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Why don’t Catholics just rely on the Bible and not their man-made traditions?

Full Question

When will you Catholics realize that the Bible is the only thing needed by Christians? You don’t need man-made traditions.

Answer

There were nearly three decades between the Crucifixion and the first books of the New Testament and nearly eight decades between the Crucifixion and the last of them. Two generations at least were deprived of the Book of Revelation, surely one of the most critical of the books of the Bible. Many Christians already had gone to their deaths for the sake of Christ, but had never heard the words of Paul, for the simple reason that Paul had not yet written them. Indeed, at least one Christian died as a direct and intended consequence of Paul himself: Stephen. Are we then to exclude Stephen from salvation because he was unaware of Paul’s writings not yet written?

All the teachings of the apostles are “traditional” teachings, not “written”—”Traditional” in the radical (root) sense of the term, from the Latin “tradere,” to hand over (not “down” as so many have it—nor does the idea of “trade,” also derived from that verb, enter into it implying some exchange of one sort or another), simply the passing along from one to another. The Bible is the written portion of Tradition, as is amply evidenced by John himself at the very end of his Gospel, where he says that “many other things did Jesus do and say, so many, I think, that if they were all written down the world itself would not be large enough to hold the books that would have to be written to hold them.” Even taken in their most gentle sense, those words inescapably mean that in no way can the Bible be taken as the complete record of everything Jesus did, said, or taught.

Most of the beliefs and practices that Fundamentalists condemn among Catholics are rooted in Sacred Tradition, the unwritten portion; though I also must make certain that it is understood that no Tradition, however longstanding, may contradict Scripture.

Revelation is of a piece; it is not a patchwork quilt, from which we pick and choose those things that please us or which may threaten us less. Salvation and revelation are a package deal—they go together, and we accept all or none.


Fr. Hal Stockert













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32 comments

  1. Peter Aiello Reply

    The Bible is the book that regulates all of the teachings of Christianity; nevertheless, most Catholics ignore it in favor of later writings.
    It is seldom used for conscience formation. It is almost never listed as a resource for conscience formation. I use it as my most important resource. In this way I can better evaluate teachings that have entered into Christianity for the past 2000 years, that may be superfluous or distracting.

    1. STEPHEN Reply

      When Luke wrote his Gospel, he didn’t expect it would be in the bible. When Paul wrote his epistles, he didn’t ordered it to be in the new testament.

      The Catholic Church compiled it, Catholic Church teach it, loyal to it, defend it, hands it until our generation come to existance.

      More than that, Catholic Church grow with it, nurtured by it so she gives fruitfull writings throughout history such as Summa Theologia by Thomas Aquinas, St. Theresa Avila’s Meditations and Levels of Spiritual Prayers, etc.

      And you think you are wiser than 2000 years old church guided by Holy Spirit?
      Well, I don’t think so.

      1. Peter Spasic Reply

        No one has yet answered the question, why did Luke, Peter, Paul, James and Jude not CLEARLY teach about purgatory, praying to Mary and the ‘saints’, among other specifically Catholic doctrines? Surely if these are so important God would not have left these issues (tradition?) to be sorted out long after their books/epistles (all written before 100 AD) had been written.
        Your comment [“And you think you are wiser than 2000 years old church guided by Holy Spirit?”] implies God has been revealing new truths long after the original NT authors died?

        1. Peter Aiello Reply

          As far as I know, purgatory is not in Scripture. Not sure how it came about historically.
          Hades (NT) or Sheol (OT) is an interesting place in Scripture. Does Hades still exist, and are there still spirits of the dead in there? It was the holding place for the Old Testament people who died prior to the Redemption. 2Machabees 12: 43-46 speaks of praying for the dead, but it probably refers to those in Sheol. Jesus went there to preach to them during the three days and nights after His death and before His resurrection. Is this still a holding place for the dead? In the book of Revelation it says that death and Hades are cast into the lake of fire at the end of the world, so Hades must still be around at the present time.

          Much of today’s Mariology comes from the writings of Louis de Montfort. He says in his TREATISE ON TRUE DEVOTION TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN 49: “But in the second coming of Jesus Christ, Mary must be known and openly revealed by the Holy Spirit so that Jesus may be known, loved and served through her. The reasons which moved the Holy Spirit to hide his spouse during her life and to reveal but very little of her since the first preaching of the gospel exist no longer”. The emphasis on Mary is not in the Bible per Louis de Montfort. According to Vatican II, everything in Christianity is supposed to be regulated by Sacred Scripture (Dei Verbum 21), but not everything in cultural Catholicism is.

