Skip to comments.Does Jesus Condemn Tradition?
Posted on 08/30/2012 2:39:06 PM PDT by NYer
One of the great battle cries of the Protestant Reformation was sola scriptura! Many thought that the Catholic Church had cluttered up the simple Christian faith by adding all sorts of practices, customs and doctrines over the centuries. They thought the Church in their day was guilty of exactly the same Pharisaical obsession with traditions condemned by Jesus in this Sundays gospel (Mark 7:1-23). The solution, it seemed, was simple. Lets purify the Church by ditching all these traditions and keeping the Bible alone.
But if we read this portion of the Bible closely, the Lord is not telling us that tradition is a dirty word. His apostle Paul, in fact, tells us in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 to hold fast to the traditions you received from us, either by our word or by letter.
Tradition simply means something that is handed or passed on from one person to another, one generation to another. The question to ask when examining any particular tradition is where did it come from? Its value depends on its origin. Did it come from Jesus? His apostles? Some pious believers who lived centuries later? The traditions Paul passed down were divine (from the Lord) and apostolic traditions, like the meaning and importance of the Eucharist (1 Corinthians 11:23-34) or the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus (I Cor 15:3-11) and so were of the utmost importance.
The traditions of the Pharisees were quite a different matter. They were not of themselves evil. But they were pious customs of human origin passed down to support the living out of the law. Unfortunately, the Pharisees were incapable of distinguishing divine law from its human support system. Worse than that, they actually used pious customs as loopholes to help them get around the difficult demands of the Torah.
If you get your Bible out and read the full text of Mark chapter 7, youll get a clearer picture of this. Everyone knows that when God gave Moses and the Israelites the 10 commandments, he meant business. The fourth commandment, honor your father and mother, means not just that young kids ought to do what their parents tell them, but that adult children should provide for the financial needs of aging parents, assuring they live out their declining years in honor and dignity. But the Pharisees had recourse to a non-biblical religious custom that absolved them from this weighty responsibility. They dedicated their money to God and thereby sheltered it, making it unavailable for parental support.
Its not tradition thats the problem here, but the deviousness of the human heart that will use piety as an excuse to evade the obligations of true religion, which include, our second reading tells us, looking after orphans and widows and presumably elderly relatives in their distress (James 1:27).
And this is exactly Jesus point in this Sundays gospel. The kinds of foods we eat dont make us spiritually impure. No, it is the foul things that come out of the deep recesses of the human heart, wounded by original sin, that separate us from God and each other and lead to all the misery in this world.
The Pharisees thought theyd purify Israel through dietary laws and religious customs. Protestant Reformers of the 16th century thought they could purify the church by leaving behind ecclesiastical traditions and customs. History has proven both endeavors to be futile.
The answer is simple. Lets just commit ourselves to radical obedience to Gods Word. Lets admit our need, our sinfulness, our tendency to make excuses, and humbly, genuinely lay open our lives and hearts before Gods word and listen. As Moses tells us in Deuteronomy (4:1-8) and James tells us in his letter, lets do more than just listen. Lets really hear and obey. Lets give ourselves no wiggle room, but act on Gods word, regardless of how much it may cost us.
“The Pharisees thought theyd purify Israel through dietary laws and religious customs. “
Really? I thought the Torah did that.
No, but I talked to Him this morning and He really can't
stand folks that call names on the internet. True story.
He had a lot of criticism for them, those name-callers.
Slammed them pretty good, He did.
Here we go again ping ...
They’re gonna rename the car “the General Sherman.”
Whoops. I posted to the wrong thread. Haste makes waste. Sorry.
Rabbinic tradition evolved that was intended as “helper” law, regulatory “guidelines,” for a modern parallel, that would help the Torah compliant avoid accidental disobedience to direct Torah commands. This body of additional tradition was codified as Mishnah, and included such things as ritual handwashing, the Corban Rule mentioned in the article, and an amazing set of Sabbath rules.
IIRC, one such rule involved a rope of a specific length, with a stone tied to each end. With this rope, you could know how far you walked, and thus avoid walking too far. But of course you could always have a servant move the far stone to your next destination, and since a stone is a place, you could “honestly” say you had only travelled thus far between two places. No small wonder Jesus was bent on setting his people free from such nonsense.
Didn’t you basically write this piece last weekend or is it just my imagination?
