The Traditions of Catholicism

O. C. Lambert

When the power of Catholicism was broken by the Reformation and their prohibition of Bible reading could no longer be enforced, she resorted to a campaign of disparagement of the sacred book. Though not entirely effective, it has no doubt deterred millions of Catholics in obeying the command of Jesus to “search the Scriptures.” They make Paul falsify when he said, “The holy scriptures…are able to make thee wise unto salvation” (2 Tim. 3:14). The Bereans were commended for searching the Scriptures daily, a useless thing to do if the following quotations from Catholic authorities are true.

Do Not Need The Bible

“It is that of having for a foundation authority in all ages, for a means of deciding all doubtful points, not a book alone, or a book with authorized interpreters, simply the authorized interpreters of the faith such as the Apostles were, with a book, perhaps, to help them, but still not absolutely needing that book for the discharge of their office any more than the Apostles did for theirs” (Plain Facts, 33). “They (Apostles) consigned to unwritten tradition many revealed truths, and thus made the Church from the beginning independent of the writings” (History of the Church of God, 253). “The Bible was not intended to be a Text Book of the Christian religion” (Catholic Facts, 50).

Bible Does Not Contain The Teachings Of Jesus

The very nature of the Bible ought to prove to any thinking man the impossibility of its being the one safe method of finding out what the Saviour taught” (Question Box, 67). “The Bible does not pretend to be formulary of belief, as is a creed or catechism. There is nowhere in the New Testament a clear, methodical statement of the teachings of Christ” (Question Box, 66).

Catholic Doctrine Not In The Bible

Concerning the Immaculate Conception: “Of course if one is to take nothing as belonging to the Christian faith but what is plainly or unquestionably stated in the Bible, one will not believe or accept it” (Plain Facts, 85). “So in the New Law Catholics believe some things not in the Scriptures”(Question Box, 75). “By what right do you teach doctrines not found in the Bible? …Because the origin of our faith is not in the Bible alone, but the Church which gives us both the written and 2) unwritten word.” (Question Box, 75)

Bible Reading Makes Unbelievers

The Reformation produced, indeed, an exaggerated individualism, which by declaring every man equally competent to find out the doctrines of the Saviour from his own private readings of the Scriptures, has led many to the utter denial of Christ and His doctrines of faith and morality” (Question Box, 95).

Concerning Daniel 2 :12: “From this, as it stands in English, we should plainly gather that only some of the dead were to arise to Judgment; and it is a good instance of the impossibility of arriving at certain conclusions of faith by simply taking the translated Bible as we have it in our vernacular, and the futility of attempting to do so” (Plain Facts, 132, 133).

Where Catholics Get Their Teaching

And history shows only too plainly that the Church in their sense, of the term, has varied in its doctrine, taught dogmas at various times and at various places at the same time, inconsistent with each other, and therefore to a considerable extent erroneous” (Plain Facts, 34).

When the Church studies the ancient monuments of her faith she casts over the past reflection of her living and present thought and by some sympathy of the truth today with that of yesterday she succeeds in recognizing through the obscurities and inaccuracies of ancient formulas the portions of traditional truth, even when they are mixed with error” (Catholic Encyclopedia, XV, 10).

This infallibility is to control the vagaries of Tradition, for Tradition, of its very nature, tends to exaggeration, as we find in the legends of ancient peoples. Exaggerated, they destroy themselves, but in the bosom of God’s Church these truths forever retain their character unchanged and unchangeable” (Explanation of Catholic Morals, 69).

Instead of attempting to repress totally a practice which was misguided indeed, but which showed an instinctive reliance on higher powers, the Church in many instances took the religious customs with which the people were familiar, and made these Christian customs” (Externals of the Catholic Church, 205).

It is interesting to note how often our Church has availed herself of practices which were in common use among pagans…Thus it is true, in a certain sense, that some Catholic rites and ceremonies are a reproduction of those of pagan creeds” (Externals of the Catholic Church, 156).

We need not shrink from admitting that candles, like incense and lustral water, were commonly employed in pagan worship and the rites paid to the dead. But the Church from a very early period took them into her service, just as she adopted many other things indifferent in themselves, which seemed proper to enhance the splendor of religious ceremonial. We must not forget that most of these adjuncts to worship, like music, lights, perfumes, ablutions, floral decorations, canopies, fans, screens, bells, vestments etc. were not identified with any idolatrous cult in particular; but they were common to almost all cults” (Catholic Encyclopedia, III, 246).

The use of the ‘aqua lustralis’ with which the Romans sprinkled themselves or were sprinkled by the priest shows that the same symbolism existed among the heathen.”

A like custom, beautiful and natural; in itself, though of course it may degenerate and often has degenerated into superstition, has been adopted by the Church, water and salt are exorcised by the priest and so withdrawn from the power of Satan”

The use of holy water among Christians must be very ancient, for the Apostolic Canons forged in the fifth century. (Catholic Dictionary, 43) contain a formula for blessing water that it may have power ‘to give health, drive away diseases, put the demons to flight,’ etc. But there does not seem to be any evidence that it was customary for the priest to sprinkle the people with holy water before the ninth century.” (Catholic Dictionary, 403)

St Patrick labored with great prudence. He did not rudely assail or alter customs and ceremonies which might be tolerated; many of them even were converted to Christian purposes. As the pagan temple, when purified and dedicated, was employed for Christian worship, even so pagan practices, divested of their superstitions, might be retained as Christian. This was the wise policy ever recommended by Christianity, and was ably carried out by Patrick. The days devoted from old time to pagan festivals were now transferred to the service of the Christian cause.”

The feast of Samhain, or the moon, coincided exactly with All-Saints Day. The fires of Mayday, in honor of Baal, were transferred to the 24th of June, in honor of John the Baptist…The convert in the baptismal font where he was immersed, saw the sacred well at which his fathers had worshipped” (Life of St. Patrick, 73).

It has been and always will be the intent and tradition of the Apostolic See, to make a large allowance, in all that is right and good, for the primitive traditions and special customs of every nation”(Gr. Ency Letters, 308).

The Church assimilates and sanctifies Roman Civilization. From its foundation the Church had gradually absorbed the best of the life, the organization, the institutions, the laws, the learning, and whatever else of good and worthy there was in the Roman Empire. What the Church thus took to herself she transformed and sanctified, so that, though Roman in its source, it was Christian in its form, influence, and tendencies. To the treasure of ancient civilization the Church joined the great and luminous truths of God’s revelation. Thus doubly armed with the great legislative and intellectual acquirements of antiquity and the practical and saintly precepts of Christianity, the Church began to build up from Teutonic and Roman elements the most perfect nations and the grandest civilization that the world has ever known. So numerous were the difficulties of this formidable task that any other institution save God’s Church must have lost courage and despaired” (History of the Church of God, 379).

It is easy to see that an institution modeled after the Roman Empire in its laws and governmental machinery, and which is a crazy-quilt patchwork of paganism in its doctrine and belief would have little use for the Bible!

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Author: Editor

2 thoughts on “The Traditions of Catholicism

  1. O.C.
    Good article. Looks like the Catholics are “hoist on their own petard”! Unfortunately, the Reformation housecleaning was less than thorough. Augustine, by way of Origen, was the champion of allegorizing prophetic passages. The uncritical adoption of this approach by the Reformation has led to many unscriptual interpretations. The New Testament model is this: fulfillment of prophecy is literal and to the letter. The Gospels bear this out in every case of prophecy spoken of as fulfilled!
    Again, good article!

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