Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Catholicism is full of man made traditions...

Has anyone ever heard this one before? Has anyone ever been guilty of accusing the Catholic Church of this? What does this really mean anyways? It is like the word tradition is inheritently something evil and should be avoided. A prooftexter may use the Matt 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13 as evidence that Jesus is rebuking all human traditions. That is clearly not what Jesus is doing. Jesus is rebuking the people for making their traditions more important than following God's commandments. We are never to elevate our traditions to the same level or above the commandments of God.

According to Scripture, tradition is something that is to be treasured and passed on through the faith.

So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us. (2 Thess 2:15).

This is the Holy Spirit, talking through St. Paul encouraging the people there to hold onto the traditions that they were taught by the Apostles, and the elders who the Apostles placed in charge. (Having the discussion about what he meant by word of mouth or by letter, could be a topic for another post). Evidently, we are called to keep the traditions / teachings that were given to us, and hold on to them.

So what then are the real man-made traditions that we are to stay away from? They are the traditions that attempt to supress the commandments and teachings of God. If someone were to approach you and tell you that the way to salvation is through reading the Bible from the beginning to the end, how would you respond? Would you believe him? What if someone were to tell you that the way to be saved is by running a New York marathon, barefoot, with your clothes on inside-out, would you believe him? Of course you wouldn't.

You wouldn't believe them because it is a completely new teaching that is contrary to the teachings that we received by word of mouth or letter. They are completely new and foreign concepts that someone has just plucked out of thin air. Who in the world would base their entire salvation on a doctrine that someone just made up? A doctrine that has no precedence in the history of Christianity; a completely new concept that was invented by some sinner, nowhere to be found over the 2000 years of Christianity. That would be crazy, right? Yet this is exactly the place where most of us Christians have found ourselves today.

Nowhere in the 1500 years of the history of Christianity has there ever been a claim of Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide. Jesus didn't preach it, the Apostles didn't say that he did. Martin Luther, a sinner, came up with that idea. Just plucked it out of thin air. Five hundred years after Martin Luther, many Christians find themselves basing salvation on a completely (relatively new) foreign concept. There is nowhere in the Bible that says the Bible alone is the sole authority of the faith. There is nowhere in the Bible that says Faith alone is all you need for salvation. They were invented ideas in order to accomplish exactly what it has done. That is to confuse the people and split the Church - which is the Body of Christ. Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide are the man made traditions that Jesus warned us about. These are traditions that have elevated themselves to the level of God's commandments.

Now, with all of this said, do I think that Protestants are going to hell? Of course not. That is not something that I believe and that is not something that the Catholic Church believe. I am just trying to put into perspective that Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura are not a part of the teachings of Christ and the Apostles. It is a new concept that is only 500 years old.

God bless...

17 comments:

Owen said...

It's iconic at best isn't it. When this former protestant found that neither of the two legs supporting my belief system are supported by sacred scripture I knew I was in trouble. Thankfully the Church was there to help me take the fall.

- - -
Art | Faith | Souls

Carlus Henry said...

It is funny how people come to the faith differently. I assumed that Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura was supported by the Scriptures. It was only later, after the beginning of my journey to Catholicism, did I learn that those beliefs are not suppported - neither scripturally nor historically.

God Bless...

Christa Blackman said...

I really like your explanation of this, Carlus. And, think of how all the cultures of the world try to preserve their beautiful traditions. How much more so should we do this with our faith and the traditions Christ gave us!

Carlus Henry said...

Christa,

Out of all of the posts that I have done thus far, this was definitely my most challenging. I was not sure if I should post it or not.

Thanks for your kind words. It affirms that I made the right decision to post it.

God Bless...

Anonymous said...

What does Eph 2:8-9 say then, if not we ar saved by the grace of God THROUGH FAITH and NOT of works (read anything man adds to faith).

Dan

Carlus Henry said...

Anonymous Dan...

God bless you and thank you for commenting.

This verse from Ephesians is a common one that is used in order to support faith alone without works, however, notice that no where in the verse does it say faith alone.

More than that, notice what is said in verse 10.

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
(Ephesians 2:10)

So let's take a look at all of the verses within the context. St. Paul is telling us that we are saved through faith and not by works but then he mentions that there is work that is meant for us to complete. Is he contradicting himself? No. The works that does not save are the works of the Mosaic Law.

