Advertisements

There’s Nothing Wrong With Tradition

One of the things that Catholics misunderstand about sola scriptura is that it shuns tradition. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sola scriptura requires tradition to make accurate interpretations of Scripture. If my interpretation of a passage, say Genesis 38:6-11, is off kilter with traditional interpretations, then perhaps I’m wrong and I need to adjust what I believe about that passage.

Or, it could be that the passage has been interpreted a certain way for years, even centuries, and that interpretation was wrong. Joshua 10:12-14 had been used to prove that the earth was the center of the solar system and that the sun revolved around it. Once the Copernican model for the solar system was accepted, that passage had to be re-evaluated.

So it is with Genesis 38:6-11. Long used by Roman Catholics as a prohibition against birth control, it has been re-evaluated in modern times as refering to a violation of the Mosaic Law, specifically that dealing with levirate marriage. TurretinFan has a good treatment of this topic here.

Matthew Bellisario uses that verse to attack sola scriptura, saying that it is really the Protestant’s own interpretation of Scripture that counts. But is that true?

Scripture is used to check tradition. Period. But in the Roman Catholic system, Sacred Tradition is on par with Scripture, so one cannot be used to check the other, since they are both at the same level. But what happens there? Neither can be questioned, since they both represent God’s Truth. What happens if one contradicts the other?

For example, paragraph 1366 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that the Eucharist re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the Cross. Paragraph 1367 expounds:

The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: “The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different.” “And since in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner. . . this sacrifice is truly propitiatory.”

And, as James White is fond of quoting, John O’Brien in The Faith of Millions states the Catholic Tradition thus:

When the priest announces the tremendous words of consecration, he reaches up into the heavens, brings Christ down from His throne, and places Him upon our altar to be offered up again as the Victim for the sins of man. It is a power greater than that of saints and angels, greater than that of Seraphim and Cherubim.

Indeed it is greater even than the power of the Virgin Mary. While the Blessed Virgin was the human agency by which Christ became incarnate a single time, the priest brings Christ down from heaven, and renders Him present on our altar as the eternal Victim for the sins of mannot once but a thousand times! The priest speaks and lo! Christ, the eternal and omnipotent God, bows his head in humble obedience to the priests command.

Of what sublime dignity is the office of the Christian priest who is thus privileged to act as the ambassador and the vice-gerent of Christ on earth! He continues the essential ministry of Christ: he teaches the faithful with the authority of Christ, he pardons the penitent sinner with the power of Christ, he offers up again the same sacrifice of adoration and atonement which Christ offered on Calvary. No wonder that the name which spiritual writers are especially fond of applying to the priest is that of alter Christus. For the priest is and should be another Christ.

What’s my point, you ask? Only this: Scripture paints a different picture of the Eucharist. We are to do this in memory of Christ, according to the words of our Savior himself. And the book of Hebrews says this of Christ’s sacrifice:

For since the law has but a shadow  of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities,  it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.'”

When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Heb 10:1-14)

Note the repeated theme of offering the sacrifice once for all in this chapter form the book of Hebrews. So, which is it? Are we to offer Christ many times on altars all over the world, or did he offer himself once for all? Scripture and Sacred Tradition conflict on this point.

Now, the Protestant has the answer: Scripture must be correct, since that is the full and final revelation of God. But the Catholic has some work to do. Scripture and Tradition must coexist, even on points like this. What’s the answer, Catholics? Is Tradition wrong, is Scripture wrong, or am I missing something?

