We were quoting in our preceding article from the book of “Radio Replies” by the Rev. Dr. Leslie Rumble in which Dr. Rumble sets forth the Roman Catholic position on “Tradition.” We will now continue with these quotations.
519. It seems to me that Catholics are guided by their Church, and not by the Bible.
And the answer of Dr. Rumble to this observation is as follows: “You cannot separate the two like that. It is true that Catholics are guided by what their Church teaches. It would not be true to say or imagine that they are not guided by the Bible; for all that is taught in the Bible is included in the teaching of the Catholic Church. Any notion that there is opposition between the teachings of the Catholic Church and the Bible is due to either a wrong idea of Catholic teaching, or of the meaning of the Sacred Scriptures.”
520. To my mind the Bible is a sufficient guide, without the need of anything else.
You would not have the Bible save for the Catholic Church. Also, not all that God has revealed is contained in the Bible. And yet more, the Bible cannot be a sufficient guide when it requires another guide to explain its meaning. Remember that the first Christians owed their faith, not to the Gospels, but to the Church. The divine authority of the Church was the first fact as far as men were concerned in the order of proof. Before a line of the New Testament was written it was the Church that preached Christ to the first converts. Jesus commanded no writings, but told the Apostles to preach the truth, saying, “Teach all nations.” And He promised them, “He who hears you, hears Me.” The Apostles had to win belief in themselves and in their mission before they could win belief in their Master. It was on their testimony that the first converts believed in Christ. Had you lived then, and had you gone to one of the Apostles demanding proof from the written Word, he would have been quite unable to provide proof from Gospels which had not yet been written! He would have said to you, “Such is the unanimous teaching of the Apostles as we have received it from Christ.” And either you would have accepted the teaching authority of the Church represented by the Apostles, or you would have been without the Christian faith.
The above paragraph is the answer of Dr. Rumble. First of all, Dr. Rumble again affirms in this answer that not all that God has revealed is in the Bible. The Bible is not in itself sufficient. But, what must we do with this word of Scripture, as recorded in Revelation 22:18: “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book”? One might object that these words apply only to the Book of Revelation. What of it? Has the Roman Catholic Church also added to this book of Revelation in its Tradition? And, secondly, this answer is pure sophistry and evasive. Rome places equal authority in Tradition besides the Scriptures. But, these traditions are to some extent, based on the memory of men who remembered the sayings of Christ and of the Apostles. Now it is true that Christ did not dictate any of His sayings. It is also true that the faith of the Church in its New Testament infancy was dependent upon the word of the Apostles, that they did not have the Gospels as yet. But does this mean that these Apostles had to win belief in themselves and in their mission before they could win belief in their Master? Of course not! Because Christ did not dictate His sayings to men He inspired holy men, such as the apostles, to proclaim His word. And the apostles wert fully aware of this element of Divine inspiration. Because Christ would not leave His word simply to the memory of men He therefore inspired holy men to write His Word. And this is a far cry from the Roman Catholic doctrine of Tradition.
521. But we do possess the Gospels now, and we cannot go against them.
Of course, granted our possession of the New Testament, we must accept all that is written there in the sense intended by God, and nothing which contradicts that sense. But the New Testament contains only part of the Christian message to the world. There are doctrines over and above those contained in the written fragmentary books of the New Testament. And for such doctrines we must rely upon the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church-traditions preserved from the very beginning.
522. Are words of Christ extant other than found in the New Testament?
No. We have no other records of the exact words of Christ save those contained in the New Testament. (So, Dr. Rumble acknowledges that there are no other words of Christ extant [publicly known] save those found in the New Testament. The New Testament is the only exact record of the words of Christ.—H.V.)
523. Does the Catholic Church recognize any instruments not found within its Bible, with the degree of solemnity as if they were?
