I ask you not to take what I say as a definitive spiritual interpretation of the [biblical] passages in question, for I am very far from the mind and meaning of the divine words, with respect to which I need to be taught by others. If it should happen that you—on your own or with others—are able to provide a better interpretation or perchance to learn something from what I have written, this is for you to determine, and produce a more elevated and true understanding, the fruit of which is the heart’s fulfillment for those who long for spiritual insight into the things that puzzle and perplex them. This is because the divine word [of Scripture] is like water, for just as water operates in different species of plants and vegetation and in different kinds of living things—by which I mean in human beings who drink the Word Himself—the Word is manifested in them through the virtues, in proportion to their level of knowledge and ascetic practice, like burgeoning fruit produced according to the quality of virtue and knowledge in each, so that He becomes known to others through other qualities and characteristics. For the divine Word could never be circumscribed by a single individual interpretation, nor does it suffer confinement in a single meaning, on account of its natural infinity. (Questions to Thalassius, Prologue)
St. Basil the Great 330-379
For it says: He did not know her until she had given birth to her firstborn son. Now this verse has given rise to the conjecture that, after rendering pure service in accomplishing the birth of the Lord through the Holy Spirit, Mary did not renounce the customary marital relations. But in our opinion, even if none of this harms the account of piety—for virginity was necessary for service in the economy, but inquiring into what happened next out of curiosity should be avoided by reason of its mystery—nonetheless, since lovers of Christ do not accept the opinion that the Mother of God ever ceased being a virgin, we think the following testimonies suffice. Let us return to: He did not know her until she had given birth to her son. In many instances the word “until” seems to suggest a kind of temporal boundary, but in reality it indicates indefiniteness. What did the Lord mean when he said: And behold, I am with you all days, until the close of the age? Indeed, not that the Lord was not going to be with the saints after this age! Rather, it means that the promise of the present age will not be rescinded in the age to come. So we say that in this case too the word “until” should be taken in the same way. Now when firstborn is said, by no means is he the firstborn in comparison to siblings who came after him. Rather, he is called the firstborn because he was the first one to open the womb of his mother. It is also clear from the story about Zechariah that Mary was always a virgin. For there is an account, and it has been handed down to us from the tradition, that Zechariah entrusted Mary to the place for the virgins after conceiving the Lord. Then he was slaughtered by the Jews between the temple and the altar. Charges had been brought against him by the people, on the grounds that by his actions he established that incredible and famous sign: a virgin gave birth and her virginity was not destroyed. (On Fasting and Feasts, Popular Patristic Series Book 50. Kindle Locations 606-627. St Vladimir’s Seminary Press. Kindle Edition)
Blessed Elder Sophrony of Essex 1896-1993
Unwavering faith in the Church’s conciliar teaching and profound confidence in all that the Church has recognized and confirmed in her experience lie at the root of the Athonite monk’s life, preserving him from nonconformist dilettantism and fumbling research. Thus entering through faith into the life of the universal Church, the monk becomes co-possessor of her boundless riches, and his own personal experience acquires an absolutely authentic character.
By studying the Holy Scriptures, the works of the Holy Fathers and the inexhaustible dogmatic and prayerful treasures contained in liturgical books, the monk meets with ineffably great riches, and so he is not disposed himself to write on the same themes without introducing some basically new material. But when a real need arises in the life of the Church, then new books are written.
Each new book with claims to inclusion in the teaching of the Church is considered from every aspect and especially with regard to the influence it may have on the lives of men. This last criterion — its influence — is extremely important because of the close connection between dogmatic consciousness and life. The Church accepts nothing contrary to, or inconsistent with, the spirit of Christ-like love on which she feeds.
Individual sons and members of the Church on the path to this love stumble, fall, are guilty of violations, but the Church in her depths knows, through the Holy Spirit, the truth of Christ-like love, and wherever even the word love crops up but with another content she will not be seduced by any philosophy, any splendor of doctrine. Christ is not mocked.
