TRADITIONS VS. SCRIPTURE
Catholics say the Bible nowhere says Scripture alone, which Protestants have called (Sola Scriptura).
The Roman Catholic position
is a convenient one. They challenge non-Catholics by asking them “where does the
Bible say Scripture alone” (Sola Scriptura). But sometimes we
try to answer a wrong question where there is no right answer. They are right in that it
does not say these exact words, but the Bible does teach Scripture alone in commands,
principles and in practice. However one would have to read the Scripture to find
this out. This argument is like saying the Scripture does not say the word Trinity so
its not to be taught. While the Bible does not specifically say “only the word of
God,” The concept is certainly weaved through the entire Bible. All one has to do
is read the overall teaching to discover its presence.
The question that really needs to be asked is “Does the Bible say tradition is on a equal basis with Scripture?” This question we can find an answer to. The answer is: No. Nowhere does the Bible state tradition is inspired, beneficial or has power like the word.
Roman Catholicism teaches
that the tradition of their church is equal to Scripture. It was in 1545 at the Council
of Trent the Roman Church officially made tradition equal to Bible, long time after the
Bible was completed. If what they claim is true, then when we apply a logic test to this, we
would find one is consistently equal to the other. We could easily substitute tradition
for the word or the word for tradition. Lets look and see if this is at all possible.
The WORD of the Lord came to Ezekiel, Jehu of Hanani, Jeremiah, Haggai, Isaiah,
Zephaniah, Micah, Joel, Zechariah. Every prophet was called by God who spoke to
them, could we consider them called by traditions? (John explains it was The Word that became
flesh-- the word as the wisdom the knowledge and reasoning of God). Tradition did not
become flesh nor did Jesus refer to it as beneficial, not once.
Scripture states they feared the Lord, can we say we fear tradition? (Gen.22:12,42:18;Ex.18:21,20:20;Lev.25:17;
Deut.4:10;6:2, 13,24,8:6) Isa. 66:5 “Hear
the word of the LORD, you who tremble at His word” Ezra 10:3 “…tremble at the
commandment of our God” Deut 5:29 “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that
they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments.” Deut. 13:4 “You shall walk
after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice.”
Eccl. 12:13 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His
commandments, for this is man’s all.” To fear God is to respect His word above all
Josh.1:8 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.” Ps. 119:148 “My eyes are awake through the night watches, that I may meditate on Your word.” Ps. 119 they meditated on his word (His works, His deeds, His name and God himself), can we meditate on tradition? We stand in awe of his word, our tongue is to preach his word. Can we substitute tradition for any of these? I think not. In Titus 2:5 Paul writes, the word of God can be blasphemed, can tradition be blasphemed?
word of God lives and abides forever” (1 Pet. 1:23), It is called “the word of
truth” (2 Tim. 2:15), Daniel called it “the Scripture of Truth” (Dan.10:21), John
the apostle called it “the Word of life” (I Jn.1:1). “The word of God is living
and powerful,… piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and
marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb 4:12).
we substitute tradition for this? Is tradition called truth or life? Even Jesus is
called the word as a metaphor in the beginning and when he returns (Jn.1:1-3; Rev
19:13). Can we call Jesus
tradition? Ps 40:7, “Then I said,
“Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me.”
Ps.119:9 “How can a man
cleanse his way? By taking heed according to your word.” Tradition cannot cleanse
anything. The Bible states in Prov.30:5 “Every word of God is pure”, not so for
tradition. Jesus spoke “You are already
clean because of the word which I have spoken to you” (Jn.15:3). Tradition is unable to
clean the nature of man.
so it is inferior to the word
so it is inferior to the word
word in the Old Testament was Israel’s source of guidance and life. Deut. 6:5-9 “You
shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your
strength.” Here is how we are to show our love. “v.6 And these words which I
command you today shall be in your heart. “You shall teach them
diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house,
when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. “You shall bind
them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. “You
shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Here
is God’s tradition to Israel, to have His word constantly in front of oneself and to
train their children in it. Prov.4:2 “For I give you good doctrine: do not forsake my
law.” This command has not changed in the New Testament, Titus 1:9 “holding
fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine,
both to exhort and convict those who contradict.” This is what was written to the
church by Paul 1 Tim. 4:16 “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in
them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” Paul told
Timothy to preach the word, not tradition. Why did he omit something the Catholic church
finds so essential now? He didn’t, Paul made it clear what was written is what they
are to follow and to reject those who add to the word of God.
Deut. 8:3 “that He might make you know that man shall not live
by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the
LORD.” Our sustenance comes from the giver of life who has communicated with man by
His inspired word.
What is true in the Old Testament is true in the New Testament. “All
Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof,
for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete,
thoroughly equipped for every good work”(2 Tim.3:16-17).
