The Tradition of Hating Tradition

Lightsaber Priests

The tradition of hating tradition is a phenomenon found in abundance among many Christians today. Having spent 19 years in the independent Evangelical movement, I know the dizzying freedom one feels when he rejects “religious tradition” in the name of “having a personal relationship with Jesus,” as if the two were mutually exclusive. In my case I was never exactly sure what I was rejecting (tradition was a sort of undefined, religious boogieman for our Charismatic group), but it gave me the sense that I had conquered the evils of a bygone era and retained the pure faith. I found that simply saying I was a follower of Jesus, free of all tradition, gained me immediate applause and acceptance with hordes of like-minded “independent” Christians.

Indeed, when one is involved with independent Christianity he will find common agreement on almost nothing except this odd unexplored hatred for tradition. A generation ago, when the independent church thing took off, many had good reasons for leaving traditional Christianity. This was a time when a mass exodus from “organized religion,” in particular Roman Catholicism, was happening in America. Countless people flocked to the newly established independent churches, which had set up shop on every corner and mini-mall in the country. A common recollection of abusive religious school teachers of the cloth, armed with knuckle-cracking wooden rulers, helped forge a common loyalty to the idea of “Jesus without tradition.”

I get that. But what troubles me about the exodus is not that people left whatever church they were a part of, but that they decided to take the far more disastrous path of autonomous Christianity (which, in reality, doesn’t exist), mirroring an already established cultural norm of radical individualism.

The main issue with wanting a “personal relationship with Jesus” without tradition is that it is not possible. Why? Primarily because Jesus calls his followers to his “body” and delivered a tradition through his apostles which is a necessary concomitant of preserving the truth throughout the ages. “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” he said, indicating that there is a way to follow him. And not just any way will do because he is also the truth, and truth does not lend itself to every path, but to a Person. Furthermore this Person does not dwell in the cover of darkness for all to wonder at what he may be; rather, his way and truth is found in his life. Where is his life revealed? It is revealed in the apostolic tradition, i.e. the life of the Church.

Many are unfamiliar with the last part of this reasoning because they have been taught various ideas about how one comes to know Christ. The common objection is that the Bible alone is the source which reveals Christ (based on the misguided assumption that the Bible and holy tradition are in conflict, rather than intrinsically united). But this rebuttal always strikes me as ironic since it is the Bible which makes the case for following the apostolic tradition as a sure guide in the faith. If one listens to the Bible he will find that it warns of how easily it can be manipulated by people who are untaught in the faith (2Pet 3:16). What method does Scripture offer for becoming “taught” in the faith?—a careful following of the tradition delivered by the Apostles (1Cor 11:2, Phil 4:9, 2Thes 3:6, 2Tim 3:14). Lastly, Scripture says it is the Church, and not an individual with his private understanding of Scripture, which stands as the “ground and pillar of truth” (1Tim 3:15).

If that doesn’t do it, consider the fact that Jesus left behind a Church with a set of texts, leaders, sacraments, prayers, a mission, etc., which has not changed for 20 centuries. That, friend, is a tradition if there ever was one. It is not incorrect to say that Jesus wants a personal relationship with individuals, what is wildly incorrect is to say he wants a relationship with individuals without the Church. The Church is his very body which one must be “grafted into” in order to become united with him (Rom 11:17).

There is also a humorous side to the “Jesus without tradition” claim, in that everybody comes to the faith via someone’s specific traditional understanding. Those who claim to follow no tradition are often the one’s most deeply entrenched in a tradition, however unwittingly their entrenchment is. For example, the Word-of-Faith movement prides itself on a tradition-free Christianity. From their perspective, they are merely following the Bible and imitating the ancient Church found in the book of Acts (as all churches claim, really). But if one is careful to connect the dots he will find this movement is heavily doctored by the teachings and examples of folks like James Seymour, Oral Roberts, Kenneth Hagin and a host of others. One would not be in error to call it the “Seymour-Roberts-Hagin tradition.”

