Trado and our historical location

by Paul Burmeister

In his book on tradition and theology, the lecturer Stephen R. Holmes effectively argues that every ology needs its history. He reminds us that all studies are located in history; no study can escape or avoid its historical location. The values of understanding historical traditions are several: understanding tradition helps us see new things in our own time, it helps us relate to the past, and it allows us to pass things on to those who follow.
Trado = passed on, or handed down. Using Holmes’ application to theology, we can assert that faithfully teaching in a study is possible only if we make an effort to understand how the study has been passed on to us. Tradition binds together those in a study, across time and place; indeed, Holmes argues, this is how the study stays alive.
Another important point he makes is: disagreement and dispute are to be expected because they are internal to tradition. Disagreement and dispute may involve error or even heresy, but tradition sorts those things out and recognizes their place.