Korban & Sola Scriptura

by Jimmy Akin

in Bible

A reader writes:

Dear Sir,

What is the Korban Rule, and why does James White make such a big deal about it when he speaks of sola scriptura?

 

A korban (or, more properly, qurban) was an offering made to God and thus consecrated. There were a wide variety of these in the Old Testament.

By the first century, a custom had arisen among Pharisees whereby sons would circumvent their obligation to care for their parents’ financial needs by consecrating to God the financial support that their parents otherwise would have received.

This came up in Mark chapter 7 when some Pharisees attacked the fact that Jesus’ disciples at with unwashed hands, contrary to the tradition of the Jewish elders.

Their having made tradition an issue, Jesus turned the subject around on them by pointing to their own misuse of tradition, and he cited the korban custom just mentioned, stating that it violated the Ten Commandments, which require us to honor our parents and, by implication, support them in their old age so that they do not become financially destitude (which was the fate of almost anybody back then whose children didn’t care for them once they could no longer work).

He therefore concluded that they were "making void the word of God through your tradition" (Mark 7:13) and stated "You leave the commandment of God, and hold  fast the tradition of men" (Mark 7:8).

I haven’t read or heard specifically what James White may have been doing with this passage, but it is a staple of Protestant anti-Catholic apologetics.

The reason is that in this passage Jesus sets the korban tradition in opposition to the word of God and this is frequently taken as an indicator that all tradition is opposed to the word of God or that there is a fundamental opposition between tradition and Scripture.

It is thus common to hear Protestant ministers and apologists waxing eloquent on this passage–and even getting emotionally worked up from the pulpit or behind the microphone about how horrible a thing it is to set tradition above the word of God–and how we must therefore cling to the precious principle of sola scriptura or "by Scripture only."

The problem, of course, is that this argument commits the logical fallacy of hasty generalization.

The fact that in this passage Jesus says that particular aspects of Pharisaical tradition are contrary to God’s word does not mean that all traditions are contrary to God’s word. Nor does it say that we must use Scripture only and not Tradition. The fact that one tradition or one set of traditions must be excluded does not mean that all traditions must be excluded.

This conclusion is made even more clear when one realizes that the New Testament praises other traditions, which are in harmony with God’s word.

Thus Paul tells the Corinthians, "I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you" (1 Cor. 11:2), and he commands the Thessalonians, "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter" (2 Thess. 2:15). He even goes so far as to order, "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us" (2 Thess. 3:6).

Paul also seeks to ensure that the apostolic traditions would be passed down after the deaths of the apostles, and he tells Timothy, "[W]hat you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Tim. 2:2). In this passage he refers to the first four generations of apostolic succession—his own generation, Timothy’s generation, the generation Timothy will teach, and the generation they in turn will teach.

So from the perspective of the New Testament, Pharisaical tradition was unreliable and could be contrary to the word of God (not that it always was), while apostolic Tradition was normative and binding for Christians.

By the way, you may have some difficulty making some of these points to a Protestant who is using the New International Version. That translation displays a prominent bit of translator bias when it comes to rendering the term for "tradition" in the Greek text (paradosis). Whenever the term is used in conjunction with Jewish traditions, it renders the word "tradition(s)", but when it is used in connection with apostolic tradition (as in the passages above), it mistranslates the word as "teaching(s)." The net effect is to make tradition sound bad by hiding the positive references to it and using the word in passages where it is subject to critique.

If you liked this post, you should join Jimmy's Secret Information Club to get more great info!


What is the Secret Information Club?I value your email privacy

{ 75 comments }

bill912 June 8, 2006 at 12:22 pm

St. Matthew makes a point about Tradition: “And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled. ‘He shall be called a Nazarene’.” Matt 2:23. That verse exists nowhere in the Old Testament; it must have existed in Jewish oral Tradition, yet St. Matthew quotes it as he would Isaiah or Jeremiah.

bill912 June 8, 2006 at 12:24 pm

I like what Marcus Grodi says: “Show me where it says in the Bible that I have to show you where it says in the Bible.”

John Henry June 8, 2006 at 12:38 pm

My question is: is there any reason to suppose that the “word of God” referenced by Jesus in the Mark passage (7:13) is necessarily only referring to the written word of God? Could it not also refer to the oral word of God, as is the case in certain other New Testament passages? If so, then Jesus is potentially contrasting human tradition and divine tradition, not necessarily human tradition and scripture. Anyone?

Bender June 8, 2006 at 12:55 pm

It amazes me that the same person who will insist on sola scriptura will then go on to give their own interpretation of and exposition on that scripture. If you believe in “only scripture,” it is rather odd that you should go above and beyond it by your own take on it rather than letting it speak for itself. It further amazes me that they will place their own contemporary interpretation of scripture (thereby reinventing the wheel) over and above that understanding of divine revelation that has guided the Church for 2,000 years (aka Tradition).
The fact is that nobody, aside from your most strict Muslim, believes wholly and completely in sola scriptura — everyone relies on some other authority or tradition to guide them in interpreting and applying that scripture, if only by relying on a translation (or a translation of a translation) of the original source material.

