Traditional Values

Catholic Sts. Joachim, Ann and Mary

For Christians, the Bible is the source of our doctrine and the sole authority against which theology must be measured. Not so for the Roman Catholic Church, which claims that her Magisterium, or Teaching Authority, and something it calls “Sacred Tradition” are equal in authority to the Bible.

95 It is clear therefore that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in its own way, under the action of the one Holy Spirit, they all contribute effectively to the salvation of souls. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Edition, © 1994/1997 United States Catholic Conference, Inc.

The above paragraph makes it crystal clear that Rome does not consider the Bible, God's written revelation, sufficient to make God's will and ways known to man,

97 Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God" (DV 10) in which, as in a mirror, the pilgrim Church contemplates God, the source of all her riches.Ibid.

The gist of the above paragraphs is that without Sacred Tradition the literal word of God has no integrity. Such a strong position must be substantiated.

Consequently it is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence.Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum), promulgated by Paul VI on November 18, 1965, Chap. 2, para 10

The Second Vatican Council, which is the source of the above-cited document, issued no dogmatic definitions. For this reason some might argue that, while the above information is nice to know, Catholics are not required to assent to it by faith.

From the above it might be argued that the Roman Church teaches that the Bible depends on Sacred Tradition for its authority and integrity - or that Sacred Tradition draws its authority and integrity from the Scripture. Either position might be affirmed (or vice-versa) proof of by calling up the words from Dei Verbum or the Catechism quoted above.

Defenders of Rome's yellow and white banner attempt to do just that by citing proof texts in which tradition is mentioned. Interestingly, Mama Church's champions neglect to mention Jesus' rebukes of Jewish religious leaders for their blind adherence to tradition.

The Catholic apologist will claim that the “bad” tradition, which Christ rebuked, is different from what Rome practices, offering no evidence to support such a claim. We are to accept the opinion of Catholic apologists who tend to rail against what they call the “private judgment” of non-Catholics. Apologetics exchanges between Catholics and non-Catholics often end in deadlock, for they are debates that operate under two sets of rules.

The Catholic apologist will select examples of what he considers to be good tradition and declare that these validate Rome's Sacred Tradition. All too often, it appears that the Catholic interpretation of the cited passages results from faulty exegesis. One of the verses often cited to support Sacred Tradition reads thusly in the KJV:

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

As written, these Words of Scripture certainly do appear to support Catholicism's position on her Sacred Tradition. When we apply a literal/historical/grammatical hermeneutic in our exegesis of this verse that supposed support fades into nothingness.

When Paul and Silas arrived in Thessalonica, this prosperous city was the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia. There was a sizable Jewish population among the 200,000 souls who lived in that city. It appears that a number of Gentiles in that city, weary of Greek paganism, were attracted to the ethical monotheism of Judaism. These responded to Paul's teaching in the synagogue. This upset the Jews, who organized a mob to oppose the missionaries, with the result that Paul and Silas who moved to Berea. The Thessalonian Jews caused such an uproar there that Paul moved to Athens, where Silas and Timothy were to join him. With Paul out of the way, the Thessalonian Jews likely turned their attention to the former proselytes, pressuring them to abandon what they had been taught by the Christian missionaries.

One of the arguments used in the attempt to weaken the faith of Christian converts in Thessalonica was that they had missed the Second Coming of Christ. Paul addressed that error in his first epistle to them. The Thessalonians fell for the false teachings of another false teacher -- who apparently claim to be Paul in written form, though what he wrote was contrary to what Paul had taught. This led Paul to write his second epistle to the Thessalonians. Is it any wonder that the Bereans were declared more noble than the Thessalonians because they checked teaching against the inerrant scriptures? When Paul taught the Thessalonians he did so with absolute authority.

The substance of what he taught represented the same body of truth that is available to us in the New Testament Scriptures. How do we know? Paul himself said so. Even as he was recording his inspired epistle to them, he reminded, 'Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?' (2 Thess. 2:5). The written word confirmed and recorded for all time the authoritative truth he had already taught them in person. These epistles were a written reminder of what they had already heard from Paul's own mouth (1 Thess. 4:2). -- John F. MacArthur, Reckless Faith: When the Church Loses It's Will to Discern, Crossway Books (1994)

This is confirmed in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, our supposed Catholic proof text. MacArthur correctly points out that the traditions Paul speaks of in this verse are linked to the written and inspired word of God. Here is where the Catholic error is glaring. So much of Catholic Sacred Tradition affirms or forms teachings that simply are not found in the Scriptures. The Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary, for example, are not to be found in the Bible.

The Presentation of Mary at the Temple, praying to saints and Purgatory are other favored Catholic doctrines that are founded on Sacred Tradition and cannot be supported from Scripture. There is no mention in the Bible of using “aids to worship” such as icons or graven images, nor of the various levels of worship -- latria, hyperdulia and dulia -- to be rendered to the deities of Catholicism. These all are matters of Catholic tradition. Though the Roman Church claims that her tradition is founded upon the Sacred Scriptures, in practice she allows that Sacred Tradition to run amok and uses it for the formulation and furtherance of all manner of diverse and unsound doctrines.

