Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Roman Catholic Church And Apostolic Tradition

  • Preliminary Points:
          -The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Scripture alone is an insufficient guide for Christian doctrine and that Jesus Christ gave the twelve apostles infallible oral tradition to pass on to future generations through the Magisterium. It is claimed that we need to submit to an infallible interpreter of Scripture in order to properly understand its message. Apologists for Rome have attempted to construct a biblical case for their their Church's claims by citing various passages such as John 20:30, 21:25, 2 John 12, 3 John 13, 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 3:6, and 1 Corinthians 11:2.
          -"Can you learn to save your soul just by reading the Bible? No, because certain things in the Bible can be misunderstood and because the Bible does not include everything God taught." (William James Cogan, A Brief Catechism for Adults: A Complete Handbook on How to Be a Good Catholic, Lesson 16: The Catholic Church is the Only True Church, Q&A #1)
          -It is true that the Bible never presents itself as the only source of authority for the church. However, Sola Scriptura means that Scripture is the final court of authority in all religious matters. Scripture is the only infallible rule of faith for the church to use. Therefore, people who object to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura by using a faulty definition (that the Bible is the only or sole authority) are attacking a straw man argument.
          -It is self-contradictory to appeal to the Bible as the ultimate standard of authority to prove that it is not the ultimate standard of authority for the church to follow. It is a hypocritical double standard for Roman Catholics to use Scripture as a means to justify their doctrines, but disapproving of Protestants acting in the same manner.
  • Clarifying That Sola Scriptura Is Not Opposed To All Forms Of Tradition: 
          -It needs to be understood that Protestantism is not opposed to "traditions," as long as they are consistent with the principles of Scripture. They have to be kept subject to its judgment. We do not reject using “tradition” as such or the testimony of “the church” (meaning early patristic writers). What other sources can we use to gather historical information? It also needs to be kept in mind that Scripture is apostolic tradition in written form.
  • Do 2 Thessalonians 2:15 And 2 Thessalonians 3:6 Prove The Necessity Of Roman Catholic Oral Tradition?:
          -The previous context of 2 Thessalonians 2:15 reveals that the Apostle Paul is speaking of traditions pertaining to the second coming of Christ. Those should be measured against apostates who pervert the truths concerning that doctrine, eternal salvation, and the gospel. These topics are addressed throughout both Testaments (Daniel 7:13-14; Zechariah 14:1-9; Matthew 24:5-27; Psalm 22-23; Isaiah 53; John 3:16). Hence, there is no need to depend on extra-biblical oral traditions.
          -2 Thessalonians 3:6 refers to teaching regarding working and not being idle. Consider texts such as Psalm 128:2, Proverbs 21:25, and 2 Thessalonians 3:10. The Apostle Paul was not trying to establish a distinction in content between oral and written revelation, but rather demonstrates the unity of his message when communicated in both forms.
  • Does 1 Corinthians 11:2 Prove The Necessity Of Roman Catholic Oral Tradition?: 
          -The immediate context is about the purposes of men and women in worship and in terms authority (v. 3-16). Then, the Apostle Paul goes on to talk about the correct observance and practice pertaining to the Lord's Supper (v. 17-31). Later on, he goes on to identify traditions, which he himself previously received, as the basic message of the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). None of these oral traditions are mysterious in nature or foreign in substance to Scripture.
  • Do John 20:30, John 21:25, 2 John 12, and 3 John 13 Prove The Necessity Of Roman Catholic Oral Tradition?: 
          -The passages from John do not say that some the teachings of Jesus were not written in Scripture. Rather, all the miracles that He performed were not recorded. Scripture tells us everything that we need to know concerning salvation (John 20:31).
          -The logic employed by our critics here is self-defeating because Roman Catholic tradition does not furnish us with all the details of Jesus' life.
          -Anybody (including Mormons) can abuse Scripture passages like these by claiming that we need the doctrines of his religion. They can be misused to open up doors to just about any heretical system of doctrine. We need to know exactly what John is talking about in the above passages. We cannot make assertions that are devoid of evidence.
          -Why assume that 2 John 12 and 3 John 13 are referring to some apostolic teaching that gets passed on to posterity? None of these texts indicate specifically what the contents of John's message are. It is equally possible for the unknown details to be from other parts of the New Testament, a public rebuke of sin or heresy, or even personal details about his life or close companions such as his fellow ministers, the apostles.
          -2 John 12 and 3 John 13 simply indicate that the Apostle John decided not to write down every single detail of what he intended on saying in his epistles. He wanted to speak directly to his audience for the sake of his audience's comfort, joy, and edification. How do we know that what John spoke of would have been different in substance than what is found in written revelation? Can Roman Catholics produce any sayings of Jesus Christ or the apostles that exist apart from Scripture?
  • Are The Traditions Of The Roman Catholic Church Equal To The Bible In Terms Of Authority?:
          -Jesus Christ rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for placing their own traditions on par with the Old Testament in terms of authority (Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13). This scenario is a mirror reflection of the modern-day Roman Catholic Church because it teaches as God-given truth its own oral traditions. It claims that its traditions were handed down to us from the early church fathers, just as the religious leaders whom Christ scolded claimed that their traditions were passed on to them from the elders. The Roman Catholic Church, like the scribes and Pharisees of the Law, say that their traditions are of divine origin. The scribes and Pharisees taught doctrinal error as a result of putting man-made tradition on the same level of authority as Scripture. The Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church has fallen into the same grievous error for its inflated perspective of "oral tradition" and claims to perpetual teaching infallibility. The underlying issue is pride amongst religious leaders.

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