Ask Fr. Most

Author: Fr. William Most


I am trying to understand Tradition, Apostolic Teaching and sucession and how they relate. I am still somewhat confused however. It seems that whenever my Protestant friends bring up the topic, I get more confused. (Question posed on CRNET to Fr. Most.)


We find divine revelation not only in Scripture, but also in Tradition with a capital T, which means the ongoing teaching of the Church, as found especially in the Fathers of the early centuries, but not solely in them.

Luther thought the Church had taught the wrong way to salvation for most of 15 centuries. Then the promises of Christ would be practically worthless.

Protestants have no proof that we should use Scripture only, simply because they have no means of knowing which books are part of Scripture, i.e., inspired. To try to prove Scripture alone from scripture is like trying to lift self off the ground by your shoelaces: a vicious circle.

Luther thought if a book taught justification by faith clearly it was inspired. But most books of OT and NT do not even mention the subject.

Really, their position seems to imagine that Our Lord told the Apostles: write some books, get copies made, pass them out, tell the people to figure them out for themselves.

Further Protestants need to claim Scripture is clear at least on essentials but 2 Peter 3:16 speaking of Pauls' Epistles said: "In them there are many things hard to understand, which the unlearned and the unstable twist, as they do the other Scriptures to their own destruction". --

Tradition with a small t is merely a matter of custom, not a source of revelation.

And ask them how Luther determined what the meaning of the word faith in St. Paul was. He thought it meant confidence the merits of Christ are credited to me. But if you read all of Paul, you find faith includes three things:

1) belief in what God says; 2) confidence in His promises; 3) obey his commands, as in Romans 1:5 "the obedience of faith."

The Protestant Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Supplement volume, p. 333 explains faith just as I have done. So Luther did not know the ABCs. Most Protestants do not know what Luther really held. In his work "Bondage of Will," which he considered his greatest, he denies free will, holds an absolute blind predestination, says God saves only a few, damns the rest without any chance at all. That is hideous. Fr Most