There is something healthy about returning to one’s roots. When it comes to evangelical Christianity, its roots are found in the soil of the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation.

Scripture, Tradition, and Rome

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  • Scripture, Tradition, and Rome

    Exodus 24:4-7; Exodus 34:27; Deuteronomy 4:2; Deuteronomy 12:32; Deuteronomy 31:9; Joshua 1:7-8; Proverbs 30:5-6; Isaiah 8:20; Matthew 15:3; Mark 7:6-13

    The tendency to venerate tradition is very strong in religion. The world is filled with religions that have been following set traditions for hundreds—even thousands—of years. Cultures come and go, but religious tradition shows an amazing continuity.

    In fact, many ancient religions—including Druidism, Native American religions, and several of the oriental cults—eschewed written records of their faith, preferring to pass down their legends and rituals and dogmas via word-of-mouth. Such religions usually treat their body of traditions as a de facto authority equal to other religions' sacred writings.

    Even among the world's religions that revere sacred writings, however, tradition and Scripture are often blended. This is true in Hinduism, for example, where the ancient Vedas are the Scriptures, and traditions handed down by gurus round out the faith of most followers. Tradition in effect becomes a lens through which the written word is interpreted. Tradition therefore stands as the highest of all authorities, because it renders the only authoritative interpretation of the sacred writings.

    This tendency to view tradition as supreme authority is not unique to pagan religions. Traditional Judaism, for example, follows the Scripture-plus-tradition paradigm. The familiar books of the Old Testament alone are viewed as Scripture, but true orthodoxy is actually defined by a collection of ancient rabbinical traditions known as the Talmud. In effect, the traditions of the Talmud carry an authority equal to or greater than that of the inspired Scriptures.

    Teaching as Doctrines the Precepts of Men

    This is no recent development within Judaism. The Jews of Jesus' day also placed tradition on an equal footing with Scripture. Rather, in effect, they made tradition superior to Scripture, because Scripture was interpreted by tradition and therefore made subject to it.

    Whenever tradition is elevated to such a high level of authority, it inevitably becomes detrimental to the authority of Scripture. Jesus made this very point when he confronted the Jewish leaders. He showed that in many cases their traditions actually nullified Scripture. He therefore rebuked them in the harshest terms:
    "Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, 'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.' Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men." He was also saying to them, "You nicely set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death'; but you say, 'If a man says to his father or his mother, anything of mine you might have been helped by is Corban (that is to say, given to God),' you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that" (Mark 7:6-13).


    It was inexcusable that tradition would be elevated to the level of Scripture in Judaism, because when God gave the law to Moses, it was in written form for a reason: to make it permanent and inviolable. The Lord made very plain that the truth He was revealing was not to be tampered with, augmented, or diminished in any way. His Word was the final authority in all matters:"You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you" (Deuteronomy 4:2).

    They were to observe His commandments assiduously, and neither supplement nor abrogate them by any other kind of "authority": "Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it" (Deuteronomy 12:32).

    So the revealed Word of God, and nothing else, was the supreme and sole authority in Judaism. This alone was the standard of truth delivered to them by God Himself. Moses was instructed to write down the very words God gave him (Exodus 34:27), and that written record of God's Word became the basis for God's covenant with the nation (Exodus 24:4,7). The written Word was placed in the Ark of the Covenant (Deuteronomy 31:9), symbolizing its supreme authority in the lives and the worship of the Jews forever. God even told Moses' successor, Joshua:
    Be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it (Joshua 1:7-8).


    Of course, other books of inspired Scripture beside those written by Moses were later added to the Jewish canon—but this was a prerogative reserved by God alone. Sola Scriptura was therefore established in principle with the giving of the law. No tradition passed down by word of mouth, no rabbinical opinion, and no priestly innovation was to be accorded authority equal to the revealed Word of God as recorded in Scripture.

    Solomon understood this principle: "Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words lest He reprove you, and you be proved a liar" (Proverbs 30:5-6).

    The Scriptures therefore were to be the one standard by which everyone who claimed to speak for God was tested: "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah 8:20, KJV).

    In short, tradition had no legitimate place of authority in the worship of Jehovah.

    Everything was to be tested by the Word of God as recorded in the Scriptures. That's why Jesus' rebuke to the scribes and Pharisees was so harsh. Their very faith in Rabbinical tradition was in and of itself a serious transgression of the covenant and commandments of God (cf. Matthew 15:3).