StubbleSpark June 8, 2006 at 1:59 pm

Ironic how the more you study Sola Scriptura, more unscriptural it becomes. I see now how ludicrous it has been that such a self-defeating principle could be the foundation of Protestantism for 500 years. The only way this could have been perpetuated is through the Chewbaca defense: demonize the Church and no one will consider her foundation legitimate.
“This is the Inquisition! Why am I talking about the Inquisition? It DOESN’T MAKE SENSE!”
In one of Protestants’ favorite passages where Jesus upbraids the Pharisees, he actually speaks in FAVOR of following traditions:
Matt 23:3 Christ exhorts his followers to obey the teaching authority of the Seat of Moses (despite their bad example).
And in v 23, he says: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: THESE OUGHT YE TO HAVE DONE, and not to leave the other undone.”
Ladies and gentlemen, witness Christ the “legalistic” promoter of teaching authority.

Maureen June 8, 2006 at 2:50 pm

Yeah, but it doesn’t matter, because the apostolic tradition _is_ the oral Word of God, ne?

Pseudomodo June 8, 2006 at 2:52 pm

The New Testament is full of references to the Old Testament giving witness to who and what the Messiah would be. Matthew 2:23 says: “And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth; that it might be fulfilled by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene”. Nazareth is a place meaning ‘branch’.
The Old Testament predicts that the Messiah would be a shoot or sprout or branch of Jesse (Isaiah 11). There is only one Jesse in the Scriptures and he is the father of King David. Although the power of David’s lineage will be greatly reduced to its most humble descendents, God will raise up a sprout out of that humility.
Nazarene comes from the Hebrew word netser pronounced naytser, which means root or branch. It is found in the first verse of Isaiah:
“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:” (Isaiah 11:1)which means “netser”. In the Greek LXX (Septuagint or Old Testament Greek) version, the word for netser is anthos, which means “bloom or blossom”.

Anonymous June 8, 2006 at 3:25 pm

Netser (Hebrew word for Sprout) – Pronounced Nayt-ser
Nazoraios (Greek word for Nazarene) – Pronounced nad-zo-rah-yos
I dont see a really strong connection there.

BillyHW June 8, 2006 at 3:26 pm

The problem, of course, is that this argument commits the logical fallacy of hasty generalization.
The fact that in this passage Jesus says that particular aspects of Pharisaical tradition are contrary to God’s word does not mean that all traditions are contrary to God’s word.
Isn’t it funny then that Protestants use the Old Testament canon of the Pharisaical tradition?

BillyHW June 8, 2006 at 3:29 pm

The fact is that nobody, aside from your most strict Muslim, believes wholly and completely in sola scriptura — everyone relies on some other authority or tradition to guide them in interpreting and applying that scripture, if only by relying on a translation (or a translation of a translation) of the original source material.
I thought that most muslims held to the traditions of Mohammed contained in the Sunnah/Hadiths.
I’m pretty sure that those muslims that reject the Sunnah/Hadiths and go ‘Koran-only’ are considered heretical by most muslims.
Not sure though.

Jonathan Prejean June 8, 2006 at 3:40 pm

“Isn’t it funny then that Protestants use the Old Testament canon of the Pharisaical tradition?”
And that’s assuming that there was even such a thing as an “Old Testament canon” in the sense that Protestants mean it. That’s debatable, as in, for example:
http://department.monm.edu/classics/Speel_Festschrift/sundbergJr.htm

David B. June 8, 2006 at 3:44 pm

Speaking of Protestants and ‘Sola Scriptura’,
it strikes me as strange that so many protestants refused the Church’s authority to interpret the Bible and yet will march every sunday to their church to hear a man give them his own fallible ideas on the meaning of sacred scripture.

MrEko June 8, 2006 at 3:48 pm

DavidB.,
And those fallible men are making millions doing it.

Neil June 8, 2006 at 4:28 pm

*And those fallible men are making millions doing it.*
That’s not really true. Protestants do not become pastors to become millionaires; at least, your average Protestant pastor is not a megachurch pastor.

JeremiahBailey June 8, 2006 at 5:17 pm

Too bad in answering James White, Jimmy used the fallacy of oversimplification.

Anonymous June 8, 2006 at 5:30 pm

“Too bad in answering James White, Jimmy used the fallacy of oversimplification.”
Its too bad that guys like you have your head stuck up somewhere in your rear end.

Anonymous June 8, 2006 at 5:32 pm

“it strikes me as strange that so many protestants refused the Church’s authority to interpret the Bible and yet will march every sunday to their church to hear a man give them his own fallible ideas on the meaning of sacred scripture.”
To be fair to Protestants, most of them sincerely believe that their interpretation can be backed up by what they consider to be faithful exegesis, even if most of that exegesis is a little off the mark.

JeremiahBailey June 8, 2006 at 5:43 pm

“Its too bad that guys like you have your head stuck up somewhere in your rear end.”
Well, I see my point was missed. I was not attempting to insult jimmy akin as I have been a loyal reader of his for some time. In fact, I value his opinion very highly and have sent him questions regarding Roman Catholicism several times in the past. I dont think it was a fair cop. You on the other hand are just using rather rude and unnecessary language.

Tim J. June 8, 2006 at 6:45 pm

Don’t let the trolls get you down, Jeremiah.
They are generally gutless, anonymous, vacuous.
Ignore at will.
“That’s not really true. Protestants do not become pastors to become millionaires; at least, your average Protestant pastor is not a megachurch pastor.”
That’s true. Most pastors are sincere. Catholics don’t have a corner on that by any means.