You have to remember what was going on at this time during the Early Church. Gentiles, who were never admitted as part of the Jewish Salvation plan, were now able to come to Jesus Christ, and through Him attain salvation. At the same time you had all of these Jewish people who were turning to Christ, yet they felt that the Gentiles needed to be cicumcised, and follow the Mosaic Law as well. These are the types of works that do not save. This is the works that Paul is talking about when he says that we are not saved by works that we do so that no man can boast.

The works that we are supposed to do are the ones that God set forth before us to complete.

God bless...and I look forward to hearing from you again.

Nachtegall said...

Carlus,

Appreciate your explanation regarding this passage. Many times this issue becomes framed in a context of faith OR works. When left with seemingly contrary passages it's good to remember that God isn't always teaching "either/or," but oftentimes "both/and."

In the world of "either/or" it becomes a contradiction to say a child is born both of his parents and God, yet as Christians we see how both can be true.

If God so chooses to use man in the very process of his creation, why not in his salvation as well?

Anonymous said...

There is a problem.

There is a great deal of legwork necessary to go from 2 Thess 2:15 to saying that the current traditions are the same thing. Asserting this necessitates an a priori that they are the same thing. But your presentation lacks any good reason for a presuppositive a priori.

The much bigger problem with your logic is this: You are citing The Bible to argue against Sola Scriptura and to argue for the accumulation of extra biblical traditions.

That is an unfalsifiable argument.

Jason

Owen said...

Jason's good attempt at reason is none the less in error in referring to newer traditions.

The traditions being spoken of are not new but ancient and are the same as those that the author of 2 Thessalonians speaks to, namely those traditions being lived out by the early Church the same Church that gave us the New Testament in its written form - which would come only after.

But the so called bigger argument is not big and is not a problem at all.

Rather than being unfalsifiable it is the hight of sound reason to cite sacred scripture to show the unsupportable and much newer concept of sola scriptura as the Church has always taught what scripture teaches. And what does sacred scripture and the Church teach? 2 Timothy 3:16 (and the book context of same) and not only this passage but let's highlight it as it is a passage every protestant believes they know like the back of their hand.

It clearly states "All" scripture not scripture only. So it is natural and reasonable to cite all scripture for correction and reproof of the non biblical notion such as scripture "only" which is no where supported by the bible, not even in a proof text.

Returning to the idea of new traditions: It would be profitable for Jason to understand the significant difference between what is commonly called capital T Tradition, those things consistent with the scripture available at the time, namely what we called the Old Testament, and the oral tradition passed from Christ to the Apostles dating back to the time the New Testament; Traditions that were being being lived out by the Church even before the New Testament was written. That Tradition is wholly different from traditions which are exclusively are man made being based upon societal, cultural "norms" and which are indeed temporal.

Due to the limited nature of online communication it might be possible to read judgment or arrogance into my words but I ask the reader to see humility as I once held these same preconceived protestant notions without having fully appreciated what the Church actually taught and teaches consistently to this day - which might also be called Tradition - and this the more to my shame as I was an ordained minister.

Anonymous said...

Owen,

I addressed the reasoning contained in this post with regards to using Scripture to argue against Sola Scriptura. If Scripture is the primary and final line of defense against why Scripture is not the primary and final line of defense, then you are presupposing and utilizing Sola Scriptura to argue against it. This is one-hand-doens't-know-what-the-other-is-doing presentation is hardly the pinnacle of sound reason, in fact it lacks an awareness of its rhetorical presuppositions.

Owen writes regarding 2 thess 2:15:

"Jason's good attempt at reason is none the less in error in referring to newer traditions"

It is not I that is citing 2 Thess 2:15 in support, or even to address “newer” traditions or abiblical, unsupportable accretions (of which there are a ton) as dogma, it is the author of the thread.

It is not an error to refer to that which Paul was saying. It is an unfounded assumption to superimpose ever evolving extrabiblical traditions (and repeat, unsupported, that they were handed down from the Apostles) over the traditions which Paul was talking about. There is a lot of argumentation that needs to occur in order to connect the two concepts, and, again, you will need to be using Scripture in order to demonstrate this presumption. Paul isn't talking about traditions as a broad concept, he is talking about those things that he taught them and those under him taught them. This is not an error, this is what the words on the page say.

