Holy Tradition for Jesus and the Apostles
A Commentary on an Article Condemning Tradition
This is the third segment in a commentary on an unknown Protestant writing against Tradition. As can be seen in this segment, the Protestant doctrine that Jesus and the Apostles had condemned Holy Tradition and that it has been replaced by Scripture, thanks to the Apostles writing the NT, is so filled with obvious flaws in logic and facts, that Protestants make themselves look silly with their attempts at forcing such a doctrine into the Bible and Sacred History. The words of a devout, sincere, and well-educated Protestant reveal just how ridiculous Protestant arguments typically become in their dogmas against Tradition. Copied below is his actual statement supposedly disproving Holy Tradition.
There are other instances of tradition in the Bible, but they are all Scriptural or do not contend with the Scripture teaching itself. An example of this is in John 10:22 with the Feast of Dedication (Chanukah). Jesus did not refute this because it was an actual historical event. Yet if the leaders had made it mandatory, it would have received a different reaction from Jesus. We do have the freedom to hold for our personal enjoyment practices of individual choice. However this is not what the Roman Catholic Church is claiming. They are teaching that these were handed down from the Apostles (some of which are found from Scripture) and are commands and even necessary for one's spiritual life. Paul explains in Galatians 1:14 "And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers." Paul understood the differences of what tradition was and what Scripture is.
The fourth paragraph of the unknown Protestant writer manifests some amazing feats of logical maneuvering and it is difficult to grasp where Scripture states his beliefs and where he gets his logic. Indeed, if one knows Biblical and Early Christian facts, it is difficult to make any sense out of what he says altogether. He starts in this paragraph by saying that there are valid extra-biblical holy traditions, yet somehow they are all included in Scripture (whatever that means, since what a Pentecostalist deems to be included in Scripture is deemed by a Baptist not to be included in Scripture) or they do not contradict Biblical doctrines (whatever that means, since what a Baptist sees to be a contradiction of the Bible may not be a contradiction to a Pentecostalist). Whatever the case, the unknown Protestant is assuming that Tradition does not normally come from the Lord and that it usually contradicts Scripture. But where he gets the proof that Tradition on only rare occasions comes from God is totally unknown, as well as the proof that Tradition on most occasions contradicts Scripture. Both of these beliefs are not only extra-biblical, they are completely arbitrary, since, depending on the bias of the individual reader, not only can the Bible be interpreted to reject Tradition and to show that Tradition always contradicts the Bible, but Scripture can also be interpreted to support Tradition on all occasions and to never contradict Scripture.
One of the examples the unknown Protestant provides in proving that extra-biblical traditions from God are rare (therefore only the holy traditions mentioned in Scripture can be valid), so that the rest of the extra-biblical traditions must all contradict Scripture, is John 10:22, where Jesus is inferred to have participated in and blessed the extra-biblical doctrine of Hanukah, which is still part of the Holy Tradition today in Judaism, though the Bible does not mention this dogma. Even though the unknown Protestant writer admits that Jesus blessed this sacred tradition, he claims that it is only because it was an actual historical event and because the Jewish leaders did not make it a mandatory spiritual teaching. But none of this correlates with a simple reading of Ancient Judaism, which is the spiritual context of the Bible, so that the unknown Protestant must ignore the perceptions of the Bible's writers in order to promote his man-made doctrines. Such an opinion about John 10:22 may not be representative of the typical Protestant doctrine for this passage, but it does indicate the fanciful myths that Protestants will create in order to protect their beliefs that no extra-biblical Scripture and no extra-biblical Tradition can possibly come from God.
