April 13, 2024

What Value is Tradition in Reading the Bible?

Typically, those that find themselves not in the Eastern Wing of Christendom (Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox) do not place a lot of emphasis on tradition. In fact, it’s one of the talking points about why those of the Protestant persuasion believe that they are closer to what the Bible actually teaches. And yet, in the article Why Protestants Need to Use Tradition When They Read Their Bibles I find myself agreeing with the overall point– that when we totally divest ourselves of the interpretations and understandings of the saints that have come before us, we may fall prey to errors in our understanding simply because we see the Bible through the culture that we now live in.

Obviously, the major doctrines are not up for grabs, but with my short time on this Earth, I’m able to see some major changes in what believers consider to be following God’s commandments now as compared to the beginning of my life. Some examples:

  • Before my time, women covered their head in church or even outside the church. Now this practice is deemed cultural and no longer applies.
  • Believers seem to have different interpretations on how God communicates through prayer– some big names are now implying that God actively speaks through prayer if we’re in a meditative state, and that’s not traditional.
  • Some churches are seeing women in teaching and leadership positions, and this was not traditionally acceptable.
  • There is a renewed emphasis on racism in our churches, which seems to come and go throughout the centuries.

These are just some of the things, and anyone that is aware can see the topics come up at conferences and Twitter. I think part of the issue is the attempt to try to make the Bible “relevant” to the time, which means constantly reimagining things from it. Sometimes it almost feels like Ezra coming out of the temple with the Word of God and something we all know but weren’t doing correctly!

This relevancy is a double-edged sword in the world of likes, retweets and constant social affirmations. I can’t help but believe that we discard what God has said that is consistent to His Word because people around us think they see it differently and it becomes difficult to separate the sheep and the goats.

We all need to be very careful to evaluate the current fads and the traditions against God’s Word. Only then, and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, can we know we’re on the right track.

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