Ancient Facts About Holy Tradition
A Commentary on an Article Condemning Tradition
In the previous segment for this commentary on an unknown Protestant's article against Holy Tradition, the second example in a list of three supposed proofs against Tradition was analyzed and discussed. Because Scripture and reports from the Ancient Witnesses were once again not in agreement with the Protestant on this issue, his claims were not substantiated. For this segment, the third supposed proof against Tradition will be analyzed to see if his claim here can also be justified.
For the sake of convenience, here is his last example against Holy Tradition:
3) II Thessalonians 3:6 says, "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition (some translations have teaching, at any rate, teaching can be passed on orally before it is committed to writing) which he received from us." Again if we go further we find what is being said which proves all should be read in its context. Verse 10 says, "For even when we were with you we commanded you this: If anyone does not work, neither shall they eat." It was the same thing by personal word or by letter. They showed this teaching by example as they were with the Corinthians and he put in writing what he had taught them earlier. This way they would not forget or corrupt it after his death. None of these Scriptures has any relationship to the traditions presently taught and practiced in the Roman Catholic Church. Further, no one has ever documented any specific teaching to be accredited to Paul in their traditions. Obviously not everything the apostles "said" is written down, but the doctrines are. So there is nothing spoken that was not written that we would need to know about salvation and living. For example Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:1, "Moreover brethren I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you..." Here it is written out.
Concerning the unknown Protestant's interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 3:6, it must be noted that the word "Tradition" in this context is synonymous with the word "Gospel", as many scholars also admit. This is exactly how the Early Christians understood Tradition to mean, that Tradition is the Gospel in its entirety and the Bible is only a part of Tradition. So Paul tells the Thessalonians in this verse to judge people according to the standard of Apostolic Tradition, not only according to the standard of Scripture, because paper and ink often require a verbal context for elaboration. This observation is important because Paul of course knows that the Apostles have produced written Scriptures, since he mentions them in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, which of course breaks down the Gospel into two categories- the written and the oral. Thus, Paul uses the word "Tradition" as the term that encompasses the whole Gospel, written and oral, rather than using the word "Scripture" or "future Scriptures" or some similar encompassing idea as the basis and foundation of the Faith. The Early Christians believed that the Bible was a smaller portion of Tradition, and derived from Tradition, as well as being maintained by Tradition, though being totally equal to Tradition in spiritual authority. And this is what Paul was implying when he spoke of Tradition being the total Gospel, written and oral, for all time. Paul understood and taught that the Bible was a corollary category of divine teachings under the encompassing concept of Holy Tradition, with Tradition consisting of a greater amount of spiritual information. This is precisely how the Early Church viewed Tradition, as the source of the Bible's contents, the Bible's Nurse, and as the spiritual authority determining what is a truth from God in Scripture and in the spiritual life and what is not. Ultimately, this method of determining true from false doctrines, that is, applying Holy Tradition as the standard and judge of divine truths, continued to be the standard by which even the books of the Bible were chosen and made canonical 3-4 centuries after the Apostolic Age.
This historical fact is a classic example of how the oral Apostolic Tradition has always been regarded as the source of Scripture, rather than as some subservient or dubious element of the Faith. For just as Paul spoke of Tradition as the word to describe the all-encompassing Gospel, written and oral, so did the Early Christians inherit the doctrine from the Apostles that Tradition was to determine the truths of God, in conjunction with the Bible. Scripture and Tradition did not contain identical doctrines, though some doctrines did overlap between the two. For example, Ireneus, a student of a disciple of the Apostle John, says in his book Against Heresies , "What if the Apostles had not in fact left writings 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?" He also says in Against Heresies III, 5;1, "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 order to make the next argument)." Then Athanasius in the 4th century in his Four Letters To Serapion Of Thmuis 1:27 says, "But beyond these Scriptural sayings, let us look at the very Tradition, teaching and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning, which the Lord gave, the Apostles preached, and the Fathers kept. Upon this the Church is founded, and he who should fall away from it should not be a Christian, and should no longer be so called." Athanasius then goes on to teach the Trinity from the Apostolic Tradition, since the Bible is not complete and accurate in teaching this doctrine.
Furthermore, Paul used the word "Tradition" to describe the Gospel, not because he thought that oral traditions would one day become written in the Bible, but because the Bible was produced from and nurtured by Tradition, though equal in spiritual authority. If Paul had known that oral traditions were being incorporated into Scripture, he would have used some term like "Scriptural Tradition", or at least conveyed some concept supporting the Written Gospel as the source and basis of the Faith. But even if Paul had not known about the supposed process of oral traditions becoming incorporated into the Bible (and this ignorance of the concept would be further proof against such a belief), the Holy Spirit would not have inspired Paul to write "Tradition" as the word to describe the Gospel, but to write a word supporting written Biblical material as the Gospel. Protestants always insist on using the Bible alone as their answer for everything, yet when the Bible's own words disprove their theological points, they will go to great lengths to read their own pre-conceived notions into Bible verses rather than accept what is obviously taught and expressed, especially in the context of the Bible and Ancient Witnesses of the Prophets and Apostles.
As can be seen in 2 Thessalonians 3:6, Paul does not assume that God's revelations to man must only be in the form of written Scripture, but that Tradition is the ultimate source and guiding power behind the Bible's contents and meanings, and is equal to Scripture in the Church and in the practical, daily lives of Christian's working out their salvation, as 2 Thessalonians 2:15 indicates, where Paul mentions the Apostolic traditions consisting of written and oral doctrines as the basis of the Faith. The Bible nowhere teaches that the oral Apostolic Tradition was an imperfection waiting to be perfected by the written Scripture. Instead, the Apostles even in the NT consistently state that every Christian for every generation must preserve the Faith through oral Tradition, as well as judge God's truths by oral Tradition, utilizing Scripture as a correlating factor of the Faith's doctrinal stance. The Bible and the Early Christians never judged God's truths by asking, "Is this written in the Bible?" but by asking, "Is this Apostolic?" not caring if it is oral or written. Moreover, the Bible nowhere teaches nor proves that all the doctrines mentioned in the Bible are precisely the same doctrines of the oral Tradition. How does one know this, except by a Protestant oral tradition asserting that this is the case? Yet the Bible does not state such an idea; an oral tradition must supply such a bias into the texts. Hence, the Bible may indicate and include some oral traditions of the Apostles, but Scripture nowhere teaches or hints that every single oral Apostolic doctrine is included in the Bible. Such a belief is an oral doctrine itself, invented by the Sadducees and Martin Luther, both of whom had no connection with Apostolic witness. But the Bible in 1 Corinthians 11:2, 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 3:6, and elsewhere commends oral Tradition to all churches for all time, indicating how the Gospel was originally meant to be orally transmitted and to continue possessing doctrines in unrecorded form, just as the Early Christians witnessed it and inherited it from the Apostles, their disciples, and their succession of disciples, bishops, and priests after them. The Early Christians were not idiots or liars, as Protestants want to make everyone believe; the faith, theology, and reputation of the Early Church are spiritually spotless. Protestant reformers on the other hand cannot compare to the intellect, spirituality, and theological accuracy of the Church's Ancient Witnesses.
The unknown Protestant condemning Tradition, after quoting 2 Thessalonians 3:6, then quotes verse 10 and reads into it his own oral tradition against the Apostolic Tradition. His application of verse 10 is not really clear because this verse simply puts into writing one of many oral doctrines which Paul had taught the Thessalonians. Thus, there is absolutely no evidence or hint that all other oral doctrines eventually made it elsewhere into Scripture. On the contrary, there is evidence and signs of oral doctrines from the Apostles never having made it into the Bible. Verse 3:6 speaks about Tradition being the entire Gospel, which includes the unwritten lessons of Jesus mentioned in John 20:30 and 21:25, and which John insists cannot be included in the NT. Some of these unwritten doctrines were actually passed down orally by the Apostles, as witnessed by many Early Christians, but particularly Papias, the famous disciple of John. Papias's major premise for writing his five books was to put down into writing some of the oral doctrines which had not been recorded in the NT. Since he was a disciple of John and became bishop of Hierapolis in the early 2nd century, it is possible that, when Papias recorded some of the NT oral traditions, the only NT books yet to be written would have been John's. It is also conceivable and more probable that only the Book of Revelation was yet to be written when he interviewed and recorded the last of the actual first-hand witnesses and accounts, as he says, which included some of the extra-biblical teachings of Jesus and the Apostles. Whatever the case had been, Papias's books were considered genuine and perfectly in accordance with the Gospel, being a record of doctrines and stories that were basically from the oral Holy Tradition. Later Christians after him treated his five books as sacred writings and they perceived nothing unusual about his books continuing a distinction between the NT and Apostolic Tradition. They accepted this distinction between Tradition and Scripture not because Papias masterfully fooled every single church into believing it, but because the Church had always known of such a distinction. That was the point of Papias recording these oral traditions and doctrines.
