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 continues his five-part section on Scripture and Tradition with this next chapter countering Protestants’ arguments against Catholicism’s “Sacred Traditions” by which Protestants warn, “Don’t Go Beyond What is Written.”
In this chapter, Broussard presents the Bible verse below that evangelical Protestants commonly use to warn against alleged divinely-inspired, extra-biblical sources such as Catholicism’s “Sacred Tradition.”
“I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.” – 1 Corinthians 4:6
Broussard remarks that Protestants use this verse as a proof that the apostle Paul “makes written Scripture the parameter beyond which we are not free to go in order to derive knowledge about God’s revelation.”
Broussard first argument is that Paul’s intention was surely not to dismiss “tradition” because elsewhere he instructs believers to “maintain” (1 Corinthians 11:2) and “hold to” (2 Thessalonians 2:15) the “traditions” he had taught them. He argues that all of Paul’s verbal teachings to the churches at Corinth, Thessalonica, and elsewhere during his 20-year ministry could not have possibly been included in his written epistles and therefore concludes that some of his unrecorded teachings were handed down orally as some of the basis for “Sacred Tradition.”
The Catholic apologist then argues that Protestants themselves are divided on the interpretation of the “what is written” portion of the verse and he provides several possibilities. He concludes that because Protestant scholars are divided on the interpretation of the verse, that it cannot be used to support the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.
In answer to his first rebuttal, Broussard is reintroducing arguments he’s already exhausted previously by using 1 Corinthians 11:2 and 2 Thessalonians 2:15 as his proof texts for ” Sacred Tradition.” As I pointed out in my review of chapter 7 (see here), Paul was exhorting the believers at Thessalonica and Corinth to follow his paradoseis/paradosin (Greek – teachings/teaching). He was NOT referring to “tradition” as some vaunted, gnostic repository in the Roman Catholic sense. Few evangelicals would argue that every single teaching that Paul delivered to the churches orally is included in his written epistles, however Gospel Christians can be confident that the Holy Spirit has provided in God’s Word all of the teaching that we need in order that “the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Untethered from the sole authority of Scripture, the Catholic church has used “Sacred Tradition” as carte blanche for every novel doctrine it concocts.
In his exegesis of 1 Corinthians 4:6, evangelical pastor, John MacArthur interprets “what is written” in context with the chapter as follows: “God’s faithful servants are to be treated with respect only within the bounds of what is scriptural (1 Thess. 5:12; 1 Tim. 5:17; Heb. 13:7, 17).”* I believe that’s actually a very good interpretation, Mr. Broussard. No muss, no fuss. While 1 Cor. 4:6 may not be the best Biblical text in support of Sola Scriptura, Paul does refer to Scripture as the ultimate authority in the context of the passage.
Important: Karl Broussard writes confidently in defense of his church’s “Sacred Traditions,” but what he purposely fails to mention to his readers is that the current pope is creating quite a stir within the Catholic church by amending and/or abrogating various doctrines/traditions previously thought to be unchangeable. As Broussard attempts to rebut the Biblical doctrine of Sola Scriptura and defend the notion of divinely authorized “Sacred Tradition,” his own pope is pulling the carpet out from underneath him! That’s NOT a small matter, my friends!
Next up: “Don’t Add to God’s Word”
*The MacArthur Bible Commentary, 2005, p. 1571