**2Thess 2:15

15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings[c] we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.**

I’d like to hear what non-Catholics think Paul is referring to here and if Catholics have any thoughts I’s love to hear them as well. Thank you in advance

As a Catholic, I use this verse quite a lot on my non-Catholic friends. Right after I point out that sola scriptura is nowhere in scripture.

Then I tell tell them what the pillar and bulwark of truth is according to the bible. (1 Tim 3:15?)

Usually the response I get is …

Silence. :slight_smile:

Paul is regarded by Baha’is as a leading figure in the early Christian church…We don’t ourselves refer to Paul a great deal but accept the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the Bible. So there’s no problem with the citation as given above…

Here are some references to Paul in the Baha’i Writings and sayings of Abdul-Baha:

**In his scriptural lesson this morning the revered doctor read a verse from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.”
(Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 9)

Saint Paul, the great Apostle, said: "We all, with open face beholding as in a mirror the glory of God, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord."

(Abdu'l-Baha, Abdu'l-Baha in London, p. 24)

In the Epistle to the Romans Saint Paul hath written: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God.” And further: “For he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” He saith that the appearance of the kings, and their majesty and power are of God.

(Baha'u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 91)

Hi ignatius777,
Here are my thoughts for whatever they are worth. When I am finished, you and others can proceed to tell me why my point of view is a load of horse hockey if you wish.

My inclination is to give more weight to Scripture and less to Tradition, although I don’t discount Tradition altogether.

Here’s why.
The written Word is documented in black and white and can be authenticated, for the most part, like the letters of the Apostles like Paul, Peter, and John. The early church knew these letters and circulated them among each other, or at least that is my understanding.

On the other hand, whatever is passed down thru word of mouth (Tradition) can be more easily misunderstood or altered because it was never written down in the first place.

For example, I remember my freshman year in college when my English professor whispered a very short story to a student. That student was then told to whisper it to the next student, and that person to the next and so on until it made the rounds through about 10-15 people.

When it reached the last person, that person was asked to recite the story out loud. By the time the last person recited the story that was passed on, the professor could only find a few faint similarities to the original story and some of the most important details were missing or were different than what was originally stated.

Couldn’t the same be true for word of mouth teaching in Tradition unless it was directly from someone like the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians, for example? In those cases, the information was documented for posterity and to avoid the kind of thing I described above.

I happen to believe that God allowed the most important things He wanted us to know to be written in holy scriptures. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other valuable things outside of scripture that could be passed on through Tradition, but I believe that God wanted to ensure that the most important teachings of Christ and the apostles were passed on to His followers by written Word (holy Scripture).

With that said, I also believe that with God’s help and inspiration, anything is possible so I leave out the possibility that Tradition could’ve been passed on from disciples to the early church unaltered, because all things are possible with God and we shouldn’t limit what he is capable of doing.

What a Load of Horse Hockey!~:D
Well written and informative point of view for me as a Catholic to understand how tradition fits into the picture for non Catholics


Hi Mary,
I am a fan of the old MASH TV show and I remember Col Potter used to use that term and I got a kick out of it so I use it too, sometimes.

I am open to the Catholic point of view, which is why I occasionally read threads, create my own, and hang out on CAF and express my thoughts, also. I have learned a thing or two and will continue to learn more, I’m sure.

Hi Tommy,

One thing I would say is that the “pass it on” example is a good paradigm in the real world, but if one believes in the Holy Spirit being with the Church always who will guide us into all truth, then this daily life example doesn’t really apply, it seems.

The written word is well document in black and white, true. But we Catholics believe that the Catechism of the Catholic Church, for example, encapsulates the sacred deposit of Faith in regards to faith and morals. We do not say it’s divinely inspired, but we esteem it higly and the orthodox Catholic would say it does not contain error as much of it is either based upon either the Chruch’s interpretation of scripture for the life of man or the sacred Traditions that have been handed down from the apostles.

I think your perspective is valuable though, and I’m glad you shared it. My friend just moves on to the next topic when I bring up this verse. :wink:

God Bless.

Thank you for the response and its not horse hockey but you seem to have missed one part of my question, what oral traditions is Paul referring to? I understand your concern about error of oral teaching but Paul is telling them to follow his oral teaching in spite of that possibility. How do you explain that?

