An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church


In Christian theology, tradition originally referred simply to that which had been handed down to the church from the prophets and the apostles concerning belief in God and God's redemptive work in Christ. Before the development of an authorized canon of Hebrew and Christian scriptures, the oral teaching of the Apostles and their successors formed the Christian tradition. Gradually, however, the term took on different meanings to include, for example, the authorized teaching of church councils and commonly accepted credal formulations. By the time of the middle ages it had taken on the sense of an authentic body of teaching in addition to scripture. Such an understanding of tradition was rejected by the Reformers, who appealed only to the authority of scripture itself. Article XXXIV of the Articles of Religion took a mediating position, admitting the authority of traditions so long as they were not “repugnant to the Word of God, and be ordained and approved by common authority.” Anglicanism reflects balance in its devotion to scripture, tradition, and reason as sources of authority. See Authority, Sources of (in Anglicanism).

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.