Blinded by Tradition at The Catholic Legate

The challenge as found at The Catholic Legate in January 2005, Protestant Pickle see response #3.

Take note, first of all, that the above is represented as a "foolproof argument", and a "Pickle" of a dilemma for Protestants, which is presented as ironclad support for Catholic oral Tradition. The only recourse left for the sadly misguided Bible Only Protestant, we are told, is to prove Paul to be teaching error. Could anything be more fatuous? Let's remove the blinders of Catholic Tradition and quickly make relish of this alleged pickle.

Paul, in chapter two of his second epistle to the Thessalonians, is addressing a false teaching that had apparently arisen among that congregation:

2 Th 2:1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2 Th 2:2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

This sets the context for the chapter, which is the second coming of Christ.

2 Th 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
2 Th 2:4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

Paul makes clear in this letter to the Thessalonians, that the second coming is not imminent, that first there must arise a "man of sin" in the church. Anyone teaching that the return of Jesus was near, was teaching error, a deceiver, not to be believed.

2 Th 2:15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

So, in context, what is Paul referring to in verse 15?  My, what a pickle! Is Paul reminding the Thessalonians of his orally preaching the Assumption of Mary? The Immaculate Conception of Mary? Mary Mediatrix of all grace and Coredemptrix? Papal Infallibility? How about Purgatory? Obviously not, when context is taken into account.

So, just what did Paul teach orally when he was in Thessalonica? Do we have a clue?

2 Th 2:5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?

What things? In context again, had Paul orally taught the Thessalonians a "foolproof argument" for the Assumption of Mary? The Immaculate Conception of Mary? Mary Mediatrix of all grace and Coredemptrix? Papal Infallibility? How about Purgatory?  Any of the doctrinal oral Traditions of Catholicism? Clearly, no, in context he had not done any such thing. The context of the chapter clearly demonstrates that the subject of Paul's epistle, and his oral teaching as mentioned in verse 15, and verse 5, was the second coming of Jesus - that it must be preceded by apostasy and the rise of antichrist in the church, and that the Thessalonians should hold fast to that teaching, and not be so easily misled by anyone into believing that Jesus' return was imminent.

See: Pope Enthroned Between Cherubim, Showing himself that he is God.

So much for this "Prot Pickle", and supposedly "foolproof argument" for unbiblical Catholic Traditions.

The above was posted and submitted to Frank Jerry via the The Catholic Legate web site on 19 January 2005.

Frank Jerry's reply, dated June 10th, 2005 is presented in the boxes below.

Frank responds...

Hopefully now those who have read the latest submission can see clearly enough to recognize that Mr. Scheifler's answer is NO answer at all but instead a typical dodge of the real issue at hand.

I have not dodged anything. It is obvious that 2nd Thessalonians 2:15 is being cited in an effort to legitimize the dogmatic oral Traditions of the Roman Catholic Church. These Traditions, Catholics maintain, were taught by the apostles but never included in the inspired writings of scripture:

#81 "Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit." And [Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound, and spread it abroad by their preaching.

#82 As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, "does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the Holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence."

#83 The Tradition here in question comes from the apostles and hands on what they received from Jesus' teaching and example and what they learned from the Holy Spirit. The first generation of Christians did not yet have a written New Testament, and the New Testament itself demonstrates the process of living Tradition.

Source: Catechism of the Catholic Church, published by Liguori Publications, English translation copyright 1994 by the United States Catholic Conference, Inc.--Libreria Editrice Vaticana, bearing the Imprimi Potest of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, page 26.

Take note that what is being asserted there is that the Assumption of Mary and the Immaculate Conception of Mary, to name two Traditions, were taught by the apostles, and are to be accepted and believed because the Church declares them authentic with an authority equal to that of inspired scripture. For one to deny the Immaculate Conception of Mary, we are told, is to have "suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he has separated from the unity of the Church" and to reject the Assumption of Mary is to have "fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith". So to deny either of these unbiblical Catholic Traditions is to be lost, according to supposedly infallible papal decrees.

That is the framework in which Roman Catholics cite 2nd Thessalonians 2:15. However, when the chapter is examined, as I have done previously, it is clear that the context involves the second coming, apostasy, and the "man of sin", and that is the teaching that the Thessalonians are being told to stand fast in, and to hold, not dogmatic Catholic Traditions.

The fact of the matter is that St. Paul explicitly says in 2Thes2:15 that we are to hold to BOTH written and oral traditions. Are you denying this, Mr. Scheifler?

Obviously not. As they were all selected and taught by Jesus Himself, the apostles were authoritative in their teaching, regardless of mode. Who would deny this?

The legitimate Prot Pickle question didn't ask WHAT the traditions were or weren't.

The whole point of Catholics citing 2nd Thessalonians 2:15 in the first place is to suggest that Paul taught dogmatic Catholic Traditions, though he never mentions these Traditions in his letters.

