Custom is a Tyrant

Gill, “Nor are the customs of men a rule of judgment, or a direction which way men should take in matters of religion; for the customs of the people are for the most part vain (Jer. 20:3), and such as are not lawful for us, being Christians, to receive or observe (Acts 16:21); and concerning which we should say, We have no such custom, neither the churches of God (1 Cor. 11:16).

Custom is a tyrant, and ought to be rebelled against, and its yoke thrown off.

Nor are the traditions of men to be regarded; the Pharisees were very tenacious of the traditions of the elders, by which they transgressed the commandments of God, and made his word of no effect; and the apostle Paul, in his state of unregeneracy, was zealous of the same; but neither of them are to be imitated by us: it is right to observe the exhortation which the apostle gives, when a Christian (Col. 2:8); beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Take care you are not imposed upon, under the notion and pretense of an apostolical tradition; unwritten traditions are not the rule, only the word of God is the rule of our faith and practice.” [from a sermon titled, The Scriptures: the only guide in matters of faith. text Jer. 6.16. preached on Nov. 2, 1750]



  1. irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert · December 23, 2011

    Even from a biblical and Protestant sense, we must deal with “tradition” (1 Cor. 11:2 / 2 Thes. 2: 15 ; 3: 6).

    • jm · December 23, 2011

      I agree and would add we all have traditions…but I would disagree if that tradition replaces scripture.

      • irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert · December 23, 2011

        Indeed that is the whole issue, seeking to not throw the baby out with the bath water! True Reformed doctrine and theology has beauty & attraction! And too it has the unction of ‘Word & Sacrament’, and somewhere is the place of a spiritual tradition!

  2. Flavio Deac · December 23, 2011

    Bro, what did you have in mind (traditions) when posting this ? X-mas ? Its interesting, listening to modern scholars and pastors, even among neo calvinists, when asked about X-mas they all respond with ambiguous answers using reason. When i look up the old schoolers they go to the Bible and a “Thus saith the Lord”. Of course, that was a time when the believers sole rule for faith and practice was the Bible. These days its reason.

  3. jm · December 23, 2011

    I had traditions in general in mind, but ya, include Christmas… I don’t get bent out of shape over it but I see a lot of unbelievers wanting to keep “Christ in Christmas.” It’s just traditionalism…

    • irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert · December 24, 2011

      The visible Church is just that Visible, and is part of that ‘Light on a hill’! So even unbelievers can come and see and hear! Yep, I’m an Anglican! 😉 And btw, Federal Vision friendly!

      • jm · December 24, 2011

        FV is a problem in “traditional” churches…

      • irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert · December 25, 2011

        The FV is indeed a movement of theology, and in reality the Reformed and Calvinist camp is in need of it, no “problem” for me. And yet in another sense good theology is always somewhat problematic, as it confronts the Church with that constant need of renewal and reformation!

      • irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert · December 25, 2011

        Semper reformada (always reforming)!

      • jm · December 25, 2011

        The static nature found in the micro-presbyerian (mostly online and in forums) is a scarey thing. To think you don’t need to update the confessions to reflect the current issues in theology is mind blowing…I don’t think FV is a positive movement. I’ve seen posters online leave the Reformed church for Rome, it’s a bridge that many will cross because of FV.

      • irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert · December 25, 2011

        The FV has been simply slandered, and misunderstood by many, and perhaps abused by a few, especially those who simply will not allow for change in the Reformed Communion. I have preached myself at a few FV friendly Presbyterian Churches, and I have found many in the FV movement that are simply concerned about the static nature, and even some doctrinal legalism of the Reformed Churches. Note, I have read most of the FV people/material also, and have talked with several also. The real emphasis is toward the visible aspect of the covenant responsibility (note Heb.10: 29, etc.); and the sacramental life of the church. As an Anglican and Reformed, I can see this great need in the Reformed Churches, myself.

        There is in fact a new spirit in many Reformed writers right now, like Julie Canlis’s book: Calvin’s Ladder, etc. And also Todd Billings last few books, see his Calvin, Participation, and the Gift. As his newest on Union with Christ. “Calvinism” must itself be subject to Semper Reformada! 🙂

      • irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert · December 25, 2011

        Note jm, I would match my desire and Reformed positions/theology with any today! See the Irish Articles 1615. But, we must simply see, that the whole Reformed theology and doctrine is well beyond one Reformed Creed! And Reformed theology is certainly not bound by Puritan theology!

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