Progess, yet another question


#1

Hey guys,

I have only posted on here once, but I have made much progress away from Protestantism. sola Scriptura is just logically, practically, and biblically flawed. I have come to reject that on my own, but some books have made me even more aware of the problems with it. I am currently studying through the catechism with my wife. I feel like sometime in the near future I could be Catholic, but I don’t want to rush into it. Like most Fundamentalists, although it is an unfair situration, I am the ‘most reluctant convert’, echoing David Currie’s wording in Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic, who in turned was echoing C. S. Lewis. Anyway, I also want to take the time to at least introduce my family to many of the arguments.

Anyway, on the the question…So, would someone please explain to me why it is that we have to view Tradition as infallible and authoritative? Could we view it as useful, perhaps even extremely useful? But not authoritative? I know that there would be more subjectivism in Christianity than perhaps desirable, but still, that is not an argument against that view. Perhaps we view Scripture and Tradition as useful (though not infallible) to extracting the ‘spirit of Christianity’ (spirit as in essence, not as in the Holy Spirit). Perhaps we view the authority of Tradition and Scripture as not authoritative in and of themselves, but only authoritative in the sense that we can extract the message from them. I am reminded of something C.S. Lewis said in his section on ‘Scripture’ from the Reflection on the Psalms: “The total result [of the Scriptures] is not “the Word of God” in the sense that every passage, in itself, gives impeccable science or history. It carries the Word of God…” So, could the same be said for Tradition? The importance of Tradition and Scripture is not that they are the Word of God, but instead carry the Word of God.

Also, why can’t we view Tradition in the same way that philosophy and science would view their history? It is important that we have something to build upon, because everyone can’t work their way from 1+1=2 to quantum mechanics. So, tradition is important for advances, but not infallible. Only when Einstein challenged the tradition of Newtonian physics was he able to make the great advances of science that he did. So, can we not view Christian Tradition that way? It is important to have them for theological advances, yet to consider it infallible would actually be a hinderance to Theology.

Anyway, I will leave it at that, for any adequate response will have to long and complex as is. I’m interested to see your responses.


#2

Congratulations on all your great works and progress! I am praying for you and your wife, what a wonderful journey you are both on.

Boy this is a lot easier to try and explain sitting with a coffee and talking, but here’ my best try…

To me, and everything thinks differently, it seems you are perusing through all the teachings of the Church, deciding if you agree or disagree, then checking them off and moving on. While that may work for a lot of things, I think it’s an inherently flawed approach. Why?

Well, you are trying to digest thousands of years of doctrine that has been communicated and understood by many (thousands? more?) of theologians. Anyone who is knowledgeable about the teachings of the Church, of which the importance of Tradition is one piece, will tell you that it likely takes many years, if ever, for the typical person to completely understand all the nuances. So to base your faith in Catholicism on whether or not you understand the teaching well enough to agree, is an approach with high risk of failure.

Think of it this way - if you had the luxury to sit with the Pope, maybe over the course of months He could explain areas you have trouble with to your satisfaction. At that point you decide you have learned enough, and you are ready to accept. But that doesn’t “scale”, to the people in the world, does it?

Here is the way I have had it explained to me – the first thing you should do, is decide if the Catholic Church is the One True Church. Think of this - if you DID decide that, then the Bible is clear that the teaching of the Church is fully Authoritative, and your acceptance of Christ’s Church means you accept their teaching. Them, if there is something that seems wrong to you, you can conclude you don’t understand it and you can research that, get help, etc.

So in summary I am saying it’s NOT: research teaching -> if I accept -> become Catholic. It’s more of Who does Christ say the Church is -> Accept Church -> learn more and more about the teachings of the Church so my faith can grow.

As for your question – see next post!


#3

Protestants believe that the KJV represents 100% of the faith. It is apparent that Jesus did not emphasize the WRITTEN WORD while on earth. As a matter of fact, there is neither any evidence of Jesus picking up a pencil, pen or stylus, nor any evidence of Him telling His disciples to write anything down. Truly the Holy Spirit did later. My point is that the Faith for most of the last 2,000 years has been handed down ORALLY. Jesus traveled about preaching ORALLY. If He had wanted to emphasize that 100% of the Faith rested in the WRITTEN WORD, He would have sat down on day one and written the Bible Himself. At a minimum He would have directed the disciples to write things down. Further if He intended the WRITTEN WORD to represent 100% of the Faith, He would have seen that word processors, fax machines and photocopiers would have been invented and readily available during His public ministry, and He would have told His disciples to fax the Bible to all nations. Instead what He told them was:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Mat 28: 19-20).