The “dizzying freedom” I found in making myself the arbiter of Christianity—which is what it amounted to—was not a positive experience. It turned out to be the internal vertigo of walking a spiritual tight rope far higher than I could ever prepare for on my own. Perhaps in the background it was also the American cult of individualism that helped me realize how incompatible “independent Christianity” is with the historic faith. We Westerners have enough isolation in our daily lives, the last thing we need is more of the same in the Christian faith, which is communal at its core.

Those who are appalled at this idea of a personal relationship with Jesus being contingent on community and a tradition containing centuries of continuity in thought and worship will find historic Christianity a colossal disappointment. I find it beautiful beyond words.

Thanks for reading.

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27 thoughts on “The Tradition of Hating Tradition

  1. Reblogged this on grace on purpose and commented:
    I recently stumbled upon this guy’s blog and have been pretty impressed. While he and I no doubt disagree as to the particular traditions Christians ought to follow (he is Eastern Orthodox, I am Torah-based), I really appreciate many of the points he illustrates.
    The truth is, we are all following tradition in every area of our lives. To be free from tradition is an impossibility. Tradition is the way of all life on earth, the very act of reproduction (which God Himself designed). Everything we see, hear, and believe is a result of that which has gone before us. It may, perhaps and often, appear different through the ages, but it still carries the DNA of it’s predecesor. It still has an ancestor. As the wise Solomon said, “there is nothing new under the sun.” If you reject all tradition, then you inevitably will create your own- and yet all “new” traditions are based upon the old.
    It all comes down to this: the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. There in the beginning is when tradition started. All tradition (everything) is the fruit of either of these trees. There is nothing else.
    I can certainly relate to this man’s experience of “independent Christianity.” I don’t mean to judge or cast stones, but the “tradition-less” religion I was apart of always had me questioning what faith even was. For all my passion and zeal, I felt completely lost. Passion and zeal serve a purpose- a call to action. I wanted to do something, but didn’t know what! Love God and love your neighbor, yes, but what does that look like?? Discovering the ancient traditions of our spiritual fathers, Abraham, Moses, King David, etc. (also followed by the Messiah himself), has given me the stability I have lacked and the direction I needed. Combined with relationship with God and His Son, faith has become whole.

  2. Great post! You make great points. I am a recent convert to Catholicism (and greatly respect the Eastern Orthodox tradition) and I love the opportunities I have to dig deeper into tradition and faith.

  3. I’m from the south, so as you know we have many different flavors of evangelical churches. When I was really young I went to a small church in the “Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith” denomination (a very small non-trinitarian believing church). As I grew up we didn’t regularly go to church but hopped around different places. When I was teenager we finally found an Anglican church to attend. We went there for about 10 years or so. Then in college I found the Catholic Campus Ministry. There, I started researching Catholicism more and found where I wanted to be.

  4. very well written/ argued thoughts on tradition. Having grown up in the Anglican church I then made the change to a more evangelical church which claimed to be non traditional and went to great lengths to demonstrate it’s lack of religiousness. I always found it strange and sad that so many had never been to a church service in an Anglican or Catholic church, yet they were quite sure that they would find those services broing and spiritually dead. I find that there is great beauty in the words of the liturgy and that for the occaisons of life – dedication, marriage, funerals – those words hold great power and spirituality. I also find it quite funny that those who deride “traditional” churches as boring and repetitive are just as rigid in their own way – 40 minutes of worship, notices, sermon, ministry- how is that not a tradition or a liturgy? The only difference is that the latter often lacks any poetry or beauty. Spiritually I find the free churches do offer more opportunity for every member ministry but I am under no illusion that any one church type holds the monopoly on faithful, spirit filled worship and service to Jesus.

  5. “Those who are appalled at this idea of a personal relationship with Jesus being contingent on community.” I disagree.

    Nothing about being saved is contingent on being part of a community. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. However, those who ignore the call to community, to gather themselves together with other believers, are in direct disobedience to the clear direction of God’s word.

