Non-Catholics often take the Lord’s condemnation of the corrupt practices of the scribes and Pharisees to be a sweeping condemnation of all tradition (ကြည့်ရှု မဿဲ 15:3 သို့မဟုတ် မာကု 7:8).
သို့သော်, Jesus also said, "ဒီကျမ်းပြုဆရာနှင့်ဖာရိရှဲတို့သည်မောရှေ၏ထိုင်ခုံပေါ်မှာထိုင်; ဒါကြောင့်သူတို့သင်ပြောပြသမျှကိုကျင့်သုံးရန်နှင့်စောငျ့ရှောကျ, ဒါပေမဲ့မသူတို့အဘယ်သို့ပြုမည်အရာကို; သူတို့တရားကိုဟောပြောများအတွက်, ဒါပေမဲ့ "မကျင့် (မဿဲ 23:2 – 3).
အလားတူပင်, Saint Paul, who condemned the “human tradition” of pagan mysticism (မိမိအကိုတွေ့မြင် Letter to the Colossians 2:8), wrote in his First Letter to the Corinthians (11:2), “I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.”
A Self-Contradictory Theory
သိသိသာသာ, ထို့နောက်, it is not tradition per se which Scripture condemns, but tradition that is contrary to Apostolic teaching. Note that Catholicism distinguishes between Sacred Tradition (or doctrine), which is infallible and constant, and lesser traditions (or disciplines), which can be changed or even discontinued to suit the needs of the time. Sometimes these are distinguished as “Big-T” နှင့် “little-t” traditions. Those traditions of the scribes and Pharisees which Jesus denounced were of the latter variety. They were practices which had to be discontinued because they were compelling the people to “transgress the commandment of God” (ကြည့်ရှု မဿဲ 15:3, နောက်တဖန်အ).
Many non-Catholics see the Bible as the sole authority for Christians. သို့သော်, လျှင်, တကယ်ပါပဲ, the Bible were meant to be the sole authority, then that pronouncement or authority should be written in the Bible! Is it nowhere to be found!
ထို့အပြင်, for Catholics, that makes the notion of the Bible alone, without tradition and according to its own dictates, itself a mere “tradition of men” (မာကု 7:8). To be clear, if ones position is to dismiss tradition because Jesus denounces certain traditions in the bible and then rely solely on the bible, then one would hope that doctrine would be in the bible. Because it is not, the practice is a tradition, သူ့ဟာသူ–the same pattern of behavior that such person is attempting to avoid. Consider it a dilemma, contradiction, or oxymoron if you will.
It Practically Fails, လွန်း
အလားတူပဲ, it is unreasonable from a practical standpoint to say God meant for Scripture to be the sole authority because the written Word remained inaccessible to large numbers of believers for the first several hundred years of the Christian Era–တကယ်တော့, for more than the first millennium.
တကယ်တော့, it remained practically impossible for the average Christian prior to the 16ကြိမ်မြောက် century to obtain a copy of one of a Scripture, let alone the full set. As Kevin Orlin Johnson explained, because of the enormous cost and effort that went into the production of a book, the Bibles which Churches provided for public use were
“chained down the way we chain down directories at public telephones now, and for similar reasons: so that anybody could use (them) and nobody could steal (them). … Remember that a new Bible would cost a community about as much as a new church building, and the finished book was easily worth a manor. Books in the Middle Ages were done on parchment or on vellum (made from the skins of young sheep or cattle) and lettered, gilded, and illuminated by hand. A whole Bible took maybe four hundred animals and years of work by a score of scribes and artists” (ကက်သလစ်အဘယ်ကြောင့်ပြုကြ?, နယူးယောက်, 1995, p. 24-25, ဎ။).
ထို့အပြင်, a host of other books claiming apostolic authorship were written around the same time period and there was widespread disagreement for many centuries over which books genuinely belonged in the Bible. တကယ်ပါပဲ, some of the Fathers disagreed to an extent on this issue. It should be remembered, သို့သော်, that only the unanimous consent of the Fathers on a matter of faith and morals is held to be infallible; individually, they can and do err.