Indeed the Apostles wrote things down i.e. the books of the New Testament, but they primarily taught by preaching the gospel ORALLY.

The Bible was not compiled as such until the end of the 4th century, and the general public was largely illiterate until the 20th century. Clearly, the ORAL WORD was the primary source of faith for many years. Indeed there was writing during such time, but the faith was generally being handed down ORALLY. We have evidence of this historical ORAL preaching in the writings of the Church Fathers and Doctors. Now, this handing down of the Faith ORALLY and reflected in the writings of the Fathers and Doctors is called Catholic Tradition. Traditio in Latin means “to hand down”.

Imagine the value of studying the writings of St. Polycarp and Papias who were taught directly by St. John! They were EYEWITNESSES.

Now, the Catholic Church wrote the Holy Bible. Further, the Holy Bible is incomplete. How do we know this? Because Holy Scripture itself tells us so. Consider the following:

“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.” (Cf. John 20:30-31)

“There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.” (Cf. John 21:25).

“I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (Cf. John 16:12-15)

So, where is the rest of the Deposit of Faith if Holy Scripture is incomplete? The answer is in Catholic Tradition and in the teachings of the Magisterium of the Church (you will recall that He told St. Peter, “whatever you bind ON EARTH shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose ON EARTH shall be loosed in heaven.”).

Therefore to reiterate the Deposit of Faith is comprised of the following: Catholic Tradition, Holy Scripture, and the Teachings of the Magisterium of the Church.

God Bless you!


#4

So, would someone please explain to me why it is that we have to view Tradition as infallible and authoritative?

You would agree there are some things that are absolutely essential to Christianity, no? Things like the Eucharist, Baptism and so on?

Now, where do we get those things?

There can only be two possible answers:

  1. We got them from Jesus when He was on earth, or

  2. We made them up.

Now, how do we know which answer is correct?

We look to tradition. The early Fathers stressed Baptism and the Eucharist as being essential.

It is all based on a simple idea – Christianity is what it was. There is nothing new. All we believe came from the Apostles, much of which was not written down, but transmitted orally from generation to generation. Therefore to know if something is truly part of Christianity, we must look to Tradition. Even the New Testament is a product of that Tradition.


#5

You may already have this understanding, but the first thing you must do to approach this subject properly is to have clear in your mind the distinction between tradition (often called “small t” tradition), and Sacred Tradition * (“big T” tradition). The first is changable and often optional, the second is part of the Deposit of Faith, like Scripture, but not exactly the same thing.
*
Having that distinction firmly in mind,
here is some of what the *Catechism of the Catholic Church * says about Sacred Tradition:

I. **THE APOSTOLIC TRADITION **

75 "Christ the Lord, in whom the entire Revelation of the most high God is summed up, commanded the apostles to preach the Gospel, which had been promised beforehand by the prophets, and which he fulfilled in his own person and promulgated with his own lips. In preaching the Gospel, they were to communicate the gifts of God to all men. This Gospel was to be the source of all saving truth and moral discipline."32

**In the apostolic preaching. . . **

**76 ** In keeping with the Lord’s command, the Gospel was handed on in two ways:

  • orally “by the apostles who handed on, by the spoken word of their preaching, by the example they gave, by the institutions they established, what they themselves had received - whether from the lips of Christ, from his way of life and his works, or whether they had learned it at the prompting of the Holy Spirit”;33
  • in writing “by those apostles and other men associated with the apostles who, under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit, committed the message of salvation to writing”.34

**. . . continued in apostolic succession **

77 "In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them their own position of teaching authority."35 Indeed, "the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time."36

**78 ** This living transmission, accomplished in the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is distinct from Sacred Scripture, though closely connected to it. Through Tradition, "the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes."37 "The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to the life-giving presence of this Tradition, showing how its riches are poured out in the practice and life of the Church, in her belief and her prayer."38

**79 ** The Father’s self-communication made through his Word in the Holy Spirit, remains present and active in the Church: "God, who spoke in the past, continues to converse with the Spouse of his beloved Son. And the Holy Spirit, through whom the living voice of the Gospel rings out in the Church - and through her in the world - leads believers to the full truth, and makes the Word of Christ dwell in them in all its richness."39

**II. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TRADITION AND SACRED SCRIPTURE **

One common source. . .

