the weblog of Alan Knox

Examining Traditions Among the Church

Posted by on Oct 17, 2012 in blog links | 5 comments

Jon at “Jon’s Journey” has written a very good post called “Are All Traditions Wrong?

I won’t leave you in suspense; Jon concludes that all traditions are NOT wrong. And, in fact, I think Jon is in good company. When Jesus condemned some of the Jewish traditions, he didn’t condemn all of them. He only condemned those traditional practices that went against God’s commands. (See Mark 7:1-9, for example.)

So, Jon offers some suggestions toward evaluating traditional practices:

I find it gives me the freedom to question if it is the best way of doing something. If something is a tradition that is not commanded or demonstrated in Scripture I think it is worth asking a few questions about it:

  • When did we start this tradition?
  • Why did we start this tradition?
  • Are there better ways of doing things?
  • What does the Bible have to say on the topic – if anything?
  • Are we OK if some people do things different than us?

I think these are good questions. I’d suggest a couple of other questions such as 1) What are the benefits of doing this? and 2) Are there more benefits in doing it differently?

By the way, I think Jon’s final statement is huge when it comes to traditions. That’s what usually causes problems among people with different traditions.

What do you think about Jon’s questions? What about my additions? What other questions would you ask to evaluate your traditions (and you do have traditions)?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 10-18-2012

    As from Mark 7:1-13, Jesus unveils problems in the way/manner traditions are kept, rather than dismissing the tradition itself. When traditions are kept rigidly; when Love must bow to tradition, there is no option but to conclude that a tradition/practice is being destructively or vainly implemented.

  2. 10-18-2012

    “What about my additions? What other questions would you ask to evaluate your traditions (and you do have traditions)?”

    What do we consider “benefits” to be?

  3. 10-18-2012


    Yes, exactly.


    That’s a great question, along with, “How do we determine which benefits to pursue?”


  4. 10-21-2012

    I think another great consideration is whether there are any drawbacks or potential pitfalls to a tradition. This is especially so when a certain ‘way of doing something’ obviously differs from the blueprint/pattern we observe in the NT and early church. An example is in our common practise of communion, with symbolic elements and a 10 minute tack-on to the end of the service to accommodate this ‘sacrament’…. Instead of the meaningful, fellowship-focused, gratitude-filled, full-on weekly love feast enjoyed by the church in antiquity. Often our reasons for introducing new traditions or modifying these traditions are thoroughly pragmatic, and may not be, ipso facto, ‘wrong’. However, by realizing the wisdom of the pattern of gathering in homes in the New Testament, MANY unnecessary and detrimental modern traditions, (which are only now necessary and practical due to the new normal size of a congregation) would be completely obviated.

  5. 10-22-2012


    That’s great! My additional questions concerned “benefits,” but I agree with you that’s it’s also good to ask about “drawbacks” or “pitfalls.”