Seven False Assumptions About Holy Tradition
A Commentary on an Article Condemning Tradition
Segment #10

Because of the blind allegiance that Protestants have to their anti-tradition stance, there is a great void of knowledge in each individual Protestant when the spiritual culture of the Bible's writers becomes a factor in studying Scripture and even during prayer. The next paragraph written by the unknown Protestant writer reveals this appallingly ill-informed perception of Scripture and the original Christian spirituality, making it clear that he has no idea what the Ancient Jews and Early Christians believed about the relationship between Scripture and Tradition, and that he has no idea how the Bible's writers utilized this relationship in their spiritual culture. Even innocuous Bible passages are imagined to present traces of proofs against Tradition, even though there are many obvious Biblical and Early Christian reports upholding Tradition.

This is what he says as another proof against Holy Tradition:
In Acts 20:29 Paul warns the Ephesian elders about savage wolves that would come after his departure. It would be unlikely to think that Paul did not put in writing what the Holy Spirit inspired as teaching to all the churches. It would be much easier to distort what is orally handed down and left up to individual re-translating. As time would go on, generations would pass on memories that would be inaccurate to recall the original teachings by word of mouth. This is why God had Moses write everything down in the book of the Law, so there would be no question what was said. If God did so in the OT, would He change this policy in the New? Jesus pointed to the OT word. The early church pointed to the word written as well.

This paragraph is filled with many erroneous assumptions, woeful ignorance of the Bible's context, totally false premises, and a completely ludicrous knowledge of Sacred History. But this is typical of Protestant theology, which intentionally attacks the Early Church and prevents all Protestants from learning what the Ancient Witnesses had heard from the Apostles about Scripture and Tradition, which is the Gospel they had inherited. As a result, this paragraph has many doctrinal problems which can be broken down into 7 points. These 7 points are mentioned in detail below.

1.) Acts 20:29 does not make a statement against Tradition. This verse simply mentions how the Ephesian church will be attacked by false oral doctrines and false interpretations of Scripture after Paul's departure. But if the case should be made that Acts 20:29 does hint of Tradition's instability, then what should be said of 2 Peter 3:14-16, which states that unstable Christians in general were already distorting the written New Testament (NT) Scriptures? As these verses may also hint about, it is quite feasible to believe that all the written Scriptures can be falsified and that false texts at an early stage of circulation (or at any stage) can become established as the original documents. Some modern so-called scholars actually believe this to have been the case for certain books and passages of the Bible and/or of certain textual transmissions. Hence, if Protestant logic about Acts 20:29 being against Tradition should be consistent, then it can be safe to make the statement that 2 Peter 3:14-16 proves how even the Scriptures will be falsified, which is why the Apostles had to leave behind an oral Tradition, as stated in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, in order to protect the Faith from the errors of heretical and/or negligent re-translating of Biblical books. But none of this activity ever took place, except among fringe sects. The authentic Sacred History of the Ancient Witnesses vouches for the accuracy and integrity of the ancient scribes of the Scriptures, and it also vouches for the accuracy and integrity of the ancient scribes of the oral Holy Tradition. The unknown Protestant cannot pick and choose what he wants to believe at the expense of other historical realities and then call it factual or truthful. He wants to find alleged hints in Scripture calling for the eradication of Tradition, yet the Bible itself can be interpreted to contain supposed hints about its own falsification. Moreover, Sacred History provides evidence of how accurate the transmission of Scripture and oral Tradition had been. The fact that oral Tradition's doctrinal stability was recognized to be as unchanging as Scripture's doctrinal transmission is either ignored or dismissed by many Protestants, for they constantly seek to find in Scripture and the Ancient Witnesses only the information which seems to support their own oral dogmas. Because of such twisting of the facts, they use logic which can also be used to destroy the validity of the Scriptures themselves. This is not the fruit of spiritual truth, but the fruit of human traditions.

