Is Tradition Good?

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Acts 26:22, And so, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place.

When I was young, may family had several traditions. On thanksgiving, we would have a big turkey dinner with extended family. On Christmas Even we would always get to open one gift, and it usually ended up being pajamas. On Easter we dressed up to go to church, and when we could afford it we would go out to eat. I loved these kinds of traditions.

In Christianity there are also traditions. Different churches do different things regarding tradition. But the faith itself is traditional- Not because of church activity (I.e. what kind of music is sung on Sunday morning or how people dress) but because of beliefs. True faith is rooted in tradition. When Paul argued his defense before his accusers, he argued that what he proclaimed was nothing more than tradition of the faith. The testimony of Jesus Christ was rooted in the Prophets and Moses. It is not a new rabbit that Paul pulled out of a hat. It was historical tradition.

Today, if a church does not carry tradition in this way, it is not a church. Core doctrines are fundamental traditions of the church, worth dying for. The Apostle’s Creed is a sum of historical traditional truth that should be present in every church:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
Amen.

This creed sums up in a nutshell what the Church should die for. Some churches fight over traditions about what songs are sung, what color carpet, clothing worn to church and more, but those are not hills worth dying on. I enjoyed our different traditions growing up. They were fun things we enjoyed together as a family. They defined us. In the same way the traditions of belief in the Church defined the Church.

How is your church traditional? In activities? In beliefs?

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2 thoughts on “Is Tradition Good?

  1. Nice post!

    I’ve had very mixed experiences regarding traditions in my own life, whether religiously based or a shared cultural ritual, traditions have been an interesting piece for many people’s identity.

    I would say that anything that we choose to do or think should be rooted in a principle called the “independent investigation of truth”. As I understand it, that means that every individual must take up the responsibility of asking themselves “Why am I doing this?” “Where did this tradition come from?” “If everyone in the world engaged in this practice, would it conduce to the betterment of humanity?” among other questions…

    It would only be the blind imitation of the past that I would take issue with. Historically, traditions have at times been barriers between peoples and a source of distraction from the higher purposes that they might serve, and rather become a place where those who “belong” assimilate into the traditions of the group in order to fit in.

    That last point isn’t always the case, but it something worth reflecting on…

    • Hi Oakritchie,

      Thank you for your great comment. I like your principle, “independent investigation of truth.” Especially in the Church there is a struggle to practice this principle. Many people are herded into traditions and practices without personally identifying why they are doing so.

      Throughout all Scripture, I believe it is clear that God is always interested in His people personally engaging with Him through their heart attitude expressed through what they practice. I am personally strongly against blind imitation of the past. When this happens, it misses the mark of why we do such things. It ends up harming others.

      On the other hand, by their very nature since traditions define people, they do create a line of division. But in Christianity, I would argue that it is a line that God’s nature creates that he invites all people in (John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9-10). Of course, not everyone comes “in”, so they remain on the outside.

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