So what is Catholic Tradition?


This came up on another thread and it seems to be a good question,
Is there a Tradition that the Apostles taught that is not contained within scripture? and how do you know the Apostles taught it?


Traditions that aren’t in the bible, but still taught, are those passed down orally over the centuries. And the Early Church Fathers wrote down some of it as well. A lot of it in letters. Some of the “traditions” handed down were; Mary’s Immaculate conception; The names of her parents; the baptism of infants and some of the other sacraments.

Does this help?


It is NOT simply “what the Apostles taught” which wasn’t written down in the sub-set of the deposit of faith called the bible.

All (correct) tradition is implied within scripture, but that may not be evident to those whose job it is not to find it.

You know where to find individual traditions which are not obviously in scripture. Find one and inquire (here) as to how it is to be found in scripture. That will answer where it IS to be found in scripture, at least by implication, whether the Apostles taught it directly or indirectly, and how it is known to be a correct teaching of the Church.


you both seem to say to different things here, what is the Roman Catholic Churches offical teaching?


There are Teachings of the Apostles called Oral Apostolic Tradition or Sacred Tradition. These are the teachings “by word of mouth” which the Scriptures say were “held fast too” that were around before and during the writing of much of the New Testament. Not all of this teaching, just like not all of Jesus’ teaching is recorded explicitly in the Scriptures. Much is found in the Early Christian Writings and Liturgies of the Church.


That’s what I was trying to say. :o


Try the catechism.

From that you will get various references out to other documents.

Also, wander around in New Advent, or the CAF online encyclopedia.

Which “official teaching” are you refering to in your “what is it” question above? There are many teachings.


And it’s not “Churches”, but “Church’s”, as there’s only one Church.

Also, we’re not saying different things. Scripture DOES contain all traditions, but only the Church is assured of finding them.

Reading the Fathers can help with locating some of the reasoning of various traditions, and perhaps help in where to find them in scripture.

Most Church documents are very good at referencing their dogmatic statements about traditions back into scripture.


This person is unwise. Lets go out and find them a weak catholic and let this person beat them up mentally. Then what? Well this person can then define religion. So look at their achievement, they have taken God out of their game! So to win they must believe God follows them not them following God. Of course they will deny this, yet this is a two way street, we as catholics should not mentally beat up other religions for the same reasons.

that my 2 cents


How could there not be?

Let me ask you in reverse, if scripture was to be all there is why would Christ be so remiss to forget to write scripture?


I don’t see your point, God lead the Apostles to write scripture, before the Apostolic age ended so that we would have Apostolic teaching written down for future generations** because Apostle is not a transferable title**. Christ told them that the Holy Spirit would make them recall what was said so the words of Chirst (the Word of God) are written down.
My question really is can you prove to me that the early Church Fathers believed the same way Catholics of today do? I.e. Assumption of Mary.


Catholic Tradition is:

“…all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning 2 until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.” Acts 1:1-2

Jesus “… explained everything in private to his disciples.” Mark 4:34

And they chose faithful men who could teach others also to whom they imparted the Teaching of Jesus. This is why Catholicism is not considered “bible based”. Catholicism is based upon the teachings of Jesus that have come to us through the Apostles and those they appointed. Some of this Teaching is found in the NT, which is completely composed of Catholic Tradition.

We know the Apostles taught it because it is the same faith taught today as was practiced by the first Christians.


The title of Apostle was not transferable, but the ministry was. The Apostles appointed bishops to carry on the mission of Jesus.

I doubt is possible to “prove” this to you, since you probably do not accept any evidence outside the bible as “proof”.


My (rather lame but probably true) answer to your question is: No.

Without believing that an authority is an authority to do what only an authority is capable of doing, said authority will not be believed in doing what it is not authorized to do.

Why, or how, would you believe that the implied fact of Mother Mary’s assumption would be found in scripture by someone not authorized to find it?

Why is the Holy Trinity believed? Why this and not that?

We can make a case. We can plead that an authorized authority has spoken truth and is to be believed. We can’t prove true that which those who can’t be proven anything, anything true, unless they already believe it true for some other reason.


Here’s an example of a Tradition, which is not written in Scripture: the Gospel according to St. Mark, has authentic apostolic origin.

