Thursday, June 23, 2011

Biblical Evidence for True Apostolic Tradition vs. "Traditions of Men"


 I discovered (as a set) several of the following passages in Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman's sermon, "The Principle of Continuity Between the Jewish and Christian Churches," from 20 November 1842 (when he was still Anglican). It is Sermon 15 in his collection, Sermons Bearing on Subjects of the Day (1843). I then looked up (by word searches) several other similar passages to expand upon his point. All verses are RSV. Good, apostolic, biblical traditions will be highlighted in green; false traditions of men in red.

* * * * *

Matthew 15:3 He answered them, "And why do you transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?"

Matthew 15:6 So, for the sake of your tradition, you have made void the word of God.

Matthew 15:9 "in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men."

Matthew 15:13 He answered, "Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up."

Matthew 16:23 But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men."(cf. Mk 8:33)

Mark 7:8-9, 13 You leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men." [9] And he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God, in order to keep your tradition! . . . [13] thus making void the word of God through your tradition which you hand on. And many such things you do."

John 12:43  for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

1 Corinthians 2:5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

1 Corinthians 2:13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit.


Galatians 1:9-12 As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed. [10] Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ. [11] For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man's gospel.[12] For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 4:14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles.


Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ.

Colossians 2:20-22 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, [21] "Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch" [22] (referring to things which all perish as they are used), according to human precepts and doctrines?

1 Thessalonians 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.

1 Timothy 4:1, 6-7 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, . . . [6] If you put these instructions before the brethren, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the good doctrine which you have followed. [7] Have nothing to do with godless and silly myths. Train yourself in godliness;

Titus 1:14 instead of giving heed to Jewish myths or to commands of men who reject the truth.

4 comments:

Paul Hoffer said...

hi Dave,

Interesting post!

My two cents: What is ironic about some folks using Matt 15:1-9 and Mark 7:1-13 to attack Catholic Apostolic Tradition is that the tradition that Jesus was criticized in those passages was a particular Pharisaic group's teaching based on the principle of sola scriptura. Examining the portions of the From discussion found in the Talmud and the Mishnah on Korban vows, it can be discerned that the School of Shammai opposed annulment (loosing) of a Korban vow solely on the basis that Scripture (OT) did not make any provision that would allow such a vow to be annulled. See, Lev. chapter 27; Deut. 23:21; Numbers 30:2; Eccl. 5:4. Thus, these Pharisees taught that even rash vows must be kept as there was no way to annul them (Not all Pharisees agreed with these particular ones that Jesus was criticizing btw).

Jesus labeled this teaching as a tradition of men because it valued adherence to the letter of the Scriptures to the detriment of the spirit behind them.

God bless!

Dave Armstrong said...

Excellent point. There were different schools in the Pharisees, and good and bad practitioners. Jesus and Paul still observed their traditions (and Paul called himself one twice), so it wasn't like they totally opposed everything Pharisaical. Very few Protestants understand this, and not many Catholics, either.

The mainstream or more "orthodox" Pharisees (in the Catholic sense of the term) accepted oral tradition, analogous to our Sacred Tradition.

Ben said...

I second Paul's "interesting post" and Dave's "excellent point"!

And Paul, Dave, truth be told, our Protestant brethren do have their own version of “tradition,” even if they are reluctant to admit it. Calvin for example, in the various addresses to the readers of his Institutes, seems to assign a kind of quasi-inspired status to those writings.

I mean he does, after all, go so far as to say that his work was “indispensable” or "necessary" for a right understanding of Scripture! See this, this and this

Perhaps the Institutes ought to be accorded some sort of "sacred" status and maybe, who knows, even be set to music! ;)

Paul said...

I'd never seen that before, Ben. Thanks!