Where does scripture state that Tradition will be protected?


#1

In the discussion about sola scriptura, I made a point a number of times that I feel was never addressed, so I want to give the Catholics here a chance to address it. It seems to me that there is nowhere in scripture that it is even implied that the Holy Spirit will supernaturally protect an Oral Tradition from error. Why is this a problem? It’s a problem because if scripture doesn’t guarantee that Oral Tradition will be protected from error, then the only thing left to make the claim that Tradition is protected from error is, of course, Tradition itself. If the primary sources of God’s Word for Catholics are Scripture and Tradition, then Scripture must be used to prove that Tradition is always protected, otherwise you get stuck in a big circular loop of logic, with Tradition being the only thing that proves Tradition.

So, I challenge the Catholics here to prove that an infallible Tradition is promised in scripture. I contest that it isn’t. Verses like 2 Thess 2:15 aren’t promises, they are commands, a completely different matter. Paul isn’t promising that the Thessalonians will hold onto his oral teachings, he tells them to hold onto them. There is no guarantee that they will. Considering how bad we humans are at following orders, it is a bad idea (IMHO) to assume that they did in fact hold onto those oral teachings over the course of 2000 years.

So please, show me a single verse that implies that an Oral Tradition will develop that is protected by the Holy Spirit. If you can’t, then clearly the only thing supporting the notion of an infallible Tradition would be Tradition itself.


#2

For that matter, where does it say that scripture will be protected? We don’t have any pages actually penned by the apostles, much less by Moses.


#3

Isa. 59:20 And there shall come a, redeemer to Sion, and to them that return from iniquity in Jacob, saith the Lord. 21 This is my covenant with them, saith the Lord: My spirit that is in thee, and my words that I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever.

Matt. 28:19 Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

John 14:25 These things have I spoken to you, abiding with you. 26 But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.


#4

Would you provide a scripture verse that defines the new testament i.e. tells me what books are inspired and to be included.
Would you provide a scripture verse that states everything we need to know about what Jesus taught will be written down and collected into a book called the new testament.

Thanks,
Mark


#5

"But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." John 14:26.

The Holy Spirit acts as the living memory of the Church, always assuring the integrity of Sacred Tradition.


#6

:yup:


#7

So please, show me a single verse that implies that an Oral Tradition will develop that is protected by the Holy Spirit. If you can’t, then clearly the only thing supporting the notion of an infallible Tradition would be Tradition itself.

Luke 10:16 “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

  • To preach Truth in such a personal way as to be heard as the voice of the Lord, clearly there must be divine protection.

John 16:8 And when he [the Counselor] comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 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. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

  • “Many things to say to you… you cannot bear them now…” This clearly speaks of a development of Tradition. You may be tempted to say that that which was revealed later was consigned to Scripture, but John conlcudes his gospel with the caveat that the world itself could not contain all the books necessary to carry out Jesus’ commission to teach all that He commanded. Therefore, it must speak of Tradition.

#8

Well as you know the Church which Christ established, gave his spirit to and gave authority to is where we get that notion. And being I assume a sola scriptura Christian you’d have to look at what scripture says:

1 Timothy 3:15
if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.


#9

You can take it from your Lord and Savior’s own mouth…
(Mat 16:18) And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
In this one sentance, Jesus establishes his Church, the authority of his earthly chancellor (Peter the first Pope), and proclaims his eternal protection of his church from error.

If you think the church errors in matters of faith and morals, you are calling Jesus, the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity, a liar. This would also makes you a heretic.


#10

cman << So, I challenge the Catholics here to prove that an infallible Tradition is promised in scripture. I contest that it isn’t. Verses like 2 Thess 2:15 aren’t promises, they are commands, a completely different matter. Paul isn’t promising that the Thessalonians will hold onto his oral teachings, he tells them to hold onto them. >>

There are two verses that are often used, one each from OT and NT. Your NT text is from 1 Cor 11:

verse 2: I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them on to you.
verse 23: For I received from the Lord what I also handed on [technical term for tradition] to you…
verse 34: …The other matters I shall set in order when I come.

