“Tradition” is a dirty word in some, uh, traditions. Ironically enough, those who cry loudest against the traditions of men are usually the ones holding most tightly to their own. But a tradition in and of itself isn’t bad or good. It’s simply something handed down from generation to generation. The church has to determine whether or not a tradition is true and helpful.
Plenty of newfangled traditions have found their way into the church in the past two or three centuries: Manishevitz matzos and little plastic cups of Welch’s grape juice, wooden tables with DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME carved into the front, in-house baptistries with river scenes on the walls behind. Many of our traditions are the nonbiblical phrases we use to describe things: “rolled the sins forward,” “authorized in the New Testament,” “gospel plan of salvation,” “contact the blood of Christ,” “five acts of New Testament worship,” “this loaf which represents his body.”
How can we tell which traditions to keep and which ones to ditch? By considering them in light of the Apostles’ tradition. We usually call that one the New Testament.
(c) Copyright 2007, A. Milton Stanley
Update: I've corrected a word in the second paragraph, from "unbiblical" to "nonbiblical."