CATHOLIC TRADITION VERSUS THE BIBLE
 
THE BIBLE ON TRADITION

Unlike Protestantism, Roman Catholicism does not derive its doctrines from the Bible alone but from Tradition as well. Most Catholic doctrine cannot be shown from the Bible.  Tradition with a capital T is the word of God.

The Catholic argument that since the Bible sometimes speaks well of tradition and treats it as authoritive, tradition must be an additional authority to the Bible is untenable because the Bible never says tradition is the other authority. Those traditions might have been divinely inspired and might have been incorporated into and enshrined in scripture alone as they were. The Bible started off as inspired traditions which were written down.

And it may be true that there are inspired traditions outside the Bible but that does not mean that we have to rely on them or are meant to. The Bible never tells us to listen to tradition outside its teaching. It was different to take tradition as the word of God during the apostles’ day for they infallibly discerned the infallible ones but it is too risky to do so now. The Bible is complete so there is no need to. Protestants believe the Bible doesn’t answer all questions but say that it answers enough.

If a lot of important answers are left out of the Bible does that prove that tradition is needed and complements the Bible? It does not when the Bible does not tell us who has the accurate tradition.
 
Catholics suppose that Isaiah 59:21 in which God says his word will be in the mouths of his people forever is a prediction about the Catholic Church which teaches by word of mouth and not only by a book. Tradition is what is handed down by word of mouth and this verse is supposed to teach the Catholic doctrine. But if the word were to be in a book alone Isaiah would still have written these words.

Jesus’ condemnation of tradition only forbids non-inspired tradition or man-made tradition (Matthew 15 or Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23).  Jesus slammed the Jews for having a good tradition that handwashing was mandatory and which was understandable if you look at Bible principles.  His problem was it was not explicitly commanded by God.  This observation supports the Reformed doctrine that Catholic tradition is illicit and has no authority.  Catholics however say that the word of God is two things, the Bible and tradition.

1 Peter 1:25 is supposed to prove that the Church will preach infallible tradition that is not in scripture forever. It is reasoned that it says that the word of God endures forever and must be the preaching of the Church for the New Testament was far from finished. But if the Church follows the Bible and this book is the only inspired authority used the Church can still preach the word of God that endures forever. This verse gives no grounds for the notion of tradition as endorsed in the Catholic Church. And if some of the New Testament had been written and since there was an Old Testament there is no need for imagining it means the Church teaching at all.

John 21:23 gives an example of a tradition that thrived in the early Church that was wrong. The tradition promised that an apostle would live forever on earth and be the oracle of God to the Church and so late in the first century John had to attack it. This was a very serious blunder – at least it proves that the early Church did not have a pope to correct error especially when Peter had died long before – and shows that tradition is dangerous and the Church is not safe from nonsensical traditions.

The apostle Paul declared that what would become the great apostasy had started (2 Thessalonians 2) so how could we trust tradition? Tradition was the only excuse the apostates would have had for altering the faith.

The Bible predicts that most of the people calling themselves Christians would abandon the faith one day and speaks of the awesome power of Satan to delude (2 Thessalonians 2:3 – it speaks of a “great falling away” or apostasy). It says that false teachings and fabricated apostolic traditions were already being concocted while the apostles were alive under the guidance of Satan (2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2). Obviously, even if a tradition could be traced back to the lifetime of the apostles it does not mean that it is a revelation of God. The Devil might have created the traditions Catholics speak of and the papacy.

In Matthew 12 Jesus said that when demons are cast out and can find no home for there is nobody left to possess they will go back to the man they have left and if he is open to their influence they will take worse demons than themselves with them to possess him and that will happen to Jesus’ evil generation. This implies firstly that tradition is dangerous and the demons have the knowledge and power to pull off a seemingly foolproof deception and it implies that the New Testament could well be a demonic fabrication and that only books you are 100% sure of can be considered to be God’s word. But no such books exist and Jesus really shot himself in the foot.

When the Bible warns of a great apostasy and makes it clear that the world – meaning the vast majority so it is practically the whole world so even most Christians will be traitors though they might continue to infest the Church. Church traditions are most likely to be diabolical or fraudulent in origin and we have to avoid them.
 
