14 May 2005

How Important are traditions to your faithlife?

One of our Lutheran Traditions is Confirmation. On Sunday, May 15th my congregation will be confirming five 8th graders in the Christian faith. For Lutherans this is a tradition with a capital "T" as it is one of those key activities that really forms our faith life.
It is usually the culmination of two years of intensive doctrinal study using an explanation of Luther's Small Catechism. For we Missouri Synod Lutherans we use the "Blue Catechism" as this is the normal color for the cover. We think that this book is so important that we give out these hardcover books -- not softcover -- and encourage the students to keep the book and use it as a reference book in the years ahead. I still have my Blue Catechism from when I was confirmed back in 1970. After my Dad's death, I inherited his 1912 edition of the Catechism.
By the way, this was a brown catechism, something that people of his generation always mention. My edition was the 1943 and the one we use right now is the 1986 edition.
Why I am talking about this since a number of our readers are not Lutherans? Every Christian tradition has key books -- in addition to the Bible -- and key events that shape the faith life of the growing Christian. What was important to you as you grew in your faith? Where there people, books, pictures and so on that were important to you.
I grew up in a rather liberal congregation for our Missouri Synod, so much so that the congregation I grew up in left the Missouri Synod back in 1977. We really didn't use the catechism much, but as I went to High School and College I read the Cathecism again. It was then that I realized what a blessing that this book actually is. It is such an important resource that I keep a copy of the 1986 catechism on my desk at all times. It seems to me that we appreciate these things more as we get older. I did not appreciate it back in the 1970s, but I do now.
Go back to those old sources and see what they can offer you today. Go back and see what God can be saying to you. What matters is that you find those aids for your growth as a Christian. Hear His Word.

Ephesians 4:11-16 GW He also gave apostles, prophets, missionaries, as well as pastors and teachers as gifts to his church. (12) Their purpose is to prepare God's people, to serve, and to build up the body of Christ. (13) This is to continue until all of us are united in our faith and in our knowledge about God's Son, until we become mature, until we measure up to Christ, who is the standard. (14) Then we will no longer be little children, tossed and carried about by all kinds of teachings that change like the wind. We will no longer be influenced by people who use cunning and clever strategies to lead us astray. (15) Instead, as we lovingly speak the truth, we will grow up completely in our relationship to Christ, who is the head. (16) He makes the whole body fit together and unites it through the support of every joint. As each and every part does its job, he makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Keep growing as a Christian all the days of your life. Use whatever resources that are available to you. Stay in the Word of God. Use the Sacraments. Stay in prayer and praise with other Christians as you meet the new daily challenges of the Christian life. Growth as a Christian continues until you go Home to be with the Lord. Growing as a Christian is important because we have to face new challenges. Keep growing wherever you are. The Lord is there for you.

If a tradition is helpful to you, if it leads you to the Word of God, if it leads you to the Gospel, then use them. But if it distracts you from our God and His Word, if it "adds" some so-called truths or makes odd claims, then get rid of it. The Word of God must be central to our whole Christian life.

Doc Steve


At 6:50 AM, Anonymous Sandie said...

Good reminder, m'love. Thank you.

At 10:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is rather interesting that you would bring this topic up. Because as I get older...that is exactly what I have been doing lately. As I consider best how to explain my faith...even though I no longer am in a Lutheran church...I pulled out my catechism book and reviewed it.

A friend and I are in a debate right now as to how we know Biblical truths. He is a former pastor that left the church emotionally drained, but what he shared was that to form a personal Christian worldview that helps answer the tough questions we have four elements: the Bible, our theological doctrine, our reason, and finally our life experiences. The reason I say debate is because he and I are challenging one another as to the "meaning" of the Bibles passages. I don't want to get too much deeper than that, but suffice it to say...he doubts his God right now.

Rob Inouye

At 10:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

This is a two fold comment: 1)I pray this for you in your battle. You have fellow believers with you praying for your health....

