Thursday, August 26, 2010

Scripture and Tradition - Separating Catholics from Other Christians

Do Our Protestant Brothers and Sisters Get What We Believe?

From Catholics Come Home  come some questions and answers about what we belive as Catholics.

Here are the questions with the answer given to the first one.
Question 1. My Protestant friends say that their church goes by the Bible Alone, but that the Catholic Church has added a lot of man-made traditions to the Word of God…Is that true?
No, it is not true. Protestants have as their sole rule of faith the written Word of God, which we find in Sacred Scripture. The Catholic Church has as its sole rule of faith, the entire Word of God, as it is found in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

All of the Word of God was at one time passed on orally...Sacred Tradition. Eventually, some of Sacred Tradition was written down...this became Sacred Scripture, which is written tradition. However, Scripture itself tells us that not all of the things that Jesus said and did were written down. And listen to what Paul says about "tradition":

2 Thes 2:15, "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter." Traditions! Traditions taught by word of mouth, in other words, oral tradition, and traditions taught by letter. Traditions which they are being told to "stand firm and hold to". Sacred Scripture and

1 Cor 11:2, "I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you." The Corinthians are being commended by Paul because they maintain the traditions that he passed on to them. Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

2 Tim 2:2: "and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." What we have here in 2 Timothy is an instance, in Scripture, of Paul commanding the passing on of oral tradition.

1 Thes 2:13, "And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the Word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the Word of God, which is at work in you believers." So, they received as the Word of God that which they heard, not simply that which they read in Scripture.
In other words, the Bible clearly supports the Catholic Church's teaching that the Word of God is contained in both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.
Question 2 is Why are Catholic and Protestant Bibles different?  Who originally compiled the Bible?

Question 3 is I had a theology teacher who told me that Adam and Eve were just myths, and that the rest of Genesis was all just legends. . . Is that what the Church teaches?

The big one is Question 4 - A friend of mine said that his church takes the Bible literally, but that the Catholic Church doesn't. . . is that true?

Actually this fourth question has too good an answer to make you hop over and read it at Catholics Come Home, so here it is:
Actually, there is no truth to that, whatsoever. Catholics interpret the Bible in a "literal" sense, while many fundamentalists, Evangelicals, and others interpret the Bible in a literalist sense.

The "literal" meaning of a passage of Scripture is the meaning that the author of that passage of Scripture intended to convey. The "literalist" interpretation of a passage of Scripture is: "that's what it says, that's what it means."
Let me give you an example to illustrate the difference. If you were to read a passage in a book that said it was "raining cats and dogs outside", how would you interpret that? As Americans, in the 21st Century, you would know that the author was intending to convey the idea that it was raining pretty doggone hard outside. That would be the "literal" interpretation...the interpretation the author intended to convey. On the other hand, what if you made a "literalist" interpretation of the phrase, "it's raining cats and dogs"?

The "literalist" interpretation would be that, were you to walk outside, you would actually see cats and dogs falling from the sky like rain. No taking into account the popularly accepted meaning of this phrase. No taking into account the author's intentions. The words say it was raining cats and dogs, so, by golly, it was raining cats and dogs! That is the literalist, or fundamentalist, way of interpretation.

If someone 2000 years in the future picked up that same book and read, "It was raining cats and dogs outside," in order to properly understand that passage in the book, they would need a "literal" interpretation, not a "literalist" interpretation. Now, think about that in the context of interpreting the Bible 2000-3000 years after it was written.

Literal, or Catholic, interpretation vs. literalist, or fundamentalist, interpretation.
There is lots of good stuff about the Catholic Church over at Catholics Come Home, presented to invite our fallen away brethren (and sistren) to come back and join us, but it is also a very useful site for those of us who profess to be Catholic Christians to brush up on what we really believe in order to be able to share our faith with those we love, who view Our Saviour Jesus through their own fresh set of eyes.

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