What is the difference between human traditions and Traditions passed down to us by God?
Carl Block, “Sermon on the Mount”, 1877
2 Thessalonians 2:15
“So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.”
Answer in video starts at 13 mins 45 secs
By the Rev George D Smith, DD, PhD
The Tradition which is a source of revelation is divine Tradition; and this differs from human tradition not only because it is of divine origin, but also in that, unlike its human counterpart, it is divinely guaranteed against corruption and alteration. Daily experience offers examples of statements which, made to one person and by him related to another who, in his turn, relying partly on a faulty memory and largely on a vivid imagination, relates them with embellishments to a friend, are brought back to the original speaker mutilated, mangled, and unrecognizable. Divine Tradition is authoritative and infallible; infallible because authoritative–that is, transmitted through the teaching authority of the Church, under the assistance of the Holy Ghost.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
77 – “In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them their own position of teaching authority.”35 Indeed, “the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time.”36
78 – This living transmission, accomplished in the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is distinct from Sacred Scripture, though closely connected to it. Through Tradition, “the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes.”37 “The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to the life-giving presence of this Tradition, showing how its riches are poured out in the practice and life of the Church, in her belief and her prayer.”38
79 – The Father’s self-communication made through his Word in the Holy Spirit, remains present and active in the Church: “God, who spoke in the past, continues to converse with the Spouse of his beloved Son. And the Holy Spirit, through whom the living voice of the Gospel rings out in the Church – and through her in the world – leads believers to the full truth, and makes the Word of Christ dwell in them in all its richness.”39
36 – DV 8 § 1.
37 – DV 8 § 1.
38 – DV 8 § 3.
39 – DV 8 § 3; cf. Col 3:16.
Q. 560. Where does the Church find the revealed traditions?
A. The Church finds the revealed traditions in the decrees of its councils; in its books of worship; in its paintings and inscriptions on tombs and monuments; in the lives of its Saints; the writings of its Fathers, and in its own history.