Saturday, March 05, 2011

The Bible versus Tradition in Roman Catholicism

I have recently been reminded of something I wrote ages ago on a private e-discussion forum. As the following does not break any confidences, and as it still appears to me to be at least somewhat relevant, I provide it below for your interest:

The Roman Church has always had biblical material as part of its history (that is what makes it a church, I guess).

The question is what status does the RC Church ascribe to the material? Does it pick and choose material from the Bible, and the interpretations thereof, on the basis of the tradition of the RC Church, or does it allow the Bible to challenge and change the tradition of the RC Church on the basis that Scripture is superior to tradition?

Now that I think of it, wasn't the dividing line between Protestants and RCs famously summed up as: "Sola scriptura, sola fidei, sola gratia"? (I might have the order of these items wrong). That is "Scripture alone (not church tradition), faith alone (not membership of an organisation such as the RC Church) and by grace alone (not because of being earned but because of God's unmerited favour) - or something like that anyway.

And isn't the current position of the RC Church still that membership of it is the only way to Heaven? That even all Christians outside the RC Church are "separated brethren"? If the latter, then of course, historically speaking, this is a nice-sounding elision to put the blame on the Reformers, when they were in fact kicked out of the RC Church by the authorities of the RC Church (represented by the Pope) because the RC Church did not want to be reformed (not on the basis of a free understanding of the Bible, anyway) though it did later reform itself on many of its most egregious practices which had been condemned by the Reformers.

In any case, IF the Pope indeed blesses the telling of Bible stories, as I hear, is he blessing the telling of Bible stories in the context of all the other material that the RC Church usually teaches, or does he actually promote the concept of the authority of Scripture over Tradition? If the latter, then the official position of the RC Church is one, but the Pope simultaneously pursues quite different strategies from his own official position!

However, I guess that is similar to what leaders have to do in most large political or bureaucratic systems - or companies for that matter....

I should think that any large Church or Temple or other religious institution has to combine the poitical, the bureaucratic and the commercial...

Which is why it is so liberating to be a simple follower of Jesus the Lord, unencumbered by any denomination, tradition or religion. Sphere: Related Content