2.) Acts 20:29 does not indicate how long after Paul's departure that savage wolves would come and distort the Gospel. And there is no indication that this distortion of the Faith would occur only in Ephesus. 2 Peter 3:14-16 reveals that there were already savage wolves twisting the original meanings of the Apostles' Scriptures throughout Christianity, so Paul could not have been referring to some distant generation which would eventually distort God's words. He already had experience of this activity going on in most churches, so the doctrinal twisting of the Gospel, oral and written, was in full force while the Apostles were alive. But the unknown Protestant goes beyond realistic assessments of Paul's words in Acts 20:29. Because of an inordinately cherished premise, he forces doctrines and historical data into Scripture which come totally out of man-made imagination. The historical data problem is this: That Scripture was written in order to prevent unstable oral transmissions of the Gospel. But nothing in Scripture and Sacred History remotely suggests this secret intention to have been in the mind of any Apostle writing the Scriptures. It is an idea with no Biblical and historical support.

3.) Acts 20:29 and the rest of the Bible and Sacred History do not present evidence of a struggle that people had in preserving the Gospel, as though there were problems between the written word of God and orally transmitted doctrines. Instead, they present evidence only of a struggle between the true oral-written Gospel and false beliefs-interpretations from heretics and schismatics. There is also no indication that, since Paul knew of the imminent corruption of the Gospel's teachings, he must have secretly intended to have all of the pertinent oral doctrines of the Gospel written down into Scriptures by the Holy Spirit. Nowhere in Scripture is this taught, and Acts 20:29 does not secretly suggest this intention. Paul's letters were simply written in response to problems and issues in his churches which needed immediate attention. Thus, the unknown Protestant is doing precisely what the human traditions of Judaism had done, that is, to interpret into Scripture what is not manifested in Scripture, so as to follow man-made teachings as though they are teachings of Christ.

4.) Acts 20:29 does not contain secret information, referring to doctrines and events beyond its own obvious statements and context. Such a practice of finding secret meanings and twisting doctrines from Scripture beyond its obvious meaning and context was a foundational practice of the ancient heretics, the Gnostics, and it is still done today by many cults. This means that there is simply no reason to twist this verse to conform to Protestant theology, since Protestantism never existed until the 1500's. Paul lived in the 100's, so he did not write Acts 20:29 with the same premise in mind that Martin Luther had in the 1500's, that oral doctrines are automatically subject to corruption and distortion and that the written word is incapable of such manipulation. If orally transmitted doctrines are subject to corruption, why did Paul often utilize oral doctrines without warning his readers about the weaknesses of orally transmitted Tradition? In fact, it was commonly accepted by the Jews of Paul's time to believe that the Old Testament (OT) does not contain every doctrine from the Holy Spirit (It is quite easy to find extra-biblical doctrines from God in any page of Ancient Jewish sources from before Christ to the 5th century- such as the Talmuds, Josephus, the Targums, and other Ancient Jewish records). This is why the Sadducees, who fervently opposed Holy Tradition and ardently struggled for a Bible-only spirituality, believed that there was no life after death, since the OT strictly speaking does not teach such a doctrine. But the more faithful Jews, those more closely aligned with the original teachings of the Prophets, did believe in life after death because that is what Holy Tradition teaches. These Jews saw it as necessary to unite Scripture with Tradition so as to follow a truer Faith; and this is why the NT suddenly mentions the names of demons (Luke 11:15, 2 Corinthians 6:15), names and levels of hell (2 Peter 2:4- Tartaros in Greek, Revelations 20:14- the Lake of Fire and Death as a physical entity), Abraham's Bosom (Luke 16:22- in the original Greek), Moses's Seat (Matthew 23:2), and various other specific concepts unrecorded in the OT, yet had been commonly-known doctrines among the Jews before Christ was even born. Thus, it was not strange for anyone to fuse Scripture with Tradition, nor was it assumed that orally transmitted doctrines from Tradition were less reliable than Biblical doctrines transmitted by paper and ink. In fact, it was assumed that oral Tradition was just as reliable as the written Scriptures. This is not only what Scripture hints about, but the Bible and Sacred History clearly make this fusion an important element of the Faith for all generations to believe in.

