The Importance of Apostolic Tradition
Apostolic Tradition - Sacred Tradition. What is it? Why is it so important to us?
We all know the importance of the Bible - Sacred Scripture – the Word of God.
But, what about Tradition?
Tradition is equally as important. It is the very foundation of our faith… of Christianity. Jesus did not write down his teachings and for several years the Apostles conveyed his message by word of mouth and by the way they lived – by Tradition – long before the Bible was ever written.
The Catechism defines Tradition: (paragraph 81)
"And (Holy) Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound, and spread it abroad by their preaching."
There is even evidence that the authors of the Epistles didn’t write everything down. Take 3 John 13, 14 for one of many examples… "I have much to write to you, but I do not wish to write with pen and ink. Instead, I hope to see you soon, when we can talk face to face."
John even mentions in his Gospel, "There are so many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written." (John 21:25)
Additionally, Paul speaks about the importance of oral tradition on several occasions. "Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours. (2 Thessalonians 2:15)
Tradition is living and passing down our faith through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Some of the most basic ways in which Christians worship comes from Tradition – the commemoration of Easter and going to church on Sundays, for example. The New Testament itself is a product of Tradition. That’s right, without Tradition we might not even have the Bible.
Written and unwritten revelation dates back to the time of Genesis – back to the revelation to the Jews. The written part is, of course, the first five books of the Bible. But, the Torah includes an unwritten part as well… and that is the oral tradition, which was handed down from generation to generation.
This is the covenant with them
which I myself have made, says the LORD:
My spirit which is upon you
and my words that I have put into
Shall never leave your mouth,
nor the mouths of your children
Nor the mouths of your children’s children
from now on and forever, says the LORD. (Isaiah 59:21)
Just as the Old Testament did not record all of God’s revelation to the Jews, neither does the New Testament record all of the revelation of Jesus Christ. Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture go hand in hand; and we are so blessed to have both to guide us and help us along the journey.
Peace in Christ,
© Melissa Knoblett-Aman
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