Besides the Bible, the Catholic Church recognizes the divinely safeguarded tradition which has been preserved and transmitted in the Church. You must remember that Christ Himself established tradition as the main vehicle by which His teachings would be preserved in the Church and communicated to men. He did not expressly order any gospels to be written. He demanded faith in His doctrines as they were preached by word of mouth. Before the New Testament was written, the only rule of faith was the oral teaching of the Apostles. Later on, part of the knowledge possessed by the Apostles was committed to writing, but part only. Not all revealed truth was written down. The divine teaching has been preserved and handed down completely in the Catholic Church, both by that section written in the New Testament, and by that section of revealed truth which was not committed to writing, but which is declared by the living voice of the Church. For example, which Books of Scripture are canonical, the very inspiration of those Books. the teachings on infant baptism, or on the matter and form of the Sacraments, and many other things, are known to us by the traditional and living voice of the Church only. But, as I have pointed out, Christ intended that, for He did not order anything to be written, but established His Church and sent it to teach all nations what He had revealed, and its applications in practice. (In connection with this answer of Dr. Rumble, one might ask the question: why were not all the teachings of the Apostles written down in the New Testament? Christ did not order any gospels to be written. So, what determined the Scriptures, Christ or His Church?—H.V.)
524. Why do you rely so much on the testimony of those whom you call the “Early Fathers”?
Because they were men of undoubted learning and holiness, and lived in times much nearer to the days of the Apostles than ourselves. Being men of learning, they knew the truly Christian outlook prevailing during the years immediately prior to their own age, and throughout the whole Church during their lifetime. Being men of great holiness, their integrity in setting down the truth is above suspicion. And being in close proximity to the days of the Apostles themselves, they were ever so much better fitted than ourselves to judge the nature of Christianity as first given to humanity. Above all are the early Fathers worthy of credence when their independent writings are unanimous in declaring the teachings and practices of early Christianity. Any later teachings which will not harmonize with their verdict would obviously be a corruption of the Christian religion.
The above paragraph of Dr. Rumble is surely not sustained by the facts. It is certainly not to be accepted as true that, because these Fathers lived so early in this New Dispensation, they were therefore so thoroughly acquainted with the teachings of, the Apostles. They certainly wrote things which cannot be supported by the Word of God. Besides, it is surely not true that the present day doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church are completely in accord with the writings and sayings of these early Church Fathers. Notice, too, how these early Fathers, according to Rome, have equal authority with the Apostles, inasmuch as Tradition is equal with the Scriptures.
525. If the New Testament is not the supreme authority for Catholics, why do you use it alone on many occasions to prove your contentions?
When I say that the New Testament is not the supreme authority, I am referring to it, not in itself, but as a source of doctrine to various individuals. As the Word of God, it possesses supreme authority in its right sense. But as individual readers are quite liable to get the wrong sense, they must be guided by the authority of the teaching Church if they desire certainty as to what the New Testament means. The authority of the Church is not above that of Scripture; but it is above that bf the individual judgment as to what Scripture means. Since the New Testament is of supreme authority in itself and in its right sense, I am justified in using it as proof. Then, too, when I am talking to people who profess to accept Scripture only, I am quite justified in showing that what they think to be in Scripture is not there; and also in showing them that many things are there to which they have never adverted. There is a difference between admitting that Scripture is the only authority; and making use of the only authority other people will accept.
The sentiments of the above paragraph of Dr. Rumble are plain. Indeed, the Scriptures possess supreme authority. But it possesses this supreme authority only in its right sense. That is, it possesses this supreme authority only if understood rightly. And the Church is the only body (in the final analysis the pope) that is able to interpret this Word of God, and it is the only body that can therefore tell the individual believer what that Word teaches and what he may believe. But this surely does not give due consideration to what we read in I John 2:27: “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.”
526. Do you ask us to believe in a Church which will perish rather than in the Word of God which will endure forever?
No, we ask you to continue to believe in the Word of God, but completely; and therefore to believe in a Church that will not perish. For, according to the Word of God. Christ said, “I will build My Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” You must therefore believe in that imperishable Church; and the Catholic Church alone can be that Church. (Indeed, that Church will exist forever, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. But, this, Church that will last forever is not simply the Romish Church inasmuch as it is founded upon the apostle Peter, to whom then have been, given the keys of the Kingdom, but it is that body of Christ that is founded upon the wonderful confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.—H.V.)