    The Rise and Ruin of Catholic Tradition

    Unfortunately, Christianity has often followed the same tragic road as paganism and Judaism in its tendency to elevate tradition to a position of authority equal to or greater than Scripture. The Catholic Church in particular has its own body of tradition that functions exactly like the Jewish Talmud: it is the standard by which Scripture is to be interpreted. In effect, tradition supplants the voice of Scripture itself.

    How did this happen? The earliest Church Fathers placed a strong emphasis on the authority of Scripture over verbal tradition. Fierce debates raged in the early church over such crucial matters as the deity of Christ, His two natures, the Trinity, and the doctrine of original sin. Early church councils settled those questions by appealing to Scripture as the highest of all authorities. The councils themselves did not merely issue ex cathedra decrees, but they reasoned things out by Scripture and made their rulings accordingly. The authority was in the appeal to Scripture, not in the councils per se.

    Unfortunately, the question of Scriptural authority itself was not always clearly delineated in the early church, and as the church grew in power and influence, church leaders began to assert an authority that had no basis in Scripture. The church as an institution became in many people's eyes the fountain of authority and the arbiter on all matters of truth. Appeals began to be made more often to tradition than to Scripture. As a result, extrabiblical doctrines were canonized and a body of truth that found no support in Scripture began to be asserted as infallibly true.

    Roman Catholic doctrine is shot through with legends and dogmas and superstitions that have no biblical basis whatsoever. The stations of the cross, the veneration of saints and angels, the Marian doctrines such as the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, and the notion that Mary is co-mediatrix with Christ—none of those doctrines can be substantiated by Scripture. They are the product of Roman Catholic tradition.

    Officially, the Catholic Church is very straightforward about her blending of Scripture and tradition. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) acknowledges that the Roman Catholic Church "does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence" (CCC 82, emphasis added).

    Tradition, according to Roman Catholicism, is therefore as much "the Word of God" as Scripture. According to the Catechism, Tradition and Scripture "are bound closely together and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing and move towards the same goal" (CCC 80). The "sacred deposit of faith"—this admixture of Scripture and tradition—was supposedly entrusted by the apostles to their successors (CCC 84), and "The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living, teaching office of the Church alone. . . . This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome" (CCC 85).

    The Catechism is quick to deny that this makes the Church's teaching authority (called the magisterium) in any way superior to the Word of God itself (CCC 86). But it then goes on to warn the faithful that they must "read the Scripture within 'the living tradition of the whole Church'" (CCC 113). The Catechism at this point quotes "a saying of the Fathers[:] Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church's heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God's Word" (CCC 113).

    So in effect, tradition is not only made equal to Scripture; but it becomes the true Scripture, written not in documents, but mystically within the Church herself. And when the Church speaks, Her voice is heard as if it were the voice of God, giving the only true meaning to the words of the "documents and records. "Thus tradition utterly supplants and supersedes Scripture.

    Source:
    Scripture, Tradition, and Rome, Part 1
    Scripture, Tradition, and Rome, Part 2
    Scripture, Tradition, and Rome, Part 3
    Scripture, Tradition, and Rome, Part 4
    Scripture, Tradition, and Rome, Part 5
    Scripture, Tradition, and Rome, Part 6

  • #2
    Rome, Bablyon, Gotham, Hollywood, America, many have a similar trend. I am not trying to merely state the negative here, but the worldly aspects and connotations associated with each, as well as their endless efforts towards a 'one world society' or one world order are much the same. It is sad to see.
    Comment>

    • #3
      Originally posted by William View Post
      Exodus 24:4-7; Exodus 34:27; Deuteronomy 4:2; Deuteronomy 12:32; Deuteronomy 31:9; Joshua 1:7-8; Proverbs 30:5-6; Isaiah 8:20; Matthew 15:3; Mark 7:6-13

      The tendency to venerate tradition is very strong in religion. The world is filled with religions that have been following set traditions for hundreds—even thousands—of years. Cultures come and go, but religious tradition shows an amazing continuity.

      In fact, many ancient religions—including Druidism, Native American religions, and several of the oriental cults—eschewed written records of their faith, preferring to pass down their legends and rituals and dogmas via word-of-mouth. Such religions usually treat their body of traditions as a de facto authority equal to other religions' sacred writings.

