Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Some Traditions Really Are Helpful

The above photo comes from the classic film The Fiddler on the Roof. At one point in the movie Tevye sings a now famous song entitled simply Tradition. In Tevye's mind, certain things in life should happen because they are traditions.

Thinking along the same lines as Tevye, I believe that some traditions are helpful for the church. In fact, they are essential. Which traditions are these? Paul tells us in II Thessalonians 2:15. The apostle writes:

"So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter."

Paul makes it clear that the Thessalonian Christians are to hold to the traditions they were taught. This is not advice or desire on Paul's part. Rather, it is a command. We know from Acts 17 that Paul visited Thessalonica and was likely responsible (from the human perspective) for planting the church there. When this occurred, Paul certainly taught them many things, which he here refers to as traditions.

Paul also wrote at least two letters to his Thessalonian friends. Although short, both epistles contain a good amount of instruction in what to believe and how to live. Paul shared traditions with them through what he wrote.

What do we do with this? We don't know what Paul said to the Thessalonians but we do know what he wrote in his two letters. We benefit a great deal from seeing the traditions in the passages of scripture that Paul expected his brothers and sisters in Christ to follow. As they followed them, we should do the same.

Therefore, the church is helped a great deal by the traditions of the apostles. They provided these in speech and letter to help the early church. We gain much from following what we see and living according to these traditions.

The traditions that are most helpful to the church are the ones we know the apostles approved of. They are what we read in the bible.

As for all the other extra-biblical, non-biblical, and un-biblical traditions that exist today, some may be helpful, others may be harmful, and others may not impact the church either way. Looking at those sorts of traditions gets murky in a hurry. It is extremely difficult to know what to do with most of them.

Therefore, let's be certain that we are following the most helpful traditions - those we find in scripture.


Jonathan said...

Well said! Some playdough scripture as my response:


Eric said...


You hit the nail on the head!