The unknown Protestant's explanations why Jesus blessed an extra-biblical Tradition is based on unfounded assumptions that extra-biblical traditions are never historically factual and that Jesus and the Apostles never sanctioned any of them as divinely ordained, even the ones which were historically true. His comment that the Jewish leaders did not make Hanukah mandatory, as the reason why Jesus did not object to it, is purely imaginary and wishful thinking. Ironically, whatever rituals and feasts that the Jewish leaders made mandatory were known to have been from the Holy Spirit, while those which were not made mandatory were known to have come from Paganism and Jewish mythology. Thus, the fact that Jesus blessed Hanukah with His participation in it is not a sign that the Jewish leaders never made it mandatory, rather it is a sign that Jesus blessed it as part of the Jewish Holy Tradition, which it had been at that time. In the First Book of the Maccabees 4:59, a book written before Jesus was born, it is stated that the Feast of Dedication, or Lights, also called Hanukah, was declared to be a mandatory feast established by men, yet treated in the exact same way as any mandatory feast instituted by God in the OT. Since Protestants refuse to accept 1 Maccabees because the Early Christians regarded it as Scripture, and which the Catholics and Eastern Orthodox continue to use as Scripture (thereby proving Hanukah to be from the Holy Spirit), there is Josephus in his first century book, the Antiquities of the Jews XII, 7:7, who writes that Judas and the Maccabees had made Hanukah a mandatory "law for their posterity", for all Jews for all generations, so that it became a mandatory part of the Holy Tradition of the Prophets from the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Jews treated Hanukah as a law established by God by His miracle, incorporated into the Faith through 1 Maccabees and Holy Tradition, and thus sanctified as a doctrine in the spirit of the Prophets. The Jews to this day continue to treat Hanukah the same as they would any written OT festival, even though it is historically extra-biblical and a man-made tradition changed into the word of God without Scriptural consent from God. Thus, the unknown Protestant writer's assertions that Jesus had never blessed extra-biblical holy traditions, even ones mandated by men, is totally mythical and historically unfactual, proving Protestant beliefs themselves to be false traditions and anti-biblical myths.
The totally false statements the unknown Protestant writer made to prove how Scripture rejects all extra-biblical Tradition is quite typical of Protestant theology. Without knowing the facts, or even ignoring known facts, alleged Biblical doctrines are asserted by Protestants at the expense of the truth, of history, of the Bible, and of ancient spiritual experience and witness. Protestant claims that extra-biblical traditions must have Biblical connections (though how this is determined is often quite arbitrary, as well as being an extra-biblical assertion itself) in order to be counted valid, are proven to be mythological themselves by Jesus's acceptance of Hanukah, which has no OT connection for Protestants and Jews, though Jewish Holy Tradition does make it a mandatory feast from the Holy Spirit and though 1 Maccabees is accepted as Scripture by the Early Christians, the Eastern Orthodox, and the Catholics. Jesus's acceptance of Hanukah should by itself prove to the Protestant that 1 Maccabees is a Scripture, and that extra-biblical Holy Tradition is valid, but being logically consistent and factual is not his goal. Furthermore, the Protestant writer's assumption that the Catholics are wrong when they say that Holy Tradition comes from the Apostles, which the writer apparently presumes to involve only symbolic customs like Hanukah, is only assumed because he assumes that the Bible assumes this. He also confuses Catholic tradition with Apostolic Tradition, which are two separate things. Apostolic Tradition is what came from the Apostles, while Catholic tradition is what came from man-made laws beginning in the 9th century, which the Catholics forced into Apostolic Tradition, altering the teachings and distorting the meanings of it. But the Catholics (who continue to preserve intact some of the original Apostolic Tradition), and by extension the Early Christians and Eastern Orthodox (who have preserved intact all the original Apostolic Tradition), practice extra-biblical Holy Tradition because this is what the Apostles had learned from the Prophets, as well as from Jesus Christ, as the example of Hanukah and other extra-biblical concepts make clear.
After making erroneous statements as though they were Biblical, the unknown Protestant writer then quotes Galatians 1:14, as though it somehow condemns the Catholic heritage of Apostolic Tradition. Though this Bible verse is used by Paul to juxtapose his present Christian spirituality with his previous Jewish spirituality, it does not necessarily prove anything against Holy Tradition, either for the Jews or for the Catholics, which by extension, once again applies also to the Early Christians and Eastern Orthodox in this case. But the Protestant writer's comment right after quoting Galatians 1:14 is quite ridiculous, for this verse does not in any way even hint that Paul was proving how Holy Scripture is superior to Holy Tradition. The writer only assumes this because he assumes that the Bible assumes this. Thus, once again, the writer totally ignores Paul's consistent reliance throughout his epistles on the Holy Tradition of his ancestors, doctrines which do not come from the written OT.
