Skip to comments.The Heretics Follow Neither Scripture Nor Tradition.
Posted on 12/08/2010 8:00:29 AM PST by marshmallow
1. When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but vivâ voce: wherefore also Paul declared, "But we speak wisdom among those that are perfect, but not the wisdom of this world." 1 Corinthians 2:6 And this wisdom each one of them alleges to be the fiction of his own inventing, forsooth; so that, according to their idea, the truth properly resides at one time in Valentinus, at another in Marcion, at another in Cerinthus, then afterwards in Basilides, or has even been indifferently in any other opponent, who could speak nothing pertaining to salvation. For every one of these men, being altogether of a perverse disposition, depraving the system of truth, is not ashamed to preach himself.
2. But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth. For [they maintain] that the apostles intermingled the things of the law with the words of the Saviour; and that not the apostles alone, but even the Lord Himself, spoke as at one time from the Demiurge, at another from the intermediate place, and yet again from the Pleroma, but that they themselves, indubitably, unsulliedly, and purely, have knowledge of the hidden mystery: this is, indeed, to blaspheme their Creator after a most impudent manner! It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to tradition.
3. Such are the adversaries with whom we have to deal, my very dear friend, endeavouring like slippery serpents to escape at all points. Where-fore they must be opposed at all points, if per-chance, by cutting off their retreat, we may succeed in turning them back to the truth. For, though it is not an easy thing for a soul under the influence of error to repent, yet, on the other hand, it is not altogether impossible to escape from error when the truth is brought alongside it.
Irenaeus does two things in this Chapter; firstly he links Scripture and tradition and secondly, he distinguishes between authentic and false tradition.
Tradition is a dirty word in some circles but Irenaeus emphasizes that tradition is important and that authentic tradition is that which "originates from the apostles and which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters". IOW, apostolic succession is essential for the preservation of true tradition. False tradition, on the other hand, is that which originates from men and resides at "one time in Valentinus, at another in Marcion, at another in Cerinthus", etc.
Note that this is very early in the history of the Church (~185AD) when the ministry of the Apostles was tangible. Irenaeus heard the preaching of Polycarp (d 155AD) at Smyrna who in turn was commissioned by the Apostles themselves. Yet even at this early stage in Church history, Irenaeus emphasizes its importance.
Tradition is hardly a dirty word. I love good traditions. But it is the Word of God, and not tradition which is more likely to lead one to salvation.
Irenaeus is saying that false tradtion goes hand in hand with erroneous interpretation of the Scriptures, whereas authentic tradition ("that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches") is important.
Both Mohammad of Islam and Joseph Smith of the Mormon's did exactly this.
I like traditions...unless, of course, they conflict with scripture. And, I really hate the traditions that attempt to put me back under the law.
“They (Scripture and tradition) go together.”
One of these will save your soul.
Not at all.
Here's the irony......."so that, according to their idea, the truth properly resides at one time in Valentinus, at another in Marcion, at another in Cerinthus, then afterwards in Basilides,.........
Authentic tradition is real and "originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches".
The other ... and a ticket ... will get you a ride on the bus.
What makes this interesting are the things that Paul had delivered (παρέδωκα) to him and that he delivered (παρέδωκα) to the Churches. Those things were παραδόσις.
Grunthor, the big thing to remember is that the παραδόσις that the apostles παρέδωκα are what we Catholics hold sacrosanct. The little "t" traditions (using a creche at Christmastime, singing a particular hymn, and so on) are important, but it is not those little "t" traditions that we place up there with the Scriptures. But it is important to recognize the distinction between the two.
As I stated, do a good study on the two words παραδόσις (noun) and παρέδωκα (verb)...Scripture really makes it plain to see when you do so.
“One of these will save your soul.”
False. Only Christ and His grace saves souls.
I came to Christ through a study of the Word of God. Not through any mans’ traditions.
I think I’m missing something with your explanation. You seem to be saying that the thing delivered is a noun ... and the act of delivering or having it delivered to you is a verb ... nothing more?
In an earlier thread, which was closed before I could respond, another poster reiterated the oft heard claim that those who reject Catholicism are inheritors of the truth protected and handed down by a small remnant Christianity that was forced underground by the powerful Catholic church.
Unbiblical Tradition is one of their “proofs” of the heresy of the Church.
