The Great Tradition and Theological Education.

The Great Tradition and Theological Education.

BibleMesh is guided by three pillars: the Great Commission, the Great Commandment, and the Great Tradition. This blog series will discuss the role that each pillar plays in theological education.


Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you do, get insight. – Proverbs 4:5-7 


The third pillar of BibleMesh is the Great Tradition. In this post we will look at what the Great Tradition is, how it relates to and shapes theological education, and how Wisdom is wrapped up in both.  


What do we mean when we say the Great Tradition?  

First, the Great Tradition is the apostolic inheritance that believers have received by way of the scriptures. We are receiving that which the apostles have handed to us. Jude 3 calls it “the faith once for all delivered to the saints.” 

Second, the Great Tradition is thoroughly trinitarian. As Christians, we are not worshipping a singular god like the Jews or Muslims, but the one God who is three persons, Father, Son and Spirit. Christianity is unique across all religious communities of the world in that we worship one God who has revealed himself to us in a trinitarian manner.   

Third, the Great Tradition is a moral tradition. Christians are called to live a life of character and godly conduct. Their walk must match their talk. In 2 Thessalonians 3, Paul says to stay away from those who do not walk in the traditions that had been received. In this instance, the term tradition is referring to how we live and our moral conduct. 

Fourth, the Great Tradition is liturgical. There is a worshiping component to this tradition. We as Christians are called to be a community of faith, a local expression of the body of Christ, and that community is a worshiping community. In the midst of an individualistic world, we are at the heart a worshiping community. 


Now that we have defined what the Great Tradition is, how does it relate to theological education?  

First, the Great Tradition centers and stabilizes us in the very person of Jesus for all of life and mission. In every aspect of our life, including our theological education and service as ministers of the gospel, we are to be centered on the person of Jesus. To borrow from Lesslie Newbigin, Jesus Christ is the clue to the whole of creation. He is the clue to the whole of your mission and ministry, and the clue to everything it means to live godly lives and to go about our work wisely, especially as ministers of the gospel. 

Second, the Great Tradition directs us. It orients us specifically towards the second pillar of BibleMesh, the Great Commandment, which is a double love for God and for neighbor. The Great Commission, the Great Commandment and the Great Tradition together point us towards what Jesus said is the most important: to love God and to love your neighbor.  

Third, the Great Tradition guards us from error. The Great Tradition points us in the right direction but also shows us where the ditches are along the way. Knowledge of the creeds and confessions of the church will shape our minds and hearts, and will help guide our questions about the triune God and His creation.  

Fourth, the Great Tradition fuels us for mission. The Great Tradition is not static, but is a component of the Great Commission. We are to make disciples, teaching them everything that Jesus commanded. We as believers are not only recipients of the inheritance of faith, but we are bequeathing this inheritance to those to whom we are ministering. If our theological education is just information transfer, we miss the heart of the Great Commission. In theological education, we are teaching our students how to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. Theological education is situated directly in this Great Tradition, fueled by the Great Commission and informed and directed by the Great Commandment. 


How do these principles connect with the idea of “getting wisdom” as the Proverb said? Wisdom is nothing less than advancing the way of Christ the King in his world. True wisdom is sourced in the past and is part of the tradition of the apostles, from Moses all the way forward through the New Testament. True wisdom is the very person of Jesus who comes to restore us to the Father, to inhabit us by His spirit, and to make it possible for us to advance His way in His world. We continue in this Great Tradition by holding fast to the tradition of the apostles, faithfully gathering with the worshiping community of other believers and by living out a love for God and neighbor in every time and place.  


BibleMesh is guided by three pillars: the Great Commission, the Great Commandment, and the Great Tradition. This blog series will discuss the role that each pillar plays in theological education.