And I believe that in his writings Blessed Staretz Silouan, a faithful son of the Church, has provided us with the latest and most trustworthy criterion of truth in the Church — Christ-like love for our enemies and Christ-like humility. (St. Silouan the Athonite, pp. 89-90)
Wherefore, forsaking the vanity of many, and their false doctrines, let us return to the word which has been handed down to us from Jude 3 the beginning; watching unto prayer, 1 Peter 4:7 and persevering in fasting; beseeching in our supplications the all-seeing God not to lead us into temptation, Matthew 6:13; Matthew 26:41 as the Lord has said: The spirit truly is willing, but the flesh is weak. Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38 (Epistle to the Philippians, 7)
An apostolic and ancient tradition has prevailed in the holy churches of God throughout the whole world, whereby those acceding to the hierarchy frankly refer in all respects to those who have administered the high-priesthood before them, as to how they should think and maintain faith which the most wise Paul has handed on to them with the utmost safeguards, lest they run their course in vain (Gal. 2:2), for their entire course becomes vain if the faith is harmed in any respect. For that prophetic man, who listened to God’s utterances and had heaven itself as his school, and became a beholder of Paradise before his time, and heard things that should not be told (2 Cor. 12:4) to other human beings, was in dread and trepidation, and, as he says himself, was thoroughly afraid lest, after announcing to others the saving message of Christ, he himself should be disqualified (1 Cor. 9:27). Hence Christ’s heavenly disciple also went up to Jerusalem and submitted himself to the divine disciples who were before him, and made known the Gospel teaching which he preached to those who seemed to be superior to others, and made them party to his doctrine, ensuring a safeguard for himself and those after him who receive his teachings, becoming an excellent model of salvation for all those who wished to follow in his footsteps. (Synodical Letter, 2.6)
[T]hose who have itching ears and itching tongues are those who wish only to hear or or tell of something new, who are always delighted by innovations, and in relocating the boundaries established by their fathers — to use a biblical phrase — and who take pleasure in the ephemeral and exotic, and who rise up against whatever is well known, well established, and unchanging, as being dull, commonplace, and of no value. They would gladly embrace the latest fashion, even though it were demonstrably false and could bring no benefit to the soul. (Ambiguum 13)
Blessed Jerome, a priest, wrote that he knew most certainly from the ancient Jews and elders that Christ our Lord was afterwards crucified in the place where Isaac was offered. Lastly, from the place whence blessed Abraham was commanded to depart, he arrived on the third day at the place where Christ our Lord was crucified. This, too, is mentioned in the account of the ancients, that in the very place where the Cross was fastened the first Adam once was buried. Moreover, it was called the place of Calvary for the very reason that the first head of the human race is said to have been buried there. Truly, brethren, not unfittingly is it believed that the physician was raised up where the sick man lay. It was right that divine mercy should bend down in the place where human pride had fallen. The precious Blood may be believed to have corporally redeemed the ashes of the sinner of old by deigning to touch it with its drops. (Sermon 84, On Abraham and His Son Isaac)
Note: Below the feet of Christ is four Slavonic letters meaning: “The place of the skull became Paradise”. Hidden in a cave under the earth is ‘the skull of Adam’. We are thus reminded that Adam our forefather lost Paradise through the tree from which he wrongly partook; Christ is the new Adam, bringing us Salvation and Paradise through the tree of the Cross. http://www.saintelias.info/_pdfs/3barcross.pdf
Marcion and Basilides and other heretics . . . do not possess the Gospel of God, since they have no Holy Spirit, without which the Gospel so preached becomes human. We do not think that Gospel consists of the words of Scripture but in its meaning; not on the surface but in the marrow, not in the leaves of sermons but in the root of meaning. In this case Scripture is not really useful for the hearers when it is not spoken without Christ, nor is presented without the Fathers, and those who are preaching do not introduce it without the Spirit . . . It is a great danger to speak in the Church, lest by a perverse interpretation of the Gospel of Christ, a gospel of man is made … (in Galat., I, 1. II; M. L. XXVI, с 386)
[N]o one should be neglectful to observe the word of God, but he should confess his own weakness and not cover up God’s truth. In this way we will not be guilty of any crime against the commands and words of God by speaking in this way. For such are the words of the holy Fathers and according to them we, by searching out the holy Writings, pass them on to those who come to us and seek such teachings. We, however, unworthy though we are, do not hide the writings of the blessed Fathers on Sacred Scripture and carefully teach them to those who dwell with us, which always brings great danger. If any one of the brothers should fall away from these traditions out of sloth or carelessness, he should have to confess such violations to the elder and in this way the elder can correct his fault. (The Complete Writings: The Tradition [Predani])
[T]he object of attack is faith. The one aim of the whole band of opponents and enemies of
sound doctrine 1 Tim. 1:10 is to shake down the foundation of the faith of Christ by levelling apostolic tradition with the ground, and utterly destroying it. So like the debtors,— of course bona fide debtors— they clamor for written proof, and reject as worthless the unwritten tradition of the Fathers. But we will not slacken in our defence of the truth. We will not cowardly abandon the cause. (On the Holy Spirit, 25)
[W]ere we to attempt to reject such customs as have no written authority, on the ground that the importance they possess is small, we should unintentionally injure the Gospel in its very vitals; or, rather, should make our public definition a mere phrase and nothing more…For I hold it apostolic to abide also by the unwritten traditions. (On the Holy Spirit 27.66, 29.71)
Apostolic Succession, the apostolic heritage, is theanthropic from first to last. What is it that the holy apostles are transmitting to their successors as their heritage? The Lord Christ, the God-man Himself, with all the imperishable riches of His wondrous theanthropic Personality, Christ—the Head of the Church, her sole Head. If it does not transmit that, Apostolic Succession ceases to be apostolic, and the apostolic Tradition is lost, for there is no longer an apostolic hierarchy and an apostolic Church.