The Apostles in the NT often applied this fusion of Tradition with Scripture. In 2 Timothy 3:8, Paul mentions Jannes and Jambres, as the only two magicians of Pharaoh opposing Moses and Aaron. Nevertheless, they are nowhere spoken about in the OT, nor was the number of magicians opposing Moses before Pharaoh even specified in Exodus 7:8-13. Yet Paul accepts the oral doctrine as though it were Biblical. In Galatians 3:19 (also stated in Acts 7:53), Paul teaches his readers that God did not directly give to Moses the Law, as the OT Scriptures assert; instead, it was given to Moses through angels, which is a pre-Christian Jewish doctrine not found in the Bible but in the oral Tradition of the Prophets. Paul treats this Ancient Jewish oral doctrine as though it were superior to the OT Scriptures, which the Ancient Jews on certain occasions similarly had done (See the Jewish Encyclopedia, under "Holy Tradition", "Oral Torah", and other related terms). Paul even commands the Church to preserve the Gospel in written and oral forms in 2 Thessalonians 2:15.

As the examples above prove, the Bible reveals Paul using oral traditions and even commanding them to be preserved, which does not suggest nor hint that Paul believed orally transmitted doctrines from God in Holy Tradition can be corrupted nor are unstable in their transmissions over the generations. If the Bible does not say that oral Tradition is unreliable, why should anyone believe that orally transmitted Tradition is less reliable than the transmission of Scripture? Luther's doctrine taught that Scripture is superior to Tradition, and many modern Protestants have expanded on that idea by insisting that if it is not written in Scripture, then it cannot be true. If these doctrines are correct, and it is clear that the Bible's writers utilized Tradition without fear of its instability in transmission, then it follows that we should believe Tradition to have been orally and perfectly transmitted from generation to generation without change, just as the Bible's transmission is believed to have gone through. And this should be all the more believable because the Ancient Jews and Early Christians, just like the Bible's writers, made no distinction between written and oral words from God; they regarded orally transmitted doctrines from Holy Tradition to be just as perfectly preserved throughout the generations as the transmission of written words in the Bible is. This is why Paul called the OT Scriptures the word of God in Romans 3:2, and then he called the oral Apostolic Tradition the words of God in 1 Thessalonians 2:13. Scripture and Tradition are both the words of God, which cannot be falsified nor changed nor diluted in any way, as Jesus said in Matthew 16:18, that the gates of Hades cannot prevail against His Church, which was always known to be the deposit of the oral and written teachings of the Apostles.

All this agrees with the Bible and Ancient Witnesses, who consistently and unanimously observed and learned from experience that orally transmitted doctrines of God from one generation to the next were just as meticulously preserved as were the Bible's texts transmitted from one generation to the next. Thus, 2 Peter 3:14-16, which speaks of Christians falsifying Scripture, is just as much an indictment against the reliability of the written word's transmission, since the Bible can be corrupted in various ways, as Acts 20:29 is imagined to be an indictment against oral Tradition's transmission, since oral teachings can be theoretically corrupted as well. But as the Bible and Ancient Witnesses learned from observation and experience, Tradition can be just as perfectly preserved as Scripture can be, and conversely, Scripture can be just as easily falsified as Tradition can be. Yet the spirituality of Biblical times had a system in place, whereby Scripture relied on Tradition in order to make sense and Tradition relied on Scripture in order to be verified. Both the Prophets and Apostles through the Holy Spirit established this arrangement, as well as establishing disciples, priests, arch-priests, elders, bishops, etc., who were meticulously trained to follow and teach without change the original dogmas of the Prophets and Apostles. If changes to the Bible and Tradition were ever introduced, and Sacred History reveals many attempts, they were immediately recognized and vehemently opposed by ever-vigilant critics, as Sacred History so often records. Hence, the spiritual arrangement of Scripture and Tradition through holy elders and masters was almost impossible to falsify and change without a significant number of laity and clergy debating and recording the issues. Any decent analysis of Holy Tradition's development over the last 2000 years in Judaism (especially in Orthodox Judaism) and Christianity (especially in the Eastern Orthodox Church and to a lesser extent the Catholic church) is enough to prove how little the oral doctrines of the Prophets and Apostles have changed in 2000 years, as well as indicating how little it must have changed 4000 or more years ago. The accuracy and integrity of the oral Holy Tradition are well-documented and are facts, making Tradition to be as reliable as Scripture and not a victim of eventual distortions.

