Relation of Tradition to Scripture?


#1

Hi everbody,

Just a quick question: does Church Tradition exist for the sole purpose of providing correct interpretation of the teachings in the Bible (whether they are explicit or implicit), or do we have any Traditional teachings that are completely separate from the Bible (as in teachings of Christ that just never made it into the Bible)? Thanks.


#2

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

Apostolic Tradition and ecclesial traditions

83 The Tradition here in question comes from the apostles and hands on what they received from Jesus’ teaching and example and what they learned from the Holy Spirit. The first generation of Christians did not yet have a written New Testament, and the New Testament itself demonstrates the process of living Tradition. Tradition is to be distinguished from the various theological, disciplinary, liturgical or devotional traditions, born in the local churches over time. These are the particular forms, adapted to different places and times, in which the great Tradition is expressed. In the light of Tradition, these traditions can be retained, modified or even abandoned under the guidance of the Church’s Magisterium.

scborromeo.org/ccc/p1s1c2a2.htm


#3

[quote=CollegeKid]Hi everbody,

Just a quick question: does Church Tradition exist for the sole purpose of providing correct interpretation of the teachings in the Bible (whether they are explicit or implicit), or do we have any Traditional teachings that are completely separate from the Bible (as in teachings of Christ that just never made it into the Bible)? Thanks.
[/quote]

Hi CollegeKid, welcome to the forums.

You have a good question. I have an answer that you probably won’t expect. It’s a little church history.

The bible canon was first adopted in the year 325 at the Council of Hippo. That is when most churches declared which books would be included in the Bible. The Catholic (& Orthodox) churches used a book called the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew scripture. It is still the official scripture today. Not all books were accepted by all churches. For instance, the Eastern Orthodox have more books in the Old Testament than the western Catholics. The Ethiopian Christians use 5 or 6 more books in the New Testament, including the Epistles of Clement to the Corinthians.

So the process was to see which particular books and letters each different church was using and standardize them. Each different church was using most of the books, with some differences. For instance, The western Catholic Church and Orthodox did not use the letters of Clement, so they did not include them in thier scripture, or Bible.

So here’s the kicker - the bible was a product of the individual church’s traditions. They gathered the books that they were using according to the traditions of their church.

The Bible was formed according to the traditions of the church, in support of those traditions.

Now ain’t that a kick in the head?

As far as teachings seperate from the Bible, the doctrines on Mary are the only ones not in the Bible. They are strictly a part of church tradition.

The peace of the Lord be with you,
Subrosa


#4

[quote=Subrosa]The bible canon was first adopted in the year 325 at the Council of Hippo.
[/quote]

http://bestsmileys.com/mouthzippedshut/1.gif Just to clarify real quick. The council of Hippo was in 393 (so add another 68 yrs of tradition to the Bible :smiley: ) Nicaea was in 325.


#5

Thanks everyone.

Subrosa, when you mentioned how all these churches were forming their own bibles based on their traditions, are you talking about primitive “parishes,” so to speak, of the Catholic Church? Or did you also mean the various heretical groups (nestorians, arians, etc.?)
I have to admit you’ve sparked my interest in a somewhat related topic: I believe it is commonly said (even in the world history classes I took before and during high school) that the Catholic Church is the only christian church that existed until the Reformation (aside from the great schism of 1054 leading to eastern orthodoxy). Is that because all these other groups weren’t considered to be real churches? If so, why not? Were there any other real churches in the days of early christianity until the Reformation? If anyone can shed some light on this I would greatly appreciate it.


#6

[quote=CollegeKid]Thanks everyone.

Subrosa, when you mentioned how all these churches were forming their own bibles based on their traditions, are you talking about primitive “parishes,” so to speak, of the Catholic Church? Or did you also mean the various heretical groups (nestorians, arians, etc.?)
I have to admit you’ve sparked my interest in a somewhat related topic: I believe it is commonly said (even in the world history classes I took before and during high school) that the Catholic Church is the only christian church that existed until the Reformation (aside from the great schism of 1054 leading to eastern orthodoxy). Is that because all these other groups weren’t considered to be real churches? If so, why not? Were there any other real churches in the days of early christianity until the Reformation? If anyone can shed some light on this I would greatly appreciate it.
[/quote]

The simple truth is that these newly reformed churches did not exist prior to the 16th century. The Catholic Church was the only Christian church, aside from the few short-lived heretical groups, of the past.

In fact, the schism of 1054 is purportedly a myth, as the Orthodox Church did not formally split from the Catholic Church until the 1450’s, making it a mere 6 decades older than the protestant reformation according to Karl Keating.

Now certainly many of the protestant faiths of today attempt to trace back their faith to Jesus, but this is an impossibility, when taking an honest look at history. It can be done when one badly twists and misinterprets some of the Early Fathers, but that is about it.

