Tradition and tradition


#1

Tradition and tradition, or how I find myself re-embracing Sola Scriptura. Shoot holes please but be nice.

Yee-haw.

Granted: there are things that the apostles wrote about that were being handed on orally at the time of the writing of the particular epistle (for Paul) or epistle and Gospel (for John).

Observations:

  1. There was a lot of “junk” in the air in the early church that the church spent centuries fighting, including gnosticism refuted by John in his Gospel and epistles, the material that wound up in the apocryphal gospels, the Judaizers, etc.

  2. The apostles taught what Jesus taught.

3.They did pass this knowledge on to the Church in the New Testament (no contest there between Catholics and Protestants!).

  1. They also passed this knowledge on to the Church orally(Tradition). Much of this, perhaps all, but perhaps not, made its way into the New Testament.

  2. They also may have said other things that were taken as part of that knowledge but weren’t (tradition).

  3. Other people said things that were definitely not part of Tradition (tradition).

  4. Both Tradition and tradition have been passed down to us.

  5. Both Tradition and tradition have developed doctrinally, and it is entirely possible they have been intermixed. When Tradition mixes with Tradition, it is still Tradition. But when Tradition mixes with tradition, it is tradition.

  6. Only on a limited number of occaisions has the Church definitely taken a stand on a limited number of issues as to what is Tradition and what is tradition.

  7. What the Catholic Church calls Tradition conceivably could be a mixture of Tradition and tradition. Some things simply have not been ruled on as to whether they are Tradition or tradition.

  8. Any extra-Scriptural statement, then, could be a mixture of Tradition and tradition.

  9. Therefore what the Catholic Church calls Tradition is unreliable - including its argumentation as to the reliability of Tradition.

  10. Scripture, however, is reliable and is not an admixture of Tradition and tradition.

  11. Therefore if something contradicts Scripture, it cannot be Tradition.

  12. Therefore Tradition must always be regarded as inferior to Scripture.


#2

Sounds good to me.

See if you can boil it down to 5 or 6 steps though…14 is a bit much. :wink:


#3

I’ve been toying with an idea. It’s not finished or tested. Tell me what you think.

Our constitution and our laws codify our system of government and how we will relate to it and to one another. With a handful of books someone could establish a democracy patterned after ours in another country.

But how do we explain the “American way of life” to someone from another country?

How do we describe what the “American spirit” is?

Can you capture in words why we tear up when the National Anthem is played at the Olympics? Or why we smile and nod our heads knowingly when looking at an old Norman Rockwell print?

What is this experience that we share in common?

How are these things transmitted from one generation to the next?


#4

St. Paul says that women should wear a veil. (1 Corinthians 11) Is this instruction, found in the Bible, a Tradition (an unchanging doctrine) or tradition (a custom that is dependent on time and place)? Thank God he also left us pastors and teachers (bishops) to sort these sorts of things out for us.


#5

There’s a bigger epistemological issue here, which is often overlooked:

*How do we know that this knowledge is handed over in the New Testament? Even more fundamentally, how *do we know what the “New Testament” is and assert that it is reliable, authoritative and binding?

Catholics identify, and adhere to, the New Testament because it is handed over *in *the Church. Apart from the Church, Catholics cannot even say, “New Testament” – the term itself signifies a reality that, the Church professes, is revealed by God.

Therefore, for Catholics, it is epistemological “suicide” to introduce a dichotomy between what the Church confesses to be the “Word of the Lord” and the transmission by which it is perpetuated in the Church as the “Word of the Lord”. In other words, cleaving Scripture from the Tradition of the Church makes Scripture unidentifiable.

We know what Scripture is – and that it is authoritative and binding – precisely because it has been “traditioned” as such in the Church. There is a sort of interpenetration between Scripture and the Church which is analogical to the mutual relationality of the Trinitiarian persons: we know who the Father is only because of the Son. Without the Son, the Father as Father would be unknowable. Similarly, for Catholics, the identification of Scripture is inseparable from the Church that “traditions” it.


#6

The stock Presbyterian answer is that we know it is the Scriptures because the Spirit of God tells each of us it is.

The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.[9] V. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture.[10] And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it does abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.

reformed.org/documents/wcf_with_proofs/

In contrast to the WCF the CC has

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]


 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 honoured with equal sentiments of devotion and    reverence."

I have no problem with 80, 81 and most of 82. The problem is that the Church has a hard time telling the difference between Tradition and tradition. I listened to the local heretic in charge of religious instruction in this parish poisoning the flock by telling them that Paul “supposedly” met Jesus - clearly denying the inspiration of the Scripture - and the priest stating that Luke “places” Acts 2 at Pentecost, as if Luke were writing a novel. He also regards the Gospel writers as in conflict with one another. All reverence for Scripture is stripped away under the guise of tradition masquerading as Tradition. The Church cannot be trusted to feed its people. Therefore you must go elsewhere - to the Scriptures, and directly to the Spirit of God.
For me, the Catholic Church has successfully vindicated Presbyterian theology in this area by its performance.


