Is There a Conflict Between Tradition and the Truth?

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1 Certainly we must have all seen signposts with this warning: “Danger: Undrinkable water”. In many places, people must be very careful about the water in the wells and fountains, because instead of sustaining and protecting life, the water supplied is contaminated and may cause sicknesses and even blindness.


The waters of truth can also be contaminated


2 This same thing may happen with our religious beliefs, because if the doctrines we have been taught are somehow in conflict with the instructions of the apostles, it is obvious that contamination must have seeped into the Christian teaching, blemishing it, and this contamination, just as it happens in water, might cause spiritual sickness and blindness. Hence, to gullibly accept any traditional belief could cause a great spiritual damage and drift Christians apart from the truth revealed by God.

The apostle John wrote that  Jesus  “said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’"; John 8:31-32 because only the unadulterated truth of God’s revelation frees men from uncertainty, falsehood and fear.

For this reason, even if we are convinced that our beliefs are based on the Bible, a careful analysis and a honest contrast with the Scripture is essential. If we don’t do so, we could easily be mistaken. As a matter of fact, Martin Luther was absolutely certain to defend the Scriptures, when hanging on to traditional beliefs, condemned Copernicus.

All the disciples of Christ should assume the attitude of the ancient habitants in Berea, that according to Luke, were “nobler than those in Thessalonica, because they received the word eagerly, checking every day in the Scripture if things were like this”. Acts 17: 10, 11


3 Despite the scriptural treasure bestowed to the people of Israel, the faith of the Jew people acquired through the Rabbinic and the Pharisaic interpretations, some ideas that prevented them to behave in harmony with the spirit of the Law and to acknowledge Jesus as the expected Messiah. Therefore, when some Pharisees and Scribes asked Jesus why didn’t his disciples proceed according to their traditions, Jesus replied by asking them: “You too, why do you break Gods commandments because of your traditions?” Matthew 15: 1-3

What was the problem? Jesus identified it when he quoted some words God said to Isaiah: “These people honour me with their lips but their hearts are a long way from me, but they worship me in vain for they teach as doctrine the precepts of men”. Matthew 15:9 quoting Isaiah 29:13

Jesus accused them of mixing human judgment and theories to God’s revelation, thus corrupting it and rendering it void; and “…he said to them, ‘You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! Because Moses said, 'Honour your father and your mother'; and, 'He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die'. In spite of this, you say, 'If a man tells his father or his mother: “What you would have gained from me is Korban”, it is an offering to God, and you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, making thus void the word of God by furnishing your own tradition. And you do many things like this". Mark 7:9-13 These words Jesus said to them, make clear that any interpretation going further than what was written under the inspiration of God’s spirit, may easily contaminate the truth and distort His message.


Christianity contributes to contamination


4 The apostles and first disciples kept their teaching unadulterated, but after their death, their instruction was soon damaged by the adoption of foreign ideas and the approval of some interpretations lacking a real Scriptural support. In order to assimilate the new ideas to the Apostolic Doctrine, the so called Fathers of the Church appealed to the authority of oral tradition, and between the second and the third centuries, some words and phrases meant to support their claim, were added to the apostolic writings and included in the Scriptures, and even if these are today well identified by experts, they are still found in almost all Bible versions.

In favour of truth and fidelity towards God’s word, the apostle Paul wrote for all Christians of all times, that they ought to “learn from us (the apostles an their first disciples) the principle of not going further of that which is written, that no one of you may feel superior to another”. 1Corinthians 4:6 But according to the Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature, by McClintock and Strong, many of the principals of the Church upheld that tradition was “lessons that the first Christian churches received by word of mouth from the apostles, transmitted since the time of the apostles, and conserved in all its pureness till this time”. But the truth is that most of the ideas considered traditional, came from some of the Jewish myths developed during the Hellenic period, and from other foreign fountains. Just as the Cyclopaedia explains, these concepts, unknown in the Bible, “not only were in conflict with other traditions, but also with the writings of the apostles, which they had in their hands”.


5  We know that after the apostles had fallen asleep in death, all these things ought to happen. Jesus predicted it with a parable, “saying: The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man which sowed good seed in his field. But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed darnel among the wheat, and went his way. And when the blade sprung up and brought forth fruit, then the darnel appeared also.