    “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25

    You are right that many evangelicals are shallow in their understanding of tradition. I do belong to an independent church, part of the Fundamental Independent Churches of America (IFCA), which was formed a few generations ago in reaction to mainline denominations which were moving further and further from the plain truth of scripture. (Is Christ raised from the dead? Did God create the earth? Some mainline denominations entertained and encouraged doubts in fundamental issues. Some of these churches lost their way). Most of our churches were called Bible Churches (although some of these churches have been moving in the direction you speak of in recent years – the emergent movement.)

    Our church has traditions, not as old as yours perhaps. But we meet twice on Sundays, sing most of our songs out of the hymnbook, and sing new songs by writers such as Stuart Townend which are steeped deeply in truth. Expository preaching has long been a tradition in the IFCA. We have prayer meetings. We preach the gospel, the good news. Our church has reached back for some traditions. We have recently been celebrating Advent, for instance.

    It is wonderful that you find your church beautiful, but some newer churches also have deeply held convictions.

  6. Ann, thank you for your reply. “Nothing about being saved is contingent on being part of a community.” is an idea which shows how the Orthodox Church and Protestant churches fundamentally differ.

    It’s difficult to explain in so short a space, and I will leave much more unsaid than said, but the “community” I’m referring to is not any ordinary church on the corner. I’m speaking of the whole body of Christ – his saints – past, present and future as they make up the “body of Christ” the “true vine” which we all must be “grafted into” in order to be united with Christ.

    Perhaps the best illustration of the necessity of the Church (I speak of the Orthodox Church specifically) is found in the sacraments. Christ left us the sacrament of baptism, the Eucharist (communion), confession, etc. These are vital to the Christian’s life, both here and eternally. None of the sacraments are performed solo. The “whole Church” is necessarily present. The Church itself is a sacrament and therefore mystical. No “relationship” with Christ is possible without uniting with him and he himself gave us the sacraments in which to mystically accomplish this.

    Please don’t misunderstand. God is all-powerful, all-merciful and well able to save “whosoever calls upon him” regardless of their circumstance (e.g. the thief on the cross). But if one is speaking of a “relationship with Jesus,” then they are not the thief on the cross but obviously the possessor of time and conscience. If one has the luxury of pondering such things there is an obligation to meet Christ as Christ designed – i.e. the Church. Christ will always call a person to His body if that person desires relationship with Him.

  7. Wonderful and profound thoughts, Eric. I always find it slightlly amusing and somewhat disingenous that we have certain guidelines in faith that we don’t in other areas of life. Do we expect someone to be a mother without relationship to children, or a wife in a vacuum without a relationship to a husband? Can you be a sister if you have no brother? The idea would be absurd. Yet, independent Christians feel they can be in relationship with Christ and other believers outside of the relational channels God established. So many of the scriptural directives for believers assumes community: bear one another’s burdens, confess your sins to one another, weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice, where two or three are gathered in my name, etc. You can’t do those things alone. Even churches that break off from mainline denominations will eventually default to their own traditions and customs because humans intrinsically seek common points of connection.

  8. I agree with you whole heartedly. We all have traditions we just don’t call them that. Even non conformists have a uniform. I think the problem is that tradition is a two edged sword. While it can deepen our communal experience and bestow great meaning and value to our worship and fellowship it can become an end in itself. In other words giving flowers to your wife can be a wonderful thing. But how much meaning is it when it becomes, “Oh, it’s Thursday, I have to remember to get flowers for my wife”, then it loses it’s meaning. It can become rote and lose it’s vitality.

  9. Good analogy, Fowler. Though my wife would probably care less if I put any thought into it if I were getting her flowers every Tuesday. She’s the type that puts her Christmas gifts in her Amazon cart and tells me to go hit the “Proceed to Checkout” tab and pretend that I bought her whatever it is. Kills the fun, but saves soooo much time.

