Tradition versus Scripture
The Roman Catholic Church believes that the tradition of the church outweighs Scripture, when it comes to tradition the Roman Catholic Church contradicts Scripture, 2 Timothy 3:16 “all Scripture is God breathed and issues of teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness”
The Roman Catholic Church had made itself superior to the Bible because they would rather trust in tradition. This resulted in many practices that were in fact contradictory to the Bible.
One good argument states “the primary Catholic argument against Sola Scriptura is that the Bible does not explicitly teach Sola Scripture. Catholics argue that the Bible nowhere states that it is the only authoritative guide for faith and practice. While this is true, they fail to recognise a crucially important issue. We know the Bible is the word of God. The Bible declares itself to be God breathed, inherent, and authoritative. We also know that God does not change his mind or contradict himself. So, while the Bible itself may not explicitly argue for Sola Scriptura, it most definitely does not allow for traditions that contradict its message. Sola Scriptura is not as much of an argument against tradition as it is an argument against unbiblical, extra-biblical and/or anti-biblical doctrines. The only way to know for sure what God expects of us is to stay true to what we know He has revealed-the Bible. We can know, beyond a shadow of any doubt, that Scripture is true, authoritative, and reliable. The same cannot be said of tradition.”
This concept does not agree with Scripture; 2 Timothy 2:15 declares, “do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be shamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
Scripture is not based on availability because Scriptural Authority transcends all else and the Bible is God’s word and Authority over all of mankind. The problem with Rome is that it has many traditions that contradict scripture, however the Bible alone will always bring us back to God and will always speak the truth; John 1:14. God never contradicts himself, and always proves Himself to be dependable.
I have yet to see one example of where the Church of Rome can prove Papal Infallibility having held this tradition dogmatically only in the last 144 years. If we go back to the church fathers we know they often held contradictory beliefs but Rome seems only to pick the ones that agree with official doctrine.
In the book “Our Brief Against Rome” a question is asked, page 67 “is it true that the Roman Catholic Church professes an equal regard to the traditions of the church as to the holy Scriptures?”
Yes; for the Roman Church, has this conscience that her peculiar tenants could not be established from Scripture alone question, a search through the Council of Trent courses efficiency of tradition. These are the words of the Council:-
‘The Holy Synod, perceiving that this space and discipline are contained both in the written books and in Unwritten Traditions which have defended to was from Christ and his Apostles, receives an venerates, after the example of the Orthodox Fathers, with an equal affection and Pious reverence, both all the books of the old and new Testaments, likewise the traditions themselves, whether appertaining to faith or two morals, as if orally dictated from Christ and the Holy Spirit, and as preserved by continual succession to the church catholic. ‘
In this declaration of the Council of Trent and appeal is made to ‘the example of the Orthodox Fathers, ‘yet the most orthodox of them all, as Irenaeus, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Cyprian, or Jerusalem, Basil the Great, Athanasius, and Jerome all unite in declaring the sufficiency of Holy Scripture, and say in effect what Rome expresses so shortly and Pithily: ‘As we did not the things that are written, so the things that are not written we reject. ‘
In fact it was a Gnostic heresy, as we are informed by Iranaeus, that truth could not be discovered from the written word but required to be supplemented by written tradition.
I will merely give on this point quotations from two of the fathers mentioned above. Basil, in the fourth century, says: ‘it is manifest apostasy from the faith, and a clear proof of arrogance, even to disregard any of the teachings which are written or to introduce in argument any of the writings which are not written. ‘The things which are written, believe: the things which are not written, seek not after.’
Again, Athanasius says: ‘if ye are disciples of the Gospels, walk according to what is written. But, if ye choose to allege any of the matters beyond what is written, why do ye contend against others, who will never be persuaded either to hear or to speak a single syllable beyond God’s written word. ‘
But is not Tradition inconsistent with itself, and do not the fathers greatly differ in their interpretation of Scripture, as has already been shown in the case of the interpretation of Matt 16:18? “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
As regards the fundamental truths of the Christian religion, as, for example, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Atonement by His precious death, His glorious Resurrection, His Ascension into heaven, and His Coming again to judge the world, on all these vital points the church in all ages has spoken with no uncertain voice. ‘These things,’ in the famous words of Vincentius of Lerines (A.D. 450), ‘have been believed always, everywhere, and by all. ‘
These things are contained in the Scripture and may clearly be proved thereby, and we believe the not because of the Fathers, but because of the sure Word of God; yet we are glad to have our belief strengthened by the knowledge that the Fathers of the ancient Church believed these things as we do.”
