Back in the Day

Some two decades or so ago, I sold my Radio Shack TRS80 and bought a real computer. This machine had a 20MB hard drive, ran at a blistering 16 MHz and cost $1500! Back then, before Graphic User Interfaces (GUI) made it a simple matter to surf the Internet, there were Bulletin Board Systems (BBS). Few graphics back then. We used MS-DOS and saw nothing but white letters on black screens. At first, interaction on a BBS was s-l-o-w. One would type a few words, hit ENTER, then wait while ever-so-slow computers and modems sent the message out to other ever-so-slow computers using telephone lines. Should there be a response, it had to drag itself through the same process. A “conversation” could take forever.

In 1988, a Finnish student invented a much improved way for folks to “talk” with others using computers. Internet Relay Chat (IRC) changed the world, though it took a few years before it came into common use in America. Now, folks could gather in chat rooms and babble away in real time. What follows is an example of a chat I had with a Catholic apologist I'll call Bob in 1998. Bob had jumped into a conversation dealing with the Catholic Church' view of Tradition (capital “T”). Bob's words are in bold face:

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This is my first time in the board, and Ken Loeffler's post is the only post I have read so far, and it seems Ken has a problem with Catholics.

Hiya, Bob. Welcome to this board. Perhaps if you stick around long enough and read what is posted here with an open mind, you will become aware of the lies and deceptions upon which you appear to have pinned your hopes for eternity. Before looking more closely at some of your assertions concerning the alleged superiority of the Roman melange of Scripture and tradition, I want to thank you for providing yet another example of how carefully Catholic apologists read the writings of those who would advance the banner of the true Christ into the dark swamps of the pagan Romish religion. My name is Ron, not Ken. It's only three letters, Bob. If you can't get that right, are you sure you have the tools to adequately declare and defend RCC doctrine and dogma?

Now, as to any problem I may have with Catholics, I assure you it is with the Roman Church hierarchy and those who exercise control over the hearts and minds of the millions who have placed their vain hopes for eternity on the lies and deceptions of the Whore on the Tiber. For those lost souls, wandering blindly in the dank and murky bogs of Catholic dogma, doctrine and teaching, I have more love and compassion than you likely can imagine. I once was there, also pinning my eternal hopes on a splash of water, an act of contrition and a bit of cracker. I have a good idea what Rome teaches and how she works to capture and control seekers of God with chains forged of lies, deceptions and dire threats.

I am Roman Catholic and would like to address a point Ken has brought up that Roman Catholicism demonstrates a superiority over biblical Christianity.

Well, Bob, if for nothing else, I commend your honesty in establishing, at the outset of your argument, that there indeed is a difference between Roman Catholicism and biblical Christianity. Without going into great detail at this time, since Christian apologists have been declaring it repeatedly since the Reformation, the underlying difference between the two poles is that the RCC is built on the lies and deceptions of men while biblical Christianity is grounded in God's eternal truth.

I believe Ken may be overlooking a very crucial point: Roman Catholicism IS informed by holy scripture, it never has shown disregard for the Bible in its official teachings.

Good grief!! Indeed you must be a new guy to the BBS. I am not aware that any Christian posting to this board has accused Rome of "disregarding" or ignoring Scripture in her teachings. The issue we continually raise is not with Scripture, but the Magisterium's eisegesis of Scripture. Rome has prostituted the very Word of God to meet her needs. Frankly, I believe it would be preferable that Rome indeed did disregard Scripture, rather than distort and corrupt it so that it is made to say what God clearly never intended.

We are taught in the Bible that scripture has authority, and we are also taught that apostolic tradition has authority.

Bob, the Bible clearly teaches the authority of Scripture, and certainly Paul and other apostles declared the authority of tradition -- not apostolic tradition. Certainly the appropriate paragraphs in the New Catechism have been quoted often enough on this board. In case you haven't read them lately, here they are again:

81 "Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit.”

"And [Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching."

82 As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, "does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honoured with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence."

Isn't that neat? This passage, as well as preceding paragraphs (77 and 78) clearly establishes Rome's position that tradition is, at least in part, extrabiblical. The Roman church here arrogates to herself control over God's revelation, its interpretation and dissemination. And it does this without any mandate from God for so doing. So, like any brainwashed member of a cult, Bob here calls up the Magisterium's special understanding of a couple of verses of Scripture.