Verse 2 says there are traditions that should be held fast to (a command). Verse 23ff says one of those is the Eucharist. Verse 34 says there are other matters of tradition that Paul will set in practice, and those shall be followed as well (a promise).

St. Thomas Aquinas on 1 Cor 11:34 –

“Human institutions observed in the Sacraments are not essential to the Sacrament, but belong to the solemnity which is added to the Sacraments in order to arouse devotion and reverence in the recipients. But those things that are essential to the Sacrament are instituted by Christ Himself, who is God and man. And though they are not all handed down by the Scriptures, yet the Church holds them from the intimate tradition of the Apostles, according to the saying of the Apostle : ‘THE REST I WILL SET IN ORDER WHEN I COME’ (1 Cor 11:34).” (ST Third Part, Question 64, Article 2 on “Whether the Sacraments are instituted by God alone?”)

F.F. Bruce, in his standard work on The Canon of Scripture (Intervarsity, 1988) :

“Some New Testament documents were evidently designed from the outset to be written compositions, NOT substitutes for the spoken word. But in the lifetime of the apostles and their colleagues THEIR SPOKEN WORDS AND THEIR WRITTEN WORDS WERE EQUALLY AUTHORITATIVE…The teaching and example of the Lord and his apostles, WHETHER CONVEYED BY WORD OF MOUTH OR IN WRITING, had axiomatic authority for [the earliest Christians]…” (page 118, 255, emphasis added).

Another important text is from the OT:

“And he [King Hezekiah] set the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king’s seer, and Nathan the prophet: for so was the commandment of the Lord by his prophets.” (2 Chron 29:25 KJV)

“He [King Hezekiah] stationed the Levites in the temple of the Lord with cymbals, harps and lyres in the way prescribed by David and Gad the king’s seer and Nathan the prophet; this was commanded by the Lord through his prophets.” (2 Chron 29:25 NIV)

What we can conclude from this text is this:

(1) First, David, Gad, and Nathan were dead about 250 years at this point;

(2) Yet, they passed on a “commandment of the Lord” which was prescribed by God’s prophets on how worship was to be conducted in the temple;

(3) That prescription and commandment of the Lord is nowhere found in the Old Testament Scriptures.

We have here a clear OT refutation of the Sola Scriptura principle. Other OT texts refer to the non-canonical written and non-inscripturated oral tradition of prophets and seers: 2 Chron 35:4; 9:29; 12:15; 33:18-19; 1 Sam 9:9; Isaiah 30:10; Jer 26:18; Zech 1:4-6; 7:7; 8:9; etc.

The “fallible” vs. “infallible” issue comes up when we talk about promises made to the Church and the apostles in general. That the Church’s leaders, bishops and successors would preserve the truth, the tradition, the “deposit of faith” whether oral or written (2 Thess 2:15; 1 Tim 6:20-21; 2 Tim 1:13-14; 2:2; etc ). More texts for such general promises are 1 Tim 3:15 (Church is pillar and ground of the truth); Matt 16:18f (gates of hell will not prevail against the Church); 28:18-20 (Jesus would be with his Church until the end); John 14:16f,26; 16:13f; (the Holy Spirit would guide the Church into truth forever), etc.

Phil P


#11

I’m glad this was the first response, since it basically nullifies cmancone’s question :slight_smile:

Jeremy


#12

Kinda like the thread where the guy said that religion (authority) wasn’t important, just spirituality and someone (maybe me) said, “Sez who?” :smiley:


#13

Yeah I’ll second the second post (post #2).

cman << there is nowhere in scripture that it is even implied that the Holy Spirit will supernaturally protect an Oral Tradition from error >>

The promises we have are that the truth in general will be protected from error (e.g. 1 Tim 3:15; Matt 16:18f; 28:18-20; John 14:16f,25; John 16:13f; 17:17,19; etc), and that the apostles and prophets spoke the truth, the Word of God (1 Cor 2:4,7,13; 1 Thess 2:13; Rom 9:1; 2 Tim 2:15), whether oral or written (2 Thess 2:15; 2 Peter 1:19-20).