The Holy Tradition is the Gospel of the Lord Christ, and the Lord Christ Himself, Whom the Holy Spirit instills in each and every believing soul, in the entire Church. Whatever is Christ’s, by the power of the Holy Spirit becomes ours, human; but only within the body of the Church. The Holy Spirit—the soul of the Church, incorporates each believer, as a tiny cell, into the body of the Church and makes him a “co-heir” of the God-man (Eph. 3:6). In reality the Holy Spirit makes every believer into a God-man by grace. For what is life in the Church? Nothing other than the transfiguration of each believer into a God-man by grace through his personal, evangelical virtues; it is his growth in Christ, the putting on of Christ by growing in the Church and being a member of the Church. A Christian’s life is a ceaseless, Christ-centered theophany: the Holy Spirit, through the holy mysteries and the holy virtues, transmits Christ the Savior to each believer, renders him a living tradition, a living life: “Christ who is our life” (Col. 3:4). Everything Christ’s thereby becomes ours, ours for all eternity: His truth, His righteousness, His love, His life, and His entire divine Hypostasis.
Holy Tradition? It is the Lord Jesus Christ, the God-man Himself, with all the riches of his divine Hypostasis and, through Him and for His sake, those of the Holy Trinity. That is most fully given and articulated in the Holy Eucharist, wherein, for our sake and for our salvation, the Savior’s entire theanthropic economy of salvation is performed and repeated. Therein wholly resides the God-man with all His wondrous and miraculous gifts; He is there, and in the Church’s life of prayer and liturgy. Through all this, the Savior’s philanthropic proclamation ceaselessly resounds: “And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Mt. 28 20): He is with the apostles and, through the apostles, with all the faithful, world without end. This is the whole of the holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church of the apostles: life in Christ = life in the Holy Trinity; growth in Christ = growth in the Trinity (cf. Mt. 28: 19-20).
Of extraordinary importance is the following: in Christ’s Orthodox Church, the Holy Tradition, ever living and life-giving, comprises: the holy liturgy, all the divine services, all the holy mysteries, all the holy virtues, the totality of eternal truth and eternal righteousness, all love, all eternal life, the whole of the God-man, the Lord Christ, the entire Holy Trinity, and the entire theanthropic life of the Church in its theanthropic fullness, with the All-holy Theotokos and all the saints.
The personality of the Lord Christ the God-man, transfigured within the Church, immersed in the prayerful, liturgical, and boundless sea of grace, wholly contained in the Eucharist, and wholly in the Church—this is holy Tradition. This authentic good news is confessed by the holy fathers and the holy ecumenical councils. By prayer and piety holy Tradition is preserved from all human demonism and devilish humanism, and in it is preserved the entire Lord Christ, He Who is the eternal Tradition of the Church. “Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3 16): He was manifest as a man, as a God-man, as the Church, and by His philanthropic act of salvation and deification of humanity He magnified and exalted man above the holy Cherubim and the most holy Seraphim. (The Attributes of the Church, originally published in Orthodox Life, vol. 31, no. 1 (Jan.-Feb., 1981), pp. 28-33)
Sacred Tradition, as the eternal and immutable dwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Church, lies at the very root of her being, and so encompasses her life that even the very Scriptures come to be but one of its forms. Thus, were the Church to be deprived of Tradition she would cease to be what she is, for the ministry of the Spirit of the New Testament is the ministry of the Spirit ‘written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God: not in tables of stones, but in the fleshly tables of the heart’. (cf. 1 Cor. 3:18-19).
