Dear Catholic Exchange,
At my high school, Catholics are a minority, and when I try to explain my faith, the Protestants always ask, "Where's that in the Bible?" Then I explain to them how the Bible is not the only infalliable source of truth, and then they start quoting Scripture telling me how I am wrong. How can I explain to them in a convincing way that Tradition and the Bible go hand-in-hand?
Thanks and God Bless,
Thank you for this excellent question.
One of the great things about the Catholic Church is that we know it's the source of truth. So, when we don't know the specific answer to a question, we can be confident that we can go look up the answer in the Catechism or some other source. When people challenge us regarding our beliefs, it's very easy to get defensive, especially when we're not able to give great answers to their questions. I think it's very important not to get disturbed or flustered. If you know the answer, share it with them. If you need to look something up, tell them they asked a great question, and you'll give them an answer tomorrow.
People who are challenging your beliefs are not likely going to change their minds overnight. But there are a few things you can and should do. First and foremost, pray for your classmates, that they may be given the fullness of the Catholic faith. Second, you should read the Bible, Catechism, and other good books on the Catholic faith as you're able. Even more, you need to live the truth — your friends will be impressed by an authentic Christian witness, but will scoff at you if they see you acting like those who have no faith. And third, very few people are converted when Bible verses are being used as swords rather than as the words of eternal life. I really recommend that you strive to befriend the people who challenge you. Not that you have to hang out with them or anything, but be kind and friendly to them as you show a willingness to share with them not only the faith but your very life (1 Thess. 2:8).
All of that being said, here are just some points you might want to study to be able to answer the "Where in the Bible…" questions, taken from a tract published by Catholics United for the Faith (www.cuf.org):
(1) Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the Bible is the only source of God's Word.
(2) The first Christians "were persevering in the doctrine of the apostles" (Acts 2:42; 2 Tim 1:14) long before the New Testament was written — and centuries before we knew with certainty which books were part of the New Testament.
(3) The Bible affirms that Christian teaching is "preached" (1 Pet. 1:25), that the Apostles' successors were to teach what they have "heard" (2 Tim. 2:2), and that Christian teaching is passed on both "by word of mouth [and] by letter" (2 Thess. 2:15; 1 Cor. 11:2).
(4) Not everything Christ did and said is recorded in Scripture (Jn. 21:25).
(5) New Testament authors availed themselves of sacred Tradition. For example, Acts 20:35 quotes a saying of Jesus that is not recorded in the Gospels.
(6) Scripture needs an authoritative interpreter (Acts 8:30-31; 2 Pet. 1:20-21, 3:15-16).
(7) Christ left His Church with divine authority to teach in His name (Mt. 16:13-20, 18:18; Lk. 10:16).
(8) The Church will last until the end of time, and the Holy Spirit protects the Church's teaching from corruption (Mt. 16:18, 28:19-20; Jn. 14:16).
(9) The Church — and not the Bible alone — is the "pillar and bulwark of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15).
(10) The Bible refers to more sources of the Word of God than only Scripture. Jesus Himself is the Word (Jn. 1:1, 14), and in 1 Thess. 2:13, St. Paul's first epistle, he refers to "the Word of God which you heard from us." There St. Paul is clearly referring to oral apostolic teaching.
Those are just some biblical teaching that could be used as answers or perhaps as the basis for your own questions to your classmates. Please write again if you need any further information or assistance.
Lastly, Sal, I thought I might recommend to you the Didache Series high school textbook on Scripture, which is available at www.emmausroad.org. It's the finest resource I'm aware of for teenagers on the Bible.
God bless you, Sal.
United in the Faith,
Catholics United for the Faith
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