Scripture vs Tradition


This question stems from seeing the different interpretations of Catholic doctrine among Catholics.

Catholics say that Tradition is needed to correctly interpret the Scriptures. They say that Protestants have many denominations because they each interpret the Scriptures differently. But that the Catholic church has the correct interpretation which is easily understood by all Catholics because they respect the authority of the Church.


I am wondering,

if Tradition is necessary for a correct interpretation of Scriptures,

Why do Catholics disagree on the meanings of certain Scriptures?


I don’t understand why these two clauses would be considered contradictory. They aren’t even inconsistent. Why should the proposition that Tradition is needed for a correct interpretation of Scripture mean that two Catholics could not disagree on the meanings of certain verses?


The Catholic Church has not pronounced a dogmatic
definition of the meaning of EACH and EVERY verse of

What dogmas the Church HAS defined,
Catholics must believe. These things are
necessary for orthodoxy and holy unity.
Where the church has not made a dogmatic interpretation,
Catholics are free to discuss and debate.

Protestantism rejects what the Universal Church
believed for 1500 years and rejects the concept that
Christ established a final court of authority in the visible
Church. This is why there are so many different Protestant
churches: the Reformers rebelled against the Church and
strangely enough, against each other too.



I know of one verse that The Church has interperted for Catholics. Catholics can disagree with each other on scripture but at the end of the day The Church settles all disputes. Catholics should conform their mind to the mind of The Church when trying to understand the senses of scripture.

Now why is this not lived out in Catholicism? Well some prefer the darkness to the light. As a Catholic at the end of the day, you do not have the luxury when you disagree with Holy Mother Church to leave and start a new community.



The tile of the thread is a bit misleading. Scripture and Tradition are not in conflict; they are in complete harmony. Catholics can only disagree on those passages of the Bible which do not concern a fundamental doctrine of the Church, or have not been clarified by Magisterial teaching or Sacred Oral Tradition.

It seems a pretty odd complaint. There are lots of good Catholics who disagree about the specific meaning of different passages of scripture… but as long as they don’t deny the doctrines of the church, free inquiry into the meaning of the Bible is fine…


Wow, Ginger. Do you make this stuff up as you go, or what?

What, there are books and books of ‘official’ interpretations of scripture?

No. The Church does not single out particular passages of Scripture and to define it authoritatively.

But, we thought you knew that, so your question must be eventually leading up to something else.

What particular passages of Scripture are you referring to?

Catholics can interprete Scripture any way they want provided it does not contradict defined doctrines of the faith.




Catholic laypeople can disagree all day long and will remain in union with the Church as long as they don’t contradict anything God has revealed through the Church. Anything the Pope and Magisterium has defined is in harmony.

As to Scriptures still undefined…
Revelation through increments can be seen throughout the Old Testament. A microcosm of this “revealing in increments” can ironically be seen in Scripture:

Mark 8:22-25 And they came to Bethsaida; and they bring to him a blind man, and they besought him that he would touch him. And taking the blind man by the hand, he led him out of the town; and spitting upon his eyes, laying his hands on him, he asked him if he saw any thing. And looking up, he said: I see men as it were trees, walking. After that again he laid his hands upon his eyes, and he began to see, and was restored, so that he saw all things clearly.

So for instance, when Catholic theologians opine as to the meaning of “the elect” in Scripture, undefined speculations are acceptable. Either God chooses specific elect from the beginning of time. Or perhaps God forsees the future and who will react to His grace, and He thus names those people the elect. The theories are both acceptable. Eventually, in this world or the next, all will be revealed.

Simple, huh? :smiley:


Good response. Protestants, like Ginger, think that the Catholic Church holds our hands every step of the way to salvation, even when it comes to the reading of Sacred Scripture.



I would certainly agree with that.

But I am wondering about dogmatic statements.

The Orthodox are considered part of the true Church and concluded under salvation within (ie no salvation outside the church), yet they not believe every dogma of the Roman Church.

Isn’t Dogma that which must be believed?


Here is wat the CCC says about Scripture and Tradition and what guidance it gives when reading Scripture. First Post Tradition and Scripture, second post reading Scripture.

**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.” 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.” . . . 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.” "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."
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."
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.


