Tradition Adds Error to the Bible

Q. The Scriptures give us all we need that pertain to life and godliness and are able to make us perfect, and complete, thoroughly equipped unto every good work [2 Tim 3: 16-17]. If we need it, it is in the Scriptures. Therefore, the Traditions cannot add anything necessary that are not given to us in the Bible, they can only take away by adding error.

BFHU: You said:

the Scriptures give us all we need that pertain to life and godliness and are able to make us perfect, and complete, thoroughly equipped unto every good work [2 Tim 3: 16-17].

You added the 2 Tim citation which would make many readers think they had just read a line straight out of scripture. And, I know from experience that this is how you have been taught to interpret this verse. But let’s take a look at what scripture actually says:

II Tim.3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The difference between what you said and what the Scriptures actually say is significant. The Timothy passage does NOT say “the Scriptures give us all we need that pertains to life…”

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,”

The sacred scriptures NO WHERE teach anything like your assertion that”

” If we need it, it is in the Scriptures.”

Sola Scriptura is a tradition of men. It is not Scriptural.

10 Responses to Tradition Adds Error to the Bible

  1. bfhu says:

    Excellent article Nick. Thanks.

  2. M. Burns says:

    So then brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.
    ~ St. Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:15)

    I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions just as I handed them on to you.
    ~ St. Paul (1 Corinthians 11:2)

    Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.
    ~ St. Paul (2 Timothy 1:13-14)

    and what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well.
    ~ St. Paul (2 Timothy 2:2)

    Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father.
    ~ (1 John 2:24)

    We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and whoever is not from God does not listen to us. From this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
    ~ (1 John 4:6)

  3. bfhu says:

    Thanks for the handy list. I just copied and am using to help a priest friend answer questions from a Protestant.

    • M. Burns says:

      You’re welcome. I’m glad it was helpful, especially since your posts have been helpful to me!

      I was made aware of the list from a friend’s e-mail signature:

      “There are not over a hundred people…who hate the Catholic Church.
      There are millions, however, who hate what they mistakenly believe to
      be the Catholic Church – which is, of course, quite a different thing.”
      ~ Archbishop Fulton Sheen


      Does your church listen to God through the apostles and teach this
      tradition? Mine does. Find out what the Catholic Church really believes.

      Tune in to 101.7 FM, (Buffalo) [a part of the EWTN network]
      EWTN Global Catholic Network:
      Catholic Answers:
      * True to the Magisterium of the Church *

      It’s a subtle, non-confrontational way to evangelize, and a wonderful apologetics tool.

      The topic of the list part can be changed periodically as well.

  4. Constantine says:

    Here’s an interesting list of Jesus’s sayings.

    It looks to me like Our Lord was pretty emphatic about the written scripture – and not oral tradition:

    “He (Jesus) answered, “Haven’t you READ what David did when he and his companions were hungry?” Matthew 12:3

    Or haven’t you READ in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? Matthew 12:5

    “Haven’t you READ,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,” Matthew 19:4 (quoting Gen. 1:27)

    “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never READ,
    ” ‘From the lips of children and infants
    you have ordained praise’?” Matthew 21:16

    “Jesus said to them, “Have you never READ in the Scriptures: “ Matthew 21:42

    “But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not READ what God said to you,” Matthew 22:31

    That’s why Jesus used printing terms in Matthew 5:17-21 when He said He came to fulfill “every jot and tittle” of the Law. He was emphasizing the primacy of the inerrant written Scriptures.

    Besides, what Christ affirmed is what God the Father says through the prophet Jeremiah:”Do not LISTEN to what the prophets are prophesying to you” (Jer. 23:16) because He knew that oral traditions would be misleading.

    So Christ positively affirmed the inerrancy of the written Scriptures while teaching the inevitable errors of oral traditions. To say otherwise means God the Son contradicts God the Father.