"It clearly states "All" scripture not scripture only."

This distinction which you say is there needs to be drawn out by you. The passage says that Scripture is God breathed and it says nothing about anything else. That is, the passage only references Scripture.

Does "all Scripture" mean or imply something other than Scripture? Owen's addition of "only" into the discussion, though a clever attempt to congeal what this particular Scripture says and "Sola Scriptura" into one argument, misses the fact that nothing else is mentioned in this passage apart from Scripture. That is Scripture alone (alone as an adverb of mentioned, not in the term Scripture alone) is mentioned in 2 tim 3:16.

This six-of-one/half-dozen-of-the-other attempt at double speak is visible here:

"So it is natural and reasonable to cite all scripture for correction and reproof of the non biblical notion such as scripture "only" which is no where supported by the bible, not even in a proof text."

Is there anything other than Scripture that would be cited as correction and reproof in non-biblical matters? Though the words "alone" are indeed not there, Owen is utilizing the principle of Sola Scriptura in order to refute the principle of Sola Scriptura. And yet, I would venture to guess that when a concept of Roman Catholicism needs to be explained or defended, the bottom line defense would be Scripture, that is, the bottom line defense would be Sola Scriptura. To utilize Sola Scriptura to refute Sola Scriptura and then to again utilize the principle of Sola Scriptura in defending one's own is unfalisifiable. It reminds me of a more modern version of the same thought process: The temperature goes up - global warming, the temperature goes down - global warming, too much precip - global warming, too little precip - global warming.

Everything becomes evidence of what you had already decided to say before came to the table.

“not even in a proof text”

I would be cautious with throwing around proof-texting accusations, considering the Scriptural connect-the-dots that lies behind Roman ecclesiology.

Owen writes,

"It would be profitable for Jason to understand the significant difference between what is commonly called capital T Tradition, those things consistent with the scripture available at the time, namely what we called the Old Testament, and the oral tradition passed from Christ to the Apostles dating back to the time the New Testament"

I appreciate Owen's interest in my personal growth, but a look 2 Thess 2:15 (Reminder: the passage used to demonstrate "tradition is something that is to be treasured and passed on through the faith") makes it clear that this distinction is not present in these passages in the presumptive, superimpositional fashion which Roman Catholics cite it.

To think that Paul was telling the people in Greece to remember Jewish traditions is, I'm sorry, just ridiculous. And the idea that he would tell them to hold fast to them, in light of the point of the nearly the whole book of Galatians, is even more ridiculous. So the capital T doesn’t fit in the cited passage. I don’t think Owen meant these traditions, but he included the concept in his helpful hermeneutical hint, so I wasn’t absolutely sure what he meant.

So how about the lower case ‘t’. It is an unsupportable epistomological leap to connect what Paul taught the Thessalonians to the extra-biblical Roman Catholic accretions. If there is some evidence that these should be tied together, I would like to hear it, really, not being a snot. I have a feeling, though, that you will need to establish the authority of the church first, and in order to to that, you are going to need to go to Scripture.

Jason

Christian said...

How many angels can fit on the head of a pin?

The idea that you can separate Christian tradition from Holy Scripture and vice versa (although I've never heard anyone suggest versa) sounds an awful like the old chicken and the egg question.

It would seem that the Reformation and it's take on Scriptures is just as much a man made tradition as anything found in the Roman Catholic church. Most Protestants acknowledge that the Holy Spirit led the early fathers when the canon was assembled (something that I have some doubt about, considering the political machinations involved). I assume that they also believe the Spirit led the Reformers (even more doubtful in my book, for much the same reason as before).

As far as 2 Timothy 3:16 goes, the line says that all of scripture is useful in preparing a believer to work for God. It does not say that only scripture is useful nor does it say that scripture is required to get the job done.

Just like someone might say that all shovels are useful to dig holes. We can still dig a hole without one, it's just very difficult. And rather foolish, especially if the shovel has been made available. Meanwhile, our focus should be on the one we are digging for, not examining the tool overmuch. Little work gets done that way and the work should be important to us, especially if we are obedient to Him.

Carlus Henry said...