There is no promise that a particular text will be supernaturally protected from error (in fact, some texts have been lost, for example the ending to the Gospel of Mark), nor that any specific oral tradition will be supernaturally protected, just that the truth or “the faith” in general once delivered (Jude 3, a technical term for tradition) to the saints will be protected (the promises of Jesus, etc), again whether oral or written.

Phil P


#14

Let me take this from another angle my friend in Christ…

If God encouraged oral traditon at the start with the knowledge of it quickly failing, what does that say about God? Not something good…

God could have sparked the “Reformation” in the 4th century instead of waiting approximately 1,500 years for His people to emerge out of some theological black hole (if Protestantism is true)…

Which reflects God’s nature better?

A. He established a visible Church with legitimate authority to govern His people and guide them into all truth, from start to finish.

-or-

B. God allowed His Church to walk in theological darkness for 1,500 years until true Christianity could emerge allowing all men to interpret the Bible for themselves, thus dividing His people into many segments who were bitterly hostile to one another.

To accept the pillars of Protestantism, reject sacred tradition, clear scriptural support that God established a legitimate authority, and to reject a belief which better reflects God’s nature (love, mercy, guidance…letter ‘A’) requires an extraordinary faith that I do not have.

God bless,
JB


#15

VociMike, MarkInOregon, and jemfinch:

I’d like to point out that not only have you not answered my question, but you’ve fallen back on a logical fallacy. Whether or not scripture has any verses claiming it is protected is completely moot to the question at hand, and disproving one does not disprove the other. Please, try to stay on topic.

Everyone else, thanks for the responses. I still don’t think any of these verses qualify, although some of them seem to come pretty close. The best response I think is this one:

Isaiah 59:21 “As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever,” says the LORD.

This one is probably the best, and I must say it certainly does imply a Tradition. I think the problem though is that this isn’t necessarily a prophecy for our time. Clearly, this is a prophecy about Jesus, but I think it applies to his second coming, not his first. Look a couple verses earlier:

18 According to what they have done,
so will he repay
wrath to his enemies
and retribution to his foes;
he will repay the islands their due.

This clearly isn’t Jesus the first time around, but it is certainly the second time around. So, I’m not sure if the verse in question actually applies to now. Just my thought. Even so, I would point out that one verse is too little to base a major doctrine on, and all there really is is this one verse. Here’s some more.

Matt. 28:19 Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

John 14:25 These things have I spoken to you, abiding with you. 26 But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.

These two have one common point, that I think is true for most of the other verses as well. This doesn’t actually make any mention of tradition, you are assuming that Jesus is speaking of an Oral Tradition, when no such thing is mentioned. I really think you are reading too much into these verses. For instance, in John 14:25 neither tradition nor scripture are mentioned. All it says is that the Holy Spirit will teach the Apostles what they need to know. It doesn’t tell them to pass down oral traditions, it doesn’t tell them to write those teachings down. It makes no mention of later generations. If anything, I would assume that the Holy Spirit will do the same thing for later generations as well, since the Holy Spirit will be with us forever. Certainly, nothing is mentioned about tradition.

Again in Matthew 28, no mention is made of how the teachings will be passed down. It’s completely open. All that is stated is that the Apostles will teach others. It doesn’t say that they will do it by word of mouth, it doesn’t say they will do it by writing, heck, they might even be passing down Jesus teaching through interpretive dance! All this verse says is Jesus commanding the Apostles to teach, it makes no mention of a divinely protected Tradition. That is an unjustified assumption.

To be continued…


#16

Cmancone–thanks for starting this thread–it’s precisely what I hoped for.

Someone has already asked if the Holy Spirit has promised to protect Scripture from error, which is a good question–and may have a surprising answer:

I would assert that the Holy Spirit equally protects Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium from error. However, of the three, it is actually Scripture that is most at risk of being lost to us.

Why? Because the protection of the Holy Spirit from error regarding Scripture extends ONLY to the original “autographa”–the texts actually penned or dictated by the NT writers. All of those are absolutely gone, and NONE of the copies are protected by the Holy Spirit.

