Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam Execution "Tragic"

I come from a background (Evangelical) that embraced the death penalty for certain horrific crimes as a social deterrent.

Now, as a Catholic, I have promised to support the Church's teachings, which is very clearly against what I formerly held to be just. Certainly, I reasoned, God took lives for horrific deeds.

But that is precisely the difference that my mind needed to embrace, and as a Catholic I have been forced to think much more critically.

Below is the text from a CNN report that explains well the Catholic Church's position. And I uphold it. Not so much out of a gut understanding, but because I love Christ and the Church he established, and trust the Holy Spirit's leading in matters of faith and morals. And yes, in the minutes before Saddam's execution I prayed for his salvation. I wanted to see him in heaven, and know that God's grace has no bounds. And who knows, perhaps that did happen.

Eternity will tell.

--------

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican on Saturday denounced Saddam Hussein's execution as "tragic" and said it risked fueling revenge and new violence in Iraq.

"An execution is always tragic news, reason for sadness, even in the case of a person who is guilty of grave crimes," the Holy See's spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, said in a statement released by the Vatican press office.

Earlier in the morning, Lombardi made similar comments on Vatican Radio.

"The position of the Catholic Church — against the death penalty — has been reiterated many times," the spokesman said in the statement, referring to the Vatican's overall opposition to capital punishment.

"Killing the guilty one is not the way to rebuild justice and reconcile society," the spokesman said. "On the contrary, there is the risk that the spirit of revenge is fueled and that the seeds of new violence are sown."

"In this dark time in the life of the Iraq people, one can only hope that all leaders truly make every effort so that in a dramatic situation glimmers of reconciliation and of peace finally can be seen," Lombardi said.

The Vatican's top official for dialogue between religions, Cardinal Paul Poupard, said: "We pray to the Lord and for the dead and the living so that this will not become an occasion for new violence."

"We are always sad when men take lives which belong to the Lord," Poupard told the Italian news agency ANSA.

In an interview published in an Italian daily earlier in the week, the Vatican's top prelate for justice issues, Cardinal Renato Martino, said executing Saddam would mean punishing "a crime with another crime."

In one of the late Pope John Paul II's encyclicals, "Evangelium Vitae" (The Gospel of Life) in 1995, the pontiff laid out the Catholic Church's stance against capital punishment, saying that in a modern world, with improved prison systems, cases in which the death penalty could be justified were "practically nonexistent." The staunch opposition was reiterated in 1997, in the Church's updated catechism, a compendium of Church doctrine.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Nectar in a Sieve

Nectar in a Sieve has affected me deeply, although I am familiar first hand with the life described in it. Although I am a westerner, born and raised in the U.S. Midwest, white, upper-middle class, well-educated, and Christian -- I know something of India -- and know that the spirit and essence of this story is as true as anything real. It is of immeasurable value.

L-R:Ruth (Willobee) Williams, Edith
(Flesher) Willobee, David Willobee,
Hope (Willobee) Winke, Ross Willobee
My mother (Ruth) and aunt (Hope) were born of missionary parents in India in 1912 and 1915. Their father (Ross), my grandfather, died there of black fever, and a few days later their 2-year old brother (David) dropped dead while playing -- all during a famine. Their mother (Edith) stayed on. India was British back then, but poverty was deep and wide throughout the land, and my grandmother lived nearly as poor as those around her, being supported by donations from the U.S. that amounted to 25 cents to a dollar at a time. I have her accounting books and I grew up with stories, and later came across over 1,000 pages of diaries from her that are very much in keeping with life that Kamala Markandaya writes about.

In 1982 I accompanied my mother and aunt back to their birthplaces, which were still in the midst of extreme poverty and the ignorant stupidity of which Kamala describes through the eyes of the white doctor Kenney. I've eaten with families on dung floors, and help stir pots of curry over open fires. I've met and photographed families living on streets with only what they can carry to their name. I've been to temple in the middle of the night and breathed the pungent smoke of dung cakes used for fuel, and watched as a dead leper was carried from her mud-dung hut and given an impromptu funeral in a field before being carried off to be buried in the sands of a river so animals could easily dispose of her body at night.

