Bible Question:

How would you go about proving that the Bible is the supreme and only word of God to a Catholic who believes in additional authorities and traditions?

Bible Answer:

The New Testament records a number of powerful statements about following the traditions of men. Jesus and the apostles were very clear about what we should accept and believe. But the Roman Catholic Church has ignored the Bible in order to secure control of what its people believe.

Roman Catholic Teaching

The Roman Catholic Church does not accept the Bible as the only source of truth. In fact, they do not believe the Bible is the only source of divine truth. The following quote comes from the Second Vatican Council.

. . . there exists a close connection and communication between sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture. . . Sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit, while sacred tradition takes the word of God entrusted by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and hands it on to their successors in its full purity, so that led by the light of the Spirit of truth they may in proclaiming it preserve this word of God faithfully, explain it, and make it more widely known.

Second Vatican Council. “Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation.” no. 9

This statement says that they believe that Sacred Scripture and sacred tradition are both necessary and both are divine truth. It is also important to notice that they believe sacred tradition preserves the Word of God. That is, sacred tradition has greater authority than the Sacred Scriptures. It is also important to note that they believe their understanding of divine truth evolves.

This tradition which comes from the Apostles develops in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. For there is a growth in the understanding of the realities and the words which have been handed down. . . . For as the centuries succeed one another, the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her.

Second Vatican Council. “Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation.” no. 8

This last statement simply means that their teachings will change, and they have. Since Jesus and the Apostles departed from this earth, the Roman Catholic Church has changed their interpretations of the teachings of the Bible. One of the most recent new doctrines of the church is the worship of Mary. This is a serious problem since any new doctrine could be added or revoked. Is it possible that a new understanding about the means of salvation will be taught some day? The concept of an oral tradition with an understanding that evolves over time means that there is no absolute truth within the Roman Catholic Church.

The Second Vatican Council also makes the following statement.

Consequently it is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence.

Second Vatican Council. “Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation.” no. 9

They state that they accept both with equal loyalty and reverence. Then the “Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation” of the Second Vatican Council says that both of them are the word of God.

Sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God . . .

Second Vatican Council. “Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation.” no. 10

It is important to notice that when they use the expression the “word of God,” they do not mean only the Sacred Scriptures. Most Protestants use the expression the “word of God” to refer to both the Old and New Testaments. But the Roman Catholic Church teaches that the “word of God” is both the Sacred Scripture and sacred tradition. This is a serious issue because we saw earlier that their sacred tradition has greater importance to them. In the next statement, they say that neither Sacred Scripture or sacred tradition can be completely trusted.

It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God’s most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.

Second Vatican Council. “Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation.” no. 10

The absolute and ultimate authority is the teaching of the church. They believe that this is “God’s most wise design.” We will discover shortly that neither Jesus nor His apostles taught this. This is not God’s wise design but human manipulation. In fact, scripture has a serious statement about those who would do the teaching when it makes the following statement.

But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods, which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. (NASB) Matt. 15:3, 9

The religious leaders within the church forbid marriage and forbid the eating of meat on Fridays and other times.

Jesus and Tradition

In the gospel of Matthew we are told that some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem to ask Him why His disciples had not washed their hands before eating. The Pharisees and scribes were the religious leaders in Jerusalem and they did not like other folks listening to and following Jesus (John 11:47-52). Then Jesus answered with the following statement.

And He answered and said to them, “And why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? . . . BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.” (NASB) Matt. 15:3, 9

The gospel of Mark includes some additional statements made by Jesus.

“Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” He was also saying to them, “You nicely set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.” . . . thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.” (NASB) Mark 7:8-9, 13

Human tradition is not the scared scripture. It is simply human tradition. These religious leaders were false teachers because they ignored the sacred scriptures and taught their traditions as divine truth. Jesus rebuked them for their false teaching. Later they killed Him.

Apostle Paul and Tradition

The Apostle Paul also had some strong things to say about tradition. The apostle had both positive and negative things to say. Here are his positive statements.

Now I praise you because you remember me in everything, and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. (NASB) 1 Cor. 11:2

So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us. (NASB) 2 Thess. 2:15

In both statements, the apostle encourages the saints or those who believe in Jesus, to hold firmly to his traditions or what he has taught them. It is important to remember that the New Testament was in the process of being written. What Paul taught or referred to as “traditions” was to become scripture and was included in the Bible. Therefore, the wonderful news about Jesus was initially taught by word of mouth. The last statement is used by the Roman Catholic Church to support their teaching about their “sacred” tradition.

But the Apostle has some strong statements about accepting anything contrary to what had already been taught.

Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep aloof from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. (NASB) 2 Thess 3:6

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. (NASB) Col. 2:8

They were to reject anything that did not agree with what they had already been taught. But the most significant statement is found in the next passage of the sacred scriptures.

But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. (NASB) Gal. 1:8

The Roman Catholic Church has been adopting new teachings since the time of Jesus and the apostles. The apostle Paul clearly says that we are to reject any teacher who changes what has already been taught. The scriptures are the only proof as to what has been taught. Even if it is an angel, institution, or church, we are to reject that person or organization.

Conclusion:

The sacred scriptures are the final authority according to 2 Timothy. The Apostle Peter also tells us that God has given us the authority to interpret scripture too!

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (NASB) 2 Tim. 3:16

But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation . . . (NASB) 2 Peter 1:20

Neither the Roman Catholic Church, a Protestant Church, or this website has the final and exclusive authority or right to interpret the sacred scriptures. In fact if anyone of us disagrees with what the apostles put in writing, we are to be rejected as false teachers. Today the Roman Catholic Church is teaching error. They are teaching human traditions as sacred truth. Their traditions cannot be found in the things the Apostle Paul had previously taught.

But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. (NASB) Gal. 1:8