Thursday, June 29, 2017

What is Christian Traditionalism?

I am frequently asked this question by fellow believers and non-believers alike. The word tradition invokes many images in the minds of readers, which images vary according to denomination, lack thereof, and political persuasion. In most cases I find myself having to correct a plethora of incorrect assumptions and guesses. So, then, what is meant by Christian Traditionalism?

1. Orthodox Christianity- At the very core of Christian Traditionalism is a belief in the ancient Faith. That is, the Christian Faith of the martyrs and saints throughout history, encapsulated in the great creeds (Apostle's, Nicene, and Athanasian), the writings of the Church Fathers, and the Apostolic Traditions of the Church that flow from our shared history up to the point of the first major schism. This faith has been called "paleo-orthodoxy" by theologian Thomas Oden. For the Christian Traditionalist this is what forms the corpus of what we call Western Orthodoxy; the teachings of Christianity found in all denominations which meet the criteria of these aforementioned sources. 

2. Christian Orthopraxy- Flowing from the same sources is orthopraxy, or right practice. That is, there are certain morals, values and ethics that dictate how we live our lives, and by which we are identified as disciples of Jesus Christ. If the behavior of any individual is at variance with these principles of the Christian life, they are out of step with orthopraxy. Beyond the personal aspects of orthopraxy is the communal worship of the Church. These are the rites of the faith, specifically, the two central sacraments, the Holy Eucharist and Holy Baptism. We have received, as part of the divine deposit of faith, the correct way in which to observe these, and we maintain fidelity to these ritual traditions. The proper matter, intention and form are important to the Christian Traditionalist. 

3. Principles of Christian Life- As mentioned previously, there are specific principles by which a Christian Traditionalist lives his or her life. These principles center on the proper biblical concept of the home, the family, gender distinction and gender roles, child rearing, vocation, personal conduct, the arts, healthy culture, and the relationship of the Christian to the State. As one can see, every facet of life is brought to the touchstone of Sacred Scripture.

4. Other Distinctives- The Christian Traditionalist is by nature non-egalitarian, anti-feminist, anti-Cultural Marxist, and anti-Modernity. They would support the traditional family owned farm over corporate "farms" where animals are treated like engine parts and force fed chemicals, or where produce is genetically modified, or even over the belching smoke of factories. The Christian Traditionalist would purchase organic foods from a local farmers market, likely grow their own vegetable garden, and if given enough land would grow enough to feed their family, including keeping a couple of cows, goats, and chickens. The soil is a gift from God to the Christian Traditionalist. They prefer the village life to that of the metropolis of Modernity and likely lean toward Christian monarchy and Distributism over democratic republicanism and capitalism. 

As you can no doubt see from this very brief sketch, the Christian Traditionalist is what some might consider a person in conflict with the times we live in today, and that is perfectly okay. While Modernity promotes abortion, chaos, irreligion, immorality and all that is ugly, the Christian Traditionalist cultivates life, order, faith, morality, and all that is beautiful. 

If any of this has resonated with you, I invite you to contact me for further discussion and resources.

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