      Even among the world's religions that revere sacred writings, however, tradition and Scripture are often blended. This is true in Hinduism, for example, where the ancient Vedas are the Scriptures, and traditions handed down by gurus round out the faith of most followers. Tradition in effect becomes a lens through which the written word is interpreted. Tradition therefore stands as the highest of all authorities, because it renders the only authoritative interpretation of the sacred writings.

      This tendency to view tradition as supreme authority is not unique to pagan religions. Traditional Judaism, for example, follows the Scripture-plus-tradition paradigm. The familiar books of the Old Testament alone are viewed as Scripture, but true orthodoxy is actually defined by a collection of ancient rabbinical traditions known as the Talmud. In effect, the traditions of the Talmud carry an authority equal to or greater than that of the inspired Scriptures.

      Teaching as Doctrines the Precepts of Men

      This is no recent development within Judaism. The Jews of Jesus' day also placed tradition on an equal footing with Scripture. Rather, in effect, they made tradition superior to Scripture, because Scripture was interpreted by tradition and therefore made subject to it.

      Whenever tradition is elevated to such a high level of authority, it inevitably becomes detrimental to the authority of Scripture. Jesus made this very point when he confronted the Jewish leaders. He showed that in many cases their traditions actually nullified Scripture. He therefore rebuked them in the harshest terms:
      "Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, 'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.' Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men." He was also saying to them, "You nicely set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death'; but you say, 'If a man says to his father or his mother, anything of mine you might have been helped by is Corban (that is to say, given to God),' you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that" (Mark 7:6-13).



      It was inexcusable that tradition would be elevated to the level of Scripture in Judaism, because when God gave the law to Moses, it was in written form for a reason: to make it permanent and inviolable. The Lord made very plain that the truth He was revealing was not to be tampered with, augmented, or diminished in any way. His Word was the final authority in all matters:"You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you" (Deuteronomy 4:2).

      They were to observe His commandments assiduously, and neither supplement nor abrogate them by any other kind of "authority": "Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it" (Deuteronomy 12:32).

      So the revealed Word of God, and nothing else, was the supreme and sole authority in Judaism. This alone was the standard of truth delivered to them by God Himself. Moses was instructed to write down the very words God gave him (Exodus 34:27), and that written record of God's Word became the basis for God's covenant with the nation (Exodus 24:4,7). The written Word was placed in the Ark of the Covenant (Deuteronomy 31:9), symbolizing its supreme authority in the lives and the worship of the Jews forever. God even told Moses' successor, Joshua:
      Be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it (Joshua 1:7-8).



      Of course, other books of inspired Scripture beside those written by Moses were later added to the Jewish canon—but this was a prerogative reserved by God alone. Sola Scriptura was therefore established in principle with the giving of the law. No tradition passed down by word of mouth, no rabbinical opinion, and no priestly innovation was to be accorded authority equal to the revealed Word of God as recorded in Scripture.

      Solomon understood this principle: "Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words lest He reprove you, and you be proved a liar" (Proverbs 30:5-6).

      The Scriptures therefore were to be the one standard by which everyone who claimed to speak for God was tested: "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah 8:20, KJV).

      In short, tradition had no legitimate place of authority in the worship of Jehovah.

      Everything was to be tested by the Word of God as recorded in the Scriptures. That's why Jesus' rebuke to the scribes and Pharisees was so harsh. Their very faith in Rabbinical tradition was in and of itself a serious transgression of the covenant and commandments of God (cf. Matthew 15:3).

      The Rise and Ruin of Catholic Tradition

      Unfortunately, Christianity has often followed the same tragic road as paganism and Judaism in its tendency to elevate tradition to a position of authority equal to or greater than Scripture. The Catholic Church in particular has its own body of tradition that functions exactly like the Jewish Talmud: it is the standard by which Scripture is to be interpreted. In effect, tradition supplants the voice of Scripture itself.

      How did this happen? The earliest Church Fathers placed a strong emphasis on the authority of Scripture over verbal tradition. Fierce debates raged in the early church over such crucial matters as the deity of Christ, His two natures, the Trinity, and the doctrine of original sin. Early church councils settled those questions by appealing to Scripture as the highest of all authorities. The councils themselves did not merely issue ex cathedra decrees, but they reasoned things out by Scripture and made their rulings accordingly. The authority was in the appeal to Scripture, not in the councils per se.

