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Mark O'Brien wrote:

Hi, guys —

I saw this question on Facebook. The poster said he's asking it because Catholics claim tradition is important, too. It made me think! His post said:

  • Name one tradition that is essential to know to be saved, that you can prove the Apostles taught, but is nowhere mentioned in Scripture?

Mark

  { How do I reply to a Facebook posting that implies the only thing we need for salvation is the Bible? }

Bob replied:

Mark,

To anyone who would ask such a question, turn it around and ask them the same question.

  • What would they say?
  • Would they then go on to say that the only thing we need to know is the Word of God and the Word of God is only what is written in the Bible?

That seems to be what is implied but they cannot see the forest through the trees. The Bible itself is such a tradition.

  • Who put the Bible together?
  • Where does its canon come from?
  • Who is authorized to make such a canon?

You see the Bible itself is one mode of tradition. The fact that we believe that Jesus Christ is God incarnate is not based on the fact that it was written down, but by the fact it was handed on by a community of faith that follow Jesus.

All tradition, both oral and what had been written comes from God and has been handed on by the Church (cf. 1 Timothy 3:15).

Peace,

Bob Kirby

Mark replied:

Hi Bob,

Thank you for your reply!

I'm still confused though. Catholic tradition is used as authoritative, but many of the traditions aren't in the Bible canon. The word tradition in Scripture is always written in the past tense form: Was delivered, has been given, and the like.

  • Can we prove the Apostles taught extra-biblical tradition?

Mark

Bob replied:

Mark,

Yes! The Bible itself is an extra-biblical tradition, because it nowhere creates its own Canon. Pretending the Bible dropped out of the sky in its current form is to beg the question:

  • How did the Bible come together, and how do we know what belongs in the Bible?

History will show that the Church provided the Canon, and the Church was established and authorized by Christ. To suggest that Christ did not authorize the Apostles to teach in his name and have His Own Authority, is to ignore both Scripture (which, at this point, can be regarded solely as a historical testimony to the teaching and practice of the historical Jesus) and 2,000 years of subsequent history.

  • Mark, are you a Protestant just trying to have a somewhat veiled debate on Sacred Tradition?

If you really want to understand the Catholic understanding of authority, read a good Catholic book but consider this:

  • Jesus came
  • he founded His Church (Matthew 16:13-19)
  • the Church wrote some things and compiled it into a New Testament
  • adding to the extant Scriptures of the Jews.

But:

  • Did Jesus ever write?
  • Did he instruct his Apostles to write?
  • Did he instruct Paul, the Apostle, to write?
  • Did he tell them that whatever letters they wrote to anyone would be regarded as Scripture?
  • Did that apply to all the Apostles?
  • Did it apply to personal letters or just public letters?
  • How many people were literate in the world and how would this written material be disseminated?
  • Would the translations be Scripture too?
  • Who wrote the book of Hebrews?
  • If scholars can't agree who even wrote it, why is it considered a legitimate part of the Bible?

I could go on and on with about a hundred more questions and the Protestant answer to all of them is either:

  • conjecture, or
  • implicitly or explicitly reliant on some sort of Sacred Tradition, of the oral variety, that, without an authoritative Church to provide approbation, falls like a house of cards.

Circular reasoning doesn't make for good arguments.

Protestants adhere to Sacred Tradition of the extra-biblical variety every day but don't realize it.

They pick and choose what they consider authoritative depending on their particular denominations traditions, which often vary widely from other Protestants. If they simply understood that the Bible belongs to (and in) the Church which Christ established, like a family heirloom, they would be a lot better off.

We Catholics trust the Bible because we trust our Lord who gave us the Church built on Peter, which has carried on to this day. (Matthew 16:13-19. Isaiah 22:15-25)

Peace,

Bob Kirby

Mark replied:

Wow!

That's quite an e-mail. I didn't expect that much back but I appreciate it.

My question does not have to do with canonicity.

To answer your question, I am neither Catholic, Jew, nor Protestant. I am just a Christian.

Yes, it is possible to be a pre denominational Christian. Jesus promised His Church would never be destroyed since 33 A.D. I am a member of that church in Acts 2 where Peter preached his first gospel sermon.

You have many other questions which really do not relate to my question. My question still stands.

  • If Catholics rely on extra biblical tradition (the Magisterium), I am wondering how can they prove the Apostles taught just one tradition which is essential to salvation, which is nowhere mentioned in Scripture?

In Him Who Loved Us All.

Mark

Mike replied:

Hi Mark,

Thanks for the question.

You said:

  • If Catholics rely on extra biblical tradition (the Magisterium), I am wondering how can they prove the Apostles taught just one tradition which is essential to salvation, which is nowhere mentioned in Scripture?

That's an easy one. In keeping with the Lord's command, the Gospel was handed on in two ways:

  1. orally "by the Apostles who handed on, by the spoken word of their preaching, by the example they gave, by the institutions they established, what they themselves had received - whether from the lips of Christ, from his way of life and his works, or whether they had learned it at the prompting of the Holy Spirit", and

  2. in writing "by those Apostles and other men associated with the Apostles who, under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit, committed the message of salvation to writing".

So Catholic Christians believe in both Oral and Written (the Bible) Tradition, while Protestants reject the Oral Tradition which Jesus verbally passed down through His Apostles to our current day Bishops.

I have a whole section that biblically supports what I have just said:

The original Facebook posting said:

  • Name one tradition that is essential to know to be saved, that you can prove the Apostles taught but is nowhere mentioned in Scripture?

Oral Tradition; which Protestants reject. It's right there in the Scriptures but Protestants refuse to see it.

That said, you may reply:

But Catholics accept what they can't visibly prove, meaning: the actions of the Apostles.

There is a name for that: Faith!

I hope this answers your question.

Mike

Mark replied:

Hi Mike,

Based on your reply, I think I don't know is certainly a fair answer to my question!

Also, Bible faith is always based on evidence.

In Him,

Mark

Paul replied:

Mark,

Bible faith is based on no more evidence than Tradition faith or Magisterium faith.

All three depend on faith in the authority of the Church that Christ has given Her. No one comes to believe in a Bible unless the Church:

  • wrote it (the New Testament)
  • edited it, and
  • officially declared it as inspired.

That same authority responsible for the Bible — i.e. the Spirit of Christ through His Church — continues to animate and guide His Church.

In short: Trusting Scripture as evidence for something only makes sense if one implicitly trusts the authority of its source, the Church. Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium is also trusted because of that same sacred authority, who is Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Peace,

Paul

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