Advertisements

About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on October 1, 2009, in Apologetics, Bible Thoughts, Roman Catholicism. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Tradition is helpfulf in interpreting scripture, but sometimes the most ancient and correct tradition is also the most maligned. There is a traditional interpretation of John 6:51 “I am the living bread which came down from heaven….and the bread I will give is my flesh….” that I recently found when reading aboutSyriac commentaries on the gospels. This tradition goes as far back as the 2nd century to be sure, but it was maligned then as it will be now. (Every tradition has always been maligned by someone.) This tradition is that Jesus came down from heaven in his flesh, i.e. that he “came in the flesh”, for it says “I am the bread that came down from heaven” along with “and the bread I will give is my flesh”—ergo, I came down from heaven with my flesh. Now it makes sense why John begins with “the word became flesh” saying became rather than born and skipping any birth stories. But what about the wedding in Cana where Jesus made a whole heap of wine for a bunch of guys who were already “well drunk” and out of their minds? That tare is self-defeating. What about him saying to John “behold thy mother”? Again, trhe tare is self-defeating, for if Jesus was born and if John is intendedd to harmonize and play nice with the synoptics, the he has brothers James the Just, Simon, Jude and Joses–he would give the care of his mother to them. The interpolator has not been careful enough to destroy the truth that in John’s gospel, Jesus origimally “came in the flesh” coming in the flesh from heaven without birth.

  2. Hi Cory,

    I just want to address a couple of things here. One doing this in the “memory of Christ” regarding the Eucharist.

    When Christ said, “Do this” you have to ask yourself “do what?” Go and re-read the night of The Eucharist and there is an action there, isn’t there? Christ performed an action. He took the bread and broke it, gave thanks/blessed it and offered it to God. The same was with the wine. So the first thing you have to realize is, when Christ said, “Do this in memory of me” He did something Himself by doing an “action” there. We are to do the same action which is what the Church does. (This was all foreshadowed in the OT with the Passover Meal. Now instead of the Passover Meal being just for the Jews, it is for the whole world in The Eucharist, as that is what Jesus did, was to “Passover” for us)

    Another thing you have to realize is The Eucharist is a fulfilling of the prophecy in Malachi 1:11 “For from the rising of the sun even to it’s setting my name is great among nations, And everywhere they bring sacrifice to my name and “a pure offering.” The only “pure offering” to God was/is Jesus. We do not re-sacrifice Jesus or continuously sacrifice Jesus, we offer to God the sacrifice of Jesus. It is like when you ask your prayers in the Name of Jesus. You are offering to God what Jesus did for you on the Cross, as that is how God has to look at us is through the wounds of the Cross.

    I want you to realize one other thing. When Jesus was teaching that He is truly in the Bread and Wine and the scoffers would not believe Him, Jesus let them leave didn’t He? He did not call them back and say, “Oh I just meant it as a symbol, I am not really there, so come back.”

    One other thing. Paul taught that many were “sick and dying because of their abuse to the Lord’s Supper.” Why were they sick and dying if they were only doing it in “Memory of Him and it is a symbolic gesture.” That would not cause someone to die. They died because they as stated in the KJV “they did not discern the Lord’s Body.” The Eucharist is Holy and Sacred given to us by Jesus Himself. We cannot just get out here and defame it so to speak. We see what happened to this people when they did, they died.

    I am a Catholic who converted about six years ago. I was a Protestant for 48 years. I know well both sides, and I feel very blessed to have worshipped God in both. I truly believe though, Jesus in the Bread and Wine once these actions are performed and the Holy Spirit comes down upon them. The Bible tells us, “Everything becomes Holy when the Name of God is envoked upon it.”

    Just some info to help you to understand. Very good post though.

    God Bless, Sandy

    • Well Sandy, I don’t see how blessing/giving thanks the bread is equivalent to offering it to God as some sort of oblation. And as for the prophecy in Malachi, singing hymns or praying could just as well be understood to be the “pure offering” as the bread of the eucharist for the book of Hebrews references “the sacrifice of praise” or “sacrifice of the lips.” But what I’m more interested in is how a Catholic who is so literal in his reading of the eucharist’s “this is my body” would explain John 6:51 “I am the bread which came down from heaven…and the bread which I will give is my flesh” –how can you make this mean anything other than that Jesus descended from heaven already having his flesh? If he is the bread that came down from heaven, and the bread is his flesh, then surely he descended from heaven in the flesh, right?

    • I’m not necessarily saying Jesus is not in the eucharist somehow. I’m just saying I don’t see how it can be classified as an offering to God without reversing the roles of God and man.

