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Roman But Not Catholic – Tradition Round 1 – Book Review

In Chapter 2, titled “Tradition and Traditions” Collins writes well to critique both the Protestant and Catholic sides of this discussion. I highly recommend this chapter. My own view, is something similar to the authors and therefore will expound my own view below, although their way of explaining it is a bit different.


I myself think there are three kinds of tradition.


TRADITION 1 – This is the tradition of the Apostles themselves. Sometimes people consider Scripture as that which arose and can be considered this, since it comes to us as Apostolic Teaching. I myself regard the RULE of FAITH which was the ‘passed on’ teaching of the Apostles from one generation to the next as legitimate and therefore Sacred Tradition. The Rule of Faith was then more formally put down in Creeds. It is Tradition 1 that we, even as Evangelicals find sacred. Although Roman Catholics place some of their teachings, such as the Assumption of Mary and the Immaculate Conception of Mary into this arena of Sacred Tradition, I think it better to place it under category 2, since it was never included in the Rule of Faith and never included in a Creed. It is therefore the stuff of Church History, not the stuff of that which was handed on from the Apostles. There certainly can be debate about the subject matters though, and I think Catholics and Protestants should openly discuss why they believe what they believe and ‘let the best view win.’


TRADITION 2 – I consider this form of tradition to be mostly anything that has taken place throughout church history. Some of it is more beneficial than other portions of it. Since Catholics have what Evangelicals consider to be ‘extra teachings,’ it is here where I think the debate about legitimacy really begins. My reason for separating the “tradition” concept this way, is that once something is considered “Sacred Tradition” or a true deposit of God’s teaching, we cannot just add to that deposit. We cannot call it “passed on from the apostles” unless we can know that it was in fact passed on from them. Any group has to be careful adding to that rule of faith and considering it on part with the actual rule. This includes Evangelical additions in their respective bodies. Notice, the Rule of Faith excludes a belief that the earth is young or old. The question then is always whether a Tradition 2 or viewpoint of some kind, can be lifted up to the status of Sacred Truth for all Christians. Protestants think that Catholics have added several and Catholics think that Protestants do not have enough. Some Protestants even go so far as to quote Jesus in Mark 7:1-10, for making the Word of God void by their tradition. Catholics are quick to quote back, 2 Thessalonians 2:15 “Therefore brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.”


TRADITION 3 – I consider tradition 3 to be regular practices by which individual churches may have chosen to do one thing or another. It might be having a pot-luck on special days. It might be hugging newcomers. These are always changeable, and the means for their debate are usually different than the means for Tradition 1 and 2.


Thats all (for now) folks.


-Pastor Isaac

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