Sunday, September 21, 2008

Church Tradition and Jesus

This was posted in MennoDiscuss under "How To Avoid The Slow Fade".

The Question: How can the Mennonite tradition make necessary changes to the tradition without harming the core values?

One answer: We shouldn't be following Mennonite tradition, but Jesus.

I agree that we need to be a part of Jesus' church, rather than a particular tradition. And the Spirit is essential. However, I think that there is also a place for different traditions. Menno's tradition is not the only viable tradition out there, and for many (including myself) the plain tradition isn't right for our context or the calling God gave us. However, should the plain tradition disappear, the loss to the Christian church at large would be felt. Menno's and the plain traditions are interpretations of what Jesus said-- and without them, the church at large would look so much more like the rest of the world. The Menno tradition is a constant reminder to the church that we aren't supposed to look or act like the rest of the world. That we have to constantly be comparing worldly things and ideas to the light of the gospel to see it for what it really is. And that the church as a whole often accepts without thought that which they should be examining and possibly rejecting.

I have chosen to do this examination on my own instead of buying one particular tradition. Many of us post-boomers are doing that-- not because we just want to do things in a new way, but because we distrust any tradition without solid evidence that we should buy into that tradition.

However, I deeply respect those who hold to a conviction of a tradition because they believe that they are following Jesus in it. Following Jesus is the key, no matter what tradition one is a part of. And following Jesus will look differently to different people. For me, it is giving up all semblance of middle class lifestyle, quitting my job and having my family live among and minister to the homeless and mentally ill. That's our calling and that's the way we need to follow Jesus. Plain folks can't do what I do, and they shouldn't. I can't do what plain folks do and I shouldn't. But we are all necessary to make up the full spectrum of colors in the rainbow of following Jesus, including Charismatics and Catholics and Orthodox and even conservative evangelicals.

A tradition is preserved for as long as God wants it preserved. And a tradition will fade when God wants it to fade. The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away-- blessed be the name of the Lord.

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