Tradition and culture are revered around the world. We create traditions then we carry them through over the years blindly. If our traditions last long enough they take on an air of holiness. Others will write of our traditions. Some will with baited curiosity examine and study our traditions thus adding to their importance. In many instances those very traditions are burying, blinding and bamboozling the practitioners. What are the dangers of blindly following such traditions?
After more than thirty years of studying the Bible I can say with full assurance that Jesus Christ never contradicted himself. There is one instance where it would seem that he did but after careful examination I found that rather than a contradiction it ends up being more of an enigma.
In Matthew 24:35 Jesus saidâ€¦Heaven and earth shall pass away but my words shall not pass away. The Bible has lasted through every kind on onslaught that has ever been thrown at it through the centuries. It still causes debate and resistance among some and conversion and new found life for millions of others. Be it yea or nay it wonâ€™t go away. In a contrasting statement Jesus said something that almost seems diametrically opposite to what he uttered in Matthew 24:35. In Mark 7:13 Jesus saidâ€¦Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. Hold the phone! You mean the entire world and its doubts and resistance canâ€™t remove the word of God but tradition can? Yes, and it is the only thing according to scripture that can so effectively do this.
Some traditions are quaint and some are innocuous but when it comes to religious traditions this is not the case. Religion is stifled and beaten to the point of impotence by tradition. It is what makes true the saying that the seven last words of a dying, gasping, pointless and apostate church will beâ€¦We have always done it that way.
How has Catholicism found seven sacraments in a Bible that gives to us only two outward ceremonial ordinances, which are, water baptism and the communion? How has one protestant church added foot washing as a tradition and even elevated that to a sacrament? How have countless liturgies, ceremonies, ordinances and practices crept into Christianity over the centuries? The answer is tradition as usual. It is the traditions of the fathers or patristic teachings, the ceremonies of the celebrated like our pastors, preachers bishops and yes, the Pope. These have added to the overshadowing construct of outward and often meaningless practices in our churches. This construct is now so heavily layered that it is obscuring the simple but profound life giving qualities of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It indeed has succeeded in many churches to make the word of God of no effect.
Odd as it may sound it seems that most people expect tradition and religion to be connected together at the hip. The Bible does not agree with this assumption. In fact the wordâ€¦religion, is used only five times in the entirety of the Bible. And only once is it used to define what religion is. That definition doesnâ€™t look anything like what our religious practices have become. James saidâ€¦Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep himself unspotted from the world. James 1:27
Religious traditions have an assuring quality that the human psyche canâ€™t very well resist. It assuages us to see the cathedral long standing and its ministers appropriately garbed in robes and vestments. It gives us the idea that they must be professionals if nothing else, the proof is apparent in the trappings and all the blaring visuals. But Christ never prescribed any sort of adornment for us or our churches. And the idea that Christian traditions or any other religious traditions are firmly established by their longevity is a mindless absurdity. Crimes, war, disasters, floods, famines, disease, are all as old as man but none of these are given any traditional significance. These things are never memorialized, missalized, or traditionalized. That some religious traditions are ancient serves only to point out mans persistence in idolatry and the practice of the mundane.
Some say they love the ceremonies and the liturgies of the church. Perhaps they do, but it behooves anyone to scrutinize the reasons for such a love. Is it practical, does it lead to the salvation of others? Or is it a place to hide a place to get a dose of something much like the tiny dose of a disease that is contained in an inoculation. Isnâ€™t this little dose all that keeps us from getting the real thing? If god is the real thing ten donâ€™t we need more than a little dose?
Can people who are connected to churches that are heavily dependent on traditions be saved? Of course they can because their faith although not often bolstered by these traditions, cannot be destroyed by them either. It will be true for millions of people in the end that they were not saved by their religion but in spite of it. Thank God for the grace of God.
About the Author
Rev Bresciani is from New Orleans La and the author ofâ€¦Hook line and Sinker or What Has Your Church Been Teaching You, PublishAmerica 2005 andâ€¦An American Prophet and His Message, Questions and Answers on the Second Coming of Christ, Xulon Press 2005. His website is