Rabbinic tradition vs apostolic tradition - dialogue with messianic friend

Hey guys,

How would you respond to this:

My friend watched the debate between Tim Staples and James White and claims Tim uses the same NT quotes that rabbis use against Christians when arguing for the authority of rabbinic tradition. Thus, the Church has committed the errors and excesses of the rabbis, whose traditions have been so developed over time that they have added to the gospel message. Some catholic doctrines were unknown at the time of the apostles, are additions, and thus have become another gospel.

In effect, all true apostolic tradition is thus contained in sacred scripture. Matt 5:17 refers to Jesus fulfilling the OT, and what he wanted the apostles to pass on is contained in their writings. He also claims that purgatory implies we don’t believe Christs sacrifice is sufficient because sin still needs to be purged after death. He knows a lot of Hebrew and Jewish culture. I just can’t seem to get through.


I didn’t hear this particular debate, but I can comment on the statement I highlighted above. You must have misheard because I know that Tim Staples would never claim that Catholics don’t believe that Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient because it’s not true. I’ve heard Tim often enough to know that he gave loads of scriptural evidence for the doctrine of purgatory, such as 1 Corinthians 3:14-15, which talks about a cleansing fire. Basically, nothing that is not pure can enter heaven, and although our sins have been forgiven we must be cleansed from the stain of sin. Tim may not have been able to expound as well as he could have, since it was in a debate situation. Also he talks pretty fast :D. Perhaps Jimmy Akin can help you understand it better. Here’s a video of him answering this question on Catholic Answers Live.

I don’t think he is claiming Tim Staples made the quote about Purgatory-he has a JEWISH friend who did

I saw your thread on your conversion. Why does your religion show ex-Christian? Why does it not say Catholic?

It says ex “Chrislam.” Lol

Oops, sorry :o Same answer though. :slight_smile:

Thanks seagal :slight_smile:

Sorry! I need new glasses! :slight_smile:

Why not just Catholic - your new faith (or are you thinking of Judaism now?)

Considering Protestants use a Post apostolic Jewish decision to determine the Canon of their Scripture id say it doesn’t matter what your friend thinks. Last time I checked after the death of our Lord and the sending of his apostles… Jewish decisions had no bearing or authority on Christian matters. So when the Jews decided to change their Canon after the destruction of Jerusalem it held ZERO authority on the Christian Canon of scripture which was the Septuagint and the Cannon Christ and the apostles would have used in common practice. It would remained the Canon used by Christians (yes even after ST Jerome) for 16 Centuries or more. Since Protestants (you pick the denomination) hold ZERO authority to bind well anything for that matter on “Christians” it really doesn’t matter what they think. I say stick to the Church who determined the Canon of scripture in the first place. The Church that has the Authority as attested by Every ancient Christian writing from the beginning of Christian existence to select the proper texts from hundreds of false and erroneous/Heretical texts and compile the first “bible” which was not in existence previous to this decision.

Oh gosh no. I’m not going anywhere!

True indeed.

I mean, I think the issue is how far does development of doctrine go?

I would say from the time Christ built his church til when he returns for it.

If someone asserts, in x century, development has gone too far and is no longer acceptable, then the church is not infallible and gone astray. That’s against Christs promise.

I suppose the rebuttal could be that we are implying the church is in a sense, better off, than what it was in apostolic times, because so much time has passed, and the Holy Spirit has shed more light on the deposit of faith. In essence, were better off than the community who actually saw and met with the risen Lord, in matters of faith and morals. But I don’t think that’s what we’re saying.

I think that point in time that Christians realized that Christ wasn’t coming in their generation played a big role in their and future thinking and development. Cause we don’t know but we have a very good indication that they thought he would and very soon. Case and point here is there had always been a authority here on earth ordained by God himself (the Church) it was never exclusively a invisible union of believers (as protestants use to discredit the church). It is most certainly that AND a visible authority. Remove the authority and you have what you see today in the protestant world…and unfortunately the orthodox world as well (although not as much). It is a impossibility to have the book become the authority since it was not compiled to fill this role nor can it ever be the only authority in practice…again see what happens when you separate the book from the church (tradition). You get Protestantism where one can not even nail down something as simple and essential as baptism.