One of the examples which point out Paul's belief in Holy Tradition occurs in Galatians 3:19 and Hebrews 2:2, as well as Acts 7:53, where Paul and Stephen point out repeatedly that the Law given to Moses was not directly given to him by God, but it was given to him by God through His angels. The OT as we have received it does not contain such a teaching, and in fact it is taught that God Himself directly gave Moses the Law, as it is asserted in Nehemiah 9:6, 13-14, "And Ezra said, 'You are the Lord.....You came down also upon Mount Sinai, and spoke with them from Heaven......You made known your holy sabbath to them and gave them commandments and statutes and a Law through Your servant Moses.'" And there are many other statements to this effect throughout the Bible. Indeed, there is nothing in Scripture to indicate that what Moses saw and heard was not God directly but visions of God through angels. The whole point of Exodus 33:18-23, where Moses saw God's back, was to promote the fact that Moses constantly spoke with God in some direct way, as it says in Exodus 33:11, "Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend." Nevertheless, the Apostles did not believe what the OT seems to say on this point because Holy Tradition in some instances was recognized to possess fuller truths than what the OT says or seems to say. The Apostles did not learn this Tradition from Jesus, since Stephen's great speech against the Jews was using Ancient Jewish Tradition as evidence against them because he knew that the Jews believed this extra-biblical doctrine to be the words of God, which would convict them of their evils against Christ and the Church. Moreover, in seeming opposition to what the OT says, the Holy Tradition of the Prophets, as recorded in the ancient Talmuds of the Jews, in Pesikta Rabbati, taught that Moses in his visions had ascended into Heaven, where he had to convince the angels to give him the Law for Israel and all the world. This Tradition, whereby God gave Moses the Law through angels, was therefore a Jewish belief which was understood to have been passed down from Moses through the Oral Torah, not as an isolated extra-biblical fact from the Holy Spirit, but as part of an oral literature from the Holy Spirit equal to Scripture, which Jewish Holy Tradition consistently and ardently proclaimed to be from Moses and the Prophets. This is exactly how the Apostles in the NT treated this information.
Another example of Paul's reliance on extra-biblical doctrines from the Holy Spirit occurs in 2 Timothy 3:8, where Paul casually mentions how Jannes and Jambres had opposed Moses. Without any background to this comment, it could be difficult to prove where in the OT this is referred to, since the OT does not record these names, and since many people and other spokesmen had opposed Moses on many occasions throughout the OT. But the Holy Tradition of the Prophets, which the Jews had accepted as equal to Scripture before, during, and after Christ's time, taught that this event which Paul was writing about was a reference to the event in Exodus 7:8-13, where Pharaoh had summoned Egypt's best magicians to oppose and refute Moses's authority and God's power. Yet the Bible does not mention how many magicians were involved, nor even their names, though Holy Tradition does identify them to be Jannes and his brother, Jambres, as it is written in the pre-christian or first century Dead Sea Scrolls book called the Damascus Document 5:17-19 and in the Targum of Jonathan on Exodus 1:15-16, which was written during Early Church times, both of which are Jewish in origin.
One last example, among others, of Paul's acceptance of the Prophets' Holy Tradition occurs in Hebrews 11:37, where there is a mention of people sawn in two for the Faith. This whole chapter 11 in this epistle refers to exact descriptions of events found throughout the OT and the Apocrypha, except in this passage concerning saints sawn in two. But according to Justin Martyr in his Dialogue With Trypho 120, Isaiah was the one who had been sawn in two with a wooden saw, thus prefiguring the Cross of Jesus, and other Early Christian witnesses concurred with this observation, connecting it with the book called the Ascension of Isaiah 5:1-14 and another book called the Martyrdom of Isaiah. Origen in the 2nd century in his Letter To Africanus 9 also mentions how Hebrews 11:37 comes from the Holy Tradition of the Prophets, which he believed, based on what Jewish elders had told him, that it had been once in a Scripture, though the Jews had tampered with it so as to discredit its prophetic Christian message. He adds that though Hebrews 11:37 indicates a number of saints sawn in two, he makes it clear that Hebrew and Greek linguistics in and out of Scripture sometimes allows for speaking in the plural even when a single person is being referred to, and this is true in everday vernacular in most languages of the world.
