Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Are All Traditions Wrong?

I may sometimes sound like I don't like traditions.  But do I think all traditions are wrong?

No.

I like to ask questions like: Can we find evidence of this tradition in Scriputre?  But if I can't find an example of the tradition in Scripture, do I conclude it is wrong?

No.

For example. In our family we pray before we eat a meal together.  We close our eyes, bow our heads, and say a short prayer of thanks. This is a tradition we both grew up with, and it is a tradition we have continued on.  I don't know if this tradition is really rooted in Scripture. But that doesn't mean we need to abandon it.


So why do I care if something is a man made tradition or not. What difference does it make?

I find it gives me the freedom to question if it is the best way of doing something.  If something is a tradition that is not commanded or demonstrated in Scripture I think it is worth asking a few questions about it:
  • When did we start this tradition?
  • Why did we start this tradition?
  • Are there better ways of doing things?
  • What does the Bible have to say on the topic - if anything?
  • Are we OK if some people do things different than us?
I know many people are fine keeping their traditions going.  But I think it is good and productive for them to be examined ever century or so.  So along my journey I've been questioning things like  Christmas, holidays, Sunday as a special day, sermons, hierarchical leadership, elders and pastors, order of service, church etymology, tithing, denominations, membership,  washing hands, and church financial statements.

Some of these traditions I will continue to support, but others don't make a lot of sense to me now. In some cases I think Scripture shows us alternate ways of doing things.  In most of these cases I am OK with other believers continuing with their traditions. But I'd encourage them to consider examining them for themselves.

What do you think.  Are there benefits to questioning traditions?

3 comments:

abnormalreaction said...

Love this topic.

I think traditions are fine as long as the tradition itself does not become a checklist as something you need to do.

In other words, I do not want the tradition to become a rule that you have to follow.

For example... everyone in our family has always attended church, that is just what we do. Well, you are not going to get anything out of this tradition if you do it just because it has always been done.

If a majority of people do something does not make it the right thing to do.

Thanks.. Swanny

Alan Knox said...

Jon,

I think these are good questions. I'd suggest a couple of other questions such as 1) What are the benefits of doing this? and 2) Are there more benefits in doing it differently?

-Alan

Jonathan said...

Thanks Swanny and Alan for the comments.

Swanny, yes I agree rules should not be based on traditions. People shouldn't feel guilty for breaking them or trying something different.

This makes me think of a time related to my example of praying before meals... at one point in my life I felt guilty when I realized I hadn't carried this tradition into my workplace. I noticed another Christian at work praying before his meal, and I realized I had never formed this habit at work. But now I realize this is a tradition. I think it is a good tradition, but I don't feel guilty if I don't always do it. And I would not judge others either way.

Alan, yes I like those questions too. :)

Thanks!