    But let’s suppose that you are right and that “oral tradition” is a legitimate Christian enterprise. What do you do with the following verses?: Deut. 28:58, 30:10; Joshua 8:34m 23:6; 1 Kings 2:3; 1 Chronicles 16:40; 2 Chronicles 34:21; Jeremiah 30:2. All of these verses contain commands for God’s people to “follow the words of the law, which are WRITTEN in this book” – and every letter of these was affirmed by Christ. (I don’t mean to SHOUT, but I don’t think your website supports html tags – sorry.)

    Do you think that Christ would oppose God the Father by contradicting what He said through the prophet Jeremiah?


  5. bfhu says:

    Of course, Sacred Scripture is crucial. Neither of us dismisses it. Protestants seem to have an either/or mentality about many things regarding the faith and project that onto Catholics. This causes you to misread the conversation about oral Tradition,above, as dismissive of Scripture. It is not. It was just a narrow discussion about the support of Scripture for the Catholic use of Oral Tradition.

    We on the other hand have a both/and approach. We believe in the primacy of both Scripture and Tradition. However, nothing oral can ever conflict with Scripture. So, in that way Scripture is superior to oral teachings in that they must always be in harmony with them.

    What we are NOT obligated to do, is have our teachings, that derive from the Oral Teachings of the Apostles, harmonize with Protestant INTERPRETATION of Sacred Scripture.

  6. Margie Gordon says:

    Well, in Matthew 15, the Son of God said that traditions make worship of God null and void.

    And Jude 1:3 says to contend (heartily defend) the faith once (and for all, in the Greek) delivered to the saints.

    So,the traditions had better be scriptural.

  7. bfhu says:

    Dear Margie,
    No. It just does not say that in Matt. 15. Here is what it says after the Pharisees reprimanded Jesus for allowing His disciples to eat without washing their hands.

    Mt 15:3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

    8 “‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
    9 They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.’”

    Jesus is not referring to ALL TRADITION. If He was then St. Paul contradicted Jesus when he told the Thess. to cling to the Traditions he had taught them whether ORAL or Written.

    2 Thessalonians 2:15
    So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.

    2 Thessalonians 3:6
    Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.

  8. M. Burns says:


    Re: “…Our Lord was pretty emphatic about the written scripture–and not oral tradition”

    Then you are saying we should ignore parts of the Bible? Assuming that you believe the *whole* Bible is the inspired word of God, why do you dismiss parts of it? That is changing God to suit ourselves rather than changing ourselves to conform to God’s will, wouldn’t you say!

    Catholics accept the whole Bible, every bit of it. They don’t ignore parts of it because it doesn’t fit their preconceived beliefs, they conform themselves to *all* the truths handed down from Jesus through His Apostles. All. Every bit.

    Part of the difficulty for non-Catholic Christians is their truncated definition of the word ‘tradition.’ I encourage you to look up the full meaning in any dictionary. The Sacred Tradition that Catholics hold to are ALL the truths received from Jesus through His Apostles, only some of which were written down. Because their (i.e., oral and written Tradition) originator is God, they cannot be in conflict, as bfhu has said.

    Re: “But let’s suppose that you are right and that “oral tradition” is a legitimate Christian enterprise.”

    Are you saying, “But let’s pretend for the sake of argument that ‘oral tradition’ is in the Bible”? Are you aware that you are ignoring the fact that it IS in the Bible? Please refer to my previous list, and bfhu’s. (This is not something unique to you, this is something prevalent in the Protestant mindset. Even former Protestant ministers and laypersons have admitted this and have come home to the Catholic Church–Marcus Grodi, Dr. Scott Hahn, Kimberly Hahn, Patti Bonds–James White’s sister–and Steve Ray are just a few that come to mind. Former staunch anti-Catholics, all of them. You can read their conversion stories online.)

    The only thing we need fear is offending God, we need not fear His word–in any form. Because ultimately, the Word of God is a Who, not a what!

    You are in my prayers :)
    M. Burns
    Tiber Swim Team

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