Thursday, March 26, 2015

Tradition as the Life of the Church

Orthodoxy is known for highlighting, and in many cases over-emphasising, Tradition. Scripture and Tradition go hand in hand in the life of the Orthodox Church. One cannot exist without the other. Numerous exegeses of Tradition exist, and have been examined on this blog. Below is a description given to us by Elisabeth Behr-Sigel, who sees Tradition as the life of the Church:

‘An Orthodox Christian would never describe Tradition, as some have done, in terms of “a collection of experiences and hopes that belong to the past.” For him, Tradition is the very life of the Church in its continuity as well as in its ever-flowing newness. Both continuity and creative newness in Tradition are the work of the Holy Spirit. Tradition is certainly expressed in the beliefs, doctrines, and rites: it is also expressed, though to a limited extent only, in the popular traditions . . . At the same time, Tradition transcends them all. It is essentially a dynamism of faith, hope, love. Tradition has its origin in the Pentecost event and even before that in the meeting on Easter morning of some women with the risen Lord; it is a shock wave that is reverberating around the world and throughout the centuries. Tradition carries an energy, a yeast that never stops causing the heavy dough of institutions to rise. From it springs an eternally new event, and ever new, and ever to be renewed, meeting of each believer, in communion with all the rest, with the Lord of the Church. This is what we call “the communion of the saints.”’[1] 

[1] Behr-Sigel, Elisabeth, The Ministry of Women in the Church, (California, Oakwood Publications, 1991), p. 94. 

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