Traditions: Good or Bad?

To one person, religious traditions stimulate warm secure feelings. They are cherished, time-honored customs and a part of his religious heritage. He can sing with reverence: “Faith of our fathers, holy faith! We will be true to thee till death!”
To another person traditions bind religious beliefs and practices no longer relevant in our time. They are despised and should be discarded.
How should we regard traditions? Can we separate the good from the bad? The Scriptures speak of both kinds.
The religious traditions of men are bad. They do not come from God and must not be bound upon men. Jesus said that such traditions “invalidate the word of God” (Matthew 15:6).
Anything bound as religious law, or anything practiced as religious ritual that does not come from the authority of Christ in the Scriptures should be regarded as a tradition of men. Christ does not sanction it, and His church must not bind it as law. These traditions of convenience or opinion would include whether or not to have church buildings, whether to use song books or to sing from hymns projected to a screen, whether to stand during prayer or to sit or kneel, and other such practices that can change with the times and circumstances.
On the other hand, religious traditions coming from apostolic authority are good. They come from God and are binding on men. These traditions are revealed in Scripture and exemplified by the apostles (2 Thessalonians 3:6,7). Paul encouraged Christians to… “stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us” (2 Thessalonians 2:15).
It is by these apostolic traditions that we know how to obey, worship, and serve God. We in the 21st century who desire to follow Jesus should examine our traditions to see if they are from God or man.

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Jimmy Jividen

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