But when we come to the special doctrines of Rome, as the supremacy of the Pope, Transubstantiation, the invocation of Angels and Saints, Purgatory, and the like, then we find that there is no such unanimity in the interpretation of the text on which the Roman Church relies, on the contrary, the widest differences prevail, the further we go back into antiquity, the greater is the difference between opinions and the language of the ancient writers in the modern authorities of Rome.
One of the great difficulties which Roman Catholic priests have to contend with is that they are required to subscribe to the creed of Pope Pius IV., Which asserts: ‘I admit holy Scripture according to that sense which has been and is held by holy mother Church, whose province it is to judge of the true sense and interpretation of Scripture; nor will I ever take or interpret them otherwise than according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.’
Yet many of them know full well, regarding particular Roman doctrines, that there is no such thing as a ‘unanimous consent of the Fathers,’ and the glaring contradiction between ascertained facts and the Creed which they are compelled to subscribe has been the means of opening the eyes of some to the other errors of Rome.
What you have to remember is that a Catholic would never accept this explanation because it is believed that the pontiff is the final authority on matters of dogma and doctrine and, as a rule, will never come to this conclusion as mentioned in the above quotation from “Our Brief Against Rome”.
The Roman Catholic will put this down to anti-Catholic propaganda without thinking it through rationally and will naturally want to come to a defence against the claims made against the Supreme Pontiff.
The Bible holds to a different understanding of tradition compared to the traditions explained by the papacy. The Bible’s view of tradition is based on Scripture alone, the Roman Catholic church’s view of Scripture is not based on the Bible rather is based on man’s authority over the Bible itself.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:15 “so then, stand fast and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word-of-mouth or by letter from us.” The Bible confirms that Scripture is tradition and not the traditions of the papacy, the church fathers or the system that is Roman Catholicism.
In the book “Modern Romanism Examined” it states P.101 “authority could be less reliable than the traditions received by the church of Rome. The Council of Trent decreed (session IV.): ‘Seeing clearly that this (saving) truth and (moral) discipline are contained in the written books and the unwritten traditions received by the Apostles from the mouth of Christ Himself or from the Apostles themselves, the Holy Ghost dictating, here come down even to us, transmitted as if it were from hand-to-hand; ‘”and again: “Every sort of doctrine which is to be delivered to the faithful is contained in the Word of God, which is divided into Scripture and tradition.” In face of such stupendous assertions, everyone is justified in asking for clear evidence. Where is this “tradition” to be found? Has it been recorded and registered by Rome?
Where is the digest and proof of it for the faithful to examine? How was it tested? How was it shown to be necessary? Everything about it is vague and uncertain, yet if given “from the mouth of Christ,” “the Holy Ghost dictating,” and a division or portion “contained in the Word of God” it ought to be as definite, limited, and demonstrate as that written Word of God which is called the Bible. Surely after so many centuries it ought to be published and accessible to all. But Rome gives no answer to such simple and importing queries. Sometimes she asserts that all is not recorded, accidentally wishing to retain a hidden margin for dogmas that may be unfolded in the future; sometimes she refers to the decrees of councils and the writings of the ancients, the compilation of which, by the Abbe Migne, called “The Catholic Tradition,” amounts to 220 thick volumes, and many of the works must also be added.
But what sets the Scripture?
USE AND DANGER OF TRADITION ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE.-The word “tradition” is used in two distinct applications in the New Testament: To signify the oral teaching given by the Apostles themselves to the Churches which they founded the sometimes equivalent to what would have be cold preaching in the present day.
The word is so used twice by St Paul: “keep the ordinances (“traditions in the Greeks”) as I delivered them to you” (1 cor. xi. 2) and “not after the tradition which they received of us” (2 Thess. iii. 6). The use here evidently refers to the ordering teaching of the apostle in his personal communications with his converts, differing in no sense from the letters which he wrote. It is to be remarked that we find no appeal from the Fathers to any unwritten words or teaching of St Paul, although he was always spoken of by them as “the Apostle.” The references to tradition (in the Romish usage) are always full of disparagement and warning. They refer to the popular belief amongst the Jews in our Lord’s time that Moses, under the inspiration of God, gave utterance on Mount Sinai to a large number of instructions and directions which were never written, but “handed down” orally from generation to generation. These were regarded as a second revelation; they grew in the transmission, as all oral traditions are wont to do, and deteriorated in the process by the same rule or tenancy, corrupting the religion of priests and people, and gradually superseding the written Word of God. This unwritten tradition Christ condemned: “why do you also transgress the command of God for your tradition?” and “you have made void the commandment of God for your tradition” (Matt. XV. 3-6, D.). St Paul warned the Colossians, “Beware least any man impose upon you by philosophy fallacy, according to the tradition of men, and not according to Christ” (Col ii. 8, D.); And St Peter give similar warning: “your vain conversation of the tradition of your fathers” (1 Peter i. 18, D.).
