Holy Tradition in Early Christianity
A Commentary on an Article Condemning Tradition
In the previous segment of this commentary on an unknown Protestant article against Holy Tradition, the first example in his list of three supposed proofs against Tradition was analyzed and discussed. His claim was proven to be unsubstantiated by the context of Scripture and the spiritual context of the Ancient Witnesses. In this segment, his second example will be analyzed to see if this claim too can be justified.
For convenience in reading again, here is the second example against Tradition:
2) II Thessalonians 2:15 says, "Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle."
Both which were taught were the same that was written down. What traditions is Paul talking about? In verse 5 Paul previously stated, "Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?" This Paul says he already taught them in person but now is writing it down. Consistent with the rest of the teachings, everything that was orally said was written down, which would be used in order to have one practice his Christian relationship. He was giving them and us in writing what he had previously taught, which was about the man of sin. This was to provide further understanding and to clarify any misconceptions they had, since the epistle starts off with the church shaken up by a false letter or word they received that the resurrection had already taken place and they thought they missed out. So presently he is elaborating on the details of the tribulation and the falling away.
Much as Protestants are at a loss in being logically consistent with Jude's extra-biblical sources from God or with the unwritten beliefs concerning Baptism or with Eucharistic oral traditions, they are equally at a loss about the Apostles' commands for all Christians in all churches for all generations to follow and preserve the written and oral traditions of the Apostles. Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 says, "So then, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter." The Early Christians read this same verse and they understood that they must preserve all the oral and written traditions, even the ones not recorded in the New Testament (NT), oral traditions which they were aware of and spoke about. The Early Christians did not believe that the books of the NT had somehow miraculously sucked up all the oral traditions, so that this command from Paul had ceased to have any relevance once all the books of the NT were written. Instead, it was irrefutable to the Early Christians that there were unwritten doctrines and practices from the Apostles which had never been recorded and which all churches had professed since Apostolic times. The Protestant writer uses 2 Thessalonians 2:15 as though it is proof against Tradition, though ironically, Scripture and the Early Christians used it as proof for Tradition. This is because the context of this letter itself, which Protestants abuse, does not prove nor even suggest the concept of "inscripturation", the doctrine that every single Apostolic oral tradition became completely incorporated into Scripture. Paul simply mentions oral traditions of the Apostles and then, as 1 Corinthians 11:34 makes clear, he actually leaves behind certain doctrines to remain outside the Bible for oral transmission.
One of the most important things to remember when reading 2 Thessalonians 2:15 is the fact that Paul never teaches that the Apostolic oral Tradition, which was also called the Gospel, would one day cease to have relevance or would be completely incorporated into Scripture. Protestants insist on believing that every single oral doctrine from the Apostles had eventually become written down in Scripture, but the only way to believe this doctrine is to rely on teachings not recorded in Scripture, since the Bible does not make such statements. In fact, the only way to prove it is to force unbiblical interpretations into the Bible whenever it says something about a genuine oral Tradition from the Holy Spirit. In other words, Protestants must assert a strong man-made bias in assuming the meanings of certain Bible verses and then come up with fanciful explanations unheard of in Sacred History in order to make Apostolic Tradition in Scripture mean what they desire it to mean. And so, the Bible's silence about incorporating every single oral Apostolic doctrine is assumed by Protestants to have been a teaching that the Apostles secretly assumed when they wrote verses promoting the continuation of Holy Tradition. Hence, imitating the logic of the ancient Gnostic heretics of Early Church times, as well as modern cults, Scripture can be totally silent about a doctrine and yet that doctrine can be assumed to exist in the Bible, or better yet, it can be forced to exist by twisting the meanings of Scripture in order to make a pre-conceived result.
