Thursday, April 19, 2012

Steve Hays vs. Peter Sean Bradley on Oral Tradition

My good friend Steve Hays has posted an interesting item in response to Peter Sean Bradley. The post emphasizes the interesting point that John records the fact that one of Jesus' sayings was either misreported or misinterpreted in the apostolic era among Jesus' own disciples.

The specific passage is

John 21:22-23
Jesus saith unto him, "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me." Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, "He shall not die;" but, "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?"

This underscores the vital importance of inspired Scripture. John's gospel has a credibility, because it is inspired Scripture, that we cannot give even to reports of people who were contemporaneous with Jesus and among the brethren. We see in this instance in John that even at this early period oral tradition was failing to provide reliable tradition.

That should be something of a problem for those who try to suggest that doctrine should be arranged like a stool sitting on the three legs of Scripture, Oral Tradition, and the Magisterium. The legs are not equal. Indeed, neither the magisterium nor oral tradition is reliable. Sitting on the stool proposed by Rome would be the calamity of anyone who sat on it, for two of the legs would break, and because the seat is not squarely centered on the leg of Scripture, the occupant of the seat would be unceremoniously deposited on the floor. Better to have a stool with a single leg, but which is inspired by God and able to thoroughly furnish the man of God. Better to rely only on the Word of God than to rely on the teachings and traditions of men.


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