3: “Tradition”

A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But here, in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn’t easy. You may ask ,”Why do we stay up there if it’s so dangerous?” Well, we stay because Anatevka is our home. And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: tradition!  – Tevye

Years ago, I brought a friend to a Baptist church. I had been talking to this friend for a while about my faith, the best way I knew how as a high school student. Two years older than I, my friend attended a local Jesuit college. He also had a nominal Roman Catholic background.

One distinction I made sure to press during our religious conversations was the emptiness of traditions. I wasn’t slamming empty traditions; I was slamming traditions in general. In my mind traditions were contrived, manufactured, man-made attempts to earn favor with God while true Christianity was a personal faith in Jesus Christ. I thought that everything I believed came from the plain teaching of scripture and nothing else. Even the very practices and methods used in my faith were authentically biblical, not traditional.

My friend told one of his professors he went to a Baptist church for the first time. He told me the conversation went something like this:

“I attended a Baptist church on Sunday”

“Did they say they have no traditions?”

“Yes.”

“Did they ask you, as a visitor, to fill out a card and drop it in the plate?”

“Yes! How did you know?”

Yes, Baptists have traditions. Evangelicals at large have traditions. We all do. To deny such a thing is to deny reality.

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