5.) God did not reveal to Moses only the written OT. In all Ancient Jewish sources there is the constant and consistent mention of the fact that God had not only given to Moses on Mt. Sinai the five books of the OT, but that He had also given to Moses an Oral Bible, or Holy Tradition. This Oral Bible was established to be equal to the Written Bible and to explain its meanings and difficult passages, as well as being a source of God's truths outside the Written Bible. Hence, the Oral Bible also contains doctrines not recorded in the Written Bible, for instance, the Talmuds report of the existence of at least 42 extra-biblical laws from God to Moses (Everyman's Talmud by A. Cohen, p. 146). In Josephus's 1st century book, The Antiquities Of The Jews IV, 8:48, Holy Tradition states that Moses before he died wrote about his own death and burial in Deuteronomy 34, as though he died normally and was buried by his disciples, though in reality he was taken up by a cloud and buried by God in a certain valley. This was done, as Tradition says, so as to prevent the people from saying that he had ascended into Heaven like Enoch and Elijah. Jude 9 concurs with this by mentioning an incident related to this Tradition of Moses's body in a cloud, where Satan fought with the Archangel Michael over Moses's corpse, a revelation not recorded in the OT. This is precisely what Paul did in Galatians 3:19, where he said, contrary to the OT, that God gave the Law to Moses through angels. The Ancient Jews inherited from the Prophets Holy Tradition, a distinct heritage of Holy Spirit inspired doctrines correlating with Scripture, interpreting Scripture, and being the fullness of Scripture.

There are a number of ancient references to the Oral Bible given on Mt. Sinai. One of the more popular ones is found in the Talmudic book, Sifre Deuteronomy 351; 145a, where it says, "The Roman governor Quietus asked Rabbi Gamaliel, 'How many Torahs (Bibles) were given to Israel?' He answered, 'Two- one in writing and the other orally.'" In another Talmudic text, Shabbat 31a, it says, "It happened with a heathen that he came before Shammai and asked him, 'How many Torahs do you have?' He answered, 'Two- the written and the oral.'" Both of these men said this before and/or during Apostolic times. Even Josephus in the 1st century repeats this pattern of spirituality by reporting on what he said was the OT. Yet his accounts of the OT in his Antiquities Of The Jews are filled with stories and teachings from what is the Oral Torah. But why did God give to Moses a Written Bible and an Oral Bible? This is answered in even another Talmudic text, Numbers Rabbah 14:10, where it says, "The Holy One, blessed be He, gave Israel two Torahs, the written and the oral. He gave them the Written Torah in which is 613 commandments in order to fill them with precepts whereby they could earn merit. He gave them the Oral Torah whereby they could be distinguished from the other nations. This was not given in writing, so that the Ishmaelites (Christians) should not fabricate it as they have done the Written Torah and say that they were Israel.'" As this passage relates, and as it reflects 2 Peter 3:14-16, which mentions how the Bible's teachings were being twisted and dividing Christians, the Written Bible is in this sense less reliable than the Oral Bible, since the Written Bible is subject, due to ignorance or perversity, to falsification and the twisting of meanings, which in turn establish heretical or questionable sects. Thus, the Ancient Jews did not assume Holy Tradition to be capable of falsification and spiritual corruption, nor of changing at all. If they were aware of falsifications of the contents of Tradition, they still regarded the Oral Bible to be more reliable in the sense that falsifications of Tradition, if they occur at all, do not do as much damage, nor so frequently appear, as false interpretations of Scripture do. Anyone can make the written word mean anything one wants it to mean, then convince many people that this is what the Bible actually says, and thus start a new sect to threaten the original Faith. But it is far more difficult to change a spiritual culture with a distinct heritage of dogma and practice within Sacred Tradition, which has permeated the history and lives of many generations. It is easier to twist what is in theory than to twist what is in practice and universally taught for centuries. And so, as these facts prove, the Ancient Jews in Christ's time were more than convinced that the Oral Bible and the Written Bible came from the Holy Spirit and that both could not be falsified when maintained in relation to each other.

