Thoughts About Tradition from Saint Basil

Thoughts About Scripture From Saint BasilThere are many arguments as far as tradition vs. Scripture and how it all fits together. Are we to only follow what has been revealed in Scripture? Or are there extra-biblical traditions that were passed down from the Apostles that have been preserved in the Church? If there are these types of traditions, it means that much of the Christian world is in disobedience, for it is only mainly Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox who claim they have the “true” and “authentic” tradition (and yet even they differ as far as what that tradition is). So one way to gain insight into what we are bound to, or what, if any, traditions the Apostles passed down, is to take a look at early church fathers and see what they thought was the rule, or the standard for what we should do. I found this quote in a letter from Saint Basil to Eustathius the physician, and thought it very insightful; so I share it with you:

“They are charging me with innovation, and base their charge on my confession of three hypostases, and blame me for asserting one Goodness, one Power, one Godhead. In this they are not wide of the truth, for I do so assert. Their complaint is that their custom does not accept this, and that Scripture does not agree. What is my reply? I do not consider it fair that the custom which obtains among them should be regarded as a law and rule of orthodoxy. If custom is to be taken in proof of what is right, then it is certainly competent for me to put forward on my side the custom which obtains here. If they reject this, we are clearly not bound to follow them. Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favour of that side will be cast the vote of truth” (emphasis my own).[1]

So even Basil viewed Scripture to be the rule to measure tradition by. How interesting.

[1] St. Basil, “CHURCH FATHERS: Letter 189 (St. Basil),”



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