Which is why I can ask you to tell me if Mark 15:28 is Scriptural, and there is no way for you to answer either yes or no. The manuscript evidence is inconclusive. If you believe “Sola Scriptura,” you will never be able to know whether that verse is divinely inspired…

However, if you believe “Sola Ecclesia” (so to speak), all you have to do is wait and see if the Magisterium ever finally decides the question…

Fascinating, isn’t it?

DJim

PS–I will have more to come regarding Tradition, but wanted to get this on the table right away…


#17

Sorry, I guess we just comprend the real topic better than you do. :wink: The topic at hand is clearly, how is God’s revelation protected from error. As a Protestant you probably limit that revelation to scripture. As Catholics we do not. But the essence of the question remains - how is God’s revelation protected from error in transmission (as opposed to error in interpretation - that’s another thread).

So I ask again, as a starting point: how do we know that scripture has been protected from error in transmission? It is a perfectly valid starting point because it is the one source of God’s revelation that both Catholics and Protestants agree on. So we should start by answering your question regarding that which we agree on, before we move onto that which we disagree on.


#18

Luke 10:16 “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

  • To preach Truth in such a personal way as to be heard as the voice of the Lord, clearly there must be divine protection.

John 16:8 And when he [the Counselor] comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 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. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

  • “Many things to say to you… you cannot bear them now…” This clearly speaks of a development of Tradition. You may be tempted to say that that which was revealed later was consigned to Scripture, but John conlcudes his gospel with the caveat that the world itself could not contain all the books necessary to carry out Jesus’ commission to teach all that He commanded. Therefore, it must speak of Tradition.

Again, these are all assumptions and reading into the text. Take Luke 10:16. First of all, you are assuming that this statement applies to people that came after Jesus. Why? There’s no reason to expect Jesus statements to apply to anyone else. Even if this did apply to later generations, it is equally reasonable to assume that this statement applies to anyone who is preaching Jesus message. In other words, if a person is preaching the Gospel, and the person they are preaching to rejects that message, then the person has rejected Jesus. It makes perfect sense, and it could still be wrong, because it’s an assumption, just like assuming that this implies divine protection.

  • “Many things to say to you… you cannot bear them now…” This clearly speaks of a development of Tradition.

Honestly, I don’t see how this is clear. Jesus is not saying that doctrine will develop over centuries (as the Catholic Church believes). More likely, I would assume that this means that the apostles would be able to bear it later in their lives. Since nothing is stated about when they will learn to accept these things, to take any stance is to make an assumption.

Finally, you have actually misquoted John 21:25
25Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

It is referring not to Jesus’ teachings, but to his ACTIONS, not his teachings. That is a very big difference. There’s no need for a Tradition to develop to pass down the record of all Jesus’ doings.


#19

Anyway, I’ve analyzed a bunch of verses, and sadly I don’t have time to go into all of them. My point is simple though, and my message was pretty much consistent throughout. Nowhere in the Scripture does any verse clearly state that an infallible tradition will develop, which will be protected by the Church. In every case so far, there has in fact been NO mention of oral tradition in the slightest, but the existence of oral tradition has been, in fact, read into scripture. Nowhere in the Bible does anyone say: “You will tell your followers what I told you, and they will tell their followers, and so on and so forth, divinely protected by the Holy Spirit.” That is neither stated nor implied, and any suggestions otherwise are completely the result of reading too much into scripture.


#20

I’d like to respond to you DJim, but I’d also like to keep this on topic and not get to side-tracked. We already have covered this ground rather thoroughly in the other thread, after all. Really the answer to your question is textual analysis. It answers all your objections, and if you are really curious, you should learn about. You can get started with these links:

carm.org/evidence/textualevidence.htm
carm.org/evidence/textualexample.htm

Really, there is absolutely no reason to doubt the Bible. I’d worry more about Tradition. Textual analysis let’s us verify that the Bible we read today is pretty much exactly what was written down. But there is no such method that can verify the oral traditions that were first passed down 2000 years ago. By it’s very nature, Oral Tradition is unverifiable. Doesn’t that worry you in the slightest?


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