When Tradition Turns Toxic

This is excellent from Kevin DeYoung:

There’s a lot that can be said for tradition. Tradition helps us know what to expect, helps us know our roles. Tradition can mark special events like weddings, funerals, and holidays. Tradition is good because it is respectful of the wisdom of those who have gone before us. It connects us with the past.

I’m a big fan of tradition. But Jesus wasn’t always. “Tradition is the living faith of the dead,” to quote Jaroslav Pelikan. “But traditionalism,” he went on to say, “is the dead faith of the living.” Tradition can be horribly abused. It is a wonderful servant and a terrible master. Some of the dumbest and most hurtful things we do in life are owing to unthinking allegiance to tradition. Tradition sometimes turns toxic.

In Mark 7:1-13, Jesus rails against tradition. He cites two problems with the traditions of the Pharisees. Tradition turns toxic when (1) we enforce man-made traditions as God-made commandments, and (2) when we use man-made traditions to nullify God-made principles. Sometimes as conservatives we forget that adding to Scripture is just as deadly as subtracting from it.

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s