#7

He left us the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth. Heart attitude is more important than the veil. I’m not saying the Catholic Church has not done good work in this area, as well as many others. But nothing should trump what the Bible says. The Bible is sure, the Tradition is nebulous.


#8

The American way of life is continually tested in the Supreme Court against the best possible interpretation of the Constitution. Racial segregation, non-suffrage for women, and slavery are three issues that were once part of the American way of life. Careful examination of the Constitution determined that they shouldn’t be. “The American way of life” should not inform the Constitution. It should be the other way around.

Is it tradition or Tradition that the Magisterium will come up with the right answer every time? How do you know?


#9

Isn’t that problematic? A Latter Day Saint would make the same appeal about his belief about the Book of Mormon.

The problem is that the Church has a hard time telling the difference between Tradition and tradition. I listened to the local heretic in charge of religious instruction in this parish poisoning the flock by telling them that Paul “supposedly” met Jesus - clearly denying the inspiration of the Scripture - and the priest stating that Luke “places” Acts 2 at Pentecost, as if Luke were writing a novel. He also regards the Gospel writers as in conflict with one another. All reverence for Scripture is stripped away under the guise of tradition masquerading as Tradition. The Church cannot be trusted to feed its people.

Several observations:[LIST=1]
*]It isn’t clear how your example about the instructor illustrates how the Church “has a hard time telling the difference between Tradition and tradition”.
*]You would have to clarify whether the instructor asserted that his claims are in fact “Tradition”.[/LIST]

Therefore you must go elsewhere - to the Scriptures, and directly to the Spirit of God.

But that raises questions that haven’t been satisfactorily answered: how do we know what the “Scriptures” are, and how do we know it is indeed the Spirit speaking?


#10

Actually, you have just vindicated the Church.

A single priest or Director of Religious Education can be completely wrong about the types of things you just described.

This is exactly the problem that EVERY SINGLE PROTESTANT faces when he or she walks into the sanctuary on Sunday morning.

The pastor can say pretty much whatever he (or she) wants to say. My Methodist dad said the following to his pastor one Sunday morning:

“It’s your job to tell me what to think; it’s my job to decide if I believe you or not.”

That’s a pretty candid admission that he doesn’t really know if his pastor is telling him the truth or not. Moreover, his pastor doesn’t really know if what he is preaching is correct.

Personal interpretation and sola scriptura creates an every man for himself scenario.

And, no, there is no assurance that the Holy Spirit will lead every individual believer into “all truth”. If this were the case, there would be NO doctrinal disagreements among denominations since the Spirit would have taught each believer identically.

Instead, the Holy Spirit has lead the Church (and let’s be honest about which Church that is) into all truth. Catholics can hear the truth from the Church - even if they are not hearing it from their DRE or pastor.

It just takes a little more personal responsibility.

Hope this helps. :tiphat:


#11

Hi Truthstalker,

The fact is that Scripture is part of Tradition, that which was handed down to us by the apostles. Scripture is the part written down. This is very well explained in the docuklment of the Council called

  1. In His gracious goodness, God has seen to it that what He had revealed for the salvation of all nations would abide perpetually in its full integrity and be handed on to all generations. Therefore Christ the Lord in whom the full revelation of the supreme God is brought to completion (see Cor. 1:20; 3:13; 4:6), commissioned the Apostles to preach to all men that Gospel which is the source of all saving truth and moral teaching, (1) and to impart to them heavenly gifts. This Gospel had been promised in former times through the prophets, and Christ Himself had fulfilled it and promulgated it with His lips. This commission was faithfully fulfilled by the Apostles who, by their oral preaching, by example, and by observances handed on what they had received from the lips of Christ, from living with Him, and from what He did, or what they had learned through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The commission was fulfilled, too, by those Apostles and apostolic men who under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit committed the message of salvation to writing. (2)
    (…)

  2. And so the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, **was to be preserved by an unending succession of preachers until the end of time. Therefore the Apostles, handing on what they themselves had received, warn the faithful to hold fast to the traditions which they have learned either by word of mouth or by letter **(see 2 Thess. 2:15), and to fight in defense of the faith handed on once and for all (see Jude 1:3) (4) Now what was handed on by the Apostles 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.

  3. 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. (7)

You can find the full text at
ewtn.com/library/COUNCILS/v2revel.htm

Verbum


#12

Fundamentally, we trust God to save us - not ourselves, not our own wills, reason, strength or effort. That means we trust Him to speak to us and guide us. Otherwise we are up a creek. If He is not trustworthy then there is no hope.