  3. Hello Rey,

    Let me begin by saying I never try to make anyone believe like I do. I do however explain why as a Catholic we believe as we do. I am not coming against your beliefs at all, I simply stated mine.

    As far as the “pure offering” on hymns and praise yes, we should do these things and to me, God is very pleased with these things when we do. Still as I stated my belief is, there is only One Pure Offering to God and that is His Son. His Son was without blemish of any kind except for us. No matter what we offer to God of ourselves we have “blemish” so to speak. The only reason we have any “purity” at all before God is because of Jesus, as He is the One who made us worthy. We can be good people and try not to sin, the fact is, Jesus is the only One who never had a sin upon Him, but for ours.

    As far as John 6:51, Jesus is truly the “Bread” which came down from heaven. It does not mean to me, He came down as flesh. He took His flesh from the womb of Mary. The flesh part of Him belongs to God and Mary. His Divinity is God’s alone. It is like when we go into the “womb” of our own mothers I believe our souls come from heaven, but we take our flesh in the womb. I believe God knits us perfectly in there. Of course our bodies “house” our souls. God came to us on the earth, just like we come to earth.

    The offering/blessing of the Bread and Wine being an oblation: To me Jesus gave thanks and He gave those thanks to God. The Eucharist means “Thanksgiving.” Anytime we give thanks, bless, pray or whatever it is an “offering to God.” Jesus said, “He would never leave us.” To me that means, His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity are in the “Consecrated Host.” This is what He left here with us. Again, this is how I believe, and again you are more than entitled to believe as you believe God has shown those beliefs to you.

    Very good questions and I thank you for them, and I hope I did not “botch” your questions too bad with my answers. I did try to answer them as honest as I can without too much detail. I do have one question for you though, if you do not mind answering it. I am having a little of a hard time truly understanding what you mean when you say, “He came down in the flesh, right?” Are you saying in heaven He was flesh and His flesh came down with Him? The only reason I am asking is because I might have answered you wrong through no fault of yours but from my own misunderstanding.

    God Bless, Sandy

    • I certainly would not tell you that you can’t believe what you do (after all you aren’t saying God is an evil lottery commissioner). But I think that when we give thanks to God the thanks are the offering, not the thing we are giving the thanks for. So when you give thanks for the bread of the eucharist you aren’t offering the bread to God but you are offering the thanks to God. The bread is being offered to you not God, and if rightly observed then by God rather than to God (right?). We didn’t so love God that we sent him hisa onlybegotten Son. He so loved us that he sent us his onlybegotten Son. The Catholic view of the eucharist, the idea that we offer Jesus to God, reverses this as though we loved God so much we sent his onlybegotten son to him. I know you won’t see it that way, but outside of Catholicism that’s how it is seen. What audacity to think we can offer to God what in fact he has offered to us, it will be said. It would be like trying to extend grace to God. “Jesus is ours God, and you can’t have him unless one of our priests offers him to you.” But Jesus is in heaven, so how does the priest fetch him down to offer him to God? If the priest has him at all, isn’t because God offered him to him? Catholicism is extremely confused on this point.

    • As to John 6:51, Sandy, I am saying that since Mary makes such a slight appearance in John (only at the wedding in Cana and when Jesus supposedly passes her to John even though James the Just would obviously take care of her regardless) and sense the ‘heretics’ of the early 2nd century possessed versions of John not featuring her at all, and since Jesus uses the language he does in John 6:51 and since John says “the word became flesh” (not was born flesh) and again in 1st John “Jesus came in the flesh” (not was born in the flesh) I think that the Johanine idea of Jesus’ nature was originally that he became flesh while in heaven the literally came in the flesh without being born. This is also supported by Jesus saying “of those born of women none is greater than John the Baptist” by which Jesus clearly means to indicate he was not born, for if John is the greatest of those born of women and Jesus was born too then that makes John greater than Jesus (which is absurd). Seems to me, therefore, that when Catholicism was developing in the 2nd century it invented the whole concept of Jesus’ birth to create a Christian figure to take the place of the Roman goddess Cybelle.