MarieP June 8, 2006 at 7:43 pm

Dr. White has responded to your blog article:
Click here

Shane June 8, 2006 at 8:42 pm

Dr. White raises in his response the very question I was going to ask. The Mishnah was regarded as having been given by God, yet Jesus seems to have condemned items from it. What sort of response is there to this? I’ve been wishing for this for a very long time and seen nothing.
(I’ve also been hoping Jimmy would debate Dr. White again for some time on Sola Scriptura or Sola Fide ;) )

Anonymous June 8, 2006 at 9:07 pm

bill912 said:
“St. Matthew makes a point about Tradition: ‘And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled. ‘He shall be called a Nazarene’. Matt 2:23. That verse exists nowhere in the Old Testament; it must have existed in Jewish oral Tradition, yet St. Matthew quotes it as he would Isaiah or Jeremiah.”
But Matthew uses “prophets” plural, not the usual singular. The argument you make presumes that Rome is correct. Could it be that Matthew is drawing from multiple prophecies? Remember that the people of that time and culture paraphrased more looselty than we do today.
Even your own NAB version says this as a footnote:
“The vague expression ‘through the prophets’ may be due to Matthew’s seeing a connection between Nazareth and certain texts in which there are words with a remote similarity to the name of that town. Some such Old Testament texts are Isaiah 11:1 where the Davidic king of the future is called “a bud” (neser) that shall blossom from the roots of Jesse, and Judges 13:5, 7 where Samson, the future deliverer of Israel from the Philistines, is called one who shall be consecrated (a nazir) to God.”
cited
It has nothing to do with Rome’s view of tradition.

bill912 June 8, 2006 at 9:29 pm

And your Authority for that convoluted interpretation of Scripture is what , o anonymous one?

bill912 June 8, 2006 at 9:35 pm

For that matter, cite for us on what Authority you believe that the books of the Bible are Divinely inspired.

bill912 June 8, 2006 at 9:38 pm

And on what Authority you believe that the books that are in the Bible–and no other books–belong in the Bible.

bill912 June 8, 2006 at 9:50 pm

On the O.T., one who was consecrated to God was called a “Nazirite”, not a “Nazarene”.

bill912 June 8, 2006 at 9:52 pm

Should be “In the O.T….”

Jimmy Akin June 8, 2006 at 10:26 pm

“Too bad in answering James White, Jimmy used the fallacy of oversimplification.”
Jeremiah, please read the post carefully. You’ll notice that I was *not* responding to James White.
I explicity said that I have not “read or heard specifically what James White may have been doing with this passage” and therefore I did not respond to what James White may have done with it.
Instead, I responded to how it is commonly used, but made no claims about whether James White so uses it.
I make a practice of not critiquing others’ arguments based on hearsay. If I’m going to critique someone’s arguments in particular, I want verified, verbatim quotations in front of me.

Shane June 8, 2006 at 10:56 pm

Jimmy, if possible I would like for you to respond to Dr. White’s (or the general) criticism of this answer regarding the inclusion of the Korban in the Mishnah. I know you don’t like to encourage the internet squabbles, but if it’s possible to do something concerning this it would be much appreicated. I do think it is one Protestant objection that simply hasn’t been answered by Catholics, and I think it’d mean a lotl.

JeremiahBailey June 9, 2006 at 12:55 am

Sorry if I was unclear Jimmy, I thought you were oversimplifying the issue as a whole, but my comments are unnecessary now that White has responded.

Steve June 9, 2006 at 5:49 am

“While Rome may claim divine authority for her supposedly sacred traditions, and even subjugate Scripture so as to make it a part of “Sacred Tradition,”… ”
Isn’t this a bit too Jack Chickish, even for James White? I haven’t listened to or read White as of late. Does he often resort to such dishonest tactics?

Dan E. June 9, 2006 at 6:01 am

Bill912 has hit the nail on the head (over and over again).
And frankly, I have never understood how those who preach sola scriptura can then proceed to offer to their congregants/readers an interpretation of scripture from their own view point. They say on one hand, “Scripture interprets itself. The Holy Spirit will guide you in arriving at the correct interpretation as you study the Bible.” Then they will turn around and say, “Thanks for coming to our worship service today. Let me tell you what is meant by that Bible passage we just read.” Which is it? If the Holy Spirit will grant me the ability to correctly interpret Sacred Scripture, why do I need James White, Hank Hannegraf or Benny Hinn to interpret it for me? (cf. 2 Peter 1:20)

bill912 June 9, 2006 at 6:09 am

Thanks, Dan. Just say a prayer for me that I lessen the times I miss the nail and hit my thumb.

Anonymous June 9, 2006 at 6:48 am

I wish Gary Hoge’s Treatise on Sola Scriptura would come back online. It was hosted on catholicoutlook.com but the site’s been down for a long while.
It’s available on archive.org but you have to hunt through archive.org to get all the pages, searching for all six parts.
http://web.archive.org/web/20030413214453/http://catholicoutlook.com/sola1.html
Search for http://catholicoutlook.com/sola5.html there, for example, if you want the fifth page of it… for the sixth page search for ….sola6.html and so forth.