Not knowing, or deliberately ignoring, the facts above, the unknown Protestant writes, "This is why God had Moses write everything down in the book of the Law, so there would be no question what was said. If God did so in the OT, would He change this policy in the New?" Though this argument may be sound by itself, his premise is ludicrous and can be used against the Protestant himself. As has already been proven, the Jews of Biblical times were convinced that Moses had received from God a Written Bible and an Oral Bible, and they did not completely pertain to the same doctrines. The Apostles in the NT also referred to the teachings of Holy Tradition. Moreover, 2 Peter 3:14-16 and the Talmuds believed that written doctrines from God were more susceptible, or just as susceptible, to spiritual corruption and distortion than oral doctrines are believed to be by the Protestants. Since the Ancient Jews and Apostles accepted the concept of Scripture and Tradition relying on each other with both being treated as Holy Spirit inspired, the question that the unknown Protestant had, "If God did so in the OT, would He change this policy in the New?" must be answered by the Protestant. Because God gave Moses a Written Bible and an Oral Bible, including some amount of separate doctrinal material, in the OT, would God change this policy in the NT? According to 2 Thessalonians 2:15 and the constant and consistent reports of the Early Christians, this policy did remain intact, whereby the Apostles left behind a Written Gospel and an Oral Gospel, involving some amount of separate doctrinal material. This is the teaching in the 2nd century given to Ireneus, who was a student of Polycarp, the famous disciple of John the Apostle, in his book Against Heresies III, 5:1, saying, "The Tradition from the Apostles does thus exist in the Church, & is permanent among us." This is also witnessed to by Clement of Alexandria, a disciple of Apostolic disciples in the 2nd century, in his book the Miscellanies VI, 7, "And the Gnosis itself is that which has descended by transmission to a few, having been imparted unwritten by the Apostles. Hence, then, knowledge or wisdom ought to be exercised up to the eternal and unchangeable habit of contemplation." Origen, who was a disciple of Clement of Alexandria, also teaches in the 3rd century, "The key to the Scriptures must be received from the Tradition of the Church, as from the Lord Himself." And this is best summarized by Basil the Great in the 4th century in his book On The Holy Spirit 27:66, saying, "Of the dogmas and doctrines preserved in the Church, some we possess from written teaching and others we receive from the Tradition of the Apostles, handed on to us in mystery. In respect to piety both are of the same force. No one will contradict any of these, no one, at any rate, who is even moderately versed in matters ecclesiastical. Indeed, were we to try to reject unwritten customs as having no great authority, we would unwittingly injure the Gospel in its vitals." These statements prove that the Early Christians inherited from the Apostles an Oral Gospel pertaining to some doctrines not found in the Bible, and the Apostles had learned this concept from Ancient Judaism, in the teachings of the Prophets arranged in an Oral Torah and a Written Torah. Hence, what God gave to the Jews through the Prophets of the OT, God also gave to the Church through the Apostles of the NT, though, contrary to Protestant assumptions, this included Holy Tradition being equal to Scripture.

6.) The Oral Bible, or Holy Tradition, did not consist of only rituals. Throughout the OT and NT the Oral Bible consisted of holy rituals, oral doctrines, and historical reports, as Jude 9 and 14-15, Galatians 3:19, and Acts 7:53 prove. The Oral Bible was not about human traditions and useless rituals wrongly believed to cause salvation. It contained important doctrinal teachings, such as the doctrine that life existed after death, which the Sadducees considered a false belief since it came from Holy Tradition and had to be interpreted into the OT. The Protestant assumption that Holy Tradition only relates to man-made traditions which Jesus condemned, and which the Catholics imitated, was not the assumption of the Bible's writers and their Ancient Witnesses. Holy Tradition was always known to be distinct from the man-made traditions of the Jews and of the Catholics, as well as of the Protestants and of other break-away sects.

