Scripture, Tradition, & Reason

Scripture, Tradition, Reason

          The Scripture, The Sacred, The Spirit

 

            The Anglican Church also recognizes the role of Scripture, Tradition, and Reason within the life of the church. God has given us the Scriptures as Divine revelation of Himself, he has given us the Sacred as sacramental/liturgical manifestation of Christ, and he has given us the Spirit as the illuminator of our reason. Therefore, it is through these three avenues that the Body of Christ matures.

 

The Spirit who Still Moves: Scripture, Tradition, Reason

           In regard to tradition it must be recognized that tradition is the response of the inspiration of the Spirit within the church. The Spirit moves the faithful in response to scripture and in light of reason. Thus, we see the necessary development of the threefold system of Christian spiritual understanding. To deny this activity of the Spirit is to deny his ongoing presence within the corporate body of Christ. To remove tradition as an source of spiritual development within the church is to relegate the Spirit to activity upon the emotions and actions of individuals only; so, rather than having the body of Christ, we have cells of Christ. We are called to share in common the revelation of the Spirit, in which we are individual members of a building that is "being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit" (Eph. 2:22). Jesus promised to be with his church "to the very end of the age" (Matt. 28:20); surely he did not intend to tell us that he would be with his church and not be active in leading the church to a corporate maturity. The tradition of the church is the corporate expression of individual faith and the Spirit has moved not only through individual members, but through the activity of the church body. Whether in revival or council, the Spirit has made his presence know in a much grander way than what is revealed to the individual alone. Through Christian worship, prayer, and witness, it is the Spirit who has moved the Body of Christ into consensus on central issues again and again, and has elevated certain practices to the pinnacle of the expression of Christ. The church can never reach maturity through the action of individuals; the church was designed as a spiritual house, and thus it must be built up together. So, we as believers are collectively a part of a covenant community. The peoples of the world who believe will be brought together into one community in the kingdom of God (Luke 13:29). We are “God’s chosen people” (Col. 3:12), and collectively we are built upon one another in order to create “a spiritual house” (1 Pet. 2:5). Spiritual growth, then, was designed to take place within the Christian community that the spiritual house may be built, and the royal priesthood of God offer proper sacrifices (again, 1 Pet. 2:5). Thus, it is vitally important that we “not give up meeting together” (Hebrews 10:25), and even more important that we not give up the tradition of the church: "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice" (Phil. 4:9). So, the church as a spiritual house, only reaches its maturity through corporate growth; the greatest growth then, must be recognized as that which has been catholic within the church, those beliefs and practices which have transcended time and space and have moved the people of God throughout church history. Finally, God has given us reason, by which we may understand his revelation. Those who have the Spirit "have the mind of Christ" (1 Cor. 2:16), and are called to be transformed that they will conform to his will. We are to be wise through Godly reasoning rather than worldly reasoning (1 Cor. 3:18-20) and to understand that Christ is the essence of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:2-4), rejecting any reasoning that denies Christ (Col. 2:8-10). We are "to be made new in the attitude of your minds" (Eph. 4:23), and to "be transformed by the renewing of [our] mind" (Rom. 12:2) and enabled to understand God's will (Rom. 12:2). We are to "set [our] minds on things above" (Col. 3:2), and therefore begin to reason in accordance with the revelation of God. We see here that the Spirit of God has been moving throughout church history; he did not cease to be active at the end of the first century. As he moved the Apostles in scriptural inspiration, so he moves the corporate body of Christ in tradition and so he has enabled the church to reach consensus in doctrine by illuminating our reason in times of crisis.

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