The workshop focused on traditionalism in the Restoration Movement. I presented it years ago. It may date as far back as the 1980s or the 1990s. Since that time much has changed within the movement itself. Some of the change is for the better, some is not. Large segments of the movement remain tied to traditions.
Younger men and women assume traditions are bad and should be rejected. On one hand, tradition is helpful and provides beauty, meaning, and form to worship and work. Tradition can reflect encapsulated truth and needs emphasis. On the other hand, tradition becomes problematic when it obscures the truth, hinders fulfillment of the church's purpose, or contradicts biblical truth.
First, I need to make some preliminary observations about the Restoration Movement. This historic movement seeks to reach the whole world for Christ. When it began in the early 19th Century it believed division and denominationalism hindered fulfillment of the Great Commission. Thus it sought the unity of believers based on a common recognition of biblical authority. Early leaders point to Christ's prayer recorded in John 17 where he prayed that his followers would be one so that the world might believe....
To accomplish this vision, those leaders called for believers to:
- Throw off unscriptural and traditional creeds dividing Christians.
- Throw off unscriptural and traditional governmental structures designed to defend the creeds.
- Throw off an unscriptural and traditional clergy system.
- They are more related to the church as an institution than they are to God.
- The churches become more concerned with their continued existence than with its mission.
- They can't separate means from ends...means become ends and ends become means. They retain some practices even though they no longer achieve their reason for existence.
- There is more concern with correctness of belief than quality of life.
- They have lost the spirit of Christianity retaining only the form.
- Exclusive cooperation.
- Suspicion of churches that are growing when they are not.
- Stress on what is wrong with "outsiders" than what is right.
- Expecting everyone else to "join their group."
- Boycotting meetings of others with whom they have disagreements.
- Blindness to one's own weaknesses and deafness to outside criticism.
- Ignorance of others and listening to the criticism of others without personal investigation.
- The idea that righteousness is determined by belief.
- The insistence on official or sanctioned literature.
- The belief that unity can only be realized when there is complete doctrinal agreement.
- Greater desire for conformity than for unity.
- The establishment of de facto creeds.