The two doctrines, of the Pharisees and of Rome, run on precisely parallel lines and have resulted in similar dangers. Both claim to have been revealed by God; both profess to have been transmitted from hand to hand; both have grown indefinitely; both have contradicted and largely superseded those scriptures which our blessed Lord alone endorsed as the Word of God. The only test of the truth contained in a tradition must be its agreement with the written Word, the Holy Ghost cannot deny Himself. St. Cyprian said truly, “tradition without truth is but the antiquity of error.”
Whenever I read the Bible I never ever read of the Apostles acting upon their own authority, they were acting upon the authority of the scriptures in the old Testament, the old Testament had revealed to us who Messiah would be and through this they knew it would be Jesus Christ because they saw, before their own eyes, the Scripture being fulfilled. Also, when Christ spoke, they knew by what authority He had spoken. So the Apostles never spoke with oral tradition alone.
“Our Brief Against Rome” p.67 “What the Catholic Church believes is low discipline and faith which are contained in the written books reflect upon the unwritten traditions of Christ and his Apostles, this cannot be so because the Scripture teaches as Christ said in Matthew 15:2-3 “why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the Elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” Jesus answered and said to them “why do you also transgress the commands of God because of your tradition?” The Bible doesn’t teach here that the traditions held by men that are supposedly passed from the Apostles to the Pope are equally valid to the traditions passed down by God himself through the written word found both in the old Testament and upon agreement with the new Testament which does not contradict itself. All the traditions in the Bible are based upon Scripture alone.”
Nowhere do we see anyone, when it comes to tradition, acting upon his own authority as the Roman Catholic Church does when it comes to the magisterium and the supreme pontiff.
It is explained in John 10:22 with the feast of the dedication (Chanukah). We do not see Jesus several rejecting this tradition simply because it was an actual historical event in Jewish history here the Bible does not make this tradition mandatory, if this was the case Jesus would have reacted because these events were meant to be enjoyed at the liberty of a person’s choice. This is not what the Roman Catholic Church is claiming. Here Rome is teaching that these traditions were handed down from the Apostles (some of these are found from Scripture) which commands are deemed necessary for your spiritual life.
Nowhere do we read in the Bible that such Jewish traditions are necessary for our spiritual life.
Our brief against Rome P. 67
It is seen after the example of the Orthodox fathers, with an equal affection and pious reverence, both all the books of the old and new Testaments, likewise the traditions themselves, whether appertaining to faith or to morals, as if orally dictated from Christ and the Holy Spirit, and as preserved by continual succession to the Catholic Church.
What the Catholic Church is saying here is that through Rome they received new revelations that are not written the Bible and it is not sufficient to rely on Scripture alone, that the Bible itself does not provide all that is needed to satisfy somebody’s faith and so faith was be defined solely by the ecclesiastical authority of the Pope alone.
In this declaration of the Council of Trent an appeal is made to ‘the example of the Orthodox fathers, ‘ yet the most Orthodox of them all, as Irenaeus, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Cyprian, Cyril, or Jerusalem, Basil the Great, Athanasius, and Jerome all unite in declaring the sufficiency of Holy Scripture and say in effect what Rome expresses so shortly and pithily: ‘as we deny not the things that are written, so the things that are not written we reject. ‘
In fact it was a Gnostic heresy, as we are informed by Irenaeus, that truth could not be discovered from the written word but required to be supplemented by written tradition.
This is quoted from the following passages from all the above fathers are quoted at once in Faber’s Facts and Assertions (S. P. C. K.).
Magne’s edition volume. 2. Section 226.
Our brief against Rome P. 70
But when we come to the special doctrines of Rome, as the supremacy of the Pope, the invocation of Angels and Saints, Purgatory, and the like, then we find there is no such unanimity in the interpretation of texts on which the Roman church relies. On the contrary, the widest differences prevail, the further we go back into antiquity, the greater the difference between the opinions and the language of the ancient writers in the modern authorities of Rome.
