From The Living Church-
This post is the first in a brief series on how we handle tradition, specifically the instinct to imagine a primitive golden age to which we might return. The cause of this series is the 500th anniversary of the reformations of the 16th century (1517 being a convenient placeholder), and in this first post I want to reflect on the nature of tradition. But my focus will narrow to Thomas Cranmer and his work. Today is the anniversary of his execution.
In the second century, Tertullian wrote in his Prescription against Heretics, “We must keep what the churches have received from the apostles, the apostles from Christ, and Christ from God.” In a similar way, the author of Jude charged even earlier Christians to “contend for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). Language like this has long been used to rally would-be reformers. Instead of seeing the organic emphasis in Jude and Tertullian, an emphasis on passing and handing by broken humans, it’s not uncommon to slip into primitivism.
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