Episcopal Sources of
Authority: Scripture, Tradition and Reason
What is the basis for
our Episcopal identity? How did we become this way? How do we
know what is good, true or right? What do we use to make
decisions or decide on a course of action? To answer these
questions we look to three Sources of Authority: Scripture,
Tradition and Reason.
We believe that the Holy
Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments contain everything
necessary for our salvation. We believe that the Bible is the
living Word of God. The Bible was compiled over many centuries
by individuals who were inspired by their own experiences of
God. Episcopalians are not strong on concepts of literal
interpretation, verbal inspiration or the inerrancy of
Scripture. We interpret Scripture in light of the historical
traditions of the Church using our God given human reason.
Context and purpose have always been important in interpreting
and discerning the Word of God. We believe that looking at
issues of language, form, content and history are essential to
right use of Scripture.
We take an historical
approach to Christianity. Our theology, worship and other
practices are shaped by the traditions of the Church of the
first five or six centuries and the Church of England in the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Prayer books, liturgical
practices and the historical sacraments of the Church all figure
into this. Tradition was used for the promotion of toleration
and stability in the midst of the chaos of the English
We seek a middle way
or path of understanding that incorporates tolerance and
diversity. The Episcopal Church strives to live within the
tension of being both Catholic and Protestant and seeks to
be faithful to the traditions in ways that speak to
contemporary men and women.
When we speak of reason we
also include human experience as a part or source of reason.
Theologically, Episcopalians think of reason as that rational,
critical capability which is a significant part of what it means
to be created in the image of God. Reformation theologian
Richard Hooker described this as God-given “right” or “holy”
reason. We see historic and contemporary theological thought as
being a product of human reason.
We believe that human reason
is damaged and distorted by sin, but not totally or hopelessly
corrupted by sin. It is possible for us to discern God’s will and
purposes for us. However, we are dependent upon God’s grace to
accomplish the good we seek.
We invite you to join us on a
spiritual journey. A journey guided by Scripture, Tradition and
Reason through Bible study, fellowship, discussion, service and
worship. Regardless of who you are and where you are in your own
journey; The Episcopal Church Welcomes You!