Suppose that for some reason the Church were to be bereft of all her books, of the Old and new Testaments, the works of the holy Fathers, of all service books – what would happen? Sacred Tradition would restore the Scriptures, not word for word, perhaps – the verbal form might be different – but in essence the new Scriptures would be the expression of that same ‘faith which was once delivered unto the saints’ (Jude 3). They would be the expression of the one and only Holy Spirit continuously active in the Church, her foundation and her very substance.
The Scriptures are not more profound, not more important than Holy Tradition but, as said above, they are one of its forms — the most precious form, both because they are preserved and convenient to make use of. But removed from the stream of Sacred Tradition, the Scriptures cannot be rightly understood through any scientific research.
If the Apostle Paul had the ‘mind of Christ’, how much more does this apply to the whole body of the Church of which St. Paul is one member! And if the writings of St. Paul and the other Apostles are Holy Scripture, then new Scriptures of the Church, written supposedly after the loss of the old books, would in their turn become Holy Scripture for according to the Lord’s promise God, the Holy Trinity, will be in the Church even unto the end of the world.
Men are wrong when they set aside Sacred Tradition and go, as they think, to its source — to the Holy Scriptures. The Church has her origins, not in the Scriptures but in Sacred Tradition. The Church did not possess the New Testament during the first decades of her history. She lived then by Tradition only — the Tradition St. Paul calls upon the faithful to hold (cf. 2 Thess. 2:15).
It is a well-known fact that all heresiarchs have always based themselves on the Holy Scriptures, only their interpretations differing. The Apostle Peter spoke of this perversion of the meaning of the Scriptures when they are construed personally, by the individual reader (cf. 2 Pet. 3:16).
Individual members of the Church — not excluding her finest sons and teachers — do not achieve the whole fulness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and so their teachings and writings are marred by one or another imperfection — sometimes even error — whereas as a whole the Church’s schooling, possessed of the gifts and knowledge, remains true for all time. (St. Silouan the Athonite, Chap. 5: The Staretz’ Doctrinal Teaching)
…[T]he Apostles handed down much that was unwritten, Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, tells us in these words: Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you have been taught of us, whether by word or by epistle. 2 Thess. 2:15 And to the Corinthians he writes, Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things, and keep the traditions as I have delivered them to you 1 Cor. 11:2 . (An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith Bk. 4.16)
It is not necessary that all the divine words have an allegorical meaning. Consideration and perception is needed in order to know the meaning of the argument of each. It is needful also to make use of Tradition; for not everything can be gotten from Sacred Scripture. The holy Apostles handed down some things in the Scriptures, other things in Tradition. (Panarion 61.6)
We must be grounded in the tenets of our faith. I believe in one God, in the glorious Trinity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, one in being and undivided. I believe also in the incarnation of the Son of God who is both truly God and truly man. I profess this and all other creeds of the Orthodox Church and accept and confess with all my soul. Also with great faith and love I profess that my Lady is the holy, most pure Birth-giver of God and I exalt and glorify her.
And I repsect and accept all the Saints and I exalt them and unite myself with them by the grace of Christ. I also have recourse with all my soul to the holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. And I accept all its teachings which the Church hands down from the Lord and the holy Apostles and holy Fathers of the ecumenical and local councils and from the other holy Fathers, all of which form the Tradition passed down concerning the Orthodox Faith and the decrees of the Church councils.
All these I accept and reverence with great faith and love.
I see clearly that if it is God’s will for us to gather together, then it behooves us to live according to the traditions of the saints and fulfill the commands of God and observe the traditions of the holy Fathers and not to excuse ourselves by ignoring the blame of sins saying that nowadays it is impossible to live according to the Scriptures and follow the writings of the holy Fathers.
But if we also are weak, still it is proper to follow the example of the ancient and blessed Fathers, even if we are not able toequal their exploits. If anyone does not wish to follow this basic approach, let him cease harassing me, even though I am also a poor sinner. I turn away such persons and have nothing to do with them. (Nil Sorsky: The Complete Writings. The Tradition [Predanie])
In defining the essence of Holy Scripture, we can now formulate the following proposition:
Holy Scripture is one of the aspects of the common grace-filled life of the Church, and outside the Church there cannot be any Holy Scripture in the true sense of the word.
