Traditions From God, Traditions From Men
A Commentary on an Article Condemning Tradition
After forcing 1 Corinthians 4:6 to fit his Protestant theology against Holy Tradition, the unknown Protestant builds on his argument in the next paragraph. First he makes a statement of the obvious, and from this statement he then makes a conclusion without any logical foundation.
Every time the Pharisees, the religious men, brought up traditions as equal to the Scripture, Jesus brought them to the Word. This is why He called them the traditions of men because they did not come from God but by religious men who no longer intended to obey the Word.
The unknown Protestant once again assumes that there is no distinction between false traditions and Holy Tradition. Nevertheless, John 10:22 presents Jesus promoting the extra-biblical tradition of Hanukah, which according to Protestantism, Jesus should have condemned, since the Jews regarded it as a doctrine from God, a "law (which means a divine law) for their posterity", as Josephus says in Antiquities of the Jews XII, 7:7. And Jude 9 and 14-15 quote from unknown extra-biblical sources, which according to Protestantism, must be false traditions, since they are not part of the Old Testament. As these examples prove, Jesus and the Apostles made a definite distinction between false traditions and Holy Tradition, while making no distinction between Scripture and Tradition. Matthew 23:2-3 actually records Jesus telling the Jews to listen to their religious leaders teach from Scripture and Tradition, since in Christ's time Tradition was taught as being equal to Scripture, as in the Talmuds- Shabbat 31a and Sifre Deuteronomy 351; 145a. Even Paul regarded oral Tradition and Scripture as synonymous in Romans 3:2, where Scripture was called the words of God, and in 1 Thessalonians 2:13, where oral Tradition was called the word of God. In Matthew 23:2-3, Jesus told the Jews to listen to their leaders, who were teaching both from Scripture and Tradition, and Jesus did not tell them to reject Tradition, instead, He only told them not to imitate their leaders' behavior. All of these Biblical and historical facts prove that there had been distinctions made between man-made traditions and Holy Tradition from the Prophets, which everyone was able to distinguish. The differences between man-made traditions and Holy Tradition were clear, Jesus condemned the human traditions made into doctrines of God, then He accepted extra-biblical traditions from God as equal to Scripture, and no one condemned Holy Tradition in Scripture. These are simply the facts.
The distinction between man-made traditions and Holy Tradition must have been made in Scripture because oral extra-biblical traditions are required to make sense out of many Biblical teachings, and the Prophets and Apostles are known to have left behind some unrecorded information. Thus, even if Jesus always reverted to Scripture every time the Pharisees stressed their human traditions, it is not evidence that Holy Tradition is false. Every Christian follows some amount of extra-biblical oral traditions and rituals, treating them as though they are doctrines of Christ. Interpreting Scripture to say that there is no free will, only predestination, is an oral tradition, since Scripture also teaches free will. Interpreting Scripture to say that there are only two sacraments, Baptism and Communion, is derived from an oral man-made extra-biblical tradition, since Scripture includes at least one more sacrament, Unction, as taught in James 5:14. Similarly, going to church is a ritual not commanded in the NT, yet it is feared as a law of God. Going to church on a set ritualistic time, such as every Sunday, is not a Biblical law, yet it is feared as though it is. Having Communion every Sunday is not commanded in Scripture, yet it is treated as a law of God, even though Communion could technically be done once a month or even once a year. And there are many other unrecorded doctrinal rituals, such as praying with folded hands or kneeling in prayer or even praying to the Trinity as One God, hanging up crosses for worship, worshipping in special buildings, having altars for worship, following certain general rules for worship services with singing, Bible readings, etc., celebrating Christmas and Easter differently from other holy days, and so on and so on. Many of these rituals are said by the Early Christians to have come from the Holy Spirit through the Apostles and Holy Tradition. Nevertheless, Protestant theology teaches that since they are not Biblical, then they should not be from God and must be man-made traditions, at least in theory. But in practice even Protestants fear altering or eradicating these rituals because they too view them as doctrinal. In contrast, some rituals are commanded in the New Testament, such as the washing of feet, giving all one's wealth to the church, and anointing the sick with oil, yet they are not practiced by Christians anymore because later traditions condemned them or interpreted them differently. Despite this, Protestants and other Christians treat these later human traditions banning or reinterpreting these Biblical commands as though they are words of God. This is because they were known to have come from Apostolic Tradition. All of this means that oral traditions are necessary for understanding Scripture and practicing the Faith, so that there must be oral traditions from God. Hence, there have always been distinctions made between man-made traditions and Holy Tradition, and this is precisely what the Bible teaches.