Perhaps it was all of that which spoke to me in Ms. Markandaya's writing. But I will tell you this. Reading this novel, if you are a Westerner of any ilk, is more important than eating. Let your children go without food for a few meals, if that will give you time to live, love, and walk with Rukmani. This book should be required reading (period - no qualifications). In its reading you will be a better person, and your children, sans meals, more healthy. If you are a priest that hands on penance, Nectar in a Sieve should be reading for any sin involving wealth, greed, abundance, or a lack of human dignity or marital infidelity. I dare to say that before Christ came to Earth to care and love the poor, he read this book. (It is a possible thing, you know.) On the outside Nectar in a Sieve is about the suffering and trials of living near the bottom of the cast system in rural India. But what it's really about is how love and hope can possess the human heart in the most desperate of lives.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Story of the Common Ground DVD

The DVD, Study Guide, and Book can be ordered HERE along with more information.

PODCAST AVAILABLE
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An amazing ecumenical thing is happening just North of Detroit.

The story begins with a large Evangelical Church in Troy, MI called Kensington Community Church. It is modeled successfully after Bill Hybels' Willow Creek Church near Chicago. Kensington has been growing by leaps and bounds under the leadership of a number of humble and astute men and women and its founding pastor Steve Andrews. Before Pam and I converted to Catholicism, we occasionally attended Kensington (even though it was an hour away) principally for the good music, mini-dramas, practical teachings, and presentation excellence.

A couple of years ago some members and leaders at Kensington became disturbed by the bad rap that a number of the ex-Catholics attending Kensington were giving Catholicism. While the leadership was not going to become Catholic by any means, they definitely considered Catholicism a significant part of Christianity and thought there was a lot of miscommunication and misunderstanding taking place.

Kensington's Spiritual Formation Director (Dan Kopp) started a mid-week small group in his home to talk about the common ground shared by Roman Catholics and Evangelical Protestants -- and he refused to allow any Catholic bashing. Dan also created a “Pastors & Priests” seminar that he teaches at Kensington, which looks at what Catholics and Protestants believe and why – including the Pope, the Virgin Mary, confession, and purgatory. This seminar has been going on for a few years now and has seen hundreds attend.

In the Spring of 2006, at nearby St. Anastasia Catholic Church (pastored by Fr. John Riccardo) a "dialogue" was held before an SRO crowd where spokespersons for Catholicism and Protestantism presented talks on the similarities and differences between the two faith traditions. Shortly after that Fr. Riccardo spoke from the Kensington stage along with Kensington staff on "The Da Vinci Code: Fact or Fiction."

Next came a DVD produced by Kensington's production department where Pastor Steve Andrews interviewed Father John Riccardo before the Blessed Sacrament at St. Anastasia. Pastor Andrews asked about, and Fr. Riccardo cleared up, many of the misunderstandings that Evangelicals and Protestants have toward Catholicism. Fr. John also suggested some important things that Catholics can learn from Protestants.

Large portions of the interview were played before the Kensington Congregation on two Sunday mornings, and over the next few weeks over 2,000 copies of the DVD were sold through the Kensington Church's bookstore. It was on that second Sunday that I began negotiations with Kensington to release the DVD, and we, at Nineveh's Crossing (see link), will release the DVD internationally sometime in January 2007 under an exclusive distribution agreement with Kensington. For my conservative Catholic readers who may wonder if this an exercise in marginalizing Catholicism for the sake of ecumenical pats on the back, Fr. Riccardo's explanations of Catholicism (on this DVD) have been reviewed and approved as being faithful to the magisterial teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. (see Common Ground)

Then, last night (Dec 15, 2006), at St. Anastasia, the two churches gathered for an evening of prayer. The two pastors lit several candles placed on a small table before the altar before the service began, but Steve Andrews was having a very difficult time lighting his candle. Finally he gave up and commented over his open microphone, "I guess I wasn't suppose to be Catholic." (We laughed with him.) Fr. John helped Steve get the candle lit, but in the process knocked it to the floor, which Steve retrieved, and the process started all over. It was both funny and poignant illustration of these two ministers of the Gospel, neither perfect but both trying their best to honor God and lead their congregations to ask God that we might be one.

About 500 attended. There was music from both churches, both pastors gave short talks on prayer, Scripture was read (Luke 11:5-13), members of both congregations led us in a series of prayers for a variety of common concerns, and a basket filled with written petitions from the congregation was brought forward and placed before the altar. Then, the two men knelt before the altar and the Blessed Sacrament beyond, we all knelt with them for an extended time of silent prayer asking God to hear us, heal us, and unite us, so that the world would know that Jesus was sent by the Father. Both pastors made it very clear that as Jesus prayed in John 17, the lack of unity of Christians in the world, made Christians oftentimes the laughing stock of the world and hindered our ability to proclaim the Gospel effectively.