        2. STEPHEN Reply

          Okey, I’ll answer:
          #1. Purgatory
          2 Maccabeans 12:39-45, tells story about the fallen soldier of Israel who kept the talisman of the gods of Jamnia, so they did a grave sin.
          Judas, concerning their salvation in the day of resurrection, gathered money and sent it to Jerusalem for priest to make offering of peace for their sin.

          Catholic teaching stated clearly that only 2 conditions which is final: #1. Eternal Separation from God (which is Hell), or #2. Eternal Communion with God (which is Heaven).
          And in between, there are souls which are saved, but not yet made perfect (1 Cor 3:15). And the souls are in the state of being purified (purged), so it called Purgatory.
          Jesus Himself affirm that there are sins which CAN be forgiven in the afterlife (including sin of blaspheme against the Son of Man). And sin that CANNOT be forgiven, which is the blaspheme against the Holy Spirit.

          A souls with the stain of sin CANNOT enter Heaven (Rev 21:27). And a soul in Hell cannot passing through, because there are a great chasm (Luke 16:26). So, the only logic state is that is called the Abraham’s Bosom.
          And since the resurrection of Christ liberated the souls of the ancient saints, the place can no longer called Abraham’s Bosom, because Abraham would be in Heaven. So it is called Purgatory.

          #2. Praying to Mary and other Saints.
          Jesus taught that no souls are dead infront of God (Luke 20:38). So, Mary and other saints are alive. Much more alive than us, because they are now in communion with the Source of Life, Himself.
          And Paul wrote this:
          Hebrews 12:22-23 (NRSV) But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,
          and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,

          Who are those “Spirits of the righteous made perfect?”

          Here what Paul wrote:
          Romans 8:29-30 (NRSV) For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family.
          And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

          So, the saints had been justified and glorified by God to be the assembly of His Son, to be His family.
          With Him being the firstborn.

          And apostle James testify this:
          James 5:16 (NRSV) Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.

          Which one is more righteous than those saints that God had made perfect in the image of His Son?

          Catholic asked the saints to pray together with them.
          Let me give you Hail Mary Prayer:
          Hail Mary, full of grace.
          Our Lord is with you.
          Blessed are you among women,
          and blessed is the fruit of your womb,
          Jesus.
          Holy Mary, Mother of God,
          PRAY FOR US sinners,
          now and at the hour of our death.
          Amen.

          Indeed, you’re far from understanding the bible.

          I stand with the Catholic Church.

        3. STEPHEN Reply

          Let me add about those issues you think important (or not):
          #1. Jesus founded the assembly of the faith (church upon Simon Bar Jonah, which He renamed Peter, Kephas, the Rock. Please don’t play with Petra-Petros Greek, because My God didn’t play slimy tongue).
          #2. Jesus gave Peter the Power of Binding and Loosening, which is the Power to abrogate old law, such as circumsition. And even to create a new law.
          #3. Jesus taught and assembled the first teachers (Magister in Latin), the Apostles.

          Did He even wrote a single letter or command His disciples to wrote books?
          No.

          So, He established oral teaching (Traditions) and assembled the teachers (Magisterium). And He gave them the Power to make scriptures, and abrogate law, and create new laws.

          Even if Purgatory isn’t in the bible at all, as long as the Magisterium of the Church teaches it, it certainly bound in Heaven.
          Because I don’t believe Jesus gave empty promise of binding and loosening that wear off by the time the apostles died.
          It’s easier for God to create Purgatory than the church to teach it to people like you.

          I humbled myself to read my bible to understand what the RC Church teach about many things.
          English has words like “READ BETWEEN THE LINE”. So, don’t ask for clear “purgatory” word in there. There is also no “trinity” word in the Bible to discribe 3 persons in one God.

          And who said that the prophecy has come to end? The prophecy is still exist. We have the first coming of the Son of Man as a humble servant to fullfil the redemption of sins.
          We’re still expecting His second coming in His Glory, as the King.

          The RC Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, being the guardian of His flocks, judge those prophecies so that no false prophet could drive the flock to jeophardy.

          I stand with the Catholic Church.

    2. Maria Hunkin Reply

      ….and the Bible belong to the Catholic Church if you know your history!!!

  2. Peter Spasic Reply

    “Most of the beliefs and practices that Fundamentalists condemn among Catholics are rooted in Sacred Tradition, the unwritten portion; though I also must make certain that it is understood that no Tradition, however longstanding, may contradict Scripture.”