It is one of the great difficulties which Roman Catholic priests have to contend with that they are required to subscribe to the creed of Pope Pius IV., Which asserts: ‘I admit holy Scripture according to that sense which had been and is held by the holy mother church, whose province it is to judge of the true sense and interpretation of Scripture; nor will I ever take or interpret them otherwise then according to the unanimous consent of the fathers. ‘
Yet many of them know full well that as regards to particular Roman doctrines that there is no such thing as a ‘unanimous consent of the fathers,’ and the glaring contradiction between ascertained facts and the creed which they are compelled to subscribe has been the means of opening the ice of some to the other errors of Rome.
Prof Salmon tells us that of late years a French priest has, with instant labour, gathered together from books and manuscripts in all places and languages the mass of what may clearly be replaced called the Catholic tradition.
This reprints in capitals. What, then, is the size of his covenant compilation? ‘The Latin fathers formed two hundred and twenty-two thick volumes; the Greek, one hundred and eighty-seven.’ And to this, which is only the writings of the fathers, must be added the proceedings of the councils and decrees of the Pope.
Whether this enormous mass of tradition be compared with Rome sold rule of faith-the holy Bible- and it will be clearly seen on the what tremendous disadvantage the Roman Catholic, who desires to ascertain the truth, with Labour.
We know through reading about the history of the Reformation the book published by T.M.Lindsay states
it declared that in addition to the books of the holy Scripture, it “receives with an equal healing of piety and reverence the traditions, whether relating to faith or to morals, dedicated user orally by Christ or by the holy spirit, as preserved in the contentious succession within the Catholic Church.”
The practical effects of this declaration something entirely novel, was to assert that there was within the church an infallibility dreck mould of interpreting Scripture, and to give the ecclesiastical authorities (whoever they might be) the means of warding off any protest an attack based upon holy Scripture alone. The Council were careful to avoid stating he whether guardians of this dogmatic tradition, but in the end it led by easy trace steps to the decoration of Pope Pius IX. : Iosono la tradizione, and placed a decision of the Pope speaking ex cathedra on the level with the word of God.
It claimed that the Vulgate version contained the authoritative text of the holy Scripture. This was also new, and, moreover, in violent opposition to the best usages of the mediaeval church. It cast aside as worse than useless the whole scholarship of the renaissance is both within and outside the mediaeval church, and, on pretence of consecrating a text of holy Scripture, reduced it to the state of the mummy, lifeless and unfruitful. It asserted that every faithful believer must accept the sense of Scripture which the church teaches, that no one was to oppose the unanimous consensus of the fathers-and this without defining what the church is, or who the fathers are.
The whole trend of this decision was to place the authoritative exposition of the Scripture into the hands of the Pope, although at the time the Council worked the courage to say so.
It must not be supposed that these decisions were reached without a good deal of discussion. Some members of the Council would have preferred the Hebrew Canon.
Nacchianti, Bishop of Chioggia, protested against placing traditions on the same level as the Holy Scripture; some wish to distinguish between apostolic traditions and others; but the final decision of the Council was carried by a large majority. The most serious conflict of opinion, however, rose about the clause which declared that the Vulgate version was the only authoritative ones.
It was held that such a discussion entailed the prohibition of using traditions of the Scripture in the mother tongue. The Spanish bishops, in spite of the fact that translations of the scriptures into Spanish had once been commonly used and their use encouraged, would have had all Bible reading in the mother tongue prohibited.
Rome considered that ordinary people did not have the ability to understand holy Scripture and to avoid any misunderstandings or misinterpretations it was decided that only the priest had adequate and sufficient training to be qualified to show correct understanding of what the Bible teaches. For this reason it was prohibited for any individual to possess a copy of the Bible in the native tongue. Much of the attitude displayed from the time of the Reformation to today reminds me of that which was spoken concerning the scribes and Pharisees in the Bible.
The scribes and Pharisees were “qualified to correctly interpret Scriptures”. We know from the Bible that the Apostles were “unlearned and ignorant” (Not having formal qualifications and so demonstrates that the Scriptures alone is sufficient to teach an average Commoner who is not educated in theology.
If the Holy Spirit teaches all that is needed to know about God (as the Bible affirms) then we do not need a priest to explain to us theological aspects in great detail about what the Holy Scriptures teach concerning the Gospel. It is simple enough for anybody to understand how that Jesus Christ came and died on the cross for our salvation from sin. Thus on that basis alone it is sufficient to understand that through Christ alone we have salvation.