Just before we recited the Lord's Prayer together, a layman who organizes the small groups that are now meeting from both churches presented both pastors with purple stoles, the kind that priest's use when they hear confessions. Our pastors put the stoles on proudly, and you see a picture with this posting.

It was a time of healing and exhilaration. There are still differences that divide us. But a great deal of the misunderstanding and miscommunication between these two large congregations is slowly dissolving away; and hopefully the community around us will know we are Christians by our love.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

'I'm Not Promiscuous'


Scarlett Johansson claims "I'm not promiscuous" -- according to a CNN.com post (8:46 a.m. EDT, October 10, 2006).

The report claims Ms. Johansson said,

There does seem to be a mistaken belief out there that I am sexually available somehow -- which is not to say that I'm not open-minded about sex...but I wouldn't say I'm a serial monogamist, either.... I work really hard when I'm in a relationship to make it work in a monogamous way.

This would be funny if it wasn't such a classic example of fallacious logic that falls under the category of "distinction without a difference" or "fallacy of fake precision." I could be wrong here -- but I don't think you can marginalize monogamy? (Ooops, sorry. This is America.)

The capstone sound byte, however, was saved for last. The "not promiscuous" star says:
I get tested for HIV twice a year. ... One has to be socially aware... It's part of being a decent human, to be tested for STDs. It's just disgusting behavior when people don't. It's so irresponsible.


Aside from the obvious contradiction, notice the great leap of logic here. It might be socially responsible to contract HIV and spread it around, but it's irresponsible not to get tested.

This is an example of why our educational system needs to teach logic along with basic reading, writing and arithmetic to every kid in school. I mean, what good does it do if you can read, write, and calculate a statistic if your social intercourse is so fallacious?

Suddenly, the inside of a whale's belly smells refreshing.

The Gravity of Loving the Law

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For years I could never understand why King David loved God's law. It was a conundrum, a paradox, possibly a contradiction. How could anyone love that which restricted freedom? And laws certainly did that. But David insists:

From the 119th Psalm:
"Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day (96-98), I hate the double-minded, But I love Your law (112-114); I hate and abhor lying, But I love Your Law (162-164); Great peace have those who love Your law, And nothing causes them to stumble (164-166).

My middle name is David so I take note of this power hungry, courageous, arrogant, sex-starved-adulterous man that God loved -- not that I'm any of those, mind you -- but I take note just in case.

What don't I get? Our courts and jails are full of people, many of them like me, I suspect, who are battling the law, or have lost their temporal battle with it. What is there to love about the law, unless you're an attorney chasing ambulances during the day and later stealthing off to the bank's night deposit.

But then, I later reasoned, I loved science. Why, I've got a B.A. in Physics -- although the grades weren't that good. (Yes, that's a B.A. not a B.S.. I'm told four semesters of German, which I never learned, was the difference.)

What I loved about physics and science was that things were predictable. If you stepped out of a 3rd story window, you fell -- perhaps to your death. But it was predicable. You could count on it. You could plan your life around things like gravity. When you got up in the morning, you didn't have to worry about what the gravitational constant would be during the day. As your alarm radio clicks on you're not going to hear:
Okay, folks, well tomorrow it's going to be sunny with a spot of rain in the morning. For our sailors out there, the wind will be coming from the Southeast at 10-20 knots with a moderate chop on the lake. And, oh, by the way, don't forget to take your gravity boots, and charge up those gravity tires. During rush hour, the gravity index will be down to 0.7...promises to be a messy drive home. Try your best to stay in your lane. Be safe out there.


Sure, if you're not careful, you can fall on the playground (they really should outlaw jungle gyms), but GRAVITY IS GREAT. Sounds like a good bumper sticker. Or how about, "GRAVITY KEEPS YOUR FEET ON THE GROUND."

Maybe that's what David was talking about. Maybe he loved gravity.

Want a copy of the Gravity poster? Here's a link to it's creator's, Gerry Mooney's website. Gerry Mooney's Gravity Poster

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Returning to Apostolic Traditions by Rev. Alex Jones

by Rev. Alex Jones
Pastor of the Maranatha Christian Church
Detroit, Michigan
Copyright, 2000, Alex Jones.