      Unfortunately, the question of Scriptural authority itself was not always clearly delineated in the early church, and as the church grew in power and influence, church leaders began to assert an authority that had no basis in Scripture. The church as an institution became in many people's eyes the fountain of authority and the arbiter on all matters of truth. Appeals began to be made more often to tradition than to Scripture. As a result, extrabiblical doctrines were canonized and a body of truth that found no support in Scripture began to be asserted as infallibly true.

      Roman Catholic doctrine is shot through with legends and dogmas and superstitions that have no biblical basis whatsoever. The stations of the cross, the veneration of saints and angels, the Marian doctrines such as the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, and the notion that Mary is co-mediatrix with Christ—none of those doctrines can be substantiated by Scripture. They are the product of Roman Catholic tradition.

      Officially, the Catholic Church is very straightforward about her blending of Scripture and tradition. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) acknowledges that the Roman Catholic Church "does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence" (CCC 82, emphasis added).

      Tradition, according to Roman Catholicism, is therefore as much "the Word of God" as Scripture. According to the Catechism, Tradition and Scripture "are bound closely together and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing and move towards the same goal" (CCC 80). The "sacred deposit of faith"—this admixture of Scripture and tradition—was supposedly entrusted by the apostles to their successors (CCC 84), and "The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living, teaching office of the Church alone. . . . This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome" (CCC 85).

      The Catechism is quick to deny that this makes the Church's teaching authority (called the magisterium) in any way superior to the Word of God itself (CCC 86). But it then goes on to warn the faithful that they must "read the Scripture within 'the living tradition of the whole Church'" (CCC 113). The Catechism at this point quotes "a saying of the Fathers[:] Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church's heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God's Word" (CCC 113).

      So in effect, tradition is not only made equal to Scripture; but it becomes the true Scripture, written not in documents, but mystically within the Church herself. And when the Church speaks, Her voice is heard as if it were the voice of God, giving the only true meaning to the words of the "documents and records. "Thus tradition utterly supplants and supersedes Scripture.

      Source:
      Scripture, Tradition, and Rome, Part 1
      Scripture, Tradition, and Rome, Part 2
      Scripture, Tradition, and Rome, Part 3
      Scripture, Tradition, and Rome, Part 4
      Scripture, Tradition, and Rome, Part 5
      Scripture, Tradition, and Rome, Part 6

      WOW!!!! There an impossible mass of stuff to reply to there.... hardly know where to jump in......


      First, yup, tradition IS a huge part of everything embraced as true and every practice entrusted. It's NOT something Protestants can dismiss without also dismissing Scripture (tradition tells us what is and is not Scripture..... tradition tells us what has been taught from it..... tradition gave us the Trinity, the Two Natures of Christ..... tradition gave us most of our religious practices..... I could go on for too long. It's not a question of whether tradition is important - but how it cranks out and how it interplays with other aspects.


      Since you placed this in the context of Protestant (sic.... does ANYONE know what that is?) vs. Catholic - maybe we can begin by contrasting different ways to understand what Tradition (and tradition, lol) are, as I understand it:

      Catholic Definition:


      1. It's the RCC that determines what Tradition is:


      "It is the Authoritative Voice of the Catholic Church which determines what is to be accepted and rejected as Tradition." The Handbook of the Catholic Faith, page 151



      2. It's the RCC itself alone that determines the meaning of this Tradition it itself alone chose.

      The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living, teaching office of the [Catholic] Church alone [Sola Ecclesia]. This means that the task of interpretion has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the bishop of Rome." Catholic Catechism # 85



      3. This "Tradition" as the RCC has chosen and as the RCC itself has interpreted, is not accountable to Scriptures but is EQUAL and supplemental to it.

      The [Catholic] Church does not derive its certainty about truth from the holy Scriptures alone. But both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments." Catholic Catechism # 82

      Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the [Catholic] Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the other. Working together, they all contribute...." Catholic Catechims # 95

      So, In Catholicism, Tradition (usually with that upper case "T") refers to this second source of information, the second "stream" of revelation, the second "leg" in the "Three Legged Stool" (Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium of the RCC). It is not subject to anything but contributes equally to the issue of Revelation, Truth. Of course, it is whatever the RCC itself alone says it is.... and means whatever the RCC itself alone says it does.




