The Holy Tradition

In today’s evangelism, there has developed a general trend and practice against the word and use of any “tradition.” This opinion has its historical roots in the Protestant Reformation, in which Luther and Calvin disdained that which came under the heading of “tradition” from the Roman Catholic Church. The arguments of the Reformation centers clearly on the polarity of the “Bible verses tradition.”

There are two separate meanings and interpretations for tradition mentioned in the Bible: one refers to the tradition of men—which is condemned by Our Lord Himself repeatedly. In one passage, Christ boldly denounces the Pharisees over their appeal to tradition. (See Matthew 15:3-9). This tradition taught hypocrisy and vain worship.

However, there is a second tradition—the Tradition of God (capital T)—which the Church embraces, accepts and depends upon. This is the Tradition which St. Paul refers to in the when declaring, “Therefore brethren, stand fast to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or by epistle.” (2 Thess. 2:15); and “But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.” (2 Thess. 3:15)

Thus, this Tradition, is the apostles doctrine, mentioned in Acts 2:42, which Paul and the other apostles taught and preached. It is the Tradition revealed by our Lord to the disciples during the fifty days after His Resurrection, which St. John refers to “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they should be written every one, is suppose even the world could not contain the books that should be written.” (John 21:20)

Without such tradition, one would be compelled to ask, how did the Bible come to be? How can we accurately and consistently interpret the Bible for coming generations? A church without Tradition, is a church without roots, a church doomed to face relentless confusion and inevitable division.

The Scriptures are true—holy, just and good. But there were not meant to stand alone. Their enforcer, their interpreter—and indeed their writer—is the Church through the Apostolic tradition.