  10. I like the following balance of Scripture:
    Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.
    (versus)
    2 Thessalonians 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.
    (and)
    2 Thessalonians 2:15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.

    Since all the Apostles are dead, we can only trust their letters.

  11. Ah, but whose interpretation of their letters is the correct one?

    One quick example of why your method is incomplete: Jesus said of the communion elements: “This IS my body… This IS my blood,” the Orthodox have taught for 20 centuries that the elements become his body and blood as Christ Himself said. The Protestants unanimously reject this teaching and have created a plethora of reinterpretations. Which of the Protestant opinions is the correct one, if the Orthodox understanding is indeed wrong?

  12. The Church has been around for 2000 plus years now and there are many copies of the accepted canon of Scripture. Thus we can be reasonably certain that the Scripture we have today is the Scripture of the original autographs. The minor differences in any collection of Scripture do no violence to any true doctrine of the Church. To believe that any one particular stream of a particular manifestation of a visible Church institution is the absolute authority on how to interpret Scripture is to invite the spirit of the cults to make a home with that way of thinking. Roman Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah-Witness, Christadelphian, Seven-Day Adventist, and a whole plethora of institutions all say they are ONLY ones who interpret Scripture properly and have all the correct doctrines. This “ONLY” attitude is nothing more than placing the institution above Christ and thus placing themselves squarely in the camp of the “synagogue of Satan”.
    God knows those that are His and we have a rich history of the Church manifesting itself through-out the world. No ONE person or stream of theology is absolutely 100% correct. All streams of theology MUST be approached with the fact that Christ is the HEAD of the Church and will guide those that humble themselves.

  13. Does the Nicene Creed then promote the “synagogue of satan” with its declaration that there is “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church”?

    Further, how do you square Paul’s own words that the Church is the ground and pillar of truth if you believe the church is many and not one – i.e. that nobody has the truth “100%”? (I thought Sola Scriptura believers did believe they had 100% of the truth). These two don’t jive. Help me understand.

    But, your response wasn’t in response to my last post. I would still like to get your take on which of the various Protestant versions of the Eucharist/communion elements is correct, since they all claim to take their cue from Scripture.

    (Note: I did not ask you which collection of letters was the correct collection. I asked which interpretation of Scripture is the correct one. Every group boasts their own truth on the matter – the 1000’s of Protestant offshoots have never been able to agree with each other on their interpretation of Scripture. The one thing they believed would unite them – Scripture – they’ve used to divide themselves. Is this a problem with Scripture? No. It’s a problem with men trying to invent the faith on their own outside of the apostolic tradition.)

  14. What does the Nicene Creed have to do with “synagogue of satan”?
    The Nicene Creed is just an expression of faith in writing of what Biblical doctrine teaches. We cannot place the Nicene Creed on par with Scripture; just like a house cannot be built without a foundation. If one traditional expression of the Church says that they are the ONLY one who knows what the exact faith and practice is… then we must believe they have fallen prey to Satans devices. That traditional expression must reform and come back to true Biblical thinking.
    The Church has far more expressions of true faith since it has an invisible essence. To believe that there is only one visible Church as expressed in some specific form is to to believe that God has limited Himself to following the mandates of a man’s understanding. Or in other words; Man made God in his image… Hmmmm, I don’t think even you would believe that nonsense.
    Sola Scriptura is nothing more than an expression of what one believes about the Bible as in any confession every Church must craft.
    Paul did say that the Church is the ground and pillar of truth… and we get that from Scripture… not some Church father, monk, nun, priest, reformer, deacon, elder, ad infinitum ….
    So our foundation is on the living logos, HIS WORD. Peter declared that Paul’s letters were, indeed, Scripture. Peter was told by the Living Christ that to believe what Peter said was authoritative. Do we need more than Peter’s affirmation of Pauls writings? When does it stop? … Mohamed said he was the next one to listen to since the Jews and Christians failed. Joseph Smith said he was the one that superseded Christ.
    Your soured experience with certain types of theology is a poor filter in which to understand God’s will. If you found a home with your Orthodox group, then more power to you. But the Reformers had to spend allot of time stripping away the weedy layers of false practice, doctrine, and useless tradition to try to understand what really mattered since they were dealing with true-truth. It was not and is still not an easy thing to do since many parts of the Bible remain unclear. But if one is inclined to believe that God really does want us to know His will (and I hope every Christian has that Biblical inclination), then one should always be reforming his or her understanding of Scripture and how to live it out in this fallen world. The things I believe today are not exactly how I understood them as a new Christian. I am always seeing new facets of Scripture, the doctrines it teaches, and how to apply it to my life. My walk is deeper, my comfort is greater, my Lord is more real, and I look forward to an eternity in the presence of God with greater anticipation.
    To keep pounding that same soapbox about the Protestant split is like shouting out, “the sky is blue”!. It’s just too easy to play the us and them game when the obvious is obvious.
    I hope your walk with the Lord isn’t based on some sort of airline ticket theology; you know… you bought a first class ticket and feel sorry for those riding in coach. I’m just not sure the Lord sees that as freedom in Christ?

