Binding Authority of Tradition: Seven Biblical Arguments


I decided to take another look at my idea for a book which became the core and “original project” of my last volume, 100 biblical arguments against Sola Scriptura: published by Catholic Answers in 2012. The original title in 2009 was 501 Biblical arguments against Sola Scriptura: is the Bible the only infallible authority? I undertook this project after an anti-Catholic Protestant remarkably and ridiculously asserted that there was “no” argument against Sola Scriptura in the Bible. So I produced 501.

Now notice, a lot of them were very short (a sentence or two). The book was in the format and style of Blaise Pascal Thoughts (“Thoughts”): a work of classical apologetics published in 1670. Wikipedia describes it as:

. . . fragments that Pascal had prepared for an apology for Christianity, which was never completed. . . . Although the Thoughts seems to consist of ideas and notes, some of which are incomplete, it is believed that Pascal had, before his death in 1662, already planned the order of the book and had begun the task of cutting and pasting his draft notes into a form consistent.

Malcolm Muggeridge said this was the book’s unique appeal: that it was muddled and incomplete: notes for a later planned book that was never organized or edited in final form by the author. And this is how the arguments of 501 Biblical arguments against Sola Scriptura can be seen: numbered “notes” which were then systematically compressed into a more compact book, with a conventional editor (Todd Aglialoro at Catholic Answers, who also edited three of my four best-selling books: A biblical defense of Catholicism, Catholic verses, and The One Minute Apologist.

The following material is taken from the first section, titled “The Binding Authority of Tradition” (all Bible passages: RSV).


[No. 58] I would strongly argue that Paul (and all the apostles) casually assumed that the message they delivered (orally, in most cases) was infallible. There is certainly no indication that they considered him to be fallible. When Paul spoke of receiving such traditions, he showed no indication that it was fallible or that he questioned it because it came from oral rather than written transmission. Thus, he seems to easily assume and take for granted what many Protestants find it most difficult to grasp and accept, even when he looks him straight in the eye on the very pages of Scripture to which he accords the most. high inspired authority (as Catholics do). ).


[No. 63] No one would be foolish enough to pretend that all the sermon, plea, and prophetic warning of Jeremiah or one of the other prophets have been written down and preserved in the Bible. In one long night, if Jeremiah had continued speaking, it would be more words than we have in the whole book that bears his name. If this had been the “word of the Lord” it would not have been recorded, just like, for example, the words of Jesus explaining the Messianic prophecies concerning him, to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, did not have were recorded, but they were true and inspired, since they were from Jesus himself (see Luke 24: 26-27). The hearers of Jeremiah and Jesus were required to obey their words. Thus, words had obligatory authority before they were written and whether or not they were already later wrote.


[No. 66] An inspired Bible book might cite a number of uninspired books as true, as long as the cited part is concerned. This is exactly what happened in Jude 14-15, where 1 Enoch 1: 9 is directly quoted (as indicated in the footnote to this verse in my Oxford Annotated RSV Bible), and is described by the apostle as what Enoch “prophesied”. Whether this counts as “inspired” or not, based on that I don’t know, and I will leave this technical question to the appropriate specialists to decide. But it is perfectly reasonable to conclude that what is quoted is true, and an example of true prophecy no different in nature from a prophecy of Jeremiah or Isaiah: whose prophecies are recorded in inspired Old Testament scripture. And that’s just the point, is not it ? If Jeremiah’s prophecy is considered inspired because it is in the Bible (AT), then Enoch’s prophecy must the same be, because it’s in the Bible (NT). Therefore, an “extrabiblical tradition” has been “recognized by the writers of the New Testament,” and my assertion is unassailable.


[No. 68] Ananias, the high priest, was a Sadducee and, according to The Standard International Encyclopedia of the Bible, a scoundrel: “lawless and violent. . . haughty, unscrupulous, fulfilling his sacred office for purely selfish and political ends ”(vol. 1, p. 129). But Paul thought he had the authority. Paul showed him respect, even when he slapped him on the mouth, and was not dealing strictly with Old Testament and Law matters, but with whether Paul was teaching badly and should be stopped (Acts 23 : 1 -5). Here then is the case of the high priest, who sacrifices in the Temple, being granted authority by the Apostle Paul. And he was not of an exemplary character, which eliminates the argument that Jesus strictly limited Pharisee authority, because some of them were bad men, and because he severely rebuked them for their behavior. hypocrisy. Further, the Sadducees were inferior theologically to the Pharisees and took “liberal” or dissenting views on many doctrines accepted by the Pharisees and Christians. But Paul always think they have authority!


