Monday 5 June 2017

20 Answers Scripture and Tradition - Jim Blackburn - 20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers

20 Answers Scripture and Tradition
20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers
Jim Blackburn
Catholic Answers Press
ISBN 9781941663356
eISBN 9781941663370

I have read 20 of the 23 books available in the Catholic Answers Series. And of those 20 books that I have read Jim Blackburn has written three. His contributions to this amazing series are all excellent books. This specific volume deals with Scripture and Tradition. Jim explains so well his purpose in writing this book is too perfect to summarize, so in his own words:

“All Christians generally agree that Christian doctrine must be determined in accordance with God’s revelation. It makes sense that everything God has revealed is worthy of belief and, in many cases, necessary for salvation. Indeed, Jesus, quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3, emphasizes the importance of the word of God: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’” (Matt 4:4).
Tragically, though, not all Christians agree on what God’s word is, and thus do not agree on all matters of Christian doctrine.
Most non-Catholic Christians claim that the Bible alone is the word of God. This is a relatively novel idea in the history of Christianity, having come to the fore only since the time of the Protestant Reformation. For most of Christian history, Christians have believed that Scripture does not constitute the entirety of the deposit of faith that the first Christians received long before a book of the New Testament was ever written (see Jude 3).
That faith was first delivered to the early Church orally, not in writing. Scholars nearly unanimously agree that the first books of the New Testament (1 and 2 Thessalonians) were not written until the middle of the first century, around A.D. 50–52. Yet, even without these books, the revelation of Jesus Christ was being spread through the oral teaching of the apostles and their successors. The books of the New Testament came to be written over a period of several decades, and it was not always immediately apparent exactly how they should be understood (see 2 Peter 3:16). So the early Christians came to interpret them correctly through authoritative oral teaching—what the Church calls Sacred Tradition (see 2 Peter 1:20–21).
Since the Protestant Reformers rejected Sacred Tradition, the descendants of their faith tradition have been left with only their own fallible interpretations of Scripture alone (sola scriptura) with which to determine their doctrines. This has resulted in countless disagreements and widespread splintering into thousands of Christian denominations.
It is my hope that this booklet will help to dispel the myth of sola scriptura and be a useful instrument for helping Christians fully embrace the word of God.”

And he goes on to do this in giving his answers to the 20 questions that are answers in this volume. And those 20 questions are:
1. What is the “word of God”?
2. What is Sacred Scripture?
3. How do we know books make up the Old Testament and the New Testament?
4. What exactly is Sacred Tradition?
5. Is Sacred Tradition mentioned in the Bible?
6. Is there any evidence for Sacred Tradition actually being handed on from the apostles to their successors down through the centuries?
7. Where can we find a list of all the teachings given to the apostles by divine revelation and contained in Sacred Tradition?
8. Can Sacred Tradition contradict the Bible?
9. Doesn’t Vatican II say that Sacred Scripture—and, therefore, Sacred Tradition by association—is inerrant in only a very limited way?
10. I agree that Church Tradition has authority, but isn’t the Bible the only infallible authority?
11. The Catholic Church claims to be the guardian of the Bible, but didn’t it demonstrate hostility towards Scripture when it added unscriptural books to the Old Testament, namely the Apocrypha?
12. Isn’t the Muratorian Fragment proof that the canon of Scripture was settled long before the fourth century, contrary to what the Catholic Church claims?
13. If Church documents are sometimes infallible, don’t they in effect add to the Bible, in violation of John’s warning in Revelation?
14. Isn’t the Bible all we really need to evangelize the world?
15. Once the New Testament books were written down, didn’t this do away with the need for Sacred Tradition?
16. Maybe we needed Tradition before the biblical canon was finally decided, but after it was—after we know for sure what was Scripture and what wasn’t—shouldn’t have made Tradition unnecessary?
17. Didn’t Jesus say that any tradition that contradicts Scripture is false, meaning that tradition is inferior to Scripture?
18. Since Jesus commonly quoted Sacred Scripture in his disputes with the Pharisees and the Sadducees, doesn’t this prove that he saw the Bible as the sole rule of faith?
19. Doesn’t the biblical example of the Bereans prove that Scripture is the true rule of faith and Sacred Tradition is meaningless?
20. Does the Catholic Church emphasize Sacred Tradition so much that it makes the Bible seem unimportant? Isn’t that why the Church historically tried to prevent people from reading it?

Jim states: “In the Catholic Church, we refer to the apostles’ preaching, examples, and institutions as Sacred Tradition (or apostolic tradition) and their writing (including the Old Testament that they received from the Jews) as Sacred Scripture. Many other Christians believe that only the written Bible is the word of God. They see Scripture alone as the only definitive source of divine truth. Catholics, however, believe that God did not limit his revelation to a book; instead he gave his saving truth to mankind in two complementary and equally authoritative forms.” And that is the crux of the matter in this book, and in dialogue between Catholic and most other Christian denominations. It is also great that he draws from many protestant theologians to answer his questions. For example: “Today, many Protestants do not realize that their Bibles are lacking so much text that was originally included. However, anyone who studies the authentic history of the canon must admit that this is the case. As Protestant church historian J. N. D. Kelly writes, “It should be observed that the Old Testament thus admitted as authoritative in the Church was somewhat bulkier and more comprehensive [than the Protestant Bible] . . . It always included, though with varying degrees of recognition, the so-called . . . deuterocanonical books,” which are rejected by Protestants.”