If we establish this view of Holy Scripture, then we ought to express our disapproval of the outlook which prevails even in our [Orthodox] academic theology, according to which Holy Scripture is first and foremost a source of Church doctrine. It must be admitted that the question of the sources of doctrine is in an almost hopeless state in our philosophizing dogmatics. Two sources of doctrine are usually spoken of: Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition. Both of these sources are necessary, although preference is often given to Holy Scripture. In disputes with sectarians and Protestants, much effort is made to prove that Holy Scripture alone is insufficient, that besides Scripture Holy Tradition is also needed. But if Holy Scripture is a source of doctrine, how do we extract the doctrine contained within this source? It is enough to remember Arianism and the First Ecumenical Council in order to realize that every heresy is based on Scripture. The question clearly arises: “How are we to understand Scripture so as to obtain from it true doctrine?” “It has to be understood in accordance with Tradition,” they respond to us. “Wonderful! And what sort of tradition should we accept?” “That which does not contradict Scripture.” What do we end up with? Scripture must be interpreted in accordance with Tradition, and Tradition must be verified by Scripture. We end up with circular logic, idem per idem, or, translated somewhat loosely into Russian, the story of the white calf. *
Church doctrine has but one Source: the Holy Spirit, Who lives within the Church, Whom Christ promised would guide the Church into all truth ( John 16:13). Thus, the Church possesses true doctrine not because she draws it from Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition, but only because she is in fact the Church of the Living God, the Pillar and Ground of Truth, guided by the Holy Spirit. It is necessary to speak only about the Church. Both Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition stand or fall together with the Church. A. S. Khomiakov wrote well in his Treatise on the Catechetical Exposition of the Teaching on the Church: “The Spirit of God, alive in the Church, guiding her and making her wise, is manifested in her in multiple forms: in Scripture, in Tradition, and in works; for the Church, performing the works of God, is the Church that preserves Tradition and wrote the Scripture. It is neither individuals nor a multitude of individuals in the Church that preserves Tradition and wrote Scripture, but the Spirit of God, alive in the sum of the Church. Therefore it is impossible and improper to search for the foundations of Tradition in Scripture, or for proofs of Scripture in Tradition, or for justifications of Scripture and Tradition in works. To one who lives outside of the Church neither Scripture, nor Tradition, nor works are comprehensible. To one, however, who remains within the Church and who is in communion with the Spirit of the Church, their unity is evident by the grace that lives in her.” (Holy Scripture and the Church)
* “Story of the white calf “: A Russian saying that usually designates the impossibility of drawing a logical conclusion from something.
We do not change the boundaries marked out by our Fathers (Prov. 22.28): we keep the Tradition we have received. If we begin to lay down the law to the Church, even in the smallest thing, the whole edifice will fall to the ground in no short time. (Apologia Against Those Who Decry Holy Images Bk II)
But do you, having your foundation sure, even Jesus Christ our Lord, and the confession of the fathers concerning the faith, avoid those who wish to say anything more or less than that, and rather aim at the profit of the brethren, that they may fear God and keep His commandments, in order that both by the teaching of the fathers, and by the keeping of the commandments, they may be able to appear well-pleasing to the Lord in the day of judgment. (Letter 62)
I desire to learn what is this fashion of innovation in things Concerning the Church, which allows anyone who likes, or the passerby, as the Bible says, to tear asunder the flock that has been well led, and to plunder it by larcenous attacks, or rather by piratical and fallacious teachings. For if our present assailants had any ground for condemning us in regard of the faith, it would not have been right for them, even in that case, to have ventured on such a course without giving us notice. They ought rather to have first persuaded us, or to have been willing to be persuaded by us (if at least any account is to be taken of us as fearing God, labouring for the faith, and helping the Church), and then, if at all, to innovate; but then perhaps there would be an excuse for their outrageous conduct. But since our faith has been proclaimed, both in writing and without writing, here and in distant parts, in times of danger and of safety, how comes it that some make such attempts, and that others keep silence? (Epistle 101: To Cledonius)
If then it was from the Apostles, as we said above, that this custom took its beginning, we must adjust ourselves thereto, whatsoever may have been their reasons and the grounds on which they acted; to the end that we too may observe the same in accordance with their practice. For as to things which were written afterwards and which are until now still found, they are ignored by us ; and let them be ignored, no matter what they are. How can these comply with the customs of the ancients ? And in a word I have deemed certain disquisitions about these matters superfluous ; and I feel that to pay attention to them is noisy and vain. For as we are told after a first and second admonition to avoid them, so must we admonish and converse about them, and after brief inculcation and talk in common we must desist. On points, however, of prime importance and great weight we must insist. For if anyone utters any impiety about God, as do those who say He is without mercy; or if anyone introduces the worship of strange gods, such an one the law has commanded to stone. But we with the vigorous words of our faith will stone them unless they approach the mystery of Christ; or [if] anyone alter or destroy [it], or [say] that He was either not God or not man, or that He did not die or rise again, or that He is not coming again to judge the quick and the dead ; or if he preach any other gospel than we have preached, let him be accursed, says Paul. But if anyone despises the doctrine of the resurrection of the body, let such an one be at once ranked with the dead. For these reasons, that we may be in accord, church with church and bishop with bishop and elder with elder, let us be careful in our utterances. Moreover in judging of and dealing with particular cases,—as to how it is proper to admit those who come to us from without, and how to supervise those who are within,—we give instructions to the local primates who under divine imposition of hands were appointed to discharge these duties ; for they shall give a summary account to the Lord of whatsoever they do. (Blessed Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria to Pope Stephen of Rome)
We are guarding the dogmatic teaching of the Apostles intact even to the present time…Handing this teaching down to us are not only the Apostles and the Prophets, but also those whose writings interpret their books, Ignatius, Eustathius, Athanasius, Basil, Gregory, John, and the other lights of the ecumene, and before these the holy Fathers gathered in Nicea, whose confession of faith we guard inviolate as a paternal inheritence. (Letter to Florentius)
This was taken from the Our Life in Christ Program. It is a must read. I would like to challenge any Reformed or Evangelical out there to read this. It will likely change your perspective of what the revelation of God is all about!
