The Great Tradition

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Some people distinguish “The Great Tradition” from the Roman Catholic concept of “Tradition” in general. The Great Tradition are those doctrinal truths that are essential to Christian faith: the divinity of Christ, atonement, justification, resurrection and judgment.

Here are some statements from an article by Robert Benne entitled “The Great Tradition-The Essential Guidance System for the Church”.

“When he then proceeded to write Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis did not just write any old—or new—theology.  He aimed with great success ‘to explain and defend the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times.’  Further, he said, “I am not writing to expound something I could call ‘my religion,’ but to expound ‘mere’ Christianity, which is what it is and was what it was long before I was born and whether I like it or not.”  In other words, he was trying to articulate the Great Tradition—those bedrock beliefs of the Bible, the early church, the creeds, the Reformers, and orthodox Christians throughout the ages.

So the theological articulation of our common Christian faith—spiced with denominational distinctives—is what should provide the guidance system for our churches, whether or not those churches are shaped by hierarchical or congregational church orders.  Such an articulation provides the map that allows them to move in the right direction and avoid the pitfalls that have plagued the church throughout history.

We badly need such a guidance system in our time because the Christian church in America is facing more aggressive challenges to its core beliefs than we have experienced for a long time.

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