    So, doesn’t praying to the ‘saints’, and especially to Mary, “for help in time of need” contradict Hebrews 4:16? If one argues that the author wrote this decades after Pentecost then why didn’t he include Mary as one to whom one could pray? Surely if this was already a Sacred Tradition it should have been referred to by the New Testament authors – given that she is supposed to be so important for our salvation.

    Also, the doctrine of purgation is another tradition not taught in scripture – and all scripture is given for our spiritual understanding and growth (2 Timothy 3:16) 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 refers to “that day” (judgement day) and so cannot refer to an intermediate time or state of purgation before judgement day. Again, if the support for purgatory is the apocryphal book of Maccabees, then why didn’t the New Testament authors also make this clear (given that almost every Christian is supposed to go there before heaven – we still have to be purified to become fit for heaven (but how do the prayers and offerings of living people and deceased souls accomplish this if the only acceptable offering is and was, the sacrifice of the Son, the Lamb of God (John 1:29)?
    The rich man wanted help from Lazarus (to warn his living brothers), but was refused. (Luke 16)

    Worship God in spirit and in truth…sincerity is futile if it is in such error as to ascribe to the deceased the power to intercede on our behalf.
    And it is significant that in most RC churches Mary is more prominent in statues/pictures than Jesus.

    The papal Magisterium of Rome is much like the scribes and Pharisees who invented many traditions to a simple faith in God – indulgences, fish-only-on-Fridays, celibate priesthood, the rosary, limbo (now retracted), formalized prayer rituals (10 Our Fathers + 25 Hail Marys, etc), etc

    1. STEPHEN Reply

      When the new testament was written, many people mentioned in it was still alive.
      Mother Mary was still alive, so Luke could gathered events and stories from the eyewitnesses, especially about the annunciation from Gabriel to Zechariah about John the Baptist, and to Mary about her Son, Jesus.

      A prayer is spiritual communication. When people are still alive, they communicate verbally, not by praying. I communicate to you through my writing now. Not by praying to you. Because i didn’t think that my communication to you is spiritually.

      But bible wrote this:
      Hebrews 12:22-24 (NRSV) But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,
      and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,
      and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

      So, according to my bible, the assembly of His Church is one big family. Not individually with no connection between each person.
      I can be sure that 1 Spirit made perfect in the verse above is Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
      She lived with Him more than His life as human being, more than all His disciples.

      She is the only human being ever so close to God that she received the grace of bearing Him in her womb.

      All your writing accusing RC Church was just an empty argumentation, while Mary just in silence living with Him. Just like the story of Martha and Mary. Martha was busy serving, and Mary just sat down listening to Jesus. But what Jesus said about it? Mary has chosen the better part which will not be taken away from her.

      Jesus is the center of RC Church teaching. There are countless prayer to Jesus, His Sacred Hearth, His Holy Wounds, His Holy Name. Recitations of His Name using rosary, commemorating His Path of Sorrows (Via Dolorosa), and Eucharist is the center of RC life.

      Papal Magisterium is doing exactly what Jesus has ordered in the bible: what you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven!!

      I think you don’t even understand about bible. Are you a christian, or just assume yourself christian??

      1. STEPHEN Reply

        You wrote “aphocrypal book”?
        Who set what is canonical or apocryphal?

        Jewish rabbis translate Septuagint from Hebrew to Greek, centuries before Christianity.
        In that Septuagint, there is Maccabeans.
        There even mention the story of the Hanukkah, the Temple Purification Rite.

        Why then Jews uncanonized those books?
        Because they didn’t have the Hebrew/Aramaic copy of that, and they certainly didn’t want New Testament to be included.

        We are Christians. We don’t follow Jews anymore. We follow Christ. And by the time of His life on earth, the script He read in synagogues was Septuagint.

        The earliest disciples and apostles preserve it.
        So, who are you to say that those books are apocryphal? You know nothing!

  3. Achille Ratti Reply

    The Bible alone doesn’t regulate the teachings of Christianity. The apostles didn’t teach using the Scriptures alone and the Catholic Church of today doesn’t either.

    Catholics do not ignore the Bible. In fact, we even threw away a lot of later writings because the Church decided they weren’t inspired (in the same way she decided which books of the Bible are inspired).

    Wasn’t it the protestants who threw away sacred Scriptures? These sacred writings have been accepted by Christians for more than 1200 years until the Reformation came in the 16th century and a lot of sacred Scriptures have been ignored by Luther et al.