[Note from Stan: This was written before Alex became Catholic and later a deacon in the Catholic Church. The "Rev." in this title refers to his Protestant status at the time he wrote this.]


How great and marvelous are the works of our God; how deep and unsearchable are His purposes and plans. Paul said it well:



Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out.(Romans 11:33)The greatest discovery in my life occurred on a hot, summery August night in 1958 when the Holy Spirit opened the doors of God's life and knowledge to my heart. From this religious experience in 1958 until now an unrelenting hunger has gripped my heart to know more and learn more about this wonderful God and His glorious church. Who is He? What is He like? What does He want? What pleases Him or displeases Him? Where do I fit into His grand plan? What has He done for others? All of these questions flooded my heart on that August evening and has never ceased to make their presence felt.


For the past forty years I have been on a pilgrimage to know as accurately as possible the purposes and plans of this marvelous God. Aside from my college studies and resulting degree and post graduate work in Education, I have read books, attended various church services, dialogued with Christians from differing backgrounds, argued with different sects, briefly attended a bible college, and experimented with several variations of the Protestant background I grew to love. I have courted both Arminian and Calvinistic theology, embraced and then discarded Premillennial eschatology, practiced various forms of religious worship, preached holiness and sanctification, and generally enjoyed the spiritual experiences of my Pentecostal heritage. Yet underneath all of these searchings, practices, and activities was the gnawing desire to "dig deeper," ask questions, and find the will and wisdom of God.

I found that wisdom quite by accident. It was during a lesson preparation for a Wednesday evening bible study on the second chapter of 1 Timothy that I stumble across this treasure buried in a field. Pursuing information to reenact a first century worship service, I read the letters of the Apostolic Fathers, and it was there, in the writings of the early Christian writers, I unearthed a clearer truth of Christ and His Church.

Finally, after years of searching I found the truth of Christ and His Church: His Church was liturgical, it was hierarchical, and it was catholic. I learned that as the Church grew it kept a written record of lines of descent from the Apostles themselves. Protestant claims of small bible study groups scattered through out the ancient world were pure fantasy. They simply didn't exist. The Christian church was and has always been united, apostolic, and catholic. The rise of heresies forced the Church to cling tenaciously to what they had received from the Apostles. All of the churches from Gaul to India had a core belief and method of worship that all agreed could be traced directly to the Apostles.

The second century Church had an organized liturgy that included scripture readings, psalms, litanies, responses, and an orderly, systematic eucharistic service. The center of Christian worship was not the operations of the gifts of the Spirit, which were in great abundance, nor was it the histrionics of great preachers. The center of Christian worship was and has always been the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ, the Eucharist. To the early church the Eucharist was not a spiritual symbol of Christ, it was Christ Himself being re-presented to the Father at every gathering.

Not only was the Church's hierarchical structure and Eucharistic-centered worship different than I expected, so was its teachings. Men were not saved by accepting Christ as their personal Savior, but by immersion in the regenerational waters of baptism. Men were not saved by faith alone, but by the obedience of faith -- a faith demonstrated in good works and holy living. Christians did not seek "blessings," but, to the contrary, willingly sacrificed their lives for their Lord. It was there, in the face of the Apostolic Fathers, that I saw the true essence of Christian spirituality. It was not today's Americanized faith of prosperity or materialistic blessing, nor was it the pentecostal faith of endless exhilaration and emotional excitement. It was a deep, devotional faith of the heart that called forth self-sacrifice, penance, suffering, and righteous living.

With this enlarged understanding of the development of Christian belief came a clearer understanding of the Bible and our most treasured tradition, sola scriptura. This theology teaches–that all we need to know about the revelation of Christ and His Church is contained within the pages of the Bible. Hence, the Bible is the authority for all questions on faith and morals. We have shortened this teaching into, "if its not in the Bible I don't believe it." On the surface this sounds admirable and correct -- "if we cannot read it in the Bible, then discard it, it isn't true." But the problem with this approach is that each of the 28,000 churches and denominations all claim support from the one Bible! Each and everyone one of them claim the "truthful and correct" interpretation of the Scriptures. From Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, and Pentecostal churches to Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses every last one of them interpret the Bible differently. We've grown so accustomed to these variety of interpretations that we call the Bible "unclear" in many passages that so that we can allow for differing opinions and interpretations.