From Hank Hanegraaff’s CRI Series What Think Ye of Rome (Part 3)
It is not without reason or by chance that we worship towards the East. But seeing that we are composed of a visible and an invisible nature, that is to say, of a nature partly of spirit and partly of sense, we render also a twofold worship to the Creator; just as we sing both with our spirit and our bodily lips, and are baptized with both water and Spirit, and are united with the Lord in a twofold manner, being sharers in the mysteries and in the grace of the Spirit.
Since, therefore, God is spiritual light 1 John 1:5, and Christ is called in the Scriptures Sun of Righteousness Malachi 4:2 and Dayspring , the East is the direction that must be assigned to His worship. For everything good must be assigned to Him from Whom every good thing arises. Indeed the divine David also says, Sing unto God, you kingdoms of the earth: O sing praises unto the Lord: to Him that rides upon the Heavens of heavens towards the East. Moreover the Scripture also says, And God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed Genesis 2:8: and when he had transgressed His command He expelled him and made him to dwell over against the delights of Paradise , which clearly is the West. So, then, we worship God seeking and striving after our old fatherland. Moreover the tent of Moses Leviticus 16:14 had its veil and mercy seat towards the East. Also the tribe of Judah as the most precious pitched their camp on the East. Numbers 2:3 Also in the celebrated temple of Solomon the Gate of the Lord was placed eastward. Moreover Christ, when He hung on the Cross, had His face turned towards the West, and so we worship, striving after Him. And when He was received again into Heaven He was borne towards the East, and thus His apostles worship Him, and thus He will come again in the way in which they beheld Him going towards Heaven Acts 1:11; as the Lord Himself said, As the lightning comes out of the East and shines even unto the West, so also shall the coming of the Son of Man be Matthew 24:27 .
So, then, in expectation of His coming we worship towards the East. But this tradition of the apostles is unwritten. For much that has been handed down to us by tradition is unwritten. (An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith Bk. IV.12)
Grant, then, that all have erred; that the apostle was mistaken in giving his testimony; that the Holy Ghost had no such respect to any one (church) as to lead it into truth, although sent with this view by Christ, John 14:26 and for this asked of the Father that He might be the teacher of truth; John 15:26 grant, also, that He, the Steward of God, the Vicar of Christ, neglected His office, permitting the churches for a time to understand differently, (and) to believe differently, what He Himself was preaching by the apostles—is it likely that so many churches, and they so great, should have gone astray into one and the same faith? No casualty distributed among many men issues in one and the same result. Error of doctrine in the churches must necessarily have produced various issues. When, however, that which is deposited among many is found to be one and the same, it is not the result of error, but of tradition. Can any one, then, be reckless enough to say that they were in error who handed on the tradition? (Prescription Against Heretics 28)
Whenever anyone came my way, who had been a follower of my seniors, I would ask for the accounts of our seniors: What did Andrew or Peter say? Or Phillip or Thomas or James or John or Matthew, or any of the Lord’s disciples? I also asked: What did Aristion and John the Presbyter, disciples of the Lord say. For, as I see it, it is not so much from books as from the living and permanent voice that I must draw profit (The Sayings of the Lord [between A.D. 115 and 140] as recorded by Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 3:39 [A.D. 325]).
