Posted by: Ken Brown | May 13, 2008

Quote – On Christian Tradition

The recent Evangelical Manifesto’s recognition of the importance of the early Christian creeds reminded me of D.H. Williams’ book Retrieving the Tradition and Renewing Evangelicalism: A Primer for Suspicious Protestants, which argues that Evangelicalism’s “historical amnesia” is a primary cause of its present disarray. The following quotation refers specifically to the extra-biblical tradition of the church (including the creeds), but it occurs to me that with very little modification, it could just as well describe the Bible itself:

If the Christian Tradition functions in any normative way at all, it is not simply because it lies in the past or because it is an accepted way of doing things. It has a normative role because it represents the corporate voice of the faithful, very often in moments when the faith was being tested by some controversy, proclaiming what it has received in light of what it must confront. The Tradition of the church is just that, the outcome of a testing and sharpening process by which the Spirit moved through the worshipping, praying, baptizing and confessing community of believers, or what can be aptly called a consensus of faith through time. (pg. 207)

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Responses

  1. “The Tradition of the church is just that, the outcome of a testing and sharpening process by which the Spirit moved through the worshipping, praying, baptizing and confessing community of believers, or what can be aptly called a consensus of faith through time. (pg. 207)”

    This tells me that we, as baptized, worshipping, praying and confessing believers, actually have a say, over time, in the tradition of the Church via the testing and sharpening process.

  2. That’s a great point! The question then is how to resolve the tension between congruence with tradition and openness to new insights.


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