In addition to all these examples in Paul of an extra-biblical Tradition from God through the Prophets, two of its most famous examples are found in Jude 9 and 14-15. In verse 9 Jude authoritatively speaks of a fight between Satan and the Archangel Michael over the body of Moses, and Michael is even quoted from. Some Early Christians were aware that verse 9 was quoted from a lost OT Scripture called the Assumption of Moses, where Satan and Michael are recorded having a lengthy dispute, saying much more than what is found in Jude. In verses 14-15 Jude prophetically quotes from 1 Enoch 1:9, a book written before Christ and kept as a Scripture among some Early Christians and among some Ethiopians since Early Church times and into modern times. For Protestants these two passages create a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't scenario, since their doctrine promotes the belief that there can be no teachings from the Holy Spirit in extra-biblical books and oral traditions. Thus, when Protestants are confronted with Jude's irrefutable application of the fact that God had written Scriptures outside the Protestant collection of Bible books, they assert the unbiblical doctrine that these two passages in Jude were not from lost Scriptures but they had initially been preserved as two oral reports from a false literature of oral traditions, which Jude had miraculously extracted for the sake of saving them from among inferior oral tradition. However, when Protestants are then confronted with the fact that the Prophets' oral Holy Tradition was also deemed to be from the Holy Spirit, and that Jesus and the Apostles encouraged this belief by utilizing Tradition with no warnings or caution, Protestants then revert to another unbiblical doctrine by stating the opposite, that Jude had miraculously taken the only two holy passages from a written collection of false texts for the sake of preserving them from remaining among inferior religious books. Hence, Protestants seek to have it both ways by making up contradictory and totally unbiblical explanations, no matter what facts they are confronted with, in order to maintain their dogma that the Bible has replaced what they think is Holy Tradition.
As these examples from Jesus and Paul reveal, the Bible believes in extra-biblical Holy Tradition, even promoting it as Holy Spirit inspired. As the facts make clear, Jesus's participation in Hanukah in John 10:22 is evidence of how the Lord was in the habit of blessing Holy Tradition, even man-made traditions added into the Faith long after the Prophets, traditions which had been established and maintained as mandatory doctrines from God and added into Holy Tradition even before Christ's time. Jesus was ardently opposed to man-made traditions changed into doctrines of God, as He teaches in Mark 7:7-9 and Matthew 15:2-3, yet Hanukah was not at all an issue for Him, even though it is clearly a human tradition changed into a mandatory doctrine of God. Hence, the lesson here is not that this particular tradition, Hanukah, since it was mentioned as blessed by Jesus in Scripture, was an isolated incident of a divine sanction of Holy Tradition, nor that the Bible has miraculously included in its contents all oral traditions from God. It is instead evidence that Jesus accepted extra-biblical Holy Tradition, regardless if or not it is mentioned in Scripture. Similarly, Paul's contrast of his Christian faith with his previous total reliance on the traditions of his Jewish fathers in Galatians 1:14 is not evidence that Paul was condemning Holy Tradition. Throughout Paul's letters in the NT he consistently refers to extra-biblical dogmas not found in the OT in both written and oral forms. This is substantiated by Jude's specific references to extra-biblical sources, which in Ancient Jewish times came either from now lost Scriptures and/or from oral Holy Tradition from God. All of these facts tell us that Jesus and the Apostles never banned Holy Tradition, nor expected Scripture to replace oral, extra-biblical Tradition. It only tells us that Jesus and the Apostles trusted in Holy Tradition and promoted its usage, that is, the genuine Holy Tradition of the Prophets and the teachings and practices which conform to it. Such a heritage has nothing to do with the Catholics, except for the fact that Catholic doctrine, which began in the 9th century, made their own unauthorized changes to Apostolic Tradition, thereby establishing a distinct set of Catholic traditions. Other than this, Holy Tradition has remained unchanged among the Jews and the Christians.
Contrary to what Protestants want to believe about Tradition, Jesus and the Apostles supported it, if in written or oral form, and if or not certain traditions are mentioned in the Bible. They even condoned doctrines and practices which were later added into the Faith long after the Prophets. This means that when Jesus condemned oral traditions, He was not including the traditions which come from the Prophets, their disciples, and from later authoritative doctrinal determinations of councils and other man-made sacred sources, such as Moses's Seat in Matthew 23:1-3. Notwithstanding this, Protestants must accept Holy Tradition, for they themselves promote the belief that councils of men in the 4th to 5th centuries had correctly decided on which books should be made Biblical and which books should be left out of the Bible, according to Holy Spirit guidance, as well as determining the doctrine of the Trinity, which is not necessarily taught in Scripture without an oral tradition being read into it. Because Protestants rely on some oral traditions, the theoretical objections that Protestants have to oral Holy Tradition is evidence that Protestants in practice cannot obey their own dogmas. Hence, they are too often filled with ludicrous logic and contradictory and hypocritical assertions in their attempts at condemning oral Holy Tradition. As Protestants themselves admit in practice, though not in theory, Tradition is an aspect of Scripture not because the Bible has replaced it, but because it is an essential part of the Faith not confined to Scripture. Jesus and the Apostles in the Bible prove this point, and Protestants in practice do so as well.
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