Malankara World

What Shall I Do To Be Saved?

By Rev. Dr. Curian Kaniyamparambil

Question 31. Is tradition acceptable?

Certainly, it should be accepted because it came from the apostles. It is a poor argument to say that one should not believe in anything not written in the Bible. We believe in world history not because it is written in the Bible, but because the historians have recorded it. Jesus predicted that the Jerusalem temple would not be remaining (Later Titus destroyed it). The Jewish historian Josephus recorded this. [Josephus has recorded that even the foundation stones were ploughed, thinking that there would be hidden gold under the foundation!] If we can believe him, we should also believe the works of prominent disciples of the 1st and 2nd century. St. Ignatius, and Polycarp, who learned from St. John, had written epistles. Shouldn't we respect them? Shouldn't we obey them?

Isn't it fair that we refer to their teachings to understand what the church did during, and immediately after the apostolic times? Isn't it childish to argue that those teachings (and practices) were irrelevant and to argue that teachings and interpretations by the people of the18th or 19th centuries are acceptable? (Remember that modern Christian communities do just that; for they reject traditions, and do not accept early teachings, but follow modern era teachings and interpretations!) The teachings written by these early church fathers are called traditions.

The church has its own history. The book of Acts contains the initial history of the church, but history is not limited to the book of Acts. Many church leaders and advocates immediately after the apostles had recorded facts about the church. We should also accept this as history of the church.

The Bible is only a part of the Holy Traditions of the church (2 Tess. 2:15). We must not fall a prey to those who want proof ie. texts for all of the teachings of the church. Theology is based on the Bible, but not limited by the Bible. The Bible and Traditions together are the primary sources of Theology (Gala 1:8, Colo. 4:16, Heb 2:1). The Bible to teach, the church to interpret". (40 Questions Answered)? Tradition is the continuing stream of the mind of the Church?

On many fundamental questions of faith, the Bible used by itself without the knowledge of the Traditions of the Church can lead to heresy. All of the early heretics used the Bible in one form or other. The tradition of the Christian truth can be found in its fullness only in the church. How important were the church, the priesthood, and the sacraments for the disciples of the Apostles. The denial of these realities and the dependence on the Bible alone can be a great error. The truth is experienced and known only by membership in the church, which has a responsible and properly Apostolic ministry and a high tradition of the Christian Mysteries". (Faith of Our Fathers --16)

St. Irenaeus: "As I said before, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although she is disseminated throughout the world, yet guards it. As if she is occupied in one house. She likewise believes these things just as if she had but one soul and one and the same heart; and harmoniously proclaims them and teaches them and hands down, as if she possessed but one mouth. For, while the languages of the world are diverse and nevertheless, the authority of the tradition is one and the same." (192).

Every church throughout this whole world received this tradition from the apostles? (page 198)

It is possible, then, for everyone in every church, who may wish to know the truth, to contemplate the tradition of the apostles which has been made known throughout the whole world? For surely they (apostles) wished all those and their successors to be perfect and without reproach, to whom they handed on their authority?(209)

All Churches agree that 'it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the Apostolic tradition' (211)

The true gnosis is the doctrine of apostles, and the ancient organization of the Church throughout the whole world, and the manifestation of the body of Christ according to the succession of the bishops? (243)

Tertullian: " ...all doctrine which agrees with apostolic Churches? be regarded as truth?(293) Whenever it shall be clear that the truth of the Christian discipline and faith are present, there also will be found of the Scriptures and of their explanation and of all the Christian traditions." (291)

So what are these traditions? Tertullian describes some of them below:

St. Polycrates (AD196) So also do I, Polycrates, the least of all among you, in accord with the tradition of my kindred, some of whom I have followed closely? (190a)

St. Hilary:  "The church, instituted by the Lord and confirmed by the apostles, is one for all men; but the frantic folly of diverse impious sects has cut them off from her. It cannot be denied that this tearing asunder of the faith has arisen from the defect of poor intelligence, which twists what is read to conform the opinion, instead of adjusting the opinion to the meaning of what is read." (865)

St. Augustine: "Each heretic says that the gospels are the basis and that he adheres to it. But they follow their own faults. They do not deny the gospels but do not understand the meaning."

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