      Lutheran, Anglican, Reformed Understanding


      Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodist and often Reformed Protestants speak of "tradition" in several way:

      It refers to the historic, ecumenical, consensus of God's people, especially regarding the interpretation and application of Scriptures. This if often held in very high esteem, but at least a tad under God's Word (as indeed Protestants tend to regard the words of men as under the Word of God). Examples would be the Apostles and Nicene Creeds. The 4 or 7 Ecumenical Councils might be so regarded, too.


      Under this, it refers to the historic, consensus and generally official teachings of the specific theological community, but this is a separate category of Tradition (and it's only Anglicans that usually speak of this with that word). In Lutheranism, we call this type of Tradition, "Confessions." This is not ecumenical since it may be distinctive to a denomination. For example, the "Lutheran Confessions" (the Book of Concord), the Reformed Confessions. The Lutheran Book of Concord begins with the 3 ecumenical creeds - in a category unto themselves, then addresses the Lutheran Confessions.

      This term can also refer to the historic and broadly accepted customs and practices of God's people - which may be ecumenical or perhaps more limited in terms of time or community, here it's used with a lower case "t'. Celebrating the nativity of our Lord on December 25 is a matter of tradition..... worshiping on Sunday is tradition... It can even be argued that embracing 66 (or 72 or 78 or whatever) books as Scripture is also "tradition" since there's been no formal, ecumenical address of that.



      Thus, Tradition here is not what SELF feels, thinks, "sees" as an invisible revelation from God.... it's not an EQUAL source of information. It is rather the historic, catholic (little "c"), consensus of the whole church, there IS an objective, knowable quality to it. And while it helps us UNDERSTAND and apply Scripture, it is not equal to it.

      As often happens when Christians converse, we tend to use the same words but mean something very different by them.


      I HOPE that contributes SOMETHING.....


      My half cent.... ain't claiming more than that.


      - Josiah
      .
      Comment>

      • #4
        Originally posted by Josiah View Post
        Since you placed this in the context of Protestant (sic.... does ANYONE know what that is?) vs. Catholic - maybe we can begin by contrasting different ways to understand what Tradition (and tradition, lol) are, as I understand it:
        G'day Josiah,

        Is there anyone better to ask what a Protestant is than a Lutheran? :) What defines a Protestant (in doctrine), and is there a difference between mainline protestant denominations today and say "Reformed Protestants"?

        By all means, feel free to suggest some examples of Tradition and how they relate to Catholics and Protestants. What are our alternatives in matters of faith and worship? For example, some churches like Reformed mainly adhere to the Regulative principle, others normative and some tradition. Which one does your Lutheran church adhere mostly to Josiah?

        God bless,
        William
        Comment>

        • #5
          Originally posted by William View Post

          G'day Josiah,

          Is there anyone better to ask what a Protestant is than a Lutheran? :) What defines a Protestant (in doctrine), and is there a difference between mainline protestant denominations today and say "Reformed Protestants"?

          By all means, feel free to suggest some examples of Tradition and how they relate to Catholics and Protestants. What are our alternatives in matters of faith and worship? For example, some churches like Reformed mainly adhere to the Regulative principle, others normative and some tradition. Which one does your Lutheran church adhere mostly to Josiah?

          God bless,
          William

          Thank you!

          IMO, it seems rather common in Christian theology to throw a LOT of words around - with no clear, universal understanding of what is meant by the word. I'm no doubt guilty there, too. And in our various faith traditions (ah, that word!) we have our own catch words, often quite loaded but the meanings and implications not appreicated outside that community.

          Seems to me I recall in my earlier too-quick preview of this site that there's an official definition of "Protestant" on your site (could be wrong.... often am) and I've yet to read that. I have no axe to grind here at all. And I didn't mean to start anything, lol. It's just I don't think there is any universal understanding of the term, even among Christians (or even "Protestants"). I'D be apt to define such as embracing Sola Gratia - Solus Christus - Sola Fide in justification (narrow) - in fact, I'd probably insist on monergism), a non-institutional view of the church, Scripture as primary as hallmarks - but then that would probably eliminate the majority of groups that consider themselves as Protestant. IF I stepped on some hornets nest, regard me as an ignorant newcomer who doesn't know the lay of the land.... but means well and will learn.

