I climbed out of my cave a couple weeks ago and watched “Fiddler on the Roof” at the Barn Theater in Augusta, Michigan with my wife and kids. Having set my eyes on it for the first time I was completely intrigued and torn over the theme of tradition.
I grew up in a household completely devoid of tradition. We went on one family vacation that I can remember as a child. Christmas was something different almost every year. I imagine that my upbringing has had a dramatic impact on my love of the new and novel. I actually have found my heart more and more convicted by my passion for the novel. I believe the love of the novel leads to a low-grade shallowness, pettiness, and lack of commitment.
And so it seemed quite natural as a church planter, to start a church that would be committed to the truth of Scripture, while harboring a disdain for tradition.
And let me clarify what I mean by tradition. Church traditions tend to focus on the externals: dress, musical forms, programs, liturgy, architecture, and decor.
So, you can imagine the surprise that I felt when I found myself strongly on the side of “tradition” while watching ‘Fiddler’. I must confess that having seen this musical for the first time in 2014, it was interesting how difficult is was to discern the author’s intent. I could not at all be moved to defend what I saw as the “tradition” of racism that moved Tevya to deny his daughter’s marriage to a Gentile. (I found it disturbing that this was where he drew the line!)
I actually perceived undercurrents of mockery of faith throughout the musical, and am curious as to whether or not I just twisted this, or if others also see this. “Tradition” as I understood it in the musical, was what was holding this community together. As tradition broke down, it was rocking everyone’s world. But the arguments that were employed against tradition in favor of progress in the musical, are many of the same arguments being used in 2014 against faith in general. And so this juxtaposing of tradition and faith in the musical put me on the side of tradition against progress.
The bottom line, is that I fear that many have a faith based on tradition, and in this, they really have little faith at all. We can so quickly find comfort in the common forms. Many attend church in comfort with little to no impact from the truth.
So I will continue to war against tradition wherever tradition wars against truth and faith. Tradition is certainly not synonymous with truth. Tradition should not be synonymous with faith. And at ReCAST church, we seek to be a church of faith and truth without so much focus on tradition.