The issue of Tradition is a big one for those looking at Catholicism. What do we Catholics mean by ‘tradition’ and how does it relate to Scripture? For a Christian, isn’t inspired Scripture enough?
Of course, Catholics accept scripture as the inspired and authoritative Word of God. But the apostles didn’t just write. Mainly, they taught by word and example, and St Paul commanded the early Christians to “hold fast” to everything they’d received from him, “whether by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thessalonians 2:15).
What we believe is that everything the apostles taught was committed to their successors the bishops and has been preserved within the Church by the Holy Spirit until our time. As Vatican II said, “the Church, in her doctrine, life, and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes”. Because of this, for Catholics, it isn’t Scripture or Tradition but Scripture and Tradition, treasured and passed down to us within Christ’s one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church.
Hear Our Stories
Here are a collection of testimonies from converts for whom the understanding of Scripture and Tradition was part of their conversions to the Catholic Church.
“Jesus Christ is bigger than anything you’re going to bring to the table.”
Brother Martin Davis, O.P.
“I wasn’t going to follow anyone who didn’t love the Scriptures.”
Searching for Authority
Continuity of the Church
There are so many great resources available for learning about the Catholic view of Scripture and Tradition. Here are some of our favorites.
Recommended Articles & Documents
Recommended Article Series
How One Protestant Pastor Came to Abandon Sola Scriptura and Embrace the Catholic View of Scripture and Tradition
The Bible Alone?
edited by Marcus Grodi
The Bible Alone? presents a competing look at the biblical roots, historical precedent, and logic behind using only the Bible as an infallible source of truth. This book affirms the importance of Scripture as a divinely given foundation for our faith and also encourages the reader to consider the need for an authority established by Christ for its trustworthy interpretation.
100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura
by Dave Armstrong
When Dave Armstrong was an Evangelical, he professed and preached the notion that the Bible is the only infallible, authoritative source of Christian faith and practice. In this book he contrasts the Protestant’s “Bible alone” concept of authority with the Catholic “three-legged stool” of Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the magisterium and shows that only the Catholic understanding fully harmonizes with the Bible’s teachings on authority and provides a guide by which Christians can distinguish God’s revealed truths from the false traditions of men.
By What Authority? An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition
by Mark Shea
This is a great “first book” to read on this subject of Scripture and Tradition. In it apologist Mark Shea tells the story of his conversion from Evangelicalism to Catholicism, focusing precisely on the question of how we can know what we are to believe as Christians. Is it scripture alone? Or is the tradition of the also required?
Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger
by Gary Michuta
Did the Catholic Church add books to Scripture or did Protestantism remove them? What was the bible of the earliest Christians? In this fascinating book, Gary Michuta takes the reader on a journey through history to find out what happened to these books of Scripture. He traces the path of the Deuterocanon (apocrypha) from its pre-Christian roots through the Protestant Reformation to the nineteenth century and definitively settles the question of whether the Council of Trent added books to Scripture in reaction to Protestantism.
Where We Got the Bible
by Henry Graham
In this remarkably powerful little book, Bishop Henry Graham explains how the Catholic Church compiled the sacred text, how medieval monks preserved it, and how Catholic scholars gave Christians the Bible in their own languages. Along the way, he refutes myths about Catholic opposition to Scripture. This is a must read.
Not by Scripture Alone
by Robert Sungenis
This is a comprehensive — nearly encyclopedic! — treatment of the subject. From scripture and Church history the author critiques the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura (scripture alone) and presents a thorough defense of the Catholic view of scripture and tradition.
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