The servants of the householder came and said to him, ‘Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where did this darnel come from?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this’. The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest perhaps while you gather up the darnel, you root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and in the harvest time I will tell the reapers, “First, gather up the darnel, and bind them in bundles to burn them; then gather the wheat into my barn’…” When “Jesus sent the multitudes away and went into the house, his disciples went to him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the darnel of the field’, and he answered them, “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed are the children of the kingdom and the darnel are the children of the Malignant, the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world, and the reapers are angels”. Matthew 13:25-30 and 36-40


6 About the things to happen after their death, the apostle Paul wrote: Be vigilant that nobody leads you astray with subtle philosophical arguments, inspired in deception and in human tradition, and supported on the ideology of the world, not in Christ”. Colossians 2:8 And he advised Timothy: The Spirit tells us explicitly that, in the final times (of the first postolic Congregation that disappeared after their death) some will apostatise from the faith and will listen to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, being mislead by the hypocrisy of fraudsters with a conscience as callous as a burnt scar. These will forbid marriage and the eating of some foods that God created to be gratefully consumed by those who have faith and know the truth… Refuse to listen to old women fables because they are contrary to that which is holy, and exercise yourself in the practise of the faith, because physical exercise is useful for a short time, but the practise of the faith is useful for everything, permitting to enjoy the present life and the future one… Take care and watch over your instruction, be persistent in these things, because by doing so you will save yourself and also those who listen to you”. 1Timothy 4:1-3 and 7-8


7 History bears witness of the implicit adulteration in the religious instruction assumed by Christianity during the centuries following the apostles death. Paul had written: “Now, brothers, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to him, we ask you not to be quickly shaken in your mind, nor yet be troubled, either by declarations, or by words that might seem inspired, or by any letter that may look as ours, saying that the day of the LORD is about to happen. Let no one deceive you, for it may not come before the apostasy, before the revelation of the man of sin, the son of destruction, he who opposes and exalts himself against anything considered divine or object of respect, and taking a divine sit, assumes divinity. Don't you remember that when I was still with you, I told you these things?

Now you know what is restraining him, so that he may be revealed in the established moment; for this mysterious transgressor is already active, but when what restrains him is taken out of the way, the transgressor, whom the Lord will declare spiritually dead and bring to nothing during the manifestation of his coming, will be revealed.

He presents himself in accord to the performances of Satan, with all powerful signs and deceitful wonders, so as to seduce through injustice those who are going to perish, those who haven’t loved the truth that would have enabled them to be saved”. 2Thessalonians 2:10


8 While alive, the apostles restrained the birth of the apostasy, but as Paul predicted, when they were taken away by death, the transgressor revealed himself, and  taking a divine seat, assumed the divine authority that belongs to Christ. The original apostolic congregation died and disappeared, as Christ had indirectly predicted when he asserted that the “gates of Hades (the tomb or sepulchre) will not prevail over her”. Matthew 16:18

The apostasy became involved in earthily matters and was strongly enforced from the final years of the third century on. Since then, Christians have been misled to rely on several concepts really unknown in the Scriptures, as for example, the one god in three similar but different persons, or the eternal hell of torture and fire, which certainly is a heathen belief that entered in the Pharisee tradition through philosophy, just as the immortality of the human soul.

Christians have been led to idolatry trough the cult of the images of saints and other divine mediators, and have been guided into a nationalistic ideology, which is in every way, opposite to Jesus’ teaching that all men are brothers. Through the centuries, mankind has been used to deception. “The great Dragon, the ancient snake, which is called Satan and Devil” and “is deceiving the entire humanity”, Apocalypses 12:9 has confused people’s minds with many deceitful ideas, his distortion of truth has been since the beginning, voluntary accepted by humankind, when, declining God’s warning, man listened to the words of the ancient snake, who said: “In no way will you die!” Genesis 3:4

For all these reasons, Paul warned the disciples of Christ, of the fact that “we do not fight against flesh and blood but against the governments, the authorities and  the cosmic rulers of this darkness, that is, against the evil spiritual forces that live in heavenly regions. Ephesians 6:12


The effects of spiritual contamination


9 How serious is the harm that spiritual contamination may cause?

To have an idea, let’s think about the polluted water and how much damage it may cause to our physical health. In the world there are about two hundred million people that suffer from schistosomiasis, an illness caused by a parasite called a schistosoma, which produces anaemia, general discomfort and in many cases, causes death; besides, there are five hundred million people who suffer from trachoma, which is one of the main causes of blindness. These are only two of the many illnesses we may develop when the skin gets in contact with contaminated waters, and still, there are more than two million people who cannot accede  to drinkable water.

This is really an enormous disaster, but even worse is the fact that millions of believers are spiritually blind, sick or spiritually dead, because they cannot get in touch with the untainted water of Jesus teaching, who said: “He who drinks the water I will give him, will never be thirsty again, because the water I will give him, will be in him a source of water that sprouts for everlasting life”. John 4:14


10 Due to the doctrines embraced by the Church and aggressively enforced from the third and fourth centuries on, many people are to day confused about the rapport between Christ and his father Yahuh, and in support of an even deeper confusion, the early translators of the New Testament systematically omitted in the text the holy name of God.