It asked whether the bible states that at a later time, only written traditions were to be adhered to.

You apparently are trying to suggest that Sola Scriptura, when practiced, somehow prevents preaching. It does not. To suggest that it does is a straw man, a misrepresentation. No Protestant has ever defined Sola Scriptura in this way.

Are you implying that all these oral traditions which Paul referred to were at some point written down? If so, please show us this teaching from the bible.

Where does Catholic Tradition tell us specifically what Paul taught the Thessalonians orally, when he was there, that was not included in scripture? Just what did Paul preach? Where is Paul's preaching in Thessalonica to be found? Can any Catholic present evidence of Paul teaching dogmatic oral Catholic Traditions in Thessalonica? I dare say this cannot be done. In fact, I would suggest that Catholics cannot provide evidence that any of the Apostles ever taught the dogmatic Catholic Traditions, though we are told these oral Traditions are as infallible and as authoritative as scripture.

Clearly, in context, as mentioned previously, Paul in 2nd Thessalonians was reviewing in writing what he had previously preached in person in Thessalonica regarding the immanency of the second coming and apostasy entering the church.

Mr. Scheifler makes a point of stating that we must not take verses out of context. He is correct. And like most Protestants, he believes that the Bible must interpret itself, one verse shedding some light on another verse. But who sets the bounds for context and who declares if one verse has anything at all to do with another? Do we go one verse before the one in question, one paragraph, one chapter? To truly take a verse in context, it must be understood in light of the entire Word of God which includes the living Tradition of the Church. Without this environment, you are no better than the blind leading the blind. So just what are these traditions (plural) St. Paul speaks of? I really don't think you have to go further than the preceding verse! It is here where St. Paul specifies that these traditions make up the gospel itself!  And I think Mr. Scheifler would agree that the gospel comprises much more than the subject of eschatology alone.
14 whereunto he called you through our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye were taught, whether by word, or by epistle of ours.

Does Paul teach that the gospel includes Mary as the Mediatrix of all Grace, or that she is Co-redemptrix? Does Paul teach the Immaculate Conception of Mary, her Assumption, or that she is the Queen of Heaven? Does Paul teach us to pray to Mary, or to dead saints? Can Catholics show us from their Tradition that Paul ever taught these dogmas? No. The gospel of Rome and the gospel of scripture are quite different, and Paul addresses this directly:

Gal 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
Gal 1:9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

Mr. Scheifler needs to tell us why he accepts 2 Thes as inspired and the Word of God in the first place. To claim that Paul wrote it, isn't sufficient. On what grounds can any "Sola Scriptura" believer make this assertion? Paul warns in 2 Thes 2:2 that there were fraudulent letters being passed around claiming to be written by him. So how was a person to know for sure that a letter truly was from Paul? 2 Thes 3:17 tells us how:

I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write.

Has Mr. Scheifler or anyone else seen with his own eyes any of the original parchments written on by Paul? No. So how does he know for certain that Paul wrote it and it isn't one of the spurious letters written by a phony? He doesn't.

That Catholic definitions of the canon of scripture by Popes and Councils (to include the "infallible" declaration of Trent) are in error, is demonstrated by my article on the Hebrew Canon.

Mr. Scheifler asks if anything could be more fatuous? I believe trying to interpret the bible in a vacuum as Mr. Scheifler does is much more foolish and witless.

Frank Jerry
The Catholic Legate
June 10, 2005

Here is what Trent said about interpreting the Bible:

Furthermore, to check unbridled spirits, it [the Roman Catholic Church] decrees that no one relying on his own judgment shall, in matters of faith and morals pertaining to the edification of Christian Doctrine, distorting the Holy Scriptures in accordance with his own conception, presume to interpret them contrary to that sense which holy Mother Church, to whom it belongs to judge of their true sense and interpretation, has held and holds, or even contrary to the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, even though such interpretations should never at any time be published. Those who act contrary to this shall be made known by the ordinaries and punished in accordance with the penalties prescribed by the law.

Source: Council of Trent, Fourth Session, April 8th, 1546, Decree Concerning the Edition and Use of the Sacred Books, Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, English Translation by Rev. H. J. Schroeder, O.P., copyright 1978 and published by Tan Books and publishers, ISBN: 0:89555-074-1, pages 18-19.

Here is my response:  The Unanimous Consent of the Fathers and Bible Interpretation

It is worth noting, that another Catholic web site, Catholic Apologetics International, features 2 Th 2:15 just under its site banner. So, according to the context of Paul's letter as discussed above, they are unwittingly asserting that apostasy and antichrist will most certainly enter the church before the second coming! Well it was there. It has now been removed, and I can't imagine why.

See also:
Paul's Gospel In Catholic Tradition?
Scripture versus Catholic Tradition

Early Church Fathers on the Timing of the Rise of Antichrist