Tradition and Culture

Part of the series Hangups
Written by Léo Gaumont, published on 2015-11-23.

We reduce our ability to learn about the truth when we put our traditions first.

We are generally all ignorant of what is actually happening around us. This ignorance can either be perpetuated and capitalized upon or fixed to empower the masses. It is time to enlighten home educators who have generally been kept in the dark respecting what is occurring within their community. (Ephesians 4: 11-16)

Bible Reference: Matt. 15:1-13

Although world view is developed individually, it is largely identified in groupings of “like-minded” people who believe more or less the same thing. Since world view is built on a foundation of an understanding of God, whatever that may be, world views are generally grouped according to “religious” affiliations. These groupings can be very large: as in Eastern vs Western and First World vs Third World; or it can be divisions based on beliefs such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism; or derivatives from a particular group such as Catholic, Protestant, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormon; or even smaller groupings within a particular derivative such as the various denominations of Protestantism. Whatever the grouping, it is dependent on a collective world view about “deity” and its resultant application in life.

The fact that we naturally see ourselves as the centre of the universe and therefore correct in our thinking, because we say so, leads us to naturally gather with those of like mind. As we continue within this grouping, we often forget what the impetus for joining or forming the group was. That is, we start doing things because that is the way it has always been done and not necessarily because we have a definitive purpose in doing it. Tradition is what we do as a group in spite of what is written. Tradition is naturally dogmatic, in that it represents principles or sets of principles laid down by some authority as incontrovertibly true. Dissecting this further, dogma is something, or someone in authority or acting as though they are in authority, telling us what is true, whether or not it is, in fact, true… and it is something we are not to question. Combining the fact that we are told not to question something someone has told us is true, with the natural tendency to avoid being wrong at all costs, you can clearly see how Jesus could state that the word of God could be nullified through our traditions.

Once tradition is set, it slowly becomes culture when handed down from one generation to the next. If tradition is hard to change, culture is nearly impossible to change. It is fixed, whether founded on truth, error or things not important. It is because it is, and not much is going to change that.

Tradition and culture are fine. Indeed, we all enjoy living with tradition and we don’t even question the culture we are part of. Our language, dress and food is what makes us unique and interesting to say the least. However, as much as we can celebrate tradition and culture, it is even better if we know why we believe or do the things we do.

As we are likely to behave in keeping with what we have acquired, whether world view, tradition or culture and since we naturally default to being right, advancing anything that questions what we believe, or think, or do, is usually seen as an assault, attack or “act of war”. We become so certain that we are right that we become “religious” about our understanding. Whether based on facts or opinions, we gravitate to those who agree with our position, often looking to them for support in defence of what we deem to be right.

Secular education has slowly crept in and replaced what used to be largely based on biblical principles. Things advanced as sinful a few generations ago, are now advanced, not only as acceptable but worthy of celebration and it is now “sinful” to suggest that what used to be sin is still sin. Modern secular education system has tapped into the understanding that whatever we are exposed to can become part of our world view and when repeated everywhere can infuse our tradition which eventually morphs as part of our culture over time. Our Christian traditions have been under attack since their inceptions and as a consequence, our western Christian culture has become very secular. Try questioning anybody about anything respecting education and you will see that the majority will see you as an enemy. Question “Christian” education and you are likely to be seen as a heretic. Recommend a return to biblical training and teaching and you are likely to be seen as a lunatic lacking respect for our “tradition” and “culture”. Jesus tried it!

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