I’m having a conversation with a Protestant friend of mine and he asked me to explain tradition, provide examples and also identify who originated tradition. What are your thoughts? I have a few of my own but wanted some additional perspective.
The best place to start is the Catechism. You may want to read all the paragraphs in which the word tradition is capitalized: ccc.scborromeo.org.master.com/texis/master/search/?sufs=0&q=tradition&xsubmit=Search&s=SS.
The short definition is: Sacred Tradition is what has been passed down from the Patriacrhs, Prophets and Apostles through both written and oral teaching. But, the CCC will give you more details to help your Protestant friend.
Sacred Tradition is what was handed on from Jesus to His Apostles, who then handed it on to The Church down through the ages to this very day. When Christ Ascended up to Heaven, He didn’t leave any writings, what He left is Sacred Tradition and His Church. So, for the First Christians up through the mid 1st century not a single word of The New Testament had been written. The First Christians passed down the Faith via Sacred Tradition through The Church. Early Christianity is a Faith of Sacred Tradition. No New Testament Scripture was written until around A.D. 60 when some of that Sacred Tradition got written down, that is what we call today the New Testament. The New Testament is a product of Sacred Tradition. So, to be clear, the preeminent example of Sacred Tradition is the New Testament. Also, note that the New Testament nowhere tells us which books were the Divinely Inspired Word of God; that too is Sacred Tradition.
Also, those in The Church who compiled the New Testament books were those who still had the words of the Apostles ringing in their ears, they were able to ask the Gospel and Epistle writers what they meant by each passage. And that is third element of Sacred Tradition, the correct understanding of Sacred Scripture. A fourth element of Sacred Tradition would be how to use Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture to deal with new issues that come up and how to view them in Light of Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture.
As I have already pointed out, Sacred Tradition comes first and foremost from Jesus Christ, then from His Apostles and from then it has been passed down through the mellenia down to our own time.
The key here is that The Church that Jesus Christ founded was founded when He was in the flesh on Earth, there is only one Church that can trace their Chief Pastors back to the time of The Apostles, The Catholic Church.
Now it’s your turn to ask him a question, I suggest the following:
Do you have any idea when your faith tradition was founded and by whom?
How far back can you trace the chief pastors of your church?
You may find this enlightening:
If you are Lutheran, your religion was founded by Martin Luther, an ex-monk in the Catholic Church, in 1517.
If you belong to the Church of England (Anglican), your religion was founded by King Henry VIII in the year 1534 because the pope would not grant him a divorce with the right to remarry.
If you are a Presbyterian, your religion was founded when John Knox brought the teachings of John Calvin to Scotland in the Year 1560.
If you are Unitarian, your group developed in Europe in the 1500s.
If you are a Congregationalist, your religion branched off Puritanism in the early 1600s in England.
If you are a Baptist, you owe the tenets of your religion to John Smyth, who launched it in Amsterdam in 1607.
If you are a Methodist, your religion was founded by John and Charles Wesley in England in 1744.
If you are an Episcopalian, your religion came from England to the American colonies. It formed a separate religion founded by Samuel Seabury in 1789.
If you are a Mormon (Latter-day Saints), Joseph Smith started your church in Palmyra, N.Y. in 1830.
If you worship with the Salvation Army, your sect began with William Booth in London in 1865.
If you are a Christian Scientist, you look to 1879 as the year your religion was founded by Mary Baker Eddy.
If you are a Jehovah’s Witness, your religion was founded by Charles Taze Russell in Pennsylvania in the 1870s.
If you are Pentecostal, your religion was started in the United States in 1901.
If you are Calvary Chapel, Chuck Smith founded your church in the 1960’s
If you worship in the non-denominational, Evengelical, etc. tradition, your faith tradition was founded by men in the 1970’s
If you are Roman Catholic, Jesus Christ founded your Church in the year A.D. 30.
The source of ‘Traditions’ as a tool to teach the Kingdom of God comes from the Apostles particularly St. Paul.
2 Thessalonians 3:6
And we charge you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother walking disorderly, and not according to the tradition which they have received of us.
2 Thessalonians 2:14
Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle.
Tradition is part of the body of the knowledge of Christ’s teachings we call doctrine. It maintains its true meaning from generation to generation keeping it free from the influence of the relativism of generational customs. St. Paul says to keep fast and hold traditions. This makes Scripture itself a special case of Tradition. Scripture and Tradition are in harmony with each other, one does not exist without the other.
Forward him the following links/Articles:
What is Sacred Tradition:
Sacred Tradition is the living and growing truth of Christ contained, not only in Scripture, but in the common teaching, common life, and common worship of the Church.
and he asked me to explain tradition, provide examples and also identify who originated tradition.
Your protestant friend also has a tradition…some sort of tradition, he just does not realize it…only his tradition can only be traced from the 1600s.
And he does not realize also that the Bible he holds and reads, came from Sacred Tradition…the list of books came from the tradition of the CC.
‘Tradition’ becomes whatever one agrees with in the history of the Church, such as the Nicene Creed or Chalcedonian Christology…What makes it ‘authoritative’ for Mohler is that it agrees with his interpretation of Scripture. If he encounters something in the tradition that seems extra-biblical or opposed to Scripture he rejects it. For that reason, tradition does not authoritatively guide his interpretation. His interpretation picks out what counts as tradition, and then this tradition informs his interpretation.
And if you are Eastern Orthodox?
Heh heh. Well, nobody said that Latins are the only Apostolic Church.
And if you are Eastern Orthodox?
Andrew and Peter are brothers. Both are part of the undivided Church founded by Jesus Christ.The key is Apostolic Succession, i.e. “How far back can you trace the chief pastors of your church?”
Tradition is cultural memory. Rites and ceremonies, manners, and the traditions of a tribe or nation, are all parts of tradition. They bind each new generation to the past and give direction to the future.
As the Gospel of St. John tells us,* the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us*. God spoke to all men in a particular historical life.
Sacred Tradition, therefore, are the teachings that have been handed down directly from Christ throughout the generations. They are under the guardianship of the magisterium, or teaching authority of the Church, and protected by the Holy Spirit.
They’ve gone in and out (mostly due to imperial influence and pressure) with some grey area in the middle since the schism of Photius in the 9th century, with the last definitive break being after they repudiated the reunion Council of Florence in the 15th century. Even after then, there was some rapprochement here and there until the intense anti-Latin movement in the 19th century. Of course, there are other groups that broke off much earlier and that exist until today–including Nestorians and the non-Chalcedonians.