Take, for example. Jesus' statement to Nicodemus that he must be "born of the water and of the spirit" (St. John 3:5). Three interpretations have been offered by Christians:



1. Amniotic birth fluid (the first birth) and the Holy Spirit's indwelling (the second birth),
2. The word of God and the Holy Spirit's baptism,
3. The waters of baptism and the Holy Spirit's indwelling
Jesus statement certainly had one meaning! Although it isn't stated in John's gospel account, I'm sure Jesus explained what He meant to Nicodemus. But how does that help us? Which of the interpretations listed above is true? All three cannot be true! Yet Christians build their faith on one or the other interpretations listed above.


It doesn't seem to matter how scholarly or erudite bible students are; even scholars who wear all of the trappings of academia, differ significantly on many important doctrinal matters! Much study and research do not seem to be able to bring agreement or consensus on what the Bible says.

Another problem with "the bible only" tradition is the belief that, along with diligent study, the illumination of the Holy Spirit (St. John 14:25; 16:13) will unlock the truths of the Bible for all who listen to Him. Certainly study of the Scriptures and the illumination of the Holy Spirit are essential to personal spiritual growth and unlocking the spiritual content of the Bible, but try telling 28,000 differing, bickering churches that their 28,000 differing views on the Bible are indication of their either being scripturally inaccurate or not Spirit-lead. Surely the Holy Spirit does not have–28,000 interpretations of God's word.

Unfortunately, this noble but unsubstantiated tradition has limited us to an extremely narrow perspective of the Christian Church. It not only limits the Christian's world-view of the development of the church, its doctrines, its saints, and its history, but it does not tell the full story of the Christian Church and its practices.

For example, precisely how did the early disciples conduct worship services? How did Christian worship evolve? What did Jesus teach His disciples on the road to Emmaus? (St. Luke 24:45) What did He teach the apostles about the kingdom during His forty days before His ascension? (Acts 1:3) How did the apostles baptize new converts? In what part of the world did each Apostle plant the gospel? What happened to Peter after Acts 12:17 and Paul after Acts 28:31? What happened to Mary, the Lord's mother? The Bible does not say. How did the Church evolve after the death of the last Apostle? Since the Holy Spirit was given to the Church to guide it into the truth, how was He evident in the centuries after Acts? What directions did He lead the Church in the application of Christian revelation? What great men and women did He raise up to shepherd the Church? How did the councils of the Church deal with the practical applications of Christian revelation to the needs of the day?

The Church had a vibrant, rich spiritual life that was not totally captured by the New Testament. There were martyrs, great saints, great evangelism, and great examples of self-denial and sacrifice in the early church that we do not read about in the Bible. The culturally-diverse church at Antioch went on to become the driving force in Christianity. Great saints such as Polycarp, Irenaeus, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Anthony, Basil, and the two Gregorys are unknown by most Protestant readers. The great thinkers of the Church: Origin, Tertullian, St. Cyprian, St. Augustine, St. Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, to name a few, are totally ignored by the mass of Protestant Christians. Yet it was these men that withstood heresies and heretics, hammered out Christian thought, and formulated the very New Testament doctrines and theology we believe as Protestants today. One must remember the New Testament contains many letters (epistles) that were limited in their scope to indigenous problems in local churches. Unfortunately, we only get a glimpse of church life through the pages of the New Testament.

Think about this. Limiting ourselves to what's contained in the Bible is similar to us limiting ourselves to "mastering" the Constitution of the United States but ignoring the Fathers that created it, the history of the Thirteen Colonies that occasioned it, and the history of the country it brought into existence. We would indeed be knowledgeable about the basic rules of American government, but would totally ignorant of:



1. The Bill of Rights
2. The Fathers of this country,–
3. The great Supreme Court decisions that interpreted it,
4. The amendments to the Constitution,
5. The slavery issue leading up to the Civil War, etc.
Do not misunderstand me. The New Testament is the inspired word of God. It does contain God's will of us. We must live by its principles and commands. It does accurately and faithfully relate the life of Jesus, His teachings, and the teachings of the Apostles. But it must be receive with the total revelation of the Church. The Bible is not the "pillar and foundation of truth." The Church is! (1 Timothy 3:15) What the Bible gives is an "accurate" but not a "complete" picture of God's working through Christ in the Church. Mark ends his gospel with,



Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it (Mark 16:20).But he does not tell us where they went or what they did! Acts reveals the beginning of the Church with tremendous power, but leaves us wondering the outcome of Paul's trial in the twenty-eighth chapter. Nothing is said of the other eight Apostles. Did they work miracles? Did they die for their faith? If so, how and where? Consequently, viewing Christianity through the eyes of the New Testament is like trying to view New York city through a first floor window at the World Trade Center.