2 Corinthians 11:3 “but I fear, lest by any means, as a serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your mind should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. For such are false Apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the Apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an Angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
This particular Scripture fits perfectly when describing a Catholic priest, a Catholic bishop, a Catholic Cardinal or a Pope, these people are not ministers of righteousness but they are deceitful workers which will do nothing more than to give you another spirit as we read in the Bible even Satan himself transforms himself into an Angel light, who is really well versed and knowledgeable on how to twist Scripture in a very deceitful way. So we must never trust anybody who comes offering anything that goes against the plain teaching of the Bible in Hebrews 10 offering a sacrifice for sin without the shedding of blood. Based upon oral tradition, over the authority of Scripture, the Catholic Mass is payment made on behalf of the sinner without the offering of blood. Thus the Catholic Mass offers no redemption for sin.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 97 states sacred tradition and sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the word of God
Between Catholics and Protestant Evangelicals the argument is over authority. The Catholic Church argues that the interpretive authority is solely the responsibility of the magisterium, to a Protestant the Bible itself is its own authority and sufficient on its own. It is seen by Protestants as God’s Word, inspired by the Holy Spirit and so all men must come directly under its instruction and application.
Catholic Church sees this differently. As tradition is paramount to the Catholic faith and this authority is demonstrated by the Pope, it is believed that the responsibility that governs “the true church” was given through Peter. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus is seen speaking to Peter and from this it is argued that Peter is the head of Christ’s Church, and from this the Popes inherit the same authority. The Pope, then, has complete and total authority in everything, has complete autonomy and, thus is only answerable to God alone.
This idea has been passed down from generation to generation and is embedded into the minds of Catholics by indoctrination from a very young age.
It is unreasonable to reject all tradition, in this tradition has to be always in agreement and under the direction of scriptural authority. Accompanied tradition must never contradict sacred Scripture and so we must apply all things (whether by in word or in deed) to the authority of Scripture, we must never formulate any practice or teaching that is not in line with the Word of God.
Roman Catholics and Bible-based Protestant Evangelicals differ in their understanding and belief as to what Scripture teaches.
To the Evangelical scripture is the primary source and standard to which he/she is to be subordinate under the authority of Scripture. To the Catholic quite the opposite is true. For he/she the source of authority is that tradition which is always accompanied by Scripture.
Roman Catholicism by Boettener P.76
As Roman Catholicism works out in actual practice, the traditions of the church at any time are what the church says they are, Scripture means what the church says it means, and the people are permitted to read the Bible only in an approval version and within the limits of a pre-determined interpretation.
But when the Christian message is thus shackled by tradition and ecclesiastically dictated interpretation it ceases to be the free grace of God offered to repentant sinners, and becomes an instrument in the hands of the clergy for the control of the people.
In professing to interpret the Bible in the light of tradition, the Roman church in reality places tradition above the Bible, so that the Roman Catholic is governed, not by the Bible, not by the Bible and tradition, but by the church itself which sets up the tradition and says what it means. Theoretically, the Roman church accepts the Bible; but in practice it does not leave her members free to follow it. The errors that are found in her traditions obscure and nullify much of the truth that she professes to hold.
To cite but one example of what this means in actual practice, while the Roman Catholic Church, in profess allegiance to the Bible, must agree with the Protestant churches that there is “one mediator between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus” (I Tim. 2:5), she introduces a host of other mediators-the Virgin Mary, the priests, and hundreds of Saints and Angels-which effectively sets aside the truth contained in the Scripture statement.
We can agree with Rome on issues like modernism but the Bible is the word of God and that the Catholic Church rejects and denounces modernism but in reality is a more or less consistent denial of the supernatural.
What Rome does is nullify the word of God by placing oral tradition above scriptural authority because what it professes is that the Bible itself is not sufficient. The example they give is that the Apostles did not have the New Testament Scriptures written down and so they relied upon oral tradition and this is then shown by the Catholic Church as a reason to justify its own practices under the application of its own traditions. These may not agree with Scripture however we have seen that the Pope and the Magisterium claim equal authority to the Apostles themselves.
The Roman Catholic would have to reject the idea that the Word of God is inspired, and so cannot rely upon the direction of the Bible as a sole guide. Thus a priest is required to help them correctly interpret Scripture. Only the priest is qualified to give the correct understanding of what the Bible teaches. We know that this is not true, but the Catholic would rather trust in men than allow the Holy Spirit to teach them what is necessary to enable them to live faithfully for Christ.
Roman Catholicism by Boettner P.77
We must point out how Rome also nullifies or destroys the Word. She maintains alongside of the written word there is also an unwritten Word, an oral tradition, which was taught by Christ and the Apostles but which is not the Bible, which rather was handed down generation after generation by word-of-mouth. This unwritten Word of God, it is said, comes to expression in the pronouncements of the church councils and in Papal decrees. It takes precedence over the written word and interprets it. The Pope, as God’s personal representative on the Earth, can legislate for things additional to the Bible as new situations arise.
