Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tradition is Inescapable

The question is never whether we will have theological traditions or not. The question is always, "What theological traditions shall we hold?" It's an inescapable concept.

We shouldn't have to be this pedantic, but let us consider what exactly "tradition" means:

the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way; a long-established custom or belief that has been passed on in this way.

It's pretty standard practice for theologically conservative Protestants to deny that they hold to any traditions. They do this not because they do not hold them but because they condemn the Catholic Church for holding to Sacred Tradition.

Consider the example of the Reformed theological tradition: how do people come to be Reformed? Oh, there might be some relatively few who bootstrap their way "in" from scratch, but for the vast majority, the way it happens is: they get taught by Reformed people who learned the Reformed tradition from other Reformed, who learned it from other Reformed, etc. … all they way back to Calvin & Co. This learning might come by way of hearing sermons, or it might come by way of reading Reformed books. The effect is the same: "the transmission of [Reformed] customs or [Reformed] beliefs from generation to generation." Tradition!

Now the Reformed might like to say that their views are based upon "sola scriptura". Funny, but that's what the Baptists say, too. That's what the Lutherans say. Ditto the Methodists and Pentecostals: a proliferation of theological traditions, all of which get passed down from generation to generation. In fact, even the very denial of tradition on the part of some is usually…wait for it…a tradition!

It's inescapable. The only question is: whose Tradition? I submit that there is only one satisfactory answer to that question: namely, the Sacred Tradition of the Catholic Church, which has been preserved from the Church's very founding.

1 comment:

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi RdP! St. Augustine wrote that in the search for truth, there are only three kinds of questions: 1) Does a thing exist at all? 2)Is it this particular thing or something else? 3)Should it be approved or disapproved? Your post demonstrates the truth of Augustine's words.

God's bless!