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Bible and traditionJoshuainfantado has been kind enough to follow up his comments about Tradition and Scripture by writing:

The Bible is the complete book revealed to us by our creator. As II Timothy 3:16 said, “All Scripture is given by inspiration (meaning God-breathed in Greek) of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be COMPLETE, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

I had asked him where  in Scripture it told us what was and was not Scripture. He replied with these verses from Timothy, as many Protestants do. But this is no answer at all. It would have been had I said that the Bible was not sufficient, but that was not what I wrote.  He went on to write:

 Things that are not written in the Bible should not be taught as Dogma. The Bible is the only source of truth and godly wisdom.

Taken seriously, this would mean that there is no Canon of the New Testment, as nowhere in Scripture does it tell us what is and is not to be in the New Testament; indeed nowhere in the NT does it tell us about the NT. Shall we therefore stop treating the NT as the source of dogma since it is not mentioned in Scripture? Hardly, but that would follow from treating Joshua’s remarks seriously.

What ‘Scripture’ was Paul referring to?  Well, the letters to Timothy cannot be later than the early 60s, and so Paul cannot be referring to Matthew, Luke, John, the Catholic epistles or Revelation; indeed he is clearly referring to what we call the Old Testament, so it is perversion of what Paul writes to say that when he uses the word ‘Scripture’ he is referring to a New Testament which did not, then, exist.

Joshua tells us:

You should avoid teaching other people of things that are contrary to the truth of the Bible. God pronounce a curse for people who teach people as if what they are teaching is the truth

to which I say Amen! But whence do you derive the NT?  Joshua tells us it is ‘revealed to us by our Creator’, but how did that revelation take place? God did not dictate it as the Muslims believe he did with the Koran.  It comes to us through the consensus of the early church. If we are to believe it when it tells us (as it does) that the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas are not Scripture (although they are in the earliest codices), by what authority does anyone say that we are not to believe it when it tells us Our Lady was Assumed into Heaven?

Joshua tells us:

My ultimate authority is God and His word the Bible. I can see that your authority is the church which bases its teaching on paganism and human tradition.

There are a number of problems with this.  Joshua did not derive the Canon of the New Testament by personal revelation from God, he discovered a book canonised by the Church. I do not know what church he belongs to, but unless it can trace its ancestry back to the fourth century, he is accepting the authority of the church which existed then when he says that the Bible is the ‘word of God’. He is, whether he admits it or not, and whether he likes it or not, submitting to the authority of the church and of its tradition that these 27 books are Scripture; there is no other authority for that view.

The Tradition of the Church is not based on paganism. I hear this often, and I have never yet seen it established.  If one stops for a moment to think, it is clear how odd such a view is.

It asks us to believe that the Church, groups of men and women who were prepared to die for their beliefs and who suffered great persecution and hardship because they defied paganism, nonetheless somehow accepted paganism. That makes no sense at all. No Christian in comfortable circumstances has the right to say to those who suffered and died for Christ that their faith was founded on paganism, especially no Christian who bases his faith on a book read by no Apostle and attested to by no verse of Scripture.

We know the Canon of Scripture only by the Tradition of the Church of the fourth century.  If your church traces its ancestry back to that time, then you accept the authority of your church; if it doesn’t, you are still accepting the authority of that church, just in denial about many of the other things it taught.

To sum up: nowhere in the New Testament does it tell us there will be a collection of books called the New Testament; that being so, it cannot possibly be true that every dogma has to be proven by the NT. A book which cannot attest to itself cannot be the sole criterion by which to judge what is and is not dogma. We know that by the same means we know Scripture – the teaching of the Church founded by Christ. Are you part of that Church, or part of a Church which claims to know better?  If so, by what authority does a Church not founded by Christ contradict one founded by Him?