Maybe you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few years or maybe, like me, you just turned off all the noise but there’s been a few things going on in the world. This is especially true here in the West (think America mostly and western Europe). All the riots, woke-ism, the LGBTQ whatever agenda, pronouns…it’s kind of dizzying. I mean, even in this rinky dink little town where we live in the middle of nowhere, it’s here. When you couple that together with the broad apostacy in both society and the Church, it can be discouraging.
Know what I spend a lot of time thinking about?
I wonder what the world is going to look like when my kids grow up. When they’re my age, how bad is it going to be?! I mean, if we spend any time at all paying attention, we have to admit that things are not getting better, they’re getting much worse. Acting like “it won’t happen here” or thinking we can just keep our heads down and “do our best” is not realistic, helpful, wise, nor biblical.
Deuteronomy 6:6-8, God tells the people of Israel (and us by the way),
“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.”
And again, Deuteronomy 11:18-19,
“Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”
So, let me ask all of us a few questions: What do we talk to our kids about? What sorts of conversations are we having with our children? Are we depending on the school system to teach them what they need to know? Umm, if you haven’t been paying attention to what’s going on in the American education system, you should be afraid. Sure, they are being taught math and such, but they are also being indoctrinated by the new agenda. You may say, “Not here that’s not happening.” Yes, it is. Stop being naïve. Pay attention.
My brothers and sisters, we will answer to God for our children. TV is not helpful to them. Modern music is not helpful. Disney is supremely not helpful. The “new world order” is coming for our children and, if we don’t teach them, Satan and the world will.
Look at what God has to say to His people. “Thou shalt teach them diligently to thy children.” Are we doing that? Or are we allowing the world to diligently teach our children? God says we are to “talk of them (His commands and how we are to live before Him) when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way…” and so on. Are we doing that with our children? Are we doing that with ourselves?
Here's the thing. This world is passing away. If that’s not obvious by now to us all, we are fools. Our world is utterly corrupt and broken and blackened by sin. This will not last forever. But we will.
One day, if we have fallen asleep in the Lord (or not in the Lord) and this world as we know it passes away and our Lord Jesus returns and the earth and heavens are made new, this will all be over. But the new heavens and the new earth and all who have been resurrected (that’s every human by the way) will last forever. Forever.
The spiritual reality of that has to hit us like a ton of bricks. This life is preparation for eternity. How’s that going for you right now? Are you preparing yourself for eternity? Are you preparing your children for eternity? Or are you too worried about being hip or woke or going along to get along or your job or your own comfort or just wanting them to be quiet so you can have some “me” time? P.S. I’m guilty of some of these also.
Husbands and fathers, if we are not stepping up and taking spiritual leadership of our home, we need to get on our faces and repent. We need to stop being weak. Get yourself right before the Lord and raise up your children properly. Pray for and with your family. Teach them how to pray and read Holy Scripture. If you don’t know how, find someone (your priest or pastor) who can teach you and learn. Take control of your home, men; not in a harsh way but as the one who will stand before God one day and answer for your family. This is not a game.
Wives and mothers, if you are not supporting your husband in this or you are in the way of this somehow, you need to repent. Your husband is the head of your household, not you. I know that may hit you wrong or sound harsh but it’s in the Bible and everything. It’s God’s order for the family and He didn’t ask your opinion before He made that. Swallow your pride and submit to your husband. If he is a godless man, then you still have to submit (unless it’s against Holy Scripture or Tradition) but you may have to take a more active role than you want in the spiritual life of your home and pray for your husband like his soul depends on it, because it does.
Brothers and sisters, our souls depend on this. The souls of our children depend on this. It’s time for us to stop sitting idly by while our crumbling and God-less culture indoctrinates our children. It’s time for us to fight with the weapons we have available to us. Turn the TV off, get rid of the tablets. Pray and study Holy Scripture together. Worship together. Show them by your own life how followers of Christ are to live.
Their souls will thank you one day.
Have you ever seen “Fiddler on the Roof?” Maybe on Broadway before our government overlords decided to shut everyone down and cost half the country their jobs. Or maybe you’ve seen the movie version. There’s a line in there that stands out to me. They are singing about “tradition.” Tevya, the main character, says something really profound. He says, “Because of our traditions, each one of us knows who he is and what God expects of us.”
We all see this and feel it in different ways, but we are living in a world that is tumultuous and topsy-turvy to say the least. It feels truly dystopian and is completely unsettling. We are a culture adrift. There seems to be nothing stable, nothing that is permanent, and we feel the lack of it. As a culture, we have unhitched ourselves from history. This is one of the primary reasons, I believe, for all that is going on. We see this in the so-called “cancel culture” today. This silly obsession with erasing the past, good or bad, is nonsensical and quite immature.
We have a cancel culture in the Church today as well. Oh, they won’t call it that, these cancel culture warriors. They’ll call it progress or reaching the modern man or the big one, “relevant.” If you look at it carefully, it is ecclesiastical cancel culture. Those who engage in this have been and are trying to make the Church into something she is not. Now, they won’t claim that, of course. No, they claim that this is the natural “progression” of the modern Church (whatever that means) or the “development” of doctrine or even that they are “going back” to what the early Church was without all the trappings of religion. All of those claims are complete nonsense and false on their face.