All of his books are now lost, but even the dozen or so fragments of Papias's writings which still exist specifically mention the fact that his five books were designed to put into writing many oral doctrines of Jesus and the Apostles from first- and second-hand witnesses which were never put into the NT. The Early Christians who were quoting and commenting on Papias never had a problem with this premise. Any criticism they had of his books did not involve his recording of the oral Apostolic Tradition. Though Papias's relationship to the Apostle John was later doubted, even confused with another holy John, like the Book of Revelation, this confusion still does not weaken the Early Christian insistence that not every oral doctrine of the Apostles had been recorded in the NT, just as it does not weaken the veracity of the Book of Revelation, and that some sincere man by the name of John was attempting to record some of the extra-biblical doctrines maintained in the oral Apostolic Tradition. And though some Early Christians rejected Papias's books because a literal Millenium (rather than a figurative Millenium, as it was originally taught by the Apostles) was too easily interpreted into them, so that they were later neglected to extinction in order to prevent serious spiritual abuse, it must be remembered that Ireneus, who was himself a disciple of an Apostolic disciple, accepted Papias much like a Scripture, as did other Early Christians. The negative comments of a few of Papias's recorded teachings are not evidence that he was false or wrong, since he was accepted as a bishop after all, and his books were accepted as genuine even by his critics, because even 1 Enoch was similarly accepted by the Apostles and yet it was later neglected to extinction by the Church for good, holy reasons. Like Papias, 1 Enoch had been quoted by Jude and was used as a Scripture in the NT itself, yet it was also later suppressed or neglected to extinction by the Church because its contents were similarly misused and/or its traditional connection with the Prophets and Apostles had been broken up somehow. This was not 1 Enoch's fault, nor Papias's; it was because of events and spiritual errors beyond the control of Enoch and Papias which caused the Church to keep these texts out of public scrutiny, despite being directly associated with Apostolic doctrine. But whatever had been the case with Papias, his premise of extra-biblical oral Apostolic doctrines was unquestionably accepted before, during, and after his time. The Ancient Witnesses observed no other heritage.
The connection between 2 Thessalonians 3:6 and verse 10 does not at all result in the conclusion that all Apostolic oral traditions had eventually become incorporated into Scripture. Isolating one instance of an Apostolic oral doctrine later being written into the NT is not proof that every single oral doctrine and/or tradition from the Apostles was later made Biblical. There is simply no basis for forcing such an interpretation into the texts and context of the Bible and Sacred History. Since the oral Holy Tradition preceded the Bible, and it was known to exist distinct from the Bible after the NT was completely recorded, there should be expected some amount of overlap between them. Hence, it is a very pathetic attempt to read into Scripture what cannot be factually and logically asserted, and it embarrasses even the critics of Protestantism to see Protestants saying such wishful things and twisting the evidence and then actually believing that the logic and theology are sound.
In his arguments surrounding 2 Thessalonians 3:6, there are many assumptions which the unknown Protestant relies on in order to make this verse, and whatever else he connects with it as evidence, seem like a teaching against oral Tradition. These assumptions derive not from Biblical facts but from theological and personal biases, on Protestant myths and oral traditions, not on Scripture and the Ancient Witnesses. To his credit though, he does seem to accept the idea that Paul is writing about "tradition" and not "teaching" or "doctrine". The Greek word Paul uses in 2 Thessalonians 3:6 is "paradosis", which means "tradition" in English. It cannot be translated as "teaching" or "doctrine" because there are Greek words for these words, which Paul did not use. Also, the word "paradosis" simply means "tradition" and nothing else. Plus, the Early Christians recognized this verse to refer to "tradition" and nothing else. But disregarding these facts, some NT translations and certain Bible analyses are so bigoted against the ancient concept of Tradition, that they will purposely mistranslate and misinterpret God's own words for the sake of their own theological predispositions by translating "paradosis" to mean "teaching" or "doctrine", in the Bible and also in important extra-biblical accounts. This is a sad development in the Protestant culture, and it is a major reason why these false, modern assumptions about Tradition must be isolated and exposed.
To begin with, the unknown Protestant says that none of the Bible's references to the Apostles' traditions "has any relationship to the traditions presently taught and practiced in the Roman Catholic Church". Sadly, he is partially right in saying this, since the Catholic church, starting about 1100 years ago, has altered some of the doctrines of the original Apostolic Tradition, adding and throwing out traditions over the centuries, so as to separate themselves more and more from the original Apostolic Faith and thereby causing a greater and greater distinction between Catholic traditions and Early Christian traditions. This is why the Great Schism occurred in A.D. 1054, when the Catholic church broke away from the Apostolic Church, now called Eastern Orthodoxy. Nevertheless, the unknown Protestant does not seem to be aware of this historical fact in the history of Christian theology, since he expresses a consistent pattern throughout his treatise of assuming that the so-called false Early Christian oral traditions are the same as the Catholic traditions. And it is not clear if he knows what the differences are between Early Christian Apostolic Tradition and Catholic traditions, nor is it clear if he knows what the Apostolic Tradition totally consists of, let alone the teachings of Early Christianity. He simply condemns oral Tradition altogether, being totally oblivious of the existence of Protestant oral myths, as though oral Tradition was something only invented by the Catholics, which in Protestant mythology took place in the 4th century. Such thinking is pure Protestantism, and this unknown critic of Tradition defends these erroneous assumptions, while making it clear that he is woefully ignorant of the Early Church's beliefs, as well as not knowing the distinctions between Gnostic, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Early Christian-Eastern Orthodox oral traditions, which can be easily studied and observed by anyone.
Another serious flaw in the Protestant condemnation of Tradition is the assumption that oral traditions are less reliable than written traditions, like the NT. Referring to his interpretation that Paul had taught the Thessalonians and Corinthians certain oral doctrines, which he then later wrote down in epistles to their churches, the unknown Protestant says, "This way they would not forget or corrupt it (the oral teachings) after his (Paul's) death." There is no Biblical doctrine asserting or even vaguely hinting that Scripture, compared to oral Tradition, is more reliable and more perfectly transmitted generation after generation. This is a purely Protestant myth fabricated in recent centuries in an age when the printing press dominates mental activities. Before the printing press people had to rely on their minds with far greater intensity than they do today, so that people's mental skills were far greater. Memorizing vast amounts of information was not so difficult, as well as memorizing them with the least amount of errors. Thus, memorizing oral traditions was not necessarily an issue or the issue involved, as it is with Protestants in modern times. Protestants today assume that oral Holy Tradition was in ancient times treated with the same degree of mistakes as information is treated on personal channels of transmission today. Many modern teachers are aware of the circle game, where the teacher whispers a sentence to a student, who then must relay the same exact words to the next student, who also must relay these words to the next student, all the way around the circle to the last student, who must stand and tell the class what the sentence is, which is thus compared to what the teacher originally said. There is almost always a serious degree of inaccuracy exhibited for every comparison between the last student's version and the original sentence. But there is no comparison between the transmission of oral Tradition and the modern circle game. Modern students do not take the game seriously, or they like to purposely screw up the sentences, or they are not skilled in verbal communication. On the other hand, the bishops and priests of the Apostolic succession were adults who took oral Tradition as seriously as Scripture; they were highly trained in memorizing and practicing exactly what they learned, and their spiritual integrity was generally impeccable. Furthermore, the transmission of Early Christian Holy Tradition cannot even be compared to modern transmissions of Protestant oral traditions, since Protestants themselves disdain the idea of authoritative oral traditions so much that denominations may change their theology over the centuries, that individual Protestants constantly change churches whenever they feel like it, that they regularly change their own theology over the course of their lives, and that some people even invent new systems of theology, creating new denominations, new traditions, and new Biblical interpretations out of nowhere. It is no wonder that Protestants assume that oral traditions in Sacred History are filled with errors and that they cannot and should not be relied on. This has never been the case with the Holy Tradition of the Ancient-Modern Jews and the Early Christians-Eastern Orthodox.