80 "Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together, and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing, and move towards the same goal."40 Each of them makes present and fruitful in the Church the mystery of Christ, who promised to remain with his own “always, to the close of the age”.41

**. . . two distinct modes of transmission **

81 "Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit."42

"And [Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching."43

82 As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, "does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence."44
32 DV 7; cf. Mt 28:19-20; Mk 16:15.
33 DV 7.
34 DV 7.
35 DV 7 § 2; St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3,3,1:PG 7/1,848; Harvey,2,9.
36 DV 8 § 1.
37 DV 8 § 1.
38 DV 8 § 3.
39 DV 8 § 3; cf. Col 3:16.
40 DV 9.
41 Mt 28:20.
42 DV 9.
43 DV 9.
44 DV 9.

Sacred Tradition, along with Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium (the teaching authority of the Church to interpret Scripture) are often described as a three-legged stool: without one leg, everything would fall. That is why Sacred Tradition (along with the other two “legs”) cannot be optional.


#6

Hi BT -

You asked a lot about Tradition in your first post, all amounting to about the same questions that I left here from your quote.

Here goes - Fundimentalists and Catholics believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, but in different ways. Fundimentalists, as I am sure you know, believe that everything in the Bible is exactly as it says it is, every word verbatum.

The Catholic Church has never espoused this view. It teaches that the Bible is inerrant in matters of theology. That is, what God wants us to know about Him, as opposed to the Bible being a history textbook.

An example - In the three synoptic gospels you will notice that Jesus and His apostles met for the Passover meal on the first day of the feast. In John, however, the meal they take occurs the night before the feast.

Obviously one is wrong. But the point is that the purpose of the Bible is not accurate recorded history, but teaching us about God, so that issue really does not matter. The point of the gospel story is the fact that Christ died for our sins, etc.

The Bible is infallable and authoritative in what God wants us to know about Him. It is the Word of God. It is not a history lesson.

Anyway - Tradition, what is it? Catholic Tradition, with a capitol “T”, is exactly the same Word of God. It is what Jesus gave to the apostles verbally and did not get written down. It has the exact same weight as the written word in both infallability and authority.

You likely have been taught that traditions are denounced by Christ, sighting several Bible passages to support this fundimentalist teaching. But, please read the scripture carefully. Jesus condemns “human tradition” that supplants those given by the Father. He does not condemn tradition altogether.

Tradition that does not supplant those given by God, but work in harmony with them are not condemned.

The apostles therefore began Sacred Traditions with respect to perpetuating the faith. These Traditions were given to them by Christ Himself, therefore ARE the WORD OF GOD, as valid as the biblical Word of God. Today those Traditions still exist, preserved in Jesus’ Church.

By the way, if you do a history study on Orthodox, Coptic, Melinite, and Chaldean churches, you will find that they all practice the same Traditions. Actually, any of the ancient churches hold to these same Traditions.

The seven main ones are:

Baptism
Confirmation
Holy Eucharist
Penance and Reconciliation
Holy Orders
Matrimony
Anointing the Sick

These are required to practice the faith properly.

There are other traditions, small “t”, that were added as time passed. Christmas, for instance, or going to church on Sunday instead of Saturday. As long as these traditions do not supplant God’s, they are OK.

I hope this helps in your spiritual journey.

Christ be with you and your family,
Subrosa


#7

sola scriptura… when you take the bible as literally factual, historically, scientifically…

so many different protestant denoms say they do this. what is the difference? they have the same text, same translation, same interpretation, and since there is no other source of truth… why (logically speaking) is there any difference at all between Lutheran and Anglican teachings?