2Thess 2:15

15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings[c] we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

Hi ignatius777,
First of all, a shout out to you and JamalChristophr and MaryT777 for not hammering me too badly in your replies. Sometimes I am reluctant to answer certain posts that interest me because I feel like the topic as well as my answer is like some sort of “chum” that attracts certain sharks of the Catholic persuasion to have a feeding frenzy. Thank you for not doing that and for being respectful.

My answer to your question is pure speculation because none of us were there with the Apostle Paul to know what was passed on by word of mouth by him and his closest co-missionaries to the church at Thessalonica.

However, I cannot assume that the things that Paul passed on to them by word of mouth were necessarily different things than what he wrote to them. Can you?

He could’ve just expounded more on the same teachings and concepts that were in his letters to the Thessalonians or explained Christ’s teachings and truths in different ways that applied more to them and their specific situation. In other words, he didn’t necessarily teach them different critical truths that were not also in his letters – but like I said I wasn’t there so what I am saying is pure speculation.

I truly don’t feel it is my place to have to explain or defend why the apostles didn’t write everything down that they taught early believers to whom they brought the gospel.

However, I believe God loved mankind so much that He went out of His way to ensure that He inspired men to write down the most important things He wanted us to know in holy scripture so all later generations could follow too.

That doesn’t mean that I totally discount Tradition, though, but it must have its basis in Holy Scripture and not contradict it in any way.

You’re welcome. I know the feeling about feeding frenzies as I have been on other supposed “Christian” sites and the affect that a catholic has on them is like a shark after chum so I appreciate a discussion with reasonable people.

Well Paul makes a point to remind the readers of this letter to hold fast tot the things he taught orally. To add that is to leave open the question of what specifically he was taking about. It creates unnecessary ambiguity if all he as talking about was in writing. I think its reasonable to assume the day to day operations of the earliest days of the church were not documented in the bible. Any other practices and traditions were handed down in some other way be it orally or in extra biblical writings.

I agree and respect your view, Ignatuis777. It is reasonable (in my opinion) that day to day operations and things that only pertained to that group of believers that weren’t pertinent to everyone else would not be mentioned in the Bible.

When I was in college, I spent a year in Spain to better learn Spanish because I had a major in Spanish. I knew how to read and write it but could not speak it worth a lick and wanted badly to improve. I had the option of being with a family who knew English or one that didn’t speak English.

I specifically chose one that did not know any English so I could force myself to learn and to immerse myself and learn from those who actually spoke it all the time. I figured it would benefit me more and be a more authentic experience to learn from those who actually spoke and lived it on a full time basis than those who didn’t.

Likewise, I don’t belong to any other Christian sites besides CAF nor have I ever viewed them. I don’t know any of their website names to save my life.

I found about CAF thru a local Catholic radio station and figured I could best learn about Catholicism from those who regularly practice it than from others who do not, much like I did when I went to Spain to learn Spanish. However, I apologize on behalf of those folks on those other Christian sites because rudeness is not profitable and is never a good Christian witness, in my opinion.

Ok, since most of the entire world at the time was illiterate at the time of Christianity’s birth and that books were a rarity, not to mention that the canon of the bible will not be set for 100-300 years later, and taking into account that the apostles did not carry a bible around with them to quote from, please explain John 16:12-13

12 “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come”.

That said how do you explain that without the Catholic Church’s teaching authority, we would not know with certainty which purported books of Scripture are authentic?

If the Church revealed to us the canon of Scripture, it can also reveal to us the “canon of Tradition” by establishing which traditions have been passed down from the apostles.

After all, Christ promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church (Matt. 16:18) and the New Testament itself declares the Church to be “the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15).

Sacred Tradition should not be confused with mere traditions of men, which are more commonly called customs or disciplines. Jesus sometimes condemned customs or disciplines, but only if they were contrary to God’s commands (Mark 7:8). He never condemned sacred Tradition, and he didn’t even condemn all human tradition.

