An Orthodox Response to Protestant Charges-
A Commentary on a Refutation Against Holy Tradition
(An Introductory Segment in Response to a Protestant Article)
There are many books and articles written by Protestants condemning Holy Tradition, and yet the vast majority of them are derived from incompetent or negligent spiritual research. Though their reasoning makes a lot of sense to Protestants, it is based on a very limited comprehension of Scripture, Tradition, and Sacred History. Because of these self-fulfilling and incomplete studies of Tradition, most Protestants have developed a serious lack of knowledge about what is or is not Apostolic and even what the original concept of Apostolic had been. This is the direct result of the unfounded assumption that extra-biblical traditions are all orally transmitted, more unreliable than the Bible, ritualistic, legalistic, and anti-biblical. In addition to this, Protestants almost always interpret their theological and social struggles against Catholicism into Scripture and Sacred History in four ways: 1. By making Catholic beliefs seem exactly like the false traditions of the Pharisees and Sadducees. 2. By making the beliefs of the Apostles seem perfectly Protestant. 3. By making Catholic beliefs seem to have their origins in Early Church times. 4. And by making it seem as though Catholic beliefs eventually prevailed and dominated the Church from the 4th to 16th centuries. These four misrepresentations of Scripture and Sacred History combine to convey a mythical battle in the Bible and the Early Church between a proto-Catholicism and a primitive Protestantism, with Protestantism losing this struggle and thereby being totally erased from Early Christian reports and evidence. All of these assumptions either have no basis in fact or they are half facts, distortions of facts, and fanciful tales, which are designed to prove that the Apostles were a bunch of Protestant reformers and their religious enemies were overpowering popes. Such unbiblical teachings mingle to form what is actually a Protestant mythology concerning the original transmissions of the Gospel, the history of the Church, the meaning of Holy Spirit inspiration, the sources of certain doctrines, the concept and importance of what Apostolic means, and what Holy Tradition consists of.
For this segment in the series of Holy Tradition, an article written by an unknown Protestant found on the internet will be commented on to expound on the Protestant mythology and its effects in Christianity. This article has been chosen because it provides an excellent example of the typical Protestant distortions surrounding the issue of Apostolic Tradition and how it relates to Scripture. What can be learned from this analysis is that Protestantism confuses Holy Tradition with Catholic traditions, as well as confusing the Early Church with the Catholic church. It confuses Holy Tradition with man-made traditions, as well as confusing Sacred History with Catholic-Protestant history. Even the Bible is treated as an expression of a major Protestant premise that God struggled to fully incorporate into Scripture all the leftover oral traditions from the Prophets and Apostles, so as to establish only the Bible as the single source of God's revelation to mankind. As a result of this theological and historical distortion, Protestantism applies an extensive amount of convenient logic and hypocrisy into its theology, by accusing Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Ancient and Modern Jews, and Early Christians of using convenient logic in their applications of Scripture and Tradition, which is exactly what Protestantism does. Moreover, Protestants invent their own oral traditions in addition to Scripture and then claim that they practice no oral traditions. This convenient, even absurd, double standard is the fruit of rejecting the Church's heritage of Apostolic Tradition.
One of the more important aspects of the Protestant mythology which needs to be understood while reading this segment is to recognize a distinction between Catholic rituals and Early Christian Apostolic Tradition. There is a major difference. Holy Tradition does not always involve legalistic rituals and neither do Catholic traditions. But Catholic traditions do involve new rituals and a sanction of legalism which had never existed before in the Historical Church until Catholic traditions began to become established around the 10th century or so. This affected only the western churches, culminating in the Catholic church officially breaking away from the Apostolic Church in A.D. 1054, which comprised the eastern church. This is called in history the Great Schism. Since that time, the western church has been called the Catholic church and the eastern church is now known as the Eastern Orthodox Church, though it has always been known as the Apostolic or Early Church, or simply the Church. It is the spiritually corrupted western church which evolved a mass of legalistic new beliefs and rituals which abused Scripture and Apostolic Tradition for its own purpose of controlling Christianity and dictating to its adherents though the papacy what is or is not God's truths. This then led to Martin Luther and other reformers in the 16th century to break away from the papacy in Rome and establish their own opinions and traditions for Christianity, resulting in countless different systems of theology, all of which conflict and contradict each other. The Orthodox Church has never gone through such spiritual corruption and division to such a degree to such an extent to such a depth. Since Jesus taught that the gates of Hades would never prevail against His Church (Matt. 16:18), the Apostolic Church had to survive intact and without change somewhere, and by God's grace it happened among the eastern Christians.