The unknown Protestant writer using 2 Thessalonians 2:15 as proof against an oral Apostolic Tradition existing outside the Bible and continuing long after Apostolic times bases his reasoning on the assumption that the Holy Spirit was going to fully incorporate all the oral traditions into the Bible. But 2 Thessalonians 2:15 does not present such an idea. In fact, the Early Christians, whose Biblical analyses of Scripture far exceed in quantity and quality most modern Biblical analyses, were fully aware of extra-biblical oral traditions from the Apostles, which they knew were genuine and which they had learned were never meant to be recorded in Scripture. Clement of Alexandria, himself a disciple of Apostolic disciples in the 2nd century, wrote concerning oral traditions, particularly the Apostolic gnosis, which was a term for the process toward and goal of spiritual perfection. This perfection was nothing like the Protestant-Catholic perception of it, for it required literally becoming as holy as God is holy, praying unceasingly, totally conforming the will to God's will, subjecting the body to the spirit, fasting constantly, being obedient to a spiritual master, imitating Christ according to the Early Christian ideal, keeping guard over every thought, loving God in the ancient application of it, going to confession to a spiritual authority, reading Scripture in the Church's traditional interpretation, submitting to the Church's dogmas, and many other concepts which are very much like the heritage of ancient monasticism. Clement of Alexandria says in his book the Miscellanies VI, 7, "And the Gnosis itself is that which has descended by transmission to a few, having been imparted unwritten by the Apostles. Hence, then, knowledge or wisdom ought to be exercised up to the eternal and unchangeable habit of contemplation." Contemplation to these people (and to traditional monasticism) consists of prayer without the use of thought, whereby the love for God becomes the only unthinkable thought pervading the mind, which after much spiritual practice and effort prepares the soul to receive God's grace in a much more powerful experience, during the prayer and even after it. This mystical doctrine of prayer involves some Biblical ideas, as well as some extra-biblical concepts, all of which guide the soul toward actual spiritual perfection, which again is something that Protestants cannot relate to, in theory or in practice, since their understanding of spiritual perfection is extremely limited to a superficial comprehension of the heavenly Light and of prayer. Catholics are also losing this ancient connection by their consistent adaptations of Protestant dogmas. But if or not Protestants accept this extra-biblical oral Apostolic teaching, the Early Christians of the Apostolic succession and of the laity believed what Clement of Alexandria taught, that there was an oral Apostolic Tradition maintained by the Holy Spirit, not because corrupt church leaders forced these beliefs into Christianity, but because of the witness of their spiritual ancestors contemporary with the Apostles and their disciples.
As the quote from Clement of Alexandria clearly reveals, the Early Christians, even those of the Apostolic succession, the holy Elders, were in the position to know and mention the existence of unwritten Apostolic doctrines not found in our NT. This fact is so contrary to Protestant mythology that it is unthinkable to Protestants to read the Scriptures with this understanding, let alone allow the Early Christians to say such things without attacking them as spiritual idiots or as incompetent neanderthals in the spiritual evolution toward the presumed glory of Martin Luther's theological intellect. Nevertheless, the Early Christians believed Holy Spirit inspiration to be an activity not limited to the written word, but manifesting and being preserved in ways that Protestants can no longer comprehend nor admit. And the Early Christians inherited this belief from the Apostles themselves, not because 2 Thessalonians 2:15 mentions oral and written traditions of the Apostles, but because the Apostles had physically and verbally established the Faith according to this pattern of spirituality. 2 Thessalonians just happened to have mentioned the oral and written traditions, though this arrangement would still have existed even without the Bible mentioning it, just as Clement of Alexandria indicates with his mention of unwritten Apostolic doctrines of mystical contemplation which are not spoken about in the NT. Protestants and their scholars are not for the most part capable of correctly ascertaining the significance, meaning, and truth of oral traditions, especially in regard to mystical depths of prayer, since they insist on forcing out of any discussion the overwhelming reality of the Early Christian heritage of Apostolic oral traditions. Therefore they reflexively interpret every spiritual detail of Scripture and its historical context in ways that must fit their own dogmas, rather than accepting what the Ancient Witnesses simply observed and experienced.
