Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bible and Tradition

Many Christian Denominations argue whether they should believe and abide by the Bible and Tradition or only the Bible. However, we probably need to define what Tradition is. Is it a conservative attitude to Christian beliefs? Is it unchanging? Does it evolve? An Orthodox understanding of Tradition is merely the explanation of the Bible, through the Church Fathers, who were enlightened by the Holy Spirit. Their interpretation is the one adopted by the Church, in order to have a single attitude and explanation of Scripture, showing thus uniformity within Orthodoxy. The Church Fathers also tackle social and philosophical issues, showing how a Christian should live, not only during their epochs, but diachronically. Moreover, Tradition is also how we act and what we do within an ecclesiastical environment and during services. This last feature exists in all Denominations, whether they accept the notion of Tradition or not.

A Biblical paradigm, highlighting how both Bible and Tradition, i.e. interpretation, are needed is the following one, from the 8th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, showing how Biblical stories are not simple ones, having a deeper understanding. “An Ethiopian dignitary was reading the prophecy of Isaiah while he was in his chariot. Philip the deacon heard him and asked: ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ The Ethiopian’s response was, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ He was right, and the acknowledgement of his weakness was the first step in his journey from the words to the Word. Following this, Philip told the Ethiopian dignitary things that the book could not tell him, and led him to a faith that he could not reach on his own. He explained to him how the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah was Jesus Christ, and how Christ was the deeper meaning of the book…For this reason the theology and the tradition of the church and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit are indispensable tools in our attempt to penetrate Scripture”[1]. The Holy Spirit allows us to read Scripture in the correct manner.

[1] Andreopoulos, Andreas, This is My Beloves Son – The Transfiguration of Christ, (Brewster, Massachusetts, 2012), p. 17

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