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Scripture, Tradition, and Reason

In the Episcopal Church, we are called to live out our faith on a daily basis, whether we are at home, school, work, or recreation. The cornerstones of our faith are Scripture, Tradition, and Reason.

Scripture

Scripture is the word of God contained in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. The 39 books of the Old Testament contain the story of God’s love from Creation up to the birth of his son, Jesus Christ. They contain God’s laws as He gave them to the Hebrew people. The New Testament contains Christ’s teachings, the accounts of his life as told by his followers, and the beginning of his church. It is written in 27 books. Within an Episcopal worship service, Scripture is read in the lessons from both the Old Testament and the New Testament, the Gospel (the teachings of Jesus), the Psalms (poems from the Old Testament) and other prayers. Additionally, two-thirds of our guide to worship, The Book of Common Prayer, comes directly from the Old and New Testaments.

Tradition 

We are not Christians in isolation but are part of a living faith that spans 2,000 years that the Church received from Jesus' disciples and apostles. Tradition is the embodiment of our experience as Christians throughout the centuries. The heart of our tradition is expressed through the Bible, the Creeds (statements of faith, written in first centuries of the church’s existence), the primary Sacraments (the Lord’s Supper and Baptism), and the ordained ministry passed on by Christ to his Church. Our tradition is expressed with many voices, among which are a variety of worship styles, languages, cultures, architecture, and music. Our tradition encourages this diversity. We seek to value the life and story each person can bring to the community of faith. As in a multi-textured tapestry, each person’s offering is woven into the life of the whole, making it stronger and more beautiful. 

Reason 

Each one of us, with God’s help, makes a decision about how we use Tradition and Scripture in our lives. A personal relationship with God allows us to realize and celebrate our lives to the fullest. The gift of Reason, as a complement to Scripture and Tradition, leads us to seek answers to our own questions and to grow spiritually. Being active in a community of faith strengthens us to carry our faith into the world. Weaving Scripture, Tradition, and Reason together, our faith is strengthened as we grow up in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(adapted from the The Episcopal Diocese of Texas). Image courtesy of The Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee (consecration prayer of The Rt. Rev. vonRosenberg, February 27, 1999).