Another example of extra-biblical doctrines from the Apostles is the practice of baby Baptism, which some Protestant churches reject as heretical, unbiblical, and/or anti-apostolic. In one sense they are right, that the doctrine of baby Baptism is not Biblical, except for a vague possibility in Acts 16:15 and 33, as well as 1 Corinthians 1:16, where whole families were baptized, which probably included at least 1 baby. But since there is no clear evidence if or not a baby was included in these baptisms, the Bible makes no reference to baby Baptism. However, children of all ages quite possibly could be included in these Bible verses, suggesting that at least some of the children had no real awareness of the significance of the baptisms and faith involved, which is quite similar to the state of babies being baptized. Nevertheless, the Bible does not teach this practice, especially when it can even be argued that the children involved in these baptisms were all teenagers and had some basic spiritual skills in comprehending the meaning of Baptism and faith in Christ. For this reason, the Early Christian tradition of baptizing babies was not a result of good or bad Bible interpretations, but it was because the Early Christians and their descendents had witnessed the Apostles and their disciples orally teaching the doctrine of baby and young child baptisms. Ireneus in his book Against Heresies says, "Christ came to save all who through Him are born again unto God; infants and children, boys and youths, and aged persons." Hippolytus of Rome in his 3rd century book the Apostolic Tradition says, "Baptize first the children; and if they can speak for themselves, let them do so. Otherwise, let their parents or other relatives speak for them." Augustine in the 4th century concurs in his book On Baptism Against the Donatists IV, 24:341 "If any one seek for divine authority in this matter, though what is held by the whole Church, and that not as instituted by councils, but as a matter of invariable custom, is rightly held to have been handed down by Apostolical authority, still we can form a true conjecture of the value of the sacrament of Baptism in the case of infants." Origen, who came from the Apostolic succession of Clement of Alexandria, says in his 3rd century book Commentaries on Romans, "The Church received from the Apostles the tradition of giving Baptism even to infants."
Despite the fact that Scripture is silent about baby Baptism, the Early Christians had learned from the Apostles to baptize babies and children who had no idea what Baptism means. This was believed in and accepted according to the oral Apostolic Tradition and it was treated as Scripture from God. It did not matter if or not the Bible mentions certain oral traditions or somehow incorporates them all or if oral traditions had some connection with certain Bible passages. The Early Christians followed Scripture and Apostolic Tradition equally without relegating oral doctrines to an inferior status to the Bible. As the famous saint of the Apostolic succession, Ireneus, says in his powerful book Against Heresies, "What if the Apostles had not in fact left Scriptures to us? Would it not be necessary to follow the order of Tradition, which was handed down to those to whom they entrusted the churches?" Ireneus reflects the basic Early Christian belief, which 2 Thessalonians 2:15 teaches, and which all Early Christians accepted as fact, that the Apostles had established an Oral Gospel and a Written Gospel that were both preserved by a clergy of bishops and priests who were taught to believe and preach the Gospel in a certain way through a succession of clergy and elders directly from the Apostles without any deviation in doctrines. As it was witnessed, the Written Gospel, our NT, was simply an offshoot of the Oral Gospel, our Apostolic Tradition, which is the foundation of Scripture, so that Tradition was not a collection of inferior teachings to Scripture, rather, it was the basis of Scripture itself. This was the point Ireneus was making, since the heretics he was writing against were inventing their own traditions and sacred books and calling them Apostolic.