    1. Peter Aiello Reply

      Achille Ratti: The Church disagrees with you. She says in Vatican II’s Dei Verbum 21: “Therefore, like the Christian religion itself, all the preaching of the Church must be nourished and regulated by Sacred Scripture.”

      1. Achille Ratti Reply

        In fact, the document says “…She has always maintained them, and continues to do so, together with sacred tradition, as the supreme rule of faith,..”

      2. Achille Ratti Reply

        Does it really take days for my reply to appear on this thread?

  4. john portis Reply

    where do i find the sinners prayer in the bible that bible only belivers say you have to pray to be saved?

  5. Achille Ratti Reply

    Not at all. The Church simply set forth in Dei Verbum the authentic doctrine on divine revelation and how it is handed on. But it didn’t nullify or discount the role of sacred Tradition in its preaching. While the conciliar document does say that the preaching of the Church must be nourished and regulated by Sacred Scripture, it doesn’t say that it must be done by Sacred Scripture alone.

    In fact, in the same chapter you quoted in Dei Verbum the Church maintains her stand that Sacred Scripture and Tradition are the supreme rule of faith: “She has always maintained them, and continues to do so, together with sacred tradition, as the supreme rule of faith…” (DV VI, #21)

    This is how past and present theologians commit their mistake, believing that the sole, supreme and final rule of faith is by Sacred Scripture alone. And I’m afraid you are committing that same mistake.

    1. Peter Aiello Reply

      Vatican II’s Dei Verbum 21 says: “Therefore, like the Christian religion itself, all the preaching of the Church must be nourished and regulated by Sacred Scripture”. It does not say that Tradition also regulates. Even Tradition needs to be regulated, otherwise the Church could contradict Scripture in Tradition.

      1. Achille Ratti Reply

        Isolating DV 21 from the rest of the conciliar document and interpreting it far and away from the true context of Dei Verbum in order to demonstrate my non-existent misconception of, misinformation about and contradiction to the teachings of the Church simply will not work. This is especially true when appealing to other official Church decrees, documents and materials (Decree of the Council of Trent concerning The Canonical Scriptures, Catechism of the Catholic Church, etc.) that, all of which, confirm the consistency and unity of Church teachings over the centuries from the time of the apostles that Scripture and Tradition as interpreted by the Church Magisterium is the only infallible rule of faith. The apostles did not and the Church will not preach the Gospel and any Divinely revealed truth outside this norm.

        1. Peter Aiello Reply

          Vatican II is now part of the mix. The statement that everything in Christianity is regulated by Sacred Scripture is there whether anyone likes it or not. Without the regulation of Scripture, Tradition could contradict Scripture and be OK. That is not acceptable. I don’t believe that Vatican II is unreasonable in this regard.

        2. Peter Aiello Reply

          The only reason that I can think of that Vatican II singles out Sacred Scripture as the regulator, is the place that even the Old Testament had in New Testament Christianity.
          During Christ’s time on earth, there was no New Testament. Peter calls the prophecies of the Old Testament a more sure word of prophecy (see 2Peter 1:19).
          The Bible has always had a special place in Church history even before it was fully compiled in the fourth century. The Holy Spirit is the primary guiding force. I think that Christ ties it together when He says: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26).
          Trying to piece together all of the statements from various councils is a challenge. I think that the word “regulated” is going to be discussed for a long time.
          Scripture is more like a constitution that self-limits how far afield one can go.
          I found it personally rewarding to go back to the source documents of Christianity to see what I could glean out of them. The NT epistles have the theology on how to relate to the post-resurrection Christ. This is different from the Christ of the gospel period whose role was to complete the Old Testament, and prepare for the New. Christ was under the Mosaic Law all of His life on earth.

          1. Achille Ratti

            You said:

            The only reason that I can think of that Vatican II singles out Sacred Scripture as the regulator, is the place that even the Old Testament had in New Testament Christianity.

            I agree. But maybe in one paragraph of one specific document Vatican II singles out Sacred Scripture. Nevertheless, I don’t think it was the council’s intention to adapt it as a general doctrine of faith, for very obvious reasons.

          2. Achille Ratti

            You said:

            During Christ’s time on earth, there was no New Testament. Peter calls the prophecies of the Old Testament a more sure word of prophecy (see 2Peter 1:19).

            – I agree.

          3. Achille Ratti

            You said:

            The Bible has always had a special place in Church history even before it was fully compiled in the fourth century.

