Religious Practices: Are they Biblical?


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How can one take zero issue with most of the traditions and teachings and then in the very next breath say you object to any traditions that run counter? Then maybe don't take 'zero issue'....such a strange contradiction to make, its no wonder everyone here is playing semantics with this guy.
There is an important distinction to be made between that which is extra-biblical and that which is contra-biblical.

For example, there is nothing in the Bible that would prohibit the use of Rosary beads during prayer or the burning of incense during worship. So these traditions are essentially harmless and perhaps even beneficial to many believers. However, other traditions run counter to the very clear teaching of Scripture. A good example is the Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, which states that Mary was born without sin and holds a special intercessory role between man and God. But as we very clearly read in the Bible:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God - Romans 3:23


For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus - 1 Tim. 2:5

The danger with traditions is that they become so entrenched and intertwined with correct doctrine that people can no longer tell the difference. And if you have bad doctrine in the form of contra-biblical teaching in your belief system, your faith will be weakened as a result, often considerably. This is why it is so important for Christians to make a thorough and lifelong study of the Bible one of their highest priorities. The Word of God is compared to a sword on multiple occasions, and for good reason. A sword provides a means of both defense and attack. With a strong knowledge of Scripture hidden in your heart, you will be able to easily discern truth from falsehood (defense) and have a ready arsenal of scriptural passages to utilize when bearing witness to the Truth (attack).
I have no issue asking the Saints for intercessory prayer, and do so daily. It’s no different from asking your friends for prayer, except that the prayers of the Saints are more effective given what the Bible says about the “prayers of the righteous.” However, I agree with you that any tradition which violates either the letter or spirit of Scripture is wrong and false. That is the standard used by the Church Fathers.

St. Vincent of Lerins wrote a book on the topic of discerning true Traditions from false ones. It’s called the Commonitory and he lays out three simple rules: it must have been believed everywhere, always, by all (universality, antiquity, and consent). If it hasn’t been believed everywhere, always, by all, then odds are it is not an Apostolic Tradition but something invented by later men.

In either case, not all traditions are Tradition, as many are local customs that evolved over time. Many blindly and automatically accept anything they’re told, both in the world and in the Church, and I agree with you that discernment is important. It was important to the Apostles, it was important to the Fathers, and it should be important to us as well.
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It’s worth mentioning that tradition itself is a Biblical concept. In Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, he commands Christians to “stand fast, and hold to the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” (2:15) In the next chapter, he warns the flock to avoid following those who go their own way, “and not after the tradition he received of us.” (3:6)

On the other hand, he warns about false tradition in his letter to the Colossians. “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, and not after Christ.” (2:8)

In all three cases, Paul uses the Greek word paradosin, which means something handed down. Some newer translations just say “teaching” which doesn’t fully capture the meaning. Even worse, the NIV translators said “teaching” when it’s used in a positive light, and “tradition” when it’s in a negative light, muddling everything even further.

Possibly as a result of misleading Bible translations, some people are under the impression that all tradition is bad. And then some pastors in the deep South use the word tradition only in conjunction with some gross caricature of medieval Catholicism’s worst moments: “… and after a long day of murdering Jews and worshipping Mary, the Inquisitor came home to hide his Bible beneath a pile of cash; some earned from selling indulgences, and the rest stolen from the poor box. Then he finished off the evening by delivering a sermon in Latin to some uncomprehending laity. So avoid traditions and believe the Bible instead.”

But without tradition we’d have no Christianity. If our forefathers didn’t hand down the Bible, we couldn’t verify that what’s taught in church is really what Christ and the Apostles were saying. If they didn’t hand down the practice of Sunday worship, we’d all be squabbling over when and how often we should meet to pray together. The list goes on. Our faith is a tradition, and it’s our duty to pass it down undefiled.