Among th other mentions of tradition that Catholic apologists offer as proof texts are 1 Corinthians 11:2 and 2 Thessalonians 3:6. These fail as proof for the same reasons outlined above by John MacArthur. Paul was affirming in these verses that the tradition he gave was what he later put in written form.

Catholics at times argue that Paul handed on some type of tradition, yet they are utterly unable to state just what that tradition was. Did Paul teach that Mary was sinless, or assumed into heaven? Did Paul tell the Churches he founded to pray to saints and that we would be bound for a place called Purgatory after our earthly death?

Scripture informs us of what Paul taught and any claim outside of the written word cannot stand, for no one among us can state with any degree of certainty what other traditions may have been taught.

When inventive interpretation is allowed to run wild without any authoritative controls, such as those provided by God in the Scriptures, we end up with fables the like of which would make Aesop envious. For example:

The Church venerates the sanctity of Sylvia and Gordian, the parents of St. Gregory the Great, as well as his two aunts, Tarsilla and Emiliana. St. Sylvia was a native of the region of Sicily while St. Gordian, her husband, came from the vicinity of Rome. They had two sons: Gregory and another whose name has not survived the ages. Gordian died about 573 and Gregory converted his paternal home into a monastery. – Saints and Angels, St. Sylvia, Copyright © 2007 Catholic Online

The Catholic Church not only knows the names of the parents and two aunts of one of her popes, but they have canonized them and venerate them as saints. Yet they are unable to tell us the name of Gregory's brother? Surely Gregory himself knew his brother's name, yet he chose to ignore him when he implemented his brand of nepotism in the form of sainthood. Of Gordian and the two aunts we are told nothing more (perhaps they have their own feast days and individual stories, though if so they are not included in this book. Of Sylvia, however, we continue with the following:

It became her custom frequently to send fresh vegetables to her son on a silver platter. One day, when Gregory found himself with nothing to give a poor beggar, he presented him with the platter. St. Sylvia is thought to have gone on to her heavenly reward between 592 and 594. After her death the holy Pontiff had a picture of both his parents depicted in the Church of St. Andrew. In the 16th century, Pope Clement VIII had St. Sylvia inscribed into the Roman Martyrology.Ibid.

Witness the effrontery to intellectual and common sense. This story tells us nothing noble about these saints, nor does it say that Sylvia died a martyr (despite her being listed in the Roman Martyrology). The Church cannot even say what year in which she died! Sylvia did nothing more saintly than to provide her son and his monastery with fresh vegetables on a silver platter, which Gregory then used in a pious manner when he presented it to a poor beggar. Yet this woman is proclaimed a martyr and a saint. Why? Because Gregory had an icon of his parents depicted? No doubt it was funded by the coffers of Roman Church.

The sad fact is that far too many additional examples of such silliness concerning Roman Catholic saints might be offered. St. Christopher and St. George come immediately to mind. People, who may or may not have even existed, are canonized based on cloudy biographies and specious claims. These Catholic saints, whether they really existed or not, are prayed to and tendered dulia worship. This is tradition at play and the same pseudo-theology that gave the world a sinless, immaculate and assumed demi-goddess who is proclaimed Queen of Heaven.

The Sacred Scriptures are self-authoritative in that they themselves proclaim that they are the inspired word of God. Is Sacred Tradition also self-authoritative? I have offered arguments against the only possible Scriptural basis for declaring Sacred Tradition to be authoritative, so the claimed authority of Sacred Tradition must be proven outside the Bible.

I wonder have many Catholics have ever questioned why Sacred Tradition they are required to assent to were not included in Scripture? Why, for example, there is no mention in the Bible that it is through Mary that one comes to Christ? The same tradition that gave us St. Sylvia, St. Christopher and other such shadow saints also gave us Mary, sinless Queen of Heaven and treasurer of all graces (including saving grace).

The same tradition that gave us a celibate priesthood contains so many men who are not celibate also gave us varying degrees and modes of worship (latria, hyperdulia and dulia). Search the Scripture and you will find that God never tells us there are differing levels of worship and that some are due to His creations. To that end, a careful and prayerful reading of God's word will disclose that the traditions authorized by God are spelled out and those enacted by men are condemned.

Is your Jesus made of wheat and held in a monstrance? Or is He Almighty God, unable to be contained in a vessel made by human hands; omnipresent, omniscient, seated in glory at the right hand of the Father and soon to return in glory? I can tell you which Jesus the Bible authoritatively teaches and presents to mankind. Perhaps it is time for you to blow the dust off your Bible and see what God, not a human institution, has to say to you.

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