Bible Catechism – Lesson 7

Lesson 7:
The Bible And Tradition

1. Do we not have in the Bible books written by authors, other than the Apostles?

We have, but these authors lived in apostolic times and merely recorded the words and deeds of the Apostles themselves.

2. Why does the Church not admit any books except those of Apostolic origin?

The Church does not accept any book not of Apostolic origin because the Deposit of Faith was completed with the death of the last Apostle (St. John).

3. Why does the Church require that a book should be in harmony with Tradition?

She requires that a book be in harmony with Tradition because the Gospel had already been preached before a word of the New Testament was ever written.

4. Are there in the Bible any books whose inspiration was doubted by some for a time?

Yes, the Second Epistle of St Peter, the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the Apocalypse.

5. Are there any books not found in the Bible today which for a time were thought by some to be inspired?

Yes, namely the “Gospel of St. James,” the “Gospel of St. Thomas,” the “Acts of St. Paul,” amongst many others.

6. What happened to these books once thought to be inspired?

They were rejected as spurious. It does not mean necessarily that these books are bad; it simply means that they are not part of the Bible because they were not inspired by the Holy Ghost; they are what we Catholics call “Apocrypha” or “Apocryphal books.” The Protestants erroneously give the name “Apocrypha” to the Deutero-Canonical books.

7. What does this attitude of the Church prove?

This attitude proves, amongst other things, that the Church sifts everything carefully before approving or rejecting.

8. What do we mean by Tradition?

By Tradition we mean that body of doctrine which has been handed down to us, alongside the doctrine clearly taught in the Bible.

9. Who has handed down Tradition?

The Church, through her teaching office (Also called “Magisterium”), has handed down Tradition.

10. What guarantee have we that Tradition is not false?

We have the guarantee of Christ in His statement that the Church would not err in teaching.

11. Does the Bible then, not contain all Christian revelation?

No, and it was never intended that it should.

12. What proof do we have that the Bible does not contain the complete Deposit of Faith?

There is the fact that Christ commissioned His Apostles to “Preach and teach” (Mt. 28, 19), whereas no mention of “Writing” is found; furthermore, the Gospel was widely spread before a single word of the New Testament was ever written.

13. What further Scriptural proof have we that the Bible does not contain the complete Deposit of Faith?

The words of St. John that conclude his Gospel, “But there are also many other things which Jesus did; which if they were written every one, the world itself, I think, would not be able to contain the books that should be written” (Jn. 21, 25).

14. What view do Protestants hold about the Deposit of Faith?

Protestants hold that all things necessary for salvation are found in the Bible. To quote Luther: “The Bible and the Bible only.”

15. Do Protestants ignore Tradition?

Totally, and in this they are illogical, for it is by Tradition that we know what the Bible contains.

16. What is the Catholic view of the Bible and Tradition?

That, while the Bible is the chief source, it is neither the only nor the original source of our knowledge of Revelation.

17. To what may we compare the relation between the Bible and Tradition?

We may compare it to a professor’s textbooks and his lectures; as a professor’s lectures in the classroom, and his textbooks clarify each other, so does the Bible clarify Tradition and is clarified by it in turn.

18. Has Tradition aided the Bible in other ways?

Yes, it has preserved the Bible and has helped the Church to sift the true from the false, and has kept us from false interpretation. 

 

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