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The Coptic Church Tradition

The word "tradition" means, delivering something and receiving it, i.e., delivering a deposit of faith and receiving it along the generations (Jude 3).
In the apostolic age, tradition was the only source of Christian faith, doctrines and worship. Its role in the Church life of that period may be summarized in the following points:

1. The Early Church received from Christ and the apostles a new understanding of the Old Testament, which the Jews did not acknowledge. The early church received the Old Testament with a new concept.

2. Through tradition, Christians accepted the books of the New Testament as the inspired word of God, before they were canonized by the Church. . The books of the New Testament did not cancel the tradition, but these books command us to preserve the tradition (2 John 12; 3 John 13:14; 1 Cor. 11:34; Titus 1:5; 2 Thes. 3:16; John 21:25; 2 Cor. 11:23).

3. Tradition was the source of the Apostles' teaching (I John 1: 1; John 19:35, Luke 1:2; Acts 1:21,22). The Apostle Paul considered what he received from the Church through tradition as if received from the Lord Himself (Gal. 1: 7; 1 Cor. 11: 23).

4. By tradition, the church practiced the active new life in Christ.

5. Church Tradition preserves the unity of understanding the Holy Scriptures throughout ages, so that no believer interprets them according to his own will.

6. Church tradition in faith, worship, behavior and practical life was delivered to us through the decisions of the Ecumenical and local councils, the patristic writings and also through the practical life of laymen who played a vital role in delivering the spirit of the new life to us throughout generations.
Tradition means giving attention to the past as a basis for the present, and to the present as a basis for the future. Tradition is the mystery of church growth and vitality and not of rigidity. We have to understand tradition in its spiritual depth and theological basis and not in holding fast its literality without understanding.


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