Zahl against tradition

Paul Zahl on tradition, from A Short Systematic Theology:

Tradition is always secondary to the gospel of bood atonement and to the freedom of reason created from it. Huma traditions are a crazy weave of outdated circumstances, past idiosyncrasies, unexamined ideas that have somehow over time accumulated the weight of authority, and passed-down “wisdoms.” These are all another name for law. They bind individuals, and they bind theology. This is what Jesus said about tradition as such:

Why do you [scribes and Pharisees] transgress the commandment of God for the sae of your tradition? …For the sake of your tradition, you have made void the word of God. (Matthew 15:3,6)

What a chronological snob and iconoclast, right? No actually. One has to realize that among protestants and evangelicals, Zahl is actually relatively “high church” and liturgical. That is to say, he is largely a traditionalist. But at the same time, he is declaring that the blood atonement of Jesus, rather than anything we do, or the way we do it, is the thing that really counts. The tradition is at best a great guide and pattern for worship and Christian devotion. On the other hand, it can be just “unexamined” fluff. At it’s worst, it is a stumbling block and distraction from Christ. What ever you may be doing, if it’s substantially getting in the way of the Word of God and the good news, it should be dropped. Keep the traditions that help us tell the story and help us remember. I think this will always require a bit of house cleaning with each generation.