REFORMATION 500: Tradition

If it is asked how we can be sure that a tradition of the Church universal is not in fact a corrupt tradition we have the answer of the Reformers: “always in accordance with the Word of God.” The Scriptures are the continual control upon all traditions—universal, denominational, and local.

—Rev. D. H. C. Read, “The Reformation of Worship,” Scottish Journal of Theology 8:1 (March 1955):78

Tradition is the living faith of the dead, while traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. It is traditionalism that gives tradition a bad name.

—Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition Vol. 1,9,65

Tradition is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.

—author unknown

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REFORMATION 500: Sola Scriptura

And the Reformers were clear that in order to control and check the movement of Christian tradition from age to age a norm was needed.  That norm was the written Word, and so the Bible was for them the supreme “given” element in the Church and the final authority for all our forms of worship.

—Rev. D. H. C. Read, “The Reformation of Worship,” Scottish Journal of Theology 8:1 (March 1955):73

Traditionalism (6)

The search for worship that is gospel-true, heart-resonant, and culturally relevant has taken several turns over the last half century. Some movements have sought release from formalism and traditionalism; others have found renewed appreciation for ancient forms of worship that link the contemporary church to its primitive roots. Each has sought to unchain the church from cultural norms that keep the worshiper from experiencing the reality of Christ. The norms that some want to escape are what they consider anachronistic traditions that have deadened church culture. The norms that others want to escape are the secular consumer values that they think have invaded church culture.

—Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Worship, 69

Traditionalism (4)

There are two ways in which a tradition can be abused—either by neglect or by a slavish subservience. The Church which worships a God who was incarnate in human history cannot afford to neglect the heritage of that event; and a Church which worships the God who is a living Spirit cannot allow that heritage to become a dead letter of bondage. 

—Rev. D. H. C. Read, “The Reformation of Worship,” Scottish Journal of Theology 8:1 (March 1955):79

Traditionalism (3)

Tradition hands on from one generation to another those things found useful. Tradition doesn’t attempt to suppress new experience or insight. Tradition is a treasury of experience from which we may draw for our benefit. Traditionalism, on the other hand, is rigid and exclusive, insisting on conformity even when no one any longer remembers what value a practice is meant to represent. Tradition is a gift of earlier generations.  Traditionalism is narrow and oppressive—not a gift, but an imposition. People’s negative associations with tradition may be based on their revulsion against traditionalism. Traditionalism gives tradition a bad name–unfairly, and unfortunately. Scorn for traditionalism may encourage indifference to precious things we might learn to value from tradition.

—Ronald P. Byars, Christian Worship: Glorifying and Enjoying God, p. 20