George Howard said on the Journal of Biblical Literature In my opinion, I believe that the elimination of the Tetragramma, (YHUH, the four letter name of God) created a confusion in the minds of the first gentile (non Jew) Christians about the relationship between the Lord God and Christ our Lord”.

However, if we rely on Jesus words, we must have in mind that he said invoking his father: I have manifested your name to the men you have given me in the world, they were yours and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word”. John 17:6 And he also taught his disciples to pray in this way:” Our Father who is in heaven, be Your Name sanctified…” Matthew 6:9 Jesus often spoke to his Father in this manner, so if we are free from prejudice, it is not difficult to understand the relationship he had with the Father and  Creator of all what exists.   


11 We must also consider the confusion and the fear produced by the concept of soul immortality and the eternal torture in the fire of hell. This idea is absolutely strange and even in opposition to what the Bible says about life and death. We learn by the Scripture, that the first man brought sin and death to humankind, consequently, man was not created to die, but to live. We are told that God rises man from death through the redemption of Jesus Christ, therefore, the only hope of life man may retain, is to be raised by God by means of the promised resurrection.

Misleading traditions do not only harm Christians. There are many people devoted to ancestors worship and veneration, or living in a constant fear of being harmed by the dead.

Many Japanese people believe that their spirits will gather somewhere after death, and this belief has induced some parents to kill their own children and to commit suicide. The book An English Dictionary of Japanese Ways of Thinking, explains: “In Japan suicide is not always condemned, but it is often considered an acceptable way to ask forgiveness for a grave error... even family suicides are informed in an understanding way…”


Let us check what traditions hold


12 So, to follow blindly traditional beliefs and customs may be harmful. Which is the right way to act before God? The apostle Paul says to Christ followers: “Investigate all things, but only “retain that which is useful”, 1 Thessalonians 5:21 and the apostle John writes to his fellow Christians: “Loved ones, do not trust anybody who declares himself inspired, try him out, to understand if his inspiration comes from God, because many false prophets have come out into the world”. 1 John 4:1

And which is the only way provided by God to try out the truth? There is only one authority approved by God, his own revelation to man, registered in the canonical Jew and Christian Scriptures. For this reason, when Jesus introduced himself to the people of Israel as the expected Messiah, he did it with the words of the prophet Isaiah, because as Paul writes: “all the Scriptures are inspired by God, and are useful for teaching, for convincing, for correcting and for educating towards the path of righteousness, so that the man of God may be mature and prepared for every good deed”. 2 Timothy 3:16

On the final chapter of the last book of the Bible, the apostle John relates the vision sent to him by Jesus through an angel, about the events to precede the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth, and reports his concluding words, writing: ”I, Jesus, sent my angel to make these things known to the congregation. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the glittering morning star. The spirit and the bride say: ”Come! And whoever hears them, say: ‘Come!’ He who is thirsty, come, and he who desires it, drink freely from the water of life!” Revelation  22:16-17                       


13 Jesus pleaded his Father in favour of all those who should put faith in him, and said: ”Sanctify them with the truth: the truth is your word”. John 17:17 He also told his disciples: “the time has come, and it is now, in which the true worshippers shall worship the Father in the spirit and in the truth, because this is how the Father wants his worshipers to be”. John 4:23

We must never forget that small amounts of contamination may have devastating consequences, even if the effects could take years to show. And the same may be said about spiritual contamination. Shridath Ramphal, president of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and its resources’, said: ”The contaminated water has become the most dangerous assassin in the world. At least twenty five thousand people die every day as a result of its use”. even if in this world all men are born to die, this is a terrible thing. But Jesus warned those who put faith in God’s promises of everlasting life, of a severest and permanent harm, he said: “...I tell you my friends, do not fear those who kill the body and then cannot do anything more. But I will show you who you must fear: fear him who after having taken life, has the power to throw it to the Gehenna (that is into the fire of an absolute and eternal destruction). I tell you this: fear him! Luke 12:4-5


14 True worshippers must fearlessly abandon some of the traditions and beliefs taught to them and largely accepted, having in mind that: “the fearful, the unbelieving, the depraved, the murderers, the fornicators, the performers of magic, the idolaters and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death (not the first death due to Adam and common to all mankind, but the total and definite death or destruction) Revelation 21:8

For this reason, if listening to the advise we find in Scripture, one realises that his beliefs go further than what is written or are in conflict with some assertion in the Bible, he must show himself courageous; the things involved are vital. He should remember these words of Jesus: “He that is faithful in that which is least, is also faithful in much, and he that is unjust in the least, is also unjust in much”. Luke 16:10