Monday, October 22, 2007

Tradition - What does it Mean?

If you have the chance to address those who seek to defend "tradition" from Scripture, you will find them appealing to Scriptures and fathers who say that the apostles passed some things on orally, rather than in writing.

Let's be clear on one thing: even if the "tradition" advocates were right that the was material communicated that was important and was not in Scripture, that still does not bring us to the "tradition" position.

Why not?

Because the "tradition" position is not just that some (or all) bishops get the whispered secrets of the apostles passed down orally over the centuries Kaballah-style. Instead, it is that "the church" (meaning the RCC if you ask a Catholic, the EO if you ask an Orthodox, etc. etc.) has the ability to avoid doctrinal error (or perhaps any error - depending who you ask).

In other words, "tradition" in the sense that it is usually used has little to do with "oral tradition" passed down from the apostles.

Instead, "tradition" is simply the aggregated teachings of whatever church one adheres to. It is this sense of "tradition" that Jesus criticized with respect to the Pharisees - and it is this kind of "tradition" that is particularly dangerous. While we should respect previous Christian men, we should still test their doctrine by Scripture, lest we fall (with the Orthodox, Catholics, and Pharisees) into the trap of making the Word of God of none effect by our traditions.

Will we have traditions? Of course. Sola Scriptura is not amnesia. We simply subject our traditions to Scripture.

Praise be to God, who has given us the fullness of His revelation in these latter days,


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