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Bible Alone or Bible and tradition! What did Jesus and Paul say? 

Protestants say Bible Alone; Catholics say Bible and teaching Tradition. But what did Jesus say?

There is an understanding among Catholics and non-Catholics alike that the Bible properly understood in context does not contradict. To understand the Bible, we have to take it in context. It is necessary to notice clarifying words, what comes before and after a Bible verse and what the larger Bible says on any given issue. Usually, non-Catholics will accept the Bible as their only source of revelation. At the same time Catholics accept both the Bible and the teaching Tradition of the Church. Non-Catholics, more often than not, reject tradition because Jesus rejected a specific tradition in Mark chapter 7. "Christian Equippers International," in a publication, quote Jesus speaking against a specific tradition in a partial quote of Mark 7.

"However, Jesus rebuked the usurping and undermining of scriptures through man-made tradition when He said, 'The worship they offer me is worthless, the doctrines they teach are only human regulations. You put aside the commandment of God to cling to HUMAN TRADITIONS. . . In this way you make God's word null and void for the sake of your TRADITION which you have handed down'" (MK. 7:7, 8, 13, J.B.V.).   

For them it is an open and shut case. Jesus spoke against human tradition. The Catholic Church speaks in favor of tradition and so the Catholic Church to them is in clear violation of the Bible and Catholics should leave that non-Biblical Church and join their Church.  

So far seemingly so good; however, the pamphlet has left something out.  Notice the three dots following the words HUMAN TRADITIONS The three dots mean that something has been left out and what has been left out is verses 9-12, the context. You cannot connect the dots if you leave out part of the content. 

There is a commandment of God that has been put aside, and rejected for the sake of their tradition. Verse 10 gives us this commandment ‘Honor your father and your mother’ (Lk. 7:10), the 4th commandment. Then in verses 11-12 we have the tradition which is in violation of the 4th commandment, but you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, What 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 through your tradition which you hand on. And many such things you do” (Mk. 7:12-13).  

In other words, if the money that they would have had to take care of their parents is given to God, (specifically the temple), then they no longer have to take care of their parents in their old age which is in violation of the 4th commandment. This is why in verse 13, Jesus said that they were thus making void the word of God through your tradition which you hand on. And many such things you do. Jesus was not speaking against all tradition, but a corrupt tradition which is in violation of the 4th commandment. 

And so, this begs the question; why did the author of this booklet leave out verses 9 through 12? The reason is obvious; these verses contain context. Once you realize the context is corrupt tradition and not all tradition, the argument against the Catholic Church’s acceptance of tradition fails. This is the single most blatant violation of Biblical context that I have ever seen. The author is hoping the person who reads his publication will not see the three dots and notice that the context, verses 9-12, has been eliminated. Intellectual honesty fails and as a result, there is a crisis in Evangelical Christianity with many choosing to leave.

I believe that the vast majority of people who speak against any and all tradition do not realize that they are taking Mark 7 out of context, at least until you bring it to their attention. A person coming from a Baptist tradition asked me this question, “why do Catholics follow Tradition as well as the Bible when in Mark 7, Jesus spoke against tradition?” And so I asked her if she knew the specific tradition that Jesus was speaking against. She said she didn’t know. By answering in this way, it was clear that she didn’t know the context. I explained to her that Jesus was not speaking against any and all tradition, but a corrupt tradition that was in violation of the 4th commandment. She liked the answer and in more recent years has been worshipping God in the Catholic Church. 

Furthermore, the Bible, through the words of the Apostle Paul, speaks for tradition. So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2Thess. 2:15). So, when you see people speaking against all tradition, they don’t bring up what Paul says in 2 Thessalonians because it destroys their argument. How can they speak against all tradition when Paul spoke for it?   And so, the point is this; those who reject all tradition are in fact rejecting part of the Bible they profess to believe. The irony in all of this is that arguments against all tradition don’t come from the Bible, but their tradition that takes the Bible out of context and leaves out parts of the Bible that do not support their thesis. 

I once asked a pastor of a Four Square Church, why it was that every time that I hear the word tradition in a Charismatic Church, it was always used in a negative context (Mark 7:7-13), when in fact Paul speaks of it also in a positive context (2 Thess. 2:15, 3:6)? He said he had never thought of it this way before and admitted that he probably did it that way himself. I very much admired him for his honest answer.  

All of this begs the question; if the Bible speaks against corrupt tradition and at the same time, for other tradition as in the case of Paul, then what is the motivation for some people to speak against all tradition? It has to do with the Protestant Reformation. Jesus said “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it (Mt. 16:18). This was a promise that Jesus made to the Church that He built. He promised that nothing will prevail against it.

At the time of the Reformation, the reformers were saying that this no longer applied to the Catholic Church. They must show, at that time, that the Church had become substantially doctrinally corrupt in the area of tradition and many other areas. If they can’t show this substantial doctrinal corruption, it would mean that they must be a part of this same Catholic Church. Remember the Protestant Reformers before their separation were all Catholic. This means the Church was Catholic. In order to show that Jesus promise to the Church is still valid, the powers of death shall not prevail against it; they would now have to indicate that this one true Church continued on after the Reformation under the guise of one of these non-Catholic groups.

The problem is this, with the theological anarchy taking place among the various groups, which one of the tens of thoussands of different contradictory lines is now that church which Jesus gave the promise to that the powers of death shall not prevail against it? No one seems to want to answer this question because the moment they claim their particular line is that one true church, they are not only at odds with the Catholic Church, but with the other thousands different non-Catholic lines. It is tough questions like this that has helped create a significant exodus from the Evangelical realm to the Catholic Church, East and West.