Peace,
Michael


#7

Michael, thank you. Can you provide any further clarification on this: regarding the heretical groups, were any of them considered to be, in the strictest sense of the word, a church? Are these the groups that fundamentalists try to trace their roots to?


#8

[quote=CollegeKid]Michael, thank you. Can you provide any further clarification on this: regarding the heretical groups, were any of them considered to be, in the strictest sense of the word, a church? Are these the groups that fundamentalists try to trace their roots to?
[/quote]

I don’t think they could be classified as churches, so much as small movements of ideas. Again, the Church was usually quick to condemn the heretical views, and the groups or ideas usually would fade soon after. Fundamentalists almost always condemn these early heresies as well.


#9

[quote=CollegeKid] I believe it is commonly said (even in the world history classes I took before and during high school) that the Catholic Church is the only christian church that existed until the Reformation (aside from the great schism of 1054 leading to eastern orthodoxy). Is that because all these other groups weren’t considered to be real churches? If so, why not? Were there any other real churches in the days of early christianity until the Reformation? If anyone can shed some light on this I would greatly appreciate it.
[/quote]

Hi again, CK -

I think you are confusing the word “Catholic” with it’s modern day meaning. Initially, seperate communities developed that were only one church. More on this later. After the schism of 1054, the Eastern churches took the name “Orthodox”. Rome kept the name “Catholic”. Even so, there are still some Eastern churches that call themselves “Catholic” without being in communion with Rome. However, most Eastern, or Byzantine, churches that call themselves “Catholic” are in communion with Rome.

These communities were established when the Apostles went there seperate ways after Pentecost. In the earliest centuries five “See’s” were established, among them Rome, Greece, Jerusalem, Alexandria (Egypt) and Antioch. archons.org/patriarchate/history/pentarchy.asp

All of these churches used thier own traditions, first established by the Apostles, then expanded on, but never in opposition to the original Traditions established by the Apostles. While greater than 90% of the traditions are still in complete agreement, it’s the other traditions that are the problem. For instance, the early churches held that all Bishops had equal authority. In Rome, however, the tradition developed tha the Bishop of Rome was given supreme authority, according to scripture. This one tradition is the point of dispute that keeps the churches seperated theologically. The churches are at this time contemplating a solution to the problem.

For the first 1000 years there was only one church called the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. To break it down a bit -

One, because the concept was - and is - that Christ established only one church of which all Christians were, and are, members. This occured even with the truth that different communities of Christians were established in different parts of the world (See the five churches in Revelation).

Holy - speaks for itself

Catholic - literally means “Universal”, from the Greek. Again, a reference to all Christians.

Apostolic - The Churches take thier teachings and authority from the Apostles, who established the seperate communities and taught there.

Subrosa


#10

Thanks. That does make it clearer and the information you’ve presented seems to parallel the facts I’ve encountered in the historical research I’ve been doing (admittedly, I need to do a lot more and my search for knowledge has only just begun). When you said I may have been confusing the modern day meaning of “Catholic” with the original meaning, did you mean that you thought I believed it only referred to the Roman Catholic Church? It is my understanding that “the Catholic Church” has always referred to and still does refer to the one church that Christ and the apostles started, in its entirety, meaning all of its rites-Latin, Byzantine, etc.


#11

[quote=CollegeKid]Thanks.
[/quote]

No problem! :slight_smile:

That does make it clearer and the information you’ve presented seems to parallel the facts I’ve encountered in the historical research I’ve been doing (admittedly, I need to do a lot more and my search for knowledge has only just begun).

Whew! That’s good. Thanks for the confirmation.

When you said I may have been confusing the modern day meaning of “Catholic” with the original meaning, did you mean that you thought I believed it only referred to the Roman Catholic Church?

Yes

It is my understanding that “the Catholic Church” has always referred to and still does refer to the one church that Christ and the apostles started, in its entirety, meaning all of its rites-Latin, Byzantine, etc.

That’s good. Most people just think of the Catholic Church as the one in Rome headed by the Pope. They have no clue about the rest of it.

God bless,
Subrosa


#12

[quote=CollegeKid]Hi everbody,
Just a quick question: does Church Tradition exist for the sole purpose of providing correct interpretation of the teachings in the Bible (whether they are explicit or implicit), or do we have any Traditional teachings that are completely separate from the Bible (as in teachings of Christ that just never made it into the Bible)? Thanks.
[/quote]

Lets define tradition. Tradition by definition is any information handed down without writing. Sacred Tradition or apostolic Tradition is God’s word handed down without writing. In the Church, it can be even handed down by writing, if it is not scripture. Thus, tradition can be information handed down in pictures, by example, oral teaching, etc. We all learn to talk, how to dress, how to interact with others by tradition.
Jesus is the perfect teacher. He taught only by tradition. Thus, by example He made known that the perfect method of teaching the Gospel is by tradition, that is without writing. His apostles followed that example. They spread the Gospel and taught the Gospel without writing. Every Christian in the New Testament learned the Gospel by Tradition, that is by the teaching, preaching, example of the apostles or their successors.
"Faith comes from hearing, "as the bible says, not by reading.
Now the all the apostles learned the Gospel through Jesus and the Holy Spirit ( who Jesus said would teach them all things), entirely by Tradition.
Thus, it is through Tradition alone that ALL the teachings of the Church are handed down. The Church teaches this in the Catechism"
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."

