Wednesday, December 19, 2007

traditions, continued

Traditions are dealt with several times in the New Testament.

There is a very prominent example of Jesus talking with some Pharisees about the tradition of hand-washing in Matthew 15. It seems that the test that Jesus administers to that custom is whether or not it is a heart thing or a head thing. He also makes sure that it lines up with Scripture, saying that they have cast off the real commandment in favor of a tradition. So, there are at least two things we should keep in mind when figuring out what traditions should stay and which should go.
1. Does it align with the Scripture or counteract Scripture?
2. Is it simply an outward motion or an inward worship of God?

Another very popular place to look for traditions is in 1 Corinthians 11. Now, that is a very difficult passage and I claim nothing on it. I think we would all do well to read Grudem and Piper's Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and the section that is dedicated specifically to that passage. For my discussion, I'm moving on without touching this one. (Maybe I'll talk about it in a post in the near future.)

Galatians 1 is a very revealing statement on traditions. Paul basically says in v. 14-15 that he was too zealous for the traditions and then Christ snatched him up out of them. Obviously, tradition, at times, to Paul was not a thing to be desired. I think that a reading of Galatians will reveal that those customs Paul is talking of are again the outward showings of a false faith. The test of Jesus stands. Is it against Scripture? Does it glorify God inwardly?

And finally, twice in the second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul warns them not to veer from the traditions that he has passed on to them. So, here, Paul makes it clear that traditions can be good. So, what were those traditions that he was referring to? I think that a quick read of the two letters reveals that Paul is talking about living a life worthy of the calling they received.

We are to maintain the Gospel tradition, telling the Good News and faithfully living in a way that magnifies God and causes us joy. We are to eagerly await His return. We are to diligently work, so that Christ, again, is glorified in our midst. Those are the traditions that we must cling to.

So, looks like Jesus' test stands again. Is anything about the tradition anti-Scripture? Does it magnify Christ in your heart?

Let us begin examining the customs in our own lives and start pulling down our own traditions that we have built up instead of the Gospel. Let us cling to that great tradition. Everything else? the axe.

I guess I still have left my original question unanswered. So, I'll continue my thoughts tomorrow, this is quite long enough. For Friday: What should we do if we find we must eliminate a tradition from our church?


1 comment: said...

Hey Buddy, this is thick. I'm thinking you could write a ton on this subject...