Sacred Tradition and the Bible are not different or competing revelations. They are two ways that the Church hands on the gospel. Apostolic teachings such as the Trinity, infant baptism, the inerrancy of the Bible, purgatory, and Mary’s perpetual virginity have been most clearly taught through Tradition, although they are also implicitly present in (and not contrary to) the Bible. The Bible itself tells us to hold fast to Tradition, whether it comes to us in written or oral form (2 Thess. 2:15, 1 Cor. 11:2).

Sacred Tradition should not be confused with customs and disciplines, such as the rosary, priestly celibacy, and not eating meat on Fridays in Lent. These are good and helpful things, but they are not doctrines. Sacred Tradition preserves doctrines first taught by Jesus to the apostles and later passed down to us through the apostles’ successors, the bishops.

(Taken from sources here at CAF)

Well said

I used to love playing “Telephone”…I whisper something in your ear and you repeat it to another and so on and so on. Until the last person repeats out loud what was said and it was NOTHING like the original. Still a fun game I might add.:smiley:

Only problem is. In that culture and time, oral transmission of history and information was the normal way of getting information out. I, while a student listened to a missionary who spent time in the middle east and he told us that the game of “Telephone” does not work there. The last person will repeat what the original person said. Because reading is quite a modern thing, having a good memory and being able to repeat information accurately was vital.

Though some could read during the time of Saint Paul, that was the exception rather then the rule.

First, Paul doesn’t tell us what those traditions are.

Second, as a Lutheran, I have no problem with traditions, so for me the verse poses no problem.

As a newcomer here, thanks for the forum.

I spent about 15 hours in a vehicle this week listening to Catholic radio in Texas. I really enjoyed the discussions.

I am not a Catholic. I was baptised in the Catholic church as an infant. My Dad was Catholic, my mother, Presbyterian. I spent a ton of time growing up with my Dad’s family, who would tell you they were devoutly Catholic. What that meant to them was faithfully attending Mass, raising four boys in Catholic School, and posting crucifixes and pictures of Mary and the Pope on their walls. They never taught me anything about faith or morality. However, they spent every opportunity-- a daily one-- demeaning my father and mother and uncles and aunts, cursing wildly, abusing other members of the family, and telling me I was doomed because of my father, and that they were saved and we were not unless I reverted to the Catholic Church.

I attended many Catholic masses as a child. In college, I explored becoming Catholic but could not reconcile certain traditions of which I still have found no meaningful basis in scripture. One of my professors was a lay pastor at the Catholic Church, and he welcomed me peacefully and instructively; never with condemnation. I learned from him and others that my experience with my family was not uncommon.

I believe, from my experience, that any Christian religion can get in the way of truth. I have seen it in the Baptist church. The Methodist church. My Catholic grandfather died being probably the meanest, most evil and abusive men I ever knew. My Presbyterian grandfather was just like a different version-- caught up in religion without any faith in the Truth. My father’s life was plagued by his parents, when he left the Catholic church after a priest told him his sin of paying for my aunt’s abortion, compounded by him marrying a non-Catholic, was unforgiveable. To me, the Catholic tradition was wielded and used as a hammer. It ruined many lives in my family. Now, the once proud Catholic family is splintered and broken. There was no grace for the non-Catholic in my long experience. And the divide-- among professing Christians-- was non-sensical to me.

I see and understand, having had the benefit of knowing some dear friends through the years who are probably more representative of the true Catholic tradition than my family, that much of the traditions Catholics hold to are the same as mine as a non-Catholic. I am under no delusions that the evil perpetrated by my family was of Catholic teaching. However, it has made me skeptical of organized religion and tradition. And I’m not alone. Many, many folks I talk to have been raised in a dogmatic Christian tradition, Catholic or otherwise, that left them feeling knowledgeable about ritual and rule, and inept on forgiveness, grace, and the life of Christ. It ended up leaving them empty. Coming to know Christ, however, outside of the tradition has been life-changing. For some, tradition is meaningful and helpful. To others, it rips off scabs of mistrust, abuse, and evil.