The Eastern Orthodox Church has not changed since Apostolic times, though Protestant mythology claims that it has. Since Protestants interpret everything that is not Protestant to conform to their version of church history, which they see as a big battle between Catholicism and Protestantism, they cannot conceive of Apostolic Christianity being anything else but one of these two entities. Thus, Protestants blindly equate Eastern Orthodoxy with their all-powerful arch-enemy, Catholicism. As a result of this distortion, they cannot fully comprehend two things: 1. That there is some degree of similarity in the doctrines and practices of the Early Church and the Catholic church, since the Catholics were at one time a part of the Apostolic Church. 2. That the theological associations between the Early Church and the Catholic church are not evidence that the Early Christians were being corrupted by primitive elements of Catholic heresies. What the Early Christians believed and practiced had no correlation with Catholicism, since Catholic traditions never existed at that time. The Early Christians believed in baby baptism not because heretical ideas of a primitive Catholicism were infecting the Church but because they heard the Apostles and their disciples teach this. The Early Christians believed that the Bread and Wine of Communion literally become the Body and Blood of Jesus not because powerful popes had masterfully convinced all Christians to believe this but because they heard the Apostles and their disciples teach it. The Early Christians believed in Holy Tradition, not because evil Catholic deceivers slowly forced this into the Faith, but because they witnessed the Apostles and their disciples teaching it.
When the roots of Catholic traditions did in reality enter into history, between the 7th-9th centuries, there were some disputes in the Church over them, as well as major doctrinal debates against them. Even western Christians within papal territory had initially opposed them, as well as some popes. These disputed beliefs consisted of the doctrine of papal superiority, the doctrine that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, and other dogmatic matters which the Catholics interpreted into Scripture, something never done before. And once the papacy declared itself the ruler of the Christian Faith in 1054, another centuries-long process of doctrinal changes and legalistic teachings in the western church came into effect soon afterwards, such as the tradition of indulgences, purgatory, the Virgin Mary's immaculate conception, starting crusades against eastern Christians and Muslims, usurping political power over national kings, and other dogmas which the popes and their bishops interpreted into Apostolic Tradition, something which had never been done before. As a result, important concepts from the Bible and Holy Tradition became mingled with corrupt Catholic doctrines and practices in western Christianity, causing serious spiritual confusion. This is why Martin Luther and other Protestant founders associated Catholic traditions with Holy Tradition and Catholic Biblical interpretations with Apostolic ones and then became so tyrannical against them. In their quest to eradicate from the Faith corrupt practices and to purify Biblical understandings, many authentic beliefs and practices from the Apostles were condemned along with Catholic dogmas, and they were all replaced with new Protestant extra-biblical traditions and new Protestant Biblical doctrines. The Eastern Orthodox Christians, who of course could accept the Protestants' eradication of Catholic heresies, could not accept the Protestants' manipulation of the Faith, since Scripture and Tradition taught them to abide faithfully by the original tenets of the Apostles.
Another important concept underlying the Protestant objection to Apostolic Tradition is the belief that every single extra-biblical oral and/or written tradition has been incorporated into Scripture, so that not a single extra-biblical oral and/or written tradition now exists from God. The Protestant mythology thrives on this concept and it is a critical doctrine in Protestant theology. Protestants interpret all of Scripture based on this doctrine, so that any Biblical verses which do proclaim the necessity of Holy Tradition for all of God's people for all time must be interpreted to secretly contain within them hidden inferences against Tradition. However, determining what is or is not an extra-biblical tradition is totally based on the whims of the reader, who can interpret into the Bible whichever oral tradition he likes and then conveniently interpret as unbiblical whichever oral tradition he does not like. Protestantism is nothing more than a system of convenient determinations deciding which oral tradition has or has not been incorporated into Scripture, which of course means that they do not follow facts and consistent logic. This convenient system of Biblical exegesis is applied because Protestants believe that only the Bible can be the only source of God's revelation to mankind. In other words, only Protestant interpretations of Scripture can be accepted as divinely inspired because that is what the Apostles taught; and the Apostles are known to have taught such things because Protestant interpretations prove it. Hence, an immense amount of convenient logic and circular reasoning is applied in order to make the Apostles look like Protestants and the Early Church look like the papacy.
The article for this series on Holy Tradition was written by an unknown Protestant writer titled "Traditions that are Found in the Bible". It will be broken up into paragraphs, so that each important theological detail will be discussed and analyzed. This means that there will be other segments after this one exploring the various premises and assumptions of this unknown Protestant writer.
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