Tradition In The Catholic Church

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Tradition is woven into the very fabric of humanity. Every family, nation and society has traditions that are passed down from generation to generation. Even within the church, there are traditions that have been passed down through the centuries. However, the big question becomes: What role does tradition play within theology? The Catholic Church has equated tradition’s authority with Scripture; and great thinkers like John Meyendorff and Don Thorsen affirm tradition, yet lessen its authority to fall under Scripture. Specifically, Meyendorff proposes a living tradition that adjusts in each era in order to speak to the culture without the altering Scripture. Similarly, Thorsen is a proponent of Scripture’s ultimate authority, and adds tradition, …show more content…
There ensued from Martin Luther, and other reformers, the doctrine of Sola scriptura. Don Thorsen sums up Luther’s main intent by stating, “Sola scriptura represents the Protestant Reformation emphasis upon Scripture as the only reliable religious authority—Scripture alone.3 Does this mean that the reformers rejected the authority of the church and the authority of tradition? Not quite. Thorsen answers this question by writing, “Sola scriptura is not a denial of the authority of the Church to teach God 's truth” and “Sola scriptura is not a denial that the Word of God has, at times, been spoken. Rather, it refers to the Scriptures as serving the Church as God 's final and full revelation.”4 Therefore, the Catholic Church and the Protestant Reformers were not that far apart in their view of tradition. They accepted tradition within theology, yet …show more content…
Meyendorff states, “We must imitate constant effort to understand their contemporaries and to use words and concepts which could truly reach the minds of the listeners.”9 He proposes that the church uses words that the culture understands in order to capture the heart of Scripture. After all, is this not what theology truly is? Roger Olsen defines theology as “The process of examination and reflection that leads to the construction and reconstruction of doctrines.”10
The key word is “reconstruction” which points back to Meyendorff concept of “living tradition.” Likewise, Thorsen states, “Theologically speaking, contextualization represents the growing concern of Christians to be sensitive to present-day life and history, as well as to Scripture in ways that are most discerning and relevant.”11 Therefore, he proposes that the church affirms past traditions, yet formulates new traditions that connect the current world to the truths of

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