Friday: Further Study: Christ and Religious Tradition

Further Study: For more information on this week’s topic, read Ellen G. White, Tradition, pp. 395-398, Woes on the Pharisees, pp. 610-620, in The Desire of Ages. Also read Matthew 23.studymore

Let all who accept human authority, the customs of the church, or the traditions of the fathers, take heed to the warning conveyed in the words of Christ, In vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. -Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 398.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are some of the traditions that we as Seventh-day Adventists follow? Why is it important to recognize them as such? Why are traditions important, and what role do they have in the life of our community? Which have universal significance, and which are based on local and cultural factors?
  2. Believers have not infrequently allowed the enemy to work through them at the very time when they should have been wholly consecrated to God and to the advancement of His work. Unconsciously they have wandered far from the way of righteousness. Cherishing a spirit of criticism and faultfinding, of pharisaical piety and pride, they have grieved away the Spirit of God and have greatly retarded the work of God’s messengers.-Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 125. How does one unconsciously wander far from the way of righteousness? What steps can a person take to avoid getting trapped in a self-righteous rut?
  3. Reflect on the order of the divine worship service in your church. Why does your church have that particular order? What is the meaning of each item in the litany (for example, invocation, doxology, pastoral prayer, et cetera)? What lessons can you learn from the church service that help to reveal just how much tradition is interwoven in our faith? At the same time we need to ask: just because it’s tradition, and nothing else, is it bad?


Friday: Further Study: Christ and Religious Tradition — 5 Comments

  1. Were the Pharisees ‘good for nothing?’ A casual read of scripture might give that impression. And those who believe such about the Pharisees are likely to hold the same view of those they consider ‘modern day Pharisees;’ and proceed to treat them that way. It would be too bad if we did that, only to end up in the same place with them - outside the Kingdom of God.

    In spite of Jesus’ tough words to and about the Pharisees He longed for them to repent, and turn, and live. He took no delight in calling them out and no comfort in the fact that they would not inherit the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:20). He also knew some would heed the strong warning. More than that the statements of rebuke were intended to make clear to generations following how God felt about the self-righteous attitude.

    Jesus also recognized that some of what the Pharisees said was wholesome and indicated that these things should be observed (Matthew 23:1-3). As well knowing of the excesses of the religious leaders, along with the oppressive Roman laws, Jesus gave His followers a radical command in Matthew 5:39-41. He seemed to be saying, “bear with them.”

    It might seem like the only appropriate response is to resist the so called ‘Pharisees’ of our day. But maybe, just maybe, we might at times do more than they ask (go the extra mile). And who knows what might be the effect. In any case the act of submission will only help with our character development, which is what Jesus is after in the first place.

  2. Reflecting on #3, I suppose that we could have no order at all but I don't think that is really what is intended. It seems to me that God requires order in several ways:

    1) He is Himself one of order and not confusion (1 Cor 14:33).
    2) Order is something that is seen in all of Gods physical laws and can be observed and defined scientifically on a mathematical basis.
    3) Human culture has been defined as, "In an anthropological sense, culture is a shared and negotiated system of meaning informed by knowledge that people learn and put into practice by interpreting experience and generating behavior." (Invitation to Anthropology, by Luke Eric Lassiter, p 42). What that means is that culture is something that is agreed upon and followed by a group which sets up orderly behavior, like having a set of unwritten laws such as understood customs.
    4) All human Laws create order in one way or another and like culture it is something that is agreed upon even when imposed by authority without the consent of the people.
    5) All human plans have some sort of order to them therefore we are creatures of orderly thought.

  3. Hi, I am studying the site since I am teaching SS tomorrow. I think tradition is absolutely horrible. I think that it happens very slowly and undefinably until one day you wonder to yourself, how did that happen? Traditions lead to error and concrete-entrenched thinking. I think traditions got the apostlic church into trouble until one day it turned in a monolithic vat of tradition and it took a guy named Luther to say, heywaitaminute. I introduce myself as a Christian FIRST and an SDA SECOND. My master is Christ first. The bible is first. Then, my church and its tradition comes SECOND. I want to be known as a son/follower of Christ first and a son of the church second. Not the other way around.

  4. I agree with Tylers' comments on order and the rules "laws" that are guides intended to implement order. Can we confuse order with tradition? We attend the same church at the same time and same place each week and follow an order of service that is much the same each week. Is this tradition or an orderly way to worship God? There could be changes in the order of service but would it serve any spiritual need? Many like change for the purpose of change. Apostle Paul talks against doing things that cause someone else to stumble. He also says that without the law he would not know what sin is. To keep from going to extremes is a problem sometimes.

  5. I was blessed with this week lesson. By going through the lesson I have found couples of thing that really help me. We seems to bound to tradition and forget all about what God expected us of doing. Teaching the law but yet not following. The mind is the the heart is the most important organ that we as a individual have to control. Don't act as Pharasis where they just worship with mouth and there mind is far away..


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