Scripture, Tradition & Reason
Thank you for your interest in the faith of our church. We hope to give you a basic understanding of the cornerstones of our faith.
In The Episcopal Church, we are called to live out our faith on a daily basis — at home, at school, at work, or elsewhere. The foundation of faith in The Episcopal Church is often described using the image of a three-legged stool, the legs being Scripture, tradition and reason.
The word of God is contained in the Old and New Testaments. The 39 books of the Old Testament contain the story of God’s love from the time of Creation to the birth of Jesus Christ, and God’s laws as given to the Hebrew people
The New Testament tells the story of Christ’s birth, his teachings and the accounts of his life as told by his followers. It also describes the beginnings of his Church in its 27 books.
During the Episcopal worship service, Scripture is read in the lessons, sung or said from the Psalms (poems in the Old Testament), and from the Gospel — the first four books of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Almost 70 per cent of our guide to worship, the Book of Common Prayer, comes directly from the Old and New Testaments. Not all things read in Scripture are necessary for salvation, but all that is needed for salvation can be read in Scripture.
Tradition consists of the wisdom and teaching of those generations of saints who have gone before us. Tradition guides our living and our interpretation of Scripture. In the Episcopal Church, special emphasis is given to the tradition embodied in the early Church Fathers and the Councils of the Church, including the Council of Nicæa in 325 A.D. This meeting formulated the bulk of the Nicene Creed, which we recite at Holy Eucharist each week.
In the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, we express our tradition with many voices, with a variety of worship styles, languages, cultures, architecture and music. Tradition can encourage this diversity as we seek to value the life and story each person brings to the community of faith. Each person’s offering is woven into a multi-textured tapestry making it stronger and more beautiful.
We understand our human reason to be a gift from God. Therefore, the use of reason in interpreting Scripture, engaging the past tradition of the Church, and navigating through the uncertainties of our world is highly valued in The Episcopal Church.
The gift of reason leads us to seek answers to our questions and grow spiritually. A personal relationship with God allows us to realize and celebrate our lives to the fullest. Being involved in a community of faith strengthens us to carry our faith into the world.