Ireneus and his spiritual ancestors and Apostolic co-workers had never read in the Bible, nor heard from the Apostles and their disciples, that the Holy Spirit had incorporated every single oral Apostolic doctrine and practice into Scripture. If this had been the case, Ireneus would not have been able to make the distinction between Scriptures and Tradition for his generation, nor make the claim that Tradition had survived into his time intact. The point he was making was that the oral Apostolic Tradition was equal to Scripture, as the Apostles had established this arrangement in the Holy Spirit, and that Tradition survives intact as the basis of the Bible for all generations of Christians. He makes this clear in Against Heresies III, 5:1, saying, "The Tradition from the Apostles does thus exist in the Church, & is permanent among us." This means that Paul's statement in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 about oral and written traditions from the Apostles was never meant to be interpreted as a sign that such an arrangement would cease after the NT was completed, as though all their oral doctrines were meant to be totally infused into Scripture, nor that such a teaching was confined to the Thessalonians only. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:2, "I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them on to you." In 2 Timothy 2:2 Paul again says, "What you heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well." The constant message in the NT is that the oral traditions should remain intact for all generations of Christians. There is no doctrine written in the Bible to contradict this message. Hence, according to the Ancient Witnesses of the Apostles and their disciples, the Holy Spirit had never taught that oral Tradition should ever cease, and in fact, quite the opposite was taught, that the oral Apostolic Tradition was designed to remain for all Christian generations as an equal spiritual authority with the Bible. In this way Scripture could be interpreted correctly and rightly applied according to the original Apostolic dogma, not according to any desired belief system.
There are many powerful Early Christian witnesses other than Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Ireneus reiterating the Apostolic doctrine in support of oral Tradition, and many were martyred with this belief in mind. In the 4th century, Basil the Great in his book On The Spirit 9:22 says, "Time will fail me if I attempt to recount the unwritten mysteries of the Church. Of the rest I say nothing; but of the very confession of our Faith in Father, Son, & Holy Ghost, what is the written source?" Basil asks this question about the Trinity because it was an indisputable fact to all Christians that the NT does not clearly teach the concept of the Trinity and how to perceive it, and therefore the Bible does not contain everything that the Oral Gospel teaches (Since Proverbs 7-9 describes Wisdom as God's female counterpart, She could be interpreted as a 4th Person next to the Trinity, thus forming a Quadrinity. There are other Biblical possibilities suggesting a Quintrinity or a Duality or whatever one wants to interpret). Some Protestants believe that the Trinity came into existence as a doctrine after the Bible was written or because of more advanced Biblical interpretations. But this belief itself is a man-made doctrine, which the Ancient Witnesses had never accepted as Apostolic. The Early Christians nowhere witnessed an evolution of doctrines, of spirituality, and of Biblical analyses. Instead, the Early Christians observed from a succession of witnesses that the Apostles had left behind written and unwritten teachings, which sometimes pertained to the same information, though at other times contained different doctrinal content, as in the case of the Trinity. Faustinus in the 4th century mentions this point in his book On The Trinity 7:3, saying, "I will declare of the Holy Ghost that He is fully God & Lord, thus taught by ecclesiastical men who have preceded me; who, themselves also, having been previously instructed in the testimonies of the divine Scriptures by Apostolic men, have delivered them to their successors." Faustinus appealed not to Scripture, but to an ecclesiastical succession from the Apostles for its Biblical interpretation of the Holy Spirit being God. He does not appeal to Scripture for this doctrine, but to an Apostolic succession of a Biblical interpretation. This succession of men and their interpretations of Scripture were considered to be equal to Scripture and just as authoritative. This is why Basil the Great writes in On The Spirit 30:79, "The Tradition of the Fathers has been preserved by an unbroken sequence of memory to our day." In Early Christian jargon "the Fathers" was a term referring to the Apostles, their disciples, and the succession of these men's theology.