The Council of Trent, the most authoritative of all Roman councils and the one of greatest historical importance, in the year 1546, declared that the Word of God is contained both in the Bible and in tradition, that the two are of equal authority, and that it is the duty of every Christian to accord them equal veneration and respect.
The untrustworthiness of oral tradition, however, is apparent for several reasons in the first place the early Christians, who were closest to Christ and the Apostles, and whose testimony therefore would have been most valuable, wrote but very little because of the persecutions to which they were exposed. And what is found in the writings of the second and third centuries has put little referenced to the doctrines which at present are in dispute between Protestants and Roman Catholics.
Tradition, therefore, for hundreds of years allegedly was transmitted by mere report. And it is this which Rome receives as of equal authority with the written word. But so unreliable is report that it has become a proverb that “a story never loses in its carriage.” In other words, a story seldom retains its original character without addition an exaggeration.
Fortunately, we have a remarkable instance in the New Testament itself in which report or tradition circulated a falsehood, showing how easily oral tradition can become corrupted, how one particular instance it did become corrupted even in the apostolic age. In John 21:21-23 we read: “Peter therefore seeing him (John) saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, if I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me. This saying therefore went forth among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not to him, that he should not die; but, if I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?” Surely we cannot build a church in such an insecure foundation as oral tradition!
Furthermore, that the body of tradition is not of divine origin nor apostolic is proved by the fact that some traditions contradict others. The church fathers repeatedly contradict one another. When a Roman Catholic priest is ordained he solemnly vows to interpret the Scripture is only according to “the unanimous consent of the fathers.” But such “unanimous consent” is purely a myth. The fact is that they scarcely agree on any doctrine. They contradict each other, and even contradict themselves as they change their minds and the affirm what they previously had denied.
Augustine, the greatest of the fathers, in his late wife wrote a special book in which he set forth his retractions. Some of the fathers of the second century held that Christ would return shortly and that he would reign personally in Jerusalem for a thousand years. But two of the best-known scholars of the early church, Oregon (185-254), and Augustine (354-430), wrote against that view. The early fathers condemned the use of images in worship, while later ones approved such use. The early fathers almost unanimously advocated the reading and free use of the scriptures, while the later ones restricted such reading and use.
Gregory the great, Bishop of Rome and the greatest of the early bishops, denounced the assumption of the title of universal Bishop as anti-Christian. But later Popes even to the present day had been very insistent when using that and similar titles which assert universal authority. Where, then, is the universal tradition and unanimous consent of the fathers to papal doctrine?
The men who wrote the books of the Bible inspired by the Holy Spirit and so were preserved from error. But the traditions of the church fathers, the church councils, and the Pope’s are of a lower order and contain many errors and contradictions.
Bellarmine (1542-1621), a Jesuit and noted Roman Catholic writer, divides tradition into three classes: divine, apostolic, and ecclesiastical. Divine traditions are those which it is alleged Christ himself taught ordained, which were not written but were handed down generation after generation by word-of-mouth. Apostolic traditions are those which were taught by the Apostles but not written. And ecclesiastical traditions are those Council pronouncements and papal decrees which have accumulated through the centuries. We insist, however, that it would have been utterly impossible for those traditions to have been handed down with accuracy generation after generation by word-of-mouth and in an atmosphere dark with superstition and immorality such as characterised the entire church, laity and priesthood alike, though long periods of its history. And we assert there is no proof whatsoever that they were so transmitted. Clearly the bulk of those traditions originated with the monks during the Middle Ages.
When the leaders of the Reformation appealed to Scripture and thundered against the errors of the Roman church, that church had to defend herself. And since she could not do so from the Bible alone, she resorted to these other writings. The result is that the most prominent doctrines and practices of the Roman church, such as Purgatory, the priesthood, the mass, transubstantiation, prayers for the dead, indulgences, penance, worship of the Virgin Mary, and the use of images in worship, holy water, rosary beads, celibacy of priests and nuns, the papacy itself, and numerous others, are founded solely on tradition.
It is on such a basis as this that the Roman church seeks to establish herself as “the only true church.” But when the Roman Catholic layman searches his Bible the confirmation of the distinctive doctrines of his church, he finds either absolute silence were distinct negative. The Bible, for instance, has nothing to say about the Pope or the papacy as an institution; and it is emphatic and uncompromising in its commands against use of images or idols and worship. It is natural that the Roman church does not want to give up tradition. It cannot. If it were to give up tradition the whole system will fall to the ground, so much of its doctrine and practice has no other foundation.