ELC June 9, 2006 at 6:55 am
John Henry June 9, 2006 at 9:40 am

I read James White’s thing…wow…pompous. But besides that, I don’t understand what’s so hard. So, the Pharasees believed their tradition to be of divine origin. Jesus accuses them of having thereby gutted a divine precept as set forth in the Old Testament scripture. So their tradition was not of divine origin, after all. OK. Does JW think we are unaware that all that claims to be of divine origin is not necessarily so? Well, newsflash…we do. The question becomes, how do we differentiate between divine and human traditions, both categories which we know exist from scripture itself?
JW’s argument runs that Jesus used only scripture, and therefore that is all that is left open to us. Fantastic. Except Jesus ain’t here to give us the right interpretation of scripture, by which we are supposed to judge the tradition. (That there are multiple interpretations of scripture need not be seriously defended.) What, I’m just supposed to take JW’s word that his interpretation is the right one? Gee, do you think his interpretation of scripture might conflict with (Roman) Catholic tradition?
Not having Jesus around to accurately interpret scripture for me, I am left to cast around for some other authority. To whom should I turn? JW? Or maybe the Church that has an unbroken succession from the apostles, that was around 1500 years before his church was pooping its diapers?
I will pray that JW will one day have the courage to measure his human traditions (e.g., sola scriptura) by the light of the fullness of the word of God, both oral and written.

bill912 June 9, 2006 at 10:28 am

Several times, St. John reports that Jesus went to the Temple for the feast of the Dedication(Hannukah). This feast is not mentioned in the biblical books that Sola Scripturists believe are inspired. It is mentioned in one of the Books of Maccabees. Now, if Sola Scriptura is a Divine doctrine, then, logically, the Sola Scripturists should believe that the Books of Maccabees were Divinely inspired. But then they would have to believe in Purgatory, too.

John Henry June 9, 2006 at 11:19 am

I guess another way of saying what I previously said is:
In the story of Mark 7, the deal clincher isn’t that Jesus quoted scripture to the Pharisees, thereby ending all debate about the legitimacy of their traditions. The clincher is that Jesus was a legitimate authority to interpret the scripture as being incompatible with the Korban rule. The Pharisees, while completely acknowledging the validity of the scripture, had obviously interpreted it differently. And they did not regard Jesus as a legitimate authority. Consequently, they were not convinced by him. Again, not because they didn’t believe the scripture, but because they didn’t believe Jesus. We Christians obviously have a different view of his authority.
Bottom line: writings and traditions are *not* authorities. People are. Jesus being the highest. James White ranking no higher than the rest of us. But *who* (not what) has Jesus left on earth to be that authority in his stead?

stuart June 9, 2006 at 3:04 pm

Okay, let me get this right in my head…
the body of Scripture is a tradition;
the content chosen to be in Scripture is a tradition;
those who chose the content were following a tradition (of choosing scriptures);
the Scriptures chosen were handed down by tradition before being chosen;
the Scriptures chosen were handed down by tradition after being chosen;
those in authority to choose the Scriptures chosen were in authority by tradition;
none of the Scriptures demanded in their texts that they must be handed down (to my knowledge);
any interpretation of Scripture or any other source swiftly becomes tradition;
the authority which chose Scripture content surely has the authority to interpret it;
the authority which chose the Scripture content still exists in an easily recognisable manner today.
Thus, surely tradition and scripture must exist hand-in-hand, endless divergences of micro-tradition leading to new churches is not good fruit and I am leaving myself open to the fallacy of oversimplification – go on label me!
But what is the justification for the idea of Sola Scriptura? Scripture on its own cannot justify itself as this is tautological. The ‘Gospel’ of Judas tried that recently and didn’t get anywhere.

cool guy June 9, 2006 at 3:47 pm

Here’s a good example of James White’s poor logic:
“He [Jesus] was teaching us to examine all traditions, even those that men claim to be divine, by Scripture. This completely refutes the Roman Catholic argument about “some traditions, but not all.”
Doesn’t the very concept of examining all traditions, discerning whether they agree with the bible, etc., imply that some traditions may agree with the bible and some may not? Hence there is no *inherent* problem with tradition, but only tradition that contradicts the scriptures. Being a Catholic, I happen to believe that the Tradition (capital “T”) of the Catholic Church is apostolic. I also happen to believe that scripture alone is not the exclusive source of divine revelation. I also believe that Catholic Tradition does not contradict sacred Scripture. If I did, I would not be a Catholic.
The fact that we must discern traditions does not entail Sola Scriptura. It primarily entails checking to see whether divine revelation is self-consistent (as you might do with the bible itself, against certain critical-historical methods), and only secondarily does it entail vindicating the Catholic position of tradition/scripture.

Anonymous June 9, 2006 at 7:35 pm

Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” For God said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,’ and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH. “But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,” he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’”
The tradition itself was good -dedicating something to God- yet it was used as a pretense to circumvent the command of God for selfish motives. James White would have to make this case against Catholicism for his arguement to work.

Anonymous June 9, 2006 at 7:40 pm

Oh sorry Dr. White. I should have asked for your permission to use your capitalized translation of scripture.

Adam D June 9, 2006 at 8:03 pm

Bottom line: writings and traditions are *not* authorities. People are. Jesus being the highest. James White ranking no higher than the rest of us. But *who* (not what) has Jesus left on earth to be that authority in his stead?
John Henry, that’s quite an interesting bit of apologetics there.