  15. Well, I initially had a fairly lengthy response to your reply, but, seeing that you hadn’t responded yet, and wishing to change my response, I opted for it. Here’s the main issue as I see it, captured in this quotation:

    “If one traditional expression of the Church says that they are the ONLY one who knows what the exact faith and practice is… then we must believe they have fallen prey to Satans devices. That traditional expression must reform and come back to true Biblical thinking”

    For me, it needs modification to accurately reflect my position. The Orthodox Church claims to hold to the apostolic tradition as passed on by the apostles, kept by the fathers, virtually unchanged in doctrine and worship to this very day. This can be demonstrated by the sheer facts of historical inquiry and comparison.

    To claim that the Church – this one that was constituted in the Holy Spirit since the day of Pentecost – has failed and requires reform is to claim that the “gates of hell have prevailed against the church,” which Christ prophesied would never happen, and it is a commentary that the Holy Spirit is inept to keep Christ’s body intact on earth – yes, the Church in both its visible and invisible aspect (unless one believes that Christ does not have a physical body, i.e. the ancient heresy of docetism applied ecclesiologically).

    This idea – that the Church and the apostolic faith has become obsolete in the physical – is an attack on Scripture, the Nicene Creed, and the whole of the historic faith. Far from being a doctrine of demons, the belief in “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church” is fully orthodox and taught by our Lord Jesus Christ, His apostles, and saints for 20 centuries. To claim that because Mormons and JW’s believe in one true church, therefore it is demonic, is a logical fallacy on many fronts.

    Perhaps you have in mind to attack Roman Catholicism. I would hope that at this point in our discussion you would know that I’m not Roman Catholic, thus the idea that the Reformers needed to adjust the apostolic faith is ridiculous. What they needed to do was come home to the Church – the same one Rome left 500 years prior – i.e. the Orthodox Church.

    Your trust in Scripture for the truth is noble, but ultimately you either bend your understanding to the Reformed tradition (which you say you follow), which is aberrant from the apostolic faith on countless fronts (and is really merely Augustinianism twice corrupted), or you follow your own opinions on the Scripture. Scripture must be understood according to the apostolic tradition, as Scripture explicitly states (see the OP for verses).

    I would enjoy very much to learn what your method for arriving at “true Biblical thinking” is. If you could elaborate on this it would help to move the ball down field for me. If you arrive at it via the Reformed teaching, please indicate why the Reformed tradition is authoritative in this respect. If your method is simply following your own interpretation of Scripture, please tell me how you know you are getting it right without recourse to the apostolic tradition.

    Cheers.