  4. Hi Rey,

    Thank you so much for explaining to me how you view John 6:51. I thought that is what you meant but was not sure and did not want to answer in the way I did if it were not.

    As I said Rey, you have every right to view Scripture as you feel it is speaking to you. I see very much how you believe and as my beliefs are not for you, some of these are not for me. However being that said, I can see where you are getting it, regarding the flesh.

    As far as The Eucharist, for me He is there. I could not live without it. If it is not for you, Jesus unites Himself with us spiritually as well, and I do believe in that.

    So you have stated your views and I mine, and it is not important to me to have the last word at all, and I am not saying it is to you, I just do not care to. So I will let your statement and beliefs stand as the last, as I feel we have hit a crossroads on this issue. I always try to leave others in peace with what they believe and keep that peace within myself. (Not saying I do it all the time, as I can get a “little on the edge” if I let it go on for too long)

    The main thing is that we love Jesus and try our best to fulfill God’s will in our lives. I think both of us do that.

    God Bless and may all of your days be blessed, Sandy

  5. And God bless you also.

  6. Hello Rey,

    Thank you also for the God Bless. I will take all of them I can get.

    I do understand what your last comment was about The Eucharist, reversing God and man. This is how it is for me, and again I am not saying it has to be this way for you.

    I am going to try and do this with as little words as possible. You have to go back to the OT when God gave to Moses and Aaron His instructions on how to offer the sacrifice to Him. How to set up the altar and what was going to be done in their worship service. Again this foreshadowed the Mass that was coming. Jesus came to fulfill the law and not do away with it. God also never changes so He never changed the way He wanted to be worshipped.

    Everything remained the same the only thing changing was instead of a lamb (animal) was replaced by Jesus. Yes you are correct Jesus was the one and only sacrifice which would ever be needed.

    What is done in the offering this to God, we offer to Him what He gave to us to offer. This was done on the night of the Lord’s Supper. Remember when Abraham said, “God Himself would provide the ram?” This foreshadowed God giving us Jesus to offer back to Him.

    I had to learn Rey how to put the Bible together from Genesis to Revelations. I learned God never changed the way He did anything, He just used different people so to speak. Examples of this are: The flood prefigured/foreshadowed baptisim, Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac foreshadowed God sacrificing His Son, Isaac carrying the wood on his back foreshadowed when Jesus carried His Cross, the three thousand God destroyed foreshadowed the three thousand which were saved in Acts, etc… The Bible in most things is a complete repeat if you know how to find it. The OT was laying the ground work for all that was coming. Another one is Joseph in the OT was sold into slavery in Egypt and he saved them from famine, where the Joseph in the NT took Mary and Jesus to Egypt to save the One who would save the world. What I wanted in my life was God’s overall plan and I studied for ten years finding it. These are some of the things I found. This for me is how I understand the Bible. You have to go back to the OT to dig it out. (Just some info here, Mary is foreshadowed in over 300 places in the Bible. I do not know all 300 but I know many. She was referred to a lot more than people think)

    So anyways it has been a complete pleasure “blogging” with you, and I thank you for your kindness.

    Again God Bless, Sandy

  7. I hate to admit this, but Rey is actually on to something when he asks:

    The Catholic view of the eucharist, the idea that we offer Jesus to God, reverses this as though we loved God so much we sent his onlybegotten son to him. I know you won’t see it that way, but outside of Catholicism that’s how it is seen. What audacity to think we can offer to God what in fact he has offered to us, it will be said. It would be like trying to extend grace to God. “Jesus is ours God, and you can’t have him unless one of our priests offers him to you.” But Jesus is in heaven, so how does the priest fetch him down to offer him to God?

    John O’Brien, in The Faith of Millions, states it this way:

    When the priest announces the tremendous words of consecration, he reaches up into the heavens, brings Christ down from His throne, and places Him upon our altar to be offered up again as the Victim for the sins of man. It is a power greater than that of saints and angels, greater than that of Seraphim and Cherubim.

