Conservative Colloquium

An Intellectual Forum for All Things Conservative

The Binding Authority of Tradition

Posted by Tony Listi on March 6, 2008

At best, Protestants claim that even if some of the traditions of the Catholic Church are good, none of them are binding since they cannot be found in the Bible. But what do Protestants have to say to the following biblical passages regarding traditions? The following verses seem to establish the binding authority of traditions, even those that are oral or extrabiblical.

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.”

1 Thess 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.”

2 Thess 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.”

2 Thess 3:6 “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.”

The fact of the matter is that tons of Jewish doctrine was passed down orally, and there are many cases of New Testament writers appealing to extrabiblical/oral traditions that cannot be found in the Old Testament (Mt 2:23; 23:1-3; 1 Cor 10:4; 1 Peter 3:19; Jude 9, 14-15; 2 Tim 3:8; James 5:17). If this was the Hebrew mindset, then why do Protestants reject it?

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