Saturday 18 October 2014

Biblical and Manmade tradition

Tradition is essentially teaching. There are two examples of tradition that exists, written and oral. This website would be an example of written tradition and giving a talk on Paltalk or YouTube would be an example of tradition conveyed orally to a congregation.

Tradition as said before is simply teaching, something used to explain the biblical text.

Tradition in the Bible not only refers to the traditions of men, but also to the teachings apostles themselves and the prophets.

The traditions or teachings that one is yo hold to are the ones that do not contradict the scriptures themselves.

While Jesus may have accepted some of the traditions that existed in his day, they would only be traditions that biblically interpret the text, not ones that pervert the scripture itself.

 "Matthew 7:1 The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus 2 and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.[a])

5 So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”

6 He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
7 They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.’[b]

8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

9 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe[c] your own traditions! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’[d] and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’[e] 11 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— 12 then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

Paul also gives a warning about these kinds of traditions that may creep into the church:
"Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits[a] of the world, and not according to Christ."

This was a point of contention that often got him in trouble with the Pharisees and the scribes, who had the responsibility of giving the people the word of God as it should be understood.

Heretical groups such as Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and other cult groups have a tendency to elevate tradition as equal to scripture or even consider it revelation, which cannot be questioned.

Rabbinic Jews hold to the concept of an Oral Torah, believing that Moses had been given this as well as the Written Torah. The claim of an Oral Torah going back to Moses is a huge stretch.

For more information on the Oral Torah, Read the following articles by the Messianic Drew:
(Both links above are defunct).

However, it is blind acceptance of tradition without checking if it is indeed scriptural is the downfall of many groups, even those professing to be Christians.

Thankfully inside the groups I mentioned there individuals who do ask questions to see if what is biblical and what is not, and while these groups do say the Bible is the Word of God, they still hold tradition as equally inspired and even part of the Word of God itself, Which should be called into question since ALL of these groups that I mentioned above claim that their tradition in some way goes back to God, an assumption on their part.

Sola Scriptura seeks to use scripture as the ultimate authority to which all other authorities are to be subject. Jesus ultimately rejected any unbiblical tradition and any teaching that couldn't be substansiated either implicitly or explicitly.

Paul also makes the following point to Timothy about the scripture

"2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
While the text refers to the OT or the TANAKH in context, it does extend to the NT in principle. The same rule applies.

The groups I mentioned reject this method and require their followers to either subject themselves to a teaching magestirium governed by a body of individuals or subject themselves to (God forbid) the Pope.

This is not to deny the importance of elders in a church, Elders ARE required in a church to lead and govern it. Authority is also very important. The authority of the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox can be denied due to their unbiblical doctrines.

Sometimes there is the absurd question of "Show me where Sola Scriptura is in the Bible" or "Where in the Bible does it say you are justified by faith alone" shows up, with the individual pretty demanding it to be proved from the scripture failing to see how their own point backfires on themselves, namely, its a double standard that is knowingly or unknowingly engaged in.

The subject of the canon is not going to be addressed here. If the Lord Wills, a seperate paper may be dedicated to it, but I will say 2nd Peter itself treats Paul's writings as scripture:
"3:14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction."

Another point which is raised by Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox specifically is that you cannot interpret the scripture on your own and the passage that is abused, is 1st Peter 1:20:
"16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”[b] 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.

19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The text in question does not refute individual Bible study and seeking to interpret the Bibilical text, it is referring to the revelations of the Biblical prophets not being an invention of their imagination  but comes from God through them. Nothing about biblical exegesis is spoken about here.

Just reading the scripture itself shows that the prophets and the apostles called all back to the scriptures and even Christians had to check if what Paul had said was in line with the TANAKH itself. Yes I know that the NT wasn't available in its entirety during the time of when the apostles had begun their ministry but you get the point.

Others who reject sola scriptura do so out of confusion, believing using ANY tradition is wrong, which is SOLO Scriptura, not Sola.

Going back to the downfall point, we observe what happens in the TANAKH when people blindly follow their teachers and go into apostasy. In fact in the scribes and teachers are accused of perverting what the text said, rather than interpreting the text correctly, see Jeremiah 8:8:
"Jeremiah 8:8 “‘How can you say, “We are wise,
    for we have the law of the Lord,”
when actually the lying pen of the scribes
    has handled it falsely?

Keith Thompson has penned articles dealing with this topic which I would recommend reading:

I would also recommend Sam Shamoun's own article on this and William Webster's volume of audio series discussing their issue.

Shamoun's article can be found here:

For Webster's audio series on Catholicism, go here:

Answering Judaism.

PS. This article may be subject to update.

Here are some links on the canon of scripture I recommend:


  1. A fine introduction to the topic IMHO. Though I have yet to examine all the related links, so far as I have gone, well done indeed.