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”