The other day, I got a comment response on my Meditations on the Song of Songs from “John.” It reads as follows:
As the saying goes, one has to take off their own shoes before they can take a walk in someone else’s moccasins, and similarly, when it comes to cases of The Bible vs. Tradition, one has to be willing to let go of the traditions of men in order to see the truth that is hidden in plain sight in the text of scripture.
BelovedDiscipleBibleStudy.com has a free eBook that compares scripture with scripture in order to highlight the facts in the plain text of scripture that are usually overlooked about the “other disciple, whom Jesus loved”. You may want to weigh the testimony of scripture that the study cites regarding the one whom “Jesus loved” and may find it to be helpful as it encourages bible students to take seriously the admonition “prove all things”.
I publish it here, because a response to this deserves its own post.
At the core of John’s position is the assumption of the Bible vs. Tradition. This is a false dichotomy and actually calls into question Christ’s salvific work and the validity of Scripture itself. Let me explain.
Christ’s work on earth can be summarized as follows: the Incarnation, the Cross, the Tomb, the Resurrection on the Third Day, the Ascension into Heaven and the enthronement at the right hand of the Father. This work unites our very nature to the second person of the Trinity. He not only raises it from the dead, but lifts it up with Him into the heavens to sit at the right hand of the Father in glory. As such, our nature is in full communion with God and the Holy Spirit can now reside within humanity. In other words, the Temple is no longer where God resides — human beings lifted up from the baptismal waters are. As Isaiah foretold, Emmanuel — God is with us.
Thus, Paul calls the Church the Body of Christ. The Church Herself reflects the reality of Christ as the God-Man. It is not merely a human institution — it is also a divine institution. The Holy Spirit moves through Her and guides Her. There is Scriptural witness to this reality. In Acts, Luke records a conflict within the Church between those who would circumcise new Gentile members of the Church and those who refused to. In order to resolve the issue, the Church gathered at Jerusalem and came to a decision, which is recorded beginning with this statement in Acts 15:28, “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…”
By insisting that there is a dichotomy between the Bible and Tradition, one has to call into question, if not outright deny, all that Christ did in order to allow the Holy Spirit to dwell within human beings. One must take the position that Acts 15:28 is not possible — that the Holy Spirit cannot act through the Church.
The dichotomy of the Bible vs. Tradition also calls into question the validity of Scripture itself. The New Testament as we know it today did not appear out of thin air. It was not given to us as a whole by an angelic messenger. It was written down by human beings inspired by the Holy Spirit over the course of 40 to 50 years. Even when all of them had been written, there were a number of books that the early Church considered valuable that eventually were not considered part of the NT canon. Some examples include the Epistles of Clement, the Proto-Evangelium of James and the Shepherd of Hermas. In addition there were works that claimed to be Christian and to carry the authority of apostolic authorship that espoused theologies that the Church rejected. The Gospel of Judas and the Gospel of Thomas are examples. In fact, the first record we have of the NT canon as it has been passed down to us is from the 4th century.
In other words, the New Testament arose from Tradition — the ability of the Church to speak with the authority of the Holy Spirit and determine which books belong to the canon and which books do not. By insisting upon a dichotomy of the Bible vs. Tradition, one must reject the very process by which we received the NT in the first place.
Thus, although John claims Scriptural authority for his position on the Gospel According to John, by building upon the foundation of the Bible vs. Tradition he calls into question his entire argument.