Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Why do Catholics trust tradition over the Bible?

Catholics have some nerve, don’t they? They think that they can invent traditions and put them over the teachings in the Bible. They genuflect and make the sign of the cross and pray the Rosary even though those are not in the Bible! How do you dare do that?

We Catholics don’t think tradition is better than the Bible, we believe the Bible is part of tradition; but not the whole thing.

Catholic tradition is broken into two parts, written (Bible) and unwritten (not in the Bible but written in the Catechism or somewhere else most likely). The first tradition was the unwritten one. Yep, it came first. The unwritten tradition led to the selection of the books that now make up the New Testament. These books were picked specifically because they conformed to unwritten tradition.

Unwritten traditions have at least an indirect reference in the written tradition. For example, the Tradition that Mary was immaculately conceived (conceived without original sin) comes from the angel’s greeting to her “Hail, full of grace.” If she’s full of grace, can she have any sin? Gabriel didn’t say “Hail, 7/8 full of grace and 1/8 full of sin.” That would be what we call an awkward moment in Biblical history, I think.

The Bible doesn’t specifically say she was conceived without sin and never sinned while alive but it alludes to it.

Another Tradition is that Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven. This isn’t in there either, but the two prophets in Revelation 20 were. So was Elisha in 2 Kings 2. So other people were assumed and it doesn’t say Mary wasn’t assumed and since Tradition says that she was then what’s the problem?

Minor traditions like genuflecting can change from time to time. It’s common in the US but maybe not in another part of the world. Most often they’re just a sign of respect. We believe that the king of the universe is in the tabernacle at church and genuflecting before the king was a common practice in the Medieval ages so we just kinda’ keep it up. The Bible doesn’t say it’s bad so we’re not contradicting it.

In short, Catholics never choose tradition over the Bible. We always choose both, since the Bible is a Catholic tradition.


justjeb said...

Okay I as a christian don't fight catholic tradition's individually. I fight the whole view of tradition as something that saves you. I man can never be made holy be his actions.

Paul says not to observe special days. Arn't we just sarting lent and ash wed was yesterday

Galatians 4
8Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

OR when he says

Romans 1

16I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,[c] just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."[d]


Look at what Jesus had to say about traditions.

5So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, "Why don't your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with 'unclean' hands?"
6He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
" 'These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
7They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men.'[b] 8You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men."
9And he said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe[c] your own traditions! 10For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother,'[d] and, 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.'[e] 11But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban' (that is, a gift devoted to God), 12then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. 13Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that."

I don't want to come off as mean I just don't want to see someone stand before God and be told depart from me I never Knew you


Catholic Connection Team said...

Hi, justjeb,

Thanks for leaving your comments on our blog, we appreciate them.

Your arguments are very common among Protestants and are exactly the reason this site exists, to answer these questions.

First, please understand that the attacks you launch at the Church are aimed at fiction. The Church you accuse doesn't exist. The Catholic Church does not teach we are saved by our works or by observing tradition. Catholics believe, as I assume you do, that we are saved through the power of Jesus Christ The Bible passages you present fit perfectly into Catholic teaching because those passages were placed in the Bible by Catholic bishops in the fourth century; and they would not have selected writings not in keeping with Catholic oral tradition.

The reason I say the Church you attack doesn’t exist is that you most likely believe Catholics think we can earn salvation. You think we think that if we do enough good things, don’t do many bad things, and say some prayers then we get a free ticket to heaven. This simply isn’t a teaching of our Church.

Without the particular sacrifice of Jesus Christ no one would be able to go to heaven. Salvation comes exclusively through Jesus Christ; man is powerless to save himself. Yet we Catholics believe that we participate in our salvation. I think the word “participate” gets interpreted as “earn” but it does not mean that in the least.

Here’s an example of what I mean. Say a wealthy man offers every person in the world a new car. All they must do is fill out some paperwork and mail it to him. After this is complete, the new car will be delivered to their door. The new car comes from the wealthy man, I do nothing to deserve this car, nothing to earn it. It is a free gift. Guess what would happen? Many people would not have a new car. Why? Because they wouldn’t do the paperwork and send it in. They wouldn’t participate.

You wouldn’t have posted a comment on our blog if you thought all people were “saved” so we agree that some people will go to heaven and some will not. God loves all people equally, he wants us all in heaven. The difference between a “saved” person and a “lost sinner” is what? One accepted the offer and the other didn’t. One participated and the other didn’t.

James 2:24 says we are justified by works and not faith alone. Even the devil has faith, James says, so a person must act on that faith. They must accept it and work out their salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12).

Let me close with this: Who’s choice is it that a lost sinner is not saved? Is it God’s choice or the sinner’s? If it is God’s choice then you believe in a God who condemns people for no reason? If it is the sinner’s choice then doesn’t it stand to reason that sinner could choose salvation? This choice is what Catholics call participation. We don’t earn heaven, but we can’t sit on our hands and do nothing either.

Don’t you agree?


Catholic Connection Team

Anonymous said...

My question is-- Where is Catholic oral tradition written down?

Seems to me there should be a complete, specific list somewhere, and a history of the list over time. But I'm unable to find it.

Instead of such a list, I only find authors' extolling comments *about* the tradition.

Please advise. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

it is also fiction to say 4th century bishops 'Placed scripture in the bible' THIS IS WHAT CAUSES DIVISION, FOR A PARTICULAR SEGMENT OF FAITH TO CLAIM SUPERIORITY.IT IS A SIGN OF WEAKNESS AS PAUL SAID ,"I AM GLAD I DID NOT BAPTIZE ANY OF YOU". Let us boast of Christ crucified and the power of its knowledge.

dr said...

Your thinking that we participate in salvation, is missing some scripture. The point is we are so spiritually destitute, dead, that we see no need of "filling out the paper work to get the new car". In fact, we are deceived in thinking our current car is fine and precious and to be held on to ( even though it is a jallopy). "He who holds on to his life shall lose it". To say that we know we need a better car and it is wise to "fill out the paperwork" is to say say there is something good in us, when the bible says there is "nothing good in us". Some would say it is not your faith that saves you, nor is it your works, but it is Jesus that saves you. It is the Father who draws you, the Spirit that convicts you of sin, righteousness and judgement to come....... In short, you are too kind to human nature and too short on grace. The frustration will set in. The vanity of trying to be righteous, a participant, when indeed, they are still dead in their sin, seperated from the power of the gospel, which will only come to the Poor(even dead)in spirit.