“According To Tradition . . .”

By Mark Reeves

I heard it on the news the other morning while listening to the radio. We were being informed that the Pope would be visiting Mount Nebo, the place where, according to tradition, Moses viewed the “Promised Land.” I must admit that I was very irritated when I heard it, and my anger had nothing to do with what was said about the Pope (not this time!).

It was that subtle phrase that the announcer slipped in, according to tradition.” I got to thinking, I wonder if I could get on the radio and announce, “According to tradition this country’s first president was named George Washington.” Or maybe I could declare that “according to tradition, Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon.”

I might not have been so incensed had it been an isolated case. Unfortunately it was announced on the same radio station a few weeks earlier that “Mount Sinai was the place where tradition has it that Moses received the Ten Commandments.”

Furthermore, if the announcer had been making the point that the site of Mt. Nebo was established only by tradition, then I would have had no quibble. We all would do well to recognize that many so called “holy sites” in Palestine are established largely by tradition, and may or may not be the actual place where a particular Bible event took place. This radio announcement did not speak of the Pope visiting the traditional site of Mt. Nebo, but rather by its wording, cast the shadow of “tradition” over Moses and the Bible event.

“How crafty is our adversary,” I thought to myself (John 8:44). There was no blatant statement that the Bible is a hoax or something equally defiant of God. Just a quiet, unobtrusive remark which referred to an historic account as merely a tradition. The insinuation of course is that the Bible record is tantamount to a fairy tale or a myth. The cunning strategy behind those godless men who control the media is to lower the Bible account to the level of any dubious belief that all cultures and peoples have. Satan wouldn’t mind if you and I came away thinking that the Bible account of Moses on Mount Nebo was no more real than the Bigfoot monster or the superstitions of some African tribe.

Once the Devil gets us accustomed to the word “tradition” in connection with references to the Bible, then it will be just a short hop over his next objective. According to modern thought, we should be tolerant of all cultural traditions and treat them with equal importance. Soon we will begin to believe that the Bible “tradition” is just as valid as the tradition presented in the Koran or the traditions of Buddhist philosophy.

I doubt that this one statement which I heard on a news broadcast is going to be solely responsible for the apostasy of some child of God. It is the steady erosion of our faith, like the constant dripping of water on a rock, that concerns me.

We write these things in the spirit of Paul who said, that “no advantage may be gained over us by Satan: for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Cor. 2:11). Let us take advantage of these opportunities to point out to our children and our youth the fallacy of such statements. May none of us, while having our guard up against immorality and false doctrine, be brought down by a fiery dart of the Devil piercing from behind. 

3402 Karen Ave., Long Beach, California 90808-3005 markhreeves@juno.com

Truth Magazine Vol. XLIV: 11 p9  June 1, 2000