Contrary to Protestant assumptions, the Ancient Witnesses did not falsify the heritage of the transmission of oral traditions. The Ancient Jews considered oral Tradition to be in some sense more reliable and more stable than the written Bible itself (see the Jewish Encyclopedia under "Oral Tradition", "Tradition", "the Oral Torah" and similar terms, as well as the book Everyman's Talmud by A. Cohen, p. 146-149), and it was just as meticulously preserved as the written texts of the Bible were. This awareness of the reliability of oral traditions can be observed today in modern cultures, where written traditions have never existed. For most ancient religions of the world, Creation and Flood myths abound with many important similarities to the Bible. In some cultures families memorize vast amounts of information reaching back thousands of years, adding new bits of information each generation. Every child is born and raised being taught to memorize the oral traditions to perfection. The Jews also transmitted oral traditions and the written texts of the Bible with extremely strict and fervent accuracy, so much so that there were instances when oral traditions were regarded as superior to the Bible. This is because the Old Testament (OT) contains problematic passages, contradictory teachings, and other unusual messages, which require a highly reliable extra-biblical source to explain and resolve the spiritual issues and questions surrounding them. And this is why the Ancient Jews had always accepted both the Bible and the Tradition of the Prophets as equal and exact, for the Law was known to have been sent by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai in written form as well as in oral form, and both were preserved without change by the Holy Spirit (For examples of this see the Talmuds, an Ancient Jewish record of theology, as in Sifre Deuteronomy 351; 145a and Shabbat 31a, among others.). Even Jesus told the Jews and His Disciples to listen to and agree with the written and oral Tradition of Moses's Seat, which is not a concept in the Old Testament, in Matthew 23:2-3.
One of the examples of how oral Tradition can resist any and all changes, even the introduction of new doctrines and twists of meaning, is Christianity itself. Judaism was facing its greatest spiritual challenge in the 1st century when some Jews became Christians. Though the Oral Gospel and the Written Gospel could be mingled with the teachings of the written OT and the oral Tradition, and the synagogues were filled with Christians preaching their new ideas and influencing spiritual discussions, other Jews refused to see Jesus as being the Christ as shown in the OT and in the Prophets' Tradition. Despite the fact that Jewish Holy Tradition prophecied Christ more clearly in some cases than the written OT, the oral Tradition was not influenced or changed during Apostolic times when Christian doctrines had a definite impact on the thinking of every Jew at the time. Thus, the oral Tradition of the Jews did not accidentally or intentionally admit new doctrines from Christianity or Paganism or any other religion; Tradition remained the same, including the prophetic pre-christian overtones hinting of Jesus being the Christ. It was only the doctrine that Jesus Christ could not be the Savior which was assumed in Tradition and the OT, which was the opposite of what the Apostles taught. Nevertheless, in the New Testament (NT), especially in Acts, the Apostles mentioned how the Scriptures prophecied Christ, which to the Jewish mind of the time involved the written and oral forms of God's words. This is especially true in Acts 7:53, where Stephen says that the Law of Moses came not from God directly, as taught in the OT, but directly from angels, a doctrine not specified in the Bible, though it was a belief found in the oral Holy Tradition of the Prophets. Stephen thus used Scripture and separate doctrines from Tradition, which he accepted as God's words, in order to convict the Jews of their errors against Jesus. The Christians were thus using both the OT and Tradition as proofs that Jesus is the Christ, whereas the traditional Jews were using the same OT and Tradition so as to deny Him.
The reason why the Apostles used both Scripture and Holy Tradition was because, just as in the case of the OT, there are a good number of prophecies in the oral Tradition of Jesus being the Christ. For example, one tradition of the Jews recounts a story of Moses in the wilderness, which can be strongly associated with the Cross of Jesus Christ (From a book called "Juedische Maerchen", p. 62-63, the "Maerchen der Welt" series by Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. This book does not specify from which source in Tradition this story comes). According to this tradition, the Jews were getting really thirsty at one point during their 40 year wandering in the wilderness and they were getting pretty angry at Moses. Moses was told by God to tell a Rock to produce water. Moses instead struck the Rock with his staff and only a few trickles of water came out. He became angry and hit it again, whereby Blood flowed from the Rock. Moses was confused and enraged, and God Himself was perturbed at what Moses had done. So God told Moses that He had specifically said that Moses should simply tell the Rock to flow with Water, not to hit the Rock. God also told him that He wanted to show the Jews how His Word alone was satisfactory to make Water flow from a Rock, so that the people would see that even innocent rocks obey God's Word and that this is the Faith His people need. Despite this mix-up, God turned the Blood into Water and all the people were able to drink and live. For this sin of Moses, God told him that he would not live forever, but that he would one day die. The Christian overtones of this story are many. The Rock, the Staff, Moses as leader of the Jews, the Cross, the Blood and Water of Life, the Word of God, and other concepts signify the story of Jesus on the Cross and how the Jews were responsible for inheriting God's Word and distorting it, even attacking His Instrument for Life. Moses was a type of the Jews attacking Jesus, his Staff was a type of the Cross, the Blood and Water were a type of the blood and water that came out of Christ's side on the Cross, the Rock being Jesus Himself, and other teachings can all be understood in this story. Thus, the Christians saw Jesus as the Christ in such stories, which parallel similar OT signs and prophecies, while the Jews refused to see Jesus as the Christ in this and other stories like it from Tradition. The Jews never falsified this tradition so as to hide its Christian concepts; they preserved it unchanged because of its prophetic holiness.
Similar to this story of Moses, in 4 texts of the Talmuds, in Aboda-Zara, Succa, Yebamot, and Sanhedrin, the Holy Tradition of the Prophets teaches that there will be two advents of the Savior- one as the Son of Joseph and one as the Son of David. The Son of Joseph is to die a violent death, which the Zohar adds that He will rise again, and then later will be succeeded by the Son of David, who will appear gloriously and bring glory to all of God's people. There is some contradiction about these two advents in the Jewish Tradition, if or not they involve the same person, but this could be a reflection of the Christian concept, also an apparent contradiction, of the two natures of Jesus Christ- one that is fully Human and one that is fully Divine. The Christian doctrine of two advents of Jesus Christ, one where He dies to save the world and one where He appears gloriously to save the world, cannot be denied as having strong parallels with this tradition of the Prophets. Though there are many passages in the OT and Holy Tradition which can be interpreted to prophecy Jesus as the Christ and reflect Christian doctrine, the traditional Jews refuse to see Jesus in them and they instead perceive them to refer to some other meaning. This is what the Apostles had to deal with when they proved from the Scriptures and Holy Tradition, as the NT indicates were the sources for the Apostles, that Jesus is the Christ. The Jews have never altered these teachings, in order to wipe out their Christian correlations; they simply preserved them unchanged because the transmission of Holy Tradition was always treated as being as holy as Scripture itself.