7.) The Early Christians did not point just to God's word in written form, the Bible only. The unknown Protestant says, "Jesus pointed to the OT word. The early church pointed to the word written as well." But as Scripture and Sacred History make clear, Jesus and the Early Christians ardently believed in two separate categories of God's words- the written and the oral. Jesus pointed to the OT word and He pointed to the Oral Bible. He used the OT, practiced Hanukah as He did Passover, quoted lost Scriptures as in John 7:38, and He taught life after death, which in His time was known to be an extra-biblical doctrine from God in Holy Tradition. Even His Apostles imitated Him by using extra-biblical traditions, such as when Jude quoted the Archangel Michael and the Prophet Enoch in Jude 9 and 14-15. Moreover, the Early Church inherited from the Prophets and Apostles the two but equal categories of God's word- one written and the other oral, which they consistently and fervently believed in and taught from without question and without anyone arguing against it for 1500 years until Martin Luther revived the anti-tradition heresy of the Sadducees (which had been a protest against the Catholics, who had falsified both Tradition and Scripture to some extent, though this is not what Eastern Orthodoxy had done). This is how strong the belief in Tradition is, despite uneducated Protestant assumptions otherwise.

These 7 points provide important information about the total lack of knowledge that Protestants have about Scripture and its spiritual context in Sacred History, as well as proving that Protestants often apply assumptions into Scripture and Tradition which are totally erroneous. Indeed, they falsify and twist Scripture in order to seek proofs for their man-made assumptions, which they have made into doctrines of Christ. Because of such spiritual distortions, Protestants interpret into the Bible many wild assertions, such as forcing Acts 20:29 to say that it was written by the Holy Spirit inferring that Holy Tradition must be superceded by Scripture before Tradition can become falsified over time. The Ancient Jews, the Bible, and the Early Christians nowhere suspected that Holy Tradition was capable of corruption and falsification, and if they did, they considered such a possibility to be as likely as the Bible's contents becoming corrupted and falsified. In other words, they perceived from history and experience that the oral Holy Tradition was just as reliable, eternal, and protected by the Holy Spirit as Scripture is, maybe even more so. This is because of a successive arrangement of priests, spiritual masters, hierarchs, and laity, a vast spiritual culture, who as a whole established the doctrines of God so effectively in the synagogues, churches, and religious societies that it was virtually impossible for falsifications of the Faith to take place without anyone noticing and opposing them. The Faith was so well entrenched and its teachers so well trained and carefully chosen, and the laity was ever-vigilant against heresy, that spiritual errors were immediately noticed and violently debated as soon as they were introduced. As modern historians are even aware, the Ancient Witnesses were also highly skilled in memorizing vast amounts of information without making any mistakes. Indeed, they were so far advanced in their mental skills, that we today would consider them semi-geniuses, further indicating how difficult it was for oral doctrines to become falsified or lost. Hence, the arguments and assumptions of the unknown Protestant using Acts 20:29 as a verse inferring the unreliability and temporary status of Apostolic Tradition have no historical precedent and there is no evidence from Scripture suggesting such beliefs and demanding such interpretations. Acts 20:29 simply speaks about spiritual corruption in general, which had already been taking place against Tradition, as well as against Scripture even during Apostolic times. Those who deny the validity and divine inspiration of Holy Tradition are thus desperate to find and ignore anything that can prove their oral doctrines. Indeed, they will even go as far as twisting Scripture, Tradition, and Sacred History in order to make it seem as though Scripture is superior to Tradition. But the fact that they have to go to such spiritual depravity is proof enough that their beliefs have no Biblical and historical foundation. They are simply believing in man-made traditions which they insist must be doctrines of Christ.

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