The Holy Spirit, Interpreter of Scripture
109 In Sacred Scripture, God speaks to man in a human way. To interpret Scripture correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm and to what
God wanted to reveal to us by their words.
110 In order to discover the sacred authors’ intention, the reader must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes
of feeling, speaking, and narrating then current. "For the fact is that truth is differently presented and expressed in the various types of historical writing, in prophetical and poetical texts, and in other forms of literary expression."
111 But since Sacred Scripture is inspired, there is another and no less important principle of correct interpretation, without which Scripture would remain a dead letter. "Sacred
Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written."
The Second Vatican Council indicates three criteria for interpreting Scripture in
accordance with the Spirit who inspired it
112 1. Be especially attentive “to the content and unity of the whole Scripture.” Different as the books which comprise it may be, Scripture is a unity by reason of the unity of God’s
plan, of which Christ Jesus is the center and heart, open since his Passover. The phrase “heart of Christ” can refer to Sacred Scripture, which makes known his heart, closed before the Passion, as the Scripture was obscure. But the Scripture has been opened since the Passion; since those who from then on have understood it, consider and discern in what way the prophecies must be interpreted.
113 2. Read the Scripture within “the living Tradition of the whole Church.” According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church’s heart rather
than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God’s Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture ("according to the spiritual meaning which the Spirit grants
to the Church"81).
114 3. Be attentive to the analogy of faith. By “analogy of faith” we mean the coherence of the truths of faith among themselves and within the whole plan of Revelation.
The senses of Scripture
115 According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral, and
anagogical senses. The profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church.
116 The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: "All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal."
117 The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God’s plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs. 1. The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by
recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ’s victory and also of Christian Baptism. 2. The moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written “for our instruction.” 3. The anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, “leading”). We can view realities and events in
terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem.


The title is misleading…Sacred Scripture was born out of Sacred Tradition. So there is no contradiction. Never has been never will be. :thumbsup:


Maybe my question is not clear.

My experience in this forum is that Catholics can disagree on the meaning of Scriptures that have been dogmatically defined. In like manner, Orthodox and deny certain dogmatic statements of the RC.

If Scripture and Tradition are equal and in agreement with each other,

and if Tradition is the means by which the meanings of Scriptures can be clearly defined and understood,

Then, why are Catholics, RC to RC and RC to EO given a pass when they disagree on dogmatically defined articles?


Also keep in mind the Church is not built upon a two legged stool…it is built upon a three legged stool…need to include that third leg…the teaching authority of the Church. :thumbsup:


Are you then, suggesting that the different understanding stem from failure to properly execute the eduction of the faith to the faithful?

What happens when the catechism teachers don’t all teach the exact same explanation?


Nope, That is not what I am suggesting…with all matters of faith and morals, I humbly submit to the teaching authority of the Church. Anywho it is off to breakfast…

God bless you Ginger,


Most “Catholics” especially in this generation, are poorly Catechized. I use myself as an example. I was born into a Catholic family, but did not learn about the scriptures or my faith. I abandoned the Church because I wanted to learn more about the Bible. After a couple decades of living a s a Protestant, I finally found my way back. The disagreement comes from ignorance, primarily.


There are many similarities between the Orthodox Churches and the Catholic Church, but they are not in communion with each other.

Orthodox beliefs are very close to Catholic beliefs, but they are not identical. Orthodox and Catholics both believe in the Trinity, the 7 sacraments, Baptism for the remission of sins, the true presences of Christ in the Eucharist, the veneration of Mary as the Mother of God, the Assumption or Dormition of Mary, the divinity of Christ, the bodily Resurrection of Christ, the Virgin birth, veneration of the saints, veneration of relics, the sacrificial nature of the Mass, the inerrancy of Scripture, the hierarchical structure of the church with bishops and priests, and Apostolic succession.

The main points of disagreement between the Orthodox and the Catholics are: the role of the Bishop of Rome, the IC, the understanding of Purgatory, and the filioque in the Creed.

The Catholic Church recognizes all baptized Christians as being linked to her in many ways, even though they do not profess the faith in its entirety and they are outside the visible structure of the Church. This includes Orthodox Christians as well as Protestants.

Christ established 1 Church:

This is the one Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic, (12*) which our Saviour, after His Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd,(74) and him and the other apostles to extend and direct with authority,(75) which He erected for all ages as “the pillar and mainstay of the truth”.(76) This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him,(13*) although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity.
–Lumen Gentium 8

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