  16. I’ll avoid the assumptions you made about my statements and address the ‘”method for arriving at “true Biblical thinking” is’. I doubt that you can disagree upon how to interpret Scripture if I state that there are proper and good methods of Biblical Hermeneutics. Not all Scripture is clear and thus we have to apply our best effort through understanding the original language, history, context, as-well-as the 2000+ years of commentary of extant writings. We also know that the clear parts of Scripture can be properly interpreted by the simple minded as-well-as those who grasp more complex ways of thinking. We know that all true believers have the Holy Spirit Himself to guide them into that truth. We also know that there is an enemy who still has the original intention of trying to make God a liar. We know that there are those who would twist the Scripture to there own means because they would listen to this same enemy.
    The Apostolic tradition was locked in the Canon and those who avail themselves of the Biblical Canon are following the Apostolic tradition. To follow any man who claims to be following Apostolic tradition is to always test the spirit of that man against what is written. If it looks like a lemon tree and makes lemons… then the test is passed. If it looks like a lemon tree and you make orange juice from it, then there is a mismatch and the test fails.

    Now I must ask you this question; Does God look down from heaven and say that such-and-such visible Church is my one and only true Church? They are the only ones who have the truth and are My one true Church?

  17. Admin: “I’ll avoid the assumptions you made about my statements”

    Your statement was clear – any church claiming to be the one true church is the synagogue of satan. I merely pointed out that the ancient Church as well as its contemporary counterpart, the Orthodox Church, Scripture and the Nicene Creed all claim there is one true Church. To say otherwise is indeed following the aberrant path. This is not an easy pill for Protestants to swallow, if they did they would not be Protestant.

    Thank you for stating your interpretive method, but it still leaves one wanting. Your method is to follow Scripture with proper Hermeneutic attention given to language, culture, tradition, etc. Besides this, the Holy Spirit guides all “true believers” to the truth. In addition, the Apostolic tradition is “locked into the canon” of the Bible. Sounds easy enough. Why is it then that you still believe there is not “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church”?

    Indeed this Apostolic tradition is found “locked in canon,” it is expressed by the ancient Church through the Nicene Creed, it is plainly taught in Scripture, the language and culture of the NT authors points to this, the Church Fathers all teach this… So, I’m confused. Why do you still claim there is not one Church?

    And, let me not forget to answer your question.

    To say that God looks “down from heaven” on the church is to already separate Him from it. God does not look down on the Church for the simple reason that it is by the Holy Spirit that the Church is constituted and it is the very Body of Christ in the earth. Christ’s body is both visible and invisible (consider the doctrine of the incarnation) and He is not divided. Thus, the Church is one, it is holy, it is catholic (universal in its scope) and it is apostolic.

    To clarify further the specific Orthodox claim: “We know where the Church is, but we do not know where it isn’t,” is a motto often spoken to express the Orthodox doctrine of the visible and invisible aspects of the Church. The Orthodox Church expresses the fullness of the faith available to all believers. However, not all true believers are located in the Orthodox Church. There are plenty of baptized Orthodox attendees who do not take their baptismal vows seriously and simply go through the motions. Likewise, there are plenty of non-baptized believers who are God’s true worshipers outside the Church on their journey to find it. We believe God is ever merciful and able to save whosoever calls upon his name through true humility and repentance.

    I was one of these. I believe I was legitimately “saved” when I cried out to Christ in a wild, charismatic, word of faith church 23 years ago. However, there was always something missing. My faith was always incomplete. My baptism lacked the true filling of the Spirit and rule of faith. I entered seminary at Oral Roberts University and Fuller University finding professors who were Pentecostal, Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran and more, all who passionately believed the gospel, all spent their lives attaining PhD’s in theology and Biblical Studies, and guess what… they all disagreed with each other on simply doctrines of the faith. They all followed your interpretive method (and mine at the time) and came to vastly different conclusions. This is not the work of the Holy Spirit – division never is, except to separate the true faith from the aberrant doctrines of man.

    This is why any teaching which endorses straying from the 20 centuries of apostolic tradition will never find traction with me. I’ve seen its destruction ends first hand for 2 decades.

