Yet another scripture vs. tradition aspect


#1

I hope you all can bear still another sola scriptura topic. I was listening to an archive of the CA show where Jim Burnham got into a debate with a well studied protestant (Mike was his name I think). Frankly, Mr. Burnham fared quite poorly as he brought up the typical passages we use to show the role of the church and tradition. The guest seemed to have a deeper answer to Jim’s points. Anyway, before I get off track, I got to thinking about the whole argument and something struck me. When Catholics appeal to scripture passages to support the authority of the Church, doesn’t it seem we rely of scripture first? I mean, the church is the pillar and foundation - but how do we know? Because the **bible **says so! It would seem we are at an apologetic disadvantage here unless we can go outside the bible for proof of the church’s authority. Can we do that?

LT


#2

Who chose the books of the bible. There’s your authority outside of Scripture! I always wonder about protestants and there view of infalibility. If you can’t say that the men who sat down and chose the books of the bible aren’t infalible, then you can’t say THIS IS THE WORD OF GOD. If they are falible in their declaration of the books then you have to say, I THINK THIS IS THE WORD OF GOD. If you chose the first one ( THIS IS THE WORD OF GOD) then when it comes to interpreting that word. I sure am going to listen to that church that gave me the books in the first place, no matter what I say the word says.


#3

That is a very good point! I am not sure if I have ever really thought about that. I do a good bit of posting on this EXTREME anti-Catholic site called “Rapture Ready” and there are very few of us Catholics over there if anyone wanted to help out…

Take care and God bless!


#4

That’s a very good point, thanks. I am sure there are rebuttals from the S.S. camp that go into this premise more deeply, but I think it is probably better to approach the S.S. issue from this perspective. I think that using scripture alone to refute scripture alone cedes ground that need not be ceded.

LT


#5

That’s a very good point, and one I’ve had a problem with for years. If the church defines scripture (what it is, what it means, etc), then the church itself is not subject to scripture (logically). And if that’s logically true, then we cannot appeal to scripture for a confirmation of Catholic ideals. However, as there is no source of establishment of the church (in any form) outide of scripture, this puts one in quite a bind.

And how do you know that church is right? Aside from having faith in it, what objective proof do you have that the Catholic church did a good job in selecting the canon?


#6

ltravis-

The Bible was written by the early Church and reflects the thinking of not only these believers but obviously of God who inspired them. Therefore, it would be correct to say that both God and the first Christians understood that the Church is the “pillar and bullwark” of the truth as the scriptures remind us.

However, keep in mind that much of the apologetics work being done in this forum is focused on non-Catholic Christians who will accept little that is not from the Bible. Consequently, arguments made from scripture are more readily received - even if they are not the best arguments that could be made.

We are limited by their weakness not our own.

Hope this helps. :tiphat:


#7

Agreed. i have found however that an occasional dose of the Chruch Fathers helps out a lot. i think it is important to point out to them that views they hold are fairly new and are not supported by nearly any Chrisitan who went before them for the first 1500 years or so of the Churchs existence.


#8

At the time of the early church, the word “church” (ecclesia) didn’t have the meaning the Roman church ascribes to it today. It was written by the ealy “called out followers” of Jesus.

Therefore, it would be correct to say that both God and the first Christians understood that the Church is the “pillar and bullwark” of the truth as the scriptures remind us.

And where does scripture give “the church” such a high station?

However, keep in mind that much of the apologetics work being done in this forum is focused on non-Catholic Christians who will accept little that is not from the Bible. Consequently, arguments made from scripture are more readily received - even if they are not the best arguments that could be made.

Perhaps, but I’d prefer an argument from a non biblical source, with compelling logic to back it up, rather than the typical “take a half dozen out of context verses from scripture and add a smattering of rhetoric” approach that many (and possibly even most) Catholics use.

We are limited by their weakness not our own.

I wouldn’t be so sure. The problem I’ve seen with most Catholic arguments is that they are circular. If you believe in the authority of the church, you believe they can establish doctrine and interpret scripture…and you know the church is “the one true church of Jesus” because the interpretation you choose says so…and so on. Just come up with clear arguments that are straightforward, rather than circular.

Why do Catholics always act like there was absolutely no other Christian church until the reformation? A reformation usually bases its ideals on “going back to the truth” when they believe their organization has drifted from that. To go back to the truth, there has to have been a truth to go back to.


#9

The Bible does call the church the support and pillar of the truth.

I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.
(1 Timothy 3:14-15)

However, as you pointed out, it involves a circular argument to use that as a basis for establishing the church’s authority.

Why must you accept the church’s authority? Because the Bible tells us that the church is the support and pillar of truth and that the gates of Hades will never prevail against it.

Why should we except the authority of the Bible? Because the Church tells us too?

