Customs and Traditions: On Tradition

Fiddler on the Roof


In some parts of the Body of Christ tradition is suspect. They have read Jesus speaking against the traditions of men and so they believe that all traditions are wrong. But a distinction must be made between the traditions of men that contradict the Word of God and traditions given by the Holy Spirit that apply the Word of God. The Pharisees’ objection to Jesus healing on the Sabbath is an example of the traditions of men. From God’s perspective it is never wrong to end suffering. That is what love does. By contrast St. Paul is obviously referring to holy traditions when he commends the Corinthians saying, “I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you.” An example of a holy tradition today is that only Bishops may confirm and ordain. While there is no specific verse in the New Testament to make that point, it was the Apostles who laid hands on people to impart the Holy Spirit and to ordain. Bishops, who are the successors of the Apostles, have followed this pattern since ancient times. Holy tradition therefore prevents priests from taking the place of a Bishop and in this way things are done, as Scripture commands, decently and in order. (I Cor 14:40).

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