    We may have to agree to disagree. But it has been a pleasure discussing with you. Please feel free to have the last word. I will respond if you have a direct question for me, otherwise I thank you for the civilized and interesting banter.

    Cheers. 🙂

  18. Your preference for the Eastern Orthodox denomination is commendable as long as you hold God’s Living Word as the measuring rod for all faith and practice. I would encourage and cheer-on your passion for Christ and His body. We all have a story of how our faith evolved if we have walked for a number of years in this pilgrimage. We both have, most-likely, seen abuse of the clear and unclear portions of Scripture. We are reminded that Satan is always on the prowl looking for his next victim.
    But I am sure we both have seen the beauty of God’s gracious gift of His Son, as well as understood (in some portion) the suffering in His incarnation. I read recently that God cannot show us Himself in full; not only for the sake of His glory, but for the full impact of His sorrow.
    I do not believe Jesus died for His Church as defined by some specific denomination or stream of theology. I believe His Church, albeit schismatic from it’s earliest inception, is much broader and deeper than one organization no matter how much they can trace their historical roots.
    The Church has always been a dysfunctional family. Oneness in the truest sense of the word has never been 100% achieved here on earth. Any true Church historian knows the Church was never in one organized state of function, government, or theological agreement.
    So this begs the question; do we cloister ourselves with the family we agree with and throw stones at those who would not join our family?
    I find that to be a very narrow and dark.

  19. Tradition is indeed promoted in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testament. We are warned to not give up the traditions of our fathers many times in the Bible. The fact that 4 of the five ancient patriarchates are in the East (Constantinople, now sadly Istanbul, Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem) , and only one in the Catholic West (Rome) perfectly underscores which church is telling the truth. Rome was the one that went against the grain and holy tradition, and set the trend. All just followed after that, quite simply.

    Many archaeologists, historians, etc, agree that Orthodox Christianity is the oldest around. One just has to go to the beautiful, unchanged Liturgy to see that. And the magnificent icons, how baptism is done in the ancient tradition, the clergy’s vestments, biblical tradition, singing and chanting, partaking of the agape feast, etc, to see that.

    I found many things in the Bible, Church Fathers, etc, to support the fact that tradition is important, and that the Orthodox Church keeps it most intact.

    Let The Lord keep you, my Orthodox brother.

    Amen.

  20. Lydia, For me it is simple: I was born a Catholic and I will die a Catholic. My best friend from school became a charasmatic but saw the true light and became a Greek Orthodox Catholic Priest. Whether Coptic, Russian Orthodox, Greek orthodox or Roman Catholic – we are all of the Traditional true, unaltered faith. Greg Pettit, South Africa

  21. Eric, I agree with much of what you write here. Especially the importance of tradition. The Church must be united, holy, apostolic, and catholic (universal). Now how do we best deal then with the obvious wounds to the Body of Christ caused by divisions, schisms and heresies? I believe that everyone who sincerely believes in Christ and is baptized is baptized into a communion with the one Body of Christ, the universal Church.
    This communion may be imperfect in one way or another and to a varying degree, depending on how far denominations have strayed from tradition or orthodoxy. (There are definitely some, often located in some southern states in the US, that can push my buttons,) However, I think we should look at what we have in common first and work with this, if possible. Every time a schism occurred it was caused by sins in both sides, in my humble opinion. So I see little use in focusing on what went wrong but rather on what needs to be done to heal the rifts. I’m always amazed that folks seem to get worked up about the points that separate us (In particular the (Roman) Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches where even after some study I have trouble to find any differences that matter to me – maybe it’s my lack of formal training in theology?) and do not rejoice in the treasures that we have in common. I’m not saying that preserving doctrine is unimportant, not at all. That would amount to an admission that truth is relative. However, as far as I’m concerned, I’d be happy to let clergy and professional theologians work this out. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that a very large percentage of people around me is spiritually dormant, agnostic, atheist, or even anti-theist. So if I can find a brother or sister in faith in my life, I’m very happy for that, even if we can’t agree on every detail.

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