JeremiahBailey June 9, 2006 at 8:23 pm

In response to Stuart:
Sola Scriptura is the normative condition of the Church. Scripture is the only thing we can be sure is the word of God. That is White’s position and he has gone into detail about so I will refrain from doing so here.

bill912 June 9, 2006 at 8:28 pm

“Scripture is the only thing we can be sure is the word of God.”
JeremiahBailey: Please look at the above quetions I asked our anonymous poster last night, especially the second and third.

Shane June 9, 2006 at 8:29 pm

In response to Jeremiah – it says that nowhere in the Scriptures.

Cramdon June 9, 2006 at 9:25 pm

Another vital passage that deals with the doctrine of sola scriptura is found in Matthew 15:1-9:
Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” For God said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,’ and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH. “But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,” he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’”
So who has been put to death for speaking evil of father or mother? I noticed that these particular words were capitalized by Mr. White. Did Jesus believe that children who spoke evil of their parents should be killed?

stuart June 10, 2006 at 3:32 am

Jeremiah, stop trying to duck out after putting in your tuppence worth. Neither you nor White seem to be looking at Scriptura Sola objectively enough.
How can you be sure “Scripture is the only thing we can be sure is the word of God”? Can you vouch for the fact that you received the whole of Scripture (let’s call it the abridged 66 book version) on stone tablets (or other format) directly from God (in any of the 3 persons of the trinity), perhaps on top of a mountain?..
If you cannot, then the Scriptures were handed down by tradition by an authority. An authority that vouches for them to be chosen Scripture. And this tradition has been maintained since the early Church Councils. People, the Church, chose them under the direction of the Holy Spirit.
If you limit yourself to Scriptura Sola then there is no development of the Church and its understanding and love of God. You remain solely in the Early Church era. Albeit not a bad era to be in, but why allow the Church to develop for a few centuries then slam on the brakes?
After all, “The Synod of Carthage used three criteria in recognizing books as part of the New Testament canon:
1. Was the book prepared by an apostle or under the direction of an apostle? (Ephesians 2:20; John 16:13).
2. Was the book used and recognized by the churches? (John 10:4).
3. Did the book teach sound doctrine as compared with books that were already accepted as Scripture? (1 Corinthians 14:29). (http://www.new-life.net/faq000.htm)
So the authority to choose the Canon came from trusted tests of its source and fruits. Trusted tests come from experience which comes from teaching which comes from tradition.
Sola Scriptura is a fine tradition in some circles.

John Henry June 10, 2006 at 5:00 am

John Henry, that’s quite an interesting bit of apologetics there.
Not sure if that is a compliment or not :) But either way, I take no credit for being original. I got it from somewhere along the way, but I have no idea where.

Tom H June 10, 2006 at 1:05 pm

I think White’s point is being missed here. I’m Roman Catholic as well, and yes White can be a pill. However, he makes a clear (at least to me) point that I never hear responded to by Catholic circles: If the korban rules were seen as of divine origin by those that “sit on Moses’ seat” and yet these traditions were shot down by Jesus for “making void the Word of God”, in what way can Catholic Tradition not be shot down just the same….and since the only standard Jesus used to determine something’s worth was scripture why can’t Christians do the same?
I too would like to see a response to this. And I’ve been reading Jimmy Akin for years and know he is a great brother in the faith…but how could White’s (other Prots) arguements on this issue go unanswered for so long…I mean Jimmy is in the biggest Catholic Apologetics org in the world??

David B. June 10, 2006 at 1:23 pm

Tom,
Because the Scriptures are full of illusions to the Catholic faith. for instance, Jesus telling Peter he was the rock upon which Jesus would build His Church, not church(es), clearing showing that the Catholic Tradition, the one which gathered together the books of the Bible which all christians use, is blessed by God.

Adam D June 10, 2006 at 1:51 pm

John Henry, it’s totally a compliment. I liked both your posts. Even if it’s a borrowed idea, you wrote them succinctly and well and it strikes me as the perfect tact for rebutting White’s point.

Tom H June 10, 2006 at 1:55 pm

Dave,
Don’t mean to quibble but that amounts to an argument from authority and not an answer to White’s specific objection. Realize that I’m on the same page with you. Pretty well versed in apologetics and certainly grounded in my faith. I’m not looking so much for “that miraculous answer to White’s brilliant exegesis” but merely asking that it be addressed in specifics.

Jimmy Akin June 10, 2006 at 2:35 pm

A response will be forthcoming on Monday.

David B. June 10, 2006 at 4:08 pm

Tom,
I know you and I are ‘on the same page’.
I was attempting to give a short counter-point to White’s argument.
P.S. please don’t call me Dave. My friends call me Dave and I HATE IT!!!! :-)

Tom H June 10, 2006 at 5:57 pm

David,
LOL. No problem. “Dave” no longer. I hate being “Tommy’d” myself. Thanks for writing…please don’t think I didn’t apreciate your response, only that I was interested in something point-for-point from Jimmy or CA. Take care and God bless!