The NT reflects many of the oral traditions from the Prophets. In Matthew 7:12 Jesus says, "In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the Law and the Prophets." In the Talmuds the great Hillel, who lived while Christ was young, is also recorded in Shabbath 31a, saying, "What is hateful to yourself, do not do to your fellow man. That is the whole of the Torah and the remainder is but commentary. Go, learn it." Also in the Talmuds, in the 2nd recension of the Aboth d'Rabbi Nathan, it is recorded that Rabbi Akiba, living in the 2nd century, said, "This is the basic principle of the Torah: What is hateful to yourself, do not do to your fellow man." The similarities here are quite clear, and it indicates how Jesus and the Apostles relied not just on the OT but also on the Holy Tradition, as Stephen did in Acts 7:53. In Mark 8:22-25 Jesus cured a blind man by putting spit in the man's eyes, which was another doctrine from the Tradition of the Prophets. This is mentioned in the Talmuds, Baba Batra 126b, where saliva for religious purposes was noted to be a work from God, as it says, "There is a tradition that the saliva of the first-born son of a father has healing powers, but not of the first-born son of a mother." Also in the Talmuds, in p. Sotah 16d, there is a story about Rabbi Meir, who lived in the 2nd century: A woman got in trouble with her husband for having gone to hear Rabbi Meir teach, and the only way he would be reconciled was for her to go and spit in Rabbi Meir's eyes. Rabbi Meir was told by the Holy Spirit about this, so when she returned, he asked the crowd if there were anyone who could "cure a sore eye by a spell" to come up and do so. She came up to him and he told her that it would be better if she could spit in his eyes seven times without the spell. She did so and her problem was apparently solved. The Jewish tradition of saliva being a method to cure bad eyes was therefore a doctrine defended and promoted by Jesus when He used spit to cure a blind man.
These similarities between the oral Tradition of the Prophets and Christianity are not because the Jews sought to imitate the teachings of Jesus, since they regarded Him as a false messiah. It would not make sense to be change centuries of traditions in order to make it seem as though a religious foe were correct. And as these stories from Tradition make clear, the Ancient Jews did not attempt to change their traditions so as to hide any connections with Christian teachings. The Ancient Jews simply preserved Holy Tradition intact, as they did the OT, though refusing to see Jesus Christ in it.
The Bible and Tradition show that in many ways the Apostles utilized the Tradition of the Prophets in their doctrinal proofs for Jesus being the Christ, as can be seen throughout the NT, especially in Jude 9 and 14-15, where Jude quotes the Archangel Michael and the Prophet Enoch, both quotes coming not from the Bible but from Tradition. Hence, the Apostles were influenced by Tradition in their establishment of the Church's doctrines and the NT's contents, even to the point of setting up the dual arrangement of Scripture and Tradition which was a part of Ancient Judaism. Hence, the Jewish undertones of Apostolic dogma are not limited to just OT similarities; they also exist in the Holy Tradition of the Prophets, which the Jews never changed in order to cover up its prophetic Christian messages.
When anyone closely studies the evidence, the witness and experience of the Bible, the Ancient Jews, and the Early Christians never found it reasonable or factual to teach that oral traditions were less trustworthy, more apt to change and distortion, and more readily capable of falsification, as the typical Protestant now believes. The belief that oral traditions are more vulnerable to spiritual corruption is similar to saying that the Bible's books are vulnerable to massive falsification, which they technically are. It is just as likely for the transmission of Biblical books to admit falsified texts, and to force them into dominance, as it is for the transmission of oral Tradition to include false new ideas. And it is just as likely for persecutions to destroy evidence of truer and older Biblical texts as it is for more original oral traditions to disappear. But the Ancient Jews and Early Christians never believed that any of these possibilities could happen, since the Prophets and Apostles had established a well-organized system of doctrinal transmission with certain checks and balances guarded by the Holy Spirit. So, as far as the Ancient Witnesses are concerned, and as far as historical-spiritual realities are concerned, the contents of the Bible's books are just as easily vulnerable to falsification and erroneous interpretations as oral Tradition supposedly is. But none of these things was observed to happen to the Bible's books and its Holy Tradition, thanks to the Holy Spirit and the fervor of the spiritual masters, the elders, the holy teachers, and the Apostolic theological succession of bishops and priests. Even Sacred History affirms this as a fact. Nevertheless, heretics and schismatics have attempted to infect Judaism and Christianity with false traditions and ideas, but such attempts were immediately noticeable and they were confronted with debates and/or hostility. In many cases, the leaders of these attempts simply broke away and formed their own sects and cults, and in a few cases they succeeded in rivaling the authority and popularity of Orthodox Judaism and Orthodox Christianity themselves.
As these points show, the unknown Protestant writer's assumption, that it is a self-evident fact that oral traditions are less trustworthy than written ones, cannot be accepted as a proper notion in reading Scripture and Early Christianity. The Bible's writers never had such an assumption and neither did the ancient standard of theology, Holy Tradition, accept such an idea, nor was it ever observed to be true by experience. Indeed, the Bible's treatment of oral Tradition being equal to Scripture, correlating with the Ancient Jews and Early Christians treating it as equal to Scripture for all time, makes it clear that the Holy Spirit through Paul and the Apostles did not need to make sure that all the oral Tradition of the Apostles was written down in the NT, so that the Church "would not forget or corrupt it" after their deaths. The notion simply did not exist in the minds of the Apostles, nor does the Bible make this clear. In fact, the opposite is constantly taught in the Bible and Sacred History- that Tradition can be preserved as meticulously as Scripture for all time and that it has always been in existence as equal to Scripture and as trustworthy as Scripture. If Tradition is capable of corruption, then so is Scripture. But because Judaism and the Church had a well-trained and well-established system of transmission for the Oral Bible and the Written Bible, there was never a reason for all of oral Tradition to be written down in Scripture, nor is there evidence of such a doctrinal change. This belief had never been taught until the heretical Sadducees and Martin Luther invented it and then other popular Protestant reformers embellished it. For this reason, all the evidence surrounding this question requires the conclusion that Tradition is as trustworthy as Scripture itself.
The next point of the unknown Protestant critic of Tradition that deserves mention is similar to his assumption that the Catholic oral traditions are the same as the Early Christian Apostolic oral traditions, which he conveniently assumes cannot be any of the oral traditions inferred or mentioned in the NT. He says, "No one has ever documented any specific teaching to be accredited to Paul in their traditions." He says this because he already forces the Bible to say that the Apostles' oral teachings have all been incorporated into the NT, despite the lack of any evidence other than Protestant assertions that the Bible says this and assumptions of what is or is not an incorporation of an oral tradition into Scripture. However, the Early Christians also analyzed the Bible generation after generation and none of them is known to have witnessed the Apostles nor the Bible ever once pointing out that all the oral doctrines of the Apostles became recorded in the NT. For this reason, it is safe to say that no one has ever documented any specific teaching to be accredited to Paul or to any other Apostle stating that the NT has incorporated all the oral traditions! Thus, the same argument he uses against Apostolic Tradition can also be used against him, since the evidence he is seeking is precisely the evidence he lacks for his own dogma against Tradition.
There is absolutely no evidence or even a vague hint indicating that the oral traditions of the Early Christians were not inherited from the Apostles, though there is much evidence showing that they are. But there is evidence that some of the oral traditions of the Catholics are not the oral traditions of the Early Christians, nor of the NT. Catholic and Early Church oral traditions are in some ways the same, since Catholicism was for almost 1000 years part of the Apostolic Church, yet because of serious doctrinal deviations starting about 1100 years ago, Catholic traditions and Early Church traditions are in some ways in total opposition. For instance, the Early Church believed that the pope of Rome was first in honor but not first in authority. But starting about 1100 years ago, more and more popes began to change this original doctrine by claiming to be first in spiritual authority. New doctrines, such as changing the Trinity into some hierarchical concept and making the Apostles' (Nicene) Creed to say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, rather than from the Father alone, were forced into western Christianity. This led to many other doctrinal changes over the centuries after AD 1054, such as the belief in the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary, as though she were conceived without sin. It also led to a works-oriented faith, as in the belief in selling indulgences, whereby people actually paid money to receive proof of forgiveness of individual sins. These Catholic changes to the oral Apostolic Tradition and its beliefs and interpretations of Scripture can be historically proven to be in opposition to the Early Church's beliefs. Thus, the evidence of widespread papal changes to the Faith did not occur in Early Christianity but in much later Christianity.
