Scripture, Tradition, and Rome – Part 1 Part 2

John MacArthur

The tendency to venerate tradition is very strong in religion. The world is filled with religions that have been following set traditions for hundreds–even thousands–of years. Cultures come and go, but religious tradition shows an amazing continuity.

In fact, many ancient religions–including Druidism, Native American religions, and several of the oriental cults–eschewed written records of their faith, preferring to pass down their legends and rituals and dogmas via word-of-mouth. Such religions usually treat their body of traditions as a de facto authority equal to other religions’ sacred writings.

Roman Catholic doctrine is shot through with legends and dogmas and superstitions that have no biblical basis whatsoever. The stations of the cross, the veneration of saints and angels, the Marian doctrines such as the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, and the notion that Mary is co-mediatrix with Christ–none of those doctrines can be substantiated by Scripture. They are the product of Roman Catholic tradition.

Officially, the Catholic Church is very straightforward about her blending of Scripture and tradition. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)acknowledges that the Roman Catholic Church “does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence” (CCC 82, emphasis added).

Tradition, according to Roman Catholicism, is therefore as much “the Word of God” as Scripture. According to the Catechism, Tradition and Scripture “are bound closely together and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing and move towards the same goal” (CCC 80). The “sacred deposit of faith”–this admixture of Scripture and tradition–was supposedly entrusted by the apostles to their successors (CCC 84), and “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living, teaching office of the Church alone. . . . This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome” (CCC 85).

The Catechism is quick to deny that this makes the Church’s teaching authority (called the magisterium) in any way superior to the Word of God itself (CCC 86). But it then goes on to warn the faithful that they must “read the Scripture within ‘the living tradition of the whole Church'” (CCC 113). The Catechism at this point quotes “a saying of the Fathers[:] Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church’s heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God’s Word” (CCC 113).

So in effect, tradition is not only made equal to Scripture; but it becomes the true Scripture, written not in documents, but mystically within the Church herself. And when the Church speaks, Her voice is heard as if it were the voice of God, giving the only true meaning to the words of the “documents and records. “Thus tradition utterly supplants and supersedes Scripture.

Scripture, Tradition, and Rome – Part 1

Scripture, Tradition, and Rome – Part 2

If Rome can prove her case against sola Scriptura, she overturns all the arguments for the Reformation in one fell swoop. If she can establish her tradition as an infallible authority, no mere biblical argument would have any effect against the dictates of the Church.

Modern Roman Catholic apologists have therefore mounted a carefully focused attack against sola Scriptura.Hoping to turn the Reformation’s greatest strength into an argument against the Reformation, they have begun to argue that it is possible to debunk sola Scriptura by using Scripture alone! This line of argument is now being employed by Catholics against evangelicalism in practically every conceivable forum.

This subject validates personal experience, to date,  of which is astonishing in so much as, still, today, the Roman Catholic Church do not uphold Scripture over Tradition. With sincerity of heart, I give thanks with a grateful heart for having been saved from Catholicism; by God’s Grace, repentance, through faith in Jesus Christ alone.  (Ephesians 2:8-9)