaks tells us:

For this reason, the Church has always venerated the Scriptures as she venerates the Lord’s Body. She never ceases to present to the faithful the bread of life, taken from the one table of God’s Word and Christ’s Body.66

104 In Sacred Scripture, the Church constantly finds her nourishment and her strength, for she welcomes it not as a human word, “but as what it really is, the word of God”.67 "In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet his children, and talks with them."68


105 God is the author of Sacred Scripture. “The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”

We do not speak of no other writing like we do Scripture. We do not read three readings from the Church Fathers and Mass, but of Scripture.

"Therefore, the study of the sacred page should be the very soul of sacred theology. The ministry of the Word, too - pastoral preaching, catechetics and all forms of Christian instruction, among which the liturgical homily should hold pride of place - is healthily nourished and thrives in holiness through the Word of Scripture."111

133 The Church "forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful. . . to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ

Another way to look at the original questions is that we worship, follow and adore the Word of God, that being the Word of God made flesh. Sacred Scripture is how we can know the Word of God, but it is not what we worship.

Tradition in the Catholic Church is older than the New Testament. Prior to the existence of NT written texts, what did Christians have to go by?

Ah, backward in my thinking.

Thanks for the replies thus far. Very informative thread.

St Luke’s day was Monday.

St Luke wrote a gospel. Did you know that St Luke never met Jesus?
That should give you pause to think about your question. Luke learns from Paul and the Petrine apostles. Paul never met Jesus during his earthly ministry.

And this is one of the issues with protestant Christianity: it focuses too much on the individual. The individual sees that scripture is handed to him, written, seemingly set in stone.
That outlook fails to account for the actual transmission of the Gospel.
The Gospel first of all is a Person, who started a community.

Before the Gospel was, Jesus was, and his community was. You only have the written Gospel because someone had authoritative Tradition that was worthy to be transmitted.
Out of that personal Tradition comes the scriptures, not vice versa. To put it any other way is a denial of the Incarnation. The Scriptures and the Incarnation go hand in hand, they are inseparable. It is not either/or.
And this is why a man who never met Jesus can write the third Gospel.

TRADITION supplements the bible; but never overrules it.

Mark 7:5-10
[5] And the Pharisees and scribes asked him: Why do not thy disciples walk according to the tradition of the ancients, but they eat bread with common hands?

[6] But he answering, said to them: Well did Isaias prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. [7] And in vain do they worship me, teaching doctrines and precepts of men. [8] For leaving the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men, the washing of pots and of cups: and many other things you do like to these. [9] And he said to them: Well do you make void the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition. [10] For Moses said: Honour thy father and thy mother; and He that shall curse father or mother, dying let him die.

Colossians 2:8
Beware lest any man cheat you by philosophy, and vain deceit; according to the tradition of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ

2 Thessalonians 3:6
And we charge you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother walking disorderly, and not according to the tradition which they have received of us.

I remind my friend, that the bible is a Catholic Book:):thumbsup:

Welcome to CAF!

Pray much

The view Catholics on scripture has much in common Jewish exegesis. They would never consider scripture verses without tradition and the voice of the sages
. The only way to have consistency in a society where illiteracy was common was oral traditions. Oral tradition was looked at as even more trustworthy than writings. The idea that only written word is the most reliable is relatively recent

:thumbsup: This.
It is amazing how the modern person has no sense that other cultures existed and had different ways of transmitting truth. We imagine that ancient peoples had tape recorders or stenographers who took dictation in English, which we now call scripture.

I would be interested if anyone has resources on how this biblical fundamentalism began.

The Gospels, the Acts, the Epistles of Paul, Peter, James, Jude, and John’s apocalypse were all complete by the mid 90’s. Paul’s epistles were shared by the churches he started. It is a misconception to believe that the body of work which became the canon of the new testament was not known to the early church.If anything, your tradition grew alongside Scripture. While a full “Bible” was not created, the Hebrew scriptures were available as well as the writings of the Apostles. And we know that there were learned individuals in each church, otherwise why would the Apostles have written anything at all?

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