Also in the 4th century, Augustine says in his Epistle To Januarius 54:1, "As to those other things which we hold on the authority, not of Scripture, but of Tradition, and which are observed throughout the whole world, it may be understood that they are held as approved and instituted either by the Apostles themselves, or by plenary Councils, whose authority in the Church is most useful." The famous Augustine explains how the oral Apostolic Tradition is both distinct from Scripture and also united with Scripture, possessing in some cases overlapping doctrines and in other cases separate teachings, which either came from the Apostles and/or required major Councils to codify into doctrine. Protestants may object to the idea of Councils having doctrinal authority, however, they must realize that their own doctrines of the Trinity and of the list of Bible books, among others, come as a direct result of the Ecumenical Councils, not because of clear Biblical declarations telling us that Esther is a Scripture and that the Revelation of Peter is not. Hence, Protestants treat the Councils' extra-biblical teachings as though they are equal to Scripture as the words of God Himself, thereby believing in oral traditions from the Apostles and in the men trained according to the Apostles' ecclesiastical and theological succession. Leo the Great in the 5th century, in his Sermons 79, says, "It is not to be doubted that every Christian observance is taught of God, and whatsoever has been received by the Church as a customary devotion is derived from Apostolic Tradition, and from the teaching of the Holy Spirit." Tradition was not only known to exist, but also to be divinely inspired separate from Scripture.
One of the most classic examples of Tradition being the basis of the Bible is the history of the Bible's books. Why were some books put into the Bible and other books left out of the Bible? The Early Christians never recognized a belief that Scripture validates itself, as though certain books automatically proved themselves to be Biblical and thereby proved other books to be extra-biblical. Instead, they believed that Holy Tradition determined for us which books should be accepted as Scripture and which books should be left out of the Bible. The famous Eusebius in the 4th century, in Against Marcellus 1:1 writes, "Besides the divine traditions which are written, the catholic Church of God, which is from one end of the earth to the other, seals to us the testimonies of Scripture by Tradition which is not written." Tradition was understood by the Early Christians to be the basis of Scripture and even the determination of which books should be accepted as Biblical and which books should not be (such as the Epistle of Barnabas, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Revelation of Peter, etc.). Origen, who was a disciple of Clement of Alexandria, who was a disciple of disciples of the Apostles, also teaches, "The key to the Scriptures must be received from the Tradition of the Church, as from the Lord Himself." Like all the Christians before and after him, Origen reveals the original Christian belief that Tradition gives us the meanings of Scripture, that Tradition has never been changed, that it can be distinct from Scripture, and that it is Holy Spirit inspired. That is why the Ancient Witnesses regarded anyone who dismissed the Apostolic Tradition to be a heretic. And this is why, as far as determining which books should be determined Biblical or not, the ancients used Tradition, not the Bible's contents, as a valid and divinely inspired method of ascertaining which books are Biblical and which ones are not. This is indicated by the famous Tertullian in the 3rd century, in Against Marcion I:21, where he says, "That is from the beginning which has the Apostles for its authors, then it will certainly be quite as evident, that that comes down from the Apostles, which has been kept as a sacred deposit in the churches of the Apostles...For although Marcion rejects his (John's) Apocalypse, the order of bishops (thereof), when traced up to their origin, will rest on John as their author." It was not Scripture which proved the Book of Revelation to be Biblical, it was Apostolic Tradition which determined this. Origen also recognized the Tradition that it was the Apostle John who had established for the churches 4 gospels, after having sifted through many other gospels current in his time. Similarly, John's disciple, Papias, concurs, in the few surviving fragments of his books, by recounting the story of how there should be only four gospels for the NT, not more nor less. The idea of only four gospels being written by the Holy Spirit, rather than five or ten or two, or any other number, as indicated in Luke 1:1-2, is not taught in the Bible, yet it has been treated as God's own words from the Apostles, and it is still accepted by Protestants, even though it is a doctrine derived totally from the oral Tradition of the Historical Church.