Here’s another: the Book of Daniel that is Divinely inspired is the longer version, not the truncated version proposed by Protestantism. There are many others, but you get the drift.


As for definition of “Tradition,” the Church has stated in Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, Tradition is:
"…apostolic preaching…expressed in a special way in the inspired books…preserved by an unending succession of preachers until the end of time… includes everything which contributes toward the holiness of life and increase in faith of the peoples of God; and so the Church, in her teaching, life and worship, perpetuates and hands on to all generations all that she herself is, all that she believes… flowing from the same divine wellspring, [Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture] in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end. For Sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit, while sacred tradition takes the word of God entrusted by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and hands it on to their successors in its full purity, so that led by the light of the Spirit of truth, they may in proclaiming it preserve this word of God faithfully, explain it, and make it more widely known. Consequently it is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence. [DV, 8-9]
Therefore, that which is Tradition is that apostolic preaching which had been taught always, everywhere, and by all either explicitly or implicity according to what has been handed on since the advent of Christ.

St. Matthew’s Gospel exhorts the faithful to “listen to the Church” (Matt 18:17). Why? Because the Church is the “pillar and foundation of truth” (1 Tim 3:15)

Said similarly, the 5th century theologian, St. Vincent de Lerins described Catholic Tradition as follows:
I have often then inquired earnestly and attentively of very many men eminent for sanctity and learning, how and by what sure and so to speak universal rule I may be able to distinguish the truth of Catholic faith from the falsehood of heretical pravity; and I have always, and in almost every instance, received an answer to this effect: That whether I or any one else should wish to detect the frauds and avoid the snares of heretics as they rise, and to continue sound and complete in the Catholic faith, we must, the Lord helping, fortify our own belief in two ways; first, by the authority of the Divine Law, and then, by the Tradition of the Catholic Church.

But here some one perhaps will ask, Since the canon of Scripture is complete, and sufficient of itself for everything, and more than sufficient, what need is there to join with it the authority of theChurch’s interpretation? For this reason,— because, owing to the depth of Holy Scripture, all do not accept it in one and the same sense, but one understands its words in one way, another in another; so that it seems to be capable of as manyinterpretations as there are interpreters. For Novatian expounds it one way, Sabellius another, Donatus another, Arius, …Pelagius, Celestius, another, lastly, Nestorius another. Therefore, it is very necessary, on account of so great intricacies of such various error, that the rule for the right understanding of the prophets and apostles should be framed in accordance with the standard of Ecclesiastical and Catholic interpretation.

Moreover, in the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense “Catholic,” which, as the name itself and the reason of the thing declare, comprehends all universally. This rule we shall observe if we follow universality, antiquity, consent. We shall follow universality if we confess that one faith to be true, which the whole Church throughout the world confesses note: in contrast to merely regional opinions]; antiquity, if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is manifest were notoriously held by our holy ancestors and fathers note: in contrast to that which is a merely a novel opinion having no basis in patristic thought]; consent, in like manner, if in antiquitywe adhere to the consentient definitionsand determinations of all, or at the least of****almost all priests and doctors. [St. Vincent de Lerins (d. ca. 450), [URL=“”]Commonitorium, ch. 2]


that is an assumption on your part, I will accept Historical evidence, if such evidence exist. and my question was regarding the particular dogma of the Roman Catholic Church today.
I don’t think this can be done because it seems that the early Church was far less dogmatic in what one had to believe in order to be a Chirstian.


Can you prove to me that that truncated Book of Daniel that the Protestants hold as inspired is the entire Book of Daniel held as inspired by the apostles? Every ancient Christian manuscript of Sacred Scripture testifies to the longer version of Daniel. Every one of them. So, while we don’t have “proof” in the scientific sense, we due have a “preponderance of evidence” which gives us certainty that Catholic (and Orthodox) Book of Daniel is the truly inspired version found in every Church of Christ prior to the advent of Protestantism.

So, while absolute proofs don’t exists in matter religious, we do have reason to believe, based upon the consistent and trustworthy testimony that has be given throughout every century since the advent of Christ.


the Holy Trinity can be proven from scripture.


Not according to Unitarians. Every man’s “proof” can be called another man’s “twisting” of Scripture. That’s why the authentic, apostolic “rule of faith” involves holding fast to Tradition, both oral or written.

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