It seems to me that Christ, who wishes for all to be saved and have eternal life with Him, would not have let billions be deceived by the Church in His name by untruths and heresies that could jeopardize their salvation; all the while letting real “truth” be subverted and driven into hiding.
To be deep in history is to cease to Protestant. John Cardinal Newman
Who says they're "man's traditions"?? There seems to be this pathological urge among non-Catholics to link the word "traditions" to "man's" as if tradition has no authentic spiritual basis but was cooked up on a whim by humans.
That's the whole point of Irenaeus' writing in this chapter. He makes it clear that authentic tradition does not have its origin with man but can be traced back to the Apostles and hence to Christ.
"But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition......."
Authentic tradition and authentic understanding of Scripture, go together.
Not too much more. St Paul repeatedly said hang on to what I delivered (παρέδωκα) to you:
1 Cor 11:2 I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions (παραδόσις) even as I have delivered (παρέδωκα) them to you.
How did he deliver them?
2 Thes 2:15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions (παραδόσις) which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth (λόγος) or by letter (ἐπιστολή).
So these traditions (παραδόσις) were delivered (παρέδωκα) to the particular churches (in this case, Thessaloniki) from the apostles (in this case St Paul) either in the form of a letter (ἐπιστολή) or orally, by word of mouth (λόγος). Regardless of how they were delivered (παρέδωκα), the churches were told to stand firm in them and maintain them.
And as I said in my previous post, there is a HUGE gulf between little "t" traditions that different churches have developed over the centuries, no matter how near and dear to our hearts, and the big "T" Sacred Tradition, either that which was delivered in the form of a letter (ἐπιστολή) or orally, by word of mouth (λόγος) by the Apostles, both preserved throughout the generations.
And I think that this is one major bone of contention between the Catholics (and the Orthodox) and our brethren is the fact that we don't really do that grand a job of explaining this.
That is EXACTLY the point.
"Now we request you brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together with Him, that you not be shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come."
And over the next 12 verses Paul explains the "tradition" that he taught the Thessalonians ... and he concludes with the passage you mentioned.
Indeed. And in 1 Cor 10 and 11 (the other verse I cited), he was concerning himself with abuses around the Eucharist.
And in 2 Thes 3:6 (another use of παράδοσις), he spoke about not hanging around with disorderly people, heretics, busybodies, etc (defined as those who did not follow the παράδοσις they received of him)
That's why it makes a good Scripture study to look at the importance the apostles gave to the churches holding fast to what (the παράδοσις) the apostles παρέδωκα
And then to contrast that with the "παράδοσις of men" spoken of in Matt 15, Mark 7, and so on.
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I hate to break this to you...
The Gospels were an oral TRADITION.
The inclusion of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as the synoptic Gospels in the canon of scripture... a TRADITION.
While a Protestant, Mathison speaks surprisingly positively of the early concept of Tradition and pretty well proves that when Fathers such as Irenaus spoke of tradition, they meant those basic teachings passed down which supported, and were directly connected to scripture.
For example, the "tradition" that Jesus is God the Son--is a fact attested to in Scripture, supportive of the biblical account, AND importantly, directly connected to it. Tradition in this sense cannot be any independent authority with no scriptural connection...(such as say, the immaculate conception of Mary) rather it must be those teachings which Christians have believed all along--AND scripture teaches. Another word for such "tradition" is the regula fide or the "rule of faith."
Strict adherence of such a definition of Tradition would of precluded such medieval innovations--which became traditions INDEPENDENT of scripture--as the Aristotelian dogma (ca. 12 C.) of transubstantiation (vs. the simple, regula fide doctrine of the Real Presence) or prayers to Mary and the Saints, or the absolute supremacy of the Roman bishop....things we Protestants find so objectionable in Roman Catholicism.
The 3 great creeds (Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian) would be a good example of a summary of Christian tradition in this mutually inter-dependent understanding of regula fide or Tradition.
Mathison is coming from a Reformed theological pursuasion--and hence is firmly Protestant--however, his book--giving a hierarchical understanding of Authority (with scripture as the highest, inerrant and only final authority, but NOT the sole authority altogether)--was one of the primary theological movers bringing me into the Anglican Communion.
No tradition will save anyones’ soul.