Schaf says that there are several ways in which Protestant and Roman Catholic views on justification and authority overlap. He says, that the “word of God answers to faith, and tradition to love.” In both instances, the Protestant insistence is that the first and ultimate instrument of justification is faith which alone receives and rests upon the gracious work of Christ, and likewise, the Scriptures, in the Protestant view are the only ultimate and infallible rule of doctrine and practice.
At the same time, the Reformed tradition has always insisted that works are necessary for salvation and naturally flow from authentic faith. Faith without works is deadbeat assent. Likewise, tradition is inescapable and far from being a threat to sound doctrine and practice, it is actually “absolutely indispensable.” True and faithful Christian tradition “is not part of the divine word separately from that which is written, but the contents of scripture itself as apprehended and settled by the Church against heresies past and always new appearing; not an independent source of revelation, but the one fountain of the written word, only rolling itself forward in the stream of Church consciousness.” Thus, just as good works do necessarily flow from faith and are essential for salvation, so too, faithful tradition flows from and is necessary for the life of the Church through the centuries.
The Protestant complaint with Roman Catholicism is what Martin Chemnitz called the Pandora Box phenomenon. It’s one thing to honor tradition, referring to ways in which the Church has meditated on the Scriptures and then spoken authoritatively on various issues. But it’s quite another to use ‘tradition’ as a multipurpose grab bag out of which all manner of evil may proceed justified by the whims of wicked men who happen to find their names on a genealogical chart that traces back to St. Peter.
(The Principle of Protestantism, 71-72, 87)