I wouldn’t say we are better off although at least here were not getting fed to lions and being crucified (no so in the middle east though). So really I say we are in the same situation. The only difference here is that as time has passed we have invented and come up with some pretty crazy inventions, concepts and in general immoral “things” that neither the bible nor tradition talks about (i.e. stem cell research etc.) So not only do protestants not agree on well anything in the faith realm they are also completely lost in the moral world as well. To each his own is the motto I like to give to them. This honestly in my opinion is the reason many convert today and start to recognize the need (which has always been there) for authority outside a catholic document compiled in the 4th century later ripped off, changed, and deemed the authority by people who had no authority to do so…and the results are in…It failed on so many levels.

What good is an infallible book without and infallible interpreter?

Back to the rabbinic stuff…

There are a number of notable Jewish converts to Catholicism who would argue that the Talmud (which originally was oral tradition later written down) Kept “scripture” and the people who’s job was to understand and teach from it honest.

Sounds pretty familiar doesn’t it? Similarly the same claim the church has been making since well forever “remove tradition from scripture” and you have a free for all. This was dealt with in the first fights against the early heretical movements. Which many saints were quoted as using the fact that “heretics” used scripture how they wanted to suit their ideas and the Saints nail home sometimes pretty sternly that tradition IS how we root out these people and bring them into light to show the world their errors.

I will always be convinced that Christ changed much from the old covenant to the new but he knew his audience and didn’t change what would have been normal for the Jewish people in custom to something vastly different and unrecognizable. Hence the old Passover became the new (Eucharist) in both form and meal. Liturgical practice similar and many more parallels.

The same Jewish Converts also have a common thread once they experience the Mass and its pretty unanimous they feel like they are at the synagogue. Coincidence? I think not.

Great points! I found some great quotes from the 5th century, showing even by this early period, the consciousness the church had of herself:

But the Church of Christ, the careful and watchful guardian of the doctrines deposited in her charge, never changes anything in them, never diminishes, never adds, does not cut off what is necessary, does not add what is superfluous, does not lose her own, does not appropriate what is another’s, but while dealing faithfully and judiciously with ancient doctrine, keeps this one object carefully in view, - if there be anything which antiquity has left shapeless and rudimentary, to fashion and polish it, if anything already reduced to shape and developed, to consolidate and strengthen it, if any already ratified and defined to keep and guard it. Finally, what other object have Councils ever aimed at in their decrees, than to provide that what was before believed in simplicity should in future be believed intelligently, that what was before preached coldly should in future be preached earnestly, that what was before practised negligently should thenceforward be practised with double solicitude? This, I say, is what the Catholic Church, roused by the novelties of heretics, has accomplished by the decrees of her Councils, - this, and nothing else, - she has thenceforward consigned to posterity in writing what she had received from those of olden times only by tradition, comprising a great amount of matter in a few words, and often, for the better understanding, designating an old article of the faith by the characteristic of a new name.
St. Vicent of Lerins (d. c. 450 AD)

For many things lay hidden in the Scriptures: and when heretics, who had been cut off, troubled the Church of God with questions, then those things which lay hidden were opened, and the will of God was understood . . . Many men that could understand and expound the Scriptures very excellently, were hidden among the people of God, and they did not declare the solution of difficult questions, until a reviler again urged them. For was the doctrine of the Trinity perfectly expounded upon before the Arians snarled at it? Was repentance perfectly treated before the opposition of the Novatians? Likewise, Baptism was not perfectly understood, before rebaptizers from the outside contradicted; nor even the very oneness of Christ . . . until after this separation began to press upon the weak: in order that those who knew how to deal with and solve these questions (lest the weak should perish, vexed with the questions of the ungodly), should bring out into the open the dark things of the Law, by their discourses and disputations . . .
The history of doctrines or dogmas . . . Its object is to show how the mind of the church has gradually apprehended and unfolded the divine truths of revelation, how the teachings of scripture have been formulated and shaped into dogmas, and grown into creeds and confessions of faith, or systems of doctrine stamped with public authority. This growth of the church in the knowledge of the infallible word of God is a constant struggle against error, misblief, and unbelief; and the history of heresies is an essential part of the history of doctrines. Every important dogma now professed by the Christian church is the result of a severe conflict with error.
St. Agustine

