Sunday, May 6, 2007

Interpretation and tradition

If we want to agree on doctrine and interpreting the Bible, the first step is mutual prayer. The second is tradition. We may well be suspicious of tradition, but we ought to be even more suspicious of ourselves. To paraphrase G.K. Chesterton, tradition is sharing decision-making with members of the church in previous generations. Looking to tradition doesn’t mean we have to accept all the biases and shortcomings of earlier generations. It does mean that Christians in earlier centuries knew at least as much about discipleship as we do, and that every Christian need not start from scratch in trying to know the will of God. It also requires humility to admit that Christians in centuries past may have understood the Bible and discipleship better than we do today. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why tradition is so unpopular now.

(c) Copyright 2007, A. Milton Stanley

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