Some will say, “But Jesus criticized the religious people of His day for their meaningless traditions.” No, He did not. He criticized them for relying solely on the externals of their traditions to save them. He criticized them for their lack of love and faith. Their harsh stance on tradition was criticized because they used it as a stick to beat the people with and put themselves on a pedestal. He did not criticize the traditions of the Jewish faith. In fact, He participated in the traditions of the faith and of His people. He went to synagogue, worshipping and preaching there. He went to the Temple during the great feasts. He observed Passover. He was a faithful Jew. There is no indication in the entire New Testament or from Jesus Himself that He came to do away with the traditions and faith of His people. Rather, He focused the fulfillment of the traditions and faith in Himself. He didn’t abrogate Tradition. He fulfilled it.
In the writings of the New Testament, we find again and again that Tradition was important to the early Church. In fact, there would be no New Testament were it not for Tradition. The Apostle Paul speaks repeatedly of Tradition. In his letter to the Church in Corinth (1 Cor. 11:1-2), St. Paul says,
“Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you.”
He goes on in this chapter to discuss proper worship, including the Eucharist, or Lord’s Supper. He gives the Corinthian Church (and us), the institution of the Lord’s Supper as it had been received from the Lord. Did you read that? As it had been received from the Lord. In other words, St. Paul didn’t make it up. It was received. The Church hasn’t made up her Tradition. It has been received from the Lord and is the continuing life of the Holy Spirit in the Church.
In 2 Thessalonians, St. Paul warns the Christians there of a great apostasy in chapter 2. He concludes that warning, in part in verse 15, by saying,
“Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.”
So, St. Paul says there is Tradition that is not written down. There is oral Tradition, “by word” as St. Paul refers to it. In other words, the Tradition that has been passed down to the Church has come by both oral and written Tradition. This is important and, in my opinion, blows a hole right through this nonsensical notion of “sola scriptura” that states that, unless you find it written in Scripture, it is not to be believed or practiced. Where do you think Holy Scripture came from and who decides what made it into the canon of Scripture? The New Testament didn’t fall out of the sky magically. It was compiled over time by the Fathers of the Church, by Tradition. And the books that were canonized haven’t changed. It is us (more precisely the Protestant practice) that decided we wanted to take some things out of the canon of Holy Scripture because it didn’t fit our narrative. Talk about cancel culture. This is Holy Scripture we’re talking about. You don’t get to go back and arbitrarily decide what is in or out. The Church, by the Spirit, decided that thousands of years ago.
St. Paul also reminds his spiritual son, Timothy, of this very thing. In his second letter to Timothy, chapter 1 verse 13-14, we read,
“Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.”
Other translations, in verse 14, say “guard the good deposit” which was committed to you. St. Paul is of course referring to the gospel here, the good news of what our Lord Jesus Christ has accomplished on our behalf. Included in that gospel message is the Tradition that had been received by St. Paul from the Lord Jesus.
And in St. Jude’s letter, verses 3-4, we read,
“Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
St. Jude says he was going to write about the gospel, “our common salvation,” but has instead had to write about keeping the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Once for all. In other words, it doesn’t change. It doesn’t adapt itself to the culture, it doesn’t develop, it isn’t modified. The faith and its Tradition have been once for all delivered to the saints. Changing that faith or the practice thereof is exactly what St. Jude goes on to warn about. He tells us that “certain men have crept in unnoticed.” Remember, he’s writing to Christians. In other words, there will be those among even the Church who will turn away from the faith once for all delivered to the saints.
Are there men in the Church today who have turned away from the faith once for all delivered to saints? What has changed, the faith and worship and practice of the Church or have some men crept in among us unnoticed and changed things?
I’m really not trying to be some grumpy curmudgeon here. This isn’t merely an argument of “We ain’t never done it that way” or nostalgia. This has, at its core, the very faith we profess and the core doctrines of the faith and the practice of our faith. If we change those, we are no longer the Church founded by our Lord Jesus and the Apostles. If we change those, we are no longer walking in that which was received. Rather, we are walking in a faith that we have made for our own comfort, not one given to us by Christ Himself.
God With Us Publications put out a series of books on the Eastern Church. In the book “A Stream of Living Water” addressing Holy Tradition, we read this,
“Tradition, therefore, is not an end in itself. We do not believe in the outward forms of Tradition, for that would be idolatry, substituting any created reality for the living God. We believe in the message of Tradition: that Jesus Christ is made present for us in the Church through the Spirit.”
This, then, is the Holy Tradition we embrace (or should) and take part in; the ongoing life of the Spirit in the people of God, the Church.
Let us return, dear brothers and sisters! Let us turn back to the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Look around you at the so-called Church and those who claim her name. Find the Church as she has been, the one who has held on to the faith. I assure you that she is out there. Run to the arms of Mother Church and there, in the embrace of Jesus, you will find rest for your souls!
Glory to God!