Tradition vs. The Bible

The Rosary
by David M. McNabb

With almost one billion members, the Roman Catholic church is the largest group of people in the world that claims to adhere to the teachings of Jesus Christ. The Catholic faith is based on the Holy Scriptures and traditions, a number of which are in stark contrast to Jesus' own words. The rosary is but one of these inconsistencies.

Recently, an article in Springfield's newspaper, the Union-News, with the headline "Catholics re-embrace the rosary," caught my attention.

One sentence, in particular, really struck me. The article describes how that sales of rosaries are up as a whole, and that the manufacturers of rosaries have adapted to include in their product line rosaries of wood, pearl, birth stones, etc., as well as expanding to include other variations such as bracelets.

Furthermore, it reads, "Dealers say sales of high-end rosaries are up ... as are sales to two relatively untapped markets: men and Protestants." I thought it odd that Protestants were beginning to buy a product that, among Christians, was more or less exclusive to Catholicism.

The article went on to inform the readers that "Rosaries of various forms are said by Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims. The Catholic rosary, which has several variations but most commonly is devoted to Mary, is thought to have developed seven centuries ago...

"[It] is a string of 59 beads, a crucifix, and a stamped metal medallion, usually featuring an image of Mary. Catholics recite the rosary - a set of prescribed prayers and contemplating some of 15 specified incidents from the life of Jesus or Mary - while massaging the beads with their fingers."

In these two paragraphs, the Christian must take note of certain 'warning flags' which they contain. The first is found in the information about when the Catholic rosary was developed and the other religions which recite a rosary. The second is that the rosary is a recitation of prescribed prayers, a fact which, when analyzed by the Scriptures, reveals its true origin.

It was not until nearly 13 centuries after the time of Christ that this tradition found its way into Christianity. Apparitions of a woman long since dead (who, in reality is now awaiting the resurrection with all others who are asleep in Christ), supposedly requested that people begin to say the rosary.

But Christ, Himself, said, "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them..." In Heb. 13:8, Paul says, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." One of the most wonderful attributes of God, the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, is their immutability. Of our heavenly Father it is written, "For I am the LORD, I change not." (Mal. 3:6) And again, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." (James 1:17)

While serving our unchanging God, why would we believe that He would tell us not to pray using "vain repetition," and then, centuries later, request that we do?

Immediately after commanding His disciples to refrain from repetitious prayers, He gave them what has come to be known as the "Lord's Prayer" or the "Our Father." This prayer is commonly used, verbatim, by Catholics and Protestants alike. Taken in the context of the passage, however, it is easily determined that it was not intended to be "the prayer" recited by Christ's disciples. Jesus told them to pray "after this manner." The Lord's Prayer is more an outline of things to pray than a prayer to recite.

The heathens of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, etc. have long practiced the ancient tradition of using rosaries. This practice was not ordained, nor was it sanctioned, by God, but finds its roots in the ancient Babylonian worship of Baal, which is the foundation upon which most of the world's religions are built.

Rosaries of some variation were used in ancient Rome during the time of Christ. Jesus commanded us to reject the ways of the heathens and pray to God as we would speak to a father.

Paul said, "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." (Col. 2:8)

Our teachings must be based on Scripture. Of all other doctrines Isaiah warns, "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Isa. 8:20) Let us, therefore, contend earnestly for the faith that was once delivered to the saints, holding true to the Word of God in every aspect of our doctrine. Where traditions stray from the Scriptures, let us cleave earnestly to God's word.