Following the teachings of the generations before him, Basil the Great repeats the true Apostolic Faith in his book On The Holy Spirit 27:66, saying, "Of the dogmas and doctrines preserved in the Church, some we possess from written teaching and others we receive from the Tradition of the Apostles, handed on to us in mystery. In respect to piety both are of the same force. No one will contradict any of these, no one, at any rate, who is even moderately versed in matters ecclesiastical. Indeed, were we to try to reject unwritten customs as having no great authority, we would unwittingly injure the Gospel in its vitals." Once again, it was common knowledge to the Early Christians that the Apostles had established an unwritten Tradition in the Church distinct from and yet united with Scripture, and that both came from the Holy Spirit in the Apostles, so that anyone who rejected it would be opposing the Gospel itself. Vincent of Lerins in the 5th century sums it up by saying, "That whether I or any one else should wish to detect the frauds and avoid the snares of heretics as they rise, and to continue sound and complete in the catholic faith, we must, the Lord helping, fortify our own belief in 2 ways; first by the authority of the Divine Law, and then, by the Tradition of the catholic Church." (Commonitory 2:4). He says this because it was the belief of all true Early Christians that rejecting the unwritten Apostolic Tradition was heretical. And this belief has continued as a divine fact ever since their times.
With this context of Sacred History in mind, it is difficult to read Scripture and then credibly claim that the NT's endorsements of Holy Tradition must be made subservient to the NT's condemnation of false traditions, a Biblical interpretation which had never existed since Apostolic times (nor even before them) until Luther invented a new doctrine about this 500 years ago. Despite the fact that Protestants use 2 Thessalonians 2:15 as evidence against a perpetual oral Apostolic Tradition, ironically, the Early Christians believed that 2 Thessalonians 2:15 pertained to an Oral Gospel and a Written Gospel, 2 categories of God's words which sometimes overlapped in discussing the Faith, though also containing separate information. John Chrysostom, one of the most famous Early Christians, makes this fact quite clear in the 4th century in his book On 2nd Timothy, Homily 3, "Not by letters alone did Paul instruct his disciple (Timothy) in his duty, but before by words also which he shows, both in many other passages, as where he says, 'whether by word or our epistle' (2 Thessalonians 2:15), and especially here (2 Timothy 1:13) Let us not therefore suppose that anything relating to doctrine was spoken imperfectly. For many things he delivered to him without writing. Of these therefore he reminds him, when he says, 'Hold fast the form of sound words, which you have heard from me.'" There is simply no evidence in the Early Church of any doctrine stating that the oral Apostolic Tradition had ceased to exist after the NT was written. Instead, there is a vast amount of evidence proving that the Early Christians had inherited from the Holy Spirit in the Apostles a written NT and a transmission of oral traditions, some of which repeat Biblical teachings and some of which are totally extra-biblical. People who reject the Early Church witness about Holy Tradition for the sake of proving that the Bible condemns all oral traditions, or that it has "inscripturated" them all, are doing so only to make the Bible conform to Protestant assumptions and to fit Jesus Christ and the Apostles into their own Protestant image of Him.
Another important point about Holy Tradition involves not just doctrines which appear to have been added to the Faith long after the NT was written, such as the Trinity and the determination of the Bible's books, but also doctrines which appear to have been subtracted from the Faith long after the NT records them. As Sacred History reveals, the Early Christians were extremely zealous in preserving and maintaining the Apostolic Faith so meticulously that certain Biblical practices and beliefs necessarily became amplified through Holy Tradition in order to protect the Faith from heresy, false practices, misunderstandings, etc. But similarly, other Apostolic doctrines from Scripture and Tradition became questionable due to persecutions, spiritual confusion from heretical ideas, and other factors, so that they had to be relegated to sub-standard practice and acceptance, even to total rejection. For instance, the Apostolic doctrine of giving up all one's wealth to the Church in Acts 4:32-37, despite God being deadly serious about it in Acts 5:1-11 with the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira for obfuscating this doctrine, had later ceased to be a part of the Faith, though the Bible nowhere teaches that this divine doctrine should be eliminated. In John 13:1-20, the doctrine of Christians washing the feet of other Christians, though sounding much like a weekly sacrament, has had hardly any relevance to Christian worship for most of Church history. And there are other cases like this. As these examples prove, there are extra-biblical doctrines, which even Protestants accept, which promote the belief that certain Biblical doctrines should not be practiced and anymore. Such deletions of Biblical doctrines were determined by Holy Tradition, and Protestants also treat some of these extra-biblical eliminations of Biblical doctrines as though they are words of God, which they should be, since the Early Christians had inherited the belief from the Apostles that Tradition is equal to Scripture. Hence, as these instances of Tradition seemingly adding to and subtracting from Scripture make clear, Paul's command for the Thessalonians to preserve the written and oral Apostolic doctrines in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, though in the context of Thessalonica, is part of a wider historical, theological, and Biblical context of separate yet equal oral and written traditions from the Apostles. Sadly, the unknown Protestant writer using 2 Thessalonians 2:15 against Tradition ignores this context, as well as over-simplifying the oral traditions presented to the Thessalonians themselves.
