Tradition, A Nonconformist's Word

2 Thessalonians 2:15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

When it comes to church life the word “tradition” can bring strong emotions. For some people the word is a cruel jailer keeping creativity chained to a cold wall in the dungeon of conformity. To others tradition is grandmother's overstuffed chair sitting by the warm fireplace of yesterday. It seems to keep the instability that comes with change always below the safe horizon of sameness.

Paul was a teacher of truth, and he was writing to people who were frightened and under stress. Change had come to their lives in the form of persecution. Persecution for simply believing a different tradition from those around them. The word tradition literally means “the content of instruction that has been handed down.” BDAG To the persecutors, the Christian beliefs were new... revolutionary... threatening. To the Christians they were old, solid, and comforting. Could it be that there are really no new ideas, only ideas that are new to us? New and old, at least in this instance, was a matter of perspective.

In this case the persecutors were trying to use force to bring about conformity to their traditions. Paul's nonconformist argument in the face of this force was conformity to his and the Bible's traditions. There is a great comfort that comes from knowing the truth in times like these, and knowing that this tradition has stood the test of time, it has been handed down to us beaten, bloody, and bruised by the bullying forces of conformity, but intact, as alive today as it was in the Garden of Eden. Tradition delivered by the Creator and then hardened and refined on the human anvil of ignorance, fear, prejudice, superstition, and the violent need for conformity is the strongest material in this unstable world.

The Apostle Paul's traditions, and the rest of the Bible's teachings, are at once solid, unchanging, stable... and nonconforming, revolutionary, and explosively unstable. When we stand there... solid in those traditions, everything seems to stand still, its as if we are already in the eternal day, but the world is still churning around us. It's like living in the eye of a hurricane. There's no place on earth like it. Lord keep me solidly conformed to Your nonconforming traditions... this is where I want... no... where I must remain.


  1. Great Post. I think the confusion about traditions comes from whether those traditions are the traditions of man (method) or the traditions of truth (message). In our world today and especially in the church, these lines have become so blurred that nobody can tell the difference.
    Blessings! Keep up the good work!

  2. "Could it be that there are really no new ideas, only ideas that are new to us?" Absolutely! Thoughtful post, as usual, and with you I say "Lord keep me solidly conformed to Your nonconforming traditions"

  3. Thanks Travis... I enjoyed reading "The Crucified Life"



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