Thursday, October 11, 2007

Equivocation Over the Word "Tradition"

In the presentation so far, you have sometimes referred to "tradition" as though it were a process, sometimes as thought it were a set of doctrines/practices developed by the church, and sometimes as though it were a set of doctrines/practices passed down from the apostles. This would seem to make the "it is a tradition, seek no farther" unworkable, because the reader of this debate cannot readily determine what "tradition" is. We have seen Paul's use, the use of various early churchmen, and your use.

Recall that we read, in Scripture:

2Th 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

This "tradition" is contextually a rule for walking orderly, i.e. a rule (or rules) of conduct.

2Th 2:15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

These "traditions" are something (doctrines, discipline rules, or whatever) that the Thessalonians were taught by the apostles.

Likewise, in Irenaeus - as you quoted at length - we see reference to apostolic traditions, meaning doctrine that was handed from the apostles.

Additionally, you make comments like "Tradition is more workable because it is a superset of Scripture." This, however, does not seem to make much sense in the context of your opening quotation from Chrysostom, for Chrysostom, in the part you quote, wrote:

Hence it is manifest, that they did not deliver all things by Epistle, but many things also unwritten, and in like manner both the one and the other are worthy of credit. Therefore let us think the tradition of the Church also worthy of credit. It is a tradition, seek no farther.
Here Chrysostom seems to pretty clearly distinguish between the writings and church tradition.

Finally, you quote Vincent de Lerins:
Moreover, in the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense "Catholic," which, as the name itself and the reason of the thing declare, comprehends all universally. This rule we shall observe if we follow universality, antiquity, consent. We shall follow universality if we confess that one faith to be true, which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity, if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is manifest were notoriously held by our holy ancestors and fathers; consent, in like manner, if in antiquity itself we adhere to the consentient definitions and determinations of all, or at the least of almost all priests and doctors.
But this standard of near universality in teaching would seem to absolutely prevent development. Your last answer, though, seemed to adopt Vincent's comments.

It's important for your readers to be able to identify whether the tradition you are defending is the same as Paul described, the same as Irenaeus described, the same as Vincent described, the same as Chrysostom described, or whatever the Orthodox Church teaches those under catechesis today. So, which will it be: is the "tradition" of the Orthodox Church an ambiguity-removing process, a set of extra-scriptural apostolic teaching, the set of all apostolic teaching, or something else?


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