Kupuna and Tradition

Icon of Council of Nicea from Turkey

Kupuna is the Hawaiian word for elder. Traditionally the Kupuna passed on the culture, tradition,  and customs of the Ohana (family) to the keiki (children). Anglicans place a high value on the teaching of elders, particularly those of the first four centuries when the first creeds were being written. We seek wisdom where it is found. Anglicans look to the teaching of the earliest Christians for guidance. This is also what the early church did. In determining which books would go into the New Testament. The earliest Christians determined that if it were written by one of Jesus’ Apostles it was in and if it wasn’t it was out.

At the time of the European and English Reformation the church was a mess. False teachings had entered into the church and reform was necessary. Like most of the Reformation Churches, Anglicans looked to Scripture as the foundation for teaching but also to the early church for guidance concerning that teaching. Great care was taken to only change a teaching of the early church when a deeper understanding of Scripture required it. This distinguishes Anglicanism from Reformation Churches that chose “Sola Scriptura”, or “Scripture Alone”. Anglicans are almost Sola Scriptura.

We show respect to the witness of Christians who have gone before us by attending to their teachings, and by grounding our teachings in Scripture. Some things are not included in Scripture though. How should we worship? The Bible tells us that the early church gathered for worship, but doesn’t give us a service outline. Anglicans turn to the early church to see what can be known and we pattern our worship on the worship of the early church. Lutherans and Roman Catholics, along with other denominations, have also done this and so it’s not surprising that a modern Anglican Service is very similar to a Lutheran or Roman Catholic Worship Service. It is also strikingly similar to a Jewish Synagogue Service. This is hardly surprising as the first Christians were Jewish.

Anglicans also have Bishops, Priests, and Deacons as these orders of ordained ministry were normal in the earliest of churches.

Tradition helps us stay close to the experience of the early church and informs our teaching. Tradition is sometimes compared to a tool kit that can be turned to for help in growing as a Christian. Some of our most beloved prayers are from the early church.

Honoring Tradition doesn’t mean being stuck in the past. Language changes, Music changes, our worship experience changes. Anglicans like to let the past inform the present. Our worship pattern would be recognizable to an early Christian, even if the language and music seemed peculiar.

At Christ Church Oahu we are using some of the most ancient patterns of personal prayer and corporate prayer to help our members grow in faith and intimacy with God. Ancient patterns. Contemporary results.

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