Muslims and Mormons and others use this same argument. I would point to the historical and internal evidence, which is too much for this thread, as determining which is from God. Further, God uses signs and wonders in confirming His Word.

Ah, you will say, whipping out the old apologetic cue card, so Scripture rests on this evidence? No, it is a revelation from God and does not rest on man’s evidence. There is plenty of reason to believe the Bible is the Word of God aside from internal conviction. The Mormons are looking for Jewish genes among Amerinds and not finding much.

I find your argument more an attack on Scripture than a defence of Tradition.


#13

The instructor, speaking in the name of the church in his office as an instructor and charged with teaching Catholics what Catholicism is, mixes in his own ideas with Catholicism. The lay Catholic, I suppose, is supposed to sort through the instructor’s understanding of the Catechism, for example, and realize he is being lied to by the one the Church has placed over him to teach him? What he says is accepted as authoritative declarations of the Church. He is the expert, there to teach lay people what the Church believes. He is misleading Catholics into a false understanding of Catholicism. I suppose someone with a PhD in theology could sort it out. Poorly catechized Catholics eager to learn their faith are sheep in front of a wolf. He treaches out of a liberal tradition that is at odds with Tradition. Only he skillfully blends the two together.

We know it is the Spirit speaking, ultimately, as a matter of faith. We trust God to lead us into all truth.


#14

It helps a lot. Thanks for agreeing with me, Randy.:smiley: :wink:


#15

According to the Catechism there are two streams of revelation, making one deposit of faith. Scripture and Tradition are intertwined but distinct.


#16

#17

I don’t see how the second statement of yours is shown by your example. Just because your father didn’t believe him (or reserved the right not to believe him) doesn’t mean the pastor was wrong.

As for reserving the right to disbelieve – Paul writes (Galatians 1:8-9) that if even an angel from heaven should contradict the gospel Paul preached, the angel should not be listened to. Clearly, we must have the right to disbelieve if we are to stay true to the teachings of Christ.

Personal interpretation and sola scriptura creates an every man for himself scenario.

You’re suggesting, albeit covertly, that “sola scriptura” (I find it silly to use Latin phrases for this stuff shrug) necessitates that the truth is not absolute. Let’s look at it this way – even in the Catholic church, with the supposedly infallible magisterium, there are some who choose not to believe the truth (as the Catholic church defines it), right? Likewise, with a non-physical religious authority and interpreter (God), people can also choose not to believe. The truth is absolute – it’s only the people who change their minds. Still, I really see no way in which this applies more to non-Catholics.

And, no, there is no assurance that the Holy Spirit will lead every individual believer into “all truth”. If this were the case, there would be NO doctrinal disagreements among denominations since the Spirit would have taught each believer identically.

You’re missing one critical component – to be led, we must be open. The more open we are, the more leading God does. The problem is, most people aren’t all that open. For instance, can you say noone in the Catholic church lacks something from knowing “all truth”?

Instead, the Holy Spirit has lead the Church (and let’s be honest about which Church that is) into all truth. Catholics can hear the truth from the Church - even if they are not hearing it from their DRE or pastor.

So, the local religious authorities (priests) cannot be considered to be accurate, even in the supposedly infallible church?

Also, what do you think God meant when he said that the people of Israel would turn from him, and that he would estblish a new covenant…a covenant in which his words would be written on our hearts. This doesn’t seem to necessitate a Catholic teaching authority.


#18

No, this demonstrates that INDIVIDUALS in the Church are unworthy.

You seem to have decided since there are unworthy sinners within the Catholic Church, even in positions in authority who teach wrongly, that ALL the doctrine that is SUPPOSED to be taught is therefore wrong.

Go back to the basics.

If sola scriptura is true, where in scripture does it tell us that scripture trumps anything? Scripture would need to tell us this. Yet in fact this is not what scripture tells us but it tells us to look to the Church.

As a Protestant one certainly needs to test the scriptures carefully and see if the teaching of the Catholic Church contradict scripture. And as you know from being around here long enough, Catholics can show not only Scripture, but the writings of the ECF to show that their interpretation is correct.

So really what you are doing if you choose to reject the Catholic interpretation is not testing the teachings against scripture and finding the Catholic interpretation contradicts scripture, but choosing to believe your interpretation over the Catholic interpretation of scripture.

God Bless,
Maria


#19

The Pastor could teach 99% truth and 1% error.
The Devil will tell you a thousand truths, just to slip in one Lie.


#20

Are you sure this is an accurate assessment? To be sure, the Bible is the Word of God written, thus there is a certainty about it which in undeniable and steadfast. BUT, it still requires interpretation. Thus, we get into a quite a cloudy mess there as well. One can not stand on the Bible alone. . .or even the Bible primarily without some essential interaction with Tradition.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.