Rebutting a Catholic apologist, #7: “Traditions Nullify God’s Word”

Today, we continue our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. The Catholic apologist begins a new, five-part section on Scripture and Tradition with a chapter countering Protestants’ arguments against Catholicism’s “Sacred Traditions” by which Protestants state, “Traditions Nullify God’s Word.”


Roman Catholicism contends that many unwritten teachings were passed down orally from Jesus and the apostles and comprise the church’s extra-Biblical, “Sacred Tradition.” The Roman church claims that the teachings that comprise its “Sacred Tradition” are as divinely authoritative as Scripture. The early Reformers broke from Rome and proclaimed the truth of Sola Scriptura, that Scripture alone is authoritative. As Broussard points out, Protestants cite Mark 7:8-13 in which Jesus condemned the Pharisees’ elevation of their traditions over Scripture as an argument against Rome’s “Sacred Traditions”:

“‘You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God) then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.’”

Broussard counters that the passage condemns only traditions that contradict Scripture, a principle he alleges the RCC agrees with. The Catholic apologist then presents three Bible verses that he contends affirm Catholic “Sacred Tradition”: 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 2 Thessalonians 3:6, and 1 Corinthians 11:2. In these verses, the apostle Paul is simply exhorting the believers at Thessalonica and Corinth to follow his paradoseis/paradosin (Greek) teachings/teaching. He is not referring to tradition/teaching as some vaunted gnostic repository in the Roman Catholic sense.

Scripture makes exclusive claims for itself that it is the sole authority for matters of faith and practice (see the article far below). Protestants certainly have their own traditions (e.g. the format of Sunday worship service), but these must be subordinate to Scripture.

Again, the RCC claims that its “Sacred Tradition” is comprised of those teachings that were communicated by Jesus and the apostles orally and have been passed down. However, if you walk into a Roman Catholic bookstore, you won’t find a compendium titled “Sacred Traditions of the Catholic Church.” Why not? One would think that after two-thousand years, someone would have collected all of these alleged oral traditions that were passed down from one generation of clerics to the next. The myth of “Sacred Tradition” is actually Roman Catholicism’s “wild card.” This device has allowed the RCC to contrive a myriad of extra-Biblical doctrines and then appeal to the “Sacred Tradition” wild card for their legitimacy. Within this framework have been hatched such extra and anti-Biblical teachings as the immaculate conception of Mary, papal infallibility, the assumption of Mary, praying to “saints,” the confessional, abstention from meat, interfaith initiatives, etc.

Untethered from sacred Scripture as the sole authority for faith and practice, the Roman Catholic church has elevated its traditions above Scripture to a degree even greater than that of the Pharisees in Mark 7:8-13. Rather than being the source and guardian of Scripture, as the Roman church claims to be, the RCC subordinates Scripture to its man-made doctrines.

For more on Catholicism’s “Sacred Tradition,” see the article below.

Should Catholic tradition have equal or greater authority than the Bible?

Next up: “Scripture Makes the Man of God Complete”

17 thoughts on “Rebutting a Catholic apologist, #7: “Traditions Nullify God’s Word”

  1. Haha, I can’t tell you how many Romanists talk about “Tradition” until I ask them if they hold to material sufficiency of the scriptures or “partim-partim”, in which they suddenly become confused.

    These traditions were not something awaiting the future development of a living voice because they had already been “delivered” to the Corinthians who were “maintaining” them (1 Cor. 11:2), they had already been ”taught” to the Thessalonians who were commanded to ”stand firm” in them and ”hold” them (2 Thess. 2:15), and they were commanded to ”walk” according to the “received” tradition. (2 Thess. 3:6).

    As you noted, when challenged to provide an *OBJECTIVE* infallibly defined list of “Traditions”, they can’t do it! So how do Romanists plan to “stand firm” and “hold” to the commands of the Apostle?

    This is why I always like to point out their hypocrisy and double standards.

    As noted by Tertullian and Irenaeus, these “Traditions” have all been written into scripture to be preserved:

    ]Irenaeus (130 – c. 200): Since, therefore, the tradition from the apostles does thus exist in the Church, and is permanent among us, let us revert to the Scriptural proof furnished by those apostles who did also write the Gospel, in which they recorded the doctrine regarding God, pointing out that our Lord Jesus Christ is the truth, and that no lie is in Him. ANF, Vol. I, Irenaeus, Against Heresies s III.5.1, Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Pg 1066

    Irenaeus (130 – c. 200): We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, [b]handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith. ANF Vol 1, Irenaeus, Against Heresies III.1.1, Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Pg 1059

    Tertullian: Now, what that was which they preached—in other words, what it was which Christ revealed to them—can, as I must here likewise prescribe, properly be proved in no other way than by those very churches which the apostles founded in person, by declaring the gospel to them directly themselves, both vivâ voce, as the phrase is, and subsequently by their epistles. If, then, these things are so, it is in the same degree manifest that all doctrine which agrees with the apostolic churches—those moulds and original sources of the faith must be reckoned for truth, as undoubtedly containing that which the (said) churches received from the apostles, the apostles from Christ, Christ from God. Whereas all doctrine must be prejudged as false which savours of contrariety to the truth of the churches and apostles of Christ and God. It remains, then, that we demonstrate whether this doctrine of ours, of which we have now given the rule, has its origin in the tradition of the apostles, and whether all other doctrines do not ipso facto proceed from falsehood. We hold communion with the apostolic churches because our doctrine is in no respect different from theirs. This is our witness of truth. (ANF, Vol. III, Tertullian, The Prescription Against Heretics 21), Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Pg 523

    Liked by 2 people

    1. SB, thanks for the good comments and references. Catholics don’t like to be nailed down to specifics and they rely on that nebulous “Sacred Tradition” wild card to cover every spurious superstition.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Irenaeus (130 – c. 200): We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith. ANF Vol 1, Irenaeus, Against Heresies III.1.1, Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Pg 1059

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This living voice of tradition that the Romanists practice, reeks of Gnosticism:

    Irenaeus (c. 130-c. 200) : When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but viva voce (living voice) . ANF: Vol. I, Book 3:2:1.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, brother! Sorry to ramble on about it but this insurance quagmire is another example of institutional dysfunction. The insurance company uses a third-party contract company to collect information and that has really complicated the process.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A person could still spend their money and use possessions even if they devoted it to God (corban). They could provide for themselves in their lifetime, they would not have to spend their resources on their folks. Of course Jesus would denounce this. It is unjust and violates moral and ethical laws.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Jesuits became famous for their “casuistry,” whereby they believed they could circumvent any of the Ten Commandments via mental reservation and philosophizing.

      Liked by 1 person

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