TRADITION ITSELF COMMANDS BIBLE ALONE

The Catholic Church holds that the Bible and Tradition are the word of God.  Tradition is used to interpret the Bible and thus that leads to Catholics distorting the Bible.  And Tradition tends to be cherry-picked.  For example, Origen is ignored a lot though he was a major Church father.  And Justin Martyr was clear to Trypho that souls go to Heaven the second they die and are not resurrected are not Christians.  He is speaking probably of Marcionists who held that you go to Heaven at death and don't come back in your body.  Justin is said to be rejecting immediate entry into Heaven only when it is done in a way to undermine resurrection.  He is not saying, we are told, that nobody goes to Heaven straight away.  They do to await resurrection.  It is more likely that Justin thought that you don't get to Heaven until you resurrect first!  So this rules out prayers to saints and apparitions of saints from Heaven.  It rules out a major and core Catholic doctrine.

The very tradition that the Catholic Church makes superior to the Bible and a supplement to the Bible says that it should be ignored in favour of the Bible! Rome no longer believes in Bible inerrancy in the full and complete sense though ancient tradition is against her in this and supports verbal and plenary inspiration.

The tradition that the fathers honoured and obeyed was tradition that restated what was in the scriptures and was in the scriptures. (See page 15, Traditional Doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church Examined.) St Cyprian is quoted as saying that tradition is just what is taught in the scriptures. Cyril of Alexandria said that the scriptures are enough and more than enough and Tertullian condemned Hermogenes unless he could show that his teachings were in the Bible and pronounced a curse on those who add to and subtract from the Bible and St Basil interpreted the apostles as saying that nobody should believe anything unless it is written in the Bible (page 16).

Justin Martyr was the first source of what Rome recognises as divinely inspired tradition to say that Christ forbade belief in what men say and counselled his followers to believe only in what he himself and the Jewish prophets taught (page 26, Evangelical Catholics; page 23, But the Bible Does Not Say So).

St Irenaeus stated that the Church will find every doctrine it needs in the prophets and the gospels (page 26, Evangelical Catholics). He wrote that when the heretics are refuted from the scriptures they attack the scriptures as being incorrect or uncanonical so in that case he appeals to tradition to confute them (page 27, Church and Infallibility). But what Irenaeus meant by tradition was the practice of revering the scriptures as infallible. He argued that since they were believed to be infallible by tradition since the time of the apostles they were real and uncorrupted. A bible only believer would say much the same thing without regarding tradition as an additional authority.
  
St Athanasius wrote that the scriptures are enough for learning the truth in (Conte Gentes. 1,1).

St John Chrysostom commanded that no man must be listened to in religion without being checked out by the Bible first (2 Corinthians 6, Homily 13). The same instructed in his Homily on Romans that we must read no other but Jesus and need no other mind (page 27, Secrets of Romanism).

St Jerome protested against creating things as if they were tradition from the apostles without scripture saying they are true (commentary on Haggai, Cap 1.2). He informed Helvidius that anything that was not written in the Bible was to be rejected. He said the Church does not admit anything that is not found in the scriptures (page 23, But the Bible Does Not Say So).

St Basil (329-379) said that since Jesus said his sheep hear his voice and do not listen to strangers that it is wrong to make a doctrine that is not mentioned in the scriptures (De Fide, Garnier’s Edition, Vol II, page 313). (See page 26, Evangelical Catholics).

Augustine commanded that any doctrine that is not in the Bible must be refused (page 26, Evangelical Catholics). In 400 AD he expressly stated that he bows only to the authority of the canonical books and that all that is needed for faith and living is in them (page 23, But the Bible Does Not Say So).

Conclusion
 
The Church has no authority from its God to believe the doctrines it has that are not in the Bible. The doctrines come from purely human authority and to believe them is to believe men not God.
  
WORKS CONSULTED

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Evangelical Catholics, A New Phenomenon, Stanley Mawhinney, Christian Ministries Incorporated, Dundrum, Dublin, 1992
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Reason and Belief, Bland Blanschard, London, George Allen and Unwin Ltd, 1974
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The Cult of the Virgin Mary, Psychological Origins, Michael P Carroll, Princeton, New Jersey, 1986
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Whatever Happened to Heaven? Dave Hunt, Harvest House, Eugene, Oregon, 1988