Paul Hoffer June 10, 2006 at 6:38 pm

Tom H. wrote:
“If the korban rules were seen as of divine origin by those that “sit on Moses’ seat” and yet these traditions were shot down by Jesus for “making void the Word of God”, in what way can Catholic Tradition not be shot down just the same….and since the only standard Jesus used to determine something’s worth was scripture why can’t Christians do the same?”
My response would be that Jesus didn’t empower anyone after him to contradict Catholic Tradition. Catholic Tradition is based on the Church’s explicit authority given it by Jesus in Matt 16:18. A prime example of the early Church establishing Tradition is in Acts 15.
Jesus doesn’t condemn Tradition in Mark 7, he condemned the hypocritical use of it. We can not rationalize or excuse sinful behavior or the breaking of a commandment by saying I was just following the “law”. Jesus goes beyond the plain reading of that “law” or “tradition” as it was written in pharsaical commentaries or teachings of the time and required men to examine their consciences as to the reasons for following the Korban law. If the Pharisees had been following Korban law not because they loved God so much that they consecrated their goods to Him, they were using God as a ploy to circumvent their obligation to care for their parents’ financial needs. Paraphrasing G.K. Chesterson, just because we have the right to do something, doesn’t necessarily mean we are right in doing so. That’s what I believe Jesus was getting at.
I would also note that so far in my readings, I have never come across anything that suggests that the Pharisees considered their traditions to be the “Word of God” except blogs of certain protestant apologists when they are trying to trash the doctrine of Catholic Tradition.

Paul Hoffer June 10, 2006 at 6:46 pm

BTW, Mark 7 reminds me of an old lawyer joke. A dying miser made his doctor, accountant and lawyer each promise to dump a million dollars of the miser’s money into his grave rather than the money going to his heirs. The doctor and the accountant acceded to the miser’s request and each duly placed a suit case of the miser’s money into his grave after the funeral service. The lawyer wrote the miser a check for a million bucks and dropped that in instead.

Adam D June 10, 2006 at 8:05 pm

Jimmy says A response will be forthcoming on Monday.
that’s exciting! Jimmy’s real good at it, but I’ll say some prayers anyhow for the discussion to remain civil … so many internet debates with (and just surrounding) James White seem to get so very heated and downright weird. Hopefully, not this one.

Venerable Aussie June 10, 2006 at 8:23 pm

From James White’s response:
“Jesus specifically subjugated it to Scripture, hence, to follow His lead, we, too, would have to test all traditions by the higher standard of Scripture.”
On White’s logic, we should follow Jesus’ lead and subject every tradition today to the Scriptures Jesus used: The OLD TESTAMENT only.
So what James White is arguing for is Sola OT Scriptura.
Interesting.

John Henry June 11, 2006 at 7:38 am

If the korban rules were seen as of divine origin by those that “sit on Moses’ seat” and yet these traditions were shot down by Jesus for “making void the Word of God”, in what way can Catholic Tradition not be shot down just the same….and since the only standard Jesus used to determine something’s worth was scripture why can’t Christians do the same?
That’s precisely the point I tried, maybe unsuccessfully, to rebut further up the thread.
The Pharisees thought their traditions were of divine origin. So do Catholics. Jesus begged to differ on the point of the Korban rule. Ergo, the traditions that the Pharisees thought were divine turned out not to be. Thus, we learn that all traditions need to be scrutinized to ensure that they are of divine origin, which is to say in the case of Catholics, of apostolic origin.
The question arises: how to determine whether the tradition is of divine origin or not. Looking at the story in Mark, it would appear that the means used by Jesus would be by reference to scripture. Are we then left an example that all traditions need to be verified by reference to only scripture?
If all we need is scripture, then surely we mean that all traditions must be judged by *rightly interpreted* scripture. A false interpretation of scripture would not get us any closer to a demonstration of whether the traditon is of apostolic origin. In the story in Mark 7, Jesus is the one doing the interpreting. Ergo, he must have the right interpretation of the scriptural commandment, and thus his rebuke based on scripture stands. In our situation though, we don’t have Jesus standing next to us with our open bibles. We only have other fallible human beings, including James White, Jimmy Akin, and you and me. Or *is* that all we have? Did Jesus really only leave us with a book and a bunch of fallible interpretations of that book? The answer, of course, is no. He left us “Peter and the apostles” and their successors. Only by the light of their Spirit-filled teaching can we know *with certainty* what the scriptures really mean.
What Mark 7 really shows us is that what is needed to judge a tradition is the word of God (in this case, scripture) *and* an authoritative interpreter (in this case, Jesus). Thus now, we need the word of God and the magisterium. What’s the alternative? The word of God and James White et al.
This is not to mention the other insuperable problems with James Whites’ little “groundbreaking” theory. 1) If we take the Mark 7 story to be normative, then all Christian doctrine must be judged by the Old Testament. 2) If he wiggles his way out of that, his precious scriptures only come to him by way of Catholic tradition.

Jeff June 11, 2006 at 1:23 pm

” We only have other fallible human beings, including James White, Jimmy Akin, and you and me. Or *is* that all we have? Did Jesus really only leave us with a book and a bunch of fallible interpretations of that book? The answer, of course, is no. He left us “Peter and the apostles” and their successors. Only by the light of their Spirit-filled teaching can we know *with certainty* what the scriptures really mean.”
Hi,
I am curious, how many infallible interpretations of scripture has the Pope given? Where can one find these infallible interpretations? And how do we distinguish the infallible interpretaions from those of the Popes personal opinion and those opinions of all the other bishops?
Jeff

Dan E. June 11, 2006 at 2:26 pm

Jeff,
Yours is an important question; one that all Christians should ask and make an honest attempt to receive an answer to. The answer is far too long and the topic too indepth to write in a blog response, but I would recommend you begin with a study of the dogma of papal infallibility. Make sure to differentiate between an “ex-cathedra” declaration from a pope and an opinion offered by a pope or a bishop (although it would be wise to listen to an opinion offered by a pope concering scripture). Next, I would recommend you study the Church councils and their declarations regarding Sacred Scripture, specifically the Council of Trent. God be with you.

