Author Topic: A Model for Explaining the Importance of Tradition  (Read 1340 times)

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Offline Bryan Paul

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A Model for Explaining the Importance of Tradition
« on: January 19, 2016, 04:00:31 PM »
Indulge me a little though experiment. . . then give me your opinions.

I'm trying to come up with a way of explaining why Tradition is critical to the faith.

To simply say, you must do "X" this way, and you must say these particular words when you do "Y", in order for them to be valid, seems to reduce Tradition to some sort of magic formula, which we know it is not. Here's how I (currently) think of it:

Tradition is the "Institutional Wisdom" of the Church. No single person can know the reasons for everything the Church does, but Tradition allows us to carry that knowledge to future generations, even if we don't understand it ourselves. Where we depart from Tradition, we lose that piece of Institutional Wisdom.

I might go so far as to say that each individual practice is not immediately necessary, but it is crucially necessary that we do not deviate from these practices. That sounds like an oxymoron, but here's a crude analogy:

It is critically important that we all drive on the correct side of the road. If we didn't there would be endless gridlock and traffic accidents. However, it is not immediately necessary in every instance. If I'm on a road all by myself, it doesn't really matter which side of the road I drive on at that moment; I'll still get where I'm going. There might even be a reason that I and another driver end up passing each other on the wrong side. It's dangerous, and we shouldn't carry on like that, but it worked out OK that one time. Of course, this is not at all an endorsement to just drive however you want. You need to follow the rules, because there are too many things you don't know and can't see.

To equate this to an Orthodox practice, baptism by immersion is critically important because, in practicing baptism in this way, we pass along theology and wisdom we may not even be aware of. However, there can, and has been, variation of the practice in individual cases. It's not like the baptism "doesn't take," or is invalid because of the individual variation, but that's not a reason to relax the requirements in general.

Is this making sense? Does it sound reasonable as a way to explain the importance of Tradition?
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Offline Ainnir

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Re: A Model for Explaining the Importance of Tradition
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2016, 04:46:34 PM »
Thank you for even attempting this.  I have a vested interest in being able to explain what's so important about Tradition/tradition.  "it's Tradition" doesn't cut it, and neither does "that's the way it's always been done." 
Is any of the above Orthodox?  I have no clue, so there's that.

Offline JoeS2

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Re: A Model for Explaining the Importance of Tradition
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2016, 06:22:16 PM »
Indulge me a little though experiment. . . then give me your opinions.

I'm trying to come up with a way of explaining why Tradition is critical to the faith.

To simply say, you must do "X" this way, and you must say these particular words when you do "Y", in order for them to be valid, seems to reduce Tradition to some sort of magic formula, which we know it is not. Here's how I (currently) think of it:

Tradition is the "Institutional Wisdom" of the Church. No single person can know the reasons for everything the Church does, but Tradition allows us to carry that knowledge to future generations, even if we don't understand it ourselves. Where we depart from Tradition, we lose that piece of Institutional Wisdom.

I might go so far as to say that each individual practice is not immediately necessary, but it is crucially necessary that we do not deviate from these practices. That sounds like an oxymoron, but here's a crude analogy:

It is critically important that we all drive on the correct side of the road. If we didn't there would be endless gridlock and traffic accidents. However, it is not immediately necessary in every instance. If I'm on a road all by myself, it doesn't really matter which side of the road I drive on at that moment; I'll still get where I'm going. There might even be a reason that I and another driver end up passing each other on the wrong side. It's dangerous, and we shouldn't carry on like that, but it worked out OK that one time. Of course, this is not at all an endorsement to just drive however you want. You need to follow the rules, because there are too many things you don't know and can't see.

To equate this to an Orthodox practice, baptism by immersion is critically important because, in practicing baptism in this way, we pass along theology and wisdom we may not even be aware of. However, there can, and has been, variation of the practice in individual cases. It's not like the baptism "doesn't take," or is invalid because of the individual variation, but that's not a reason to relax the requirements in general.

Is this making sense? Does it sound reasonable as a way to explain the importance of Tradition?

One of the main reasons I feel Tradition or what I refer to as Holy Tradition is so important is that if it werent for Holy Tradition we would NOT have the Holy Bible today, for it is in the writtings and verbal messages of the Fathers that we have what we have today in text form.  In addition, we have the form of the Liturgy as it was passed down through the ages as another example of Tradition.  I am sure there are more examples and that those who are on this net will contribute their inputs to this.

Offline orthonorm

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Re: A Model for Explaining the Importance of Tradition
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2016, 06:52:23 PM »
Indulge me a little though experiment. . . then give me your opinions.

I'm trying to come up with a way of explaining why Tradition is critical to the faith.

To simply say, you must do "X" this way, and you must say these particular words when you do "Y", in order for them to be valid, seems to reduce Tradition to some sort of magic formula, which we know it is not. Here's how I (currently) think of it:

Tradition is the "Institutional Wisdom" of the Church. No single person can know the reasons for everything the Church does, but Tradition allows us to carry that knowledge to future generations, even if we don't understand it ourselves. Where we depart from Tradition, we lose that piece of Institutional Wisdom.

I might go so far as to say that each individual practice is not immediately necessary, but it is crucially necessary that we do not deviate from these practices. That sounds like an oxymoron, but here's a crude analogy:

It is critically important that we all drive on the correct side of the road. If we didn't there would be endless gridlock and traffic accidents. However, it is not immediately necessary in every instance. If I'm on a road all by myself, it doesn't really matter which side of the road I drive on at that moment; I'll still get where I'm going. There might even be a reason that I and another driver end up passing each other on the wrong side. It's dangerous, and we shouldn't carry on like that, but it worked out OK that one time. Of course, this is not at all an endorsement to just drive however you want. You need to follow the rules, because there are too many things you don't know and can't see.

To equate this to an Orthodox practice, baptism by immersion is critically important because, in practicing baptism in this way, we pass along theology and wisdom we may not even be aware of. However, there can, and has been, variation of the practice in individual cases. It's not like the baptism "doesn't take," or is invalid because of the individual variation, but that's not a reason to relax the requirements in general.

Is this making sense? Does it sound reasonable as a way to explain the importance of Tradition?

To be honest, any serious account of knowledge is going to have recourse to tradition. If you were to acquaint yourself with contemporary thought on hermeneutics, the matter is quite settled.

But the problem is, that argument cuts both ways. There is no faith without tradition, so Orthodoxy as such cannot claim to have tradition and The First Zion Cross of the Original Calgary KJV Only doesn't.

Both exist within history which is to say tradition.

The question becomes a matter of which tradition and why?

The last question cannot be decided without a lot of discussion. And most people just aren't to those questions which would be raised.

IOW, arguments from traditions in themselves are almost always non-starters.

Offline Ainnir

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Re: A Model for Explaining the Importance of Tradition
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2016, 07:29:32 PM »

The question becomes a matter of which tradition and why?


Good point.  Can we answer that in a convincing manner?  I have no answers for the questions posed to me.  My "why" is totally subjective.  I'm not entirely sure how it can be otherwise, but the word is often used pejoratively, even here.
Is any of the above Orthodox?  I have no clue, so there's that.

Offline orthonorm

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Re: A Model for Explaining the Importance of Tradition
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2016, 08:32:06 PM »

The question becomes a matter of which tradition and why?


Good point.  Can we answer that in a convincing manner?  I have no answers for the questions posed to me.  My "why" is totally subjective.  I'm not entirely sure how it can be otherwise, but the word is often used pejoratively, even here.

Cause people reject the incarnation.

Any truth worth a jot, isn't going to hashed over talk of history, much to the chagrin of people here.

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Offline mcarmichael

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Re: A Model for Explaining the Importance of Tradition
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2016, 06:51:04 PM »
Doesn't it depend upon the tradition, though?

*Also, you're looking for what? The simplest explanation, right? Have you tried "Just because."?

*edit
« Last Edit: January 24, 2016, 06:52:20 PM by mcarmichael »
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Offline mcarmichael

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Re: A Model for Explaining the Importance of Tradition
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2016, 08:28:34 PM »
Another favorite: "Why not?"
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Offline NicholasMyra

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Re: A Model for Explaining the Importance of Tradition
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2016, 01:35:01 PM »
My "why" is totally subjective.
It doesn't involve any objects?
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Offline Ainnir

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Re: A Model for Explaining the Importance of Tradition
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2016, 03:50:17 PM »
My "why" is totally subjective.
It doesn't involve any objects?

Only a subjective view of them.  ;)  I meant that I can't get sufficiently outside myself to have anything like objective reasoning.  If I assent or submit to something or someone outside myself, it's still because I saw fit to do so.  If I reject it or them, it's still my decision based on my personal reasoning.  My personal point of view isn't useful in explaining to others why Tradition IS important in an all-encompassing, objective sense.  So I'm curious what would help illustrate that point?  Or is it purely a matter of individual faith?  Or is it "both/and"?

(I'm not being pointed and wasn't to begin with.  I ask honestly because I honestly don't know.  I'd like there be a definitive answer to the "what and why" question.  But I also want whatever answer is true.)
Is any of the above Orthodox?  I have no clue, so there's that.