1. the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way.
"every shade of color is fixed by tradition and governed by religious laws"
old wives' tales
a long-established custom or belief that has been passed on from one generation to another.
plural noun: traditions
"Japan's unique cultural traditions"
custom, practice, convention, ritual, ceremony, observance, wont, routine, way, rule, usage, habit, institution, principle, belief, praxis (accepted practice, as opposed to theory)
an artistic or literary method or style established by an artist, writer, or movement, and subsequently followed by others.
"visionary works in the tradition of William Blake"
a doctrine believed to have divine authority though not in the scriptures.
Take a close look at definition "2. Theology" in the definition above. There is an even better one at Merriam-Webster that refers to the term "not verifiable". While many will jump up and down and shout that "That's not true! Everything we Christians do is historical!" That may be a true statement, but "historical" is not necessarily Biblical. Disagree? Well, all you have to do is open your Bibles and point to the proof for a vast majority of the practices and "traditions" of modern Christianity. That shouldn't be too hard, right?
Where did it start?
First, can you think of a religious organization in the world today that has an apparent abundance of traditions, most of which they claim came from Scripture, but were actually institued by and for themselves? Oh, you can go to sites like beginningCatholic.com or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where they will assure you that their tradition is a result of "handing down" something from one person to another. They claim to pass their faith to the next generation. Not everything "handed down" is Biblical or from God, and you can't pass your faith, you can only pass a list of what you believe, not the belief itself.
Faith comes from hearing and then believing (Romans 10:17
17Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
). Faith does not necessarily mean belief in the real God or the real Jesus. If new believers are hearing what the Catholics believe and this turns into faith, then on what is their faith based? They will claim to be following Peter and the admonitions of Paul, quoting the New Testament and declaring their tradition is directly from "Sacred Scripture". However, walk into any Catholic Church on the planet and you will see the very things that causes the reaction of the first two sentences on one of these very same sites (beginningCatholic.com):
Catholic Tradition often seems odd to those outside the Catholic Church.
People assume it's something that we just... "made up."
That which we actually see passed down from generation to generation from this organization does not seem to proceed from the Bible, so by definition, it must be made up. Of course, this was done by people over the last 19 centuries, so those believers of today are supposedly "innocent" because they didn't make it up. Some will claim that it was given to them by the Holy Spirit, but then they have to explain why theirs is the only "church" with that practice. Does the Holy Spirit only speak to Catholics, Baptists, or even just Mormons?
But, then you discover that the Catholics had it first, even though you find it nowhere in the Bible, then the rest of the world followed their practices instead of following the first century ecclesia or the word of God. It started with the Catholics, but that does not make it right, Godly, or even Biblical.
Why would we think that?
Now, reading the New Testament in order to determine how people worshiped God and Jesus in the first century ecclesia does not give you many clues. However, that is a clue in itself. We know that people spoke to others, gathered in assemblies, and pretty much followed the ten commandments.
There were some "officers" in the ecclesia, but we are not told that they walked around with tiaras and fancy robes to identify them as the most important people around. There were some Pharisees who did this, but they were not of the ecclesia. Ecclesia "officers" were mostly there to see that people did not get lazy in their practices and begin to do anything that would cause controversy in the ecclesia. (1 Corinthians 5)
The Bible never says to do what most "Christian" churches are doing
We are not told to discard God's holy day - the seventh-day Sabbath. That would be the seventh day of the week, not every Sunday or Tuesday depending on your whims. We are not told that they met regularly on the first day of the week, nor that they followed any sort of regular church service routine. We are not told that the people sat in pews well below the level of the pulpit used by the speaker who expected the people to maintain a respectful hush while they are told they no longer have to follow any of God's rules and yet will all be saved.
We are not told that they passed the plate every Sunday to give money to pay for the church buildings that people attended only a couple of hours a week. Pastors deliberately misinterpret a one-time request for a food collection in 1 Corinthians 16:1-5
1Now about the collection for the Lord's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. 3Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. 4If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.
