Thursday, January 29, 2009

Custom is king

“Those who defend the regular sermon have no choice but to acknowledge the silence of the New Testament, to which they nevertheless appeal as supposed evidence of what they suggest might have been 'taken for granted'. What they build on this fragile foundation, however, is an habitual use of the sermon of which the New Testament knows nothing. In support of their present practice they cite a less than unanimous scholarly consensus, popular church opinion, and the 'tradition of the elders'. These are formidable allies and might be worthy of respect, provide only that one remembers one's church history. For it is precisely these forces which have always been mustered to oppose any new thought or (which has often amounted to the same thing) any return to the New Testament. Tertullian recognized the danger when he warned that 'Christ is truth, not custom' (De Virg Vel 1:1).”—To Preach or Not to Preach?, pages 104-105

<idle musing>
I find that observation sobering, if only because it is so accurate. As one church history book put it: “A reformer came along and, in the finest tradition, they killed him.”
</idle musing>

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