Still the out of place posting was very funny, kind of like a slightly deaf eccentric uncle breaking into a conversation the family is having about a situation with a completely off topic remark.
Christ condemned tradition when tradition was used get around clear cut commands of the revealed written laws of God. The law says “Honor thy father and thy mother”. Christ was condemning the use of tradition as a way to deny seeing to the needs of ones parents. It was less about the tradition itself and more about how the traditions of men were being used to justify sin and evil, in the NAME of that tradition, in direct controvention to the revealed word of God.
Christ set the written revealed word of his Father above tradition. Christ used written scripture to defeat the Devil’s wiles when Christ fasted 40 days in the desert. He didn’t use Talmudic taditions, maxims and phrases. “As it is written...” began the key phrases as Christ trounced the Devil’s temptings!
I wrote a sermon on this topic for this past Sunday:
Yes, my sermon made many of the same points as in this article.
But when the Roman Catholic author writes, "Protestant Reformers of the 16th century thought they could purify the church by leaving behind ecclesiastical traditions and customs," he is painting with too broad a brush. I am a Lutheran pastor--a traditional, liturgical, sacramental Lutheran pastor--and I can tell you that Luther retained most traditions and customs, generally only correcting those abuses that needed to be reformed for the sake of the gospel.
But celebrate on G-d's Feasts and Shabbat.
Reject the Pagan Traditions of Sunday, Christmas and Easter. shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
But celebrate on G-d's Feasts and Shabbat.
Prayer and monasticism in Orthodox tradition (Prayer and silence)
The Tradition of Midnight Mass: History
Charles Borromeo and Catholic Tradition, re: Catholic Architecture [Catholic Caucus]
Revelation, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium
Tradition and Progress Not Opposed, Pope Tells Liturgy Conference
Rome's Station Churches Revive Ancient Tradition
Antioch Tradition Adorns the Church, Says Pope
CARA Reports on Religious Life Confirm Tradition [Catholic Caucus]
Apostolic Tradition [Church Fathers contra Sola Scriptura]
"Little Lost Lambeth," What Christian Tradition, Lambeth Conference & Aldous Huxley have in common
The Reformers desired to bring the church BACK to the orthodox faith that Jesus and His Apostles had established. Just as Jesus condemned the Pharisees for "Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition", the church of the middle ages had transgressed the Word of God. It wasn't the "ecclesiastical traditions and customs" of the early church that they rejected - since ALL of the Reformers continued nearly every one of those same customs in the newly formed churches - but the ones that did what the Pharisees had done, and that was to nullify, cancel or make void the word of God by their traditions.
The Geneva Study Bible says this about Matthew 15:6
The People's New Testament says:
I think Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary says it best:
A good example of what the church had done to pervert the Word of God with their traditions was in how they viewed the Holy Scriptures. At the start of Christianity, the eyewitness accounts of Jesus and His teachings were passed down orally along with the prophetic proof from the Old Testament concerning the Messiah. The Apostles and disciples of Jesus taught those same truths to their disciples who passed along the same teachings. This was called "orthodoxy" or the truth. Once the New Testament Scriptures were composed and they were copied and passed on to additional churches and the Apostles died along with the eyewitnesses to Jesus, these Scriptures became the repository of the same truths handed down by the oral tradition.
What the church of the early middle ages was guilty of doing was slowly substituting the authority of the Scriptures for the self-claimed authority of the magesterium and whatever "oral tradition" they ruled was part of the faith ABOVE what the Bible said. What that error led to was the creation of various customs that did what the Pharisees had done - made the Word of God null and void. The Reformer's goal was to rid the church of those dogmas and customs that could not be proved by Scripture or which made void the doctrines that were clearly taught (i.e.; justification by faith).
Ah, so Sunday isn't also God's day? Christmas I couldn't care less about; but Easter... without the Resurrection of Jesus there is no Christianity. Easter is, of all the religious holidays, feasts, and fasts, the best. None of the Feasts in Judaism come close to [displaying] the hope that Easter clearly presents: Resurrection.
Mark 7:9: And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
Mark 7:13: Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
Matthew 15:3: But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
Matthew 15:6: And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.
Mark 7:8: For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
Catholics and Orthodox follow Christ’s tradition, Holy Tradition as handed down from Christ through the Apostles. Quite different. The Holy Tradition is the interpretation of scripture as Christ taught — hence we have a belief in the Trinity etc. — once that is removed then anything goes — see the Oneness Pentecostals etc.