          I think my general respond to how "Tradition" (and "tradition") are understood at least gets to your question. IMO, tradition/custom/habit plays a HUGE role in all of human activity and trust. Heck, in my parish, I can tell you were folks sit every Sunday and even park their car. All churches have amazingly customary Sunday worship. Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving. Nothin' bad about that, IMO. We are creatures of habit.... gives comfort, gives a framework.

          And I think (Protestants, sic, especially) fail to consider how much Tradition is in our understandings and practices..... No verse that says there are 66 books in the Bible..... No verse says the Trinity or Two Natures... But Christians.... together...... came to understandings. Luther, Calvin and others actually rejected little of this (Calvin more than Luther).

          As you to your question about worship customs, IF I understand how you mean the terms, Lutherans of course are normative - unless Scripture forbids, such is not forbidden (wise is another issue). But IMO, I think MOST Protestants do a LOT of things in worship that Scripture never mandates: electricity, buildings, bibles in the pews, youth groups, youth pastors, passing around little cups of grape juice and pieces of white bread, altar calls, etc. ... I'm NOT saying those things are ergo wrong, I'M simply saying much does on where there's not a verse that says, "Thou shalt ________." Not to be accusitive or argumentive - just honest. And the Presbyterian church near me had some awesome Christmas Eve celebrations, although I'm aware of the Calvinist stance on that and also there's no verse in Scripture that says "Thou shalt have awesome public worship services on Christmas Eve with candlelights and singing of Silent Night in German."

          THEOLOGICALLY, I'd be stricter. I do not profess that the Doctrine of the Trinity is precisely all spelled out in the verbatim words of Holy Scripture (we'd likely not have had a debate on it if it were) BUT I do regard the Councils working out of that to be biblical and wise - and do embrace it. Often, I DO have that Protestant propensity to ask, "Where does Scripture say THAT?!" (usually not meant as a question.... it's a Protestant thing) but I tend to do that more in issues of doctrine than custom. After all, I'm posting on the internet.... and the internet is never even mentioned in Scripture.

          If I become active here, you'll learn I'm not easy to pin down, lol


          Blessings to you and yours!


          - Josiah
          Comment>

          • #6
            Originally posted by Josiah View Post


            Thank you!

            IMO, it seems rather common in Christian theology to throw a LOT of words around - with no clear, universal understanding of what is meant by the word. I'm no doubt guilty there, too. And in our various faith traditions (ah, that word!) we have our own catch words, often quite loaded but the meanings and implications not appreicated outside that community.

            Seems to me I recall in my earlier too-quick preview of this site that there's an official definition of "Protestant" on your site (could be wrong.... often am) and I've yet to read that. I have no axe to grind here at all. And I didn't mean to start anything, lol. It's just I don't think there is any universal understanding of the term, even among Christians (or even "Protestants"). I'D be apt to define such as embracing Sola Gratia - Solus Christus - Sola Fide in justification (narrow), a non-institutional view of the church, Scripture as primary as hallmarks - but then that would probably eliminate the majority of groups that consider themselves as Protestant. IF I stepped on some hornets nest, regard me as an ignorant newcomer who doesn't know the lay of the land.... but means well and will learn.

            I think my general respond to how "Tradition" (and "tradition") are understood at least gets to your question. IMO, tradition/custom/habit plays a HUGE role in all of human activity and trust. Heck, in my parish, I can tell you were folks sit every Sunday and even park their car. All churches have amazingly customary Sunday worship. Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving. Nothin' bad about that, IMO. We are creatures of habit.... gives comfort, gives a framework.

            And I think (Protestants, sic, especially) fail to consider how much Tradition is in our understandings and practices..... No verse that says there are 66 books in the Bible..... No verse says the Trinity or Two Natures... But Christians.... together...... came to understandings. Luther, Calvin and others actually rejected little of this (Calvin more than Luther).
            I would define Protestant as being: catholic, reformed, evangelical and systematic. Of course we could keep adding to that while excluding many others by including Creedal and Confessional too. We do have this article: What is Reformed Christian Theology? -Christforums

            I sense that we could be here for quite some time and that you have experience debating Catholics since you are pretty concise about your terminology. I remember my first few debates with various Catholics, something seemed wrong, it was like we were both speaking English but not on the same page lol. Took me awhile to realize that our terminology was very different - for example in matters of Justification.