1 Cor 11:2 Paul says to the Corinthians, "I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them down to you."


2 Thes. 2:15, "therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours."

Sigh! One more time. Let's just look at the Thessalonians passage in the KJV translation, for it is the favored "proof text" in support of Rome's melange of Scripture, tradition and it's own Teaching Authority.

13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. - 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15, KJV

Please note here that Paul refers, in v.15, to traditions that had been passed along both by word of mouth and in written form. Nowhere, in this statement, does the apostle in any way indicate or imply that the oral tradition is in any way distinct or different from the written tradition. For Rome to make that assumption is to be building doctrine on silence, and that simply is not sound hermeneutics. In fact, it is nothing more than baldly adding to Scripture what the Holy Spirit never put in it.

Moving right along, I call your attention to the fact that Paul here refers to a body of tradition that already has been passed on. "which ye have been taught." They already have it. No mention here of some future tradition coming down the pike. The oral teaching he refers to has already been delivered to the entire church, not just the bishops.

Not all the early church fathers agreed with the idea that Scripture is complete, but oral tradition continues to be developed. For example, Cyril of Jerusalem wrote:

. . . For concerning the divine and holy mysteries of the Faith, not even a casual statement must be delivered without the Holy Scriptures; nor must we be drawn aside by mere plausibility and artifices of speech. Even to me, who tell you these things, give not absolute credence, unless thou receive the proof of the things which I announce from the Divine Scriptures. For this salvation which we believe depends not on ingenious reasoning , but on demonstration of the Holy Scriptures. Catechetical Lectures 4:17

Bob disagreed with Cyril's position:

Tradition IS biblical, to put it more precisely APOSTOLIC tradition is biblical and fundamental to the Christian faith and its proper growth amongst peoples.

The presupposition you are bringing to this declaration is that everyone believes what Rome has said concerning the relationship of Scripture to tradition. Got news for you, Bob. 'Tain't so. And what makes this such a terrible problem for those who would speak for Rome is that it is impossible to effectively defend the Roman position on this issue without falling back on this presupposition and the Magisterium's infallible declarations.

In Matthew 15 we hear Jesus seemingly contradict the validity of tradition, but what tradition? Jesus is talking about the tradition of the Pharisees-- the tradition of the law-- but Jesus has come to fulfill the law and create a new man. In Christ we are born into a new tradition. The authority of apostolic tradition and the Bible go hand-in-hand with one another, says the Bible.

I have grown weary of fighting this same battle every time another Catholic wannabe apologist discovers this board. Pull down the archives and read up on what has gone before. Save us all some time and bandwidth.

They are not enemies or in any opposition of one another, but come from the same source of inspiration--the Holy Spirit.

Well, Bob, if you make the effort to discover what has gone before, you will discover many illustrations of tradition that surely could not have come from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit -- unless He has taken to contradicting Himself.

What Ken considers superiority is, in fact, the Roman Catholic Church's direct lineage to Christ via the apostles; no other Church can rightfully claim that.

There you go again, spouting another presupposition. Bob, sorry to be the one to break this to you, but Bible-believing Christians tend not believe in that Apostolic Succession myth. So, essentially, you are attempting to convince us of the truth of a Catholic myth, using yet another Catholic myth as your support. I am not convinced.

The "superiority" of the Church has nothing to do with the people of the Church, but with the divine plan as inspired on Earth by the Holy Spirit.

Yeah. Right.

So, to Ken I say, it is not bluster and bully-tactics used by Catholics, but the understanding of our tradition as biblical and apostolic. Pax.

Well, Bob, as you may have noticed, one of your RCC apologist wannabes has continued to apply those bluster and bully tactics even as your posting rests on the board. Just as the murderous popes and inquisitors of the past were unable to convince those called by God to salvation of the superiority of the Roman cult, so also do the puerile antics of this fellow fail to convince me.

As for your arguments, nothing but presupposition and party line.

I'll stick with the Word of God. I know where it came from and I trust the Source totally.

Ken, AKA Ron

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