"Let us never exalt tradition over Truth.
Tradition itself is always subject
to testing by Truth."
Excerpts taken from a GracEmail by Edward Fudge:
"Once the first generation of Christian believers had passed, each successive church generation shares much in common. For starters, each new generation must make its peace with Tradition. Tradition is not a nasty word, as some suppose, nor is it a fourth member of the Trinity, as others seem almost to suggest. Tradition is simply the thinking and the doing of the church that lived before us and passed on to those coming after them.
On the one hand, Tradition means that every generation does not have to reinvent the wheel. On the other hand, Tradition itself is always subject to testing by Truth. When Tradition matches Truth, opposition to such Tradition is Treason. When Tradition does not match Truth, it is Treason not to reject it.
These principles find classic illustration in the story of Stephen.
God confirmed Stephen's preaching with "great signs and wonders" (Acts 6:8), drawing attention and opposition from unbelieving, apparently foreign-born Jews, who compensated for their own lack of roots with fanatical zeal for the physical Temple, the Holy City, and the Holy Land (6:9-14). These opponents brought false charges against Stephen before the Sanhedrin High Court, and hired additional false witnesses to do the same. "He blasphemes God and Moses," they said, "and speaks evil against this place [Jerusalem and its Temple], the Law, and the customs." When all accusations had been presented, Stephen responds, and the summary of his remarks fills Acts 7:2-56.
Stephen [indicted] his ... audience, no doubt fully aware that it will cost him his life. "YOU," he says, "have proved that you are your fathers' sons, for they murdered the prophets and you have killed the Righteous One, Jesus, now at God's right hand in heaven" (7:51-53). At this the mob grabs Stephen, carries him outside the city, and stones him to death (7:54-60).
Stephen, the man of God, comes preaching Truth. The Temple Establishment in Jerusalem, in the name of Tradition, denounces him for preaching Treason. In truth, they are guilty of Treason by their overzealous commitment to Tradition. Let us never exalt Tradition over Truth, or under the cover of denouncing Tradition, reject Truth."