The Bible was not put under one cover until the Councils of Hippo (393) and 3rd Council of Carthage (397) accepted the official list of books. Not for over 1000 years after these early Councils was the printing press invented (~1450), so Bible manuscripts were quite rare and costly before the printing press came about. Between 397 and 1450 then, how did most people learn about the contents of Scripture, and who was the authoritative figure for the early Church during these centuries? The authority clearly could not have been the Bible, but clearly was the Church Herself who preached it to the faithful. So how can Scripture have been our only guide for the centuries before copies of the Bible were readily available, and were the people who lived during those centuries all damned because they did not have access to Scripture?
Consider this verse from Scripture: “Many other signs also did Jesus in the sight of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God: and that believing, you may have life in his name” John 20:30-31. What else does this tell us than Jesus did and said other things that were not recorded in Scripture? Are we really to think that anything Jesus did or said that didn’t make it into the books of Scripture are false or should not be adhered to?
Consider the verse, “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” John 21:25. Clearly there are many things Jesus said and did that were passed on as tradition (by word of mouth) and did not make it into the books of Scripture.Nowhere in Scripture do we see references to Jesus writing anything down during His public life, nor does Scripture show that He ever asked His Apostles to write down what He was teaching either. We can see only Peter, Paul, James, John Jude, Matthew, Mark and Luke wrote parts of what Our Lord taught, the others did not write anything as far as is recorded. If Scripture were the ONLY resource we should have for our salvation, surely Jesus and His Apostles would have written constantly, but they did not. Instead Scripture shows that the Apostles TAUGHT as they were instructed by Our Lord: “Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” Matt 28:19. So while Scripture is essential, tradition is also essential. Nowhere in Scripture does it say Scripture alone should be accepted as revelation, and it certainly does not say we should condemn Apostolic tradition. Look all through the Gospels and you will see nothing spoken against tradition except for traditions which are human or against Scripture. Why do the Protestant reformers add this to Our Lord’s words? It is forbidden to add anything to Scripture, as it is to take anything away from it. Why do the Protestant reformers also take away the traditions which are expressly authorized?
Consider the verse, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle.” 2 Thessalonians 2:14. What else does this tell us than the Apostles spread the word of God not only through Epistles, but also by WORD, and that we should hold to the traditions which we are taught? Any unwritten Apostolic doctrine we call Tradition.
Consider the verse, “If any man be hungry, let him eat at home; that you come not together unto judgment. And the rest I will set in order, when I come.” 1 Corinthians 11:34. This clearly shows St. Paul writing important words to the Corinthians, then stating he will “set the rest in order” when he comes, yet we do not have writing about them elsewhere. What he said then, will it be lost to the Church? No, it has come down through tradition.
Consider the verse, “Having more things to write unto you, I would not by paper and ink: for I hope that I shall be with you, and speak face to face: that your joy may be full.” 2 John 1:12. St. John had something worthy of being written yet he chose to speak instead. Instead of Scripture, he has made tradition.
Consider the verse, “Hold the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me in faith, and in the love which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 1:13. This is clearly St. Paul recommending to St. Timothy an unwritten Apostolic word. This is tradition! Also consider the verse, “And the things which thou hast heard of me by many witnesses, the same commend to faithful men, who shall be fit to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2. What is this but the Apostle speaking, the witnesses relating, and St. Timothy teaching, followed by these teaching others? This is clearly tradition.
Consider the verse, “I have yet many things to say to you: but you cannot bear them now” John 16:12. When did He say these things which He had to say? Was it all written? It is also said that He was forty days with them teaching them of the Kingdom of God, but we have neither all of His apparitions nor everything He told them during that time.
Consider the verses, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” Matthew 28:20, and “He that heareth you, heareth me” Luke 10:16, etc. This clearly shows the Apostles teaching is true revelation.
God Bless BJS!!