Roman Catholicism – The Great Church of Human Tradition

Mark 7:5-7,13
      Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?
      He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men…Making the word of God of none effect through your traditions which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): The doctrine of the Pharisees may be summed up in three words—they were formalists, tradition-worshippers, and self-righteous. They attached such weight to the traditions of men that they practically regarded them of more importance than the inspired writings of the Old Testament.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): They observed the traditions of the elders, were still adding to them; and the consequence was―as it will always be in such a case―that they were so pleased with their own inventions, as to prefer them to the positive commands of God.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): They enforced the observation of their own impositions as much as of God’s institutions…Where will men stop, when once they have made the word of God give way to their tradition?

J. C. RYLE: All this time, be it remembered, they did not formally deny any part of the Old Testament Scripture. But they brought in, over and above it, so much of human invention, that they virtually put Scripture aside, and buried it under their own traditions. This is the sort of religion, of which our Lord says to the Apostles, “take heed and beware,” Mark 8:15. How awful the picture of Scribes and Pharisees, and their religion! But who can wonder? The Scripture was made of none effect by man’s traditions―Do we not see the same thing coming out in after times, in the form of Romanism?

J. H. MERLE d’AUBIGNÉ (1794-1872): Rome places human tradition above the Word of God.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Roman Catholicism puts the Church, its tradition and its interpretation of Scripture first…Protestantism teaches the “universal priesthood of all believers” and the right of every man to read the Scripture for himself and to interpret it under the illumination of the Holy Spirit. Rome denies that completely and absolutely…She does not believe, as true Protestants do, that revelation ended with what we have in the New Testament. She claims a continuing and a continuous revelation. She therefore does not hesitate to say that you must add to the truth in the Scriptures. While saying that the Bible is the Word of God, she claims that her tradition, which she adds on, is equally authoritative and equally binding.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): They reproach and defame the Scripture, calling it an uncertain thing, a dead letter, an insufficient guide of itself, without their tradition.

E. J. POOLE-CONNOR (1872-1962): The matter is nothing short of vital―where is authority for the Christian faith to be found? “In the Scriptures, plus tradition and Papal decrees,” replies the Romanist.

HUGH LATIMER (1483-1555): They make a mingling of the way of God and man’s way together; a mingle-mangle, as men serve pigs in my country―they mingle-mangle the Word with man’s invention and traditions…If they say, “This was done by a council, determined in a council;” what is it the better, if the council be wicked?

E. W. BULLINGER (1837-1913): After exploring several special objects in the [Vatican] Library…[I] was examining the ceiling, which was arched and was very gaudily painted with pictures of all the Councils of the Church from the Council of Nicea to that of the Council of Trent…In the first, that of the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., no prelate or potentate occupies the chair. The Bishop of Rome and the Emperor Constantine both declined to preside, and the Bible is placed on the chair. In the succeeding pictures man becomes more and more prominent, the Bible more and more insignificant. In the second picture, it is placed by the side of the chair; and it gets smaller and smaller; until, at the Council of Trent in 1545 A.D., it vanishes altogether. This is―though doubtless undesigned―a fitting symbolical representation of the relations between the Church and the Bible! As the one increases in authority, the authority of the other decreases.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): The ungodly papists prefer the authority of the church far above God’s Word; a blasphemy abominable and not to be endured…These adulators put the pope above Scripture and say that he cannot err. In that case Scripture perishes, and nothing is left in the Church save the word of man.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Religion based on human authority is worthless―doctrines and ordinances are only to be accepted when the divine Word supports them, and they are to be accepted for that reason only.

C. H. MACKINTOSH: There is no other foundation of faith but this; and the faith that rests on any other is not true faith at all. A faith resting on human tradition—on the authority of the Church—on the authority of so-called general councils—on the clergy—or on learned men, is not divine faith, but mere superstition; it is a faith which stands “in the wisdom of men,” and not “in the power of God,” I Corinthians 2:5.

C. H. SPURGEON: Thus, our Lord gave his opponents Scripture instead of tradition.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Let not authority from man, but evidence from the Word, conclude thy judgment; that is but a shore, this a foundation. Quote the Scripture rather than men for thy judgment.

RICHARD SIBBES (1577-1635): Too much respect to man was one of the inlets of popery.

C. H. SPURGEON: We think too much of God’s foes and talk of them with too much respect. Who is this pope of Rome? His Holiness? Call him not so, but call him His Blasphemy! His Profanity! His Impudence! What are he and his cardinals, and his legates, but the image and incarnation of Antichrist, to be in due time cast with the beast and the false prophet into the lake of fire?

MARTIN LUTHER: I once said that the pope was the vicar of Christ; now, I say that he is the enemy of the Lord, and the apostle of the devil…Our unthankfulness for, and light esteem of God’s Word, will do more than anything to help the pope into the saddle again―the state of the church was terrible under the pope.

C. H. SPURGEON: Holy Scripture must be our weapon against the Church of traditions: nothing will overthrow Rome but the Word of the Lord.

MARTIN LUTHER: It was by the Word the world was overcome, by the Word the church has been saved, and by the Word will she be re-established.


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