#8

[quote=cardenio]sola scriptura… when you take the bible as literally factual, historically, scientifically…

so many different protestant denoms say they do this. what is the difference? they have the same text, same translation, same interpretation, and since there is no other source of truth… why (logically speaking) is there any difference at all between Lutheran and Anglican teachings?
[/quote]

One of the plainest defenses of the Church is to simply look at history. The Catholic Church has taught the same consistent message for 2,000 years. In a quarter of that time, Protestantism has split into literally tens of thousands of sects.


#9

[quote=BigTurkey]Hey guys,

I have only posted on here once, but I have made much progress away from Protestantism. sola Scriptura is just logically, practically, and biblically flawed. I have come to reject that on my own, but some books have made me even more aware of the problems with it. I am currently studying through the catechism with my wife. I feel like sometime in the near future I could be Catholic, but I don’t want to rush into it. Like most Fundamentalists, although it is an unfair situration, I am the ‘most reluctant convert’, echoing David Currie’s wording in Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic, who in turned was echoing C. S. Lewis. Anyway, I also want to take the time to at least introduce my family to many of the arguments.

Anyway, on the the question…So, would someone please explain to me why it is that we have to view Tradition as infallible and authoritative? Could we view it as useful, perhaps even extremely useful? But not authoritative? I know that there would be more subjectivism in Christianity than perhaps desirable, but still, that is not an argument against that view. Perhaps we view Scripture and Tradition as useful (though not infallible) to extracting the ‘spirit of Christianity’ (spirit as in essence, not as in the Holy Spirit). Perhaps we view the authority of Tradition and Scripture as not authoritative in and of themselves, but only authoritative in the sense that we can extract the message from them. I am reminded of something C.S. Lewis said in his section on ‘Scripture’ from the Reflection on the Psalms: “The total result [of the Scriptures] is not “the Word of God” in the sense that every passage, in itself, gives impeccable science or history. It carries the Word of God…” So, could the same be said for Tradition? The importance of Tradition and Scripture is not that they are the Word of God, but instead carry the Word of God.

Also, why can’t we view Tradition in the same way that philosophy and science would view their history? It is important that we have something to build upon, because everyone can’t work their way from 1+1=2 to quantum mechanics. So, tradition is important for advances, but not infallible. Only when Einstein challenged the tradition of Newtonian physics was he able to make the great advances of science that he did. So, can we not view Christian Tradition that way? It is important to have them for theological advances, yet to consider it infallible would actually be a hinderance to Theology.

Anyway, I will leave it at that, for any adequate response will have to long and complex as is. I’m interested to see your responses.
[/quote]

I see two problems with this
One, Jesus is The Word
Two, He left them as the authority in charge of His Church on earth. (He choose St. Peter as the first Bishop of Rome, the Pope.)


#10

Hey guys,

I would like to thank all of you for your input. People in this forum have been very kind and responsive to my questions. However, not much of the remarks hit directly upon what I was asking. I have already come to an understanding of the problems of sola Scriptura. I am an avid reader. I spend much of my time reading, and recently I have read a lot of defenses of the Catholic view of Scripture, Tradition, and the Church. I am not systematically working my way through the Catechism to see if I can agree with 100% of the teaching, and then convert. Instead, I am going to the Catechism to discover what the CC really teaches. There is so much rhetoric, and dare I say…lies, among the Protestants about what Catholics believe. I am reminded of something I read of Cardinal Newman’s (and this is a very, very rough paraphrase): “Thousands of people reject what they think is the Catholic Church, but only a few reject the real Catholic Church.” That was the state I was in. I rejected the CC based upon what I had learned from Protestants about the CC, but when I started studying the CC’s teachings, all, and I mean ALL, of my arguments fell apart. I am by no means a theologian, but I teach in my church very often, and I study theology with a passion. So, the very fact that all my arguments were wrong shook me. I am still recoiling in shock! Anyway, I am spending most of my time focusing on studying and thinking to see if the CC is the church Christ founded. If it is, then I have no choice but to except the teachings of the Catechism.

However, I do think one of the posts answered my question well enough to help me work through my real problem. Sorry I was not more exact in my question.