Jason,

This is one-hand-doens't-know-what-the-other-is-doing presentation is hardly the pinnacle of sound reason, in fact it lacks an awareness of its rhetorical presuppositions.

If the position that I held was Tradition alone, you would be right in your assesment that one-hand-doesn't-know-what-the-other-is-doing. The position that the Catholic Church holds is the Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture are both part of the Word of God. From this point, I am at liberty to use both in order to support eachother.

There is a great deal of legwork necessary to go from 2 Thess 2:15 to saying that the current traditions are the same thing.

Yes. You are right. A simple post of mine does not fully explain that the traditions that the Catholic Church holds today are the same traditions. The point that I am trying to make in this post is what many Non-Catholics view as the man-made traditions of the Catholic Church, can easily be said about what Catholics view as the man-made traditions of Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide. This post is not meant to be a full dissertation of connecting the dots for all of the Catholic dogmas and beliefs. There are plenty of books on that.

It is an unfounded assumption to superimpose ever evolving extrabiblical traditions (and repeat, unsupported, that they were handed down from the Apostles) over the traditions which Paul was talking about.

Catholics and Non-Catholics alike, view that it was actually the tradition that played a major role in determining the canon of Scripture. We also view that it was tradition that determined the humanity and divinity of Christ. Tradition and history never taught that once the Scriptures were completed, that was all that was necessary, and the Holy Spirit will never lead us into any more truths. We can't possibly believe that we understand all there is to know, and God is still not revealing Himself to us.

There is a lot of argumentation that needs to occur in order to connect the two concepts...

You are right. There is definitely an abundance of literature out there from people who are much more qualified to expound on all of these topics, than I am.

The passage says that Scripture is God breathed and it says nothing about anything else.

Surely the teachings of the Apostles, which they received from Christ, was God Breathed. Surely there was more taught than what is written in the Scriptures. After Jesus rose from the dead, he spent 40 days with the Apostles. I don't think that there are more than 2 chapters in the Bible that goes into much detail of all they learned of those 40 days. Don't you believe that more teaching took place than was actually written down in Scripture?

That is Scripture alone (alone as an adverb of mentioned, not in the term Scripture alone) is mentioned in 2 tim 3:16.

All scripture was written to a specific audience for a specific reason with a specific message. This passage is a letter from Paul to Timothy, explaining that All Scripture is God-breathed - what Scripture is Paul talking about?


and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16(2 Tim 3:15)

The Scriptures that Paul is talking about was the Scriptures that Timothy received since He was an infant. Surely the entire New Testament canon was not completed by this point in his life. Instead, Paul is talking about the Old Testament canon. I am not taking away from the New Testament. Catholics hold that the Old and NT are the inspired Word of God.

Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.(James 1:4)

(I just heard this from a debate so, I cannot take the credit for this one, thanks John Martignoni). If you look at this verse the same way that you are looking at 2 Tim 3:16, then one can conclude that all you need is perseverance in order to be made complete. So it is not Sola Scriptura, it is Sola Perseverance. Of course this is not the case. But if you look at one scripture without looking at all of the other scriptures, one can come to all kinds of different conclusions.

Is there anything other than Scripture that would be cited as correction and reproof in non-biblical matters?

Matt 18:15-17 It didn't say take it to the scriptures, it said take it to the Church.

Everything becomes evidence of what you had already decided to say before came to the table.

You are absolutely right. We all approach everything in life with our own set of goggles. We see the world based on our goggles. YOu see the world one way, I see the world another way.

I appreciate Owen's interest in my personal growth, but a look 2 Thess 2:15 (Reminder: the passage used to demonstrate "tradition is something that is to be treasured and passed on through the faith") makes it clear that this distinction is not present in these passages in the presumptive, superimpositional fashion which Roman Catholics cite it.

Little 't' tradition would include the Rosary, priestly celibacy and other traditions in the sense that are more customary than anything. It is too bad that our language causes confusion. Big 'T' tradition includes the Trinity, Divinity and Humanity of Christ, Scripture being the Word of God. So yes, there is a differnce. And yes this is not cited in 2 Thess 2:15. In 2 Thess 2:15, we believe that this is talking about big 'T' tradition, not little 't'.

So how about the lower case ‘t’. It is an unsupportable epistomological leap to connect what Paul taught the Thessalonians to the extra-biblical Roman Catholic accretions.

