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Old 14th January 2008, 05:08 PM
Justin Angel Justin Angel is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: South Korea
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Cool "Hold Fast to the Traditions You Were Taught"

The erroneous principle of 'sola scriptura' (the Bible alone) affirms that all essential doctrines of the Christian faith are contained within Scripture. Thus Scripture is materially sufficient. And according to this unbiblical concept, Scripture requires no other coordinate (equal in rank) authority such as Tradition and Magesterium in order to determine its meaning. In other words, Sola Scriptura affirms also the formal sufficiency of Scripture. Yet the Church Fathers never affirmed the formal sufficiency of Scripture. On the contrary, they affirmed both the material sufficiency and formal insufficency of Scripture. In the writings of the Church Fathers we clearly find an appeal to Tradition that is oral in nature for the defense of what they call the Apostolic Tradition. The Apostolic Tradition for Irenaeus and Tertullian, for instance, was not simply Scripture. Both of these Church Fathers acknowledged Tradition as a substantive and coordinate authority along side Scripture. They firmly believed, as all the Church Fathers did, that the doctrines of the Catholic Church are found in both Scripture and Tradition. However, the Church Fathers did not reach the false conclusion that Tradition is equated with Scripture, since Tradition contains the same doctrines that are to be found in Scripture. The main difference between Scripture and Tradition is that they convey the same teachings, but through different mediums. One medium transmits the teachings of the faith through the written word, while the other transmits doctrines through the understanding of the Church as expressed in her faith, practice, and life in the Spirit. If Scripture were equated with Tradition, then it would be difficult to make sense of the writings of the Church Fathers. Certainly Tradition did not mean Scripture to the Church Fathers. They did not embrace the false concept of Sola Scriptura. They understood that one doctrine could be expressed differently by two compatible yet distinct mediums.

Irenaeus writes: " When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and assert that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of Tradition...It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor Tradition." {Against Heresies, 3, 21}

Scripture is not materially insufficent with respect to the doctrines and dogmas of the Catholic Church! The insufficiency lies with the formality of Scripture: i.e., the homoousian nature of Christ (one in substance and essence with the Father), the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist (Transubstantiation), and the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. These truths are explicitly mediated by Tradition and Magisterium. Indeed, the material contained in Scripture becomes distorted when it is interpreted outside of Tradition by Christians who unauthoritatively interpret Scripture in opposition to the Apostolic teaching authority of the Catholic Church.

"Suppose there arise a dispute relative to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient churches with which the apostles held constant intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question? For how should it be if the apostles themselves did not leave us their writings? Would it not be necessary, in that case, to follow the course of the Tradition which they handed down to those to those they did commit the churches?"
{Against Heresies, 3, 4:1}

In like manner Tertullian writes: "Error of doctrine in the churches must necessarily have produced many issues. When, however, that which is deposited among many is found to be one and the same, it is not the result of error but of Tradition. Can anyone, then, be reckless enough to say that they were in error who handed on the Tradition?"
{Prescription Against the Heretics, 28}

Obviously, both Irenaeus and Tertullian acknowledged that the unauthoritative private interpretation of Scripture naturally leads to error and division. A divided Arian movement and Protestant tradition are historical examples of what happens to Christendom when Apostolic Tradition is denied and Scripture becomes the sole medium of divine revelation for the faithful. Scripture is no longer an infallible and inerrant source of revelation once Tradition is discarded. Scripture gains its infallibilty from the Tradition handed down to us by the Apostles, carried on through their validly ordained successors. Apart from Tradition and Magisterium, Scripture is reduced to the mere fallible opinions of men. What is materially contained in Scripture becomes worthless, once Tradition is rejected and substituted for what is believed to be the formal sufficiency of Scripture. The Church Fathers were aware that apart from Tradition Scripture had no mediating value.

Hence, by rejecting one medium, we reject the other. No infallible Tradition means no infallible Scripture, for both Scripture and Tradition were handed down to us by the Apostles. The two mediums are distinct, but they must not be divorced from each other. Without Apostolic Tradition there would be no Scripture in the first place, so naturally the emergence of Scripture could not possibly negate Tradition and completely take over by usurping it. And Scripture can only be correctly interpreted in light of Tradition from which it has sprung. When it comes to the interpretation of Scripture, therefore, the authority lies with the Magisterium of the Catholic Church in its divine mandate of formulating doctrines and promulgating dogmas. The authority does not lie with those Christians who have separated themselves from the historic Christian faith. The Church Fathers stress that Tradition is substantive in content, authoritative, and continues to live in the Apostolic Catholic Church. Tradition and Scripture must mutually form the deposit of faith.

Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.
{2 Thessalonians 2, 15}

Pax vobiscum
Justin Angel
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Old 25th February 2008, 01:04 AM
VKallin VKallin is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: North Port, Florida
Posts: 601
Default An Act of Contrition

I teach in the RCIA Program for our parish. In teaching the sacrament of Reconciliation, we were teaching the students to make a good "Act of Contrition". I was quite surprised to learn that there are several different prayers used today to express one's regret for having sinned. This is the prayer that I was taught as a child in catechism.

(1) Oh my God, I am most heartily sorry for having offended you. (2) And I detest all of my sins because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell. (3) But most of all, because I have offended thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all of my love. (4) I firmly resolve, with the help of thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. AMEN

It contains only 4 sentences. I used this prayer for many years without noticing the meaning of the words. But now that I have found my faith, these words have taken on a significant meaning for me. Sentence 1 above simply expresses regret for having sinned. Sentences 2 and 3 are the reasons for that regret. Sentence 2 is called IMPERFECT CONTRITION. This is regret for sin because of fear of God's punishment. Sentence 3 is called PERFECT CONTRITION. It is regret because we recognize the infinite love that God has for us and we truly regret having offended someone who has been so good to us. As a child, I was taught that perfect contrition was the most sincere, but that imperfect contrition was sufficient. I think that there is an important distinction to be made here. I know that "Fear of the Lord" is the beginning of all wisdom, but there is more at work here than that.

It seems to me that as a person discovers their faith, they evolve through three stages. The first stage is simply a true belief that God exists. The second stage is the realization of the truth about who God is, and who we are. God created all things and provides all things in every life. Our parents, our friends, our possessions, our skills, and every opportunity that we have ever had, was provided by God. And we repay his loving generosity with disobedience and disregard. And yet, he waits patiently for us to recognize his love and his generosity. As these truths become evident to us, we hopefully reach the third stage, where we begin to put our faith into practice. This leads to prayer, a serious study of the Sacred Scriptures, and many changes in our behavior.

I believe that confessing and regretting our sins with a Perfect Contrition is a significant step in moving our faith from stage one to stage two. Without the use of this time honored "Act of Contrition", I probably would have missed this point completely. I fear that many others may also miss this point if this prayer is dismissed for a simpler and shorter version. During each mass that I attend, I recite this Act of Contrition along with a short supplemental prayer that says "Loving Jesus, anything less tham perfect contrition is unworthy of you". This may not be the letter of the church law, but it is what I believe.
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Old 25th February 2008, 02:47 AM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Posts: 12,577

good posts Justin and VKallin!
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