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Traditions of men….Are they all wrong?

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This is pretty much a copy of a comment I left on Ian’s Blog regarding the traditions of men.  It can be easy for us who are not part of a traditional institutional church to make a blanket statement that all the traditions of men are wrong.  I know I’ve done it in the past.  But if we look at the passage of scripture where Jesus speaks about the “traditions of men”, we find that the issue is not as clear cut as just condemning all practices/traditions of men.


My Comments:

If you look at the passage where Jesus rebukes the traditions of men, it is not a blanket statement condemning all the traditions of men, even in a religious setting.  Here’s one of the passage:

“And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. “For Moses said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER’; and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH’; but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”
(Mar 7:6-13)

What is Jesus condemning?

1) “teaching as DOCTRINES the precepts of men”
2) “NEGLECTING the COMMANDMENTS of God and keeping and holding the traditions instead – as a higher rule of law the invalidates the commands of God.
3) “invalidating the word of God by man made traditions”.

So the issue at hand when discussing a “tradition/practice” of men is whether or not it’s taught as a doctrine and whether it violates and nullifies the commandments of the Lord. There are going to be traditions and practices that believers do that will and will not do these things.

To make a blanket statement and forbids all practices because we cannot find them in the scripture is to do the same thing that the Pharisee’s did, which was to make commands that God never made. So in someones righteous zeal to do only what the word of God says, they can be a Pharisee in their actions and end up forbidding things that God never forbid.

Here is a tradition or practice of man that is acceptable and does not violate the word of God, yet is condemned by some as evil because it’s a “tradition of man”.

Let’s say our fellowship wants to write down a statement of faith, specifically as the Lord brings us together in unity regarding what we believe regarding both essential and non-essentials. We don’t make it a doctrine/teaching that every believer or fellowship must have a statement of faith.  And the statement of faith does not violate or nullify any command of God. This tradition/practice of man is acceptable and does not fall under the condemnation of Jesus words as spoke in Mark 7:6-13.

So the way I see it, we are not simply to judge a person or fellowship because they have a “tradition or practice” of man, but we are to judge the tradition or practice of man to see if it is taught as a doctrine, if it causes people to neglect the commands of God, and if the tradition invalidates the word of God.

Written by Sean Scott

August 17, 2013 at 7:03 pm

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Christian love and unity – Albert Barnes

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I was really blessed by this exhortation from Barnes this morning:

John 17:20-21
Neither pray I for these alone … – Not for the apostles only, but for all who shall be converted under the preaching of the gospel. They will all need similar grace and be exposed to similar trials. It is a matter of unspeakable joy that each Christian, however humble or unknown to men however poor, unlearned, or despised, can reflect that he was remembered in prayer by “him whom God heareth always.” We value the prayers of pious friends. How much more should we value this petition of the Son of God! To that single prayer we who are Christians owe infinitely more real benefits than the world can ever bestow; and in the midst of any trials we may remember that the Son of God prayed for us, and that the prayer was assuredly heard, and will be answered in reference to all who truly believe.
All may be one – May be united as brethren. Christians are all redeemed by the same blood, and are going to the same heaven. They have the same wants, the same enemies, the same joys.  Hence they should feel that they belong to the same family, and are children of the same God and Father. There are no ties so tender as those which bind us in the gospel. There is no friendship so pure and enduring as that which results from having the same attachment to the Lord Jesus. Hence, Christians, in the New Testament, are represented as being indissolubly united – parts of the same body, and members of the same family, Act_4:32-35; 1Co. 12:4-31; Eph_2:20-22; Rom_12:5. On the ground of this union they are exhorted to love one another, to bear one another’s burdens, and to study the things that make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another, Eph_4:3; Rom_12:5-16.
As thou, Father, art in me – See Joh_14:10. This does not affirm that the union between Christians should be in all respects like that between the Father and the Son, but only in the points in which they are capable of being compared. It is not the union of nature which is referred to, but the union of plan, of counsel, of purpose seeking the same objects, and manifesting attachment to the same things, and a desire to promote the same ends.
That they also may be one in us – To be in God and in Christ is to be united to God and Christ. The expression is common in the New Testament. The phrase used here denotes a union among all Christians founded on and resulting from a union to the same God and Saviour.
That the world may believe … – That the world, so full of animosities and fightings, may see the power of Christian principle in overcoming the sources of contention and producing love, and may thus see that a religion that could produce this must be from heaven. See the notes at Joh_13:34. This was done. Such was the attachment of the early Christians to each other, that a pagan was constrained to say, “See how these Christians love one another!”
(I did remove one sentence from Barnes quote, even though it’s true, so as not to distract from what he’s saying).
May we all seek to have the same heart and mind as Christ in our unity and love one for another.  

Written by Sean Scott

August 10, 2013 at 4:09 pm

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