Thursday, May 19, 2011
But Can There Be Truth Without Tradition?
Dorothy Sayers once stated that “if we really want a Christian society we must teach Christianity and that it is absolutely impossible to teach Christianity without teaching Christian dogma.” She goes on to say that the “validity of Christian principles depends on Christ’s authority.” That said, it isn’t any wonder that we see barely a remnant of Christian values present in today’s culture. Practices rooted merely in tradition have little or no validity and, therefore, no lasting power. Worldviews have been equalized by the view that morality and spiritual truth are subjective. This does beg the question as to how well the Church—as an institution and as individual believers—is teaching Christianity. Without a source for truth outside of ourselves, we are left to our own devices. Stigma had for a time been a useful common ground approach to moral issues, but the jig is up. People know the difference between tradition and truth, and because they reject the latter the former is meaningless.Now that is a heck of a point. It shows that in many senses the "old" church and society was not much better than the new. But it also seems to imply that we should not worry about the loss of the traditional since it is not what matters, really, anyway. Such raises an interesting question - can truth flourish in a traditionless culture.
Have we been a Church committed to decision-making based on Christ’s authority or because “that’s the way we’ve always done it?” Do we take positions on matters of morality based on the politics of the moment, or have we done the work in Scripture to know what God wants us to know and live out on a given matter?
The answer is, of course, Truth (Christ) emerged from a culture devoid of knowledge of Him or His gospel and it grew from there to a place of western cultural dominance so yes truth can flourish in a culture absent the traditions it established.
However, such happens at a very high cost to those few that hold the truth in such circumstances. When we rail against the decline of culture we fight not for truth, but for our ability to spread truth without persecution.
The question is are we strong enough to withstand the persecution? Our first response must be to dig more into the truth so that we can be strong enough.