Technically, the Roman church does not claim that the Pope received new revelations that he is inspired by the Holy Spirit as were the prophets and apostles when they wrote Scripture. In fact it denies that it formulates any new doctrines at all. Rather it insists that in ex cathedra pronouncements the Holy Spirit enables the Pope to draw out and proclaim what belonged to the original revelation. But it does claim a divine presence of the Holy Spirit in giving of ex cathedra pronouncements and the formation of traditions—which we would say is precisely same in principle as claiming inspiration. At any rate, by this device it professes to maintain the unchangeability of the church while in reality it adds new doctrines.
It is obvious how inaccessible the Roman rule of faith is. No priest has the rule of his faith, which he vows to accept at ordination, unless he has all these numerous and ponderous volumes. No one could possibly master such a mass of materials, even if they contained no contradictions. And such a rule of faith is utterly beyond the reach of laity.
The Roman Catholic Church prides itself on tradition through its long history and claims continuity. With the Bible what the translators gave us goes directly back to the original Greek and Hebrew scriptures, these manuscripts are older than the Latin Vulgate.
P.89 Roman Catholicism
Yet the priests told the people it is a mortal sin to read a Protestant Bible, and they destroy Protestant Bibles wherever possible, allegedly on the grounds that they contain error! In 1957 large stock of Bibles in Madrid, Spain, belonging to the British and foreign Bible Society was seized and burned. Yet as Protestants we would not dream of destroying Roman Catholic Bibles.
After all, the most distinctive features of the Roman Catholic religion come not from their Bibles but from their traditions.
The Question of Authority
We have said that the most controversial issue between Protestants and Roman Catholics is the question of authority—what is the final seat of authority in religion?–-And that Protestants hold that the Bible alone is the final rule of faith and practice, well Roman Catholics hold that it is the Bible and tradition as interpreted by the church. In actual practice the Roman church, since the infallibility decree of 1870, holds that the final seat of authority is the Pope speaking for the church.
But we need only read church history to discover that when another source of authority is placed alongside Scripture as of equal importance, Scripture eventually becomes regulated to the background. Whether that other source be reason, emotion, or tradition, the inevitable result is that it supplants Scripture and courses it gradually to fade away. If that other source be reason, we get rationalism. If it be emotion, we get mysticism. If it be tradition, we get ecclesiastical dictation over clericalism. In each case the Bible, while still given lip service, is effectually superseded.
At the time of the Protest Reformation Martin Luther took his stand solidly on the Bible and refuse to be moved unless it could be shown that his teaching was contrary to the Bible. Summoned to appear before the Diet of Worms to give an account of his beliefs, the closing words of his masterful address where: “here I take my stand; I can do no other; so help me, God.” The Roman Catholic Church at the time could not show that his teaching was contrary to the Bible, and his position was unassailable.
I do not personally endorse Martin Luther in everything he taught however Martin Luther was correct concerning matters of doctrine that everything must be judged by the Word of God and correctly applied, the Bible teaches in 2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. There are clear proof texts in the Bible that point to the Bible being, as God’s Word, the only authority over mankind and not by tradition alone, tradition must never supersede the Bible as mentioned earlier it must always coincide Scripture in principle.
The Bible shows that the Jews had a great body of tradition, in Jewish history accumulated over the centuries we read how they constantly added to the Word of God in the Old Testament and, that, through tradition put people in conflict with the Law of God, making the Law of no effect.
P.90 Roman Catholicism explains: But Jesus never mentioned tradition except to condemn it and to warn against it. He rebuked the Pharisees with these words: “Ye leave the commandment of God, and hold fast to the tradition of men…. Ye reject the command of God, that ye may keep your tradition… making void the word of God by your tradition “(Mark 7:8, 9, 13). “And he answered and said unto them, why do ye also transgress the command of God because of your tradition. . . . But in vain do they worship me, teaching as the doctrines the precepts of men”(Matt. 15:3, 6, 9).
Thus our Lord rebuked the Pharisees for doing precisely what the Church of Rome does today; substituting a body of human teachings and making them equal to or even superior to the Word of God. Early in the Old Testament Moses warned against the same danger: “Ye shall not add onto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish from it, that ye may keep the commandments of Jehovah your God which I command you” (Deut. 4: 2). Paul gave a clear warning against the use of tradition: “take heed least there shall be anyone that maketh spoil of you through his philosophy and vein deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, not after Christ” (Col. 2: 8). And John, in the final book of the New Testament, set forth the severest penalty for adding to or taking away from the Word of God: “I testify unto Everyman that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add onto them, God shall add onto him the plagues which are written in this book: and if any man shall take way the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life, out of the holy city, which are written in this book ” (Rev. 22:18-19).
