Catholicism is a group of Christian denominations that are widely known as Catholic. It can also be defined as a Christian tradition and a community which is comprised of faith, theologies, and doctrines. It can also be defined as a people, or group of peoples, with a particular history. Catholic is sometimes used by other Christian traditions such as Methodists and Reformed churches to indicate continuity of faith and practices. This essay will give the origin of Catholicism, explain the meaning of Tradition and discuss the theological issue lying underneath Catholicism, Scripture, and Tradition.
History of Catholicism
The genesis of churches in Christianity started during the time of Jesus teaching. He lived in the province of Judea which was widely known as Roman Territory. The modern day teaching according to Catholic Church is the extension of Jesus establishment and Bishops succeeded Jesus’s apostles, and Holy Father [Pope] is the successor of Saint Peter who was Jesus’s appointee in the New Testament as head of churches and preached in Rome. Bishops of Rome with issues beyond other bishop’s capability. Christianity grew in ancient Roman territories regardless of ill-treatment by pagan religion but later the conflict was made less through authorization of Christianity by the emperor Constantine I. Christianity later became the main religion all over the state under Emperor Theodosius I and it dominated the state until the Western Empire came to an end. During the Seven Ecumenical Councils, five Catholic churches were considered according to Eusebius and were referred as pentarchy.
Church contributed majorly to the preservation of classical civilization and the establishment of a religious community after the fall of the western Roman empire. Palladius and other Missionaries from Ireland were sent to convert the nationals of Northern Europe. Orthodoxy was well preserved by Byzantine empire after Islam were invaded in the mid of the seventh century and the invasion devastated Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch in mid of the eighth century. In the Mediterranean Basin, the fight among Christians and Islam lasted for five centuries. On the west, Catholic was preserved by the clashes of Poitiers and Toulouse though Rome was later emaciated in 850. Difficulties arose between churches in Greek which were in the East and the Latin churches in the west and further lead to East-West break, partially due to the battle of Papal Authority. Churches were involved in the development of substantial improvement known as Counter-Reformation in response to the Protestant Reformation. Catholicism later spread all over the world regardless of the reduction in its support on European nationals due to the spread of Protestantism and religious skepticism in the process of enlightenment and after enlightenment. The Second Vatican Council introduced major reforms to Catholic practices.
The meaning of Tradition
Tradition is the teaching passed by the apostles through word of mouth in their evangelization. These teachings highly corresponded with the teachings in the Scripture although the method of transmission from one generation to the next is different. They have been transmitted and hand over to the churches. Theology is passed from one generation to the next in two different and equal ways, sacred scripture and sacred tradition. Tradition in Orthodox theology is the enthused revelation of God and Catholic teaching of the church. Tradition is therefore understood as the pure truth contained in the scripture which is conserved by the apostolic bishops and uttered in the life of the church through Divine Liturgy, the Creed and the divine lives of godly men and women. An example of the tradition that was not presented I the scripture is the council of Jerusalem and the discussion whether believers needed to be circumcised. From the Bible in Act 15, the leadership of the church, the apostles, and elders, met in Jerusalem so as to agree whether the Gentile convert would be circumcised.
If the decision depended on the scripture alone, they would have opened the writings and recognize that God gave Abraham the agreement of circumcision as an everlasting covenant. They would have seen that the circumcision which was the sign of the covenant was not only for Abraham decedents but also for those who were not his offspring. After all that, the council declared that Gentile converts would not be circumcised. The tradition plays a major role in determining how information in the scripture is interpreted. The council of Jerusalem sees the scripture in the setting of the church’s tradition and magisterial in the same way as Catholic Church. There is also a big difference between Tradition and tradition. Tradition included things that cannot be changed and is essential. They include canon of scripture, the truth that the public revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle, and that Jesus is light from light, true God from true God, and God from God.
Issue Underlying Their Theological Statements
In the 1950s the connection sandwiched between scripture and tradition brought up some issues which later intensified in 1960s. The theological storm that followed had been developing for sometimes. Between eighteenth and nineteenth century the catholic scholars started to view the connection between the scripture and Tradition in another angle. They started arguing that revelation is partially contained in the scripture and partially in Tradition.
The first Vatican Council came about in the late nineteenth century and brought the idea of revelation to its third session. The council’s final ruling purely repeated the arguments of the Trent. Therefore, Vatican did not give additional comment or explanation of Trent’s arguments on the connection between the scripture and Tradition, hence giving room for debate. The debate concentrated more on the Tridentine ruling after the publishing of the Acta of the Council of Trent. The last ruling came about after this publication which permitted for a look at the minutes of the council’s fourth meeting. The situation further intensified when Pope Pius XII well-defined the creed of the Statement of the Holy Virgin Mary which brought “an awareness that a contemporary exigence of Catholic theology is a precise understanding of the very concept of tradition,” as stated by Walter Burghardt in 1951. This resulted in a new interest to whether Tradition establishes a foundation of revelation not similar to the scripture or not. The division came when Joseph R. Geiselman, a German Scholar, published his intuitions in 1956 which brought an outburst of a theological storm. A lot of scholars supported Geiselmann’s understanding of Trent and his backing for the adequacy of the scripture, while others opposed him.
Geiselmann wrote to Catholic and Protestant theologians a paper with the title “The misunderstanding about the relationship between Scripture and tradition and its overcoming in Catholic Theology.” Geiselmann claimed that the source of revelation being partly from the Scripture and partly from the Tradition was a mistake which needed to be corrected. Geiselmann concentrated on the Council of Trent’s ruling on Scripture and Tradition so as to answer the query whether the Word of God is partially in scripture or partially in Tradition. Geiselmann thought that the interpretation of Scripture and Tradition came into Catholic religion soon before the Council of Trent. Geiselmann believed that Catholic theologians believed the partially of scripture and tradition during the time of Reformation. He further added that this belief became predominant before Trent.
Geiselmann argued that Trent did not settle the disagreement and that the council did not decide anything regarding the matter. According to Geiselmann, this was evident due to the change in the Tridentine decree. To Geiselmann, this was not a big change but had to mean for what definitive decree proclaimed and what it did not proclaim. Geiselmann appealed that the council fathers removed partim-partim and introduced et so as not to combine scripture and tradition as the two sources of tradition thus leaving the question open for discussion.
Geiselmann held that new interpretation of the council’s declaration on Scripture and Tradition began in the 19TH century. Some of the Catholic believers started to believe that God’s Word is partially in Scripture and completely in tradition, although they previously thought that God’s Word is partially scripture and partially Tradition. Geiselmann further contended that the Word of God is totally scripture and totally Tradition in the Nineteenth century. He explained this by saying that the word of God may be totally found in the scripture and totally in the Tradition. This was a very important unity between Scripture and Tradition. Due to this reason he got opposition for separating them into two different sources.
Catholicism started in the times of Jesus and Catholics believes that the Bishops succeeded Jesus apostles and Pope succeeded Saint Peter who was appointed by Jesus so as to continue the gospel. In Catholicism, there is a followed Tradition which is commonly defined as teaching passed by the apostles orally through their preaching. Tradition teaching resembles the teachings in the scripture. This brought issues underlying theological statements between Tradition and Scripture. Geiselmann wrote a paper that altered the thoughts of many regarding the revelation of the Word of God.