5After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you - for I will be going through Macedonia.
, calling it a tradition set up by Paul in order to get money for the church. If you read the Greek for this passage, money was never mentioned. We are not told that they were to wear their "Sunday Best" to show respect for the Lord. We are not told that they were to adopt a five-minute replacement ceremony for the Passover meal. We are not told that they celebrated Christmas or Easter. We are not told that they hung crosses on the wall or on the roofs of their places of worship.
Yet, here we are
However, all these "we are not told" statements are exactly what you will see in every one of today's church services. When we ask why we are doing all these things, we are told, "that is the tradition of the xxxx church". Replace the "xxxx" with whatever church you attend. Where did these traditions come from? Have you ever asked your pastor? If we are not told by the Bible to follow these practices, they must have come from somewhere else. If they do not come from the Bible, then they are human traditions. What did Jesus say about human traditions? For a gentle reminder, read Mark 7:8
8You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.
and Colossians 2:8
8Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
How do we know what to look for?
First, read the Bible. If you need some help identifying tradition, there is another page on this site called Pagan Christianity? that answers the question "Where did these traditions come from?", plainly and historically. Most everything you see when you go to church is from paganism. Yes, even those of your "Scripture-based, exceptionally spiritual, Bible-following, Christ-loving" church. Check out the page link a couple of sentences above if you think that your church is the only one around that would never mix paganism with your worship of Christ.
It was all started by the Catholic church and was adopted by Protestantism in general. Oh, Luther had some problems with the Mother Church, but he kept nearly everything else they did from the second century on. If you have not done so, read through the 95 theses as posted by Luther. You may be surprised at what power Luther considered the pope to have retained, even after he "dressed him down" with the list. Also, most of these complaints of his had very little to do with the accepted traditions installed by the Catholic Church and imported by the Protestants - which was nearly all of them.
Ask your pastor
Any modern pastor worth his salt knows where these traditions originated, but they have a problem when they attempt to enlighten the members of the congregation. First, many denominations have a "home office" that forbids changing the curriculum. They would lose any potential financial support of the denomination leaders.
Second, if, like the Baptists claim, they have no "home office" with which to contend, then the pastors have to contend with resistance of the congregation to changes in their routines and traditions, regardless of the truth of the issues involved. Think of it this way - if your pastor went up on stage one Sunday and made the announcement, "We will no longer meet on Sunday, but services will be held at the same times on Saturday, the Lord's Sabbath, instead. Pork and crustacean seafood will no longer be served at potlucks. Oh, and we will no longer be celebrating the pagan holiday of Christmas." What would you think most people would do?
And third, any significant changes will cause a lot of the congregation to leave and go to where they can "hear what their itching ears want to hear" (2 Timothy 4:3
3For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
). What do you think the pastor would do? When the changes affect the bottom financial line, the truth doesn't seem to matter as much.
Ask, but check him out
Besides, many of them have twisted Scripture so far that they have begun to believe the "new" gospel themselves. In case you think I am just making this up, each of these very things has been used against my arguments as reasons to deny a need to correct the issue with the congregations. The worst by far was the reply that, "I know this is wrong, but that's the way our church does it, so I will continue to teach it. As long as the congregation doesn't know that they are sinning, they won't be held responsible."
Maybe he should read Matthew 23:15
15Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
. And don't try to tell me that that was just for the Jews. All these denominations cannot be right, and the ones that mix the truth with pagan traditions and anything else (all of them!) are doing exactly the same thing. Sounds kind of like men insuinuating their way in between the people and Christ, doesn't it?
The Bible, not traditions
If you can read this and then not go out to investigate your own church, then you and I are done here. If you can look around you and see things that cannot be seen in the Bible, and do nothing, then we are done here. If you see them, check them out, and find out that the information presented on this page is true, but still do nothing, then we are done here.
However, if you see all this, and try to pass the word in an honest attempt to bring others to the truth, then we have just started a new, better tradition by continuing the very first one. Not a tradition of men, but a tradition of following God:
15But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:15)
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