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J.I. PACKER ON CHRISTIAN TRADITION

We do not start our Christian lives by working out our faith for ourselves; it is mediated to us by Christian tradition, in the form of sermons, books, and established patterns of church life and fellowship.  We read our Bibles in the light of what we have learned from these sources; we approach the Scripture with minds already formed by the mass of accepted opinions and viewpoints with which we have come into contact, in both the church and the world…It is easy to be unaware that it has happened; it is hard even to begin to realize how profoundly tradition in this sense has molded us.  But we are forbidden to become enslaved to human tradition, either secular or Christian, whether it be “catholic” tradition, “critical” tradition, or “ecumenical” tradition.  We may never assume the complete rightness of our own established ways of thought and practice and excuse ourselves the duty of testing and reforming them by Scriptures.


 


Christianity was not in the first instance a movement generated by texts, but rather one generated by oral proclamation in a largely oral culture and by making of personal contacts and the building of personal relationships - the creating of community.

(Ben Witherington III, 2007).

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