The Stronghold of Traditionalism (#propheticresistance)

[Listen to post here.]

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Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”
Isaiah 48:18-19

 The “fraternal twin” of pragmatism is traditionalism.  These goliath sibs are, arguably, the most firmly entrenched strongholds within the Church that present resistance to the prophetic ministry of God’s Holy Spirit, Word, and anointed vessels.

Whereas pragmatism is ultimately concerned with outcomes and, therefore, bows the knee to the god of the future, “I WILL BE”, traditionalism is ultimately concerned with what has been and, therefore, bows the knee to the god of the past, “I HAVE BEEN.”  God’s people who are in tune and in step with His Spirit and Word, however, are ultimately concerned with what God is doing now, and, therefore, bow the knee to the God of the present, the eternal “I AM.”

Traditionalism is defined as, “adherence to tradition as authority, especially in matters of religion.” (  It is the degree of authority that is ascribed to tradition, both individually and collectively, consciously and subconsciously, that presents the greatest “prophetic resistance” when the workings of God’s Spirit intersect and collide with the tradition of men.  The ultimate question in the end is, which one is LORD?

Jesus declared the nature of this collision in His dealings with the Pharisees concerning their adherence to “the tradition of men” over against “the word of God.”  In one encounter, He made the following statements:

“For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men–” (Mk. 7:8)

“He said to them, ‘All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.'”  (Mk. 7:9)

“…making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.”   (Mk. 7:13)

Clearly “the tradition of men” have the power to “…[make] the word of God of no effect…” And anything that has that degree of power, is, without question, a force to be reckoned with!  Truly, there are very few psychological or sociological strongholds that have such a strong hold on the Church as this one!

Now, before we go further, we do need to interject one clarifying point: not all traditions are anti-biblical in nature; in fact, some are actually biblical (see 1 Cor. 11:1-2; 2 Thess. 2:15; 3:6).  These do not nullify the word of God, but are in accord with it and affirm its authority.  [For more on this, please see here and here.]  These are not the traditions that we are speaking of at this time, however.  Rather, we are focusing on those traditions that originate with man and by their very nature become “high thing[s] that [exalt] themselves above the knowledge of God.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)  These constitute some of the most invasive and indomitable strongholds that exist in Christianity and the Church to this day. 

They are also some of the most well-disguised and unassuming fortresses of spiritual resistance, wearing a deceptive cloak of decency and Christian piety.  By mingled association and stolen appropriation, these human traditions assimilate the love and reverence that belong to God alone into and unto themselves as well.  In addition, because God often works and blesses His people in spite of rather than because of their intertwined presence with the true ways and works of God, people uncritically associate these traditions with God’s favor and endorsement.  Those who subsequently question and/or challenge any of these man-made conventions are, therefore, falsely deemed to be questioning and/or challenging that which is “God-given”, “God-blessed”, and “God-approved.”  This is one reason why human religious traditions, in particular, are so imbued with adoration and devotion that they are nearly impossible to rightly discern and to radically uproot.

It takes great discernment and courage, therefore, not to bow the knee to the seductively “pious” god “I HAVE BEEN” when the eternal “I AM” is speaking and doing that which is other and/or “new” in the present moment.  His “new thing” is His now” thing, and so He bids His people:Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up;…”  (Isaiah 48:18-19) 

Since, “No one can serve two masters.” (Matt.6:24), when allegiance to human tradition and obedience to God’s word collide, a choice is demanded.  We either choose to “hold the tradition of men” and thus “[lay] aside the [word] of God”, or we choose to “hold” the word of God, and thus “[lay] aside” “the tradition of men.”  Or, said another way, we either choose to “[make] the word of God of no effect through [our] tradition”, or we choose to make “our tradition” “of no effect through” “the word of God.”  There is no middle ground, and there are no other choices than these!  Whenever individually or collectively, consciously or subconsciously, we choose one or the other, the choice we make is not innocuous, but of immense spiritual consequence!

Everything that wins our love, reverence, and obedience in greater measure than our adoration and devotion to God is idolatrous in nature.  The stronghold of traditionalism, when focused on the Scripture-nullifying “tradition of men”, is one of the most insidious and intractable forces within the Church that leads to religious idolatry.  Such idolatry especially resists and rejects the prophetic ministry of the Lord as it comes through His Holy Spirit, Word, and anointed vessels.  Those who represent the “now” workings and eternal ways of “I AM”, however, will not bow the knee to the vying god of traditionalism,”I HAVE BEEN”, no matter how intimidating or alluring it may be.

This idolatrous stronghold must surely be dealt with with the same holy tenacity and divine sagacity that Jesus embodied when He was here in the days of His flesh.  Jesus Christ, who abides within us, is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) and His indwelling Spirit assumes the same posture and position toward “Christian traditionalism” today as it did toward Jewish traditionalism during His earthly days.  The question is, will we, as God’s New Covenant, new creation people, both individually and collectively, align ourselves with that same posture and position as we hold fast to the prophetic word and ways of the eternal “I AM”?  The choice remains to be seen just as to “WHOM” or to “WHAT” we will ultimately bow the knee!

For a more comprehensive look at the psychological and sociological power of tradition, as well as its place in the Church, past, present, and future, please see the series, “Tradition, Scripture, and the Church.” (PDF – 5-part series, complete)

Previous posts in this collection:
Prophetic Ministry and…(#propheticresistance)
Prophetic Imbalance and… (#propheticresistance)
The Stronghold of Pragmatism (#propheticresistance)

Next post in this collection:
The Stronghold of “Toxic Positivity” (#propheticresistance)

“The Calf Path” – by Sam Walter Foss

About David Bolton

Following Him who is the Way; learning of Him who is the Truth; living by Him who is the Life. - John 14:6
This entry was posted in Audio Posts, prophetic ministry, Spiritual Dynamics, The Ekklesia and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Stronghold of Traditionalism (#propheticresistance)

  1. Lloyd says:

    So true, David!

    Liked by 1 person

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