Furthermore, the idea that the Early Christians never accredited any oral traditions to Paul is simply a dream. The Early Christians can be cited on occasion to have documented specific teachings and accredited them to specific Apostles in their oral traditions. Each of the four gospels in our NT, for instance, do not record who wrote these books, since they were written anonymously. However, it is oral Tradition which identifies the writer of the Gospel of Matthew to be Matthew, the writer of the Gospel of Mark to be Mark, and so on. Papias, the famous disciple of the Apostle John, wrote five books attributing many oral traditions to specific Apostles, even pointing out exactly who wrote which of the four gospels. These doctrines came from oral Tradition, not the Bible. Origen says that the collection of four gospels, and not five or three or seven or any other number, was a direct result of the Apostle John taking into account all the various gospels in existence and setting up only four gospels as Scripture. Even the Epistle to the Hebrews is an anonymous letter, but this too has been attributed to Paul by many ancient documented reports. And there are other documented examples of oral traditions being attributed not just to Paul but also to other Apostles, especially their travels and martyrdoms, and even to the Apostles as a whole. Basil the Great in On The Trinity 27 speaks about praying to the east and the Trinity as examples of oral Apostolic beliefs. Tertullian in On The Soldier's Crown 3 speaks about making the sign of the Cross on one's body as a proper Apostolic oral dogma. Origen in the 3rd century in his Commentaries On Romans says, "The Church received from the Apostles the tradition of giving Baptism even to infants," mentioning baby Baptism as an Apostolic doctrine. And the list goes on and on. So the Protestant's claim that there is no documentation for the oral teachings being attributed to specific Apostles, even to Paul, is itself an undocumented assertion with no basis in fact or logic. He falls into this line of reasoning so much because he is blindly consumed with the myth that oral traditions did not exist until the 4th century (when the papacy supposedly came into existence) and that they only entail man-made works-oriented rituals and practices and a legalistic adherence to man-made papal concepts. Plus, he fails to make sense here because his Protestant theology has trained him to be pitifully ignorant of the original Apostolic doctrines which had been common knowledge to the Ancient Witnesses, and yet he assumes that he knows what the Apostles had always intended to teach.
Another matter of interest that should be commented on is the unknown Protestant's remark that "not everything the apostles 'said' is written down, but the doctrines are". Here is one more instance of pure ignorance about the origin of the NT and Apostolic Tradition. Except for the tradition that John had arranged four gospels only and no others, there is no record of other NT books being arranged by the Apostles and made Biblical. However, there had always been a general consensus of agreement on all the epistles, which the Early Christians state had been a result of the Holy Fathers (a term referring to the combination of the Apostles, their disciples, and other holy teachers after them), but there was some disagreement on if or not Hebrews, James, Jude, 2 Peter, 2-3 John, Jude, Revelation, the Gospel of the Hebrews, the Didache (the Teaching of the 12 Apostles), Barnabas, the Shepherd of Hermas, 1 Clement, and a few others should or should not be accepted as Scripture. This situation lasted well into the 4th century, indicating that not every doctrine from the Apostles had been written in the NT, since there is no recorded doctrine from them specifying which books should or should not be made Biblical. But though Protestants may argue this point, the development of the Bible's books in the first 4 centuries of the Church cannot be cited as an Apostolic doctrine but as the result of oral Holy Tradition. By analyzing the development of the decisions behind the Bible's books, a powerful message about oral Tradition emerges.
If all the doctrines of the Bible can be found in the oral Tradition, it is only because the Holy Tradition had arranged it that way by making certain books Biblical and other books extra-biblical. The Epistle of Barnabas, the Epistles of Ignatius, the Revelation of Peter, the Martyrdom of Isaiah, 1 Enoch, the Shepherd of Hermas, 1-2 Clement, the Teaching of the 12 (the Didache), the Gospel to the Hebrews, and other books were treated as Biblical by some of the Early Christians and famous saints and disputed by others. Though all of these books to Protestants are assumed to be false, evil, and/or worthless, they nonetheless contain doctrines which can easily conform to our modern Bible, since even the Bible contains problematic and contradictory passages, which of course are harmonized and explained by oral traditions. And the Early Christians accepted them at least as good, holy reading. Despite some degree of popularity, these books were not universally accepted and they were just as disputed as 2 Peter, Revelation, 2-3 John, Hebrews, Jude, and James were. Evidently, the Apostles and their disciples left behind no doctrine anywhere about a significant number of books. Hence, it took one or more councils of bishops and learned men in the 4th century to finally decide which books actually fit into the Holy Tradition so as to be determined Scriptural or extra-biblical. It was never assumed, nor was it ever possible to say, that the Bible automatically proved which books are Biblical or not, so that the Bible could automatically subsume all the oral traditions into Scripture, nor was it self-evident from Scripture that only certain books should be chosen as Biblical. Indeed, quite the opposite had taken place: that the Bible's books were made to fit all the doctrines of Holy Tradition, and certain extra-biblical books were left out only because of their unclear transmission, not because they were doctrinally objected to. Some extra-biblical books were denounced as false, but others were accepted as being spiritually correct, though not as Biblical. But again, it was Tradition which determined all this, not doctrines from Scripture.
This development of the Bible's books took place because it was self-evident to the Early Church that Scripture is only a part of Holy Tradition, not that Tradition is inferior to and some kind of an addition to Scripture. Thus, if there is a general agreement in doctrine between the contents of the Bible and the contents of Tradition, it was only because Scripture was partially manipulated by Councils to reflect the doctrines of oral Tradition, not the other way around. In fact, the Apostles themselves, as the development of the NT proves, did not make a collection of NT books into a doctrine. This doctrine of choosing certain books for the Bible and rejecting others came into existence only because of Tradition centuries after the Apostles.
The development of the Church's decisions behind the NT's books in the records of Sacred History provide ample evidence of how Tradition, not Scripture, makes the determinations over which books should be added into or left out of the Bible. The same thing occurred in Ancient Judaism, where Tradition determined the content of the Bible. In the Talmuds, for instance, in Abot de-Rabbi Nathan 1, it says, "At first they withdrew Proverbs, Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes because they spoke parables (they were secular) and did not belong to the Scriptures. They remained in this withdrawn condition until the men of the Great Assembly (from about 500-200 BC) came and expounded them (in a Biblical sense)." In other words, Scripture does not prove itself to be Scriptural. It was never Scripture which guided the development of Tradition or which gave birth to Tradition or which controlled Tradition in any way, nor is Tradition a collection of false rituals, works-oriented faith, and erroneous doctrines added into the Faith. Holy Tradition existed before Scripture, gave birth to Scripture, and nurtured the meanings and general content of Scripture. Hence, it is Tradition which can be superior to Scripture in the sense of being its mother and nurturer, as well as being the decision-maker of the Bible's overall content, that is, the basis on which to decide which books should or should not be accepted as Scripture. Thus, Scripture was never ever recognized as being superior to Holy Tradition; it was always known to be part of Tradition, so that Tradition was the supplier of Scripture, its basis and nurturer, while at the same time both are treated as equally from the Holy Spirit and the only source of divine inspiration. This is something that any thoughtful Protestant must admit in order to remain theologically, historically, and spiritually credible, especially when every Protestant himself believes in Protestant oral traditions when reading Scripture and practicing it.
Further evidence proving how Tradition determines Scripture occurs within Protestantism itself. There are many examples of how Protestants have invented oral traditions, but the root of all their oral traditions may be isolated in one ultimate tradition, which is their imitation of Holy Tradition's determination of the meanings and collection of books for the Bible. Similar to the Early Church, Protestants themselves have developed their own meanings and collection of books for their Bible, not to conform to Apostolic Tradition in the Early Church, but to constitute a rival Bible with their own tradition. This was basically established by Martin Luther as a means by which he could prove that his man-made theology is Biblical. Hence, he taught that certain books of the Bible were either unbiblical or anti-biblical, since they did not fit into his religious opinions. As a result, he created his own determinations of what the Bible means and which books should be made Biblical or not. Then he claimed that the Epistle of James contradicted the Epistle of Romans, so that he could conclude that James was a false book and should not be in the Bible. He did the same thing with Hebrews and Jude, and he literally condemned the Book of Revelation by claiming that it was "not Holy Spirit inspired". These things he wrote in his commentaries on the NT. He also attacked the 12 or so books of the Apocrypha in the OT, which are: the Wisdom of Solomon, Judith, Tobit, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, 1-4 Maccabees, 1-2 Esdras, and others. So because of this, many Protestant churches debated these books, and some Protestant bibles of the 16th to 19th centuries actually left all of these books out of the Bible, while others kept all of them in the Bible, while still others retained James, Hebrews, Jude, and Revelation and threw out the Apocrypha. This last arrangement is how the Bible stands today in the Protestant world, but it was not a result of Scripture telling Protestants how to arrange their bibles. It was because Protestant oral traditions determined the meanings and collection of the Bible's books, rather than the oral traditions of the Apostles and their successors doing this.