Dan E. June 11, 2006 at 2:37 pm

For those interested in an exhaustive Catholic apologetic on the topic of Scripture and Tradition, consider the book “Not by Scripture Alone” by Robert Sungenis. This book received the endorsement of Peter Kreeft and includes contributions from Patrick Madrid, Mark Shea, and Rev. Peter Stravinskas, among others. It’s a great read.

Anonymous June 11, 2006 at 7:04 pm

James White seems to have used the Korban issue in another sense as well (ie not just to show how Jesus holds it up and tests it against scripture).
In a debate with Patrick Madrid ( http://aomin.org/SANTRAN.html ) he uses it in the above sense, and then later in the same debate uses it to assert that the OT “church” was fallible yet still managed to come up with an infallible OT canon.
“Now that’s interesting, because, does that mean the Old Testament Church was infallible? That is the same Old Testament Church that taught the Korban rule, I think, yes, the same Old Testament Church. Oh, that’s the same Old Testament Church that rejected the Apocryphal books and never believed they were Scripture but you say that they are Scripture and place someone under the anathema that doesn’t believe those things. So I guess the Old Testament Church was fallible which means that you can have a fallible authority to tell you that something is Scripture, because it’s very plain that the Lord Jesus held everyone responsible for reading Scripture”
Madrid begins his rebuttal by saying that the only thing worse than beating a dead horse is beating the wrong dead horse!

Venerable Aussie June 11, 2006 at 7:06 pm

Sorry, didn’t mean to post anonymously. That last comment was mine.

Paul Hoffer June 11, 2006 at 8:11 pm

My problem with this whole thread is the assumption that the Pharisees believed that their traditions were divinely inspired. Before one could even compare Catholic Tradition with pharasaical traditions, it first needs to be established that the word “tradition” is equivalent in both contexts. Could someone cite to an accepted authority that demonstrates that the Pharisees considered their traditions to be divinely inspired?

Anonymous June 11, 2006 at 8:15 pm

Part of a larger critique I wrote:
This presents another problem, because it means that the same argument used against Sacred Tradition could be used against the Scriptures. As the Scriptures were copied and handed down from generation to generation over time, many variations crept into the manuscripts. Some extra words and phrases, words and phrases of men, were placed in the Scriptures and were regarded as the word of God. Dr. White would of course argue that this is different from the problem of Sacred Tradition in that these words can be tested by textual criticism, historical investigation, and so forth to determine what originally belonged in the text, whereas Sacred Tradition cannot be. The problem with this is that this makes the accuracy of the word of God rely upon fallible human methods and efforts. Another problem is that Sacred Tradition can be tested by such methods. Whereas textual criticism and historical investigation are able to ascertain, to certain degrees of accuracy, what words and verses were in the original autographs of the Scriptures, by studying the writings of the early Church fathers, the men who lived at the time of and knew the apostles, one is able to determine which traditions were contained in the original body of apostolic Tradition as taught by the apostles.
To counter this, it could be argued that when it comes to the Scriptures, it is possible to compare questionable verses with the rest of the Scriptures to see if they belong. However, this becomes a circular argument and a meaningless exercise because it requires the assumption that the Scriptures one is comparing something to are in fact of Divine origin themselves, even though they may also be false additions. This gets to the very heart of the biggest problem of Sola Scriptura, which is that without Sacred Tradition one cannot know which books belong in the canon of Scripture to begin with. (Dr. White has argued on more than one occasion that ‘God works with His people’ to reveal the proper canon, however one must wonder why it is, if Dr. White is correct, that He allowed the deuterocanonical books to make their way into Scripture for 1500 years when they in fact did not belong.)

Dave Smith June 11, 2006 at 8:25 pm

Tradition is often good, I have little to no argument there. However the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the hypercalvinists have traditions too. I think the Bereans had it right, “for they recieved the Word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these thing we so. Acts 17:11b I think all traditions should stand the test of being consistant with the Word of God. Tradition that doesn’t have some scriptural basis is very suspect.
Just my humble opinion
Shamgar,
shamgar_al@hotmail.com
I welcome your comments

JeremiahBailey June 11, 2006 at 8:57 pm

“James White seems to have used the Korban issue in another sense as well (ie not just to show how Jesus holds it up and tests it against scripture).
In a debate with Patrick Madrid ( http://aomin.org/SANTRAN.html ) he uses it in the above sense, and then later in the same debate uses it to assert that the OT “church” was fallible yet still managed to come up with an infallible OT canon.
“Now that’s interesting, because, does that mean the Old Testament Church was infallible? That is the same Old Testament Church that taught the Korban rule, I think, yes, the same Old Testament Church. Oh, that’s the same Old Testament Church that rejected the Apocryphal books and never believed they were Scripture but you say that they are Scripture and place someone under the anathema that doesn’t believe those things. So I guess the Old Testament Church was fallible which means that you can have a fallible authority to tell you that something is Scripture, because it’s very plain that the Lord Jesus held everyone responsible for reading Scripture”
Madrid begins his rebuttal by saying that the only thing worse than beating a dead horse is beating the wrong dead horse!”
Actually, James White doesnt say that a fallible church defined an infallible canon. The canon is not a thing to be created by a church, but is simply the collection of all books inspired by the Holy Spirit. Our knowledge of the Canon does not change the canon itself, but rather we have an understanding of it that can be good or poor. To use an example from White’s Roman Catholic Controversy: If I am an author and I have written 8 books, then the canon of my works is 8 books long. It doesnt matter if one work is lost or another is yet unpublished, the number of works I have written is 8. My canon cannot change(assuming I write no more books), but merely your knowledge of it. It is not a matter of having a “Golden index” so to speak, but rather we must determine through examination and logic those books which are apostolic in origin.

