Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
"We Have Apostolic Tradition"- The Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary #6
03/17/2009 - James Swan
Catholic apologists often let us know how crucial it is to have an infallible magisterium and church Tradition in order to interpret the Bible correctly. With so many Catholic apologists now commenting on sacred scripture, I thought it would be interesting to provide their commentary on the Bible. Let's see how they've been able to rightly divide the word of truth.
A caller recently asked Catholic apologist Tim Staples if the rich man in Luke 16:19-31 was in hell or purgatory. Tim explains the general sense of church tradition places the rich man in hell. Tim notes the Catholic Catechism also cites this text a few times as referring to a man who has died in mortal sin, therefore in hell. So, according to Tim, here we see an interpretive church tradition in action. The majority viewpoint of the church throughout the centuries has placed the rich man in hell, not purgatory. The Catechism cites the text with the underlying assumption the man is in hell, not purgatory.
What makes Tim's answer so interesting is that he cites a fellow Catholic apologist, Patrick Madrid, denying the general sense of the church and the Catechism by placing the rich man in purgatory. You can listen to the MP3 of this here.
Tim let's us know it isn't that big of deal when his friend Patrick Madrid places the rich man in purgatory. Nope, not that big of a deal at all to hold your own contrary opinion on something the Catechism affirms, as does Thomas Aquinas and tradition. Tim is careful to point out the church doesn't have a definitive position on this text, so Madrid is free to interpret as he wishes. Of course, the bigger question is whether or not Luke 16:19-31 is literal or a parable, but this is usually only asked by those exegeting the text, not by those looking for purgatory.
Some years back Mr. Madrid wrote, "As a rule of faith that, without recourse to Sacred Tradition and an infallible Magisterium, promises doctrinal certitude and a unity of faith, sola scriptura fails miserably." He also stated, "Scripture alone-Scripture forced to stand apart from the infallible teaching magisterium that has been given Christ's own authority to accurately interpret Scripture, and Sacred Tradition, which is the Church's living interpretation of those written words -is unstable and leads to the myriad of conflicting, erroneous, and sometimes spiritually fatal "human traditions." How do such comments not apply to Madrid himself? He's going against the very authority paradigm that tells him where the rich man is.