Presently, I host a small group in my home, and surprisingly, almost everyone there has a similar story-- maybe four Catholic and four Protestant. I attend a church focused on meeting those people hurt by their church, or having no historical basis in church. That is a lot of people in America, because churches, Catholic and Protestant fail to teach what is in actually in the Bible. I’m not saying every church. But the fact is, church and tradition has failed people over and over. My story is not unique. It is common. Christ does not let us down, though. He broke tradition; He didn’t just re-compute the rules. The veil is torn. Religion to me, and tradition exclusive of Scripture, holds too many variable risks of men’s interpretation becoming dogma. That is the history of every church, every denomination. Even the Catholic Church has spent the better part of 2000 years reformatting its dogma, rules, and teachings. St. Thomas Aquinas would not agree with all of Catholic church teaching today (I am just finishing a reading of Summa Theologica, where the Catholic editors felt compelled to explain his adherence to the teaching of the day versus present-day teaching).

In my own wrestling with being told I was “outside the one true church,” and perhaps subject to some unique cruel judgement because I wasn’t allowed to take Communion, I found so many Catholic traditions that seemed like answers to questions that maybe we could never really know. And if a church, Catholic or Protestant, teaches answers to questions based on tradition, and not Scripture, I just can’t buy in. I’m OK to not know everything. I know Christ. I know Scripture. I trust Him for the answers unknown. And now, I am OK with not having all the answers. I believe religion has done to Christianity what Jesus railed against in Judaism: it misses the Ultimate for adherence to traditions of men. Religion though, is attractive even to me, because I like checklists and tangible progress. Faith is tough and unnatural. Total faith in Christ, though, in my experience, is not religious or traditional at all. Faith is paramount; religion, secondary or even unnecessary. I think the truest form of total faith in Christ would be exclusive of organized religion. Jesus certainly blew a hole in the religion of 2000 years ago, that to me, mirrors today’s organized, institutionalized religion. I prefer to trust in what has been done by Christ, not what I may or may not be able to accomplish on my own.

All that to say I believe religion, and tradition, can blind us from the truth of Christ.

Thanks for the forum, and God Bless!

Thanks for sharing your story. Some thoughts …

It’s really sin that brings about evil, not organized religion itself.

I’m curious: How do you define “tradition”? Are you aware that the Bible does speak of tradition in both a positive and negative way? In other words, according to Scripture, there is bad tradition and good tradition.

Religion to me, and tradition exclusive of Scripture, holds too many variable risks of men’s interpretation becoming dogma.

From the boldfaced part in your words, would it be right for me to conclude that you are against any tradition that cannot be found in the Bible?

I believe religion has done to Christianity what Jesus railed against in Judaism: it misses the Ultimate for adherence to traditions of men. Religion though, is attractive even to me, because I like checklists and tangible progress. Faith is tough and unnatural. Total faith in Christ, though, in my experience, is not religious or traditional at all. Faith is paramount; religion, secondary or even unnecessary. I think the truest form of total faith in Christ would be exclusive of organized religion. Jesus certainly blew a hole in the religion of 2000 years ago, that to me, mirrors today’s organized, institutionalized religion.

Well, the Bible says He fulfilled that religion, but I know of nowhere where it says that He “blew a hole” in it, which I take to mean destroying it or doing away with it.

That’s why I’m here, too, Tommy - for the “horse hockey” from all sides! (Nah, just kidding there) No, seriously, I have learned and continue to learn about all faith traditions. I appreciate these threads where people respect each other’s thoughts without taking offense.

Blessings, all!!


Welcome to CAF, Ben. Thanks for sharing your story - it was very clear and although I sense your frustration with your family, I heard love. I was blessed without that type of conflict but in a family not directly involved in any church tradition. My mom was the person who planted the seeds of faith in each of us and 5 out of 7 children regularly attend a variety of churches.

I pray that you continue in your seeking of Christ!

Welcome again and God bless!


benburkhart #16
I believe religion, and tradition, can blind us from the truth of Christ.

That is because you do not know the one and only Christ who mandated clearly:
All four promises to Peter alone:
“You are Peter and on this rock I will build My Church.” (Mt 16:18)
“The gates of hell will not prevail against it.”(Mt 16:18)
“I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven." (Mt 16:19)
“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.” (Mt 16:19) [Later, also to the Twelve].

**Sole authority: **
“Strengthen your brethren.” (Lk 22:32)
“Feed My sheep.”(Jn 21:17).

Christ’s Church, and no other, is the Catholic Church, with the fullness of His Truth, which is why no other sect or religion has what Christ taught.

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