Scripture as PRIMARY authority?


In catholic tradition is scripture the PRIMARY source of authority? Can it be? Or is that going against the church?


Scripture AND tradition are the two pillars that hold up the Church.


So they have equal authority?


Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium is said to be like a three legged stool which the church rests on. Remove any of these and she falls. Yes they are equal!



The Church, via the magisterium, interprets both Scripture and Tradition with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Church is the ultimate authority, referring to these two streams of revelation to support and draw her positions from, both equally important for accurate understanding the faith.

If Scripture were the only source we’d be at a loss to know the faith fully and correctly, due to our theology being uninformed by the legacy of lived historical experience that the Church has known since the beginnings of Christianity.


From Dei Verbum, the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (November 18, 1965):

"10. Sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church. Holding fast to this deposit the entire holy people united with their shepherds remain always steadfast in the teaching of the Apostles, in the common life, in the breaking of the bread and in prayers (see Acts 2, 42, Greek text), so that holding to, practicing and professing the heritage of the faith, it becomes on the part of the bishops and faithful a single common effort.

"But the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed.

“It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God’s most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.”

Dei Verbum (English)

(I have removed three footnote marks.)


I very much enjoy reading through Scripture when there are questions I have; I have found that almost any question we could possibly had has already been answered in the Bible somewhere. Also an excellent source of authority is the tradition of the Church as well as the Papacy. Reading over Encyclicals and council documents can seem boarish but often has great fruits to be found in them. I highly recommend strollinng through Pope St. Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae as well as the collection of teachings of Pope St. John Paul II commonly known as Theology of the Body


Scripture is not authoritative in it’s own right. Rather, it is an exercise of the teaching authority of the bishops.


Scripture and Tradition are on equal footing with one another in the Catholic Church. In fact, scripture could not exist without tradition, as it was the tradition (i.e. Magisterium) that codified scripture to begin with. One of the great errors of Protestantism is sola scriptura. That argument simply does not hold up logically.


They are both on equal footing AND they do not contradict each other.

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