            – I agree. However, the Bible, as we know it today, did not exist before the close of the 4th century. What early Christians had then were a collection of scriptures (later writings) which nobody even bothered to check for authenticity, Divine Inspiration or Apostolic origin. Until the Church ultimately decided to define (not just compile a collection of writings) what canonicity meant and the criteria by which writings would be qualified and accepted into the official list of the Canon of Scriptures. One of the criteria used was *drum roll* Tradition! The apostles relied on it in the absence of Scriptures (NT) and the Church used it in defining the canonicity of Scriptures. She still does this today, together with the already defined Scriptures (OT & NT), in evaulating teachings that have entered into Christianity after the death of Christ and the apostles. But, of course, you already know that.

          4. Peter Aiello

            I have never heard of drum roll tradition. There are the writings of the New Testament written after the events actually happened. There are the epistles and the book of Revelation. The Church canonized what we have today in the Bible in the fourth century. There are no additional books or writings of Sacred Scripture as defined by the Catholic Church subsequent to the fourth century. Everything else is called tradition or whatever.

          5. Achille Ratti

            You said:

            Scripture is more like a constitution that self-limits how far afield one can go.  I found it personally rewarding to go back to the source documents of Christianity to see what I could glean out of them. The NT epistles have the theology on how to relate to the post-resurrection Christ. This is different from the Christ of the gospel period whose role was to complete the Old Testament, and prepare for the New. Christ was under the Mosaic Law all of His life on earth.

            – I agree. The Church, with the inspiration of the HS and guided by Scripture and Tradition, tells us what to believe and what not to believe. But searching for the truth is not a bad idea at all. Learning what the early Christians truly believed and what Christ and the apostles truly preached is not a bad idea at all. I can only wish you luck and may the Holy Spirit guide you in your journey.

      2. Achille Ratti Reply

        Isolating DV 21 from the rest of the conciliar document and interpreting it far and away from the true context of Dei Verbum in order to demonstrate my non-existent misconception of, misinformation about and contradiction to the teachings of the Church simply will not work. This is especially true when appealing to other official Church doctrines, documents and materials (Decree of the Council of Trent concerning The Canonical Scriptures, Catechism of the Catholic Church, etc.) that, all of which, confirm the consistency and unity of Church teachings over the centuries from the time of the apostles that Scripture and Tradition as interpreted by the Church Magisterium is the only infallible rule of faith. The apostles did not and the Church will not preach the Gospel and any Divinely revealed truth outside this norm.

      3. Achille Ratti Reply

        Later writings need regulation. Sacred Tradition does not. Later writings are both regulated by Scripture and Tradition as interpreted by Church Magisterium.

        1. Peter Aiello Reply

          What we are both doing is interpreting Vatican II for ourselves. There are Catholics who frown on this.

          1. Achille Ratti

            You’re misinterpreting and misrepresenting. I’m defending.

          2. Peter Aiello

            I disagree. This personal conscience formation which is part of Church teaching. See Vatican II’s Dignitatis Humanae.

  6. Achille Ratti Reply

    An interesting strategy you’re using here. Quoting a Catholic document to disprove a Catholic doctrine.

    First, whoever said everything in Christianity (or in the Church) is not regulated by Sacred Scripture? I never said that. I believe the Catholic Church, in all her pertinent teachings, pronouncements, constitutions and the decrees she issued and implemented are regulated by Sacred Scripture. However, not by Scripture alone. That’s what I have been really saying here.

    Take Canon Law, for example. The very system of laws and legal principles made and enforced by the Church’s hierarchical authorities to regulate its external organization and government and to order and direct the activities of Catholics toward the mission of the Church, is founded on Sacred Scripture. However, again, not on Scripture alone.

    Secondly, I never said I didn’t like that those statements are there in DV or in any other Church document.

    Thirdly, I don’t believe (and the Church doesn’t teach it either) that Sacred Tradition can ever contradict Sacred Scripture since both are Divinely inspired. It’s not ok to say or believe otherwise. Nope, it’s not acceptable.

    Finally, I agree with you that Vatican II and I’m sure all the other ecumenical Councils held before it are not unreasonable in all of their teachings, decrees and pronouncements. This is for the very simple Biblical fact *emphasis added* that the Church, at all times over the centuries, is not just regulated by Scripture and Tradition but also guided in all truth by the Holy Spirit.

  7. Ejiro Okodaso Reply

    If all scriptures are truly inspired by the Holy Spirit, did the inspiration stop with the early apostles /christians? What makes up the Bible are inspired writings which never ends with any generation. The Bible does not contain it all, except you are telling me that the Holy Spirit no more inspires.

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