There is nothing independently verifiable and infallible outside of Scripture that confirms the Churches authority. The only fallback position is we know from Tradition. But the Church is the only place we can learn the Tradition, so this again is a bootstrap argument.

I find it odd that whenever a Protestant cites church fathers to show that the idea of scripture being sufficient we are accused of taking it out of context. However the church fathers are not infallible and are quoted not for the truth of what they say but to
show that the ideas are not new. As the church fathers are often contradictory, depending on the purpose for which they are writing, supporting statements from them can be found for many things. The Catholic argument again comes down to this is what the church fathers mean because this is what the Church tells us they mean.


#10

There have been multiple churches from earliest times. While they certainly were not Protestant, they show that the Catholic Church was not the only Church for the first 1500 years. Examples that have survived are the Coptic Church, the Ethiopian Church, the Assyrian Church, the Jacobite Church and the Armenian Church.


#11

No, we know that the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth, because it was established by Christ to be so, and has endured for 2000 years at his promise.

We appeal to scripture because it is our book–a book written by Catholics, for Catholics. Jesus commanded the Church to preach the Gospel; he did not command anyone to write. Nevertheless, members of the Church did write, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Church selected the writings which were to be included as inspired, and it uses those scriptures, which are in fact a part of the Apostolic Tradition.


#12

We need to use the authority that the other side will accept.
Yes, the Word of God comes in two forms, but to use Sacred Tradition correctly AS the Word of God would not carry the same weight with a Protestant who does not have the same understanding. (Oppositely and similarly, just as to use Sacred Scripture correctly AS the Word of God would not carry the same weight with a mormon, for example, since the Bible isn’t the only book for them.)

In all cases, God’s Word must be used exactly as God intends it to be used. It’s HIS Word. Is Christ being preached the way He wishes to be preached?

We appeal to Scripture because it is the Word of God. They understand that too, not as we do though, always remember that. We don’t view the Bible the same way.
And may God bless all who truly want to give their hearts to Christ; no matter the cost. May we all sell what we have to find the pearl of great price.


And maybe if there is someone reading this who is dicerning the Priesthood, maybe he realizes that God is asking him to buy the pearl. Greater love has no man than this; that he lay down his life for his friends.


#13

That is not true can -the geneiesis of the Mass and the hierachy of the Church are evidnet going back to the fist century.What we dont see is anything even remotely resembling todays proetstant Church’s

And where does scripture give “the church” such a high station?

Since Christ and his Church are oneand the same you asking where does Scripture give Christ primacy The answer is self evident .

. In addtion one only need read the Chruch fathers and the writing of the earliest Chrisitians to see that they did not see any difference whatsoever between Chrisitianity and the Chuch. Can you find any widespread disgreement of the primacy of the Church prior to the reformation?

Perhaps, but I’d prefer an argument from a non biblical source, with compelling logic to back it up, rather than the typical “take a half dozen out of context verses from scripture and add a smattering of rhetoric” approach that many (and possibly even most) Catholics use.

And you have yet to provide any sources to prove that anyone prior to reformation who embraced core Protestant Doctrines or that anyone really did not beleive in the Primacy of the Catholic Church.

I

wouldn’t be so sure. The problem I’ve seen with most Catholic arguments is that they are circular. If you believe in the authority of the church, you believe they can establish doctrine and interpret scripture…and you know the church is “the one true church of Jesus” because the interpretation you choose says so…and so on. Just come up with clear arguments that are straightforward, rather than circular.

There is nothing circualr about pointing out the the fact the doctirnes and teachngs of the Catholic Church were accepted by nearly all Chrisians for the first 1500 years after Christs death… Absent some record of wiedesrpaed disagreement with the Church prior to the reformation you have to explain why God waited 1500 years to reveal the truth.

Why do Catholics always act like there was absolutely no other Christian church until the reformation? A reformation usually bases its ideals on “going back to the truth” when they believe their organization has drifted from that. To go back to the truth, there has to have been a truth to go back to

.

Becuase with the exception of a few heretical groups (none of which embraced anything even remotely simialr to the core doctrines of protestanism ) there werent any.


#14

Al of the Churchs you mention(which represent a very small minority of Christians) embraced most Catholic Doctrines. The differnces were regional and usually revolved around dispute about the power of the Pope-not any beleisf or Doctrine of the Church Surely you are not suggesting that any of these small Churchs were precursors to Protestanism???


#15

Because there weren’t! There was just the one Church. It was called the ecclesia because it was universal.

Sure there were some heresies that arose–Ebionites, Pelagians, etc–and it was up to the one Church to deal with them. They are now historical footnotes. And the Orthodox split came a thousand years later, but they did not question Catholic doctrine, only the primacy of the Pope.

One can always hope. It would be an interesting historical exercise to try to find the points of theological agreement between the 21st century denominations and the apostolic deposit of Faith which has been taught from the beginning.


#16

I disagree entirely with the assertion that the arguments for the authority and position of the Church are circular.