Complete means just that, nothing else is needed to grow and mature in ones
relationship to God except a willing heart and taking the time to read and understand
His word. This is the same thing said in Proverbs “For the
commandment is a lamp, and the law a light; reproofs of instruction are the way
of life” (Prov. 6:23)
What is true in the Old Testament is true in the New Testament. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work”(2 Tim.3:16-17). Complete means just that, nothing else is needed to grow and mature in ones relationship to God except a willing heart and taking the time to read and understand His word. This is the same thing said in Proverbs “For the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life” (Prov. 6:23)
In the RSV a footnote for 2 Tim. 3.16 gives a more
clear word for word translation for the beginning of this verse: 'Every scripture
inspired by God is also...' The Greek text makes it clear; a closer word-for-word
translation would read 'Every writing God-inspired is also profitable...
What the writer meant by the 'scripture' and 'God-inspired' included the Old
Testament because the New Testament was still in the process of being written when 2
Timothy was penned. 'God-inspired'
meant that God breathed His Spirit into it. The Greek word used meant both 'breath' or
'wind' and also 'spirit' (the literal meaning of the English word 'inspire' is 'breathe
into'). This is what Christians today mean when they say that the Bible, especially the
New Testament is 'inspired'.
If the Bible nowhere states
tradition is inspired, or beneficial, how do Catholics arrive at this? Through their
church! But the church is to be based on the apostles teachings, not the apostles
teachings based on the Church. If the traditions Catholics hold are suppose to be a body
of oral teaching that was passed down by the apostles, why are they written down? Does
this not make them Scripture? they claim they are inspired by God. To be consistent
in their argument if the traditions are equal to Scripture from the
apostles, they should be added to the Bible. But then there is the warning, “Do not add
to his words lest you be rebuked and found a liar” (Prov. 30:6).
King David said of the Scriptures in Psalm 119:103-105 “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
Scripture alone is called God’s word (Jn.10:35; 2 Tim.3:16; 2 Pt.1:20) In 1 Cor.4:6 we are specifically told “not to go beyond what is written.” Why say this if traditions outside the written word are just as inspired? We have every logical and scriptural reason to believe that what the apostles penned down was inspired by the Holy Spirit and intended for all believers throughout history. We are warned by this same apostle who wrote scripture to “not to go beyond what is written.” Sounds like Sola Scriptura to me! Jesus declared that the “Scripture cannot be broken.” (Jn.10:35) This is not so for traditions. Scripture alone is the eternal word that is settled forever in heaven.
Jesus said, “if you love
me you will continue in my word and you are my disciples indeed.” Jn.14:15,
“If you love me keep my commandments.” V.23 “If anyone loves me he will keep my
word.” This is his commandment, there’s not a hint of another source for the
word. Here is our tradition. On the other hand in v.24”He who does not love Me, does
not keep my word.”
The Holy Spirit who is the source of Scripture had it written down so there would be no mistakes centuries later. We are given the Holy Spirit to interpret what He wrote through men. What better guide and teacher can we have than the same one who inspired the apostles to write the Scripture. If you’re looking to follow Christ, it is has always been and continues to be through His word in the ability of His Spirit. As Paul admonishes “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col. 3:16). Does he say this for tradition? why not....
Eph. 1:13 “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth,
the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the
Holy Spirit of promise.” One is saved by hearing the Scripture, faith comes from
hearing the word of God. Most importantly Peter who Catholics claim to be their own Pope,
wrote in 1 Pt.1:23
“ having been born again not with corruptible seed but with
incorruptible seed through the word of God which lives and abides forever.”
The Bible points to the Scripture for our spiritual birth and growth. James 1:18 “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth,”
(which is the word of God). Lk.8:11 tells us the word of God is the seed that begins
our spiritual growth. Tradition cannot bring a birth to anyone, it can never be a substitute for this.
The Bible claims for itself to be the supreme authority and it shares that
authority with nothing else except the Holy Spirit who is the author. God points to
Johns preaching was based on the word that came to him. We may not have everything
he said but we do have the content Luke 3:2-3 “while Annas and Caiaphas were high
priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance
for the remission of sins.”
Jesus declares that the
“Scripture cannot be broken.” (Jn.10:35) this is not so for traditions. Tradition
cannot ever rise to equality with the word since we are told the word is eternal and
Jesus said thy word is settled forever in heaven.
“Carefully study to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth
not to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15 Douay
Rheims Trans.). This can hardly mean that one handles the traditions to
be approved by God. Notice we are encouraged to study ourselves to be approved by
God, not to take for granted what anybody says no matter how famous they are or
who they are. John
6:63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I
speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”
Can we say the words of tradition are spirit and life?
Can we say the words of tradition are spirit and life?No we can't.