Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Quadrilateral -- Tradition

Tradition plays a huge role in our lives. There are activities we all participate in for the simple reason of tradition, what we have always done. This holds true in our faith journey as well. There are activities we do repeatedly, simply because we always have. There are places we visit repeatedly just because we always have. There are words we utter repeatedly just because we always have. We call this tradition. As we engage in our theological and ethical reflection, along with discernment for our actions we must take tradition into account. We must also be mindful of what we are calling tradition.

For most people tradition is tied to experiences they have known personally. Like going to grandma's for Christmas dinner. This tradition is known because we have experienced the annual trek to Grandma's. In most contexts, tradition is used as a code word for the things which are familiar or that I am accustom to. For many these traditions are tied to one possibly two generations of life cycles. This is too short sighted for using tradition in the way Wesley intended.

For Wesley, and I think for us today, tradition is not merely what we can remember of faith and church, rather it is a much more long term look. It is looking at the way things worked in the 40's and 50's, not just he 1940's and 50's but all the 40's and 50's found in time. We are not the first people to wrestle with a relationship with God. Since time has been recorded, possibly longer only we have no record, people have been working out their relationship with God. This view through the centuries is what tradition really is.

When applying it to the Quad. tradition is the second most important part. Scripture is first, tradition is second, but not the tradition of our life, or even one or two generations before us. No we must examine and learn from the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us(thanks Hebrews). So when we are wrestling with a decision or discussion we are to ask what have the generations through the centuries done, not just what did my parents and grandparents do.

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