Mary June 11, 2006 at 9:42 pm

To use an example from White’s Roman Catholic Controversy: If I am an author and I have written 8 books, then the canon of my works is 8 books long. It doesnt matter if one work is lost or another is yet unpublished, the number of works I have written is 8. My canon cannot change(assuming I write no more books), but merely your knowledge of it.
Moot point.
We are not discussing canons as known by the mind of God. We are discussing what we can know, here and now, on earth. We can not base our lives on sola Scripture if we can not know what the canon is.

bill912 June 11, 2006 at 10:02 pm

JeremiahBailey: Let’s try it one more time:
1) On what authority do you believe that the books of the Bible are Divinely inspired?
2) On what authority do you believe that the books which are in the Bible–and no other books belong in the Bible?

Shane June 11, 2006 at 11:02 pm

Actually, James White doesnt say that a fallible church defined an infallible canon. The canon is not a thing to be created by a church, but is simply the collection of all books inspired by the Holy Spirit. Our knowledge of the Canon does not change the canon itself, but rather we have an understanding of it that can be good or poor. To use an example from White’s Roman Catholic Controversy: If I am an author and I have written 8 books, then the canon of my works is 8 books long. It doesnt matter if one work is lost or another is yet unpublished, the number of works I have written is 8. My canon cannot change(assuming I write no more books), but merely your knowledge of it. It is not a matter of having a “Golden index” so to speak, but rather we must determine through examination and logic those books which are apostolic in origin.
As Mary pointed out, this is a very poor arguement. Dr. White uses this to say that the canon is not fallible, because God sets what it is. The question is, what is the infallible canon that God has put together? If Galatians and Romans are not in God’s canon, then we are basing many doctrines on uninspired books. We have no way of knowing if they are in God’s canon. Jeremiah, please think about this. This answer Dr. White gives doesn’t even answer the question it is supposed to, it just dodges the issue altogether. I am willing to accept that Dr. White is right, but he has to answer this question because it is extremely important. Truth be told, this may be the single most important question in the entire debate. If Dr. White could answer this question, I think every thing else he says about the normative condition of the Church and everything else may fall into place. This is really the question, and I think the vast majority of Catholics would agree. Even given that this is such a greatly important question, the best he can give is an answer that doesn’t even address the question. Please think about that.

Kwessi Assaba April 17, 2007 at 3:18 am

Dear Sir,
My name is Kwessi crownI am a south-African
National, I work as the Head of Logistic Dept to
DIPLOMATIC SECURITY AND VAULTS COMPANY LTD
here in Accra- Ghana.i decided to contact you, to be my
partner in business so as to help me raise capital to
invest in a profitable business abroad. I have
been
working with (D.S.V.C.) company for the past 6years.Within this period,
I have watched With meticulous interest how African heads of states and
government
functionaries have been using DIPLOMATIC SECURITY AND VAULT COMPANY LTD
to shift their money abroad.
They bring in, these Consignment of money and secretly declare the
content as, precious stones, family
treasure Etc.
The late Mobutu Seseko of Zaire, the late Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo,
etc. These past
heads of states and president have hundreds of
consignments
deposited with DIPLOMATIC SECURITY AND VAULTS COMPANY LTD. Their
foreign partners, friends, and relatives,
have claimed most of this consignments. Alot of them are still
unclaimed for as much as 10years; nobody may ever come for
them,
Because in
most cases, the documents of deposit are never available to any body
except the
depositor, and most of them are dead. Since the
inception of the 2000 millennium,
DIPLOMATIC SECURITY AND VAULTS COMPANY LTD ,
management changed the policy/procedure of claims of
consignments.
That as on as you are able to produce all the secret
information as contained in the secret file of any
Consignment, it will be released to you upon demand.
The late Jonas Savimbi has over 7 Consignments,
deposited with several names and codes. 4 of this
consignment have been claimed in
past
(10) Ten months, after his Death
in Angola. I have finished every
arrangement as to the claim, for you to come and
claim consignments, No.1201 containing $30 million
Dollars and No.1202 containing $22 million Dollars, My plan
is to supply you with all
the information and documents
regarding the Deposit of the Consignment by Fax.
Nobody will ever know I am involved in this deal in
the company. I�ll suggest upon conclusion, we share
65 to 35
I assure you that the business have been planned for 3
years now, and it is very secure.
Forward all reply to my private email: a_ttt@usa.com
Regards,
Kwessi_ Crown

Reyden May 4, 2007 at 1:09 am

I like your explanation. Keep up the good work.

Previous post:

Next post: