Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Fiddler on the Roof opens with an exhuberant rendition of the song "Tradition" in which Teyve is bemoaning all the changes going in his small world. Before the play is over, he has seen his whole life turned upside down by changing traditions.

I have been thinking a lot about traditions since Lee Camp preached a sermon out of Colossians 2 a couple of Sundays ago. My eyes have been particularly focused on 2:8 "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of the world rather than on Christ." The religious fellowship I am a part of is putting a lot of emphasis on traditions in these post-Christian days.
I guess it helps them cope with all the changes around them.

I picture these folks like a dog bound by a rope to a post--never able to go very far, able only to travel in circles, all the while barking and keeping the world at bay--this world seen by those in Europe and Africa as the greatest mission field in the world.

So we keep instrumental music off the agenda on Sunday morning because it is our tradition; we forbid women to read the Bible and lead prayer in the worship service because it is our tradition. Some of us forbid Sunday school, youth ministers, kitchens in churches, multiple cup communion, casual dress when serving communion, etc. because those are our traditions. However, if we were asked and pressed, none could give chapter and verse for most of these traditions. Paul goes on to say in Colossians 2:23 "Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility...but they lack any value...."
(I am omitting harsh treatment of the body as this is not on our lists of traditions--at least, not yet.)

What does all this have to say to the post-Christian, postmodern culture in which are living?
I think it causes them to question institutional religion even more heavily. The early church was not about tradition--they didn't have any!! in Acts 2. They were about the love, fellowship and service Paul speaks of in Colossians 3.

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