Do you give any importance to tradition ?

by Robert Brow   June 1999      (web site - 

It seems to me that we cannot make progress by constantly beginning again from the beginning. Submission to tradition is the acceptance of what seems to have worked well so far. That is an essential part of working in the physical or social sciences. But at the back of one's mind there has to be the possibility that the accepted tradition could be wrong and need updating, or even a radical model shift.

Thomas Kuhn (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions) brings out the difficulty of being open to change. The Newtonian model had to be updated by Einstein's relativity model, but this was resisted fiercely by those who did not want to rewrite their lecture notes. Pope John XXIII was able to move the Roman Catholic Church into using the language of each nation for the liturgy. I believe the Anglican Church has been right to change its tradition from requiring confirmation before anyone could take communion to an open welcome to communion.

The solution seems to me a stability of tradition combined with openness to the possibility of changing one's mind as the Holy Spirit helps us look at Scripture in new ways. We honour and begin with our evangelical tradition, but we are open to new insights, some of which could result in radical change.

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