2) Your post made me think of the first part of this sentance. Who are the witnesses? Those that have fought on for Christ before us? If so, then they have knowledge to share with us, if only we look backward to our Christian heritage and the great thinkers do we grow deeper in our walk today and into tomorrow.

I have been reading C.S. Lewis, St. Augustine, and most recently G.K. Chesterton.

We must not forget our past...because the challenges of the mind and the heart the we struggle with, the struggle against sin...are the same throught the ages. Well written commentary exists in our church history on how to battle sin and how to battle false doctrines. Look to the writers that have stood the test of time and are still being talked about. Read them...study them. Their responses have stood the test of time. So often we americans want the "flavor of the day (week, year)," but our faith in Christ demands that we look deeper and challenge our self more than with today's answers. I am looking to the great thinkers of the past to help me fight the battle today.

Your post reminded me to keep on fighting.

At 11:02 AM, Anonymous Karl Eggers said...

Tradition in Christian life and literature helps remind me that somewhere, at sometime, a Christian went through the same situation. I am mostly thinking about the cancer but it can be about any situation we find in everyday life. This helps comfort me in times of distress and worry.

For thousands of years Christians have had to face death, war, disbelievers, etc, and the way we need to confront these evils has not changed much at all. That is why tradition is so important to me. If we lose basic Christian tradition we risk losing the Christian faith. Sounds like Rob's friend is going through that exact thing unfortunately.

Thanks for the thoughts/comments all, please keep them coming.

Love you Dad.


At 2:13 PM, Blogger Rob said...

the hebrews 12:1 was my comment...sorry about not putting my name on it.

Rob Inouye

At 11:08 PM, Anonymous alan scott said...

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! He is the Father who is compassionate and the God who gives comfort. He comforts us whenever we suffer. That is why whenever other people suffer, we are able to comfort them by using the same comfort we have received from God. (2 Cor 1:3-4 GW)

As Steve knows, Ph.D. students become like bloodhounds on a scent trail. For some, it was "pairs (going out in)" or "women in the church," etc. For me, it's "crisis."

Somehow, that seems so appropriate here. Whether a crisis of meaning, a crisis of faith, a crisis of losing sight of the valuable contributions of our traditions, a crisis of traumatic stress on the mission field, or a crisis of cancer--we are faced with crises all the time. In times of crises, we look for something to grab, to hold tight, to find some comfort in the midst of a chaotic world.

Thanks be to God! His Word provides that comfort. Run to it, immerse yourself in it, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest it, take it to heart. The comfort of God's Word--the forgiveness of our sins in Christ!--as well as all of the comfort God gives us therein, strengthens us in the midst of our own crisis, helping us make it through.

In turn, we take that comfort which we ourselves have received--the assurance of our forgiveness, God's promises to use, etc.--and we in turn comfort those around us with that same comfort. I don't mean the 'touchy-feely' kind of 'comfort.' I mean (as did Paul) the comfort of God's Word.

Steve said it right: "Stay in the Word of God." Those are the bold words of a person in crisis, offering comfort to those who are also in any kind of crisis.

(back to my dissertation...)


At 9:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Al, so eloquently stated, your posting. Thank you.

God's blessings to you, as you "subdue" your dissertation.

Give our love to Corrie.

Love, in Christ,

At 1:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alan, not knowing you...but after rereading my post, and reading your post: "well said!"

The rock we stand on is Christ alone. We lose focus of Christ....we fall into sand....

....reminds me of some song to that effect. :)


At 11:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


It's a LONG story... Drop me a note at doc steve blog around 3 ccw point com, and I'll fill you in. (remove all spaces, replace around with the at symbol, and replace point with a period).

Unless the boss (Sandie) doesn't want me to say anything...


At 11:38 AM, Anonymous Sandie said...

Alan, Alan, Alan.

Of course you can fill Rob in. I was about to introduce you two; however, it's better left to both of you to get acquainted.

Interesting stories, you both.

Love, in Christ,

At 8:03 PM, Anonymous Alan said...


Read my response to the good doctor's recent post on campus ministry, then read between the lines. By the way, Karl also came to Nancy's funeral...



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