For even creation reveals Him who formed it, and the very work made suggests Him who made it, and the world manifests Him who ordered it. The Universal [Catholic] Church, moreover, through the whole world, has received this tradition from the Apostles (Against Heresies 2:9 [A.D. 189]).
True knowledge is the doctrine of the Apostles, and the ancient constitution of the Church throughout all the world, and the distinctive manifestation of the body of Christ according to the successions of the bishops, by which they have handed down that Church which exists in every place, and has come even unto us, being guarded and preserved, without any forging of Scriptures, by a very complete system of doctrine, and neither addition nor curtailment [in truths which she believes]; and [it consists in] reading [the Word of God] without falsification, and a lawful and diligent exposition in harmony with the Scriptures, both without danger and without blasphemy… (ibid. 4:33 [A.D. 189]).
For wherever both the true Christian rule and faith shall be shown to be, there will be the true Scriptures, and the true expositions, of all the true Christian traditions (The Prescription of Heretics 19 [A.D. 200]).
While [Ignatius of Antioch] was making the journey through Asia under the strictest military guard, he strengthened the diocese in each city where he stayed by spoken sermons and exhortations, and he especially exhorted them above all to be on their guard against the heresies which then for the first time were prevalent and he urged them to hold fast to the tradition of the Apostles to which he thought it necessary, for securities sake, to give form by written testimony (Ecclesiastical History, 3:36 [A.D. 325]).
Without prefixing Consulate, month, and day, [the Fathers] wrote concerning Easter, “It seemed good as follows,” for it did then seem good that there should be a general compliance; but about the faith they wrote not, “It seemed good” but, “Thus believes the Catholic Church”; and thereupon they confessed how they believed, in order to show that their own sentiments were not novel, but Apostolic; and what they wrote down was no discovery of theirs, but is the same as was taught by the Apostles (Letter on the Councils of Ariminum and Seleucia [A.D. 359]).
Of the beliefs and practices whether generally accepted or publicly enjoined which are preserved in the Church some we possess derived from written teaching; others we have received delivered to us “in mystery” by the tradition of the Apostles; and both of these in relation to true religion have the same force. And these no one will contradict; – no one, at all events, who is even moderately versed in the institutions of the Church. For were we to attempt to reject such customs as have no written authority, on the ground that the importance they possess is small, we should unintentionally injure the Gospel in these matters… (On the Holy Spirit 27 [A.D. 375]).
Don’t you know that the laying on of hands after baptism and then the invocation of the Holy Sirit is a custom of the Churches? Do you demand Scripture proof? You may find it in the Acts of the Apostles. And even if it did not rest on the authority of Scripture the consensus of the whole world in this respect would have the force of a command. For many other observances of the Churches, which are do to tradition, have acquired the authority of the written law (The Dialogue Against the Luciferians 8 [A.D. 382]).
“So then brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word, or by epistle of ours” (2 Thessalonians 2:15). Hence it is manifest, that they did not deliver all things by epistle, but many things also unwritten, and in like manner both the one and the other are worthy of credit. Therefore let us think the tradition of the Church also worthy of credit. It is a tradition, seek no farther (Homilies on Second Thessalonians [circa A.D. 400]).
Vincent of Lerins
I have often then inquired earnestly and attentively of very many men eminent for sanctity and learning, how and by what sure and so to speak universal rule I may be able to distinguish the truth of Catholic faith from the falsehood of heretical pravity; and I have always, and in almost every instance, received an answer to this effect: That whether I or any one else should wish to detect the frauds and avoid the snares of heretics as they rise, and to continue sound and complete in the Catholic faith, we must, the Lord helping, fortify our own belief n two ways: first, by the authority of the Divine Law, and then, by the Tradition of the Catholic Church (Commonitory 2 [A.D. 434])
I have ever kept the faith of the Apostles undefiled… So have I learnt not only from the Apostles and the Prophets but also from the interpreters of their writings, Ignatius, Eustathius, Athanasius, Basil, Gregory, John, and the rest of the lights of the world; and before these from the holy Fathers in council at Nicaea, whose confession of the faith I preserve in its integrity, like an ancestral inheritance [styling corrupt and enemies of the truth all who dare to transgress its decrees] (Letters no. 89 [circa A.D. 443]).