တကယ်တော့, the first definitive list of the books of the Bible, ဒါမှမဟုတ် Canon of the Bible (from the Greek, kanon, meaning “rule”), was finally formulated by the Council of Rome in 382, under the authority of Pope Saint Damasus. Shortly thereafter two other local councils, Hippo (393) and Third Carthage (397), upheld the decision, as have all subsequent councils through the centuries.
How Can One Read What Is Not Yet Written?
Not only did it take nearly 400 hundred years for Christians to agree upon the composition of the Bible, but the final books of the New Testament were not written until the latter years of the first century! That means that nearly two full generations of Christians lived and worshiped before the Bible enscribed!
What Does the Bible Say?
There are various allusions throughout the New Testament to the fact that a portion of the Gospel was not committed to writing. ဥပမာအားဖြင့်, Jesus said at the Last Supper, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (ယောဟန်သည် 16:12-13).
As Saint Luke wrote it in the တမန်တော်၏တမန်တော် 1:3, the Lord spent forty days after His resurrection privately teaching the Apostles on matters pertaining to the Church, or “speaking of the kingdom of God,” yet what He said to them was not recorded.1
Saint Paul wrote in his ကောရိန်သုပထမပေးစာ (11:34), that there were “other things” which he preferred to say in person rather than to put into writing, and in his First Letter to the Thessalonians 4.2, he remarked, “You know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.” Clearly, we have no way of knowing what exactly these instructions were because Paul neglected to write them down!
Saint John as well remarked in a letter, “Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink, but I hope to come to see you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete” (See John’s ဒုတိယအပေးစာ 1:12 and also his Third Letter 1:13-14).
ထို့အပွငျ, that the Word of God was delivered by two equally authoritative means—Apostolic Tradition and Sacred Scripture—is confirmed by Paul, who in his သက်သာလောနိတ်မြို့သားဒုတိယပေးစာ bids the brethren to “stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter” (2:15; italics added). Paul further advises the faithful to “keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us” (3:6).
Not only were some of the Apostles’ teachings passed on outside of Scripture, but the writers of the New Testament regularly refer to extra-biblical traditions and texts. The saying, “He shall be called a Nazarene,” for instance, which Saint Matthew (2:23) attributes to “the prophets,” is not found in the Old Testament. Saint Paul refers to oral Jewish tradition in his ကောရိန်သုပထမပေးစာ 10:24, when he mentions the rock that followed the Israelites through the wilderness, နှင့်သူ၏ Second Letter to Timothy 3:8, and when he mentions Jannes and Jambres who opposed Moses.
ဖြည့်စွက်ကာ, Saint Jude refers to two apocryphal books, ကို မောရှေ၏ယူဆချက် နှင့် ပထမဦးစွာဧနောက်သည် in his letter (1:9, 14).
The Apostles chose successors—bishops, presbyters, and deacons—to whom they handed on the Deposit of Faith. Paul exhorts Saint Timothy in his ဒုတိယအပေးစာ (1:13-14; 2:1-2) သူ့ကို, “Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. … You then, ငါ၏သား, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
တကယ်ပါပဲ, the New Testament emphasis on Apostolic Succession (ကြည့်ရှု တမန်တော်၏တမန်တော် 1:20; 14:23; ပေါလုရဲ့ တိမောသေဖို့ပထမဦးစွာပေးစာ 4:14; ပေါလုရဲ့ တိတုမှပေးစာ 1:5; ထှကျမွောကျရာ 18:25) proves Christianity was not originally a Bible-only religion; for if it had been, then the authority of its leaders would have ultimately been irrelevant since the discernment of the truth would have rested in the heart and hands of each individual believer. More importantly, there would have been no medium for believers to be made aware of the Good Word!
- အဆိုပါ Epistula Apostolorum, an early creed dating from around the middle of the second century, purports to be a summary of the teachings which Jesus divulged to the Apostles after the Resurrection. It reads, “In the Father, the Ruler of the Universe, And in Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, In the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, In the Holy Church, And in the Forgiveness of Sins” (John H. Leith, ed ။, Creeds of the Churches: A Reader in Christian Doctrine from the Bible to the Present (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1982), p. 17. ↩