Since Scripture and Sacred History can be shown presenting evidence of the divine inspiration and necessity of Tradition, even within Protestant theology, it is easy to conclude that the unknown Protestant writer's refutation of Holy Tradition has no basis in fact or must be greatly modified to allow a distinction between Biblical and extra-biblical doctrines from God. There must also be established a distinction between Apostolic Tradition and Protestant tradition, as well as a distinction between Apostolic Tradition and Catholic tradition and between Catholic tradition and Protestant tradition. The differences between the three major types of Christian theology are not small or unimportant; they are clearly differences in spirituality, in Biblical understanding, and in the imitation of Christ. In other words, extra-biblical oral traditions exist and Protestants are heavily involved in propagating them. The world of denial that Protestants live in shows just how ludicrous their oral doctrines about Scripture and Tradition are. Moreover, their objection to Tradition and their denial of using extra-biblical oral traditions are merely attempts at covering up the fact that a significant number of their beliefs have no Apostolic origins.
In addition to his assertion that every doctrine that the Apostles orally taught had later become written into Scripture, the unknown Protestant says, "There is nothing spoken (oral Tradition) that was not written (in the NT) that we would need to know about salvation and living." This is a classic Protestant argument, and there is some truth to this statement, but only in a general sense, since there are some doctrines not specified or not fully specified in the Bible, as well as certain doctrines requiring oral traditions to elaborate, explain, or harmonize, such as the Bible's contradictory messages about God manipulating people to sin or go to hell or do good deeds or go to Heaven and about people having the free will to choose either Heaven or hell, good and evil. For example, the Bible teaches predestination, which states that God controls who will sin and go to hell or who will repent and go to Heaven, and the Bible also teaches the opposite concept, free will, which states that people have the power to freely choose to sin or to repent. Scripture does not explain nor harmonize these contradictory doctrines, and many men throughout history have established different systems of theology and new churches over how to interpret Scripture on this matter. Hence, some Protestants, most notably Calvinists, read the Bible and they say that the Apostles had taught predestination in the Bible. And their beliefs can easily be read into Scripture and accepted, if it were not for the Bible's teachings on free will. As a result, other Protestants read the Bible and they say that the Apostles had taught free will in the Bible. And their beliefs can easily be read into Scripture and accepted, if it were not for the Bible's teachings on predestination. Scripture does not explain how to harmonize these contradictory doctrines, nor does it say that they should be harmonized. However, Apostolic Tradition does have a doctrine harmonizing these conflicting Biblical teachings, stating that men have free will to some extent and God predestines things to some extent, called a "synergy", where both sides work in communion for salvation and living. But Scripture does not explain its own doctrinal problems, especially with predestination and free will, even though the solution to such passages are vital to our "salvation and living". If there is predestination, then each Christian or sinner is not responsible for his beliefs and actions. If there is free will, then each Christian or sinner is responsible for his beliefs and actions without God. If there is a synergy between free will and predestination, then each Christian or sinner must hear God's calling and motivate himself to respond. Believing in any one of these three perceptions of Scripture truly affects how we see God and ourselves, thereby affecting our spirituality and behavior. Since the Bible not only presents two contradictory doctrines necessary to our "salvation and living", predestination and free will, but is also silent about how to explain this contradiction, Holy Tradition, which predates the Bible, has always possessed the explanation to this Biblical impasse. Thus, Tradition along with Scripture is also necessary for our "salvation and living".
But even if it were totally true that the Bible does have all the doctrines needed for "salvation and living", then it is only because Holy Tradition has ensured that this could be the case, since Tradition literally determined which books should and should not be made Biblical! Tradition's role in arranging, establishing, and maintaining the interpretation of Apostolic doctrines through Scripture automatically presupposes Tradition to be equal to Scripture and necessary for our "salvation and living". Denying this by using the all-encompassing value of Scripture as proof against Tradition only discredits Tradition for preserving the meanings of Scripture and for deciding which books should be made Biblical or not. So there are some serious inconsistencies in this reasoning if the Bible's doctrinal value is made superior to Tradition's doctrinal value. Nevertheless, the unknown Protestant says that the Bible's doctrinal value is superior, so that the Bible can seem to contain all the doctrines necessary for salvation and that there is no need for oral Tradition of any kind from any source. However, in addition to discrediting the nurturer of Scripture, which is Holy Tradition itself, the question as to what should constitute a Biblical doctrine and what should be viewed as an oral Tradition also becomes an important issue, as well as deciding what constitutes a true or false tradition. A Protestant cannot go around saying that the Bible's doctrinal value is superior without devaluing Tradition's role in providing meaning to Scripture, nor can he go around saying that his own oral traditions about the Bible are not oral traditions without using circular logic. Furthermore, what do Protestants mean by "oral traditions"? What do they mean by "inscripturation", or "incorporation of oral traditions into Scripture"? And by what Apostolic authority do they prove which oral tradition has been incorporated into the Bible or not? These are serious questions which Protestants cannot answer without proving that their determinations of which oral traditions have been incorporated into Scripture and which ones have not are totally based on the whims of each Protestant's theological agenda.
The method by which Protestants seem to prove that all the oral Apostolic traditions have been incorporated into Scripture is to pre-determine what is or is not an oral tradition and then to pre-determine what is or is not an incorporation of an oral tradition into Scripture. They make up the rules, they create the premises, and then they define the issues and terms involved, so as to make it seem as though every single oral tradition from the Apostles had been magically incorporated into Scripture, and conversely, to make it seem that every single oral tradition which does not agree with each Protestant theology was never in the minds of the Apostles. For instance, James 5:14 commands Christians to find priests to pray over and anoint the sick with oil. Protestants read this passage and they hear the Holy Spirit telling them that this verse is not about a doctrine, nor does it have any spiritual relevance today, as though it is an outdated, unnecessary dogma which was only necessary during Apostolic times or maybe in the Early Church. On the other hand, the Early Christians, Catholics, and Orthodox have also heard the Holy Spirit telling them that this verse refers to the Sacrament of Unction by a priest, an oral doctrine of the Apostles, which had been incorporated into Scripture in James 5:14. Thus it is an example of an oral Apostolic tradition being incorporated into Scripture. But Protestants condemn the Sacrament of Unction as a heretical belief, as well as the Apostolic succession of bishops and priests. So, they look at this verse and use it as proof of how James 5:14 has been falsely interpreted as being a reference to a false oral tradition, the Sacrament of Unction, which in Protestant mythology was masterminded by Catholics long after Apostolic times for the sake of falsifying Scripture to empower the papacy. What actually happened to the original Apostolic practice mentioned in James 5:14 is not explained by Protestants, but they see no evidence in James 5:14 of an oral Apostolic doctrine being incorporated into Scripture and genuinely continuing into the Early Church and beyond.
Does the Bible contain all the oral doctrines which the Apostles had taught? Does the Bible contain everything there is to "know about salvation and living"? The answers to these questions depend on which Protestant theology one desires, for various Protestants all come up with different and even opposite conclusions on what is or is not a Biblical doctrine necessary for "salvation and living" and what is or is not an oral tradition and what is or is not an oral tradition incorporated into Scripture. As James 5:14 indicates, if a Protestant so desires, he can dismiss any Biblical practice he wants and claim that it is not necessary for "salvation and living". Similarly, he can emphasize any Biblical doctrine he prefers and claim that it fulfills everything needed for "salvation and living". James 5:14 also indicates that if a Protestant does not prefer a certain doctrine, he can magically prove that it is a false oral tradition nowhere supported in Scripture. And if a Protestant prefers a certain doctrine, even if it is not in Scripture, he can magically prove that it is clearly taught in the Bible. This is especially true in the case of the Trinity.
