Is Tradition an Adequate Standard for Religious Practices? (part 2)

Second, the Bible makes it clear that God’s revelation to man was only for the time that the church was initially being built until such a time as the complete will of God was revealed. In 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 Paul wrote:

Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

Directly inspired prophecies, knowledge, and tongues were for a limited time. They were never intended to be a permanent part of the work of the church. Paul wrote during a time when Christians did not have a complete set of documents that they could call the New Testament, though, they did have the directly inspired teachings of the apostles and prophets. However, the miraculous nature of these offices were going to cease when the unity of the faith was revealed (Ephesians 4:11-13).

Moreover, such ability to receive the Holy Spirit and exercise said miraculous gifts were only available through the personal laying on of the apostles hands. Philip the evangelist converted many people in Samaria to Christ, but it wasn’t until Peter and John came up into that area that these converts could receive the Holy Spirit and the ability to perform miracles (Acts 8:14-17). Paul’s converts also couldn’t perform such miracles until he had laid his hands upon them (Acts 19:6). The ability to lay hands upon another so that they would receive a spiritual gift was not granted to just anyone. Only Jesus’ specifically chosen apostles had such authority (Acts 8:18-21).

And such authority was confirmed by the miracles which they did (Mark 16:20, Hebrews 2:3,4). They restored the maimed to health, immediately. They raised the dead. They walked on water. They miraculously punished the wicked. These were things that could be clearly distinguished from that which was natural. Paul wrote that their words were confirmed with power of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:4). Yet we are supposed to believe that Pope John Paul II healed someone because he laid his hands on him and then after several months the individual recovered? That’s substandard to the quality of miracle that Jesus performed and ought to be rejected. Where are the miraculous deeds done by the Catholic Church that were done by the apostles and prophets of the first century? They are non-existent. The Catholic Church simply cannot prove that their words have the same authority as the apostles’.

The Holy Spirit guided these miraculously aided men into all truth, as Jesus promised (John 16:13) and the result of such was that they were able to record these inspired truths in documents that would be preserved for all ages also per Jesus promise (Matthew 24:35). We have these words today without corruption in the pages of the New Testament. Taking these words, studying them, and applying them to our lives is all that we need in order to be faithful Christians today (2 Timothy 3:16,17). Hence, the Catholic magisterium contains no more religious authority than what any other man may have, which is really none.

Third, it is clear from the scripture that man’s authority never has been on equal footing with God. The writer of Proverbs declared, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” In fact, it is consistently condemned in scripture as a viable standard for behavior. Jeremiah the prophet wrote, “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). Isaiah also declared that man’s standard for right and wrong doesn’t cut it with God. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8,9). More often than not, man gets spiritual matters wrong, than right.

This last point is clearly proved through the history of the Catholic Church in the very magisterium that is claimed to be infallible. Time and time again, the Catholic Church contradicts itself over its own doctrines. It was once wrong and sinful for the good Catholic to eat meat on Fridays and during the traditional time of “lent.” Yet now it is no longer held as sinful, but merely out of keeping with a more spiritual way. It was once strictly held that for Catholic priests to marry was sinful. Yet now, it is held that it is not necessarily sinful for them to marry, merely not convenient for them to so do and maintain their personal duties. It was once acknowledged that the pope’s words were fallible; yet now, it is stated that his words are infallible. It was once thought that the sale of indulgences in the Catholic church was a legitimate practice. Yet now it is held in scorn. It was once held by the Catholic church that religious warfare in the name of God was a righteous thing to do. But today, the Catholic church’s position on war is more or less that of a pacifist. If Catholic tradition is so infallible and authoritative as is claimed, then why all of the errors, corrections, modifications, reversals, and amendments? It simply cannot be stated that such these things were due to the current cultural conditions of the time. Marriage has been around since Adam and Eve. The eating of meat nearly as long. The office of the pope has been around for over a thousand years. Does culture dictate his fallibility or infallibility? Carnal warfare has been known since the time of Cain and Abel. Was it right to go to war for religious reasons during the middle ages but wrong to do so today? Where is the consistency in these so called infallible traditions?

The tradition of the Catholic Church is no more than man’s opinion compiled over a long period of time. The length of time does not change the fact that these are simply man’s opinions and not God’s. And one man’s opinion has no more authority than any other’s. The teachings of the Pope have no more true authority than the teachings of a rice farmer in China. Man’s thoughts are all equal with one another, but they are not equal with God’s. The prophet asks, “To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like?” (Isaiah 46:5). The answer is returned, “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isaiah 46:9,10). Man’s tradition simply is NOT an adequate standard for religious practices. We ought not be satisfied with anything other than that which has been proved to be God’s word, the inspired scriptures that constitute the Bible.

To be continued….

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