Posted by Clyde Herrin
All Christians accept the Bible as being the inspired word of God and believe that it is our guide for what we believe and how we live. Some believe the Bible is all we need; others believe that church traditions are also authoritative and are needed to supplement and accurately understand the Bible. Here is what Wikipedia says about this:
Sacred tradition or holy tradition is a theological term used in some Christian traditions, primarily in the Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox traditions, to refer to the fundamental basis of church authority.
The word “tradition” is taken from the Latin trado, tradere meaning to hand over, to deliver, or to bequeath. The teachings of Jesus and his Apostles are preserved in writing in the Bible as well as word of mouth and are handed on. This perpetual handing-on of the Tradition is called a living Tradition; it is the transmission of the teachings of the Apostles from one generation to the next. The term “deposit of faith” refers to the entirety of Jesus Christ’s revelation, and is passed to successive generations in two different forms,sacred scripture (the Bible) and sacred tradition (through apostolic succession).
In the theology of these churches, sacred scripture is the written part of this larger tradition, recording (albeit sometimes through the work of individual authors) the community’s experience of God or more specifically of Jesus Christ. Hence the Bible must be interpreted within the context of sacred tradition and within the community of the church. Sacred tradition, and thus sacred scripture as well, are “inspired,” another technical theological term indicating that they contain and communicate the truths of faith and morals God intended to make known for mankind’s salvation. This is in contrast to many Protestant traditions, which teach that the Bible alone is a sufficient basis for all Christian teaching (a position known as sola scriptura).
What does the Bible itself say about this?
Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”
We learn from this that the Jews, like many modern churches, had traditions that they followed, and some of the disciples of Jesus failed to follow these traditions.
How did Jesus respond to this accusation? Did he rebuke his disciples for their failure to follow tradition?
And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,
‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
He corrected the critics of the disciples, accusing them of teaching human commandments as if they were commandments from God. And he went even further.
And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)—then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
During the time he spent on earth Jesus never once appealed to tradition to support his teaching and his authority but he often appealed to the Scriptures.
After his baptism he was tempted by the devil.
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”
And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’”
And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”
And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’
And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
He responded to the temptations by quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3, 6:13, and 6:16. The scripture the devil misquoted in found in Psalm 91:11-12. He left out the phrase “in all your ways.”
After his resurrection he told his disciples that all that had happened to him had been foretold.
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
He began and ended his work on earth by asserting the truth and authority of the Scriptures.
In his second letter to the Thessalonians Paul used the word “tradition” to describe the teaching he had shared with them.
So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.
2 Thessalonians 2:15
Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.
2 Thessalonians 3:6
Paul did teach some things that weren’t found in the Scriptures but that was because God chose him to reveal new truth that was previously unknown.
For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
He shared those traditions in two ways, by his spoken word and in his letters. He is no longer able to speak to us personally but we have thirteen letters that he wrote. Second Thessalonians is the third, preceded by Galatians and 1 Thessalonians. These letters are now part of the inspired Scriptures and were recognized as such during Paul’s lifetime.
And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
2 Peter 3:15-16
His letters are part of the Bible so there is no need to look to any extraBiblical traditions to find out all of Paul’s teaching. In his final letter, 2 Timothy, he repeated the teaching that all spiritual guidance and authority came from the Bible.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
Not all traditions are bad. Jesus only condemned those that contradicted the teaching of the Bible and reliance on tradition rather than the Bible in establishing doctrines. There are creeds such as the Nicene Creed and the Apostle’s Creed that summarize the important teachings of the Bible. Many churches and religious organizations have a statement of faith that expresses what they believe. Traditions such as these can be helpful as long as they are recognized as being subordinate to the Bible.