Tradition vs. Traditionalism

Posted: September 19, 2011 in history, theology

Who doesn't love choir robes?

Doug Wilson offers some good thoughts:

Whenever a people sin with their fathers, they are carrying on a tradition. The long practice of tradition gives the disobedience a sheen that it would not otherwise have.

One writer has helpfully distinguished between tradition, which is the living faith of the dead, and traditionalism, which is the dead faith of the living. When the Pharisees went on autopilot, not understanding the weightier matters of the law, that was traditionalism. When Jonadab’s descendants refused Jeremiah’s offer of wine, and all because their ancestor had given them a way of life, that was tradition, and was commended by God. Handing faithfulness across generations is tradition. Handing sin across generations is traditionalism.

The Resurgence also has a helpful post about this issue, noting the importance of good historical theology in evaluating the beliefs and practices that have been passed down to us from previous generations.


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