Thus, all the Church teachings, which all came from Jesus and the Holy Spirit, are handed down in Tradition.

Only some of these were written in the written Gospels.
126 "The sacred authors, in writing the four Gospels, selected [size=4]certain[/size] of the many elements which had been handed on, either orally or already in written form; others they synthesized or explained with an eye to the situation of the churches, the while sustaining the form of preaching, but always in such a fashion that they have told us the honest truth about Jesus."
Notice that only certain elements of Tradition were written down. Thus the whole Gospel, everything, all teachings, are handed down in Tradition, but only some of that Tradition was written in scripture.
That is one reason why the Church says we must interpret Scripture according to Tradition.
We can know this by studing the bible itself:
Now we know that Jesus and the Holy Spirit taught (that means by Tradition) the apostles everything. From reading the four Gospels we know that Jesus taught many things to the apostles secretly, which are not written. We know from the Gospel that from the time of His resurrection, till His ascension He taught them much more, especially about “the kingdom”, which is the Church, and this was not written down. Then Jesus said He would send the Holy Spirit to the apostles to teach them “all things”. But these “all things” are not written down.


#13

Now Jesus commissioned His apostles, the leaders of His Church, to teach the Gospel to all nations. Till this time ONLY the apostles had received all the teachings, the entire Gospel.
But, no where in the bible do we have a summary of this Gospel that they taught. In a few paragraphs we have a little of the creed, that is it. In the written Gospels we have some of the teachings of Jesus, before His death, but that is it. Jesus taught and trained His apostles for 3 years. We have none of those teachings He taught them in secret. We have none of those teachings in which He taught them how to conduct a worship service, or the sacraments, or how to pray, or the Trinity.etc. We have no summary of what the Holy Spirit taught the apostles.
We have no summary, anywhere, of the Gospel the apostles taught and preached. This is the real reason why Protestants can’t know the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They think they can get it from Scripture, but no where does Scripture claim to have even a summary of the Gospel the apostles taught and preached. Scripture is basically salvation history, NOT a summary of the Gospel the apostles taught and preached.

So how do we know what the apostles taught and preached? We can learn that from those who learned from them. In other words, the early Church Fathers leaned the Gospel from the apostles. If we study their writings, we learn that all Christian writers believed that bapstism was salvific, that the mass was a sacrifice, that the bread and wine become the body, blood , soul and divinity of Jesus, that we should all be confirmed after baptism, that we can lose our salvation by mortal sin, that we should pray to the saints, etc.
In other words, the Gospel the apostles taught and preached is contained in the Church teachings today. The catechisms of the Church contain the exact same Gospel the apostles taught and preached. And since the apostles could not teach the Gospel in the same form they learned it, that is teachings of Jesus before His death, then after His death, then those of the Holy Spirit, the apostles organized these teachings in order for those who heard them, to learn and remember them.
So they early Church organized the Gospel into the Creed, (the basic beliefs), the sacraments (how we receive the grace Jesus merited by His death and resurrection) , the commandments, (the moral life we are to live, in order to reach heaven) and prayer, (the Our Father, and prayer to the saints)
Thus, when the apostles taught the Gospel, then simply taught the teachings of the Creed, Sacrements, Commandments and Prayer. In other words, Catechisms are basically the Gospel the apostles taught and preached. Of course, by their example and their way of worship, by the institutions they founded, etc., they also handed down the Gospel.

One may ask, if everything is in the Catechisms, and only some is in the bible and even this is rarely explict and clear, then why have the scriptures?
The scriptures present salvation history. They present a historical context of the teachings of God. They also present an accurate glimpse of how Jesus acted Himself and how He taught and some of His direct teachings. And since they portray salvation history, then we can use scripture to nourish the teachings of the Gospel, to illuminate the teachings of the Gospel, and to be a witness to the teachings of the Gospel, and even a few times to be a witness to teachings as a proof of these teachings. The words here in bold are the exact words the Church uses to refer to scripture in its relation to Tradition.

But again, to learn the Gospel the apostles taught, we must
be taught in an organic and systematic way, just as the apostles always taught the Gospel in an organic and systematic way. And today that is the Creed, Sacrments, Commandments and prayer. That is why the Church says the Catechism is a sure norm for teaching the faith. When we teach the teachings of the Catechism, we are handing on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is the only way it can be learned.


#14

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