Are there extra-biblical Church traditions that Protestants will accept? Can even one be found?
In order to determine this fairly, we must evaluate each doctrine that is proposed as a candidate according to several criteria:
a) The doctrine in question is accepted by the Protestants to whom one is speaking
b) The doctrine is not stated in Scripture
c) The doctrine is not implied by Scripture
d) The doctrine has an extrabiblical history to which one can appeal as an alternative, extrascriptural basis
The following doctrines are proposed as those which meet all of the criteria above and are agreed to be binding upon the consciences of all believers:
The canon of the New Testament
Public revelation has ended
There are to be no more Apostles
If any one of these three doctrines meet the criteria above, then it has been proven that Protestants have accepted teaching that has come by a source other the Bible Alone; thus, sola scriptura is false.
I’m reading Mark Shea’s book By What Authority which addresses this subject. He gives three examples of doctrines (accepted by Evangelicals) that cannot be determined on the basis of Scripture alone. These doctrines are 1) the sanctity of human life (vs abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell manipulation), 2) monogamy (vs polygamy), 3) the Trinity (vs Arianism).
Mark also explores the canon of Scripture and how non-Catholics try to reconcile the canon without recognizing an authoritative, infallible Church. He shows the inconsistencies in their arguments and brings up a lot of interesting facts that I have never heard in any other apologetic books.
One interesting analogy he uses is of Scripture as light and Tradition as a lens. This is from p 100:
"I began to realize that the total pro-life paradosis (tradition) was Scripture and tradition together; distinct yet an organic unity like the head and the heart, the right hand and the left. The Scripture gave light, but a very scattered light on this most crucial of issues. The tradition acted like a lens bringing that dancing light into focus. Tradition without Scripture was a darkened lens without a light; but likewise, Scripture without tradition was, on this vital issue, a blurry, unfocused light without a lens.
In realizing this, I realized Evangelicals were no different from Catholics on this score. Like all Christians before us till the time of the Didache, we were not treating this tradition–the Tradition of Pro-life Interpretation–as a fallible human reading of Scripture. Rather we treated it as absolutely authoritative and therefore as revealed."
I got a warning on a Protestant online Board a few months ago because I stated that no where in the Bible does it specifically state that abortion is wrong.
The moderator told me that “yes, it does say this” and admonished me not to make untrue statements about the Word of God.
I guess it’s true that those Protestants know their Bible–I still can’t find those verses, and I’m a former Protestant. Maybe becoming Catholic has made me ignorant of the Scriptures. If any Protestants can point me to those verses specifically forbidding abortion, I would appreciate it!
This question of course depends on the specific person you speak to, but traditions such as pipe organ music isn’t found in the Bible. Music is found in the Bible, but not the pipe organ specifically as pipe organs weren’t around back then. Yet many Protestant services include traditional organ music. If anyone in their local church attempts to change that, such change might meet with heavy resistance from some members. Music style can split apart local churches almost as if it were a doctrinal issue.
Crossing yourself. Already done in many Anglican and Lutheran circles.
Also, this is a bit off topic but related in a way…one area of convergence from the Catholic side would be to allow on a general basis married clergy in the Latin Rite. No doctrinal problems, it’s already allowed on an exceptional basis and in the Eastern Rite Churches. It’s also the norm in the the Orthodox and Protestant Churches. So, it is an example of something not doctrinally required in which the Catholics are actually counter-norm.
The CC teaches that priestly celibacy is a discipline, not a doctrine. That’s why there are Catholic priests who are married, even in the Latin rite. Will it change universally, for all Catholic priests any time soon? Don’t count on it.
Maybe from a modern perspective Catholics seem to be “counter-norm” regarding priestly celibacy. Historically, though, priestly celibacy is the norm and married clergy is not.
That’s my point, it is a discipline subject to change, not a doctrine that cannot be compromised. As such, it is an area where the Catholic Church could accomodate Protestant (and, for that matter, Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox) sensibilities if there were ever to be a serious possibility of reunification.
It also is a discipline which has waxed and waned throughout history, including from the very beginning. See 1 Corinthians 9 where Paul writes “Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? Or is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living?”
I believe the Campbell-Stone churches (Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ) prohibited the use of instrumental music in their worship services because they couldn’t find any Biblical support to use musical instruments.
Some are changing and I’ve heard others are seeing some of this in their churches so I was thinking of the things maybe that are converging, as we don’t kneel so much anymore.
Isn’t it strange how we are growing closer together but the EAstern and or Orthodox and the Latin are going further away.
We have two choirs contemp and trad but they have seperate mass but they switch some off and own, one guitar, the music tends to dominate anyways even during the communion. In the beginning of the mass the priest goes around and sprinkles holy water during Rain Down music. Father is generous with the water!
I’ve heard some Protestants, particularly Church of Christ and Baptists, claim that the exercise of charismatic gifts ceased with the death of the original apostles, but I’ve never seen any Biblical support for this notion.