Posts Tagged ‘Man-made traditions’

I have a friend who tells me the Catholic Church isn’t Biblically based because they make up rituals and beliefs as time goes on. How do I answer them?

Point 1: 

The first I would ask them if their church hasn’t changed over time. If they are honest with you they will admit it has. The changes may be found in hymns that have been modernized, developments in certain ministries, vestments or the decisions not to use them at all. Let’s look at a couple of verifiable historical facts. The Catholic Church began in the upper room at the Last Supper. The word “Catholic” was first used to describe the Christian Church, believers in Jesus Christ, in 106 AD by St. Ignatius of Antioch. The Protestant Churches didn’t come on the Christian scene until sixteenth century when followers of the Catholic Monk, Martin Luther, established the evangelical churches of Germany and Scandinavia.


 Point 2: 

Problems arise in all churches and need a method of problem resolution. Since Catholicism is Biblically based let’s open our Bibles to the Acts of the Apostles now commonly known as Acts, Chapter 15. We discover this first Church Council took place in Jerusalem. The reason for the council was that many Gentiles wanted to join the church. Legalistic Jews, Mosaic Law followers, converted to Catholicism and were called Judaizers. This group demanded that all converts follow the works of the Mosaic law one of which was to become circumcised. When a problem arises in a church, the military, politics, your office or shop who ever is in charge of those places must resolve the problem by making a decision. The decision by the people in charge becomes the new standard or procedure.


 Point 3: 

The authority for the early church was given to St. Peter by Jesus in both John 21 and, if you understand the original language Aramaic idiom, Matthew 16. Where then had Paul gone for an answers to questions, Jerusalem and the elders (Acts 9)? Who was the authority for the church in charge of making decisions, St. Peter and the apostles, now called Pope and Bishops (Acts 15)? Who was it who had already verified Paul’s teaching as correct, St. Peter and the elders (Acts 9) ?


 Point 4: 

How did the council work? Act 15:6 The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. 7 And after there had been much debate, Peter rose and said . . . Notice the Apostles, now known as bishops, the elders now known as priest, together with Peter the leader, the pope, made the decision that circumcision was not necessary to become a Christian. Further, once Peter, speaking about faith and morals had finished, all accepted his decision as the authoritative and final the resolution to the problem.


 Point 5: 

As you can see a decision was made to change from an old practice to a new practice? It is also worth pointing out to your friend that only Bible, the Catholic Christian Bible, existed uncontested for 1500 years and contained 73 books. The only changes that were made to Catholic Bible were by the Protestant reformer Martin Luther. When he began Protestantism he only accepted 39 of the Old Testament books. Seven books had been removed by Jewish Pharisees at their council of Jamnia in 90 AD. They were removed by the Pharisees because they were upset with the new Christians were using their translation of the Hebrew Old Testament to substantiate Christian beliefs.


 Point 6: 

Going back to the original statement, “the Catholic Church isn’t Biblically based,” is inaccurate. In reality, the Catholic Church is more Biblically based than other forms of Christianity because the canon, list of accepted Biblical books, precedes all other Christian Bibles. The second part of your friends statement, “they make up rituals and beliefs as time goes on,” is also inaccurate.


 Point 7: 

To say just because a ritual isn’t specifically outlined in the passages of the Bible over looks the teachings of St. Paul. “15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thessalonians 2:15). Christianity didn’t start with a “Standard Operating Procedure Manual,” not every thing was committed to writing. St. Paul goes on to say, “I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.” (1 Corinthians 11:2–3) Again 2 Thessalonians 3:6 “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.


Point 8: 

As you can see not all traditions, rituals, or even the Christian Bible existed when St. Paul wrote these words. Our traditions and rituals existed since the earliest of times and some were even adopted by the newer Christian or Protestant religions.

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No, it is not true. Protestants have as their sole rule of faith the written Word of God, which we find in Sacred Scripture. The Catholic Church has as its sole rule of faith, the entire Word of God, as it is found in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

All of the Word of God was at one time passed on orally: Sacred Tradition. Eventually, some of Sacred Tradition was written down; this became Sacred Scripture, which is written tradition. However, Scripture itself tells us that not all of the things that Jesus said and did were written down. And listen to what Paul says about “tradition”:

2 Thes 2:15, “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.” Traditions! Traditions taught by word of mouth, in other words, oral tradition, and traditions taught by letter. Traditions which they are being told to “stand firm and hold to”. Sacred Scripture and Tradition do not contradict themselves, but complement each other.

1 Cor 11:2, “I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.” The Corinthians are being commended by Paul because they maintain the traditions that he passed on to them. Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

2 Tim 2:2: “and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” What we have here in 2 Timothy is an instance, in Scripture, of Paul commanding the passing on of oral tradition.

1 Thes 2:13, “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the Word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the Word of God, which is at work in you believers.” So, they received as the Word of God that which they heard, not simply that which they read in Scripture.

In other words, the Bible clearly supports the Catholic Church’s teaching that the Word of God is contained in both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

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