Apostolic Traditions


Tertullian (AD 198) says, "If no scripture has determined this, custom hath confirmed it which doubtless hath been derived from tradition. For how can a thing be used unless it is first delivered to us. But thou sayest, even where tradition is pleaded, written authority ought to be required. Wherefore let us enquire whether none, save a written tradition ought to be received. Certainly he shall deny that it ought to be received, if there were no precedents to determine the contrary in other observances, which without any scripture documents we defend on the ground of tradition only and by the support of consequent custom."

He goes on with the universal practice of his time, about Baptism by the priest, the god-father, the receiving of the Holy Communion, the sacrifice of the Holy Qurbana on the death anniversary, praying facing the east, objection fasting and kneeling on Sundays, and during the period from Easter up to Pentecost, marking the forehead with the sign of the cross etc. "For these and such like rules, if you require a law, in the Scriptures, you shall find none..Tradition will be pleaded to you as originating them, custom as confirming them and faith as observing them; that Reason will support tradition, custom and faith.

St. Basil adds; "which is of the greatest moment in things of this sort, the practice amongst us, which we can produce, has the "FORM OF LAW' because our rules have been handed over to us by holy men." "Tradition is the continuing stream of the mind of the Church" St. Iraneus (2 nd. century) about Polycarp - "he always taught what he leaned from the Apostles and his teaching are traditionally taught by 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.

The tradition of the Christian faith can be found in its fullness only in the Church -- how important the Church, the priesthood and the Sacraments were 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 proper Apostolic ministry and a high tradition of Christian mysteries. (Faith of our Fathers)

There is no other reliable source to know the faith and practices of the early Church, except the writing of the early Apostolic Fathers. (2 Thes.2:15) We must not fall a prey to those who wants proof-texts for all the Bible teachings of the Church. 

Theology is based on Bible, but not limited by the Bible. Bible and Traditions are together being the primary source of theology.( Gal.1:8;  Col.4:16; Heb. 2:1; Jn.21:25) the Bible to teach ; and the Church to interpret.

Interpretations of the contents of the Bible by the Church alone is right and individual interpretations are liable to error, proclaim the early Fathers. Tertullian - "To whom belongs the faith, whose are the scriptures, by whom and through whom and when and to whom was that rule delivered, whereby men became Christians,: for wherever both the true Christian rule and faith shall be shown to be, there will be true scriptures, and true expositions and all the true traditions'..."other churches borrowed the tradition of the faith and seed of doctrine and are daily borrowing them that they may become churches"

"Who shall understand the marrow of Scripture better than the School of Christ itself whom the Lord adopted as His disciples, namely to be taught all things and to teach us all things." St. Agustine says, "All heretics who acknowledge the authority of the Scriptures seems to themselves to follow after them, whereas they do follow after their own errors and are heretics; not because they despise them but because they understand them not." "One man altereth the scriptures with his hands; another  their meanings by his exposition."(Tert)  " I would not have believed in the Bible had not the Church prompted me. " 'Says St. Agustine.

Another important point either overlooked or intentionally given up is Acts.1:2 "To whom also He showed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs being seen of them 40 days and "SPEAKING OF THE THINGS PERTAINING TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD". Is it not reasonable to believe that these teachings were as important as those before His passion ? These teachings are not recorded in the Gospels. It is possible that the Apostles handed down those too to their disciples and the latter to their successors.

Jesus is God - incarnate; the Holy Ghost is God; all Christians believe. supposing for a moment that the heretics Arius and Macedonius had their heretical views established, and accepted by the Christendom, there could have been no Trinity at all !

But defending the Holy Faith, the holy Fathers of the Church suffered even martyrdom, and it is thus the true faith flourished. If their teaching about the greatest Mystery - The holy Trinity - can be accepted by all alike, it follows that, everything they have taught, also should be taken into account.

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