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.