As the unknown Protestant argues, the oral traditions mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 are nothing more or less than the same exact teachings that Paul had previously written and verbally spoken about to the Thessalonians, which Paul supposedly records in 2 Thessalonians to make sure that none of his oral doctrines were left unwritten. In speaking about the Antichrist, Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 2:5, "Do you not remember that I told you these things when I was still with you?" The staunch Protestant uses this verse to say that Paul was finally putting into writing every single oral teaching about the Antichrist in 2 Thessalonians, thereby putting an end to any oral traditions concerning this subject. As a result, the Protestant believes from this correlation of verses and verbal messages that all the oral teachings from Paul to the Thessalonians had eventually ended up completely in the contents of 1 and 2 Thessalonians, thus providing an instance where Scripture actually works to put an end to the practice of Apostolic oral traditions. Nevertheless, Paul still mentions the existence of oral traditions in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, telling the Thessalonians to remain as loyal to them as to the NT. He nowhere says that the Apostolic oral traditions should be replaced by the NT, instead he teaches his readers to perpetually preserve the oral traditions. If Scripture must be the source of all truths, then the unknown Protestant must provide Scriptures which teach the cessation of oral traditions. But 2 Thessalonians 2:15 does not provide such evidence, nor does it secretly infer it without extra-biblical dogmas forcing Scripture verses to say that oral traditions should be eliminated.
The fact that 2 Thessalonians 2:5 mentions oral teachings which Paul gave to the Thessalonians before he wrote his second epistle, and/or which he supposedly infers in 1 Thessalonians, does not prove that all the oral doctrines which Paul taught the Thessalonians, if in regard to the Antichrist or to any other teaching, had somehow become recorded in 2 Thessalonians. Indeed, quite the opposite could be concluded, since he mentions oral reports about the Antichrist which he had previously told them. His mention of these oral reports does not prove that he later recorded them all in Scripture, for it can just as easily be proved that he did not write down everything about the Antichrist which he had verbally told them. So it still begs the question: If the Apostles' oral traditions were exactly the same as what they wrote in the NT, or at least were in the process of being exactly the same, and Paul had supposedly just recorded everything that he had ever orally taught the Thessalonians, why does 2 Thessalonians 2:15 insist on mentioning oral traditions and thereby maintain the inference of separate doctrines between the Oral Gospel and the Written Gospel? Why did Paul not simply tell the Thessalonians to remain firm to the Written Gospel and forget about confusing them with the concept of oral doctrines? There is no reason why Paul would do this if the Apostolic emphasis was on God's written words alone and that the NT were to replace the oral Apostolic Tradition and that the Holy Spirit was guiding Paul's pen. Paul could have easily written this verse in a way that would have minimized or decreased the importance of oral traditions while focusing on written Biblical doctrines as the standard expression and study of the Faith. But instead, he asserts through the Holy Spirit the equality of the Oral Gospel and Written Gospel, as well as inferring that they to some degree contained different teachings.