The Trinity is one of the most critical doctrines of Christianity. This doctrine states that God became Man in Jesus Christ and that God sent the Holy Spirit to guide our souls toward spiritual perfection in Christ. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are One God, not three, eternally one without division and without commingling, One in essence and indivisible, with Jesus being fully God and fully Man. This belief definitely affects our "salvation and living", for it determines how we should pray, worship, and commune with the Lord. Yet it is not taught in the Bible. Scripture does speak about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, sometimes speaking of each of these three as God, but there are also passages which speak of them as separate entities, such as Mark 10:17-18, where Jesus complains that someone called Him good, since only God alone is good. Also, Christians are to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Matthew 28:19, however, Proverbs 7-8 makes lengthy quotes of Wisdom being our Mother, our Creator, and a separate Person of God. Because of such passages, the Bible can be proven to teach a Duality only, One God consisting of two Persons- the Father and the Son or the Father and the Spirit, or it can teach a Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit or the Father, Mother, and Son, or a Quadrinity of the Father, Mother, Son, and Holy Spirit. There may also be other possibilities, even proving from Scripture that there is only God, with the Son, Holy Spirit, and maybe Wisdom as inferior beings. Scripture does not say that there is or should be a Trinity, nor does it explain if or not Jesus is fully God and fully Man at the same time for all eternity, or if He may have been born a mere human and then later became God after His baptism. These conflicting examples of the Bible's presentation of the Persons of the Godhead are not theoretical possibilities of how the Bible can be interpreted; there actually have been many ancient and modern heresies supposedly proving from Scripture all of these doctrines. But they were all determined to be heretical by the Historical Church because of Holy Tradition's interpretation of the Trinity, the only authoritative standard of Bible exegesis from the Apostles.
Since the Trinity is not specifically taught in Scripture, what do Protestants believe? Protestants read the Bible and they insist that the Trinity is taught in it, but that is not what the Early Christians observed from Scripture. They looked at the same Bible and they were fully aware that the Trinity is not taught in Scripture, but that it is an extra-biblical doctrine from the Apostolic Tradition which was never incorporated into the Bible. Hence, not only will Protestants deny Biblical incorporations of oral Apostolic doctrines, oral doctrines which Protestants reject, but Protestants will also take certain oral traditions which they agree with and then claim that the Bible actually teaches them. In the 4th century, this is what Basil the Great in his book On The Spirit 9:22 says about this extra-biblical doctrine of the Trinity, "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?" His point is that Scripture does not contain all the doctrines necessary for "salvation and living", for Apostolic Tradition has always been regarded as the totality of the Gospel, presenting the liturgical form of worship, explaining Scripture's problematic passages, mystical teachings, and inferred concepts, even determining which books should be accepted as Biblical or not, and how to attain spiritual perfection (as in monastic teachings), in addition to Biblical dogmas which need no explanation. In other words, Apostolic Tradition is also necessary for "salvation and living" along with Scripture, though their doctrines do not always overlap. As can be seen by their own contradictions about oral traditions, Protestant determinations of what is or is not an oral tradition incorporated into the Bible and what is or is not necessary for "salvation and living" are purely subject to the whims of the beholder, not according to an actual Apostolic standard of interpreting the Faith.
Throughout Church history, only Protestants have claimed that all the oral traditions have been incorporated into Scripture. Yet when there is evidence of certain oral traditions being incorporated into the Bible, such as James 5:14, a doctrine which they happen to reject, they suddenly deny that the Apostles had incorporated them into the Bible. Protestants are so sensitive to oral traditions being incorporated into the NT, yet when there is evidence of a clear mandate in Scripture for bishops and priests to pray over and anoint the sick with oil, for instance, with the Early Church continuing the practice as an Apostolic Sacrament, Protestants see it instead as evidence of later Christians falsifying Scripture. Similarly, when the Bible is silent or inconclusive about doctrines which can be documented as having developed long after the Apostles, as in the case of the Trinity, a doctrine which Protestants happen to accept, they suddenly proclaim how the Apostles had conclusively taught them in Scripture. Protestants are so blinded by their anti-Tradition, Bible-only mythology that they will do anything to Scripture and Tradition to make them seem totally Protestant. This is the problem that Protestants have when they make the claim that all the oral traditions have been included in the Bible. Protestants manipulate Scripture and Holy Tradition in such a way that they can arbitrarily and conveniently determine which verses support which oral traditions, while at the same time equally determining which oral traditions are not reflected in the Bible and which ones are, thereby making Protestant doctrines seem perfectly Apostolic. They define the rules in reading Scripture and then they define the terms, which of course is circular logic and sophistry. It is a system of logic which to them is flawless, yet in reality it is simply a theology which tampers with Scripture and Tradition, inventing and changing the rules determining what is or is not from the Bible and what is or is not from Tradition and what is or is not incorporated into Scripture, so as to justify anything they want to justify and to discount anything they want to discount from Scripture and Tradition. Therefore, Protestant proofs of true and false traditions in and out of the Bible are not based on Scripture but on pre-programmed Protestant definitions of what is or is not an oral tradition and what is or is not an oral tradition incorporated into the Bible. In other words, they incorporate into Scripture their own oral traditions and then deny that this is the case.
What other ramifications are there to Protestant manipulations of Scripture and Tradition? There are many. Because Protestants do not want to believe in the Sacrament of Unction, they only see a symbolic, out-dated custom in James 5:14, which has never been historically made unnecessary. The Early Christians, along with the Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, have always seen this verse to be an allusion to the Sacrament of Unction. This means that Protestants have no ultimate regard for Scripture, unless it conforms to their own oral traditions. The same thing is true about the Virgin Mary's relationship to Christ and to God's people, that she is the Mother of our salvation. The Early Christians often referred to Luke 1:39-56 as a reflection of the doctrine that the Virgin Mary is our mystical Mother, but Protestants refuse to read Scripture in this way, even though there has been no historical precedent to deny it. This means that Protestants have no ultimate regard for Sacred History, unless it conforms to their own oral traditions. The Book of Ecclesiasticus (also called the Wisdom of Jesus, Son of Sirach, or simply Sirach) chapter 24 praises Wisdom, which, since Early Church times, was regarded as a poetic chapter from the OT about the Virgin Mary's spiritual enthronement. But Protestants not only refuse to see it as a prophecy or incorporation of the doctrine of the Church's Mother, they refuse to even accept this book as a Scripture. And of course, the Protestants see the Bible plainly preaching the Trinity, whereas the Early Christians saw the Trinity as a doctrine from Holy Tradition and not from the Bible. And examples of this sort can go on and on, proving that Protestantism is not serious about Scripture, the original Apostolic Faith, and what teachings Sacred History inherited from the Apostles.
These ramifications should be damning to Protestants, yet they are convinced of their own Apostolic authority, due to ignorance of ancient spirituality as it was expressed in Scripture, Apostolic Tradition, and Sacred History. Thus, Protestants will go to irrational lengths to bend Scripture, Tradition, and Sacred History in countless ways so as to conform them all to fit their own oral traditions. And they go to even greater ludicrous lengths to deny the fact that they worship God through their own oral traditions, teachings which never existed until Luther or Calvin or other reformers erroneously invented them. This is not evidence of a restored Apostolic Christianity but evidence of new doctrines, even a new gospel, being treated as though they came from Christ.
As these inconsistencies reveal, the Protestant oral doctrine that all the genuine oral Apostolic traditions have been incorporated into Scripture and all false traditions have not is purely subject to whatever the Protestant wants to believe. What is a Bible verse reflecting the Sacrament of Unction to the Historic Christians is a Bible verse reflecting an unnecessary, out-dated ritual to the Protestants. What is a Bible verse alluding to the doctrine of the Virgin Mary's eternal queenship to the Historic Christians is a Bible verse alluding to Mary's temporary blessed earthly status to the Protestants. What is a Bible verse promoting Tradition being equal to Scripture and for all generations to the Historic Christians, as in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, is a Bible verse promoting the disappearance of Tradition after Apostolic times to the Protestants. These instances of conflicting perceptions of the Bible incorporating Tradition are only a few among a number of others, but they indicate intentional attacks against the witness of the Early Christians in order to reinterpret what came from the Apostles and what did not. Hence, Protestants make up the rules determining what is or is not an oral tradition from the Apostles and what oral tradition is or is not alluded to in Scripture. They then denounce the Early Church for disagreeing with Protestant doctrines as the only means of creating the appearance of having any spiritual authority and validity. Nevertheless, such opposition to the Early Church is not perceived as opposition, but rather, as a restoration of Early Church theology and practice. This level of arrogance, ignorance, and hypocrisy is the cause of many problems with Protestant spirituality and it is why Protestants are only preserving the external shell of the original Apostolic Faith.
