If we say that we follow Scripture, then we must follow Tradition, as well:
Tell me, you who want to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? -Galatians 4:21, NAB
In this verse, St. Paul points out the hypocrisy in the Galatians’ position: they claim to follow the Law, but then ignore some of its teachings. This same question can be asked of many Protestants today, so I want to spend some time on basic Apologetics.
Protestants claim that they follow Scripture alone, also known as Sola Scriptura. They do not believe in the Sacred Tradition of the Catholic Church or the Church’s authority. Like St. Paul’s statement to the Galatians, I ask, how can you say that you follow Scripture, but then not follow some of what it teaches?
In the Scriptures, Jesus gave authority to the Apostles to teach the world about Him and the Christian faith. He also gave St. Peter special authority when He gave him the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 16:19). Christ did not hand them a copy of the Bible; He had to rely on them to pass on the traditions orally. Their authority, then, began with the oral tradition, or the Sacred Tradition.
The Bible first came together almost 400 years after Christ, but how did the Church survive until then? If we are to believe in Scripture alone, what Scripture did Christians follow for those first 400 years? They didn’t. They followed the oral traditions of the Church – the Sacred Tradition.
When the official canon of the Bible was finally brought together, it was by a council of men within the Church who were acting on their authority within Sacred Tradition. Without the Sacred Tradition of the Catholic Church, then, there would not be a canon of Scripture in the first place.
Finally, a part of believing in Sola Scriptura requires believing that the Bible is without error. Well, in the 16th century, Protestant leaders decided that parts of the canon should not be there. Does that mean that Christians were following a Bible with error for 1500 years? Who gave them the authority to make that decision?
We could go on and on about this topic, but I wanted to point out a few basic points because today’s verse so closely resembles the debate over Sola Scriptura. Listen, I followed Sola Scriptura for many years, ignoring these flaws, but if I want to be serious about my Christian faith, they must be addressed.
We cannot say that we follow Sacred Scripture, but then deny Sacred Tradition. Without the Sacred Tradition and the authority given to the Church, the Sacred Scriptures would not exist. If we say that we follow Sacred Scripture, then we must also follow Sacred Tradition. Together, they coexist to help form the foundation of our faith, each one standing as a pillar of truth.