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May 16, 2006 at 11:17 pm #1244
By Patrick Madrid
Book titled “Why is That in Tradition?”
Several years ago, I was engaged in a public debate with a Protestant minister. The event was held at a Protestant church before a mixed audience of Catholics and Protestants. At one point in the debate, during the cross-examination section, my Protestant opponent posed this question to me:
“Can you give me one example of a tradition that’s outside the Bible and is necessary for Christians?” He sat back with a smile, confident that I would not be able to answer his question.
“Yes, I can,” I said. “It’s right here.” At that I dropped my Bible on the table in front of him with a thump.
No one in the audience moved.
My opponent blinked, apparently unsure what to say in response.
I explained: “The canon of the New Testament is a tradition, a Catholic tradition, that you as a Protestant follow,” I continued, “The books that belong in the Bible, and in particular the New Testament, are part of Tradition. And you accept that Tradition and follow it, otherwise you would have no Bible ‚Äì you simple would have no way of knowing what the Bible is unless you accepted the Tradition of the canon.”
Then it was my turn to sit back with a smile.
My Protestant debate opponent was no longer smiling. And for good reason. He had been caught in his own trap. His aim had been to trap me into offering an example of Catholic Tradition, something such as “purgatory” or “Mary’s Immaculate Conception, “that he could easily dismiss as, at the very least, not essential for a Christian believer to hold. That’s what he expected me to offer as an example. What he didn’t expect was a example that he simple couldn’t argue with. And even though, for the next few minutes, he did attempt to talk his way out of a jam he was in, the audience, and I (and, most of all, himself, I think) realized with complete clarity that he had shot him-self in the foot with that question: “Can you give me one example of a tradition that’s outside the Bible and is necessary for Christians?”
The fact is, the canon of the New Testament is part of God’s revelation to the Church. But the revelation didn’t come to the Church in the pages of Scripture, the Written Word of God. Rather, this all-important information was gradually revealed by God to the Church completely outside of Scripture itself (after all, as I point out to non-Catholics, there is no “inspired table of contents” in the Bible telling us which books belong).
This revelation was preserved and faithfully taught by the Catholic Church, transmitted in its integrity fron one generation to the next. That’s why you and I have the same twenty-seven books in our copies of the New Testament from Matthew to Revelation— that our Protestant, Mormon, and Jehovah’s Witness friends have in theirs. They have these books in their Bibles because, like it or not, whether they are aware of it or not (very few of them are aware of it), they are accepting and adhering to a Catholic Tradition. And that’s what made the question my debate opponent leveled at me so powerful. He was forced to see— in front of a large audience of Catholics and Protestants, no less— the reality of Catholic Tradition. He didn’t admit that he recognized this fact, but everyone in the room did, and it was evident that he did too, It was a powerful moment.May 16, 2006 at 11:28 pm #6165
I have that book.
While it is useful in its way (explaining where certain beliefs are found in Sacred Tradition), it was not what I was looking for from a book entitled “[b:iesscph4]WHY[/b:iesscph4] is that in Tradition?”May 16, 2006 at 11:38 pm #6166
I have a few Protestant relatives and every time religion comes up they say the Catholic Church believes to much in Tradition,I happen to get this book last night was I was at are adoration chapel.What book would be good to explain Catholic Tradition?May 17, 2006 at 5:02 am #6168
Actually, Madrid makes a Biblical case for Tradition in the first part of the book.
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