What is Apostolic Tradition?
The Importance of Apostolic Tradition
Apostolic Tradition has been a crucial aspect of Christian theology since the very beginning of the Church. The Apostles were the chosen disciples of Jesus Christ, and as such, they were entrusted with the mission of spreading His teachings throughout the world. The Apostolic Tradition refers to the teachings, practices, and beliefs that were passed down from the Apostles to their successors and the Church Fathers, who in turn passed them on to future generations of Christians.
The importance of Apostolic Tradition provides us with a link to the earliest days of Christianity, when the faith was still being formed and developed. It helps us to understand the original intent behind the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles, and to discern the truth from the many falsehoods and distortions that have arisen over the centuries. In short, Apostolic Tradition points us to the truth.
The Bible itself attests to the importance of Apostolic Tradition. In 2 Thessalonians 2:15, St. Paul writes, "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter." Here we see that the teachings of the Apostles were not limited to the written Scriptures, but also included the oral tradition that they passed down to their disciples.
In addition to the Bible, the early Church Fathers also recognized the importance of Apostolic Tradition. St. Irenaeus, a bishop in the early Church, wrote, "The Church, though dispersed throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the Apostles and their disciples this faith: ...this preaching and this faith the Church, as we have said, received, and guarded it most faithfully, dwelling as it were in one house. She also believes these points of doctrine just as if she had but one soul, and one and the same heart, and she proclaims them, and teaches them, and hands them down, with perfect harmony, as if she possessed only one mouth."
The early Church Fathers recognized that Apostolic Tradition was essential for maintaining the unity and coherence of the Church. They understood that without this tradition, the Church would be prone to fragmentation and division. This is why they placed such a high value on the teachings that had been passed down to them from the Apostles.
Today, the importance of Apostolic Tradition remains just as critical as it was in the early Church. We live in a world where there are many competing voices and conflicting ideas, and it can be difficult to discern the truth from the falsehoods. But by holding fast to the teachings that have been passed down to us from the Apostles and the Church Fathers, we can be confident that we are on the right path.
Apostolic Tradition provides us with a direct link to the earliest days of Christianity, and it points us to the truth. Through the Bible and the writings of the early Church Fathers, we can see that the Apostles understood the importance of passing down their teachings to future generations, and that this tradition was seen as essential for maintaining the unity and coherence of the Church.
Our bishops can trace their lineage of succession from the Apostles, also known as Apostolic Succession.