ORAL AND WRITTEN TRADITION
The Catholic Church Before The New Testament Was Written Down
THE KEY TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
by Paul Stenhouse, M.S.C., Ph.D
PART I: THE BIBLE THE ONLY WAY?
The impression given by ‘bible’ Christians, 'evangelists and others brought up in a non-Catholic view of Christianity, is that the ‘authority’ of the bible is ‘supreme’.
As an ‘evangelical’ writer in the *Sydney Morning Herald * put it some time ago (June 15, 1992) ‘the Bible is not just a source of knowledge of God, but it is the source — the only source’.
The same author went on to say: ‘The view of Martin Luther and his modern-day reformed evangelical counterparts is that there is only one reliable source of knowledge of God: the Bible’.
Without mentioning the Catholic Church the author then goes on to talk about a so-called liberal view, also centuries old and still very much found today within certain church circles (which) suggests that there are potentially four valid grounds for knowledge of God and his dealings with us, namely reason, tradition, experience, as well as revelation.’
The author categorises Catholic views on the important role of Reason and Tradition in the religious quest, as liberal,’ implying that the fundamentalist ‘evangelical’ view is ‘conservative’.
***The ‘Ancient’ Christian Faith was Catholic * **
The evangelical view dates from the time of Martin Luther, and is, indeed, 450 years old. But the author neglects to say (perhaps he doesn’t know) that the Catholic view from which Luther sprang and which nurtured him, is 2,000 years old and dates from Apostolic times. The Catholic ‘view’ is not ‘also centuries old.’ It is, if the truth be told, the *ancient * Christian view.
Well, was Martin Luther *really * returning to the early days of Christianity with his teaching that the scriptures are the only source of knowledge of God, or was he reacting to a situation in which, having rejected the authority of the Pope, and abandoned the Catholic Church, he had to find another ‘authority’ that could support his views … as it was later on to support myriad other views, often conflicting and contradictory?
To seek an answer to these questions we have to return to the early centuries and look at the beginnings of Christianity. Let us consider specifically the relationship of the infant Catholic Church to the New Testament — the Christian sacred writings — as distinct from the Jewish sacred writings that are called the Old Testament. And let us see especially the role these Christian scriptures played in the formative early years of the Church.
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