Now, as far as the distinction between ‘Tradition’ and ‘tradition’ goes, I have a question: can ‘Tradition’ include something that wasn’t directly handed down from the apostles? Does the CC think that some doctrines were developed after the apostles under the guidance of the Holy Spirit? I seem to understand the CC to say that all ‘Tradition’ was orally passed down from the apostles, and we can trace if throught the thought and writings of Christians from the 1st Century to the 8th Century. Is this correct?

If so, is the teaching on Immaculate Conception explicitly taught in the early Church Fathers? The Eastern Orthodox seem to think not.

(Also, if anyone has used but in good condition set of Ante-Nicene Fathers I would love to buy them. Sorry if this is against forum rules. I’m not aware if it is or isn’t. Ignore it if it is).


#11

[quote=BigTurkey]Now, as far as the distinction between ‘Tradition’ and ‘tradition’ goes, I have a question: can ‘Tradition’ include something that wasn’t directly handed down from the apostles? Does the CC think that some doctrines were developed after the apostles under the guidance of the Holy Spirit? I seem to understand the CC to say that all ‘Tradition’ was orally passed down from the apostles, and we can trace if throught the thought and writings of Christians from the 1st Century to the 8th Century. Is this correct?
[/quote]

Your second statement is essentially correct, although I think it would be more accurate to say that the Church teaches that everything we need to know as Christians was already present, in at least seminal form, when public Divine Revelation ceased–that is, after the last New Testament book was written and the last Apostle died.

With this teaching in place, however, the Holy Spirit continued to guide the Church to a greater understanding of what had already been passed on. The clearest example of this is what we believe about the Trinity–One God in three Persons. This doctrine is never stated explicitly in Scripture, but based on the Scripture and the teachings of the apostles, the Church’s understanding of it gradually grew. The same can be said of other doctrines and dogmatic definitions, such as the Immaculate Conception.

The best way to develop a real appreciation of this process is one it looks like you have already discovered – by referring to the writings of the Early Church Fathers.


#12

Okay, I will approach it from where you are. You believe the Bible is the authoritative word of God. Yes?

What does the Bible say about this?
My favorite

:bible1: 2 Thessalonians 2:15Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that your were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.

(Sorry couldn’t find my KJV)

There are many more talking of the Oral Traditions of the Church that did get written down in Scripture.

scripturecatholic.com/oral_tradition.html

This site is Scripture Catholic. It has all kinds of scripture for many issues. The link is specifically for oral tradition.

Go and see what the Bible, which you know is God’s authoratative word says about this. You may have read some of these before, but the Holy Spirit is leading you to a further understanding of that which has been revealed.:cool:

Your sister in Christ,
Maria


#13

It takes a while for many people but after a while of looking at the Catholic Church you will see how it all fits as a whole and this will help explain how everything is understood.

Development of Doctrine falls into that, it is not like anyone is making anything up, but just building on our understanding of faith and how it all fits together. Eventually we get to a better understanding of the truth.

Everything is tested and you will see it, sometimes it takes months, or less but pray on it and look to see how it all fits together.

Some say the Eastern Orthodox since the schism have had very little development of doctrine and that is the difference. The Immaculate Conception is taught by the Old and New Testament revealed in each of them and affirms Jesus as fully God, fully human. I am not sure of early Church Fathers on this, there have been some good threads on the Immaculate Conception though, where we went into it pretty deep.

God Bless
Scylla

God


#14

[quote=vern humphrey]One of the plainest defenses of the Church is to simply look at history. The Catholic Church has taught the same consistent message for 2,000 years. In a quarter of that time, Protestantism has split into literally tens of thousands of sects.
[/quote]

I know that, vern. I was looking for a Protestant answer, since I have yet to find one. But thank you.


#15

[quote=cardenio]I know that, vern. I was looking for a Protestant answer, since I have yet to find one. But thank you.
[/quote]

You are looking for that which does not exist.http://forums.catholic.com/images/icons/icon10.gif


#16

The Church teaches what it teaches about the authority and truthfulness of Sacred Tradition because that is what she received. It is God’s idea, not man’s. That is why the situation is different from science or any other human constructions. The Holy Spirit does not tire of leading the Church into truth. The Holy Spirit did not call it quits after the Scriptures were written. Just as Christ will be with His Church always, so too will the Holy Spirit be with the Church always.


#17

#18

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