We just want to be careful, I think, of making direct parallels between the Talmud and church tradition, because the old covenant people were rebuked by our Lord himself for creating traditions that did get excessive, create burdens, and put a fence around Torah. But the premise is the same, of course: two manifestations of revelation - oral and written - from one wellspring of divine revelation.

You can go even earlier

Now what has been briefly said above may suffice to shew their misunderstanding of the passages they then alleged; and that of what they now allege from the Gospels they certainly give an unsound interpretation, we may easily see, if we now consider the scope of that faith which we Christians hold, and using it as a rule, apply ourselves, as the Apostle teaches, to the reading of inspired Scripture. For Christ’s enemies, being ignorant of this scope, have wandered from the way of truth, and have stumbled on a stone of stumbling, thinking otherwise than they should think. (Discourses Against the Arians 3.28)

This one is great!

Such is the method of our adversary’s operations; and of the like nature are all these inventions of heresies, each of which has for the father of its own device the devil, who changed and became a murderer and a liar from the beginning. But being ashamed to profess his hateful name, they usurp the glorious Name of our Saviour ‘which is above every name,’ and deck themselves out in the language of Scripture, speaking indeed the words, but stealing away the true meaning thereof; and so disguising by some artifice their false inventions, they also become the murderers of those whom they have led astray. (To the Bishops of Egypt 3)

This one is even greater

Thus each of these heresies, in respect of the peculiar impiety of its invention, has nothing in common with the Scriptures. And their advocates are aware of this, that the Scriptures are very much, or rather altogether, opposed to the doctrines of every one of them; but for the sake of deceiving the more simple sort (such as are those of whom it is written in the Proverbs, ‘The simple believeth every word ),’ they pretend like their 'father the devil ’ to study and to quote the language of Scripture, in order that they may appear by their words to have a right belief, and so may persuade their wretched followers to believe what is contrary to the Scriptures. Assuredly in every one of these heresies the devil has thus disguised himself, and has suggested to them words full of craftiness. The Lord spake concerning them, that ‘there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, so that they shall deceive many .’ Accordingly the devil has come, speaking by each and saying, ‘I am Christ, and the truth is with me;’ and he has made them, one and all, to be liars like himself. And strange it is, that while all heresies are at variance with one another concerning the mischievous inventions which each has framed, they are united together only by the common purpose of lying . For they have one and the same father that has sown in them all the seeds, of falsehood. Wherefore the faithful Christian and true disciple of the Gospel, having grace to discern spiritual things, and having built the house of his faith upon a rock, stands continually firm and secure from their deceits. But the simple person, as I said before, that is not thoroughly grounded in knowledge, such an one, considering only the words that are spoken and not perceiving their meaning, is immediately drawn away by their wiles. Wherefore it is good and needful for us to pray that we may receive the gift of discerning spirits, so that every one may know, according to the precept of John, whom he ought to reject, and whom to receive as friends and of the same faith.

They were rebuked most certainly but I think you are misplacing the word tradition. Our lord was talking about traditions that were added that were NOT apart of the old covenant. NOT the traditions OF the old covenant. After all they were his traditions that he was speaking of. God does not contradict.

The Talmud was from God or allowed I should say.

Wow. Very, very helpful. Thanks so much; I really appreciate that info!

That’s just what Protestants say though, right?

Jesus as the fulfillment of the Torah and teacher of the new covenant came to restore Gods true tradition; and everything God wanted to restore, and wanted the people to know, would be written down (in the NT).

It just doesn’t fly practically because you NEED one interpretive authority, the church.

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