Due to so many inaccuracies in logic and theology, Protestant conclusions about oral Apostolic Tradition being totally incorporated into Scripture are unacceptable, since the Protestant is simply asserting man-made parameters, making up rules for deciding what is or is not an oral tradition and what oral tradition is or is not reflected in Scripture. For instance, oral traditions supporting Protestant beliefs about Communion, Baptism, and other concepts, if or not accepted since Early Church times, are accepted by Protestants as Biblical no matter how extra-biblical they actually are. But oral traditions dealing with Communion, Baptism, Confession, prayer with oil, and others, accepted since Early Church times, are rejected by Protestants no matter how Biblical they can be shown to be. Thus, the determination of seeing or not seeing oral traditions in Scripture is totally arbitrary and designed to fit the whims of the various Protestant reformers and their modern preachers. The typical Protestant makes associations between oral traditions and Scriptures, regarding doctrines which appeal to him, and then he denies associations between oral traditions and Scripture, concerning doctrines which do not appeal to him. Such convenient and circular logic is not an acceptable method of proving the superiority of Scripture over Tradition, nor does it prove the total incorporation of all Apostolic Tradition into Scripture. The typical Protestant is simply picking and choosing his way around Bible verses and oral traditions, forcing into Scripture whatever oral doctrines he likes, and then forcing out of Scripture whatever oral doctrines he does not like. In many cases, this means making Protestant man-made traditions seem like doctrines of Christ.
The vast and somewhat confusing array of Protestant theological myths is not easy to isolate in detail, unless one actually seeks God in truth and honestly looks objectively at their methods of logic. Protestants have no consistent theological pattern of thought, nor spiritual authority, explaining why some doctrines must be assumed to be revealed in Scripture and why some should be assumed to be so-called inferior oral traditions, especially when the verses in question all involve extra-biblical teachings in order to understand them, or involve arbitrary decisions on what is or is not an oral tradition and which tradition is or is not Biblical. The only possible reason for the theological hypocrisy of Protestants on this matter is because of Martin Luther and other Protestant reformers deciding on which oral doctrines must be Biblical and which ones must not be. Loyal Protestants have taken their human opinions to legalistic extremes without realizing the sophistry of their theology, and without knowing that they have accepted the man-made doctrines of Luther and his cohorts as though they were inspired by the Holy Spirit. The decisions of the Protestant reformers on what is or is not Biblical and what is or is not an oral tradition is treated as the ultimate spiritual authority, seemingly Biblical, yet being purely man-made oral doctrines, through which Protestants today accept or reject determinations of which oral traditions are genuine and which are not. If Protestants do not accept a particular doctrine, no matter how strong the Biblical-Tradition connection, they condemn it as a false oral tradition. If Protestants accept a particular doctrine, no matter how weak the Biblical-Tradition connection, they promote it as though it is Biblical and has no relation to oral traditions at all. This is the erroneous, convenient logic by which Protestants interpret the Scripture-Tradition heritage, so that nothing they believe can appear to be extra-biblical, and that their dogma of oral Apostolic Tradition being inferior to Scripture can be maintained.
After going through a host of Biblical, historical, and spiritual inconsistencies, the unknown Protestant against Tradition ends his point by writing, "For example Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:1, 'Moreover brethren I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you...' Here it is written out." The Protestant says this because he is contending that all the oral doctrines of the Apostles had been written down. But as John 20:30-31 and 21:25 state, there was a great amount of oral extra-biblical teachings from Jesus, and the Bible nowhere teaches that every single important doctrine has been directly and/or indirectly mentioned in Scripture. However, the Ancient Witnesses consistently and unanimously state that the Apostles had left behind some oral doctrines not written in the NT. Even 1 Corinthians 11:34 speaks about oral doctrines surrounding Communion, which are not referred to anywhere in the Bible. No matter what the Protestant wants to believe, the weight of the evidence is against him. And so, Protestants are not making the case that their beliefs are totally Apostolic and totally Biblical, especially when the Early Christians disagree with them on so many points. Protestants are simply manipulating Scripture and Tradition in various ways, even opposing the Early Church and their facts, as well as opposing objective signs in and out of the Bible, so as to desperately make their new gospel and its new oral doctrines and traditions seem as though Christ and the Apostles have taught them. This is why Protestantism is so ignorant regarding the Ancient Witnesses of the Prophets and Apostles and their beliefs: It is because if Protestants were to study them, then they would see the folly of their thinking.
The unknown Protestant's promotion of 1 Corinthians 15:1 as proof that Paul had written down everything that he told his churches orally cannot be demonstrated as evidence that this had always been the case with every oral doctrine of Jesus and the Apostles. Indeed, none of his proofs demonstrates this position. There is literally no evidence that the oral Apostolic Tradition was so identical with everything that the Apostles wrote into Scripture that there could be no distinction made between the two, at least no differences in doctrinal contents. No Ancient Jew believed this about the Prophets incorporating all of oral Tradition into Scripture, except maybe the heretical Sadducees (though it is not likely that they actually taught the doctrine of inscripturation), and no Early Christian believed this about the Apostles incorporating all of oral Tradition into Scripture, except some Gnostic heretics (and even that is a guess). Thus, there is no reason or indication to assume that the Prophets and Apostles had incorporated all of the necessary oral traditions from the Lord into Scripture, nor is there any proof that the doctrines of the Holy Tradition eventually became identical with the doctrinal content of the Bible. The absence in Scripture of a direct doctrine of the Trinity should be enough to dispel such an idea, but the absence also of sub-doctrines behind Baptism, for instance, of explanations of Biblical contradictions and problematic passages, of the lack of internal clarity for some teachings, and of other interpretations behind many Biblical messages, which require a predisposed understanding, substantiate the Ancient Jewish and Early Church recognition of Tradition being distinct from Scripture, yet being equal to Scripture in divine inspiration and with perfect preservation over the centuries. It is up to the Protestant to provide evidence that the Bible and Ancient Witnesses were all wrong about Tradition, or that they really viewed Tradition as inferior to Scripture, but he has not done this, nor can he.
All of these facts and evidence from the Bible and Sacred History are more than enough to show how silly the notion is that all Apostolic oral doctrines later became totally incorporated into Scripture. There is simply no Biblical and historical basis to prove or even hint of such a process. Indeed, the evidence against this belief is so overwhelming, that the typical Protestant not only falls into many theological and logical inconsistencies, but by excitedly believing in these fanciful myths, he also makes his intellect seem like a child's. This is how powerful the evidence is against him. Thus, the unknown Protestant's list of proofs against the value and validity of Holy Tradition proves instead to be a list proving how Tradition is still the basis and foundation of Scripture, thereby proving ironically that Protestantism's main doctrine of Tradition being inferior to Scripture is a myth and a farce. No one being intellectually honest can believe the wishful claims that Protestants force into the Bible's contents about this subject. Scripture and Sacred History both agree and perpetuate the doctrine that the Bible and Apostolic Tradition contain some amount of overlapping doctrines, though they also contain separate doctrines, so that they go hand in hand in proving each other's veracity, spiritual authority, and power for the Christian's ongoing work of advancing in the Faith. Without Tradition Scripture can mean anything one desires it to mean, and without Scripture Tradition is merely another mythology. This is something that Protestants cannot understand because they are consumed with their own oral doctrines and oral traditions which only Protestant reformers have invented and/or twisted from Scripture's and Tradition's original meanings. Protestants see all this evidence and hear all the criticism, yet they continue to impugn what the Apostles say in the Bible and Sacred History about Holy Tradition. As a result, Protestants perpetually live in theological and spiritual denial about oral traditions of any kind.
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