We have to start somewhere when it comes to our beliefs and that includes what we believe concerning scripture and the authority of the Church.

So where do we start? We start with Jesus himself. Either we believe that Jesus is who claims to be or we do not. Once we accept Jesus as true God and true man,we then accept “everything” that he said and did as the truth. We not only accept it as the truth, but we embrace it as having the full weight and force, and imprint of God himself.

Jesus established one Church and he gave that Church authority and power. Scripture is a written witness to what Jesus said and did. Scripture is a written witness to what was given to the Church. The Church does not depend upon scripture for its authority. The Church depends upon Jesus for its authority. Scripture is simply the universally accepted, inerrant witness to those truths.

There is nothing circular about all of this unless you think the premise of accepting Jesus as the son of God is somehow circular.

I hope this helps.


#17

Okay, so let’s establish the first two premises…

  1. Belief in a loving God who is interested in our lives, faith based
  2. Belief in Jesus as God, faith based

Now we can logically conclude that…

  1. What Jesus said is truth

Following so far?

Jesus established one Church and he gave that Church authority and power.

Where you say “Church”, you obviously mean the Roman Catholic Church, and thus we’ll come back to this.

Scripture is a written witness to what Jesus said and did.

Point 4…

  1. Scripture tells us what Jesus said, and thus we know what to believe and do

The Church does not depend upon scripture for its authority. The Church depends upon Jesus for its authority. Scripture is simply the universally accepted, inerrant witness to those truths.

Point 5…

  1. Scripture states that the Roman Catholic Church is the one true church – therefore we know this was Jesus’ intent, and should follow it

Whoops. The problem here, is he didn’t say anything about the Roman church.

There is nothing circular about all of this unless you think the premise of accepting Jesus as the son of God is somehow circular.

No – the circular part is this…

Because scripture doesn’t clearly and unequivocally say anything about the Roman Catholic Church in relation to the other churches that claim an unbroken Apostolic Succession from Peter for their leadership, we have no real way of knowing that Jesus was referring to the Roman church.

To get around this, we have to interpret scripture in a particular way, or the church of Rome loses all its authority. For instance, if Matthew 16:18 had been written in an unambiguous way that clearly showed that Peter himself was not the rock, where would Rome be now? As it stands, most of the evidence the Roman church uses is ambiguous, so we establish the premises here…

  1. The Roman Catholic Church asserts that a particular interpretation of scripture is accurate, and by this interpretation, we believe that Jesus established “one true church”.

  2. The Roman Catholic Church (falsely) asserts that it is the church spoken of by Jesus, on the grounds that it has a lineage of popes stretching back to Peter.


#18

Oh I see-since Scripture doesnt say “Roman” Church it cant be true!? Nealry every Christian from the Pentecost on acknowledged the Catholic Church as the Chuch Christ founded. Only 1500 years later do we see new improved interperations of Scripture-these interperations even said everyone gets to have their own pesonal opinion of what scripture says and all are equally valid(except for those that support the primacy of the Church that is)

. No matter how you parse it you are left with the fatal flaw of a 1500 year gap before there was any widespread disagreement with the primacy and the teachings of the Church So one one hand you worship a perfect God and the other hand your God couldnt even get his Chuch straight for 1500 years


#19

It’s like this. Catholics are not finding that knowlege out of the Bible then making it Doctrine as protestants do. We are merely seeking it out withing the context of the Bibles to either strenghten our faith or defend against the sola Scriptura believers who ONLY want the proof from the Bible. The Church fully admits that both Scritpure and Tradition go hand in hand.


#20

PC Master,

You are confused about scriptural witness and this is why you have a misunderstanding that leads you to the idea that the proof is circular. Please keep in mind that scripture is the written witness. It is not the actual authority granted to the Church by Jesus. This is the crucial element to remember. History is, as another poster has pointed out, another form of written witness to the position and identity of the Church.

Jesus established only one church as witnessed by Matthew 16:18. The Church Jesus established is the one true Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church. The original Church is the Catholic Church. The term “Catholic” was first used by Ignatius of Antioch. Ignatius was ordained by the apostle John, and as a young boy he probably knew the apostle Paul. Ignatius was martyred sometime between 98 and 117 AD. Please note that Catholic history continues unabated to this day.

Nowhere can you find Protestantism in any of its forms until the Reformation. The Catholic Church survived, however, attacks from many quarters including Donatism, Gnosticism, Arianism, Islam and many other heresies prior to the Reformation. Unless, you want to claim one of the early heresies as the one true Church, you have no choice but to admit that the Catholic Church is the Church established by Christ.

The correct understandings/interpretations of scripture are those intended and handed down by the the apostles. These understandings/interpretations are preserved by the Church in her teachings and doctrines. Modern deviations from these have no support by way of the historical evidence or by way of proper exegesis of scripture. None of this is circular.


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