An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Apostolic Tradition

The belief that the church continues the faith and work of the apostles. The apostles received the faith from Jesus Christ through his teaching as well as his death and resurrection. Their authority comes from Christ, who was sent by the Father. During their lifetime the apostles passed on the faith to communities of Christians, who preserved and delivered it to their descendants as oral and written tradition. Later generations relied on the scriptures and the writings and actions of early Christians as expressions of the authentic faith. In the church, the Spirit maintains the apostolic tradition as a living force through 1) worship, preaching, teaching, and a constantly renewed understanding and living of scripture; 2) a mission to the world to save and transform it; and 3) an unbroken continuity of faith and life, manifested in a particular way by the succession of bishops. The Anglican approach to apostolic tradition allows a great variety of attitudes and teaching. The churches of the Anglican Communion are committed to four basic elements, expressed by the Lambeth Conference of 1888: the scriptures, the creeds, baptism and eucharist, and the episcopate. See Authority, Sources of (in Anglicanism); see Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.