We must also consider that the Bible did not produce the Church, the Church produced the Bible. The Church is not built upon the Bible, it is built upon the Apostles and Prophets. Christ did not leave a written book to guide His Church, He left living men empowered by the Holy Spirit! The New Testament, as we have received it, was not finally canonized until 393 A.D. Until then, what gave the church its cohesion between the Apostles and the canonization of the New Testament? What determined orthodoxy of faith in the face of heresies and heretics? Except for a few minor variations, why did the Church worship God the same throughout the world? How could writer after writer call the Church "catholic" (universal) without the unifying element of the New Testament? What kept the Church afloat until the New Testament could be canonized? In fact, what was the "rule" scholars used to admit certain books, and exclude others from the New Testament canon?

The answers to these questions is found in the Traditions of the Apostles handed down to the Early Church Fathers. This sounds strange to Protestant ears. We have been taught the Word has preeminence over everything! Yet we have ignored the very Church that has gathered, preserved, and produced the Word. Does the Tradition of the Apostles and Church Fathers have precedence over the Bible? By no means! The Bible with the Traditions of the Apostles and Church Fathers give us the total picture of God's work in and through the Church.

The Jews well understand the place of tradition in their faith. The Torah was given by God to Israel at Sinai, but there was also an "oral tradition" called, the Talmud, on how the Torah should be applied. For example, the Torah stipulated the times and types of sacrifices the priest should offer, but did not always tell how the animal was to be slaughtered, dismembered, or presented on the altar. Judges were to administer justice, but the Torah did not tell how court was to be held. Engagements and marriages were to be held, but the Torah did not detail how or where the marriages were to be performed. The details and applications were handed down through oral, priestly traditions.
Of course oral traditions did not have the authority of divinely inspired literature, and many times Jewish traditions conflicted with revelation knowledge. These were the traditions Jesus condemned (Matthew 12:2, 10; 16:12; Mark 7:1-23). Yet He followed certain traditions:
1. He accepted the title of Rabbi
2. He gathered about Him disciples
3. He wore a beard
4. He recognized the tradition of feet-washing for guests
5. He rarely ventured outside of Israel to have contact with Gentiles
6. He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath
7. He recognized the "seat of Moses" as the legitimately ordained teaching office of the Jewish religion (Mat.23:1).
Apostolic Tradition, however, differs significantly from Jewish traditions in that Apostolic Tradition contains ALL that the Apostles handed on to their successors, both written and oral. It is the total revelation of Jesus Christ entrusted to the Church, not accumulative practices and interpretations that many wrongly assert today. This sacred tradition (Gk. Paradosis = "that which is handed down") IS divine revelation transmitted from one generation to another as a sacred body of knowledge. It is the "faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). In 2 Thessalonians Paul admonished the Thessalonians:


Stand firm and hold to the traditions (paradosis) passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.(2 Thessalonians 2:15)He wrote to the Corinthians:

I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, (paradosis) just as I passed them on to you . (1 Corinthians 11:2)To some who refused his authority, Paul appealed to the universally practiced but unwritten traditions of the church:

If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice (custom)-- nor do the churches of God. (1 Corinthians 11:16)These statements made by Paul show that practices and traditions recognized by the Apostles had begun to develop within his lifetime. In fact, he quotes teachings attributed to Jesus that cannot be found in the gospels:

...remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should– receive their living from the gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:14)Hence, the Christian faith began to grow well beyond the pages of the New Testament. Customs, practices, traditions, all practiced and recognized by the Apostles, guided the first century church through its formative years. Without knowledge and familiarity with ALL of the Church' s teachings, our grasp of the Christian message may be good, but certainly it is not complete.
So, let us return to the beginnings of the Church and rediscover the precious treasure of Apostolic Tradition. Let us take another look at the long history of the Church of Jesus Christ and enjoy the fullness of the Christian faith.