In the Roman church of today we have a perfect illustration of the attitude which characterised the Pharisees and the scribes; the substitution of the Law of God with a body of human teachings made equal to or even superior to the Word of God. In Jesus’ day traditionalism had become so perverse and powerful that it finally crucified Him. Religion was so blinded by its own distortions of the Word of God that it took the cross to expose it and reveal the truth once more.
In a similar way the Church of Rome is following a set of traditions that she has accumulated through the centuries, which by her own pronouncements, has elevated to equal authority with, or even superiority over, the written word of God. Her purpose, of course, is to justify doctrines and practices which have no basis on Scripture, or which are in violation of Scriptural commands.
What this article demonstrates is that the Bible itself is the rule of faith; it is infallible because it is God’s Word, and so (by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) we find this itself is sufficient to teach us what we need to know about God.
What is Not found in the Bible is the tradition that is otherwise called, “extra biblical doctrines”. The Roman Catholic Church would have us believe that these oral traditions should not be rejected as through apostolic succession the Pope carries on the practice of oral tradition. Thus the Church of Rome has shown its complete rejection of the Scripture by denying its unique and sole authority.
There are clear scriptural texts where the Bible shows why we should not depend on oral tradition. In Matthew 4: 1-11 we read that Jesus was tempted three times by the devil and defeated by the very phrase Jesus used “It Is Written”! Jesus did not use oral tradition but shows that the only safe way to establish what God has said by is by using the written word.
I have yet to see Jesus ever using oral traditions in a positive way or encouraging the use of oral traditions but rather we read Jesus condemning it saying, “but in vain they do worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men!”
(Mark 7, 7-13.”)
We never see Jesus in practice relying upon oral traditions in order to answer questions people have; whether it was to trip Jesus up or genuine questions:
Luke 10:26 we read “what is written in the Law? What does it mean to you?”
Mark 12:24 Jesus said unto them, is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand Scriptures or the power God?
Matthew 22:29 but Jesus answered and said to them you are mistaken, not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God.
Luke 20:17 what then is this that is written?
John 5:39 search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life
Matthew 26:54 How then will the scriptures be fulfilled?
Here we see clear examples of Jesus use of Scripture but we do not see any indication that He used tradition to explain the things of God.
We have seen in the Bible how that Scripture was used to examine what was being taught. In the book of Acts chapter 17 and chapter 18 we find Scripture was used as the authority to examine if what was being taught, whether by tradition or by the application of teaching, lined up with Scripture or not. This is a clear demonstration of Scripture being the authority by which we test doctrine.
In 1 Corinthians 4:6 we are told expressly “so that you may learn not to exceed what is written!” The Bible teaches that the scriptures are easily understood by young children 2 Timothy 3: 15, Ephesians 3: 2-5, 2 Corinthians 1:13.
It may be argued that Tradition fills in the gaps where the Bible doesn’t speak, however the Bible is sufficient by itself and this this argument used by the Catholic Church is refuted by 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
God gave us ALL Scripture by inspiration as the written Word of God. It is clear from 2 Peter 1:20-21 where He says that He chose what words would be written in the scriptures by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Peter says that Scripture itself is not of private interpretation, the Apostles never interpret what God says they just wrote it down. As Peter said, “God spoke and the writers were moved by the Holy Spirit to write down the Word that God was saying as Scripture. It is my view and belief that when the Apostles studied the old Testament Scriptures through inspiration it was revealed to them who Messiah would be so that New Testament Scripture teaches what was already written in the Old Testament. Jesus Christ gives reference to this in John 5:39-47; “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. I receive not honour from men. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?”
As we see Jesus points out that the revealed word is clearly written in the Old Testament Scriptures because they were all written about Christ, the New Testament adds clarity to the position of the Old Testament which points us directly and solely to Christ as our only saviour.
If Jesus points out that the things that Moses wrote were about him, why is it so difficult to trust that the Bible alone is sufficient to teach us all there is to know about God?
Psalm 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
The Bible does not permit us to trust any teaching that does not agree with the written Word. The Bible has to be sufficient in itself. I would have to conclude that my faith and trust has to solely be in the text of the Scripture not the traditions of men.
If you are a Roman Catholic reading this you may want to reconsider your position concerning what is inferred and applied within the institution you call the Roman Catholic Church and establish your faith solely Jesus Christ alone.