In addition to all these things, Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 does not say that the equality between the Oral Gospel and the Written Gospel pertained to the idea that they both contained the same exact contents, only that they were equal in spiritual power. If they did contain the same exact doctrines, what would be the point of making oral traditions equal in status to the written traditions? And what would be the point of even mentioning oral traditions at all? The good Protestant might say that all the oral traditions had not yet been written down in the NT, thus admitting that the oral traditions had at one time contained different teachings from the written NT. But there is absolutely no way of knowing from reading Scripture if or not Paul, the Apostles, or even the Holy Spirit had intended and actually succeeded in taking all the oral Apostolic traditions and recording them in the NT. There is simply no such concept even hinted at in Scripture. The only way to know if or not this is the case is to find out what the Early Christians observed and inherited about this concept, and what they say gives overwhelming support to the belief that the Apostles and the Holy Spirit had never intended and never tried to take all the oral traditions from God and record them all in the Bible. There is simply no record of witnesses saying such things, except for Sadducees and various heretics, whose beliefs in general were clearly anti-christian. Thus, Protestants must invent their own oral doctrines and their own traditional interpretations of Scripture in order to condemn the extra-biblical oral traditions of the Early Christians, who witnessed and inherited Tradition directly from the Apostles, as they themselves describe it.
Because Scripture is silent about a cessation of Holy Tradition, the words in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 are written in such a way for Protestants to force it to mean that all the Apostles' oral teachings are completely included in the written NT. But because of Scripture's silence on this matter, this verse can just as easily be interpreted to say that few of the oral teachings from the Apostles were written in the Bible. Indeed, just because Paul repeats in 2 Thessalonians what he orally spoke to them about the Antichrist it is not evidence that Paul had recorded in the NT every single doctrine and spiritual subject that he verbally taught the Thessalonians, nor that the other Apostles had later picked up any loose pieces as well. There is absolutely no proof and even no inference to allow for such a conclusion to be made. In fact, the Bible commands the Church to preserve oral traditions for all generations without saying once that oral traditions should cease being practiced. Since Protestants insist on believing that God's written words are the only source of Holy Spirit inspiration, then the burden of proof is on them to present Scriptures which actually state or truly display how every single oral tradition from the Apostles had found its way into the written NT. It is also up to the Protestants to prove that the Ancient Witnesses of the Apostles and their disciples were all incompetent in believing a dual transmission of the Gospel- one written and the other oral, without necessarily containing the same teachings. But since Protestants have not been able to do this for 500 years, it must be concluded that it is the Protestants who are opposing Scripture, the Apostles, and Early Christian spirituality.
As it is written in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, Paul desires that the Church recognize an Oral Gospel and a Written Gospel, and he knew, because he makes such an obvious distinction, that the Oral Gospel contained some teachings which were not recorded in the Bible and never would be. Sacred History is full of examples where Holy Tradition either amplified or dismissed actual Biblical doctrines by asserting extra-biblical concepts for them, such as the Trinity, the determination of the Bible's books, the giving of all one's wealth to the Church, Christians washing Christians' feet, and so on, all of which are extra-biblical oral traditions, and yet they are accepted by all Christians as words of God equal to Scripture, which is the original concept presented in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, a concept which Protestants theoretically reject yet in practice they accept. This is what Paul was teaching when he equated an Oral Gospel with a Written Gospel, and this is precisely what the Early Christians had inherited through the Holy Spirit as the Gospel in its fullness. Scripture requires a distinct Apostolic Tradition in order for the Faith to be properly believed, practiced, and maintained. Therefore, the unknown Protestant using 2 Thessalonians 2:15 against the historical Apostolic Tradition has not proved his point that Scripture has replaced Apostolic Tradition. Instead, all he has proven is that he desires to replace the ancient witness of Scripture and Tradition with his own man-made oral Protestant traditions regarding it, which partly consists of denying that he believes in oral doctrines.
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