The Equality of Scripture and Tradition
A Commentary on an Article Condemning Tradition
After insisting on a permanent and total connection between Holy Tradition and man-made traditions, without realizing the Bible's and the Early Church's elevation of Tradition being equal to Scripture, the unknown Protestant continues his refutation of Tradition by making one more argument based on ignorance, saying:
The Pharisees' laws were burdens that God never intended; they brought the people into bondage because they went beyond Scripture and were never intended to do what God inspired to be written. Nowhere is it written to continue to have traditions by word of mouth after the apostles.
Despite his faulty conclusion, the first sentence of this paragraph is true. God did not intend the Pharisees to make up their own laws and act as though they came from Scripture and can bring salvation. However, the second sentence is an example of sheer ignorance. 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 1 Corinthians 11:2, and other verses show how God intended all churches for all time to continue the written and oral traditions of the Apostles after the Apostolic Age. As the Bible and Sacred History prove, the Ancient Jews inherited Holy Tradition from the Prophets and the Apostles, and the Early Church continued this practice, even expecting all future churches to preserve without change the Apostolic Tradition, oral and written. Thus, the evidence and reports are overwhelmingly in favor of the fact that Scripture and the Ancient Witnesses inherited, promoted, and commanded that written and oral traditions from the Prophets and Apostles be preserved for all generations of God's people. This is why Jude 9 and 14-15 quotes from prophetic sources which are not found in our OT (Old Testament), and why Galatians 3:19 contradicts the OT by saying that God gave Moses the Law through angels rather than directly from Himself. Ancient Jewish writings before, during, and soon after Christ, such as the Talmuds (Sifre Deuteronomy 351; 145a and Shabbat 31a, along with many individual accounts of extra-biblical divine revelations from God to the Prophets), Josephus in almost every page of his Antiquities Of The Jews, and many other sources, emphatically state that Moses and all the Prophets had left behind oral, extra-biblical doctrines from the Holy Spirit. The famous saint, Ireneus, who was a student of Polycarp, the disciple of the Apostle John, in the 2nd century, says in his powerful book Against Heresies, "What if the Apostles had not in fact left Scriptures to us? Would it not be necessary to follow the order of Tradition, which was handed down to those to whom they entrusted the churches?" Basil the Great in the 4th century makes a clear statement about the extra-biblical Apostolic Tradition being equal to Scripture 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." Origen, who was a disciple of Clement of Alexandria, who was a disciple of disciples of the Apostles, 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." Clement of Alexandria even says 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." There are more examples, but these are enough to prove how the Ancient Jews and Early Christians inherited and preserved from the Prophets and Apostles the oral, extra-biblical Holy Tradition as equal to Scripture, and that the writers of the Bible also utilized Tradition, not as a last minute effort to record in Scripture all the good traditions, which is an extra-biblical belief itself, but as a doctrinal and normal expression of the Faith regarding many extra-biblical traditions, if written in Scripture or not. The second sentence of the unknown Protestant, therefore, is a statement defying all the facts on this issue of Tradition.
In addition to these facts, the concluding statement above from the unknown Protestant writer is absurd: "Nowhere is it written to continue to have traditions by word of mouth after the apostles." He says this as though it is proof against Tradition, even though various Bible verses actually do clearly command Christians to preserve the oral, partially extra-biblical Apostolic Tradition. But even if such a statement is true, it is not proof against Holy Tradition, for it is also nowhere written that the oral Holy Tradition must be eradicated and replaced by Scripture after the Apostolic Age. If the Protestant wants to be logically consistent in believing that if Scripture does not teach it, it cannot be true, then he must accept the fact that the oral, extra-biblical Apostolic Tradition must continue in the Church, since the Bible nowhere teaches or hints that Christians should replace Apostolic Tradition with Scripture.
The unknown Protestant writer's conclusion about Tradition being eradicated after the Apostles is based on the assumption that the Apostles were teaching the doctrine of the Sadducees, who taught that only Scripture came from God and not Tradition. The Pharisees believed that the Prophets had left behind an oral, partially extra-biblical Holy Tradition. But the Sadducees were so serious about their doctrine that they read Scripture without any traditions at all in interpretation and in practice. As a result, they could not believe in life after death, since the OT does not clearly teach such a belief. Though Protestants do not go to such an extent, since they themselves do believe in oral traditions, man-made and/or Apostolic, nevertheless, the anti-tradition doctrine of the Sadducees is what they assume the Apostles had promoted, or what they assume the Holy Spirit had secretly worked through them, or at least some watered-down version of it. However, if this were true, then there would be no evidence of the Apostles utilizing any tradition in any way. Yet the NT is full of instances where the Apostles do revert to the oral, partially extra-biblical Holy Tradition, as seen in Jude 9, 14-15, 2 Timothy 3:8 (which provides extra-biblical details about Exodus 7:8-13), Galatians 3:19, the use of the Greek Septuagint (LXX) version of the OT, rather than the Hebrew (which contain differences and important doctrinal implications), among other examples. Thus, the Apostles did not believe in the doctrine of the Sadducees, that Holy Tradition was false and unreliable. Instead, they believed in the doctrine of the Pharisees, that Holy Tradition is a valid source of Holy Spirit inspired material, not just for the sake of interpreting Scripture in a certain way, but also in preaching extra-biblical doctrines. This is why the Apostles also mention their own written and oral traditions, both being from the Holy Spirit, as in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, and it is why the Early Christians considered it absolutely doctrinal to believe that the Apostles had left behind oral, extra-biblical doctrines, with Tradition being equal to Scripture.
As all these facts and observations point out, the doctrine that the Bible is silent about the continuation of the oral, extra-biblical Apostolic Tradition after the Apostles cannot be substantiated. Scripture, the Ancient Jews, and the Early Christians all drew from extra-biblical doctrines of Holy Tradition, contributing to the establishment of Tradition being equal to Scripture. In fact, the Bible is silent about the promotion of Scripture replacing Apostolic Tradition, so that if the Bible's silence about Tradition continuing after the Apostles must be used as evidence, the Bible is equally silent about Scripture supposedly replacing Tradition, thereby also proving how Tradition should not be replaced by Scripture, but remain equal to it. However, the Bible does make statements calling for the continuation of oral, extra-biblical Tradition after the Apostles, as in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, which is how and why the doctrines of the Trinity and the determination of the Bible's books developed and became part of the Faith centuries after the Apostles, for example. Hence, there is more evidence in and out of the Bible, calling for the continuation of Tradition than evidence for its replacement by Scripture. More importantly, the passages, which are used to prove the cessation of Tradition, require serious manipulation of the content and context in order for Bible verses to appear anti-tradition. As a result, the Bible's and Sacred History's treatment of the issue of Tradition does not at all come close to teaching that Scripture should replace Holy Tradition or that Tradition has ever been inferior to the Bible. All the facts and all the spiritual observations consistently and overwhelmingly prove that Holy Tradition and Scripture have always been Holy Spirit inspired, working side by side to validate each other and to explain the word of God. The unknown Protestant condemning Holy Tradition has either knowingly or unknowingly ignored these crucial elements of Biblical spirituality and its historical context. Thus, by opposing God's word through the Apostles in Holy Tradition, as Basil the Great says, he "unwittingly injure(s) the Gospel in its vitals".
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