Jesus vs. Tradition
Twitter is a weird place, and Christians on Twitter oftentimes has a habit of making it weirder. I don’t say this to solve a profound mystery of any kind, but simply because lately I’ve noticed a trend in Christians on Twitter lately to start saying some weird stuff. Perhaps they always were, but recently I think it’s been particularly bad. I figured that instead of just vaguely complaining about ideas or concepts, we can examine a few troublesome tweets together and see what we find. I think because of the discontinuity between the various themes I’ve observed, I think I’ll break up my ideas into a few posts beginning with tradition.
Tradition Equating to the Law
Concerning this issue, I almost don’t know where to begin. I worry that no matter how I address this, I’m going to be accused of denying the blessings of the New Covenant or the power of the person of Christ and his work. God forbid if I ever do those things, I hope Jesus or the Holy Spirit just take my internet away forever and I never do that again. So I will tread as carefully as I can.
First, tradition is not something to be quickly disregarded. Scripture explicitly tells us this (see Jude). We need tradition to prevent us from saying things like Jesus doesn’t bring tradition. We need tradition not in the sense that through tradition Scripture is complete as if they’re interdependent; far from it. Tradition prevents us from having theological selective memory.
Second, what this tweet is getting at, at least, I hope this tweet is getting at, is sin. Jesus is against the law being used sinfully. Jesus is not against tradition as it should be practiced and understood in the Christian faith. Because tradition was being used in a way to misguide the Jews, Jesus wanted an end of the teachings of the false teachers. Jesus advocates for sola scriptura, not solo scriptura. It would be a horrible disservice to Christ’s church (Christ’s body) to disregard the body you are a part of. Scripture is always the final authority, but Scripture is also meant to be understood through collective interpretation, not one’s sole experience (sola scriptura vs. solo scriptura et experiencia).
Sound tradition isn’t wrong. Sin is wrong. If tradition is sinful, then tradition is wrong. If we don’t remember this, we will surely confuse and possibly equate tradition with the law that kills. If they truly exist to be one and the same, then we should strive to abolish those traditions, for they necessarily subtract from the person and work of Christ and will hurt his bride.
Third, Christ absolutely transforms us. But Christ did more than that on the cross -- he came to set the universe in order, to have the entire universe submit to Him. On the cross, Christ permanently transformed the lives of his flock, but equally true, Christ also came not to abolish the law but fulfill it. The law is not the problem here, it’s us. We distorted the law and obfuscated it to the point of it being indistinguishable from sin itself. Tradition was meant and is meant to be a means of God’s grace, showing us the truth of the Gospel and the comfort we have in His person and work coupled with the love of the body of Christ. Tradition is meant to remind us of Jesus, and that is not something that Christ desired to destroy or abolish. Pitting two truths against the other is not helpful. The body and teachers in the church are good and helpful, blessings from God. Christ has given himself to us, as well as other blessings.
I fear as Christians we are too quick to abolish the blessings of God because of the fact they can become idols or we’ve seen them