            And no doubt we all have our traditions - pews I prefer pews to chairs. My Reformed/Presbyterian church adheres to the Regulative principle of worship, which is nothing more than following Scripture in all matters of worship. That is, in comparison to the normative principle which basically says that if something is not directly forbidden it is the Christian's liberty.

            God bless,
            William
            Comment>

            • #7
              Originally posted by William View Post

              I would define Protestant as being: catholic, reformed, evangelical and systematic. Of course we could keep adding to that while excluding many others by adding Creedal and Confessional too. We do have this article: What is Reformed Christian Theology? -Christforums

              I sense that we could be here for quite some time and that you have experience debating Catholics since you are pretty concise about your terminology. I remember my first few debates with various Catholics, something seemed wrong, it was like we were both speaking English but not on the same page lol. Took me awhile to realize that our terminology was very different - for example in matters of Justification.

              And no doubt we all have our traditions - pews I prefer pews to chairs. My Reformed/Presbyterian church adheres to the Regulative principle of worship, which is nothing more than following Scripture in all matters of worship. That is, in comparison to the normative principle which basically says that if something is not directly forbidden it is the Christians liberty to do.

              God bless,
              William

              Thank you!

              I'd make a distinction between Doctrine and custom, as I described. But I think in both cases, it's not (in practice) as "clean" as we might hope. In Doctrine and even more in customs. You say you like pews, someone else might seek nice, plushy, wide chairs that can be moved around. Does Scripture PRECISELY indicate which? Does Scripture say we are to gather in a building - but do many do that? Does Scripture say we must read from 66 books but is that the custom? Does Scripture say have hymnbooks, bulletins, powerpoint? Does Scripture says pastors are to wear special robes? Does it specifically state we can worship on Sunday (and not Saturday)? What about youth pastors, youth groups, Sunday School, passing around communion, baptism by sprinkling, altar calls, celebrating Christmas, embracing the church year? MY view would be: not exactly. Nothing forbids such, necessarily, and centuries of such practice has shown wisdom in that.... a case might even be made that such seems "in line" with Scripture (although not exactly STATED) - but that's my point. I think we all tend to embrace more custom than we might at first seem.... Perhaps we disagree on that, William - and that's okay, I don't even always agree with myself.

              I will read the article you referenced. And may reply.


              Thanks for your kind replies.


              - Josiah

              Comment>

              • #8
                Originally posted by Josiah View Post


                Thank you!

                I'd make a distinction between Doctrine and custom, as I described. But I think in both cases, it's not (in practice) as "clean" as we might hope. In Doctrine and even more in customs. You say you like pews, someone else might seek nice, plushy, wide chairs that can be moved around. Does Scripture PRECISELY indicate which? Does Scripture say we are to gather in a building - but do many do that? Does Scripture say we must read from 66 books but is that the custom? Does Scripture say have hymnbooks, bulletins, powerpoint? Does Scripture says pastors are to wear special robes? Does it specifically state we can worship on Sunday (and not Saturday)? What about youth pastors, youth groups, Sunday School, passing around communion, baptism by sprinkling, altar calls, celebrating Christmas, embracing the church year? MY view would be: not exactly. Nothing forbids such, necessarily, and centuries of such practice has shown wisdom in that.... a case might even be made that such seems "in line" with Scripture (although not exactly STATED) - but that's my point. I think we all tend to embrace more custom than we might at first seem.... Perhaps we disagree on that, William - and that's okay, I don't even always agree with myself.

                I will read the article you referenced. And may reply.


                Thanks for your kind replies.


                - Josiah
                I actually agree with you.

                God bless,
                William
                Comment>

                • #9
                  I do not care for the traditions of ancient Rome. I care for what the scriptures have to say. Remember that, at one time, Rome tried to rule the world and remove every single Holy Bible (and even believer in Jesus Christ) from off the face of the earth. Just remember....
                  Comment>

                  • #10
                    One of the problems I see with the extra-Biblical "Tradition" of Rome, in particular, is that even though it is written out for all to see now, it's meaning can still be fluid, IOW, it means whatever the Magisterium of today "says" it means.
                    Simul Justus et Peccator ~Martin Luther

                    "We are justified by faith alone, but the faith that justifies is never alone" ~John Calvin

                    "The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us." ~C. S. Lewis

                    "The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances" ~Elisabeth Elliot

                    "The law is for the self-righteous to humble their pride; the Gospel is for the lost to remove their despair. ~C. H. Spurgeon
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