The Meaning Of “Tradition”
The Subject Of Christian Tradition
Tradition In The Apostolic Age
Tradition And The Holy Scriptures
Tradition In The Apostolic Age
In the apostolic age, tradition was the only source of Christian faith, doctrines and worship. Its role in the Church life of that period may be summarized in the following points:
* Origen says: “By tradition, I knew the four Gospels, and that they are true ones.”
* Church Tradition preserve the unity of understanding the Holy Scriptures throughout ages, so that no believer interprets them according to his own will. Origen states: “The true disciple of Jesus is He who enters the house, that is to say, the Church. He enters it thinking as the Church does, and living as she does; this is how he understands the word. The key of the Scriptures must be received from the tradition of the Church, as from the Lord Himself.
The Jewish Tradition And Christianity
The Preservation Of Church Tradition
Church Tradition And The Present Life
* Tradition does not mean “rigidity,” but giving attention to the past as a basis for the present, and to the present as a basis for the future. Tradition is the mystery of church growth and vitality and not of rigidity.
* We have to understand tradition in its spiritual depth and theological basis and not in holding fast its literality without understanding.
* When the Church of Alexandria preached to Ethiopia, she offered her the living Church tradition, but did not oblige the Ethiopians to accept the Coptic traditions in their details. We have to distinguish between tradition as a general Church thought and the traditions which concern the local churches. For example, Ethiopia accepted the tradition of using liturgies in her worship but did not use the same texts in their literality. She accepted the spirit and the general frame of the liturgies. Ethiopia also accepted tradition of venerating icons but she used her own art and not the Coptic one. Thus the Coptic church offered Ethiopia the essence of her tradition but not its details. Therefore if we preach to a foreign country, we have to present the Orthodox Church Tradition without obliging them to accept a certain local thought. This is what happens today as the Coptic church preaches to Africa, and Kenya for example.
The Church Tradition And Personal Life
Some believes that preserving the Church tradition means canceling the personality of every member of the Church in his relationship with God, his understanding the Holy Bible and in practicing worship. The Orthodox Church believes in the moderate way without any exaggeration, for she holds fast the church tradition that organizes the church life, clarifies the principal concepts of worship and reveals the spirit of the Holy Bible without canceling the personal relationship of every member of the church with his Savior. Besides his personal understanding of the Bible, and his enjoying freedom.
For example, in any society, social organization and family relationships or bonds furnish the personality of every member within the spirit of the community, but do not ignore his personality.
The Church of Europe in the middle ages used church orders and canons as rigid laws and got the believer’s personal rights. While today the majority of the Western Christians believe in the individual freedom in understanding the Bible according to one’s will, and to acknowledge Christianity individually. The Orthodox church in fact follows midway, i.e., sanctifies the church thoughts as a community and at the same time appreciates the personal life of every member of the Church.