Mark 13:31 – heaven and earth will pass away, but Jesus’ Word will not pass away. But Jesus never says anything about His Word being entirely committed to a book. Also, it took 400 years to compile the Bible, and another 1,000 years to invent the printing press. How was the Word of God communicated? Orally, by the bishops of the Church, with the guidance and protection of the Holy Spirit.Mark 16:15 – Jesus commands the apostles to preach the Gospel to every creature. But Jesus did not want this preaching to stop after the apostles died, and yet the Bible was not compiled until four centuries later. The word of God was transferred orally.Mark 3:14; 16:15 – Jesus commands the apostles to preach (not write) the gospel to the world. Jesus gives no commandment to the apostles to write, and gives them no indication that the oral apostolic word he commanded them to communicate would later die in the fourth century. If Jesus wanted Christianity to be limited to a book (which would be finalized four centuries later), wouldn’t He have said a word about it?Luke 10:16 – He who hears you (not “who reads your writings”), hears me. The oral word passes from Jesus to the apostles to their successors by the gracious gifts of the Holy Spirit. This succession has been preserved in the Holy Catholic Church.Luke 24:47 – Jesus explains that repentance and forgiveness of sins must be preached (not written) in Christ’s name to all nations. For Protestants to argue that the word of God is now limited to a book (subject to thousands of different interpretations) is to not only ignore Scripture, but introduce a radical theory about how God spreads His word which would have been unbelievable to the people at the time of Jesus.Acts 2:3-4 – the Holy Spirit came to the apostles in the form of “tongues” of fire so that they would “speak” (not just write) the Word.Acts 15:27 – Judas and Silas, successors to the apostles, were sent to bring God’s infallible Word by “word of mouth.”Rom. 10:8 – the Word is near you, on your lips and in your heart, which is the word of faith which is preached (not just written).Rom. 10:17 – faith comes by what is “heard” (not just read) which is the Word that is “preached” (not read). This word comes from the oral tradition of the apostles. Those in countries where the Scriptures are not available can still come to faith in Jesus Christ.1 Cor. 15:1,11 – faith comes from what is “preached” (not read). For non-Catholics to argue that oral tradition once existed but exists no longer, they must prove this from Scripture. But no where does Scripture say oral tradition died with the apostles. To the contrary, Scripture says the oral word abides forever.Gal. 1:11-12 – the Gospel which is “preached” (not read) to me is not a man’s Gospel, but the Revelation of Jesus Christ.Eph. 1:13 – hearing (not reading) the Word of truth is the gospel of our salvation. This is the living word in the Church’s living tradition.Col. 1:5 – of this you have “heard” (not read) before in the word of truth, the Gospel which has come to you.1 Thess. 2:13 – the Word of God is what you have “heard” (not read). The orally communicated word of God lasts forever, and this word is preserved within the Church by the Holy Spirit.2 Tim. 1:13 – oral communications are protected by the Spirit. They abide forever. Oral authority does not die with the apostles.2 Tim. 4:2,6-7 – Paul, at the end of his life, charges Timothy to preach (not write) the Word. Oral teaching does not die with Paul.Titus 1:3 – God’s word is manifested “through preaching” (not writing). This “preaching” is the tradition that comes from the apostles.1 Peter 1:25 – the Word of the Lord abides forever and that Word is the good news that was “preached” (not read) to you. Because the Word is preached by the apostles and it lasts forever, it must be preserved by the apostles’ successors, or this could not be possible. Also, because the oral word abides forever, oral apostolic tradition could not have died in the fourth century with all teachings being committed to Scripture.2 Peter 1:12, 15 – Peter says that he will leave a “means to recall these things in mind.” But since this was his last canonical epistle, this “means to recall” must therefore be the apostolic tradition and teaching authority of his office that he left behind.2 John 1:12; 3 John 13 – John prefers to speak and not to write. Throughout history, the Word of God was always transferred orally and Jesus did not change this. To do so would have been a radical departure from the Judaic tradition.Deut. 31:9-12 – Moses had the law read only every seven years. Was the word of God absent during the seven year interval? Of course not. The Word of God has always been given orally by God’s appointed ones, and was never limited to Scripture.Isa. 40:8 – the grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God (not necessarily written) will stand forever.Isa. 59:21 – Isaiah prophesies the promise of a living voice to hand on the Word of God to generations by mouth, not by a book. This is either a false prophecy, or it has been fulfilled by the Catholic Church.Joel 1:3 – tell your children of the Word of the Lord, and they tell their children, and their children tell another generation.Mal. 2:7 – the lips of a priest guard knowledge, and we should seek instruction from his mouth. Protestants want to argue all oral tradition was committed to Scripture? But no where does Scripture say this.