One of the most powerful pieces in the book is chapter 5. For many Protestants focus on what they call the great commission, but do not read it in context. Jim declares: “Notice that Jesus did not tell the apostles to write down everything he had taught them. He simply commanded them to teach it. Much of this teaching later made its way into written form and became part of Sacred Scripture, but every bit of it was first—and still is—part of Sacred Tradition.” I have never really heard it explained that way and it immediately struck a chord with me and would have been great to know in so many conversations from the past.

Overall this is one of my favorite book in the series. It is an excellent read. Another amazing book in an incredible series.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2017 Catholic Reading Plan!

Note 2: Currently this series of books is being offered at a 50% discount so get it while you can. That is right you can get all 23 physical books or all 23 eBooks for just $39.95! If you want a way to go deeper this year give this series a try! 


20 Answers Series:
20 Answers Abortion - Trent Horn
20 Answers Angels & Demons - Fr. Mike Driscoll
20 Answers Atheism - Matt Fradd
20 Answers Death & Judgement - Trent Horn
20 Answers Divorce & Remarriage - Jim Blackburn
20 Answers End of Life - Jason Negri
20 Answers Faith & Science - Trent Horn
20 Answers God - Trent Horn
20 Answers Islam - Andrew Blezad
20 Answers Jehovah's Witnesses - Trent Horn
20 Answers Mary - Tim Staples
20 Answers Miracles - Karlo Broussard
20 Answers Mormonism - Trent Horn
20 Answers Salvation - Jimmy Akin
20 Answers Scripture and Tradition - Jim Blackburn
20 Answers The Bible - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Eucharist - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Papacy - Jim Blackburn
20 Answers The Real Jesus - Trent Horn

20 Answers The Church - Trent Horn
20 Answers Witchcraft & the Occult - Michelle Arnold
20 Answers Apparitions & Revelations - Michael O'Neill
20 Answers Bible Prophecy - Jimmy Akin
20 Answers Homosexuality - Jim Blackburn
20 Answers The Reformation - Steve Weidenkopf
20 Answers The Sacraments - Fr. Mike Driscoll

20 Answers Bioethics - Stacy A. Trasancos
20 Answers Conversion - Shaun McAfee
20 Answers Faith and Works - Jimmy Akin
20 Answers Anti-Catholic Myths - Jimmy Akin
20 Answers The End Times - Jimmy Akin
20 Answers The Rosary - Tom Nash
20 Answers Seasons & Feasts – Michelle Arnold
20 Answers New Age -  Michelle Arnold
20 Answers Catholic Social Teaching – Mark Brumley
20 Answers Prayer – Hugh Barbour O. Praem and Sebastian Walshe O. Praem
20 Answers Faith & Reason – Christopher Kaczor
20 Answers The New Testament – Jimmy Akin
20 Answers Protestantism – Jimmy Akin
20 Answers Marriage & Sex – Todd Aglialoro
20 Answers The Early Church – Jim Blackburn
20 Answers The Old Testament – Jimmy Akin
20 Answers Judaism – Michelle Arnold
20 Answers The Sacraments – Father Mike Driscoll

Other Books from Catholic Answers:
Hard Sayings: A Catholic Approach to Answering Bible Difficulties - Trent Horn
A Daily Defense: Apologetics Lessons for Every Day - Jimmy Akin
The Apostasy That Wasn't: The Extraordinary Story of the Unbreakable Early Church - Rod Bennett
Answering Atheism - How to Make the Case for God with Logic and Charity - Trent Horn
Persuasive Pro Life: How to Talk About Our Culture's Toughest Issue - Trent Horn and Fr Frank Pavone
The Protestant's Dilemma: How the Reformation's Shocking Consequences Point to the Truth of Catholicism - Devin Rose
Behold Your Mother: A Biblical and Historical Defense of the Marian Doctrines - Tim Staples
Handed Down: The Catholic Faith of the Early Christians - James L. Papandrea
Demons, Deliverance, Discernment: Separating Fact from Fiction about the Spirit World - Fr. Mike Driscoll
Navigating the Tiber: How to Help Your Friends and Family Journey Toward the Catholic Faith - Devin Rose
100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura - Dave Armstrong
The Drama of Salvation: How God Rescues You from Your Sins and Brings You to Eternal Life - Jimmy Akin
The Truth is Out There (Brendan and Erc in Exile Book 1 - Brother Amadeus and Amadeus
...Memorize the Reasons! Defending the Faith with the Catholic Art of Memory - Kevin Vost
Marching Orders: A Tactical Plan for Converting the World to Christ - Dan McGuire

The Fathers Know Best - Jimmy Akin
Why We're Catholic: Our Reasons for Faith, Hope, and Love - Trent Horn
The Old Evangelization: How to Spread the Faith Like Jesus Did - Eric Sammons

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