This is the same as Matt. 15:3 - there is a distinction between human tradition (that we should reject) and apostolic tradition (that we must accept).
Matthew 15:3: But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
Jesus condemns human traditions that void God's word. This verse to condemn all tradition. But this verse has nothing to do with the tradition we must obey that was handed down to us from the apostles. (Here, the Pharisees, in their human tradition, gave goods to the temple to avoid taking care of their parents, and this voids God's law of honoring one's father and mother.)
CHRIST absolutely CONDEMNED the following the Traditions of man, which the Catholics also follow as did the Pharisees
In Mark 3:14 and 16:15, Jesus commands the apostles to preach (not write) the gospel to the world. Jesus gives no commandment to the apostles to write, and gives them no indication that the oral apostolic word he commanded them to communicate would later die in the fourth century. If Jesus wanted Christianity to be limited to a book (which would be finalized four centuries later), wouldn't He have said a word about it?
Luke 10:16 says - He who hears you (not "who reads your writings"), hears me. The oral word passes from Jesus to the apostles to their successors by the gracious gifts of the Holy Spirit. This succession has been preserved in the Holy Catholic Church.
In Acts 15:27 - Judas and Silas, successors to the apostles, were sent to bring God's infallible Word by "word of mouth." In 1 Peter 1:25, we learn that the Word of the Lord abides forever and that Word is the good news that was "preached" (not read) to you. Because the Word is preached by the apostles and it lasts forever, it must be preserved by the apostles' successors, or this could not be possible. Also, because the oral word abides forever, oral apostolic tradition could not have died in the fourth century with all teachings being committed to Scripture.
When we look to 2 Thess. 2:15, we read, in fact, it was this apostolic tradition that allowed the Church to select the Bible canon (apostolicity was determined from tradition). Since all the apostles were deceased at the time the canon was decided, the Church had to rely on the apostolic tradition of their successors. Hence, the Bible is an apostolic tradition of the Catholic Church. This also proves that oral tradition did not cease with the death of the last apostle. Other examples of apostolic tradition include the teachings on the Blessed Trinity, the hypostatic union (Jesus had a divine and human nature in one person), the filioque (that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son), the assumption of Mary, and knowing that the Gospel of Matthew was written by Matthew.
Is the Bible the "pillar of truth" in the Christian religion? No. According to the Bible Itself, the Church is the "pillar of truth" (1 Timothy 3:15), not the Bible. Is private interpretation of the Bible condoned in the Bible Itself? No, it is not (2 Peter 1:20). Was individual interpretation of Scripture practiced by the early Christians or the Jews? Again, "NO" (Acts 8:29-35). Can there be more than one interpretation of the Bible? No. The word "truth" is used several times in the New Testament. However, the plural version of the word "truth" never appears in Scripture. Therefore, there can only be one Truth.
Is the Bible the sole "teaching from God?" No. The Bible Itself states that there are "oral" teachings and traditions that are to be carried on to the present-day (2 Thessalonians 2:15; 1 Corinthians 11:2; 2 Timothy 2:2; Romans 10:17; 1 Peter 1:24-25). These teachings are what the Catholic Church considers "Sacred Apostolic Tradition." This type of "Tradition" never changes because it was passed down by the Apostles themselves. It is not the same as the man-made traditions condemned in Scripture. The man-made traditions condemned in Scripture were those of the Jewish Pharisees. In fact, as Christians, we are suppose to disassociate ourselves from persons who do not follow Apostolic Tradition (2 Thessalonians 3:6). If oral tradition is not to be followed, why did St. Paul state Christ said something that is not recorded in the Gospels (Acts 20:35)? St. Paul must have "heard" this saying, not read it from any Gospel or "Scripture," thereby, proving that some things Christ said were not recorded in the Gospels (John 21:25) and were passed on orally among His disciples instead, but were just as valid as anything written since St. Paul himself used one of these oral passages in one of his own epistles.
Does the Bible state It is the sole or final authority of Christianity? No. Neither this statement nor anything even close to it appears anywhere in the New Testament. In fact, Christ said that the Church is to resolve disputes among Christians, not Scripture (Matthew 18:17).
“No small wonder Jesus was bent on setting his people free from such nonsense.”
Only to find themselves enslaved to similar nonsense.