[No. 69] The terminology “Word of God” or “Word of the Lord” undoubtedly proves that what is referred to is a true tradition. It encompasses both written and verbal, oral delivery. The Bible states, for example, “Samaria received the word of God” (Acts 8:14). It wasn’t a Bible society or the Gideons or a Billy Graham gathering. There was no copy of Scripture involved at all. Samaria had responded to Philip’s preaching (Acts 8: 5-6). Indeed, it could not have been Scripture, for it was the Gospel of Christ, which was only implicitly and obscurely contained in the Old Testament, and the New Testament was not yet compiled. nor (largely) even written; Philippe was also not one of the inspired writers when it was written and compiled. Saint Paul believes the same and assumes that the “word of God” is an oral proclamation: “You have received the word of God which you have heard from us” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Now, unless it is assumed that Paul only spoke to the Thessalonians about the things that were recorded later in his two epistles of theirs (which is more than stupid, Paul could speak to them / read his entire two letters in maybe 15 minutes), then that involved Following than Scripture.


[No. 71] Paul, in 1 Corinthians 14, repeatedly teaches prophecy (prophesying). Obviously, if there was a significant amount of prophecy given, only a very small part of it was incorporated into the New Testament, if at all, as the New Testament is a fairly small book: about as long than a medium-sized novel. So there were many oral messages from apostles, prophets and evangelists that would have been inspired, but ultimately unbiblical, just as it was with our Lord Jesus. The New Testament repeatedly refers to unregistered speeches or acts of Jesus (Mk 4:33; 6:34; Lk 24: 15-16,25-27; Jn 20:30; 21:25; Acts 1 : 2- 3). This is the most basic common sense. Prophecy was quite common in the New Testament or in apostolic times (Acts 2:18). The Ephesians did this (Acts 19: 6), as did the daughters of Philip (Acts 21: 9) and the Corinthians (aforementioned passages and 1 Cor 11: 4-5). There were even prophets (in terms of calling or office), in addition to people who occasionally prophesied. Prophets were listed in ministry lists (1 Cor 12: 28-29; Eph 4:11) and worked with teachers, as in Antioch (Acts 13: 1). They both proclaimed and predicted (see, for example, Agabus: Acts 11:28; 21: 10-11). The prophets exhorted believers (Acts 15:32) and edified (1 Cor 14: 3). The prophecy is described as a revelation (1 Cor 14:30) and as being related to the Holy Spirit (plausible implication of 1 Thess 5: 19-20). Prophets were subject to the standard of the New Testament or apostolic tradition (1 Cor 14: 29,37-38), just as the prophets of the Old Testament were to conform to the law of Moses.


[No. 80] Many Protestants believe that “if Paul said so, even if it is oral (although it is not a tradition, of course), then it is binding, and will (almost always) be recorded in Scripture. later anyway, so we know exactly what Paul was telling them. None of this is certain. Also, this epistle was actually from Silvanus and Timothy as well (see 2 Thess. 1: 1). He (as the lead author) often uses the plural “we” or “we” (see, for example, 1: 3-4,11, 2: 1,13). Thus, in the passage under consideration, Paul does not regard only his own instruction as authoritative, but also that of Silvanus and Timothy (“the traditions which have been taught to you, either by word of mouth or by letter of weThis undermines much of the contextual argument “Paul as pastor of the Thessalonians.” This plurality is reiterated by Paul:

2 Thessalonians 3: 6-7 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from any brother who lives in idleness and not in accordance with the tradition which you have received from us. For you yourselves know how you should imitate us; we were not inactive when we were with you,

So we see that this tradition was broader than just Paul’s own teaching, to be recorded in the Bible, and there only, without a bit of it being transmitted in any other way. Thus Jude (3) can speak of “the faith which was once and for all given to the saints”. What faith? By who? It wasn’t just Paul and it wasn’t the New Testament. It was already known and proclaimed by the apostles, in its fullness (Matthew 28:20 – see in particular the word “all”). It’s not Sola Scriptura, pure and simple. Catholics agree in saying that Scripture contained this deposit, but not all explicitly or not absolutely all the features and titles of the apostolic tradition. If the Protestant says that we are not related to anything that is not explicitly found in the scriptures, we ask them where in the scriptures do we find such a notion, and why should we consider ourselves in a better place than the early Christians. , before the New Testament was compiled. ? Paul and the other apostles show no indication that pre-New Testament Christians were in any way in a less prepared or equipped position vis-à-vis Christianity than we “Christians of the World.” Bible ”today. Sola Scriptura is an unbiblical, non-historical mythology.


Photo credit: Robert_C (9-20-16) [Pixabay / Pixabay License]


Summary: I have highlighted seven biblical arguments for the binding authority of the tradition of my original manuscript, 501 Biblical arguments against Sola Scriptura.


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