The point of these observations about extra-biblical rituals and teachings in and out of Scripture is to show how silly it is to imagine that Jesus made no distinctions between human traditions and Holy Tradition, so that no Christian should accept Holy Tradition. The Prophets and Apostles, as well as every single modern Christian, including all Protestants, rely on rituals, Apostolic Tradition, and/or human traditions for the sake of worshipping God and understanding Scripture. Even Jesus Himself worshipped God through what Protestants view to be an extra-biblical ritual made out to be a doctrine of God, now called Hanukah. In fact, the Ancient Jews and Early Christians witnessed many of the ancient extra-biblical rituals and beliefs to have come from the Holy Spirit through the Prophets and Apostles. It was only the later traditions from the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes, as well as a common attitude toward relying on sacred laws for salvation, which Jesus and the Apostles condemned. But all through the Bible there are references to written and oral extra-biblical material and practices being accepted as equal to Scripture. It is only the traditions and attitudes which do not conform to true faith which the Bible consistently rejects. So, the observation that Jesus used Scripture every time the Jews promoted man-made traditions is not proof that Holy Tradition is false and/or inferior to the written Word. Such a conclusion lacks important correlating factors. All that this observation proves is that whenever the Jews stressed certain human traditions obfuscating Scripture, Jesus stressed Scripture proving their hypocrisy. But Jesus did not always rely on Scripture to establish His doctrines. Matthew 5-7 is a treasury of doctrines which seemingly disagree with the Bible of His time. For instance, in Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus quotes the 7th commandment in Exodus 20:14, "You shall not commit adultery," and then adds a new meaning to it, which is not stated in the 7th commandment, that is, that committing adultery includes simply looking at others with lust. Jesus either adds a new doctrinal tradition into this Bible passage and/or He agrees with a tradition from the Prophets interpreting such an idea into the 7th commandment. Jesus does this throughout Matthew 5-7, adding His own interpretations and/or accepting previous doctrines from Holy Tradition into Bible verses as though they were part of Scripture, when these Bible passages do not directly teach such ideas. In other words, Jesus does go beyond Scripture and utilize oral traditions when they do not abuse or thwart closer union with God. Though He condemns the Jews for adding traditions next to Scripture, Jesus and the Apostles utilized oral traditions when they conformed to the Faith. Hence, Jesus and the Apostles purified Holy Tradition, and this is why the Early Christians devoutly maintained an inseparable connection between the Bible and Apostolic Tradition.
The Protestant assumption that Jesus and the Apostles made no distinction between man-made traditions and Holy Tradition cannot be substantiated. There is a vast amount of evidence proving how the Ancient Jewish concept of Holy Tradition, though somewhat abused by false human traditions, was purified by Christ and continued to be utilized as an important facet of the Gospel, as recorded in the New Testament and maintained by Apostolic Tradition through the witness of the Early Christians (There are many reports from the Early Church about Tradition being equal to Scripture. See the article in this series "Holy Tradition in Early Christianity" for more information). Though Scripture and Tradition often taught the same doctrines, there was some divergence in content without the Faith being compromised. This is why the doctrine of the Trinity could develop over many centuries in the Early Church and why the doctrine of a canon, an official list of Bible books, could also develop over many centuries. Scripture and Tradition worked hand in hand in establishing the truths of the Gospel and in formulating a more powerful Faith. For all these reasons, Jesus's condemnation of man-made traditions cannot be evidence that there was no Holy Tradition from the Prophets and Apostles or that Tradition was totally man-made or that Tradition had became totally false and/or made inferior to Scripture in any way. Jesus's utilization of oral traditions in Matthew 5-7, which He either borrowed from Holy Tradition or made them up Himself, along with other instances in the Bible where Jesus and the Apostles apply extra-biblical oral rituals and doctrines from Tradition (See the article in this series "Holy Tradition for Jesus and the Apostles" for information on this), prove the case that Holy Tradition has always been treated as equal to Scripture and that Jesus wanted to purify it, not destroy it. Furthermore, our Faith requires Apostolic Tradition in order to understand Scripture and in order to practice the Gospel in truth and in detailed perfection. As a result, the assertion by the unknown Protestant that Jesus condemned all oral traditions, thereby making no distinction between human traditions and Holy Tradition, is itself a false tradition not found in Scripture and Sacred History.
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