Okay. You have to forgive the new Candidate Catholic newbie here, and if I commit a heresy, please someone correct me. The little 't' tradition are those things that the Catholic Church says is okay to believe and practice, but you are not obligated to believe and practice. The best example I can think of is the Rosary or the Communion of Saints, or even the Divine Office. Will these things bring you closer to God, yes. Are you obligated to practice it at risk of the hell-fire, no. They are tools that can bring you closer to God and strengthen your relationship with Him.

Okay. This is a comment that I meant to share a while ago, and I just couldn't find the time to do it. Unfortunately, I am not going to be able to do such long comments, or if I am, it is going to take me longer to turn them around. Please forgive me for the lack of time that I have due to other commitments. It would be helpful if you can keep your comments shorter, then I can respond faster. Otherwise, I will try my best to get to them when I can.

God bless you brother....

Anonymous said...

It seems that your stated desire to get to the bottom of things was disingenuous.

As I said at first, everyone is Mike Tyson when they are shadow boxing. It's easy to be a Roman Catholic as long as you limit yourself only to that information you decided you wanted to find before you started looking.

This fits with your easily knocked down caricatures of Protestant theology.

The truth is not selective, Carlus. Even though you may be.

Jason

Carlus Henry said...

Hey Jason,

I know that you are a God fearing man. I have no doubt about that whatsoever. I will continue to pray that God will bring you closer to Him.

It seems that your stated desire to get to the bottom of things was disingenuous.

I am not even sure how to respond to this. :)

As I said at first, everyone is Mike Tyson when they are shadow boxing. It's easy to be a Roman Catholic as long as you limit yourself only to that information you decided you wanted to find before you started looking.

It is easy to be anything, once you determine for yourself what you have decided is the authority of your faith.

This fits with your easily knocked down caricatures of Protestant theology.

Not sure how to respond to this one either. If you are looking for a deeper study on Protestant Theology vs. Catholic Theology, this is probably not the place for that. There are plenty of books written by plenty of authors who are far more intelligent and have the time in order to do so.

The truth is not selective, Carlus. Even though you may be.

Aren't we all selective in our truth? If someone comes to you and presents you evidence that the Easter Bunny is real, don't you select to accept and believe it or not?

You choose to believe Protestant Theology. I choose to believe Catholic Theology. We both have our reasons.

God bless...

Owen said...

Jason Anonymous, I was a protestant minister for 20 years so I have hardly limited myself to what Catholicism teaches. Rather by contrasting and examining the historic teaches of the Church I came to see clearly the false constructs of protestantism in all its variant forms (which are nothing short of legion).

Indeed, the truth is not selective unlike Huss, Wucliffe,Luther, Calvin, Zwingly and each founder of every protestant sect from those days to the present who based primarily on sola scriptura make their own selective choices about what they and their followers should believe.

If I am not wrong I have seen you on other Catholic blogs and the cycle is ever the same in your approach. I bless you and respect you as one of our separated brethren (as I myself once was) beyond that I have no further interest in entertaining what you seem to think is intellectual sparing and debate.

Owen said...

Pardon the obvious spelling errors above, I was typing quickly in between other tasks.

Carlus Henry, you are gracious and have reasoned well. Sadly where reason is rejected all the faith alone in the world will not help. I respect your forbearance.

Owen said...

Recently read this:

"Time will fail me if I attempt to recount the unwritten mysteries of the Church. Of the rest I say nothing; but of the very confession of our faith in Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, what is the written source? If it be granted that, as we are baptized, so also under the obligation to believe, we make our confession in like terms as our baptism, in accordance with the tradition of our baptism and in conformity with the principles of true religion, let our opponents grant us too the right to be as consistent in our ascription of glory as in our confession of faith. If they deprecate our doxology on the ground that it lacks written authority, let them give us the written evidence for the confession of our faith and the other matters which we have enumerated. While the unwritten traditions are so many, and their bearing on single word which has come down to us from the Fathers;--which we found, derived from untutored custom, abiding in unperverted churches;--a word for which the arguments are strong, and which contributes in no small degree to the completeness of the force of the mystery?" St Basil the Great, Bishop of Caesarea (329-379)

379 as compared to 1500. I know on which authority I place my trust.