When Truth Clashes with Tradition

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What happens when an immovable object clashes with an unstoppable force? One might imagine a speeding, out of control train coming into a station with no hope of stopping. Or imagine an immense asteroid hurtling toward earth and all efforts to change its course or destroy it have been unsuccessful. You know a calamity is going to occur and mass destruction is going to result.

There’s an analogy in there somewhere when it comes to truth vs. tradition. This isn’t to suggest all traditions collide with truth. Traditions, when they align with truth, are a beautiful thing. But traditions become problematic when they clash with the truth.

To some, the truth is relative; a subjective thing determined by the individual or state. To others, truth is set in stone and authored by God, himself, and those who believe that would most likely refer to the fourth Gospel, John 17:17, which says, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” For most believers, this is the final word when it comes to determining what, in fact, is the truth.

For the believer, the Word of God, the Bible, is the gold standard for truth. It’s not a “living document.” The Bible isn’t malleable to suit peoples’ desires. It’s immutable. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever, as it says in Hebrews 13:8.

Tradition might be likened to an immovable object and the truth could be likened to the proverbial unstoppable force. You can’t stop the truth. You can ignore it for awhile, but you can never stop it or prevent it from being true.

Tradition? Well, traditions are the things of which entire ideologies, philosophies, religions and even civilizations are made. You think they’re not immovable objects? Think again. So what happens when those well established traditions are challenged by the truth?

When traditions are not rooted in truth and the truth somehow presents itself to one who embraces those traditions, there’s going to be a clash; and often it’s a startling and uncomfortable clash. A clash between the truth and traditions not founded in truth can seem to be catastrophic at first because of the potential upheaval it can cause in the way one lives his life from that point on.

If that person is a truth seeker and desires to do the right thing, he has to decide what he’s going to do regarding the tradition. Does he continue keeping that tradition, which may seem wonderful in every way, or does he do the right thing based upon eternal truth?

One very important thing to keep in mind is the possibility that if the truth is revealed to you and you choose to disregard that truth, God may decide to withhold further truth from you in the future. That might be tantamount to closing a door on God. It’s something to consider.

The concept of truth clashing with tradition is timely because this time of year is steeped in traditional celebrations. But are they all based on truth? The person who cares about the truth and desires to do right in the eyes of God will want to ask himself if these traditions are of God or of some other origin which may not have God’s stamp of approval.

It’s that time of year; what do Christmas and all the trimmings really have to do with the birth of Jesus? It’s a question every Christian needs to ask. Is Christmas authorized by the Word of God or is it a celebration of dubious origins?

Here are a few Bible verses that you might want to consider: Deuteronomy 4:2; Matthew 15:8-9; and Mark 7:8.

The truth is out there and readily available. Just Google the “origins of Christmas.” If you’ve never done that, you might be surprised at what you find. Will it matter to you what you find out about Christmas or is the truth unimportant to you? How you answer that question will have consequences either way.

The truth can be difficult. Doing the right thing can be difficult. Still, difficulty shouldn’t be the determining factor whether or not we come down on the side of truth. If you’re uncomfortably caught between the truth—doing what’s right—and a tradition that doesn’t meet God’s approval, ask God for help. He knows what you might be going through and he’ll help you do the right thing.


Rich Glasgow

Richard Glasgow, Ambassador College graduate and avid student of Ron Dart, brings the Minor Prophets and the Book of Daniel to life. Intriguing lessons you'll never forget!

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Image Credits: Joel Montes de Oca