    Indeed it is greater even than the power of the Virgin Mary. While the Blessed Virgin was the human agency by which Christ became incarnate a single time, the priest brings Christ down from heaven, and renders Him present on our altar as the eternal Victim for the sins of mannot once but a thousand times! The priest speaks and lo! Christ, the eternal and omnipotent God, bows his head in humble obedience to the priests command.

    Of what sublime dignity is the office of the Christian priest who is thus privileged to act as the ambassador and the vice-gerent of Christ on earth! He continues the essential ministry of Christ: he teaches the faithful with the authority of Christ, he pardons the penitent sinner with the power of Christ, he offers up again the same sacrifice of adoration and atonement which Christ offered on Calvary. No wonder that the name which spiritual writers are especially fond of applying to the priest is that of alter Christus. For the priest is and should be another Christ.

    Would you care to offer an explanation?

  8. Cory,

    I will tell you like I told Rey, you do not have to believe one thing I wrote, this is how I believe. Yes, I will offer an explanation. I have explained myself as best as I can regarding the Eucharist with one exception. When Abraham went and met Melchizedek, Melchizedek offered the bread and the wine. This again foreshadowed the night of the Lord’s Supper. The Priest “fetches” no one Cory. All is done through the Holy Spirit. I think my explanation regarding the Eucharist is the best I can do. I gave Scripture and put it together with the OT and you believe it or you do not. I will not try and force you one way or the other.

    As far as the Priest being a “representative of Christ.” Peter and Paul were representatives of Christ. Paul told the Corinths, “I give to you what the Lord gave to me.” That Cory was The Eucharist as he goes onto to explain. We are representatives of Christ also.

    As far as “forgiving sins” Jesus told the Apostles, “Whoever sins you forgive will be forgiven in heaven, whoever sins you retain will be retained in heaven.” We believe in Apostolic succesion and this has been past down from Peter on. The Apostles would not of known what those sins were unless they heard the confessions of others?

    God bows His head to no one Cory. In our worship service we do what Jesus Himself said to do, and doing what Peter and Paul and the others taught. If you do not want to believe He is in the Host, then don’t. But to say things cannot be changed by the Power of God is not true. The Nile was changed into blood, foreshadowing the water and blood which flowed from the side of Christ. The Staff of God changed into a snake and ate the Egyptians snake. A donkey talked. I believe what I believe and you are free to believe what you believe. When you read the NT what were the early Christians doing in their worship all the time? The Eucharist. As I told you before the Corinths were dying for their abuse of The Eucharist. So it is more important then we think it is.

    You do not have to get angry Cory. Everything I have said I have been able to back it up with Scripture, but not a verse here and there. I have backed it up with the entire Word of God. This is the way I see Scripture and this is the way I quote it.

    Thank you so much for letting me post my views on your blog, that kindness is greatly appreciated. I am sorry if I have in anyway offended you or hurt you, as that was not my intent. You wrote a blog about our traditions and I explained why we do them. That was my only intent. Not to anger or hurt anyone. Please forgive me if that has been the case.

    God Bless, Sandy

  9. Something else to think about Cory. Transubstantiation says the wine literally becomes Jesus’ blood (and in fact Trent says the bread becomes his blood also, for both ‘species’ become literally both his blood and body according to Trent). Ok, but the OT forbids consuming blood. Acts 15 also forbids consuming blood. Doesn’t this prove it can’t be literally his blood? But we should go beyond this also and consider how strange it is in face of the prohibition against drinking blood in the OT to institute a practice that ceremonially has his followers break the law. To perform an action that doesn’t technically break the law (because the blood isn’t really blood) but yet symbolically breaks it (because you’re pretending to consume blood even thought its just grape juice) is clearly a mockery of the law. Why would Jesus institute a mockery of the law unless he was a different God than the one who gave the law? Either therefore Jesus did not institute communion and it is a Catholic addition, or he is a God other than the OT God, or the very same God saw fit to mock his own law by miming the drinking of blood? There is something much stranger here than anyone wants to admit.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: