Error in teaching:
Dissension and controversy:
Appeal to the apostles and presbyters in Jerusalem:
Apostles and presbyters convened:
Problem is resolved:
Decree is promulgated:
The authority of the Holy Spirit is appealed:
Paradosis or tradition falls into two categories. The difference can be seen in Acts 15. Besides the issue of following the Mosaic Law for gentile converts, which meant primarily circumcision, the Council of Jerusalem also decreed that converts had "to avoid pollution from idols, unlawful marriage, the meat of strangled animals, and blood" (Acts 15:20).
There are clearly distinguished paradosis or traditions which are considered irrevocable, unchangeable, even to our day, e.g. circumcision is not a requirement for new Christians. On the other hand, today we would not be concerned with "pollution from idols," how an animal is killed for meat, or whether blood is in our food. These appear to be different traditions from the former--changeable and not binding in the same way as non-circumcision.
The Roman Catholic Church also follows this biblical model in her approach to paradosis/traditions.
Hence, there are paradosis/traditions which are unchangeable, capital letter "T", "Traditions." These are the defined faith or moral teachings based on the Bible but revealed by the Holy Spirit as an authority in the Church (Acts 15:28). An example from the history of the Roman Catholic Church of Tradition (with a capital letter "T") is the teaching on purgatory. This teaching of the Church can never change.
There appear to be paradosis/traditions which are changeable, small letter "t", "traditions." These are the "rules of the organization, rules of the club." These change as people, culture, faith and understanding develop. An example from the history of the Roman Catholic Church of tradition (with a lower case letter "t") is the teaching on the prohibition of eating meat on Fridays. This practice of mandatory abstinence as penance in the Church has changed.
By Paul Flanagan and Robert Schihl.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture texts are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
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Last Updated: July 22, 2004